Monday, October 02, 2006

Thrift Store Adventures: October 1, 2006, Pasco, Washington

At the rate things are going, I should just call this column The Story Of How One Man Deals With Going To The Same Goodwill Time And Time Again, Hoping To Find Gold.

That's not the reason I repeatedly go to the Pasco Goodwill. Those of you who may be keeping track, here's where we stand now. At one point Pasco had three thrift stores. The Salvation Army closed down years ago. There is a St. Vincent de Paul here, but there are records there that have been there since I went to high school. Goodwill updates their floor stock every few weeks. As the weather gets cold in the Pacific Northwest, yard and garage sales fade away until spring comes. There are other thrift stores in nearby places, but it has really become a crap shoot. Why bother with traveling any significant distance if you have a sense there's not going to be anything worthy? The ordeal of the record collector is that "what if?", or really any collector. Nonetheless, it's the Pasco Goodwill I return to, groovin' on a Sunday afternoon.

There are three bins full of records. The left side of the bin has nothing, the same stuff I had seen a week or so ago. Aah, but the right side has a few familiar names. Earl Klugh and... oh, what's this, David Newman on... oh oh, Cotillion? Being an Atlantic junkie, I was happy I found it but unfortunately, no record inside. This meant that I had to go through all of the bins. Not a chore, not a big deal. Or so I thought.

I hit the second bin and it begins with some classical records, some budget country, then the covers start to get interesting. One record, two records, three records, what the hell is going on? Here I am hoping to just find the David Newman vinyl and I'm seeing Quincy Jones, Shirley Scott, Ramsey Lewis. It's not sex, but damn I'm scoring.

Now the math begins. I know how much I have in my wallet ($20), and I know that if there's too many records, I have to:

1) Buy within the budget
2) Leave, rush to the bank, return

I could not find the Newman LP in the records, I knew there was an old phonograph where the cameras are but the only thing there was Chicago XI. No luck. Because I'm a numbnut, I decide to buy the cover WITHOUT the album. It will be a reminder to find the album somewhere. Not the one that's missing, but to find a copy with the record. The curious never rest.

Here's what I walked out with:

ODELL BROWN & THE ORGAN-IZERS-Mellow Yellow (Cadet LPS-788)
The organ was (ahem) big for awhile, and every label had their organ master. Chess Records, via their subsidiary Cadet, had Odell Brown. This is a nice soulful, bluesy, jazzer with some pretty good instrumentals. What amazes me is that the liner note says it was recorded in January 1967, and yet sounds as if it was recorded a few years later. There's a groove that would make these songs work in a number of capacities, but 1967? That's the power of jazz for you, always one step ahead of the game.

BOBBI HUMPHREY-Flute-In (Blue Note BST 84379)
I bought this yesterday, but I'm listening to it now, feeling the drums and I look at the liner note: Idris Muhammad. Life is a beautiful thing, isn't it? Back to the program...

I became a fan of the jazz flute through my dad, who was a fan of Herbie Mann. In the last ten years or so I've expanded my listening habits to cover other people who have played the flute, whether it's Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Yusef Lateef, James Moody or Bobbi Humphrey. If there were moments where Mann's music was moving towards easily listening, it seems Miss Humphrey was someone who was going to let her playing shine. This album, recorded in late 1971 and released in 1972, has Humphrey playing with some of the best: Lee Morgan, Hank Jones, Jimmy Johnson, and the aforementioned Muhammad. The vibe, kinda funky, kinda mellow, would make this a suitable release for CTI or Kudu.

QUINCY JONES-Gula Matari (A&M SP 3030)
There is a generation of people who may not have any idea of the music The Q had recorded over the years, especially in the late 60's/early 70's. An album like this makes digging for records worthwhile.

The cover looks like something that would be perfect on CTI, but A&M did that for awhile and for good reason, since this was produced by Creed Taylor (the CT in CTI) For this, Jones went to that cherished place in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey for a visit with the ol' doctor, Rudy Van Gelder, and brought some friends with him: Pepper Adams, Hubert Laws, Freddie Hubbard, Eric Gale, Toots Thielemans, Herbie Hancock, Bob James, Grady Tate, Ron Carter, and Milt Jackson among others. Also assisting in the vocal department is singer/songwriter Valerie Simpson (of Ashford & Simpson fame).

Now the music. If you have a short attention span, this album is not for you. The cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" clocks in at 6:10, "Walkin'" at 7:55, and "Hummin'" at 8:05. For the mammoth title track (the best song on the album), he allows himself to explore the depth of the music and shoots for 13:05. "Gula Matari" is a mental movie, and perhaps that's why he easily adapted to motion picture work. He had spent a good part of the 60's being the musical director for Mercury Records, and he did not (nor would not) restrict himself to playing jazz, even though that is the core of what he is as a musician and arranger. There are no short doses here, no time-compressed hits, this is full blown Q at his best.

THE RAMSEY LEWIS TRIO-Upendo Ni Pamoja (Columbia KC 31096)
RAMSEY LEWIS-Don't It Feel Good (Columbia PC 33800)
Upendo Ni Pamoja was one of Lewis' first post-Cadet albums, entering a new world but was he really? The album is known for its cover of War's "Slipping Into Darkness" (which was released as a single, and also features Ocean's "Put Your Hand In The Hand". When you have Cleveland Eaton and Morris Jennings backing you up, you can't go wrong. Lewis knew what felt good.

Don't It Feel Good? Hell yeah. This was Lewis' album after the huge success of 1974's Sun Goddess. It begins with a guitar riff that sounds more like Loggins & Messina's "Your Mama Don't Dance", but the Rhodes and synths tell another, much funkier story. I definitely remember my dad buying this album when I was a kid, even though I have not heard this album in a good thirty years. Yet it was Sun Goddess that I flocked too, maybe it had to do with that woman in gold paint.

For this record Lewis gets a lot of help from Charles Stepney. Some might know him for the work he did with Earth Wind & Fire, but Lewis and Stepney go further than that, when Stepney was an arranger over at Chess, assisting in the works of Rotary Connection and Marlena Shaw. Lewis' drummer for many years was Maurice White, who would eventually head to California and form The Salty Peppers before the genesis of Earth Wind & Fire was born. It should not come as any surprise that the success of Sun Goddess, featuring two songs with EW&F involvement, would lead to an album which sounds like an EW&F album. It's funky, it's soulful, and you got the slow jams. You also have a cover of EW&F's "That's The Way Of The World", along with other priceless jems such as "Fish Bite", "I Dig You", and "Spider Man".

It is a fairly mellow record, and I like it. I think people liked it too much and hoped Lewis would stay in this corner. This is probably why he would eventually record something like Salongo a year later.

ROY MERIWETHER-Preachin' (Capitol ST-243)
Roy Meriwether is still with us, but here he is in the late 1960's on Capitol (lime green variation) offering an album that covers his gospel and jazz roots, with no regrets. Side 1 is all about jubilation, while Side 2 has him recording various songs of the day, including "Ode To Billie Joe", "Little Green Apples", and "This Guy's In Love With Me". He released another album on Capitol that I hope to find in the future.

KEN MUNSON-Super Flute (Paramount PAS-6049)
This looked like a budget release, but it was on Paramount Records (as in the movie studio) so it could not have been that bad. It wasn't. Munson plays jazz with the flute, but within you also have some funk jams, including some nice nuggets for sampling.

SHIRLEY SCOTT-Something (Atlantic SD 1561)
I've seen album covers of hers over the years, but never was moved to take a listen. Now I have to catch up. "Something" is indeed the George Harrison composition performed by him and his Liverpudlian bandmates. Scott, a wizard of the Hammond B-3, almost reinterprets it into a church dirge, moving at a pace that is eerily slow but it doesn't steer you away. "Something", a song which Frank Sinatra called one of the best love songs he had ever heard, became an instant favorite when it was released in late 1969, and one can find versions performed by Herbie Mann, Issac Hayes, Joe Cocker and Shirley Bassey among many others. Scott interprets it different from the others, and if anything shows the power of a good song.

The album also features another Beatles cover, "Because", along with other familiar hits of the time: "Games People Play", "I Want You Back", "Someday We'll Be Together", and "Brand New Me". The album is much more spirited, and her playing has to be heard.

TOM SCOTT-Target (Atlantic 80106-1)
Well, this isn't Honeysuckle Breeze, I think that's the one album a lot of cratediggers would like to find, multiple copies even. This one is an 80's album. I'll be honest, I'm not a fan of Scott's work for most of the late 70's, so I don't know what made me think I was going to like this. It's very poppy, very new wave and electronic. I like Scott's playing, but Target misses its intended destination big time.

There was a non-jazz album as well:

LEX DE AZEVEDO-Against A Crooked Sky (Embryo Music EM-1005)
A soundtrack to a movie I had never heard of, but it was a quadraphonic LP so I had to pick it up. Azevedo is a composer and arranger who worked extensively with David Axelrod, but many people believed that Lex De Azevedo and David Axelrod are one and the same man. Not true, although Azevedo's work on this album has a lot of Axelrod's trademark anthemics. Or maybe it was Axelrod who was taking cues from Azevedo.

Some of you may be more familiar with another album Azevedo did, the double LP Saturday's Warrior, kind of a rock opera for the Latter Day Saints.

I also found two 45's:
THE BEACH BOYS-The Beach Boys Medley/God Only Knows (Capitol A-5030)
Looking back, it is amazing something like this actually became a hit record. The success of "Stars On 45", created by a group of unknown musicians and singers who recreated Beatles songs over a disco beat, made labels believe that they could do the same thing. Or maybe not.

Maybe labels did not like all of this new wave crap, and felt that it was time to restore music to what it once was. Eh, I don't know.

Either way, someone at Capitol Records decided it would be an interesting idea to create a medley out of Beach Boys songs and release it as a single. It was the actual recordings, spliced together. I remember this song being played A LOT, and in a way that starteda a trend of other medleys by other artists on other labels. Capitol would try this idea again with their other big group, The Beatles, and create "The Beatles Movie Medley" in honor of a compilation they had put together, Reel Movie, to honor the music found in Beatles films. That received airplay too.

These days, I don't hear "The Beach Boys Medley" too much.

Adam Wind-You Don't Need It/Old Funky Song (Valane V-1918)
I bought this for a few reasons. One, the B-side was called "Old Funky Song". Even if it wasn't funky, it would be an interesting listen. Two, it was a regional record, in this case from Kent, Washington. Three, a Leroy Bell was listed as a co-writer for the A-side. Was this the same Leroy Bell of Bell & James fame ("Livin' It Up (Friday Night)") fame? Fourth, I thought it was cool that someone who bought this 45 cared enough to write their name on it, and also what grade they were in when they bought it, in this case 7th Grade. It was someone's personal favorite, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

Both songs are of the pop/rock variety, sounding a bit like Little River Band with a bit of mid-70's Santana. No date of release, but I wish I was an executive producer for a film studio, just so I would be able to place this in a film and give music like this some exposure.

BTW - "Old Funky Song" is not funky, but a good listen.

(UPDATE @ 1:59pm: I did a quick search for "Adam Wind" and they were a band, featuring one Leroy Bell on vocals. One look at their photos and it is definitely the Bell of Bell & James fame, who still calls the Seattle area his home. The funny thing is, I recently reviewed Bell's new album for Okayplayer, and now I'm getting a chance to hear a bit of his pre-disco roots.)

Adam Wind-You Don't Need It (3.1mb)
Adam Wind-Old Funky Song (3.8mb)

No comments: