Merilee Rush and the Turnabouts

Merilee Rush

When I was twelve and a 7th grader in Mr. Nunamaker’s mechanical drawing class he let us listen to music.  Not anything ground-breaking or earth-shattering.  It was 1968 and we’re talking strictly sixties pop.  Not “The End” by the Doors, or “I Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die” by Country Joe and the Fish. But we listened to “Delilah” by Tom Jones and “This Guy’s In Love With You,” by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.  We saved the subversive stuff for Mr. Petry’s art class.

One day as I was trying to erase my messy corner from a three dimensional figure I was drawing (in the days long before CAD programs) I got my first listen to “Angel of the Morning” by Merilee Rush and the Turnabouts.  “Angel” was a huge hit, eventually earning Rush a Grammy nomination.

But the most amazing thing about Merilee Rush was that she was from my ‘hood, north Seattle. So we were all behind Merilee and her success.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot more that came from her.  She left her band to become a solo act, and according to her interview with Gary James at Classicbands, she was sexually harassed by record producers and mismanaged by the William Morris Agency. There were a few singles released under her own name. A 1977 album, and nothing after that date. Rev-ola in the UK released a CD collection of all her Bell recordings in 2006, including two very limited release singles of “Every Day Livin’ Days” and “Reach Out” in 2006.

When I was in junior high I bought her only album on Bell Records.  Don’t know what happened to it, but it went away.  I suspect it was one of the records that was sold off in my parents’ 1975 garage sale, before moving north from the Bay Area back to Seattle.

Last weekend I made my way to Georgetown Records, a small shop in the south Seattle neighborhood of Georgetown.  It’s a long way from home, but I’d dropped Casey off in West Seattle and decided what the heck.  I was pawing through New Arrivals and didn’t find much interesting until the last row of albums.  There was a very nice looking copy of Merilee Rush and the Turnabouts featuring “Angel of the Morning.” Ten bucks, I was in.

Last night I got a listen after 40 years away.  It’s mostly pop, with some country influence.  Predictably, the best song is “Angel,” but a few others stand out.  “Sandcastles” and Joe South’s “Hush” are also good listens.  The rest is mostly forgettable, unless you need another version of “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair.” Despite a lack of revelatory moments, it was still fun and will take its place in my collection with pride.

I admit it.  I’m sucker for music from my past.  But I’m especially a sucker for music from the Northwest.  With the news the Sonics re-released both their original Etiquette records in a set-mono, remastered-guess what went on my Christmas list?


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