It’s been a really long time since my last post. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been listening-or buying-LP’s, but I will say that except for the holidays, my record purchases have diminished.
In October I wrote about my interest in Northwest music, and that tends to drive a lot of my interests. I’ve picked up a few more records from artists from the late 70’s to middle 80’s. One band I remember is Annie Rose and the Thrillers. I ran across their seemingly self-produced album on Stress Records. I took it home and popped it on the stereo. It’s a live record. The sound is different than one would expect from a bunch of white guys from Seattle. Rather than the hard rock many bands were producing, it had more of a Memphis-sounding R and B review. And they were great. Really enjoyable. If you liked the Blues Brothers Briefcase Full of Blues, you’ll like these guys
My wife bought a copy of Harpo by Jim Valley. I mentioned this in my discussion of Don and the Goodtimes. This record has a story. My dad actually brought this record home to me when it came out in 1966. The album was recorded on Seattle’s Panorama records. I think my Dad got it gratis-he worked for an industrial laundry-wouldn’t have known Valley and maybe had it handed to him as a work bonus. He brought it home to me and I was thrilled. Valley was a guitarist with Paul Revere and the Raiders. I didn’t know anything about his previous connections with Don or his earlier band The Viceroys. I tossed it on my record player and that was like the only time listened to it. 50 years later, the album sounds great. Classic Northwest sound with grunting vocals, screaming sax and strong guitar leads. “Little Sally Tease,” “Jolly Green Giant,” and covers of “Louie, Louie” and “Little Latin Lupe Lu” authenticate its garage rock cred. I love it. Just to add to the weirdness of all this, I saw this copy at my local antique store. In the dim light, I feared it might be damaged, and saw it was signed by Valley. When Lorri stopped and picked it up, she noted the album was signed “To Kevin.” I knew I had to have it.
I’ve taken to walking into used record stores without a clear idea of what I want which gives me freedom to look at an album and buy simply on its coolness. I got some Christmas cash and drove down to Rainy Day Records in Olympia and for five bucks snagged a copy of Writer by Carole King. This 1970 record languishes in the shadow of King’s masterpiece, Tapestry the following year, and is her first solo record after making her way out to California following her breakup with husband/collaborator Gerry Goffin. It is a great record in its own right, though lacking the clear direction and spare production King would share on Tapestry. Still, the singers and musicians that would grace the work of dozens of singer/songwriter albums for a decade-Danny Kortchmar, James Taylor and others are present. My favorite songs are “Raspberry Jam” and King’s cover of her own song for the Rudy Lewis-led iteration of the Drifters, “Up on the Roof. It’s terrific, just King and her piano, presaging the titanic success of her second record.
Finally, I’ve come to believe that after Chuck Berry and Elvis, the most influential American artists to influence the blizzard of British bands that formed throughout the UK and followed the Beatles to America was the Everly Brothers. Listen to the Fab Four, the Hollies, and countless other bands, they were compelled to recreate Phil and Don’s close harmonies. They are terrific. However, a lot of Everly vinyl is limited to anthologies, because they primarily released singles. LP’s didn’t really become big until at least the middle 60’s. Thankfully Wax Time Records in Europe re-pressed their 1958 self-titled album in 2013, and Lorri bought it for me for Christmas. It is like eating the best tasting candy. “Bye-Bye Love” and Wake Up Little Susie” are the best known songs on the record, but all of them are great. This pressing also added some bonus tracks including “Cathy’s Clown.” Really great and cheap at Amazon.
Here’s hoping some great listening. I’m hoping to post a little more frequently during 2019