April 30

I’m from the Northwest, specifically the Inland Northwest region of the U.S.A. This region is defined and delineated by the Cascade Mountain range to the west and the Rocky Mountain range to the east. Much like many sports fans, we tend to glom on to regional or national acts that make it big but are still “from here”.

Jimi Hendrix? From Seattle. Heart? Seattle. Grunge? Nationally from Neil Young but adopted and popularized by Seattle.

It’s a weird pride issue. Older friends and siblings would vehemently defend the roots of popular songs as “that’s just a Sonics cover” or “I remember The Wailers version” or “The Ventures did that first”…

The “Big Bang” of regional pride was at the Pypo Club in Seaside, Oregon… a combo all ages dance hall and roller skating rink, where Portland, Oregon’s The Kingsmen were playing. During band breaks and the day after, when the band was loading out, the kids at the venue were playing a song, a B-Side no less, on the jukebox by Richard Berry (not related to Chuck). The song, Louie, Louie, got a huge response from the attendant crowd and someone from the band thought it might be a good idea to record it.

The rest, as they say, is history. Never underestimate the power of a B-Side.

I have a copy of The Best Of Louie, Louie from 1983 (Rhino Records (RNEP 605))


…a whole album of Louie, Louie… from the original to covers by Rice University Marching Owl Band and Black Flag, this song is cool and this album is cool too!

April 29

OK, Barry White. I get it. You want to “sex” me. Or, you want me to “sex” someone else, while you play on my stereo… Subtlety is not your strong suit. Regardless, I’m happy to have three of your records in The Collection now, just in case. barrywhite Just in case my charm fails me, or flowers don’t do the trick, I now have a fallback plan… the Love Unlimited Orchestra on vinyl. Squeezing you, pleasing you, holding you, teasing you… I feel so loved! A limitless love, I can hardly contain my… love!

April 28

The next gem from my recent funk/soul score: Dr. John ‎– Desitively Bonnaroo:

The album really catches you eye with it’s silver card stock jacket. The tunes, most written by the singer, are pure funk New Orleans rhythm and blues psychedelica… all invented several albums before by Dr. John, aka Mac Rebennack.

Funny, he had to get out of New Orleans to invent the New Orleans sound I associate with New Orleans.

Anyway, this album again features Dr. John, backed by The Meters and produced by Allen Toussaint building on his previous record, the mega-hit In the Right Place, but failed to produce the same amount of enthusiasm.

It’s a good album and a heck of a lot of fun to listen to loud (sorry honey). If you get a chance, pay particular attention to the backing band and backup singers… delicious gumbo voodoo!

April 27

In between Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall and Thriller, while producing six other albums and working up the score for E.T., Quincy Jones found time to compose, perform, produce and release a top ten triple Grammy winning record, The Dude.

This was the album that first subjected us to James Ingram (of Yah Mo B There fame) that we would have to endure for the next two decades. The single from The Dude, One Hundred Ways, netted Ingram the Grammy for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. Here’s James winning zero awards for his lip-syncing skills on Soul Train:

The Dude is a great sounding record, has a ton of great players on it and was really fun to listen to. I even got to slow dance to Just Once, that was a bonus!

April 26

Hey Baby, aaaaaww yeah, that’s what I’m talkin’ about! Bring that over here. Give me a little taste of that Hot Buttered Soul

Released in 1969, Hot Buttered Soul was the second album by musician, songwriter and producer Isaac Hayes.

Hayes was well known for his work behind the scenes at Memphis based Stax Records, scoring many top hits for Stax recording artists. He was also a producer and session musician (along with Booker T. & The M.G.’s) for artists such as Otis Redding, Bill Withers, Wilson Pickett and Sam & Dave.

He appeared in many movies and TV shows in the ’70s, which led to his most famous incarnation (to the younger crowd, at least) as the voice of Chef on the Comedy Central series South Park.

Hot Buttered Soul is a full length studio album, over 45 minutes long. Yet, there are only four songs here; three covers and one Hayes original, the deliciously unpronounceable, splendiferous Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic.

Elsewhere, there’s a 12 minute version of a Burt Bacharach tune and, the standout, 18+ minute version of By the Time I Get to Phoenix… the song made famous by Glen Campbell.

My copy is a 99.9% VG 1972 re-press… it has one skip-inducing flaw square in the middle of Phoenix that’ll need attention. My first spin of this record was at 8 AM, after working the graveyard shift… I was enjoying a beer, my wife had her coffee. I thought Hot Buttered Soul was great fun! My wife, not so much… she rarely groans “Thank God!” after a record ends, but this was one of those moments.

We’ll have to try it again sometime after a proper cocktail hour… with the lights low, and the fireplace crackling. Hey Baby, aaaaaww yeah, that’s what I’m talkin’ about!

April 25

I recently scored a trove of R&B records at a small town thrift. Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Funkadelic, Rick James, Isaac Hayes… great stuff all. But, the record I was most excited to find was 1968s Lady Soul from Aretha Franklin:

Yup, Mrs. Murphy from The Blues Brothers!

At least that was how I was introduced to her.

It’s hard to overstate how influential movies like The Blues Brothers were to a kid living in the sticks of northern Idaho. There weren’t any concerts or all ages venues to speak of, there wasn’t a “scene”. Heck, there wasn’t even an FM rock radio station!

But we had a movie theater, and a drive in, and, by 1980, cable, video stores and don’t forget HBO. Somebody always had HBO. A (ahem…) friend of mine figured out which pins on which chip set to modify on the set-top cable box that would grant free HBO. That’s where I saw The Blues Brothers, and Aretha Franklin, for the first time:

Of course, 20 years later there was a sequel and Mr. and Mrs. Murphy revisited their scene from the classic:

But enough of the reminiscing, lets get to the record! Mine is an original 1968 pressing with a green/white/blue label that I’d not seen on another Atlantic record.

The Album starts strong with the #2 hit Chain Of Fools (#1 R&B), blows through a James Brown tune, settles in on the Curtis Mayfield classic People Get Ready then on to a song called Niki Hoeky (which I swear begins very much like the Tony Joe White tune Polk Salad Annie). The Goffin/King/Wexler #8 (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman closes the A side.

Side B opens with a Franklin penned (co-written by then husband Ted White) tune Since You’ve Been Gone (Sweet Sweet Baby), which was an R&B chart topper and a #5 Hot 100 tune, followed by Ray Charles’ Come Back Baby, and a mellow version of Groovin’.

This thrifty LP cleaned up to VG, just a bit of surface noise and a few pops to contend with. The cover, unfortunately, showed some water damage but is in fair condition.

I was smiling from the first note on this record, I was dancing a few bars in, all for a quarter.

April 24

Shotgun Willie is my favorite Willie Nelson album.

Granted, I haven’t listened to all 60+ of his studio recordings, not even close, but he probably hasn’t either 😉

His early recordings, like most of the Nashville Sound of the day, were overly formulaic with heavy strings and geared toward pleasing the establishment. The formula also meant they were producer dominated, and tightly controlled by the major publishing houses.

Shotgun Willie marked Nelson’s turn toward a more raw DIY ethos…

Outlaw Country.

Outlaw Country is part Rhinestone Cowboy, part Hells Angels; part Marlboro, part marijuana; part Grand Ole Opry, part Yasgur’s farm.

Outlaw Country was where Nashville met Haight-Ashbury… Austin, Texas. “Hippie” music was flourishing in the city and the freedom he found there a rejuvenated Nelson. No longer anchored by the Nashville ball and chain, his music became more honest and down-to-earth. Shotgun Willie is where Willie starts sounding like Willie! At once laid back and complex… not quite country, not quite rock, not quite jazz, but a good blending of all three.

Five out of the 12 songs were written by other songwriters, Whiskey River, Stay All Night and Bubbles In My Beer among them. The standout for me is the last song on the record: Leon Russel’s A Song For You.

April 23

Today’s re-discovery was Billboard’s “Female Entertainer of the Century”, Diana Ross, and her group The Supremes.

According to Wikipedia, Ross has sold more than 100 million records worldwide…

And I have one of them:

Mine is an ’80s re-issue and the only non-soundtrack record I have on the Motown label. It still sounds great, mostly due to the fact that it has spent most of its life not being played. Let’s rectify that injustice…

Where Did Our Love Go had three Holland/Dozier/Holland penned #1 singles on its side A; Where Did Our Love Go, Baby Love and Come See About Me, being about the only group in the U.S. that rivaled The Beatles for territory atop the charts at the time.

Side B standouts include the Smokey Robinson tune A Breathtaking Guy and another HDH great Standing at the Crossroads of Love.

Where Did Our Love Go is 31 minutes of joyful noise. Today it is even be good enough to make me forgive Ross for The Wiz!

April 22

Sometimes even a blind pig finds an acorn.

Digging through a grungy bin of vinyl at a local thrift store, I stumbled upon this:

…a 10 inch 33 1/3 RPM LP from The Chet Baker Quartet. This 1953 release on the Pacific Jazz label.

I don’t even know who The Chet Baker Quartet is, but the cool retro cover really caught my eye. The back cover… even cooler:


Anyway, the vinyl is hosed, scratched so badly I’m scared to even try and play it! I checked on Discogs to assess a value:


Yup, in VG to VG+ condition the thing has sold for between $25 and $200! Now if I could just find a buyer…

April 21

Birds prefer familiar foods. Limiting the choices on their menu helps limit unwanted surprises; poisonous or dangerous prey, for example. They also know that there is a pay off for finding this familiar thing. Ornithologically speaking they use what’s known as a “search image” to more easily detect what it is they are looking for.

We do the same thing when hunting for a specific thing, an edge puzzle piece or a stray stone in a bag of dry beans. We focus in on and image that will give us the pay off and those images become easier to see.

So too with digging for records.

I got my first copy of Time Out from The Dave Brubeck Quartet a month or two ago. I traded it for store credit (pay off) and started seeing Brubeck records everywhere! Next was Ramsey Lewis. I found a copy of Sun Goddess and now I must have 10 Lewis records.

Recently, fellow vinyl enthusiast Kevin has been trying to scoop early Jefferson Airplane records. His blog planted a search image in my mind and I started finding JA records all over the place. Case in point, Surrealistic Pillow:


I now have three copies of this record, a 1969 re-issue, a 1975 re-issue and a 1980 “best buy” re-issue.

All three copies are in good shape and very listenable. Today I played them back-to-back to try and determine a) if there was a discernible difference in quality of playback and b) which one to keep. I picked White Rabbit as the test due to the building dynamic as the song progresses.

Up first was 1969. This copy has the most distinctive pink cover of the bunch. The familiar bass and snare opening came in with a light crackle. Stereo right drums had a good snap and left had the trippy mellow guitar. There seemed to be a slight distortion in the vocals when Grace Slick cuts loose toward the end.

Up next was 1975. The cover seemed to have a slight sepia tone and a worse wear ring. Even so this copy had slightly less surface noise than the earlier version. Same stereo configuration but this time the bass felt a bit more pronounced and the guitar had a bit more edge. Same hint of distortion on the vocal.

Last but not least was 1980. The cover was more pale than the others but well preserved due to the fact that the cellophane was still intact. Quieter yet than the other two, the surface noise on the lead in was slightly more than a whisper. Drums right and guitar left felt wider apart than the previous plays and both were better defined. Not a hint of distortion in the vocals.

Were these differences due to pressing process? Vinyl quality? Re-mastering? Who knows… What I do know anecdotally is that the less a record has been played, the less the chance that the dope who owned it before me screwed it up!

So, the verdict is to trade off the more collectible 1969 and 1975 versions and hold on to the 1980.