There’s plenty of awful, sincere glee club-style performances by young people here, but I particularly enjoyed this lush, swanky introductory theme meant for their radio broadcasts. Obviously from some time in the 1970s, it was recorded at the Word of Life Inn in Schroon Lake, NY., which is still open for business.
Here are the Family Singers:
This is not an album I had high hopes for, so allow me to register how surprised I am. This is some good jazz tinged, percussion driven steel drum thumping, and even this Blowin’ In The Wind cover is far from embarrassing. The steel band was stationed in Puerto Rico, perhaps still is. I have no idea what year this came out, but it has Classical Gas on it and that song was released in 1968, so sometime after that .
Online searches claim this album is from 1977, but “America” is clearly featured in the Neil Diamond Medley and that wasn’t released until 1980, so your guess is as good as mine. This copy comes autographed by the band, as does any other copy I have seen for sale online. I could’ve given you the seven-minute Kenny Rogers medley, but instead I opted for the album closer featuring some old fashioned yuks with the boys. Straight from Raynham, Massachusetts. As a bonus, here’s video of them at Whalom Park in the 1980s.
Ah, the clumsy calypso percussion, the subtle cheap background synths, the woman’s high pitched shrieking, the man’s stumbling warble … why wouldn’t this ease you into God’s embrace? Internet searches don’t reveal much about these people, other than to say they played a few gigs in the early ’80s and were at some point a registered non-profit.
It’s refreshing to pick up an album collecting truck driving songs and find it rounded off by a song about a freewheeling bus driver, just rambling through the city streets, doing the same job his daddy taught him. It’s an occupation that could use some romanticizing. If truck drivers are the cowboys of the modern road, then surely bus drivers are the … the … I’m sorry, I can’t think of anything. No clue when this song was recorded - 1960s? - but this various artists album is from 1973 and here’s Bobby Hodge’s bio.
There’s no reason this 1972 song by Dutch band Drama shouldn’t have been a huge hit in the US too. This is the kind of thing they just don’t make anymore. Could’ve been all over the K-Tel comps. Read more about Drama here.
This smooth slice of discofied-MOR-pop from 1977 is only really different from other popular output of the era because of its Christian lyrical content. What makes it more fascinating, though, is the promotion-obsessed packaging, with an in-depth interview with Howard and some defensive company notes from Solid Rock Records chief and Hollywood/Christian music fixture Larry Norman, who warns critics of Christian rock to “be careful …there are some who wrongly feel that contemporary rock music is a satanic, destructive force and is not conducive to communicating the gospel … they are overlooking the fact that much of classical music, opera, etc. relies on murder, jealousy, and immorality for their themes.” Unlike the Bible!
"Jesus got a’hold of my life and he won’t let me go" is the actual lyric, and the song makes Jesus sound a bit sinister and pushy to me. This is the upbeat, letting it all hang out track on the album. This is an early work from an apparently successful televangelist who has run afoul of the Amazing Randi and the law - he went to jail in the 90s. The date of this album is a mystery to me, but the clothing style tells me mid to late 70s.
Whenever I am in Canada, I now make it a habit to buy a few old country music records by people I have never heard of, because there are always some gems on those albums. This 1971 album from Oshawa, Ontario resident Bud Roberts just furthers my belief. Plus, the liner notes on the back begin with this sentence: “The owner of a record company once told Bud Roberts that he would never make it as an entertainer for he had three counts against him - he was short, he wasn’t that handsome, and a childhood accident had left him with one leg shorter than the other.” Go, Bud, Go!!!
I have another album by the Musical Harts that is pretty straightforward country gospel - not bad, not exceptional, a few ear-pleasers on there - but this album brings them squarely into the new territory of the groovy 1970s. There’s hardly a loser on it - and hardly a song without the twangy guitar sound. “You’ve heard of the Trapp Family, the Partridge Family, and others, but you have never heard or seen anyone quite like the Hart Family,” the liner notes promises, while the record itself delivers. I have no idea which Hart kid sings this - Larry, Garry, or Trudy - nor do I know what year this was recorded - post Partridge Family, obviously - but I do know that the Musical Harts are “Tennessee’s Good Will Ambassadors”!
The entire point of this 1958 album is to replicate a relatively drunken crowd in your apartment indulging in a night of sing-alongs.
From the liner notes:
“A word or two about the assemblage which is represented herein:
Auditioning the singers (?) for the group was a monumental task, of course. The gentlemen whose assigned project it is to select talent for ABC-PARAMOUNT RECORDS immediately withdrew from this undertaking, one pleading a previous appointment in Tanganyika, and the other (coward that he is!) puncturing his ear drum with an ice pick. Subsequently, the auditions were duly conducted under tutelage of one of the boys in the mail room and a cooperative cab driver from Brooklyn. It is interesting to note that, our of eighty four aspirants for the distinguished chorus, only three unfortunate individuals were rejected: A gentleman who had been lending his talents to a barber-shop quartette competition; a young lady who, upon intensive questioning, admitted that she could read music; and another young gentleman who asserted that thus could be ‘a lot of fun.’ This was a serious business with us!
In any event, we believe you will enjoy this album. We make no pretense that, in presenting it, we have striven for acoustical perfection or, indeed, to scale the heights of collective vocal prowess.”
Some Greek prog straight from 1970. The whole album is various shades of easy listening pop and rock with Greek overtones, but this song, the album closer, goes for broke.
Carnivale, the celebration following Lent, got special treatment at the NYC Italian restaurant Mama Leone’s, at least once upon a time. Mama Leone’s itself has been closed for 20 years, but this souvenir record stands as a testament to its inherent cheesiness. This is a good and goofy addition to the silly field of Italian-American pop music that disappeared from the world long before Leone’s shut down. I can’t find any date for this album, but my guess is that the music was recorded in the 60s, but the album itself was reissued through the years, so this actual pressing … 70s?
I won’t lie. The reason I picked this album up had everything to do with Margie Singleton’s resemblance to Divine, especially, I think, in his Female Trouble era. Singleton was a minor country star in the 1960s and this album has some pretty good stuff in the realm of Tammy Wynette soap opera material, including lots of great songs about cheaters, but I particularly loved this tear jerker about putting babies up for adoption, shame, and regret.
Considering Guantanamo’s current notoriety, this seemed the obvious song to pick from this 1961 relic that stands as a testament for everything we lose by allowing women in the troops. Thank goodness. In the middle of jollity is some casual sexism and racism, as well as good old American exceptionalism. But with lovely harmony, right? This is the culture my generation had to overcome …