Frank Gutch Jr: Canada! Drake Is Coming! (Angharad Drake, That Is); The Omniverous Trailers;

There are musicians who are outstanding and there are musicians who are unique but seldom do you find one who is both.  I have found maybe a small bucketful during my lifetime who rise to the fly (as fly fisherman are wont to say) and most of those would be under your radar but they are there, regardless of cynics’ belief that music is dead.  My problem is that when they do come along, I am so like Chicken Little that few believe it.  Most take my loud cries of ecstasy as another of my many elaborate hoaxes, though I wonder how they know because they haven’t heeded my advice anyway.  You want to know what discouragement is?  Discouragement is posting a video or audio track, getting 17 “likes” but only three more views or listens than when you posted it.  I guess it is most times easier to click a button than to actually listen.

Those who shirk their duties as my minions will soon find out that I am not about to give up on Angharad Drake, though.  I will carry the standard for months to come (I would say years but I am realizing that I am no more immortal than many of my friends and idols these days) and will hammer this home until people begin walking the other way to avoid me— she is deserving not just of being heard but of serious multiple listenings.  She is that good.

She is still young and learning but that is what they said of Joni Mitchell when she finally left the tundras of Canada for the beaches of L.A.  There was so much untapped potential in Mitchell that writers and music people in general did not know what to say or where to begin.  I know.  I have not been a vocal supporter of her music but that largely had to do with the fact that I did not need to be.  So many people were singing her praises that I constantly faced a din of what sounded like white noise.  The thing is I heard it.  I knew it.  Those first few albums told me she was going places musically.  And she did.

I hear the same things in Drake.  She has a way with a song which is so familiar and yet is so unique.  It isn’t her voice, necessarily, though she has an excellent voice.  It isn’t her stage presence either, though she can more than likely quiet a crowd after a verse or two.  To tell the truth, I cannot put my finger on exactly what attracts me to her music but I am attracted and very much so.

Look, I know what you’re thinking.  Angharad to Joni is quite a jump.  It is.  I admit it.  But I believe it.  Most of you don’t remember the struggle to get radio to play Joni.  I do.  It took FM Underground and a single (Big Yellow Taxi) to break her out.  But when she broke out, she broke out big.  I can see that happening here.  Baby could do it or maybe it will be Carpet or a song in the future.  Maybe people will begin finding the songs she recorded a few years ago.  Who knows?  All I know is I love her music and wish I could find a way to make people listen because if they don’t listen to begin with…

This is the cool thing, though.  Angharad Drake is heading for Canada.  British Columbia will have the first chance to hear what I have been hearing for a couple of years now.  She will be appearing in Nanaimo at the Corner Lounge on June 14th.  On June 23rd, she is scheduled to play Tree’s Organic Coffee & Roasting House in East Vancouver and the next night, June 24th, at The Heatley (Hastings & Heatley, also in East Vancouver).

You don’t want to miss this, B.C.  She’s from Australia and you never know when she will be back.

I Think I Know Why They Call This Label Omnivore…

After digging through the titles on their YouTube Channel, I’m pretty sure it has to do with the variety of music and artists they have chosen.  I first heard of them maybe a year or so ago.  I found a link to the first Posies album (on Omnivore, of course) for this idea I had for an article (Damn, I need to get that written, too!).  Omnivore, in fact, had released CDs of both the first and last recordings by that venerable Pac NW band.  The first album, titled Failure, was a re-release of sorts but it contained a long string of bonus tracks.  The latest, Solid States, is distributed by Omnivore also, or at least a distributor attached to the label.  I thought the review on both would be an automatic as I knew of the band long before they scored their major label deal with Geffen and met them en toto when I spent a Sunday with the band’s management people on a photo shoot.  I always liked their music, having grown up on the pop side of the sixties, and thought it very cool that they were still going (at least, Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer).  Like I said, I really have to hop on that.

I was going to post a couple of Omnivore videos in the Notes section, but guess what?  As I clicked my way through their “trailers” on Youtube, I became engrossed.  The label had such a variety that I thought it might be better to write about it upfront rather than place their videos in Notes.  But this is what I started with…

Omnivore is pulling an other rabbit out of a hat with the June release of an old 1971 album featuring Judy Henske, Jerry Yester, Craig Doerge, John Seiter, and David Vaught.  They called themselves Rosebud and played what I used to call Hollywood Rock.  Music which came from the vaults full of strings and slick arrangements and production way beyond the norm.  I used to think I didn’t like this kind of stuff but when I heard this trailer, I changed my mind.  I hope to hear the whole album soon.  There is an aura of an era about it that I think I really want to hear again.

That, my friends, is a trailer.  I see them all the time regarding movies, but I have seen very few posted as promos for music.  I continued…

“I know quite a few people who are going to be interested in this one.  After all, Chris Bell was a cornerstone of Big Star.  Bell was, in fact, the guy who, to me, anchored the band.  Alex Chilton was there, yes, but he had spent a handful of years making me want to look the other way.  He had troubles.  But when he teamed up with Bell, Jody Stevens, and Andy Hummel, I softened my view and listened.  #1 Record was a real ear-opener for me.  Radio City as well.  But for me as well as many others, Bell had something more.  Unfortunately, he, unbeknownst to us all, had little time left.  Thank the gods that he was able to produce as much music as he did.  Here’s a look at what Omnivore has…

I believe most of those recordings came from some of the sessions which produced Rock City and Icewater— pre-Big Star sessions, if you will.  Did you see the ending?  A six-LP Chris Bell box set?  I cannot even imagine.  That is damn cool, though.

Looking back to that Rosebud album posted earlier, the label also has an earlier Jerry Yester & Judy Henske album titled Farewell Aldebaran which I swear I saw in every used record bin I looked through.  I didn’t pay much attention to it but I wish I had.  I had friends try to foist it upon me but, foolishly, I resisted.  Wish I had that puppy now.  But wait, I still can!

I confess.  I am a fan of The Bangles.  Back in the day, I was a fan of every girl group there was.  They had a sound that guys just could not duplicate.  Here is a pre-Bangles package that includes tracks from an EP I did not know about and a bunch of songs I didn’t know about.  Why is it that the only songs I can remember are from their Great Hits album (or was it The Best Of)?

I have no idea why I did not purchase at least one Game Theory album but I didn’t.  I enjoyed listening to them (the people I worked with played them on occasion, so I was forced, but I didn’t complain.  I liked their sound and attitude.  Omnivore has made it possible for me to have one again.  This trailer is of their Lolita Nation album.

Way back, a friend called me about three in the morning.  “Frank,” he whispered.  “Frank…”  “Yeah?”  “I need a favor.”  “Man, it’s three o’clock in the morning.”  “But Frank, I need a favor.”  Assuming that he was in trouble, I turned the light on and got out of bed.  “Okay,” I said, “what do you need?”  “Arthur Alexander.”  “What?”  “Arthur Alexander.  The soul dude.  I need his album.”  I pulled the phone out of the wall (that’s right, kiddies, back then we plugged them into walls).  The next evening, he called to apologize.  The day after that, I sent him my spare copy.  I had no idea Alexander’s album was getting hard to find.  Even harder today.  Until now.

I heard a lot about Cindy Lee Berryhill before I heard her.  My San Diego friends, especially Gary Heffern (The Penetrators), wouldn’t stop talking about her.  By the time I finally heard her music, I felt like I had been listening to her for years.  She must be one swell person.  Gary contacted me just recently and begged me to listen to her new one, The Adventurist, and maybe write a review.  All I can say is, review pending.

The more you know, the more you don’t.  I know The Heaters.  They were gaining steam in Seattle back in the early eighties (or was it the late-seventies), on their way to fame and fortune.  I was one of the ones who told trhem they need to change their name because there was already a Heaters.  They refused to listen but were forced to late anyway.  But wait.  That first band known as The Heaters was not that long in the musical grave when The Heaters recorded this?  How many Heaters were there back then, I wonder?  At least three.  This is a Heaters who never had the chance to put out vintl, but they got the chance to record.  This is The Heaters, girl-group style.  I dig it.  Unreleased until now with liner notes and everything.  Quite the story.

How many artists do you know who was only released on eight-track?  I didn’t know of any and then Omnivore came across this Alan Price album which was set to be released in 1974 and evidently was released on eight-track only to be pulled from the racks.  This is indicative of so many of the Keystone Cops pranks perpetrated by the major labels.  Thing is, we’re the winners.  Here it comes, over forty years later.  Pretty interesting.  Pretty cool.  Releases like this are worth it for the chuckle value alone.  I have always liked Price.  His version of I Put a Spell on You will remain an unbeatable classic in my head and heart.  I have a feeling there are a few others in this collection which will impress almost as much.

NRBQ was so-o-o close but never made it.  I don’t know why.  Oh wait.  I do.  Radio wouldn’t play them.  Well, don’t despair.  Now you can buy this 5-CD set and play them yourself.  See?  Things aren’t as bad as fake news makes you believe.

Here’s the trailer for that first Posies album I mentionedearlier.

When I heard Pugwash, I was sure they were one of those forgotten bands from the golden ages bot, no, they are an actual band.  A damn good one too.  Take a listen to this and then head to Omnivore’s site to find out how to order.  If you’re of a mind to, that is.  Listen closely.  It should have you salivating for more.  Unless you’re a Journey fan.  Journey fans don’t seem to like Pugwash.  Go figure.

I tell you, finding the YouTube channel for Omnivore made my week.  If you want to see what else they have going for them, go to YouTube, type in “Omnivore Trailers” and a whole long line of releases will be listed.  Dig your way through them.  Have fun.  There are some amazing gems among them.

I just thought that was a cool way to market albums.  Trailers for albums.  I know it had been done before, but not like that.

Hell, I could go on but it’s probably good weather wherever you are (and if it is, I know it’s not Houston), so what say we finish this off with some…

Notes…

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t hate The Eagles.  I just think the airplay and adulation a bit much to stomach.  Whilst surfing the Net today, I came across a piece which pretty much sums up my attitude towards them and it’s funny as hell.  Rather than steal it (reprint it here), I will supply a link.  I wish I had written it first.  Even Eagles fans should find this humorous.  Catch it by clicking here.

Producer/engineer Sheldon Gomberg has been passing along a video by a band he has been working with lately— Fiction Nation.  A little power for your lunch?

I just had another otherworldly experience.  I watched a new Mandolin Orange video and heard a song which could easily have been a cover of Picture the Ocean.  What year was it that I picked PTO‘s self-titled album Album of the Year?  2012?  2013?  Very unique and full of songs which carried me away.  I shall have to listen closely to MO‘s Blindfaller just to hear what they have to play.  I have a good feeling about this.  Pay special attention to the vocal harmonies.

Just for comparisons sake—

First video of this week.  With a last name like Prchal, I could not resist.  Turns out, it’s a damn fine tune.  Of course, I am a sucker for good harmony vocals.  Great way to start the week.

Remember before Trump when the idiot from Wisconsin was the target?

I return to this every once in awhile just to recharge my batteries.  From the Left Coast, Lester Quitzau.

My favorite version of Liar.

=FGJ=

Frank’s column appears every Tuesday

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

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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