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Monday, September 22, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 65.0° F  A Few Clouds
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Vinyl Cave: Catch and release with Jack Marshall, Tony Bruno, Frankie Randall
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Here's a trio of '60s refugees found at a recent outing to St. Vincent de Paul's Dig & Save Outlet on Park Street.


Jack Marshall:Tuff Jack
This is an album I picked up essentially blind, even as to who the performer is. The cover art and liner notes do not specify the artist, nor do the labels; I initially guessed it might possibly be yet another Billy Strange guitar extravaganza, since he wrote one of only two tunes here that wasn't a prior hit or standard. The other unfamiliar song here is by Jack Marshall, and I only noticed after listening to Tuff Jack that his name is listed on the album's spine. Marshall was a studio man at Capitol Records in the 1950s and '60s, and a bit of research shows his name attached to many of the label's releases backing vocalists such as Peggy Lee, Judy Garland, Mavis Rivers and others -- as well as a few album releases under his name where they did bother to more clearly credit the guitarist. His Wikipedia bio also notes that he wrote the music for The Munsters, and is the father of director Frank Marshall. Tuff Jack does have a lot of tuff, twangy guitar playing and inventive, brass-laden arrangements of mostly familiar songs. Marshall was better known for his acoustic playing, but it's all electric here. It's a fun time capsule and will be enjoyed by any fans of guitar instrumentals who run across it. (Capitol T 1727, 1962)

Tony Bruno: I'm Feeling it Now
I've encountered a couple of Tony Bruno's singles over the years, but never had the chance to take on a full-length LP. "Small Town Bring Down," originally on Buddah and later re-issued on Capitol, was my introduction to his inimitably over-the-top songwriting and crooning style. I'm Feeling it Now was his second album and features arrangements by noted jazz pianist/arranger Roger Kellaway, so the musical intensity is toned down a bit from that earlier effort. Much of the album stays strictly in mid-slow tempo orchestra/backing singers MOR territory, but with Bruno emoting/melting down all over it, of course. The disc's highlights are a strangely bouncy cover of "You Can't Do That" and Bruno original "Rhoda Mendelbaum," which includes amazing lyrics such as: "You're the kinda girl that likes to toy with young boys hearts like packing love in a needle/stick it in their arm/dig it!" He also substitutes "tommy guns" for "BB guns" in "Little Green Apples." Both of those excerpts should give you an idea of whether you want to hear this record or not. Bruno is not for everyone, but he's certainly an original. (Capitol ST 2930, 1969)

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Frankie Randall: The Mods and the Pops
I've seen Frankie Randall's '60s RCA Victor LPs over the years, but always passed because they appear to be in standard jazzish EZ listening territory. However, the track listing on this one was so strange I couldn't resist. Randall covers then-current hits by The Who, The Cowsills, Jay & the Techniques, Jerry Butler and Gary Puckett, as well as album cuts by Donovan and The Monkees and non-U.S. hits by The Move and Flower Pot Men. If you've ever wanted to hear "I Can See For Miles" turned into semi-sunshine pop by a jazz crooner, this album is for you. This sort of project often spells disaster, but The Mods and the Pops is not terrible by any means -- Randall acquits himself just fine with what was strange material for him to cover -- it just is what it is. Somewhat unbelievably, the liner notes describe the sessions as "the most tedious (and longest!) recording sessions at RCA's Hollywood Studio A," not exactly a ringing endorsement. (RCA Victor LPM-3941, 1968)

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