Rawlinson End movie

Why does the movie “Sir Henry At Rawlinson End” get such a bad rap amongst average film goers and even some die hard Bonzo Dog Band fans alike? (tho it was well received critically upon release)
Being a huge fan of Vivian Stanshall, he’s one of my Personal Style Gods, I went into this hard to find film suitably wary, yet left thinking that this is a perfect cinematic hallmark of whom some call the last of the British Eccentrics.
Everyone in the room of fifteen people that I was in truly enjoyed this movie and some had never even heard of Vivian Stanshall.
Who was Vivian Stanshall? Impossible to encapsulate. Moustachioed drinking buddy of Keith Moon and member of The Beatles’ favourite band The Bonzo Dog Band. I regard The Bonzos as the greatest rock band of all time. Yes, they were funny but they were also nuanced and handy with a ballad, truly witty and catchy songsmiths that made things explode onstage. Their pastiches and wild dandyisms predated glam.
(Just read a great quote in a 1973 ish of Creem yesterday that really helps to solidify this theory: “Melody Maker’s Chris Welch is probably right when he says that if they had stuck together a few more months, they would have been the kings of Glam-rock. That’s the breaks.”
VIVIAN STANSHALL:
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Stanshall later created a certain mythology around a mad aristocratic family that meandered in a crumbling castle named Rawlinson End. Representing the hazy decline of The British empire that he performed as radio plays regularly on John Peel’s show.
The movie was written by Stanshall who also plays a small role. One may recognize some familar faces if you’ve seen a few British films…
No real rising or falling action, it’s just a strange snapshot of ghost exorcisms, prisoners of war on the manor, etcetera, there is a plot or few in there! Incredibly witty, many of us wanted to view it again to catch all of the jokes and goings on. “If I had all the money I’d spent on drink I’d spend it on drink!” Utterly loony.
This movie is completely unmarketable and delightful. A perfect visual representation of the Rawlinson End mythos.
When the director was asked why he filmed it entirely in sepiatone he didn’t reply. The answer is obvious.
Reccommended for fans of Guy Maddin and fans of British comedy of which this should be placed highly in the pantheon of.
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A-Covay II – Give Me Some Lemon

When last we left our hero, soulster Don Covay, we had talked a little about his background as a soul artist and had made the point he was way more successful as a songwriter of hits for others than as an artist in his own right. After his circa 1968 gimmick of uniting a bunch of soul stars under the group name The Soul Clan failed to get anything going for his career, Covay scrambled to find something to bring himself back into the public eye.

This frustration with his lack of chart success led Covay to come up with a gimmick to take advantage of the blues revival and all of the white artists (mostly British) making hard core blues albums.

Together with white blues artist John Hammond and Shirelles’ guitarist Joe Richardson (but credited under Covay’s name) he made an album co-credited to the mostly imaginary Jefferson Lemon Blues Band (a play on the name of the famous bluesman Blind Lemon Jefferson and possibly the inspiration for Cheech and Chong’s legendary blues pastiche) called House of Blue Lights which was basically himself and a few friends like Hammond trying to make a deep blues CD. Surprisingly, it is an excellent effort that stands up solidly next to anything Cream, Hendrix, Fleetwood Mac or any other blues-based band was doing at the time.

Sounding like it was recorded at a roadhouse somewhere, Covay’s old-timey hollered vocals add an authetic feel to a record that is basically a concept album Covay was using to draw attention to his flagging career. Standards like Key To The Highway are pitted against Covay originals such as Homemade Love and House of Blue Lights (not the Freddie Slack chestnut) and draw attention to the fact Covay could adapt his writing style and his vocals to just about any genre of music. The key to a great song is how well it can be adapted and over the years Covay’s songs have been proven to be as good as anyone’s.

A song from the album, “Black Woman”, managed to climb up to number 43 on the R&B charts and this small feat encouraged Covay and company to record another Jefferson Lemon Blues Band CD, this time for Janus Records. Called Different Strokes for Different Folks, the album stalled and became another roadblock in Covay’s road to getting a hit.

Eventually Covay did strike pop gold, two years later on his hard-to-find-but-well-worth-looking-for album Superdude, scoring about four medium-sized hits. These two blues albums are the Holy Grail, though, and indie label Sepiatone has recently re-released the first one in an excellent package. Needless to say, the album blew my mind. Haven’t located the second one yet, but I am sure one label will put it out someday. Find it on vinyl if you can.

In the next blog we will talk about the groove-head masterpiece Superdude as well as a great tribute CD to Mr. Covay.

Has Somebody Been Enjoying Your Home?

The Music Nerd Knows…..

“Scarface: Def Jam Presents Origins Of A Hip Hop Classic”-pffffft…

I have been make illustrations for the next issue of Cinema Sewer (www.cinemasewer.com). These illos are for an article on movies that have had their so-called strong dialogue edited for televison by being dubbed differently in strange ways. As research I have been revisiting movies like Blue Velvet (still great), Ghostbusters (yes, Dan Aykroyd was funny once!), Pulp Fiction (yawn), and Scarface (still great). The Scarface had alot of great bonuses including a short that highlighted the edited and altered for TV version (“Where’d you get that scar? Eating pineapple?”). Another short was on Scarface’s influence on hip hop. It was utterly pointless and ridiculous having to hear all these rappers hype up Scarface, the obviously unlikeable character who’s, er, actually quite a bad man. Yet still they give him props for coming from humble beginnings, having bling, blah blah blah. An idiotic rapper actually named himself Scarface! I’d really like to do a short feature like that one but have it be hip hop tipping its’ hat to “Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer” including having a rapper named Henry talk about how the character influenced him. “He came from such humble beginnings.” “He never took no for an answer.”

Don’t Be Concerned…..

     Amidst the above-affluent abundance of riches to be found within a typical mid-Sixties Top Forty, it was all too easy to find true certain gems far too frequently lost in the grooves of such a golden rush.  SO much good music;  SO many absolute hit wonders moving past your window in the wind out on the new horizon…..

Case very much in point:  Ear glued, as always, to mighty 1050 CHUM-AM in my home and native Toronto, a literally lighter-than-airwaves apparition known as the “Elusive Butterfly” somehow alit right there upon my childhood six transistors, just beneath Nancy Sinatra’s boots, those ubiquitous Beatles and, speaking of Nowhere Men, S/Sgt. Barry Sadler’s Green-Ballad Berets.  Heady company indeed, speaking even of the 3/21/66 CHUM Chart Survey.

Now, flash forward four long decades:  Bob Lind, the man who wrote and sang said very special song, is not only happily active and creating and performing from his newfound Boca Raton base, but is today the focal point as well of an equally welcome turn of events called Lind Me Four.  Wherein one of our all-time favorite powerful poppers – yes, none other than Spongetone super Jamie Hoover – expertly recaptures not only the “Butterfly” in question, but a trio of other delicate delights from the venerable Lind songbook.  

Background vocals awash in yellow orange chorale swirls, guitars ring and drench as only an artist with ears totally attuned knows just how…  the otherwise improbable combination of a Hoover and a Lind is, in fact, totally responsible for one of the most gracious gifts of music you or I can hope to hear.  Be it 2006 or even, dare I say it, 1966.

A-Covay Part 1

Old school soul has always been one of The Nerd’s favorite kinds of music. The love began as I started to analyze music as a player. As a burgeoning drummer, I immediately fell in love with drummers who could make a groove swing and make people dance. The pyrotechnics of many rock drummers like Keith Moon and John Bonham, although impressive, didn’t really move me much – I was more into Al Jackson, Bernard Purdie and whoever played on the soul records I heard as a child. Their grooves were enormous and sucked me into the soul world.

I remember one of my favorite songs being Chain of Fools by Aretha Franklin. When I finally got the album it was on many years down the line, I saw in the writer’s credits it was written by Don Covay. Although I searched pretty hard for info and albums (this was prte-Internet after all) I could never find anything by him in the “C” section and just assumed he was a studio songwriter and had never put out any albums on his own.

Boy, was I wrong! He has actually put out quite a few discs, all of them decent and some of them great.

Now, when people think of Don Covay….I started that sentence just to see what it would sound like because you and I both know people don’t ever think of Don Covay. You know why? Because radio never plays his songs and labels really haven’t re-issued his output properly despite his being the writer of over 15 gold records.

To be honest, Covay had always had more success as a songwriter than as an artist. His classic ’60’s song “See Saw” has always been his biggest hit and that came relatively early on in his singing and songwriting career. He never stopped trying to hit it big, though, releasing albums and singles with regularity right up until the ’80’s.

His songwriting, on the other hand, made big waves and continues to do so. Everyone from Aretha to Wilson Pickett to The Rolling Stones have covered his songs, making him a go-to guy when soul stars and rock bands were looking for something soulful to cover. You can still find plenty of albums with Covay songs on them, his songs being evergreens that could drive a star up the charts at any time. Though it’s been a while since a Covay song went high up the charts, his songs are so solid the potential is always there to see one of his songs in the top 10.

Still, he always wrote new songs and continued to perform and show up on albums every once in a while. Not many people know it, but Don Covay filled in for Mick Jagger on the Stones’ Dirty Work CD. You see, Mick and Keith Richards had been feuding over Mick’s then upcoming solo album She’s The Boss and neither one of them wanted to see the other in the studio. Covay (and also Bobby Womack) would sing the guide vocals on the Stones songs so Mick could go in to the studio at a later date and lay down his vocals. On certain parts of the CD, especially Harlem Shuffle, you can still hear Covay and Womack in the background, singing their brains out.

I have given you a little background info on Covay because everything I write about this week is going to involve him. I hope to tell you about two little known blues rock albums he put mout in the early ’70’s that show his versatility in the rock arena and also tell you a little about a series of tribute albums done by Jon Tiven on Shanachie Records – one of which is dedicated to Don Covay.

If you can, find some of Covay’s music. It is soulful as hell and immensely heart-felt – each song containing nothing but the truth and a big fat beat to go along with it.

Do you know about Don Covay?

The Music Nerd Knows….and you will too, starting with the next blog.

Expressions from Venice, California

Sponto Gallery, 7 Dudley Avenue, Venice, CA — July 19th 2006, 6:30 p.m., Dumb Angel presents a Beatnik Beach Film Screening, featuring Dirty Feet (a 90-minute film shot in 1965 at Balboa’s Prison of Socrates coffeehouse), plus a slideshow of Southern California Beat Generation hangouts and live surf instrumental music by the Insect Surfers. For information call (310) 399-2078.

Venice West (also known as Venice Beach or Venice-of-America) was a tributary European conception by wealthy eccentric Abbot Kinney. Kinney’s vision was to transplant Venetian culture to the West Coast of America with Italian-designed architectural masterpieces created during the early 20th Century. By the late ’50s/early ’60s, Venice boasted two of the most subterranean of all Southern California “Beat Generation” hang-outs — the Venice West Café (7 Dudley Ave.) and its mad-hatter counterpart, the Gas House (1501 Ocean Front Walk).

Gondola rides on the Venice Canal created an American / Italian flavor. A neighborhood of these canals still exists, cool and funky along with the counterpart shopping groove on Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Equator Books, outsider Surf wear shop Hydrolab, tiki store Cruz Vintage, cool coastal furniture shops Surfin’ Cowboys and French 50s-60s are a few of the highlights. The literary center, Beyond Baroque (open Fridays and Saturdays) is nearby on Venice Boulevard.

Windward Avenue served as an opulent entrance to the Venice Ocean Front Walk area. Abbot Kinney’s original concept for Venice West was to bring world-class art galleries and opera to his settlement. Pop culture and carnival atmosphere out-paced the highfalutin setting early on. As decay set in during the ’50s, an art scene unforseen by Abbot Kinney would call Venice West home.

NOT “The Girl in the Mini Skirt” whose praises were sung by The Era of Sound in 1966. And . . . she doen’t look too interested in the Arcade games. But, you can stand in this location on Windward Avenue today and still absorb a pretty interesting environment. In our time, retro clothing and book shop Animal House is across the street, where she’s facing, while to her left, Small World Books sits alongside our fave local eats place, the Sidewalk Cafe. These shops, along with a few of the places mentioned on Abbot Kinney, carry Dumb Angel #4: All Summer Long. Behold, some of the columnated ruins that didn’t domino.

Royal family of the Venice West Beat scene during the 1950s — Wallace Berman with his wife Shirley and son Tosh on the boardwalk of Venice, California. The backdrop here is leftover set decorations used to simulate Tijuana for Orson Welles’ 1958 noir masterpiece, Touch of Evil

The Bathing Pavillion was the defining edifice of early Venice. Like most of what you see here, it’s all long-gone.

Theatrical Asian mythology meets European gothic in this striking example of Venice Beach vernacular architecture. The mix of grandiose and carnival became commonplace in California during the first half of the 20th Century (a style now referred to as “California Crazy”)

Another Venice example of California Crazy . . . here a molten edifice dubbed “The Grand Canyon”

The Venice Ballroom was one of many out by the oceanside catering to Angelenos who wished to engage in ballroom dancing. Apparently, like the Sunset Strip in 1966, Los Angeles authorities weren’t too keen on dancing around the turn of century, so it was primarily done at this unincorporated beach area, away from provincial hassles. In 1967, the same thing would happen when the Venice Ballroom became the Cheetah.

Ballroom dancehalls provided the large venue space needed to accommodate the popularity of new dance crazes at the dawn of the Jazz Age and Swing Era

Café Nat Goodwin’s, an early movie biz hangout. The original film stars would imbibe at the Alexandria Hotel in downtown L.A., but soon enough, the loose atmosphere around Venice became the main draw.

Baron Long’s Ship Cafe was the other main hangout during the early days of cinema. MGM Studios would open in nearby Culver City, and that non-Los Angeles township became thee thespian watering hole during the Jazz Age. Frank Sebastian’s Cotton Club (gigs by Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton), Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle’s Plantation Cafe and Danceland (all on Washington Boulevard) were the top venues there.

‘A crowd of people stood and stared . . .’ — turn-of-the-century Venice Beach, Sgt. Pepper style.

“C’mon Baby, Let’s Do the Swim!” Bathing Pavllion, Venice.

Outside view of the Venice West Café, now the Sponto Gallery (7 Dudley Ave.). On July 19th, Dumb Angel will host a “Beatnik Beach” film screening at Sponto, featuring a slideshow of SoCal Beat Generation coffeehouses, including more on the Venice West Café, plus others

Inside the Venice West Café . . . behind these jazz cats, on the wall, is Wallace Berman’s bohemian benediction: “Art is Love is God.”

1959 — Lawrence Lipton’s discerning look at the Venice West Beat scene, featuring tales of the Venice West Café and the Gas House, as well as its many poets, artists, scenesters and entrepreneurs.

Lawrence Lipton (left) with Ed “Big Daddy” Nord, owner of the Gas House

The Gas House. A huge civic battle raged over the existence of this place in 1960. Early 20th Century comedic phenoms Groucho Marx and Stan Laurel pitched in some bread to help save the Beats. The Gas House was razed, but not before Venice poet and author Stuart Perkoff made a brilliant appearance on You Bet Your Life. The history of the Venice Beat scene has been well-documented more recently in John Arthur Maynard’s book Venice West: The Beat Generation in Southern California (Rutgers University Press, 1991).

Portrait of the Gas House gang in Venice, drawn by Shanna Baldwin, circa 1960 (Used by permission, courtesy of Shanna Baldwin and S.E. Griffin)

Overhead view of the Venice Pier area during Abbot Kinney’s day

The same pier, rennovated and re-opened in 1959 as Pacific Ocean Park

“And Disneyland and P.O.P. is worth a trip to L.A.” sang the Beach Boys in “Amusement Parks U.S.A.” from Summer Days (and Summer Nights!!!), 1965. The Modernist entrance, Raymond Lowery-inspired sky ride and cheese-cut Neptune fountain entrance added up to the perfect Nautical-Modern experience.

At the end of the pier, Pacific Ocean Park featured a Tiki ride, “South Sea Island,” sponsored by U.S. Rubber.

Surrounded by the sky ride orbs above and a waterfall below, South Sea Island provided a relaxing, last outpost from L.A., positioned
as it was out on the ocean

Bas relief of the South Sea Island entrance. “An unforgettable visit to the tropics via an exciting Banana Train ride through a volcanic crater, erupting geysers, an earthquake and a tropical storm.” — P.O.P. brochure

South Sea Island took you on a tour of a volcano interior, with Martin Denny-styled music filling out the sound

Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys pose with models at Pacific Ocean Park for a summer, 1966 photo spread in Teen magazine’s “Giant Surfari Issue”. A sunshiny photo of Cheryl Tiegs graced the cover. Bass harmonica and theremin were already thick in their music.

Clearly, the old Venice Ballroom served a good purpose when it was opened as the Cheetah in early 1967. Headliners were primarily groups that had flourished in the suddenly-banned teenage nightclubs of the Sunset Strip during 1965/1966; Love headlined a Cheetah bill featuring Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band. The Standells and the Leaves held the place in rapture another night. The Doors and Iron Butterfly played as well. Tonight, it’s Sky Saxon’s birthday party with a performance by the Seeds. Photo courtesy Hillary Paine.

The Cheetah was the California offshoot of New York City’s incredibly successful Cheetah club, opened in 1966. The Cheetah Boutique was also opened inside of both clubs, with a line of clothing designed specifically for the Mod set. Opening for the Seeds at this engagement were the Boston Tea Party (who released a cool LP on the Flick-Disc label) and the West Coast Branch (regulars out at the Flying Jib in Redondo Beach . . . with 45s of “Spoonful” on Valiant in ’66 and “Colors of My Life” on A&M in ’67). Photo courtesy Hillary Paine.

Big Brother & the Holding Company came down to Venice from San Francisco to play the Cheetah; Janis Joplin had tried her first marijuana cigarette in a Venice coffeehouse in 1962. In from Arizona, a regular opening act at the Cheetah were the Nazz. They later signed with Frank Zappa’s Bizzare/Straight Label and became Alice Cooper (due to the Pennsylvania band who’d recorded “Open My Eyes” already bein’ around). The Strawberry Alarm Clock made their appearance in Psych-Out at the Cheetah — despite the film being based in San Francisco. On the first episode of The Mod Squad, the Other Half were shown performing “No Girl Gonna Cry” at the Cheetah. Just prior to opening, Herb Alpert filmed a dramatic segment in the old ballroom for one of his TV specials. Photo courtesy Hillary Paine.

— BRIAN CHIDESTER & DOMENIC PRIORE


NITECLUBS

On Thursday, June 2nd, Dumb Angel attended the debut of Kitty Diggin’s incredibly well-thought out theme club Dandy at Safari Sam’s on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. The first night’s soiree was subtitled An Evening of Candy Stripes, Brocade, Ruffly Sleeves and Absinthe-Inspired Visions. The audience came decked out in ’20s gear, with DJs Prickle and Shauna spinning an intense mix of songs somewhere between Duke Ellington’s “The Mooch” and Peter & Gordon’s “Lady Godiva”. The correlation between ’20s and ’60s fashion and music was complete, with the Kinks’ “Dandy” somewhat defining the direction of ensuing affairs. “1960s Carnaby Street had this wealth of appreciation for the ’20s,” Diggins told Dumb Angel, “Lavender velvet pantsuits, paisley shirts with ascots and scarves, plus the flapper bob hairstyle were all a huge part of Carnaby’s flair and lasting appeal.” A group of appropriately-attired Go Go dancers were workin’ all night, with the evening’s musical highlight coming from New York City’s Armen Ra — Master of the Theremin. Classically-trained, and from a family of musicians in Tehran, his Middle Eastern melodic sense raised the bar in an already unique evening of fun, dancing and sound. The next Dandy (July 13th) promises to be every bit as enlightening, this time subtitled: Bastille Day Go For Barouque.

— DOMENIC PRIORE

A wild tyme was had by all at Dandy. Photo courtesy of http://www.drunkrockers.com/.

Miss Primm. Photo by John Scott Perreira.

Sir D’Andy Luxe and Kitty Diggins. Photo by John Scott Perreira.

Creekbird. Photo by John Scott Perreira.

Miss Primm. Photo by John Scott Perreira.

Prince Poppycock. Photo by John Scott Perreira.

A few Absinthe-Inspired Visions. Photo by John Scott Perreira.

Mr.Uncertin and the Pobelle Twins aka “Uncertwin.” Photo by John Scott Perreira.

Armen Ra w/ Theremin. Photo by John Scott Perreira.

Armen Ra takes the mood beyond. Photo by John Scott Perreira.

Dandy attendee Melissa Jean on the veranda, Sunset Boulevard in the background. Photo by John Scott Perreira.

Master Showman Kitty Diggins. Photo by Dr. Mangor.

Dandy audience member Tiffany

Dandy ended with an incredible ’20s / ’60s DJ mix by Prickle (who took most of these photos) and Shauna. In this rockstar-free environment, the participants were the headline act.


In tribute to the cool vibe at Dandy, Dumb Angel here reprints a series of photos from a similar party covered in Surfing Illustrated during February, 1966:

Surfer girl goes Bonnie Parker

Mickey Munoz and Hidie Edwards dance it up in their flapper attire

On a Loony Tunes level . . . host Greg Noll receives a bomb for his new surfboard factory from shaper / competitor, Hobie Alter


Promotional program for Dirty Feet, from 1965, written by producer/director Ted Nikas about his experiences in making the film around his coffeehouse, the Prison of Socrates

To see all of this and more, please join Dumb Angel at Sponto Gallery (7 Dudley Ave., Venice, CA) on July 19th, 2006, at 6:30 p.m. The screening will include boss clips from various beatnik-related films, a slideshow of SoCal beat coffeehouses, the Dirty Feet feature film and live music by the Insect Surfers. Ted Nikas, the filmmaker who created Dirty Feet, will be on-hand for Q&A

Corwood 0779

         JANDEK

                                        GLASGOW SUNDAY


                                                   DVD
                                       ASPECT RATIO  4 : 3

   1.  NOT EVEN WATER                                                             (10:24)

   2.  WHERE I STAY                                                                    (7:29)

   3.  DARKNESS YOU GIVE                                                          (9:37)

   4.  SEA OF RED                                                                        (7:50)

   5.  REAL WILD                                                                         (6:25)

   6.  DON’T WANT TO BE                                                             (5:55)

   7.  BLUE BLUE WORLD                                                             (6:42)

   8.  THE OTHER SIDE                                                                 (6:48)

 

   FILMED LIVE:   THE ARCHES   GLASGOW   SCOTLAND   OCTOBER 17. 2004 


 

© (P) 2006 CORWOOD INDUSTRIES
                 P.O. BOX 15375
          HOUSTON, TEXAS 77220
                        U.S.A.

CD Collecting Is Next To Godliness….

I thought I would take a break from the usual blogging about semi-obscure artists and their recordings to tell you a little more about The Nerd, which is me. Specifically, how I go about CD scavanging and getting these wonderful CDs I write about.

First off, let’s be honest – like any person who “collects” things, sometimes I feel like my penchant for hunting CDs is actually a sickness or, maybe more accurately, a compulsion I cannot help. I have sometimes decided to buy CDs instead of pay a bill. Thankfully, these occasions are rare and usually I can control my spending, buying just enough to satisfy my herculean thirst for cool music without jeopardizing things like my home.

When I was a teenager and just starting to become obsessed with music, the way I would usually hunt down new albums was to start at the writer’s credits of the songs on the albums. For example, one of my favorite bands is the Rolling Stones. In checking out their records I would invariably find some songs written by a C. Berry or McKinley Morganfield. Well, most music fans would recognize these names as aliases of Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters. Once I figured these things out I would start by searching down those artists’ records and learning about them and their influences. I did that for just about every album I acquired, artists leading me to more artists, expanding my musical tastes as I went. I don’t collect much that way anymore, but I am still a compulsive liner note reader, as I believe most music freaks are. I am always scouring for more names, whether they be contemporaries or influences – anything to give me another lead to find music I might like.

Of course, collecting music can be much simpler than the way I do it. A music fan could just be interested in a certain artist and be determined to track down every release, whether it be import, domestic, single or album. Or, like some collectors I know, a person could just be fanactical about a certain genre, say metal, and be determined to seek out the very best stuff, no matter how obscure or rare.

I have noticed these days it’s getting easier and easier to find stuff you had to really search for years ago. Thanks to the Internet, the world is pretty much just an email or website away. Personally, unlike most collectors and music buyers, I don’t really use the Internet to find music I am looking for. I have always felt it was too easy. I take what I like to call a “zen” approach to finding music. I believe the music I am “supposed” to find is out there just waiting for me to get in the right store and find it. Being a music nut, I have a huge want list comprising many artists, genres, and traits. But when I go somewhere to search for music, be it flea market, garage sale, used CD store, thrift store, whatever – I am not trying to find anything overly specific. What I am looking for is for something to “jump out” at me and almost “command” me to buy it. It doesn’t have to be on my want list or anything, it just has to be something I think is going to be cooler than anything else I might find that day. Do I always have to leave a store having bought something? Not always, but I usually do. Any decent size store in my area (Charlotte, NC)- Manifest, CD Warehouse, Record Exchange, what have you – is going to have something I want, new or used, whatever.

I have found Charlotte, where I’ve lived for the past 11 years, to be a haven for music collecting. While only medium-sized, it is on the grow (damn, I should work for the city) and people moving here bring their CDs with them, only to trade them in when they buy an Ipod or if money gets tight. More people means better selection and I have found many rare items (especially Blue Note jazz)over the past few years I don’t think I would have found if not for the constant influx of new people.

Now, I have went to Atlanta several times and have tried to do some CD shopping at Little Five Points (I believe that’s what the area is called) and have found absolutely nothing each time I went. Maybe it’s not all about population – maybe Charlotte has something other places don’t, I don’t know.

So, is my music collecting jones sickness or passion? Often, I have no idea. What I do know is this – if you look hard enough in the music shops in Charlotte on any given weekend, you will find someone who looks just like me quickly flipping through the CD stacks looking for some sort of musical Holy Grail.

Just remember – if you find something cool for yourself in the stacks – I was there first and it wasn’t cool enough for me.

The Music Nerd Knows……

I Love A Good Organ

The title of this piece grabbed you, huh? Before you go and call the FCC or whoever controls that kind of stuff, I just want you to know I am talking about the musical kind of organ, specifically the Hammond B-3. Though I really dig the distinctive Hammond sound no matter who is playing, my favorite organist is Jimmy Smith.

Like most of the classic organists, Smith started his musical career by playing piano before moving to the Hammond, studying the piano at several prestigious music schools. Once Smith heard the organ, however, it was love at first listen (I would think he probably heard some great Fats Waller organ stuff) and he rarely deviated from the organ from 1951 or so onward.

In a mere five years, Smith had begun making classic albums for Blue Note – 1960’s Back at the Chicken Shack and The Sermon, released in 1958, being just two of them. Then, after leaving Blue Note in 1963 and jumping to Verve, he made yet another round of classic albums between 1963-1972. What made his records special was Smith’s fusion of his influences. And, no, I am not talking about jazz fusion – which I absolutely detest. I am talking about Smith’s fusion of gospel music and blues into a brand of music you can’t help but smile and tap your feet along with while listening.

While the two albums above are great examples of what Jimmy Smith does when he is at his best, you can pick up any album he made between 1958 and 1974 and be completely awed by the quality of the music. Disco and the wane of funk-jazz did him in for much of the ’70’s and ’80’s, but Smith always toured and re-gained a lot of his success when Europeans stumbled across acid-jazz in the late ’80’s. Before his death last year, Smith had rightfully become a legend and put out a string of great CDs in the ’90’s reminding us age has nothing to do with the decline of creativity. Take that, Paul McCartney!

You can always tell a Jimmy Smith record from the masterful bass-lines and chordal accompaniment – not to mention the thrilling solos – which just about alter your body, turning it into nothing more than an adjunct of Smith’s organ. How else can you explain the reason I have to start dancing, jitterbugging, and jiving whenever I listen to Smith’s music? And that just happens when I listen to his ballads! The uptempo stuff makes me move around like I’m on crack!

There are other great orgainists as well: Jimmy McGriff, Big John Patton, Larry Young, Joey DeFrancesco – and the list goes on – but all pay tribute to Smith whenever they turn their organs on.

If you are a jazz or funk fan and want to hear some of the best music of your life, please check out Jimmy Smith if you haven’t already done so. All the classics are out there, most still in print, and really anything you pick up with Smith’s name on it is going to be great.

Do you love your organ?

The Music Nerd knows…….

Radios Appear on Wilshire Boulevard

Tickets are on sale now for the debut U.S. date for Radio Birdman, August 30. I never dared expect that my favorite band, and subject of the first music feature I ever wrote, would be kicking off their American tour at the art deco Wiltern in my home town of L.A., but it’s true. Tix are $25, and the BellRays open. See you there?