The reason I have not blogged more often is that I have been down in the cellar—known here at the ARChive as The Dungeon—sorting through some of the old seven-inch 45 RPM records (from here on just called 45s). The ARC is the proud owner of about 100,000 45s. Maybe more. Maybe a LOT more.
Recently I’ve been going through some previously unsorted boxes and putting the “M” section in order. I would like to share with you some of the things I found. Click on the link for the full-sized picture (something’s going on with WordPress and it’s not letting me resize images for some reason, so I’m going to give it a day or so):
These first two records are the kind of thing one would expect in the ARChive: a rare, DJ-only record by The Modern Jazz Quartet and a record by fifties big band leader Ralph Marterie.
The former is notable because of the scarcity these DJ-only 45s—the songs were edited for radio airplay and never issued commercially. Side one is shown. Side two consists of two albums from an album called The Modern Jazz Quartet & Orchestra. This kind of item is rarely seen these days.
The second disc is by a guy who led one of the last successful big bands. Marterie was a trumpet player who was a manufacturer of “innocuous pop instrumentals,” as All Music Guide puts it. However, he actually cut some very credible R&B records, including this one from 1956—a cover of Roy Montrell’s “That Mellow Saxophone.” Here, the saxophone playing is anything but mellow. For those keeping score, during the eighties neo-rockabilly group The Stray Cats covered the song, but called it “That Wild Saxophone” because the meaning of “mellow” had changed quite a bit in a post-Olivia Newton-John world.
I often get asked if the ARChive deals with punk records or indie releases. The fact is that the ARChive started with about a hundred boxes of punk and new wave records more than 20 years ago.
Shown above is a 45 by Kraut, one of New York City’s finest hard core punk bands of the early eightes.
The Two Dean Crew 45 shows a true independent spirit. The song titles are hand-written on the white label. The picture sleeve, such as it is, is made of what appears to be a piece of a polka dot shopping bag, cut out and taped together, with a hand-drawn happy face graphic. The only identifying marking is a photocopy insert. We haven’t listened to the record, but we love the creative work that went into it.
A truly boss discovery in the ARChive is the great “Cool, Calm, Collected” by Guitar Gable. It states on the label, “Rhythm-Blues.” Don’t be fooled. This is a rock’n’roll record made the way only African Americans could do it back during the fifties. This thing just wails, baby. And here we have it, in next to mint condition!!!
Another independent rock release is what must be the first ever release by The Lemonheads—“Laughing All the Way to the Cleaners” EP. For some reason, two labels are listed as having issued this—Amory Arms and Huh-Bag Records. The back cover shows a photo of a trio, including an impossibly young Evan Dando. Our copy includes an insert with lyrics to the songs.
Speaking of Dando, wasn’t he the guy who sang with the re-formed MC5? I saw that gig and all I can say is this: He may be talented, but he ain’t no Rob Tyner—who can be heard on these two impossibly rare MC5 singles. The 5’s version of “I Can Only Give You Everything” is the best ever—better than Them, The Troggs and The Heroes, even Richard Hell. The song has been re-issued on albums, but the original single is extremely hard to find.
Equally if not harder to find is the picture sleeve to The MC5’s next single, “Looking at You.” Word is only a few hundred or so were made. Note that the sleeve is made of hard, card stock and not the flimsy paper most American picture sleeves. Both of these MC5 items came to The ARChive via the Jeep Holland Collection…but that’s another blog.
- this post was brought to you by the letter N, the number 4 and a grant from the Phast Phreddie Patterson Boogaloo Foundation.