It's been a busy week and I haven't had time to really dig into any albums this week. So, here's a snapshot of what can be spun the turntable on one particular day -- in this case, Friday.
John Doe & the Sadies -- Country Club
John Doe's tackled relatively straight country before with X side project The Knitters. But this time around he recruits perhaps the world's biggest musical ringers, The Sadies, as his backing band. The results are far fresher sounding than a typical album of mostly cover songs. They usually keep the mood mid-tempo to mellow, and spacy takes on standards such as "'Til I Get it Right" and "Night Life" are transcendent. (Yep Roc, 2009)
Spanky and Our Gang -- Like to Get to Know You
The title track of the group's second album has remained a staple of oldies and AM gold formats through the years, at least here in the Midwest. Their pop-psych take on Margo Guryan's "Sunday Mornin'" also hit the Top 40. It's an album I keep buying copies of, hoping to find one not pressed on crummy, crackly vinyl. (Mercury, 1968)
Ed Wahonka -- Wahonka
Bubblegum entrepreneurs/criminals -- depending on who's telling the story -- Jerry Kasenetz and Jeffrey Katz were rewarded for their pile of big Buddah hits with a few custom labels. There's only five LPs on SuperK, and they don't turn up too often; Wahonka is the last. It's described very succinctly on the back cover as "...a love album. A love destroyed by a girl's disapproving parents." The songs, nearly all written by Ed Wahonka (with J. Kasenetz and "C." Katz also claiming credit -- yeah, right) hold together under that unifying concept well. It sounds sort of like if David Clayton Thomas had joined The Buckinghams, only to be kidnapped by K&K. Brevity is a key, with nothing clocking in at more than 2:37. (SuperK, 1969)
Ewan MacColl and A.L. Lloyd -- Whaling Ballads
Cataloging old folk songs as new recordings was a booming, if low-wattage, industry in the '50s following the release of Harry Smith's "Anthology of American Folk Music," and the subsequent rise of the LP format. It seems there's a never-ending supply of near-forgotten recordings out there by artists both legendary and lost. Ewan MacColl is pretty legendary, but this is my first run-in with A.L. Lloyd. Whaling Ballads is a follow up to a nine volume series (!) called "The English and Scottish Popular Ballads" on a Riverside offshoot label; from what I can learn online, all the albums had been previously issued on Riverside itself. While some labels did their best to sex up their traditional albums and increase sales (see Elektra's "Dalliance" series by Ed McCurdy), that's probably never the case with MacColl and Lloyd's collaborations. Judging by this album, the series is likely as unadorned and direct as MacColl's work usually is. (Washington, 1960s)
The Black Hollies -- Crimson Reflections
I've returned to their debut album several times since The Black Hollies' incendiary performance in August at the Frequency. It's a record that sounds like a really good '60s garage/freakbeat comp, the kind that doesn't contain any duds. Their third album, and first with their current drummer, comes out in October. (Telstar, 2006)
Any Trouble -- Where Are All the Nice Girls?
This British band's debut album sounds like a more power-pop (and less crabby) Graham Parker; I'm always surprised it hasn't gained a big cult following by now. Like many of the Stiff America releases, this features a different track listing than the UK original, including covers of songs by Bruce Springsteen and Abba. (Stiff, 1980)