June 30

I scored a big lot of near mint jazz records a while back. It was a Goodwill find and I was on a lunch break. I’m sure I’m not alone… other record diggers must know the feeling; you have an extra 5 minutes so you pop into a nearby thrift. You’re not expecting to find anything… you never do at this store… and then BAM! You’re walking out with 60 records! (Sorry honey)

I didn’t have time to fully think it through; I was there, there were ~60 big band/swing records in a tub, they were mostly obscure (to me, anyway) names and labels I’d never seen before. Some had never been opened! At $0.50 a pop, I’m taking them home:

Swing Score

Heck, they even threw in the bin!

Eventually it dawned on me… I’m never going to listen to all these records. I have a couple compilations of big band or swing albums. I have a few boxed sets by big named artists… Glenn Miller, Woody Herman, Count Basie. Would I play Jimmie Lunceford more than once?

Anyway, there are a dozen or more on the labels Circle, Hindsight and Giants Of Jazz; Bob Crosby, The Modernaires, Jan Garber, Charlie Spivak, Shep Fields… the list goes on.

Most of these recordings aren’t listed in the Discogs database, so you can bet that they’re fairly obscure. Most are from the late 70s or early 80s, so they contain previously released materials. Many are recordings that were meant as one time radio performances.

I’m going to try and trade them in for record store credit; I’ll let you know how it goes.

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June 29

So, here it is, my official half-way-through-365-days blog. I know, half of 365 is not 180, but 180 is my symbolic halfway point…Don’t judge me!

So, what to listen to? I can’t put my finger on any “half way” or “6 month” songs… but I do have some 180 gram vinyl in The Collection. This was my first:

Loggins And Messina ‎– Sittin’ In. This is the 2011 remaster of the original 1971 master tapes, courtesy of Joe Reagoso, Kevin Gray.

It all started a couple of year ago. I heard a version of Danny’s Song on XM Radio. I had always loved that tune no matter who covered it. I had recently set up my turntable for the first time in Spokane and I set out to find a vinyl record that had Danny’s Song on it.

My wife picked up on the search and, for my birthday last year, got me this version brand spanking new!

I can’t remember my previous brand new record…

Old habits die hard. I slit the cellophane open on the gatefold cover and cracked the thing open to smell the virgin vinyl; mmmmmm! The 180 gram record in a thick anti-static sleeve slid into my hand, a quick brush with the Discwasher and, silence! The lead in groove was a whisper, set up for the beautiful tones to follow.

Kenny Loggins was the dude that wrote all those movie songs and Jim Messina was in Poco. That’s what I knew. When I started to play acoustic guitar I started hearing some of the really great players outside of their classic rock hits. I also started paying attention to the songwriters and interpreters, still some of my favorite music today; but there was something about this combo… the way their voices and playing gelled, that really drew me backwards toward them like few other musicians have.

Sittin’ In (actual title: Kenny Loggins With Jim Messina Sittin’ In) was to be Loggins first album. Messina was a producer, but contributed so much of the content that he was entitled to co-credits. This worked out well for the then unknown Loggins, who was able to attract the attention of fans of Messina to his debut.

Sittin’ In is a gem of acoustic heavy music and grand harmony. Apart from the aforementioned Danny’s Song (written for Loggins’ brother) there is the whimsical House At Pooh Corner and a “trilogy” of three loosely related songs Lovin’ Me/To Make A Woman Feel Wanted/Peace Of Mind that are worth a listen… the trilogy hinting at the extended jamming tunes to follow on subsequent studio and live LPs.

It took me 40 years, but I have become a big Loggins And Messina fan. You can pick up many of their records at bargain basement prices, I suggest you do!

Pisces/Virgo rising is a very good sign!

June 28

Today the temperature soared to 105° Fahrenheit in Spokane, Wa. In an attempt to stay cool we decided to take our boat to Rock Lake. Preparations included fuel, safety gear, provisions (beer) and Oscar Brand ‎– Boating Songs And All That Bilge:

This collection of humorous (and occasionally bawdy) songs about boats and the idiots, lechers, drunkards and “Captains” that inhabit them set the stage well for our upcoming adventure.

This 1960 LP, a present from my lovely wife, is in near mint condition. It is one of many records by Oscar Brand, a folkie from Manitoba who played alongside such legends of folk music as Lead Belly, Woody Guthrie, Josh White, The Weavers, and Pete Seeger. He has written books on the folk song and folk song collections including The Ballad Mongers: Rise of the American Folk Song, Songs Of ’76: A Folksinger’s History Of The Revolution and Bawdy Songs & Backroom Ballads. (Thanks Wikipedia)

Still with us at 95, he continues to host the Oscar Brand’s Folksong Festival radio show every Saturday at on WNYC, now in its 70th year. This show, with Brand at the helm (see what I did there?) has run more or less continuously since its debut in 1945.

All but one of the 14 tunes here were penned by Brand. Tales of drinking, diving, fellowship and all other matter of sea shanty are represented. He updates the Drunken Sailor tune to the The Captain’s Daughter and The Ten Little Indians tune to Ten Little Fishermen; tunes that were popular car trip sing-alongs from my youth, but the opening standout was this tongue twister Big Little Boat Show:

Our powerboat excursion for the day turned out to be an unpowered raft float for the day, complete with sunburns, dehydration and the kindness of strangers. All the while I was thinking of Brand’s words; “Perhaps, to Captains, I am not a captain. But please, don’t ever tell that to my boat. My boat would never believe you. My boat is proud of me. To my boat I am Captain!”

June 27

For this month’s Stevie Wonder post I took a listen to 1973s Innervisions:

His 16th album in 11 years, Mr. Wonder is nothing if not prolific! And super talented, here he plays all (or most all) of the instruments on six or these nine tracks.

I love this “classic” period of Stevie Wonder’s career; basically stretching from after the Motown sound of Signed, Sealed & Delivered, hinted at in Where I’m Coming From and going all funky/trippy through Music of My Mind, Talking Book, Innervisions, Fulfillingness’ First Finale and Songs in the Key of Life.

Innervisions deals with many subjects of the day; drugs, love, inequality, strife, religion and hope. There were hit songs off this record, Higher Ground and Don’t You Worry ’bout a Thing, but the magnum opus Living For The City still rings true today.

The Standout for me is the jazzy Visions:

Have I lived to see the milk and honey land?
Where hate’s a dream and love forever stands
Or is this a vision in my mind?

June 26

Happy Fleetwood Mac Friday again everybody! Today’s FMF nearly took a back seat to some other, undefined, selection due to the monumental news that the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has decided that the right to marry the person you love, even if you are an Adam and he is a Steve, or you are an Eve and she is an Addison, is universal!

Hurrah!

We looked at our FM options and decoded on to select the 1973 release Mystery To Me:

First off, I’ve owned this record for 30+ years and don’t recall ever actually listening to the thing. Second, the reason we chose this album over any other FM record was because it included the song Good Things (Come to Those Who Wait) on side B… seemed like a fitting song title for the event. (More on that later.)

Prepping this record for action the question that most often comes up is: what the fuck is up with that cover art! A crying baboon eating a cake (and a book, apparently) on a beach adorns the front cover… a barefoot sage, sitting on a cement book, one hand on the dictionary, the other giving the Italian hand gesture for “be afraid”… and there’s that penguin again!

The cover art (I just can’t get over it) was credited to “Modula” who the Google machine has little to say about. The cover made several “worst of” lists, but that’s for another blog.

The only song that could be considered a “hit” on this record is the Bob Welch flagship Hypnotized:

But the bulk of this album was really a Christine McVie/Bob Welch collaboration with a bit of Bob Weston thrown in for good measure (specifically the beautiful slide guitar at the opening of the final track, McVie’s Why).

When we got to side B track 5 (listed on the sleeve and on the lyrics sheet as Good Things (Come to Those Who Wait) we were surprised that a Yardbirds cover, For Your Love, came out of the speakers!

Seems the inclusion of For Your Love and the exclusion of Good Things (Come to Those Who Wait) was a late decision and I’m lucky enough to have an early pressing that advertises the latter.

But, in honor of SCOTUS, I’ve pulled this one random line out of the song Believe Me:

In this crazy world we’re in

Is it really such a sin to love you?

I’m talking to you Antonin Scalia (blows a kiss).

June 25

So, I sat down and listened to a commercial stereo speaker demonstration record today. On purpose. For fun:

The thing is called Sessions and it was released by the James B. Lansing speaker company; JBL.

Apparently, in 1973, the booming hi-fi business saw many companies enter into the stereo loudspeaker market. JBL thought that if they could get some facts (wrapped in propaganda, of course) into the hands of potential consumers, the obvious choice of speaker would be JBL. Hi-fi shops would use this record to demo stereo speakers in their stores, then loan out or give away this record to customers who shopped elsewhere or were home-demoing speakers.

The record breaks down several pieces of music into individual instruments and an announcer guides the listener on what to listen for. There’s also a frequency test (I can still hear up to 14kHz!) and a fly on the wall visit to a Hoyt Axton recording session.

This is not for everyone, I’m sure, but I’m obsessed enough to have enjoyed it!

June 24

A few years back I stopped in an interesting antique store in the little town of Wallace, Idaho. Instead of cutesy doily covered Victorian end tables and colored Pyrex, this place was man cave cool; lots of signage, industrial stuff, architectural salvage… and a big pile of records.

There was a turntable there too, and a receiver tuned to some classic rock station. As I picked up the first record off the pile the proprietor piped up, “Those aren’t for sale. Those are MY records!”

I was in there again a few weeks back. The turntable and receiver were both gone, but the pile of records was right where I had left it. I asked this time and the proprietor said “Yup, they’re for sale, $10 each!”

There were a few interesting things in the pile and everything was in good shape… but $10? Geez. An then I saw it:

Jimi Hendrix ‎– Band Of Gypsys with puppet versions of Jimi, Brian Jones, Bob Dylan and John Peel on the cover; the Puppet Sleeve!

This one was a 1970 original pressing on the Track Records label. The cover was VG but the vinyl did have some scuffs and scratches. Still, I shelled out my $10 and headed for the door.

Now, I’ve had the CD version of Band Of Gypsys for years and, even though I tend to shy away from live recordings, this one is pretty killer.

When I got a chance to listen to it there was quite a bit of crackle (expected) but it didn’t take away from the fact that I HAD A PUPPET SLEEVE COPY OF BAND OF GYPSYS!!! It did sound strange to me though, like the track order was different, or even the recording version was different… I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

I had a few beers, this record started sounding better and better to me… but I was sure this version of Machine Gun was longer than my CD version.

A buddy came over and I played it for him, sounding really good now, but this was definitely a alternate recording from what I had on CD… was the Puppet Sleeve a recording from another performance?

The other day I finally fished out my CD version to compare, I had to get to the bottom of this…

They are exactly the same, I’m just an idiot.

JH1