Archive for the ‘Rock-Ola’ Category

The Staple Singers

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

We The People / The Staple Singers

Listen: We The People / The Staple Singers
We

I constantly regret never seeing The Staple Singers when Pops was alive. I actually was obsessed with this single for the longest time, starting around me getting my first jukebox in ’87. It’s actually the B side to their ‘Oh La Di Da’ hit from ’73, peaking at #33 in Billboard’s Pop chart, primarily because of RnB airplay and sales, as I never once remember hearing that song on the radio back then.

I was pretty cautious to put only extra, well played records in the jukebox, as my original Rock-Ola would definitely do a number on them. These titles were no brainers in the good old garage sale days, when you’d pick this stuff up for 10ยข a piece, tops. Not having the strength to pass up even the most marginal single, I ended up with hundreds of doubles, that are still oozing out of my over stuffed garage. Forget about putting a car, bike or anything else in there. Last summer, I would just manage to squeeze a few more records in and rapidly have to slam the door. An episode of Horders looms. I have since organized it all a bit, but they are still stacked pretty much to the ceiling. It does make for a fun afternoon digging in. You forget all the titles you end up with, well I do at least. So there are always gems to put a smile on my face when rummaging through.

Well ‘We The People’ just sounded so hot on the jukebox that I became addicted. I particularly love the lyrics, perfect circa ’72 /’73 with the hot pants references etc. This never shows up on any of their compilations, but is on the album, BE ALTITUDE – RESPECT YOURSELF.

Johnny Cash & The Tennessee Two

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Listen: Big River /Johnny Cash & The Tennessee Two JohnnyCashBigRiver.mp3

Originally released during March ’58 by Sun Records in the US, it’s UK London American counterpart was issued two months later on May 12. Recorded with guitarist Luther Perkins and bassist Marshall Grant, aka The Tennessee Two, ‘Big River’ was the earliest Johnny Cash record I recall hearing.

Others would disagree, but as the singles lost more and more of his rockabilly side, I became less and less of a fan.

My cousins were in the jukebox business. I’d go to their warehouse on a Saturday with my Dad, and just wander around in the maze of these fantastically designed machines, dozens waiting to be rented, tuned up or repaired. I had free reign to play any of them, their coin boxes conveniently disabled, hence no charge. What a treat. Seems they all had either The McGuire Sisters’ ‘Sugartime’ and/or this Johnny Cash single in them. I played both over and over and over.

Without doubt, a roomful of Seeburg and Rock-Ola jukeboxes as a constant Saturday morning replacement to cartoons will mold a little kid’s tastes and priorities. Walking proof, that’s me, thankfully.

The models which played the 45′s upright were my favorites. I glued myself to them and watched record after record spin. The turntable carousel moving left and right along it’s rails, pulling out singles at every stop and playing them vertically. How was this possible?

In an effort to repeat the process at home, I used masking tape to lock records onto my turntable, then balance it upright with one hand, as the other held down the tonearm. Mind you, this failed over and over. I only wish I had half the hours back invested in attempting to make it all happen.

SEEBURG 222a_small.JPG, Seeburg 22, Seeburg, Jukebox

Many years later, in ’86, I finally found the mint Seeburg 222 above, with it’s pink upright turnable carousel, for sale outside of Athens, Georgia. Murray Attaway knew of this antique dealer who specialized in renovating jukeboxes. His retail set up was in the family’s barn, beautifully converted to accommodate not only jukeboxes but thousands of trinkets, dishes, furniture pieces, appliances, clothes, records, books. A museum of sorts.

Got it professionally carted and shipped home to New York, where it’s one of my prized possessions and all these year later, again, eats up hours while I sit watching my 45′s play vertically. Which is precisely how I spent this cold November Sunday afternoon, said Johnny Cash & The Tennessee Two’s 7″ thrown on, creating the perfect time travel moment.

Funkadelic

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Listen: I’ll Bet You / Funkadelic FunkadelicBet.mp3

Between all the Parliament / Funkadelic releases, I must admit confusion. I do believe this was their debut single, and if not, certainly an early contributor to launching their tidal wave of output duiring the 70′s.

Vividly recall hearing ‘I’ll Bet You’ for the very first time through the PA at a Sly & The Family Stone concert. What was that! The low end was so dirty. The overall boom of the track dwarfed the songs each side of it. I just asked everyone around me if they knew it. No luck.

Out of desperation, I timidly approached the soundboard, hoping the mean looking character behind it might know. Luckily, fate was on my side. He did, and was rather impressed that a little white kid would even be interested. It was, by the way, the moment I discovered what a good view standing at the mix desk could offer. It’s become my preferred spot through the years. Learn something everyday.

I marched in to Walt’s Records on Salina Street after school the very next afternoon and landed my deep groove pressed copy. Sounds as thunderous now as it did that very moment coming through the PA at the Syracuse War Memorial.

Don’t even bother to ask me how it sizzles in a Rock-Ola or Seeburg.

Them

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

Richard Cory / Them

Listen: Richard Corey / Them
Richard

Wolf Chart 6-25-66

I religiously collected local radio station charts placed in all the record shops and record departments at the variety stores. Every town had them. They’re really fun to scour nowadays for the national non-hits as well as being a great snapshot of the music you could hear at that given moment. If you search ‘music survey’ at eBay, there are always a bunch listed for auction.

I recall WT Grants on Salina Street in Syracuse had a huge record department, and stocked everything you could want, especially as WOLF, one of the town’s two Top 40 stations was pretty adventurous, playing a lot of obscure English rock and US RnB. This was a God send for me from ’65 – ’67, until they buckled and went all Billboard on us. That said record department had a soda counter attached to it, up a few steps with typical glittery colored American Graffiti style booths looking down on the hustle/bustle of kids pawing through and buying records (today you see the same activity at an Apple store or Game Stop), and they had a great jukebox. It was jammed with all the latest up and comers. I remember investing a dime to hear ‘Bend It’, well not only hear it but watch the single spin round on the store’s lavender/purple Rock-ola, at the same time admiring a factory printed Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich jukebox tab to accompany it. I wonder where that tab ended up. Hate to think.

My only problem with WT Grants or Walt’s being there were so many choices, and not enough money to buy them all on my $1 a week allowance and some cash from mowing lawns. I still get cold sweats hearing a lawn mover. I would literally walk up and back neighbor’s yards behind their mowers deciding what record this torturous act would earn me and I distinctly remember suffering through several yards earning enough to buy The Cream FRESH CREAM. I went cheap, and sprung for the mono pressing as they were $1 less. Who knew then that monos would end up way more valuable than their stereo counterparts. Man, am I happy I bought them: The Pink Floyd PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN, The Jimi Hendrix Experience AXIS: BOLD AS LOVE and Big Brother & The Holding Company CHEAP THRILLS to mention a few that reaped incredible returns. Well if I ever decide to sell them that is. I soon figured out other ways to get all these records and more for free. That saga is covered in my Jack Dupree post for the more curious of you.

Meanwhile, the one record that got played by WOLF (and I bet only by WOLF in the whole of the US as I’ve never seen it on any other local chart, ever) but not stocked, was ‘Richard Corey’ by Them. It’s actually a Paul Simon cover and Van Morrison reportedly hated it.

If you couldn’t find something at Grant’s there was also Walt’s Records, just down a block and right next to a peanut shop, freshly roasting their wares.

Walt’s was a great shrine to obscure stuff, and very RnB heavy. The place smelled fantastic, a constant mixture of vinyl and those roasted nuts. Like Grant’s, I was told they “couldn’t get” this single by Them either. “Couldn’t get”, what the hell does that mean? Turns out the lyric “He went home last night and put a bullet through his head” was a big deal….I’m guessing neither outlet dared stock it just in case. Guns were not cool once. It’s a shame that’s changed. And it took me years to find this as I’m sure not many were pressed. How WOLF got away with playing ‘Richard Corey’ heavily for several weeks without a problem is surprising, but they did.