Doug Roberson of the Diplomats of Solid Sound posted a Facebook event for a yard sale he was having. He was moving across town in Iowa City and decided, like many of us would, that he had some things he didn’t want to move so he decided to have a yard sale. Knowing that Doug is a record collector and having talked with him the night before when the band played Coctails and Company in Cedar Rapids about what he might have, I made the trip down.
It was a drizzly day which was sort of concerning, but I got down there around 1:30 and he had all of the records on his front porch. He was sitting on a lawn chair drinking a Budweiser and chatting with the other people hanging out looking at his stuff. Most of the people, as you might imagine were Iowa City scenesters– people in other bands in town, people who were fans of his bands. So, it was pretty cool.
He was selling a lot of vinyl– almost all of it duplicates he accumulated over the years in addition to some books, magazines, and some music gear like a couple of Farfisa organs used with his prior band The Bent Scepters and a couple of guitar amps. He also had a pretty substantial collection of 7-inch singles– a LOT of King Records releases of James Brown. I think someone could have bought most of a James Brown 7″ collection– if not all– right there!
I was hoping to pick up some rare pieces from Doug’s pretty extensive career and I wasn’t disappointed! I ended up picking up the following records for, I think $35. I good haul, for sure!
The Bent Scepters – “She Freak” b/w “The Curse” (7″, Prescription Records PRE001, 1993) This was a nice find. Doug’s band The Bent Scepters was formed out of the ashes of The Dangtrippers and Head Candy. The Bent Scepters’ certainly fulfilled Doug’s penchant for of 60’s Nuggets-style garage pop. The Scepters were closer in sound to the Dangtrippers than the layered distortion grunge delivered by Head Candy. Doug’s current band The Diplomats of Solid Sound started as kind of a side band of the Scepters. On Prescription Records which is Doug’s “vanity” label.
The Bent Scepters – “My Toyota” b/w The Delstars – “Lustron a Go-Go” (7″ split, Prescription Records PRE002, 1997) While I was flipping through the records, Doug found a box that had record pressing plates and a couple white-label 7″ test pressings for a split 7″ he put out with the Des Moines surfy band The Delstars. “My Toyota” comes from the Scepters second album Hellevator Music.
The Diplomats of Solid Sound featuring the Diplomettes – “If You’re Wrong” b/w “If You’re Wrong (Lack of Afro rmx)” (7″, Record Kicks RK45 023, 2008) This one sort of took me by surprise because I didn’t know that there was a second 7″ from Record Kicks. The first single was “Plenty Nasty” backed by “Hurt Me So (Lack of Afro Remix).” I hadn’t heard about this release, but apparently the band has been carrying this 7″ in their merch box. The remix by Lack of Afro is pretty similar to the remix he did for “Hurt Me So”– it adds a clubby groove to it.
The Shy Strangers – Indian Name (LP, Pravda Records PR-2616, 1986) Doug had an unopened box of still-sealed copies of Doug’s pre-Dangtrippers band The Shy Strangers. This record is still in print and can be ordered from Pravda for $4.99! I haven’t dropped a needle on this one, yet. The Shy Strangers was Roberson, Jim Merrick on drums and Scott Stecklein on bass. Doug and Scott were in The Dangtrippers and The Bent Scepters together.
I was hoping for some rare Head Candy stuff, but according to Doug there really wasn’t much more than the CD. There was promotional purple 7″ for “At The Controls” / “Watching the Sun’s Trail” I need to pick up some time, but Doug didn’t have any of those. Here’s the other non-Doug stuff I picked up:
Eric Dolphy – Out to Lunch (LP, Blue Note BLP-4163/84163, 1964) Sax player Eric Dolphy’s first and only release for Blue Note as a solo artist. The album was recorded by the legendary Rudy Van Gelder in February 1964. Soon after Dolphy moved to Paris and died in June 1964 from a diabetic coma. Out to Lunch is considered to be one of the essential free jazz records– considered by some to be on par with A Love Supreme. The label says “Blue Note – A Product of Liberty Records.” This release came soon after Blue Note and Liberty were purchased by Avnet in 1965. This also explains the “84163” catalog number. According to this label breakdown, my copy of Out To Lunch is a post-1968 repressing as my label art says “Blue Note Records – A Division of United Artists Records, Inc.” United Artists was a division of Transamerica which picked up Liberty and its associated imprints in 1968.
Lonnie Smith – Drives (LP, Blue Note Records BST 84351, 1970) This was a still-sealed reissue of Dr. Lonnie Smith’s funky, organ-fueled Blue Note release. The label shows the old 304 Park Ave. South address which I’m not sure would have been right. This would have been a UA release and I think they changed the labels to look like the Dolphy release above. I think this was a 90’s reissue done by EMI. Covers of “Spinning Wheel” by BS&T, the great “Twenty Five Miles” originally done by Edwin Starr, and “Seven Steps to Heaven” by Miles Davis.
Donald Byrd – The Cat Walk (LP, Blue Note Records BL-4075, 1961) This was also a still-sealed reissue of trumpet player Donald Byrd’s 1961 solo release with regular sidekick Pepper Adams. I wasn’t very familiar with Donald Byrd’s work other than a couple of compilation tracks– notably “Blackjack” which was included on the Blue Note Rare Grooves comp. An easy bop record.
Julian Cope – Saint Julian (LP, Island Records/ATCO 90571-1, 1987) This was a nice find- not a record I was actually looking for, but one for the memories. I wasn’t familiar with Cope’s first band The Teardrop Explodes when I heard “World Shut Your Mouth” all those years ago. I listened to this record a lot in ’87 and found a guy in college who was a fan as well and got me to dig a bit deeper into Cope’s catalog. I still find myself coming back to this record. These days Julian Cope has become a strange cultish figure and I’m not following him as much, but this record is pretty much the best of his releases in my opinion.
Richard & Linda Thompson – Hokey Pokey (LP, Carthage Records CGLP 4408, 1983) This is the 1983 reissue of the 1974 Island release of Hokey Pokey. According to this thread on the stevehoffman.tv boards Carthage Records and Hannibal Records were run by Joe Boyd who discovered Pink Floyd among other things. These reissues and sometime new releases were centered around UK Folk groups like Fairport Convention. It would be cool to pick up Shoot Out the Lights by Richard & Linda on vinyl. I have it on 24kt CD today. I wasn’t familiar with this album, but I picked it up because the record seemed in good shape and Richard & Linda are notable musicians. I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet.