Frank Gutch Jr: It’s Gone, Man… Real Gone; Plus Notes That If You Blink, You Might Miss

 Frank Gutch young

I know, I know.  I was the one screaming the loudest and the longest about local news hyping first the Microsoft system upgrades and the the latest iThing of the moment, but this ain’t no news program and I am promoting this for a reason.  I try to get you guys interested in music, which isn’t always easy, and the I have to listen to the “there ain’t no good music anymore” and “it’s all been done before” excuses.  Well, here we are, then.  I have some music for you which not only precludes the music that was good before good became bad, but it’s on sale.  That’s right.  Until October 2nd, Real Gone Music is pumping some of my favorite music, this time not of the day but of the past.  Sale items are CDs, folks.  Whether you like them or not.

jeremyspencerThe label is one of the dreaded reissue labels many of you know or have heard about and I say dreaded because so many people avoid such sites like the plague (while being perfectly fine with purchasing anything through Amazon).  Some have claimed quality standards on some pieces are not high enough and others just don’t trust the sources and I understand that, to a degree, after seeing compilation after compilation of supposed hits containing alternate or redone versions of the hits time and time again.  But these guys are not those guys.  These guys love the music and want people to find it, even if it is the third or fourth go-round for some titles.  They want you to understand what you missed, either because you just plain missed it or were born to late.  And I can attest to that fact.  You don’t hunt for artists like Amazing Rhythm Aces and early Clover (sold out, folks) and Jeremy Spencer (Fleetwood Mac) and Shoes without good reason and for me that reason is the music.  Their catalog, in fact, contains many of the cornerstones of my personal record collection of which I am damn proud, let me tell you, because whilst the masses fed off the pablum of The Eagles, I was listening to Cowboy, and when they were ga-ga over the hits, I was hip deep in tracks many of them would never hear and could, even today, have cared less about.

Well, that is not the way it works in Gutcholaville, sports fans.  You want the really good stuff, you have to dig, dig?  So allow me to break a rule I normally live by— not shilling for labels or distributors— to help you find the cool stuff.  At least, the cool stuff Real Gone has available.

cloverI first noticed the label a few years ago when I searched Clover on the Net.  Only a small percentage of people know Clover at all but I was a big fan of just about everything coming out of San Francisco for a number of years after the Summer of Love.  Again, my friend Gary Haller at the House of Records in Eugene threw me a bone.  In a kind of ‘you might dig this’ way.  These were the days that the band had signed with Fantasy Records and long before their trip to the UK and the success they deserved.  Before they signed with Mercury in The States and before their connection with Elvis Costello (My Aim Is True).  They were the springboard for Huey Lewis (pre-News) and probably reached a level professionally that they thought unreachable, at least at the beginning.  To me, they were the guys who put out intriguing and simple versions of both Wade In the Water and Shotgun.  My favorite song of theirs, though, was the title track of their second album, Fourty-Niner.  The two-albums-on-one-disc (Clover and Fourty-Niner) offering by Real Gone gained them credibility for just releasing it at all.  No, this is not a sale title.  In fact, it is presently out-of-print.  I use it as an example of how deep catalogue is important to me.

Remember, sale titles are only on sale through October 2nd.  FYI.  The reason I am writing about them is that they are in my collection (most of them) for a reason.

COWBOY/Reach For the Sky and 5’ll Getcha Ten—  I shake my head every time I think of The Eagles and how massively important they were to the youth of Los Angeles.  I liked them all right but they were hardly the keeper of the country rock flame.  I preferred others, possibly because it was impossible to get away from them down there, the songs played at every level of radio and in just about every record store.  That was okay, though.  I used them to sell albums I thought Eagles fans might like by the likes of Pure Prairie League, Poco, Uncle Jim (or is it Uncle Jim’s Music) and Heartsfield.  And, of course, Cowboy.  Everyone thought the band was from Georgia, thanks to lack of information, but they were in fact from Florida.  That somewhat famous (or infamous) album which surfaced on Bold Records which featured Duane and Gregg Allman was not an early Allmans record but an attempt by Scott Boyer, David Brown, and Butch Trucks to fulfill the second album of a two-record deal their band, The 31st of February, had with Vanguard Records.  And contrary to popular opinion, it was not a favor that the Allmans joined that band.  There was a possibility of the lineup becoming permanent.  At least as permanent as Hour Glass or Allman Joys.  In fact, when The Allman Brothers Band were conjured up by the musical gods, it was Duane and Gregg who talked Capricorn Records into looking at Boyer’s new band as possible artists for the fledgling label.  Phil Walden sent Johnny Sandlin down to Florida to take a listen and the rest, as they say, is history.


To my mind, Cowboy was the original band.  Boyer & Talton took the name after the band dissolved and they were absorbed into the Capricorn Rhythm Section (meaning they were studio slaves), but the band was gone.  Those two would reform the band in the late seventies and would use the name, but the original six— they were Cowboy.

Which is what you get in the two albums Real Gone has reissued.  The first, a bit more pickin’ and grinnin’, the second smooth as a baby’s behind.  I dated a girl who loved that second album.  Called it soft rock, did that pretty but delusional lady, but she loved it almost as much as I did myself.  I think of her whenever I hear that album and even smell her perfume, which was as light as a hint of lavender.

But I digress.  Cowboy has remained a key album in my country rock collection since I first heard it.  That hit by, who was it?  Eric ClaptonPlease Be With Me?  A Boyer-penned Cowboy song from5’ll Getcha Ten.  As pretty a song as I’ve ever heard.

FANNY/Charity Ball and Fanny Hill—  When friends ask me about all-girl bands, Fanny immediately comes to mind.  Again, I have to give credit to Haller because he had this unerring ability to pinpoint my ever-expanding musical tastes.  I followed the girls through their Reprise Records days which ended with what I consider to be their coup de grace, Last Night I Had a Dream, a work of real substance.  Not that the other albums did not have their moments.  Many excellent ones, in fact.  But the coherence of Last Night was something else.  I remember sitting in the old house on West 3rd in West Eugene and hearing Charity Ball, courtesy of the disc jockeys at KZEL Radio and thinking, man, life doesn’t get better than this.  The two in the header are the ones on sale but all four are available for purchase.

FREDDIE KING/The Complete King/Federal Singles—  About the only Freddie King things the younger set has picked up on outside of the real R&B enthusiasts are the later recordings.  Of those, his biggest seems to have been Going Down, his version being easily one of the best.  In the early days, though, he fluctuated between the blues (or R&B) and rock.  He had a string of songs which got massive airplay in certain cities, especially in The South, and he had immense influence for the many bands which relied on guitar-driven instrumentals.  Ever hear of Hideaway?  You should.

GEORGE JONES & TAMMY WYNETTE/Songs of Inspiration—  I must have inherited my love of hymns from my father.  He always said that if they sang more and talked less, he would have gone to church and I agree.  My favorites of vocal bluegrass and country are the inspirational songs.  Of course, that assumes that there are harmonies.  And who has better harmonies than Jones and Wynette?  Harmonies sent down from Heaven, as it were.  If Dad was still alive, we would listen to this one a lot.

JOHN HARTFORD/Aero-Plain and Morning Bugle:  The Complete Warner Brothers Recordings—  Good ol’ John HartfordKZEL in Eugene used to play this guy a lot.  Of course, the song that went over the best was Boogie but that may have been the heavy huffing and the fade-out capabilities.  Yes, even in Underground Radio of the early seventies, an instrumental or short song was sometimes  needed to lead-in to the news.  Some DJs played the other tracks from Aero-Plain a lot, too.  No wonder he did so well when he came to town.

THE NEW CHRISTY MINSTRELS/A Retrospective: 1962-1970—  During the modern folk era, there were few bigger acts than The New Christy Minstrels.  They were easily as big as The Kingston Trio or Peter Paul & Mary or The Limelighters.  So big, in fact, that Randy Sparks evidently put together more than one group under that name and sent them to different areas of the country to play concerts.  My parents bought us one of their albums when I was young.  We wore it out.  Yeah, Green Green was the big hit in Oregon, but I much preferred Denver.  Those were strange days.  In fact. The whole folk thing was a mite strange.  Enjoyable, but strange.

COMPILATION:  Cameo Parkway Vocal Groups Vol. 1—  Label compilations can be a very good way to find the older singles of rockdom and Cameo Parkway Records had some of the best singles of the sixties.  Or at least the best artists.  The cool thing about comps are the buried treasures that you find.  This comp has oddball tracks by groups such as The Turbans, The Dovells, The Skyliners, The Tymes, and The Rays.  I like comps like this so much that I used to collect them.  Must have had well over a hundred.  And, yes, Cameo Parkway was in the mix.  Not this one, though.  If they had it back then, I would have scarfed it up in a second.

RICK NELSON/The Complete Epic Recordings—  I saw Rick Nelson play live twice, once at the Palamino and once at the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe WA.  Both shows were exceptional in that Rick went out of his way to accommodate his fans.  In Monroe, he played a good two-hour set which included him twice going to the front of the stage while the band was playing to talk with and sign autographs for fans.  To his credit, he stayed until every dingle one had had a chance to shake his hand or get an autograph.  He was signed to Capitol at that time but went to Nashville to work with Epic not that long after.  This two-disc set has everything he completed during that time.  When I got the chance to review this album, I jumped at it.  If you’re interested in Nelson at all, this is worth a listen.  You can read my review, written a few years ago, here.

ROD McKUEN/Listen to the Warm—  Let me tell you something about Rod McKuen.  Every girl on the Oregon campus back in the late sixties had Listen to the Warm.  Swear to God.  Every one.  And every one of them smelled good and were beautiful and were smart and could cook, even if it was only tuna casserole.  For that reason alone, I admired McKuen.  I had trouble getting one to pay attention.  They were too busy listening to McKuen’s albums.  Sigh.

RONNY & THE DAYTONAS/The Complete Recordings—  In the early days of Hot Rod and Surf music in Oregon, besides The Beach Boys and Jan & Dean, there were Paul Revere & The Raiders (who would occasionally dabble in the genre) and Ronny & The Daytonas.  I think every kid who had money to spend back then bought a copy of GTO.  Ten-to-one, I would bet they would love to have this collection today.  This is period music, my friends, guaranteed to spur memories.  And in case you don’t know, these guys were from Nashville.

THE SHOES/35 Years—  Of all the power pop bands I have in my collection, Shoes are my favoriteThey are the most consistent and have had a run which makes my head spin.  In fact, only The Green Pajamas have had that Shoes have.  Smooth but punchy, raucous yet harmoniously together, they have punched my buttons for a number of years.  Real Gone went out of their way releasing this compilation— the tracks are from a variety of albums over the years yet blend together perfectly.

SMITH/A Group Called Smith and Minus-Plus

Lead vocalist Gayle McCormick is legend in the Pac Northwest and I don’t know why.  I love her voice but she did not play in the area all that much, to my knowledge, but you know what they say— a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.  Of all the versions of Baby It’s You, Smith’s did get the most airplay.  I liked it but my favorite version was Gary & The Hornets‘.  Still, every time I hear tracks like Mojaleskey Ridge I stutter-step.  These guys were much better than they have ever been given credit.  First ever reissue of Minus-Plus.

TEXAS TORNADOS/A Little Bit Is Better Than Nada—  What can I say?  It’s Doug Sahm and Augie Meyers and others laying down some pretty groovin’ border music tracks.  Add Freddy Fender  and Flaco Jimenez  and you have more Texas than most people can handle.  What you get in this package are tracks from each of the band’s four Reprise Records albums and a few extras.  What are they?  Does it matter?  Doug Sahm had one hell of a run from the days of the Quintet on.  The man was a hurricane of musical influences and ended up influencing so many others himself.  This is one musician I have gone way beyond the hits for.

THE AD-LIBS/The Complete Blue Cat Recordings—  Back in the day, the hits were all most people ever heard unless they bought an album of a group or artist so the deep catalogue remained buried until people developed an appreciation.  Like now.  Probably the only thing you have heard by The Ad-Libs is their mega-hit The Boy From New York City.  This album reaches beneath the obvious to showcase the group’s real talents.  Worth it for the vocal and band arrangements alone.  And they say that these songs are available for the very first time in true stereo.  A bonus!

THE BECKIES/The Beckies—  This one has received a lot of attention from fans of The Left Banke and Stories because popmeister Michael Brown were members of those groups.  If I remember correctly, it was one of Sire Records releases?  I’m guessing, but it sounds like something Sire would have backed.  Very pop-py in an upbeat sense.  Hit the cutout bins so fast it broke the sound barrier.  Turns out the sound was a lot better than many would have had you believe.

THE BROWNS/Complete Pop & Country Hits—  The first time I heard The Three Bells, I fell in love with the voices.  Jim Ed Brown would go on to have a stellar career in country music but The Browns— there was something in the way the voices blended.  I was a pathetic mess when I was growing up, probably normal for most guys whose asses are being kicked all over the place by raging hormones, and I took solace in the music of this group.  I remember playing Scarlet Ribbons over and over until Dad told me to stop.  At the time, I thought it the most beautiful song ever recorded.  There are a lot of beautiful songs on this album.  Some of the most unaffected music I have ever heard.

THE GRASS ROOTS/The Complete Original Dunhill/ABC Hit Singles—  Did you know that there is both a censored and uncensored version of Live For Today?  Neither did I and I loved that band’s first two albums like you couldn’t believe.  Of course, the first was more a collaboration of PF Sloan, Steve Barri, and Bones Howe, but the band they put together for the second album was a winner.  They have included tracks from the first two as well as singles from that point on.  I still pull out early Grass Roots albums when I am in the mood for folk rock.  Dunhill Records had the best.

COMPILATION:  The Red Bird Girls—  I had completely forgotten that Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller even had an interest in Blue Cat and Red Bird Records, let alone owned them.  A lot of good music were handed us by those labels, including those of The Ad-Libs, Ellie Greenwich, The Jelly Beans, and Evie Sands, to name only a few.  This album is a great overview of what was going on outside of Leiber & Stoller’s songwriting empire.

TONY JOE WHITE/The Complete Warner Brothers Recordings— Say Tony Joe White in any tavern in the country and you will get a Polk Salad Annie response.  The song was so big that it overshadowed a career which has been going for decades.  In the early seventies, White signed with Warner Brothers Records and released three albums packed with White-penned tunes— Tony Joe White, The Train I’m On, and Homemade Ice Cream.  No real hits, but today we know that hits is not necessarily the name of the game.  First and foremost, besides being a performer, White has proven himself an excellent songwriter.  A story-tellin’ lyric master is he.

WILDERNESS ROAD/Sold For the Prevention of Disease Only—  I love this album for the title alone.  But I found Wilderness Road back in the very early seventies when they recorded their self-titled album for Columbia Records which I call the first country rock concept album.  True, it was more rock than country, but it told a story of the old west and that was good enough for me.  I waited for radio to start playing tracks from that album but it was not to be.  It was too early for Underground and not commercial enough for AM.  The band disappeared, o at least I thought so, until this album popped up out of nowhere.  Not even close to the sound they had before but I had to give them credit for stretching boundaries.  I still haven’t quite figured out what the album is about, but I will get it.  Some day.

X/More Fun In the New World and Under the Big Black Sun—  I sold one hell of a lot of these when I worked retail.  The kids loved the band.

And, of course, there is Brotherhood, consisting of ex-Raiders Phil Volk, Mike Smith, and Drake Levin.  Back around ’70 or ’71 when I was in the Army and stationed at Fort Lewis, I would occasionall trek into Seattle for the odd weekend.  During one of those journeys, Dave Gray and I were driving across the West Seattle bridge where this sign seemed to come out of nowhere stating that  Brotherhood was coming or some such message.  It would be a couple of years later that I would be introduced to the band.  I mean, I had been a Paul Revere & The Raiders fan since Like Longhair and had I known who Brotherhood was, I would have tried to make the show.  Evidently, it was a funky tavern somewhere way below the bridge but which had a very high sign.  To this day, I have been kicking myself.  That was a golden opportunity missed.  Oh, well.

I still haven’t quite figured out a rhyme or reason as to what the guys behind this label are doing, but it is perfect for me.  They have a scatter gun approach to choices which appeals to my musical tastes.  You won’t find me doing something like this often, but I thought the titles were worth perusing if for no other reason than letting people know that labels like this do exist and sometimes carry titles which you had thought were lost forever.  Music is, after all, a journey and with Real Gone, it is an adventure as well.

Perhaps in the future I will look at some other labels which interest me— Now Sounds, Wounded Bird, Green Monkey, Bullseye Canada, Seventh Fire Records…  I have always been fascinated by the business side of music.  But for now, maybe we should look at what few items I have in the…

NotesNotes…..  Dan Phelps, who if you are not watching closely are making a mistake, plays these off-the-cuff concerts recently, usually live from Storyville Coffee House and usually fairly adventurous and ambient (though not always).  While scrolling through FB this morning (it is Saturday), I happened upon a Dan-is-playing-live-now notification so l I took a side trip and am at this very moment stretching my brain cells to fit the sounds.  Dan has worked on some of my favorite records both as a sideman and a producer and will float to the top of musical influences and innovators when the book is finally written.  Right now, after having seen Hymn For Her two nights ago and being overcome with admiration for the talents of both Lucy Tight and Wayne Waxing (whose names have been changed to protect the innocent), I know that if I ever record an album I want Dan to produce and want Wayne to play on.  Both have talent sweating from their pores.

I sat down to start my column for this next week but I confess to not being able to  change channels, as it were.  Dan has a history with me, musically, which includes Bill Pillmore of the late-sixties, early-seventies band Cowboy, Bill’s daughter Jess, Viktor Krauss and Matt Chamberlain (who played with Dan in Modular) and others.

One day I hope to write about the history of Dan Phelps.  He is young yet and it will already be a massive project.  We’ll see.

The David Olney Band with Brock Zeman?  Never saw this coming, though Olney has been known to dabble in Shakespeare and talk in sonnets.  The guy can be a poet in motion when he’s not pounding the guitar with ham-like hands.  Zeman, of course, is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish


Frank’s column appears every Tuesday

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dbawis-button7Frank Gutch Jr. looks like Cary Grant, writes like Hemingway and smells like Pepe Le Pew. He has been thrown out of more hotels than Keith Moon, is only slightly less pompous than Garth Brooks and at Frank bottle capone time got laid at least once a year (one year in a row). He has written for various publications, all of which have threatened to sue if mentioned in any of his columns, and takes pride in the fact that he has never been quoted. Read at your own peril.

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