Artist: Haven of Rest Quartet
Track: Using Things And Loving People
It is no sin if you can’t make it all the way through this corny 1981 cover of an already very corny B.J. Thomas song, redirected for inspirational gospel and benefiting - or not, you decide - from cheesy synth work. They are part of a long running gospel radio show that started in Los Angeles. As near as I can tell, members changed like they were in Menudo.
Artist: Fran Owens
Track: Half The Way
This rather dismal cover of the Crystal Gayle song is actually from the album Through The Years - which I date to the early 1980s - and not Coming In And Out Of Your Life, which not only has a signed cover, but features liner notes that talks of Fran’s struggle with bronchitis and the health triumph of chiropractic. Here’s a Boston Globe article about her - she is apparently still going strong.
Artist: Mary Jayne and Polly
Track: Down The Sawdust Trail
This is a country gospel album from the early ’60s with a few really excellent tracks. This page gives the whole lowdown on Polly’s career - she died shortly after this album was made in a bizarre circumstance, in 1964 at the age of 24, after a suicidal person on a plane flight shot the pilot and co-pilot, and the plane crashed. The back of the album claims she lived with Mary Jayne, Mary Jayne’s husband, and their five kids.
Artist: Rabbi Chaim Banet
Track: March Betzet Israel
Among the things I did not know is that Hasidic Jews had a genre of musical marches all to themselves. Nor did I ever imagine that they would sound like theme music to a European children’s television show in the 1970s. But you learn something new everyday, so consider me schooled in the matter. Rabbi Banet is the composer of most of the music on this Israel-released album of unknown year, and I believe the musicians are Beit Wiznitz and their brass orchestra, though I don’t know for certain. Most of the writing on the album is in Hebrew, though it does use English to state, “Please do not play this record on the Sabbath and holidays.” You have been warned.
Artist: Johnny Cook
Track: Here They Come
Listen to that shriek. I have never heard anything quite like that. This 1976 album features a lot of it. Shrieking for God, a whole genre I was not familiar with. Here’s Cook’s Facebook page.
Artist: DeFranco Family
Track: Love The Way You Do
I vaguely remember “Heartbeat (It’s Love Beat)” existing, but my biggest thoughts about the DeFranco Family involve wondering who the hell they were and if they really had a presence in the 1970s. I was there, I remember Shaun Cassidy and Leif Garrett being everywhere, and I do not remember these people. Then I found out that they are a Canadian pop group. Ah ha!! And their biggest claim to fame seems to be appearing on covers of magazines like Tiger Beat almost constantly. There you go. With this 1974 release, you can hear firsthand why even at the time they seem like such a manufactured sensation. Apparently Rhino Records hosted a reunion concert in 1999.
Artist: Promien Orchestra
This record, which I’m dating at probably 1970, is adorable and ahead of its time. This seems to be the same group called Rhythm Orchestra in this Wikipedia article, but that’s the only info I can find on them. The back of the album says that the group was formed in 1969, is well-known in Connecticut, and that its name translates from Polish into “The Sun Rays.” The charm of the band is that while they may embrace Polish sounds, it is not a Polka band, though there is some Polka music on it. I would compare them more to the Balkan fusion bands that exist nowadays that consider Polka just one world music style that is used in a wider sound, with the idea of bringing it all into a modern, popular realm and out of the traditional cheese that these sounds are sometime equated with - Brave Combo, Slavic Soul Party, Beirut, you get the idea, but in a young, almost garage band context. Good stuff. A real gem.
Artist: Angela Davis
Track: Q&A / Street Interviews
This Folkways release captures some interesting statements by a magnetic personality. I partly felt like including it because any ideas, issues, whatever aside, I’ve always just loved Angela Davis’ voice, it’s very iconic, and also because I was struck by though how many things seem to have not really changed, I can’t imagine anyone in 2014 proclaiming themselves a communist and not losing some credibility. The second part of the recording is an interesting man on the street segment asking the simple question, “Do you think Angela Davis will get a fair trial?” I just loved the voices in this, too.
Artist: Kentucky Fried Chicken
Track: Kids M-O-R/Goodbye Ho Hum/Kids Menu-go-round/Extra Crispy
All these joyous tunes in service of finger lickin’ chicken date from 1974. This is an album of radio jingles and and here are 4 samples. Sadly, the five minute “Barrel of Fun Overture” didn’t have any singing about chicken with the music, so I opted for these.
Artist: Ray Heatherton
Track: Coin Song Collection
Joey Heatherton’s dad teaches us all about spare change. There was apparently a big “All About” series. This one is from 1966. My particular copy of this record is stamped as property of the New York State Bureau of Migrant Education.
Artist: Carmencita Y Kazan
Track: Introduction to Tinikling
Is this that dance we had to do in gym class in the ’70s here they clacked two bamboo sticks together around your feet while you tried to hop around them? I hated that. Now you kids today can experience first hand the thrills of being in grade school in the 1970s thanks to this 1972 instructional record about from the Philippines named after a bird that made all our corduroys make that screetchy scratchy sound while we franticly moved our legs in the hope our ankles wouldn’t get bashed. And that’s “TINIKLING” not “TINKLING.”
Artist: Al Pierson
This 1979 exercise in stumbling smoothness is one more musical act that seems to have stepped out of SCTV. Pierson apparently used to be in Guy Lombardo’s Royal Canadians, and a Facebook account I found indicates that he was still in the music game of as the summer of 2013. Good for him for exhibiting prime stickwithitness.
Artist: Theresa Foye
Track: Is He Satisfied
Another gospel song offering everyone the chance to snicker like children at the double meanings, which I think is a valid reason to like a song. I don’t know the year this was made, sometime in the 1970s to be sure, but the talent on it seems to originate from the Woolwich-Wiscasset Baptist Church in Wiscasset, Maine, located right there on Route 1. Take a road trip!
Artist: Kidder and Sons Inc
Track: Introduction Whittier Chorus/Kidder Opener
This 1972 concert captures the singing group helmed by Lt. Col. Donald Kidder, who realized that his military transfers made it impossible for him to get a regular slot in any barbershop quartets. Military guys are always obsessing about that. Crafty Don realized he had three sons, which meant next thing he knew, Kidder and Sons Incorporated was proclaimed “the most entertaining foursome in Barbershop Quartet History.” That doesn’t sound like it’s too hard a distinction to win,
Artist: The Brothers Zim
Track: Matai Yavo Hashalom
They look like characters on SCTV, don’t they? Their music reflects that. Though there is barely a trace of them online, the back of this 1972 slice of groovy Israeli pop claims that Paul and Sebastion are “one of today’s busiest singing acts.” They just don’t say busy at what, so it’s technically not lying.
It also says that “in a few short years they’ve worked together in every sense of the word” and that they “have shown an uncanny sense of HERE and NOW at being able to talk TODAY’S LANGUAGE.”
It continues, “In this latest record release they bring to you the HERE and NOW EXCITING GROOVY sounds for a whole new generation of ‘TODAY PEOPLE.’ The response is that this is the best album combine the ‘NEW SOUND’ on the Israeli-English market. So … if you want to be ‘IN’ the ‘IN GROUP’ get out a become part of the HERE GENERATION. TRAY THEM … YOU’LL LIKE THEM.’