Tag Archive for 'Steely Dan'

B-Sides in the Bins #56 – Mt. Vernon, IA 8/20/2011 – Art Blakey’s Drum Suite

Drum Suite - Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers
My wife had a wedding makeup gig in Mt. Vernon on Saturday and since I didn’t have a lot going on I offered to come along and help her load in and out. I figured I’d check out the antique shops to see what books or vinyl they might have. Unfortunately, there used to be a really great record store in Mt. Vernon above one of the art stores. I guess the father of one of the owners of the store had a large record collection that they wanted to sell, so they ran a store for a while.

After helping Sherry, I parked the car and set out on foot to see what I could find. The former Mt. Vernon Middle School is now known as The First Street Community Center and this is where I found the one record I picked up. The school has been converted into a number of small shops and businesses– most of them antiques and gifts. On the second floor of the building I found a lone stack of  records in front of one of the shops. The stack was marked $2. So, I flipped through them not expecting to really find anything as the records were largely 60’s era ephemera like orchestra, some odd soundtracks and some foreign music titles. One I almost picked up was a University of Iowa title called The Songs of Iowa or something like that and had a selection of music from the various cultures– Mesquaki Indian music, Czechoslovakian, German, Dutch. But, just before I got to the bottom of the pile this familiar collection of African masks was staring me in the face.

Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers – Drum Suite (LP, Columbia CL 1002, 1957)($1.00) Wow! First, it is Mono and original Columbia Records “Six Eye” label, so it is an original pressing. The record was missing the inner paper sleeve, but the record itself was in pretty decent shape! It had some slightly incriminating scuffs, but I figured for a record over 50 years old, it wouldn’t be perfect, and the price was right. After a conversation with the nice lady who ran the little shop, and who attempted to just give the record to me, we arrived at $1.

When I got home, I gave the record a wipe with Gruv-Glide II (I highly recommend this stuff!) which did a fantastic job of cleaning out the groove of dust and debris and also provided an anti-static barrier. The record had a deep black sheen and it took some close looking to even see the original scuffs! The record played with very little noise.

Drum Suite is really two recordings. Side One is the three-part “Drum Suite” performed by The Art Blakey Percussion Ensemble which was made up of Specs Wright on percussion, Ray Bryant on piano, cellist/bassist Oscar Pettiford, Sabu Martinez on congas, and bassist Candido Camero. As is frequently commented about this release, it predates Afrobeat music by many years, and considered by many to be quite revolutionary at the time. Listening to it now, I notice how well the ensemble ties standard hard bop jazz with the world beats making it pretty listenable (“never descends into cacophony” was one review I read).

The second side of the record is a selection of songs by one of the many iterations of The Jazz Messengers. While enjoyable, is not in my opinion as strong as other Jazz Messenger releases like my personal favorite Mosaic.

When I heard the middle part of the Drum Suite “Cubano Chant” I found it to be familiar, so I looked into that track further. “Cubano Chant” was composed by the pianist Ray Bryant and included in his 1956 album on Epic Records The Ray Bryant Trio (Epic LN 3279)– which is sadly very out-of-print. The version on Drum Suite has some vocals (“Vamos a bailar la cha-cha-cha!”) where his version (and most other cover versions) doesn’t. Ray Bryant passed away in June at 79 years old. One of his noted contributions to the world of jazz is “Cubano Chant” which seems to be regarded as kind of a standard, considering how many people covered it. I found a pretty cool video of Steely Dan’s touring band from 2003 performing it as a warmup before a concert. I’m not exactly sure where I heard this before, but I guess it could be anywhere– but I’m pretty sure I heard it on “Dancing With the Stars” though I don’t know what season that would have been.

I managed to find a vinyl rip of Ray Bryant Trio (the Epic release, not the confusingly same-titled Prestige album from the same year– although some call that one Piano Piano Piano) on the internet which is pretty cool– but considering the apparent significance of “Cubano Chant” you’d think that they would have reissued this. It’s on my “wishlist”  to get on vinyl.

A bit of a side note: Ray Bryant recorded a single in 1960 called “The Madison Time” which was featured prominently in the first film version of Hairspray (not the John Travolta version, the Rikki Lake one). Here are the instructions for how you can dance “The Madison Time,” too!

B-Sides in the Bins #55 – Around Memorial Day Weekend 2011

Over the long weekend, I was hoping to get in on some of the sales that were going on– specifically Guitar Center in Cedar Rapids, and the full-weekend 20% sale at Half-Price Books. While I didn’t actually get over to Guitar Center, I did hit HPB, but also managed to see David Lowery and Johnny Hickman tape a Java Blend session in Iowa City with my friend Erik, which also resulted in a great trip to The Record Collector. I also visited Moondog Music in Dubuque on Thursday and picked up some “missing titles” and hit a Half Price Books in Chicago on Saturday (whew!)

Record Collector, Iowa City:

Bob Mould – Workbook (LP, Virgin Records 91240-1, 1989)($8.00) HUGE SCORE! Found in the “Recent Arrivals” bin (much to Erik’s dismay). Promo-stamped and notched cut-out with a “When You PLAY IT, SAY IT!” sticker prominently on the front cover. The record is in overall good condition, but there was a very visible scuff on tracks 3 and 4 on side 2. It doesn’t affect the play a lot except for a slight tick. I heard this album being played at a party in college and went out and bought it the next day. The first time I ever heard Mould, incidentally. Though I was a fan of Minneapolis bands like Soul Asylum and The Replacement, I hadn’t dove into the Husker Du catalog. I started getting into their catalog posthumously after this album. This is still my favorite Mould record, though Black Sheets of Rain is a close second.  (Note to self: add Black Sheets of Rain to my vinyl wishlist).

Van Morrison – Moondance (LP, Warner Brothers 1835, 1970)($12.00) Also in the “Recent Arrivals” bin. Amazingly clean copy and early pressing! Well worth the slightly more expensive price. Not much to say about this release other than it is probably the most consistent record in Van the Man’s catalog. Nice mellow jams for early evening consumption of red wine.

I had also grabbed a collection of Talking Heads records which were on my wish list, however, when I got to the counter to check out I spotted a copy of Neil Young’s Zuma in the glass case for $20. Realizing that this is a tough one to find, I put the Talking Heads back…

Neil Young with Crazy Horse – Zuma (LP, Reprise Records MS 2242, 1975)($20) Brilliant record all the way through. Of the “bigger songs” in Neil’s career, this has “Cortez the Killer” on it. First album following the “Ditch Trilogy” of Time Fades Away, Tonight’s the Night and On The Beach. I guess it is a little crazy for me to pay $20 for a record that will allegedly come out on the next Neil Young Archives LP box (cue laughter from die hard Neil Young fans). Cover in good shape with some slight staining which is typical of the matte covers of this vintage. Includes lyric sheet.

Big Star – Radio City (LP, Stax/Concord Music Group ADS-1801, 2009)($13.00) New. Wasn’t planning to pick this up, but I entered into a conversation with Kirk about the $50 original pressing of Big Star’s #1 Record that has been on display for a while. I mentioned the reissues that had come out and he went back to the bins and came back with this. I’m a big fan of Big Star and had been planning to pick these up at some point. This is a reissue done by Concord Music Group which owns the licensing of the Stax and Ardent catalogs. Interestingly, aside from the very small “Licensed By Concord Music Group” at the bottom of the back of the jacket, you couldn’t tell easily that this was a reissue. Recorded and mastered at Ardent Studios in Memphis and mastered by Larry Nix whom I worked with on the vinyl pressing of The Right Now’s 2010 album Carry Me Home. Nix told us stories about working with Big Star and how Chris Bell nearly destroyed the plates for the vinyl version of #1 Record! I’m thinking I need to get that #1 Record

Moondog Music, Dubuque, IA:

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (LP, Columbia PC 33453, 1975)($12.98) Hot stamped with “For Demonstration – Not For Sale” on the back cover. Sleeve in VG condition with some slight ringwear and the LP is VG condition– no scuffs or scratches, but seems to need a thorough cleaning as it has a some crackles. The recording sounds great other than that. BL 33453-3F 1T matrix information on both sides. Also came with original “Monosee Lake” postcard!

R.E.M. – Murmur (LP, IRS Records, SP 70014-1, 1983)($5.98) According to the internet, this is a later repress as the catalog number changed and it has a barcode on it. Vinyl just needed a quick brush with the anti-static brush and a wipe with 91% isopropyl alcohol. Cleaned up with no surface noise! Sounds great and reminds me why I loved them so much back then. R.E.M. has always been a band that changes its sound every few albums, and the Chronic Town, Murmur, Reckoning set of albums defined that Southern jangly sound that so many bands that followed emulated.

Greg Brown – Freak Flag (LP, Yep Roc YEP 2244, 2011) ($19.98) 180g vinyl! Cool that the man who lives analog would get his new album on new label Yep Roc pressed into virgin vinyl. Produced by Bo Ramsey and recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis after a lightning storm destroyed the original recordings done in Minneapolis! Read my review of Freak Flag in Little Village Magazine.

New Order – Movement (LP, Factory FACD 05, 1981)($12.98) Still sealed! Was in the bins there since 2004. Has the light blue cover indicative of the non-US Factory Records versions. Looks like a Canadian pressing I guess, but the matrix information looks like it is based on the original UK pressing. I need to look into this a bit more. Not my favorite New Order album, but still worth having in the collection.

Simple Minds – Sparkle in the Rain (LP, A&M Records SP-6-4981, 1984)($4.99) This is one of my favorite Simple Minds albums, second probably only to New Gold Dream. Sparkle in the Rain is considered Simple Minds’ breakthrough release in the US. Side A has a fantastic procession of songs– “Up on the Catwalk,” “Book of Brilliant Things,” “Speed Your Love to Me,” “Waterfront” and “East At Easter” most of which are on the excellent live album Live in the City of Light.

Steely Dan – The Royal Scam (LP, ABC Records ABCD-931, 1976)($5.98) This is an “upgrade” from a later MCA Pressing I had of this. Great record, though it doesn’t have the big hits on it. It also seems to embody the snideness of Steely Dan. Sometimes Steely Dan hates the subjects and characters in their songs, and never more than they seem to on The Royal Scam. Classic Dan songs on here, though. “Kid Charlemange,” “Don’t Take Me Alive,” “The Fez” and “Haitian Divorce.”

Half Price Books, Village Crossing, Niles, IL

Derek & The Dominos – Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (LP, Atco SD 2-704, 1970)($14.99) While Sherry was doing makeup for a wedding in Chicago, I busied myself with a trip to the closest Half Price Books. They had a lot of “essential” titles in the bins of varying quality and I nearly picked up a couple of Who titles, but ended up finding this really clean original pressing of the classic Derek & The Dominos album.

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