Frank Gutch Jr: The Non-Science of Record Collecting; A Tip o’ the Hat To Dave Gray (RIP); and a short look at the Notes…..

I’m cleaning out portions of my record collection, or what is left of it.  At one time, I had over 10,000 albums (according to a friend who spent a couple of days counting them).  Over 10,000!  I woke up one day and realized that no one in their right mind would have that many, which brings me to the now-occasional columnist for DBAWIS, Darrell Vickers.  I am sure he has over 10,000 which proves that mental imbalance runs in his family.  He is the perfect dumpster for many of the albums I still have and will be a recipient of a few.  I kid, of course, because for both of us, record collecting has been and still is, in his case, an adventure.

While it is true that I no longer have anywhere that number of albums, I have more than I could possibly listen to, even if I started listening today, before I trip off this mortal coil, so I am offering a few to Darrell.  Nothing incredibly major, of course, but I have kept a number of albums which might find homes in the Vickers fold.  I am sure he has many titles which duplicate mine so I am handing him a list from which he can choose.  So far, I have made I through the Gs and I feel comfortable doing it, but I kept those albums through more than a few purges and every one is a tug at my heart.  I remember where and when I purchased most of them.  I remember what they cost and why I bought them and for many could tell you how many rotations they received on the home system.  I listened to many of them to the point that I felt I knew the musicians and the people behind the various albums, the reasons they were recorded.  You might laugh as I did when I told Perry Jordan my take on the early days of Heartsfield as imagined from the group picture on the back of the first album.  Well, you might not have laughed but Darrell would have, if I’d ever told him.

I have been thinking about this purge for some time, though it was more than likely brought on by the death of one of my Army buddies.  Army buddies.  It sounds as if we were casual acquaintances, but it was far more than that.  We were friends.  Real friends.  Friends who would have been there for one another should there have been a real need.  I have had a very small handful of friends like that over my lifetime.  All too few.  One day in the recent past, I came across a picture of Dave dressed in a laughable Uncle Sam suit (complete with Grinch hat) on the social media and posted a message asking if he had been jumped by Republicans.  The reply, not from Dave, was that he was always the life of any party and that he would be missed, I assume a gentle way of telling me that he no longer walked among us.  We had spent a handful of years sending humorous messages of a sarcastic nature back and forth since we had reconnected through the Net and I hope that Dave would have gotten a chuckle out of my remark but I will never know.

I called him King of the Court because he had played college basketball and was coaching high school just before we met.  His height alone gave him away but his demeanor sealed it.  He was fluid in motion and I had no trouble imagining him controlling the court.  We connected right off, our love of sports a bond.  We would find over the next number of months that we had a lot more in common, not the least of which was music.

Those were exciting times, though we didn’t think so at the time.  The War, the counterculture, the growing rift between liberals and conservatives, religion and philosophy, the growing power of corporations.  And girls.  Dave and I weren’t of the horn dawg variety, but we appreciated the female as much as most guys.  Nothing untoward, I assure you, but we had our fantasies.

Music tied all of it together.  We worked our ways through Traffic (Mr. Fantasy), Jimi Hendrix (take your pick), Neil Young, Spirit, Jethro Tull and of course the standards of the day— Paul revere & The Raiders, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones.  I went to see The Carpenters with him at his insistence (they played this lounge in Seattle and the audience was sparse but what an experience) and we traveled to Pacific Lutheran University to see Gordon Lightfoot in his prime.

We went to the original Red Robin, which had the best jukebox in town, and swilled beer until I co-opted the jukebox, playing CSNY‘s Ohio over and over until some customers (nee, Philistines) threatened to plant a chair upside my head at which time Dave put me in a headlock and dragged me out into the sun.  We slept at The Arboretum that night and were rudely awakened by a couple of Seattle policemen who said we had to move on.  That night, we bought a couple of ladies drinks (anonymously, because we were leaving as soon as we finished our beer) and slept in the car for the couple of hours we had left, then headed back to Ft. Lewis.

Dave got orders for Viet Nam shortly thereafter.  When he left, we shook hands and I said don’t let the bastards get you and that was it.  After the war, I would call occasionally, usually drunk, and he would tell me to sleep it off and hang up.  I don’t think it mattered to either one of us what was said.  We just wanted the other to know that everything was okay.

Dave’s passing has not affected me too greatly.  I have lost family and friends over the past decade or so and know my time is coming.  I feel for his family, though.  I just wish he had left his forwarding address.

Ah, but the music.

As I started digging through the albums, trying to keep in a simple chronological search for fear of losing focus, I did occasionally step to a different section to see if I still had certain titles.  I had had so many records over the years and more than a few of them found their ways to separate universes, some by shipping errors (lost boxes) and others handed to friends or customers (yes, I did sell a handful but not the ones I really treasured).  My first foray uncovered Jackson HeightsBump ‘n’ Grind.  A stand-alone classic!  I had first heard of this album through one of Portland Oregon’s Music Millennium mimeographed sheets of import albums.  Once a month (or so), the guys at the Millennium would type up a sheet or two outlining recent releases from overseas (i.e., imports).  When my friends I would head to the store, we scoured the sheets carefully.  One time, there was a glowing two-line thumbnail about Bump ‘n’ Grind, which I decided I had to have.  I unfortunately had to wait a year or two to find it at a Licorice Pizza store I worked at.  I found it and it was at least as good as the thumbnail said.  (I would have the same experience with a band calling themselves The Dog That Bit People— 25 cents, in an inner sleeve, no album jacket— worth every penny).  Ladies & Gentlemen, Jackson Heights:

These days, you mention Evil Woman and most people will respond with ELO.  I try to not let it bother me but I was never a fan of Jeff Lynne I did attend an ELO concert once, but it was to see Mick Kaminski, who was playing electric violin with the band at the time and had piqued my interest when he was with another of my oddball favorites, Joe SoapSpooky Tooth had their own song titled Evil Woman which kicked ELO’s up and down the halls.  Sorry, Howie.  I know how much you love Lynne.  I just bever got there.

I have a string of Michael Nesmith albums, even the original package for The Prison.  As much as I wasn’t a huge fan of The Monkees, I somehow turned out to be one of Nesmith.  Perhaps it was his loyalty to the country-leaning songs or maybe it was the loyalty of pedal steel sideman O.J. “Red” Rhodes, but I have loved everything he has done, especially his dip into the semi-surreal with albums From a Radio Engine to the Photon Wing and Infinite Rider On the Big Dogma.  This video, evidently taken from a video called Elephant Parts, is a track from Big DogmaCruisin’:

I used to think I was the only guy in the world who loved Gypsy.  I knew it wasn’t true— after all, I had found their first record being played in a Denver record store by a guy who dug them more than I did at the time (that was my first exposure), but I guarantee you there was hardly a more enthusiastic fan than myself after that.  Music like I’d never heard before— unique vocals, excellent musicianship, harmonies stacked uo the the ceiling— and they jammed!  My heart beats faster every time I hear them!  I bought a handful of the Antithesis album as cutouts when I worked in Seattle and we barely sold through ten copies, but that was okay because I knew every person who bought one and none was ever returned.  In fact, a couple of the guys are friends to this day just because of that album.  Here is a track off that first album— a long one:

An aside:  While Gypsy was not as well known as they should have been, they were huge in St, Louis where radio station KSHE laid the format in the disc jockeys’ hands and made artists like Gypsy, J.D. Blackfoot, Heartsfield, and others local legends.  Fans of the history of rock radio should love this:

There are a thousand stories in the Windy City, only a few of which really piqued my musical interests.  One was of a young man and wife who struck gold in 1968 with a pop track titled Reach Out of the Darkness.  There was something about the voices which captivated me.

I loved that song and was much surprised a few years later when the male voice resurfaced in the person of Jim Post, a throwback to the old folk movement.  He was to release four albums on the Fantasy record label, then go on to release a handful of others.  Hid first, Colorado Exile, fit nicely in with my back-to-the-earth attitude of the time.

Imagine when, a number of years later, Post put out an album which featured a duo with a musician I would help tell his story, Steve Young.  Oh, the things I could tell, but first, a song many Young fans don’t even realize exists.

Ah, Steve Young.  I discovered him in the winter of my discontent, 1970.  1969 had just turned tail and the Army was determined to make me pay for past misdeeds or something when this guy, who had just returned from leave, handed me Young’s Rock Salt & Nails album.  I did not know it at the time but that album would lead me on many a journey.  Rock Salt & Nails, written by Utah Phillips (who would deny it— you can read Young’s story here if you want details)— and exposed to Young by Rosalie Sorrels would become Young’s signature song, though some would argue that would be Seven Bridges Road.  For myself, though, Rock Salt & Nails captured the haunting loneliness of a man hellbent on self-destruction but who stopped his slide into hell by pure self-will.  This  is the original recording of that song:

A few years later, though, he returned to the studio to record this version which appeared on his Honky Tonk Man album on Mountain Railroad Records.  Two things make this version my favorite— the perfectly understated pedal steel of Cal Hand and the harmonic voice of Betsy Kaske.  You want lonesome, this is it:

Caroline Peyton would be a total enigma to me had it not been for a zine I wrote for.  Based in Bloomington, Indiana, Primo Times was one of those early zines living off the fat of the artistic land.  I wrote a few reviews and was given a subscription in return which gave me access to a variety of musical acts, the most impressive of which were The Screaming Gypsy Bandits and that band’s core of musicians, Peyton and Mark Bingham.  While I never found a copy of the Bandits’ In the Eye album, I was enthralled with Peyton’s Intuition LP.  Her voice was soft but strong and the songwriting strong, indeed.  As an afterthought, in the late seventies, Peyton came through Seattle with a road production of The Pirates of Penzance.  I thought of taking the album down to the Paramount Theater where the show was being staged but thought better of it.  I wish now I had.

Here is a band only a few remember— Trust In Men Everywhere.  Wiki has a string of posts relating to the band, some which include Steppenwolf‘s Nick St. Nicholas as a member.  When I came across them, they were just four but every one from a group with previous successes.  Larry Byrom had played with The Precious Few before joining T.I.M.E. and would later join Steppenwolf alongside St. Nicholas.  Richard Tepp (Richard & The Young Lions) was the drummer for awhile.  Pat Couchois would form Ratchell not long after T.I.M.E.  And Bill Richardson (The Hardtimes) filled out one of the line-ups.  I guess you might call this a form of supergroup, every member either coming from or going toward success.  This is what they did together.

The Illusion had a hit.  Honest to God.  And I always wondered why, after charting with the classic Did You See Her Eyes, they could just be chucked aside.  They put out two more albums after the self-titled album, both as good or better than the first, but no radio station would touch them.  I uncovered a video of a track from the band’s last album as The Illusion (they would put put one more album after changing the name to Wiggy Bits).  The quality may be poor, but I have never seen footage of the band other than this.

As for the hit, maybe this will jog some memories.

I watch performances like this and wonder how the harp man is still alive at the end.  Wet Willie.

To settle the crowd down.

Tiptoeing through the record collection can sometimes be a good thing.  Call it therapeutic.  I thin at this point in my life, I don’t need all of the albums and tapes and CDs.  I know most of the music by heart.  Unfortunately I know Free Bird and Dream On and Stairway to Heaven by heart too.  I wonder if I will ever be able to purge those from my system.  I sure am tired of being subjected to that damn Heart version of Stairway.  If I had wanted to hear something like that, I would have bought a Heart album.  I didn’t.

But I did get a chance to add a few of this weeks…

Notes…

A hurricane (Irma) is hurtling in, you have a very short time to find a studio which is not boarded up, your friend Fernando Perdomo is getting ready to leave town but has a bit of time, so you head into a studio to lay down a few chords of a song you just wrote.  It is a scramble, but Marko Ruffolo opens Markee Studios (Deerfield Park FLA) and you get the basics down just in time for Fernando to catch his flight to L.A. and then…?  Irma hits and all hell breaks loose.  The important thing is that you have the “tapes”.  You call Vicki Loveland and Van Duren up in Memphis and make arrangements for added vocals (recorded by Mike Wilson at Ardent Studios).  Then it’s a simple matter of getting Zack Ziskin to master and Joe Howell to piece together a video and there you have it.  Whew!  Is it always this complicated?  Chris Korzen, who records under the moniker Nezrock, doesn’t think it complicated at all.  He calls it “very fast, very easy”.  Just another day at the office?  Maybe so, but I would prefer not to work at that office.  I prefer meeting the end product when it meets the world.  A brand new track and video to match— Imagine That.  Watch this, then check out Chris’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/nezrok1?__mref=message.  He has archived more music than this.  Much more.

I keep telling you about Shannon Lay, about her being one of those don’t-miss musicians you mostly only hear about because you’re too lazy to follow up.  Well, I’m not going to give up.  She put out an album last year titled Living Water which hit me like a truck.  Hearing her made me relive my experience with another up-and-comer of the time, Joni Mitchell.  It wasn’t the music itself which waylaid me, it was the creativity.  Okay, the music too.  Trust me when I say that you will hear her soon enough and if that’s the case, why don’t you kust start here?  An exceptional live video recorded for PressureDrop.tv in December of 2016.

Speaking of finding things.  Here is a video of Feels, a band Shannon Lay was in before going solo.  Definitely another dimension.

Has anyone seen the entire film, Be Here To Love Me?  Looks fascinating!

Here are the first five minutes…..

I watched it and thought, hell, I could have bought a hundred of those Poppy albums for less than a quarter and I didn’t.  In my head, I am banging my head against the edge of a desk until it’s bloody and in my heart I fall through a black hole.  Why didn’t they sell?  And the other side of it is, if they had, would it have destroyed him quicker?

Under the caption, “How do things like this get past me,” here is a video filmed a bit south of me here in Oregon by a lady I should know about but don’t— Alice DiMicele.  New album pending and what I’ve heard is very impressive.

In case you missed this video in Pat Blythe‘s last column, here is a band which I believe are going to make headway quickly— Vinyl Ambush.  I just want you to remember who mentioned them first.  Okay, second.  Pat has already claimed first.  Big thing in store for these kids.

=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.”

One Response to “Frank Gutch Jr: The Non-Science of Record Collecting; A Tip o’ the Hat To Dave Gray (RIP); and a short look at the Notes…..”

  1. Peter Montreuil Says:

    Excellent work, Frank.

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