Connie Smith (1965) s/t (LP) RCA 3341

Connie Smith

S/T

1965

RCA 3341

Produced by Bob Ferguson

***** Good Shit

While some of her female contemporaries might be more well known, Connie could easily stand next to any of them, as this debut album surely shows.

Bill Anderson is credited on nearly half of the selections, the other songs credited to a variety of other songwriters: Betty Sue Perry, William B. Morgan, Baker Knight, Hank Cochran, and Willie Nelson.  All of the cuts are good, and the majority are great.

Ferguson’s production is a wonderful balance of just enough but not too much, and the same can be said about the band’s contributions.  Smith’s beautiful voice is wisely the center of all the songs, but the involvement of others help make this such a classic.  She’s the statue, and the others rise her up and provide the lighting to accent her beauty.  This is a work of art built to last.

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Any respectable fan of hillbilly music, should give this set a spin.  If you’re looking for a place to begin with this artist, you just found it.

— winch (author of Junk Like That and Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s)

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Piano Red: Rockin’ With Red

William Lee Perryman…aka Piano Red…aka Dr. Feelgood…an essential part of the story of American music…1950 “Rockin’ with Red” and “The Wrong Yoyo” the next year, years before Bill Haley…rock and roll was mostly just a racist term trying to convince people that white artists had invented something…Red’s boogie woogie and barrelhouse blues (as well as Louis Jordan’s jump blues) clearly giving Haley his cues…Red’s music clearly showing a bridge back to ragtime…and while the so-called rock and roll is said to have brought black music to white audiences, ragtime had done that in a big way over fifty years earlier…and Red recorded for and played for white audiences years before the so-called rock and roll hit the charts….if Red don’t put a grin to your chin and a tap to your toes you might as well give it up and give up the ghost. — winch

Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band Meets King Penett (1978) RCA (AFL1-2402)

Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band
Meets King Penett
RCA (AFL1-2402)
1978
Producer: Stony Browder, Jr.
Rating: **** (Recommended)

This NYC outfit was primed for continued success but with this second album, they pulled further back into their own thing and offered more focus on acoustic instrumentation.  This is quite similar to the debut, except with less of the blatant disco elements.  All this didn’t help this group commercially, but it certainly helped create another timeless set.

   

While this again mixes all kinds of styles from the past and takes plenty of risks, it’s also quite cohesive.  Some have pointed out an experimental quality to this album, but the songs are also accessible pop music.  This blending of pop styles must have had an influence on other artists.  


While the instrumentations come from many sources, Cory Daye’s wonderful vocals are at the front of much of the material, and the influence this band had on vocalist Sade is especially clear on this album.  Of course, this is a bit more playful and considerably more interesting.

And the influences go beyond the obvious.

While Quincy Jones likely had an influence on this music, this band probably also inspired Mr. Jones.  And I can’t help wonder if we would have had Purple Rain without albums such as this one.  Rain is a completely different album, but both sets have an ambitious and adventurous quality, and both run through a variety of sounds while still sounding cohesive.
While this didn’t sell well, and even today some might find this set a disappointment after their classic debut, this still has plenty of charm.  In fact, it has charm to spare.

It’s a set you could play for your great-grandma or your teenage daughter, and you’d probably get grins from both of them.  It’s another fine example of their neo-retro pop music.

— winch

Stoney Browder, Jr.: production, music, vocals, guitar, piano
August Darnell: lyrics, vocals, bass
Cory Daye: vocals
Mickey Sevilla: drums
Andy Hernandez: vibes, marimba, accordion
Orchestrations: Jimmy Haskell & Van Alexander

Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band (1976) RCA (AFL1-1504)

Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band
Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band
RCA (AFL1-1504)
1976
Producer: Sandy Linzer
Rating: **** (Recommended)

  

Probably the most charming group of the disco era, this outfit formed in the Bronx and fused 30s dance-band music with the disco sound of the 70s.  Others attempted to take disco in similar directions, but nobody pulled it off like this band.  While some songs clearly fit into the disco category, elements of the older styles are dominant in others.  It’s definitely one of a kind.

— winch

    

Stony Browder Jr. wrote much of the music, helped with the vocals, played guitar and piano.  August Darnell wrote most of the lyrics, helped with vocals and played bass.  Cory Daye was the lead female vocalist.  Other members included Mickey Sevilla (drums), Andy Hernandez (vibes), and Don Armando Bonilla (percussion).

Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express Second Wind

Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express
Second Wind
RCA (LSP 4703)
1972
Rating: **** (Recommended)
Released May 1972 (US & UK)

A sameness runs through the cuts on this album, something that some fans might find boring and uneventful, but the sameness is actually one of the main reasons this set is so strong.  While the band stretches out, they never go too far into show-off excesses or try too hard like Traffic at this time, or like on some of Auger’s other material.  And this material is not boring like some of his sets.  The instrumental bridges push almost into a jam sound as usual, but they flow forward in a groove that owes more to funk than progressive rock.  While this band was lacking in the vocal department after losing Julie Driscoll, Ligertwood finally fills the void, with his voice fitting the sound quite well.  

Most members assist with the writing, and with the contributions of new members Alex Ligertwood (vocals) and Jim Mullen (guitar), the set has a cohesive sound.  The sound clearly owes much to the past, with influences perhaps coming from the Allman Brothers as well as San Francisco funk.  Of course, it’s not gritty like those sources, and the sound looks forward as much as it looks back.  It continues to fuse rock, jazz, and R&B, and is clearly from the early 70s, but it also foreshadows the direction many artists would take years later.  It likely had an influence on many progressive-rock musicians, folks such as Steve Winwood and Peter Gabriel.  The music doesn’t sound like Gabriel’s solo work, but it perhaps gave folks like Gabriel some alternative to just continuing in the stereotypical progressive-rock mode.   

The album is likely more of a pleasant surprise for fans of early 70s R&B than fans of progressive rock.It’s not a funk album, but it’s closer to Oakland than most albums from Great Britain at this point, and it might have provided ideas and inspiration to funk groups such as the Average White Band from Scotland.  It’s not bad for a group of white guys from England.

Considering it comes from 1972, it deserves a not
e in the books.  It’s one of Auger’s more enjoyable albums.— winch

Everly Brothers: Stories We Could Tell (LP) 1972

Everly Brothers
Stories We Could Tell
RCA Victor 4620
1972
rating: *** (noteworthy)

 

 

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Before splitting for solo careers, the Brothers recorded two sets in the early ’70s, the Chet Atkins-produced 1973 Nashville album Pass the Chicken and Listen and this set from 1972. Recorded in John Sebastian’s living room, this featured some of the countless artists the Brothers had influenced (Delaney Bramlett, Clarence White, Ry Cooder, Warren Zevon, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Chris Etheridge and many others).

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This starts with a Bramlett song that sounds too much like the inferior folk rock from this era (which of course the Brothers played a big part in creating).  Fortunately, the set improves as it progresses.

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The set features two Everly originals, as well as versions of Rod Stewart’s “Mandolin Wind” and Jesse Winchester’s “The Brand New Tennessee Waltz.”  While the straight-forward country of their final album was more enjoyable, this still has plenty of charm.

— winch

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Treat Her Right: Tied to the Tracks (1989) LP

Treat Her Right 
Tied to the Tracks
RCA (9596)
1989
Rating: **** (Recommended)
While the band likely would have liked to have this come out a bit rawer, the music still sounds great with the major label production.  The first side is solid to the end, all originals except a cover of Beefheart’s “Hit A Man.”  The side closes with Sandman’s “No Reason” (which sounds especially haunting in retrospect, after Sandman’s fatal on-stage heart attack in 1999).  
Side two is filled with originals by various members of the band.  (After this second album, Sandman would form Morphine and this band would move to Rounder, a better fit for this outfit.)  
Another recommended set, none of that “I Got My Mojo Working” crap.  Instead this is a collection of slightly oddball but refreshingly honest white-boy blues.
— winch
(author of Kalamazoo: Growing Ups Sideways in the 1970s)