Brendan Doyle: Musical Mystical Bear

This is a concept album of sorts, based on Matthew Fox’s book, “On Becoming a Musical Mystical Bear”- Spirituality american style. You’ve probably even seen it in many a thrift store as it’s quite ubiquitous and often overlooked because of the cartoon-ish cover.   (There are two different covers, but both feature the same music.)

Apparently, idea of the book is based on the joys, sorrows, and hopes living in contemporary America in the early 1970’s, and as such, it has some ideas left over from the hippy movement in the songs’ lyrics.

Checking some reviews of the book, I did find a quote from his work: “…We should not forget that we are a people who have altered the name of God by putting him on our coinage with all the ambiguity that “In God We Trust” implies.” If you know someone’s name, you essentially have some power over them, and besides, how can one have power over the creator?

If you are still curious about Matthew Fox, there is an interview below from 1993. People who have read his book seem to adore it and speak very highly of it.

https://www.nytimes.com/1993/03/17/garden/at-supper-with-matthew-fox-roman-catholic-rebel-becomes-a-cause-celebre.html

 

On The Ancient Star-Song, it is lauded as a masterpiece, but is probably not for everybody. It might not be an album you need per se, especially if materialism isn’t your bag.

Here is a link to the album: https://youtu.be/C9qNaDjHpWs

Enjoy!

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Loggin’ and Lovin’ The Cascade Mountain Boys, Ripcord–Ripcord Records SLP-1056

There is not too much info is out on the Internet about this album, and rightfully so.  When this was released in the late 70’s- early 80’s, this record was geared towards a extremely narrow target audience–loggers and the ladies that love them, and possibly chain saw repairmen. Released on the Ripcord Record Label, home to probably the most famous Logging act of them all– Buzz Martin. If you listen closely, you can hear a few comps from one or two of his tunes. I think what attracted me to this album initially were  song titles “Brute Force and Ignorance”…I’m sure we’ve all had to use this when something is stuck and won’t budge; “Monday Morning Hangover Blues”…haven’t we all been there before?  “Lifetime Farming Gardener”– gives the listener the profound idea that loggers aren’t all slashers, burners, and pillagers, instead focusing on the fact that they are gardeners in the forest–letting light down under the canopy of the Washington rain-forests, so new flora and fauna may flourish.  

The first song of the album, “The High Lead Loggin’ Song”, which is a composition about cable logging using a spar, yarder, and a loader–some of which is seen on the cover. The melody has an Eagles-ish feel to it, so that might not be your thing. 

Track two, “Brute Force and Ignorance” should be a favorite of any man who works with his hands–I mean really works with his hands. We all know that sometimes it’s absolutely necessary to use excessive force to free a rusted bolt with a hammer and a torch, or move the unmovable, and then realize later, “Gee, that wasn’t the smartest thing to do!” 

The third track, “That’s When It’s Unemployment Time”, has a touch of Waylon funk to it–probably a favorite in the bar rooms at the end of logging season or for a b-movie scene, your pick. 

 

The next song, “Monday Morning Hangover Blues”, it reminds me of the time I bought a paperback book from a thrift store on how to brew your own beer. The book was unremarkable except for the chapter on dealing with hangovers, complete with line drawings. Ice water and an Ice pack over your head was the author’s cure de choix. 

The closing song of Side A, “The Ballad of Red River Ross”, a song about a badass high leading logging man. 

Side B begins with probably the strongest song on the album, “Paycheck To Paycheck”, which could have possibly been a hit, had it been distributed outside the Northwest region of the states. 

“Cascade Memories”, a song about the beautiful Cascade Mountains where many have both logged and lived while making a hard, honest living. 
Track three, “Lifetime Farming Gardener”, the interesting take on loggers being stewards of the forest: to cut down larger trees which might be starting to die from the inside to make way for healthier trees needing the extra sunlight and space for growth. Perhaps I am reading too much into this, but it’s what I got out of listening to it.

“Let’s All Help The Logger Sing The Blues”, is a take on a profession that is hard, dirty, and wet at times, and yes, the blues befall loggers when equipment becomes broken, jammed, or stuck in a rut. Pretty pale in comparison to many of the problems we gripe about. 

The title track, “Loggin’ and Lovin'” ends the album,  a slower tune about having to choose between “…loggin to sunset or loving ’till dawn–which one is wrong..” Decisions decisions!

 

Here is a link for the album if you care to take a listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYIJj80iCuA&feature=youtu.be

Enjoy!

 

Buzz Martin: Where There Walks a Logger There Walks a Man (Ripchord Records, 1968)

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“If you want a real experience and care to test your luck, just go out and buy yourself a used logging truck…” is the how this strange, but extremely heartfelt album begins.  It offers a sneak peak into a profession that very few know about. Even if you think you do, there is always more to learn about, especially the lexicon used by the loggers, particuraly from the Washington state area. Buzz illuminates each song to life through story. His tunes provide just enough detail and clever phrasing that one can picture theirself being a part of the event (even if it’s just from a casual observer’s point of view).  These songs don’t feature an overtly machismo attitude, yet rather a suprising humbleness that makes this lp a repeat listener.

Have you ever bought something used and felf buyer’s remorse? The first tune on Buzz’s album is a story about the dangers of buying a used logging truck, yet the freedom associated with doing it your way, as well as the reminiscence about the good times with your used rig when it was working properly.

Whistle Punk Pete, is about a guy that really wanted to be a hook tender and head rigger in the worst way. Unfortunately, he wasn’t built for it. Pete eventually finds self realization through marrying Myrtle, when she asks him to hook up her girdle. Only then does he declare he’s a hook tender after all!

Where There Walks a Logger, is the title track with a nice C&W style chorus with steel guitar, and like Buzz’s other compositions, tell a humorous story about how the dangers of logging  which can lead to death, yet it is a proud profession. Hearing this tune will  transplant the listener  to a back-woods bar juke box–sipping cheap beer and inhaling copious ammounts of cigarette smoke, while at the same time, on will be able to smell the bacon frying and the coffee lingering in the air.

Sick of Setting Chokers, is a story about a guy who ventured up from the south yet feeling  dissolutioned from climbing the steep hill sides, to setting chokers, as well as getting dirty, feeling homesick, and complaing of having to work in the never ending Washington rain.

Fire Danger is a song about shutting down a logging operation because of a danger of fire, although more about the egos of big shot college grads citing pages from a handbook explaining why.

Unemployment Compensation, focuses on a logger not being able to log until the ground is stable again, and the aggravation of having to draw unemployment instead of being able to do what the men in that part of the country love best–logging.

Hoot Owlin’ Again, refers to being excited about having good weather to work in (who doesn’t like that if they work out doors?), instead of the usual rain associated with Washington state area , and of course celebrating in the taverns afterwards.

Loggers Home Brew, tells the story about drinking too much of his buddies home brew (not brewed in the most sanitary of conditions) and waking up with a banger of a hangover, yet eventually becoming hooked on the home brew and craving more and more.

Frozen Logger, is centered around a 40 year old bar maid meeting a logger, who reminds her of her recently passed logger husband. They have eyes for each other probably through the abundant whiskey, embrace. He eventually goes on his way, forgetting his mackinaw. Despite the dropping temperature, he saunters home without a care. As the mercury continues to drop, he buttons up his vest, only eventually freezing to death at a million degrees below zero.

Little Olde Model A,  was a standard vehicle of almost every old time logger. Buzz is proud of his Model A, and aparently his ladies love dhis little olde Model A as well, especially when running out of gas on a back road after dusk.

Although you can probably find a copy of this album on the Internet, most have been played past their life expectancies on cheap decks. I’m fairly certain that the average logger didn’t have a Fairchild or even a Gerrard turntable. Heck, even the cd that is out there sounds like it was recorded from a LP as there are some deep scratches prevailent in the recording. I’m not sure if the master tapes exist for this, but this is really an outsider gem of a record celebrating the highs and lows of the logging sub-culture, and deserves to be rediscovered again and available to a larger audience.

A vinyl reissue I’m sure would make Buzz smile down from heaven to know that his work wil be still appreciated for generations to come.

Spotify does have the cd. You can listen to it HERE.

Bill Crofut: Poetry in Song, 1973 Crofut Productions

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What made me pick up this record in the 25 cent bin was the first sentence: “This is an extraordinary record.”  Why is it? For starters, it is a song cycle centered around nature, animals, and birds accompanied by a muted banjo, 12 string guitar, french horn, a harpsichord (that Bill constructed himself!), cello, and bass. The harpsichord and bass are played by sons of the jazz legend Dave Brubeck: Darius and Christopher. Not only this, but Bill’s arrangements are not simple, they are complex, yet spare. A hard feat to do when using someone else’s words and meter.

Like many struggling musicians, after several attempts of trying to sway record companies to produce his song cycle, he decided to produce and record it himself. This project came out of Bill’s dissatisfaction of the quality of poems set to music which were already out there.  It might sound like a children’s record at first, but some of the poems have a dark undertone to them. Others have a more nostalgic feel with complex musical arrangements to keep the listener engaged.

Regardless if this is your thing or not, one has to appreciate the will and determination that Mr. Crofut went through to realize his dream.  Listening to these compositions reminded me of being a child again, something we tend to forget as we age. It is a welcoming and pleasant reminder indeed.

 

Side One:

The Early Morning–Hilaire Belloc

The Mockingbird-Randall Jarrell

Little Trotty Wagtail- John Clare

The Bird of the Night- Randall Jarrell

The Cow-The Wind-Robert Louis Stevenson

The Chipmunk’s Day- Randall Jarrell

The Goat Paths- James Stephens

Side Two:

White Fields- James Stephens

The Gallows-Edward Thomas

Nurse’s Song- William Blake

The Eagle- Alfred Lord Tennyson

A Man of Words- Anon

Child’s Song- Thomas Moore

 

The Cortland Country Music Album: Cortland Records 1977?

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On the front of the jacket are all of the special places one should visit in the late 70’s if traveling through Cortland County: Marathon NY–all of it, Hanna’s Stump, Greek Peak, The Cortland County Court House, A gentleman of the name of Bucky–wearing a cowboy hat walking out of a bar, The Preble Diner (Little Red Diner), as well as finding the one of the numerous “South Bounder” I-81 and Rt.11 road signs.

The back of the cover gives a little more information about what the album entails:

“Dear Country Music Fan,
Country music comes from everywhere. Central New York State, however, has produced more than its fair share of country songs, country pickers and country fans.

The music on this album is Cortland Country – performed; recorded; and, for the most part, written right here in Central New York for you[r] enjoyment (and ours too.)

We appreciate the opportunity of playing our variety of music, for you, both here on the record ( which took the better part of the hard winter of ’76-’77 to put together) and in personal appearances around these parts.

We would appreciate hearing your comments, so drop us a line and let us know how you feel about Cortland Country.”

Also on the back cover is a list of all of the musicians involved:
John Caforio——–Piano, Vocals
Mike Caforio——–Drums
Al Venooker———Drums
Hank Recor———-Guitar, Vocals, Bass
Ike McNeal———-Bass
Tex Roe————-Guitar, Bass, Drums
Michael Ocello——Bass, Guitar, Vocals
Pete Bennett——–Harmonica, Whistling
Brandy Sampson——Bass
Chris Robarge——-Tambourine
Betty and Mae Baker-Vocals

Engineered by Michael
Arranged by John Caforio
Jacket Design by Pete Bennett
Many Thanks to Our Fans
Cortland Record Company,
R. D. 2, Cortland, NY 13045

This album has held a special place in my heart the first time I listened to it with my mom and dad last summer on their old front porch, who both thought it was interesting, albeit, not perfect. All of the songs were recorded in ‘Mono’, and it shows…which is a good thing, adding to the ramshackle feeling of the tracks. While it is technically considered a “Various Artists” album, it appears that only in taking turns for the vocals that this is true–another nice part to a lo-fi real-folks album.

Hank Recour sings the opening track, “Cortland Country”, which from the title sounds like it would be a jingle for tourism, but in all effect, it more so describes the pictures on the front cover.

Mike Caforio sings on the next song, Rose (in the springtime) complete with whistling, and understated harmonies “on my mi-ind!”. It’s one of my many favorites from this gem.

The Baker Sisters, Betty and Mae, sing the third song on side A, “Fancy Satin Pillows”. Electric piano,drums, bass, and slightly off guitar (only adding charm),to the sisters’ unique vocal styling.

The next song, “A Man’s Got to Give Up A Lot, sung by Tex Roe features the electric piano in the front, guitar, and bass, and drums. Basically, it’s a song about how to keep a woman satisfied and make them stick around by giving them whatever they want.

Nobody Knows by Pete Bennett is an instrumental song featuring the harmonica and whistling up front accompanied by the guitar, bass, and drums. Nice vibrato on that whistling!

The ending track on side A, “Tears in Daddy’s eyes” is sung by Tex Roe, and is a downer of a song about a singing guitarist who was happy on the outside, yet had tears for his wife that died two years prior. The harmonica adds to the somber country mood evoked.

Side two opens with another of my favorite tunes, “Too Little Too Late”, featuring Hank Recor on vocals and backing him up are the bass, guitar, drums, harmonica, and that electric piano–always adding an extra dimension to the music. This should’ve been a hit!

Track two is titled, “The Legend of Gertie Brown” sung by Michael Ocello. The song is essentially a story about Gertie who adopts an alligator, named Sam Hill who she has trained to be some sort of attack dog.

The Baker Sisters sing the next track, “Nobody’s Baby But Mine”. Electric piano, comes in abruptly and unexpectedly at times, yet the song wouldn’t be the same had it had been otherwise. Bass and Drums round it out.

“Bless My Soul”, sung by Tex is another song about dying. Harmonica in the lead with guitar, drums, and bass in the back of the mix let’s Tex’s baritone voice stand out.

“She’s So True”, by John Caforio is another stunner. Electric piano, bass, drums, and a redundant kick ass guitar lick. A song about unrequited love.

Tex closes out side B with a spoken track with electric piano, “Men With Broken Hearts”. The track is very sad sounding in nature, both in vocals and instrumentation. It’s so strange and slightly off that it could’ve been used in an ending to a B-rated 70’s horror film.

Sadly, very little is known about any of these artists on the album. Heck, I even made sure to drive through Preble to see if I could locate the Little Red Diner, but I couldn’t seem to find it…

If anyone has any information or memoirs on any of the artists contained on the album or any additional info about the landmarks, either email me, and be sure to leave a comment!

Listen to the vinyl rip on Youtube here!

Our Front Porch: Ralph Carmichael and the Young People, Light Records (LS-5560-LP) 1970?

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New Sounds of the 70’s is what this album is all about. If you are reading this, you are probably familiar with one factor of Christian music from this time period: it was always a couple of years behind in stylistic trends. This isn’t a bad thing, and in 2017, it is quite refreshing to hear music that is heartfelt and sung by real people, even if they were trying to be edgy or different.  I hear slight elements of Sly and the Family Stone (I’ve got Confidence), Friends of Distinction in the opening song, “Our Front Porch”, and the slightly soft psych tune, “The Flower Shoppe” round out the album. The remainder of the numbers are pleasant and certainly listenable harmonious pop vaguely reminiscent of the later (and groovy) Four Freshman Lps.

Side One:

Our Front Porch

Smiling at Rainstorms (Psalm 59)

Bright New World

Trust Me Now (Psalm 37)

Reach Out to Jesus

Side Two:

Dressing Up Jesus

Memories

We’re Not Going To Make It Together

The Flower Shoppe

I’ve Got Confidence

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From the back cover: 

“Wilted daisies, 

Ragged, plastic covered chairs. Busted screens.

Scraggly, unkept grass.

We’ve been given a hand-me-down place to live.

We’re stuck in a ramshackle scene,

looking out at what’s coming next (who knows?)

Obviously, we weren’t around when all this was made.

But we’re the ones shoved out onto the porch.

We’re the ones who have to trim that yard some day.

We gotta fix those chairs and boards.

Or just sit in ’em.

and strangle in weeds and filth. Some day.

We’re the ones shoved out to the edge of the action. 

We got no hammers, no nails

–nor even a reason to fix anything. 

Or even be anything!

 

Oh yeah, we’re here. Like, man, we know we’re here!

There is no way–no way–

to move into a carpeted, everything manicured world.

It doesn’t exist!

Not anywhere in sight. 

Utopians may dream on.

but all we see are rusty hinges, broken windows

and people are getting their bare feet in the glass.

This is the universe. Right here. 

It’s a cruddy place to live. 

Always has been (except when it was brand new…

Which was a long, long time ago).

 

But we do have water

Cold, bracing water.

Pure, cleansing water. 

Water to satisfy. 

Living water.

Yeah! Living water!

The utensils you find it in may get pretty filthy.

But the water–

the water itself, mind you–

it’s pure delight….

This water satisfies.

It stimulates!

Makes you want to grab a paint brush

–and paint the whole world!

Grab a hammer

–and hammer out justice and love for the people!

Oh, there’s water here, 

in all this dilapidation we live in–

this once beautiful scene man’s still ruining–

there’s water here!

And it’s free.

Unlimited supply.

Pure water

(if you get past the grease on the grundy glasses).

People die of thirst every day, 

afraid to drink because of grease on glasses.

But the water’s worth it. 

Free. Plenty for everybody.

Hey, are you dyin’?

Have some water!”

–the CAMPUS LIFE editors

Listen to the full lp on Youtube here!

 

 

 

Love Song 1971 Good News Records

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This album is one of the more memorable albums to come out of the Jesus Movement in the early 1970’s. As a result, it can be had for less than $15.00 in decent shape.

The main song writer, Chuck Girard had been a member of the Hondells and Castells in the 1960’s. Denny Corvell later on joined the group and was a member of the rock band, Blues Image. The members of the band at the time this album was recorded were: Chuck Girard, Tommy Coomes, Jay Truax, and Fred Field.

I don’t know how many times I’ve passed by this non-nonchalant looking cover in thrift stores. If I had bothered to look at the back cover, featuring their portrait of all band members having long hair save for one guy with sort of a ‘fro, I would’ve for sure purchased this sooner.  As you might have guessed, it is a Jesus themed album, yet with more subtle cues to the religion and nicely executed.

The first song, “Love Song is a tender number with nice harmonies, and features an electric harpsichord which is vaguely reminiscent of  some of the tracks on The Beatles’ Abbey Road album.

Changes, the next track is more upbeat, yet short featuring a metamorphosing kind of feel to keep with the theme.

“Two Hands” is a harmonizing slower number about reaching out to Jesus and bringing a friend along for the ride.

“Little Country Church” features some tasty slightly falsetto lyrics and a funky beat, almost like a Three Dog Night number.

“Freedom” features  All Things Must Pass era guitars, and nice drum fills. Then come in the Beatles style guitars and melody. A very well done song.

“Welcome Back”, the last track keeps the momentum of the album going. It’s thankfully not a John Sebastian cover, yet it’s a song with melodies that almost sounds like Oh Girl by Chi-Lites at times, yet thoroughly their own. It’s a song about forgetting about Jesus for a while, but coming back to him as in the line “Welcome back to the things you knew you  believed in.”

Side two begins with the track, “Front Seat, Back Seat” sounds almost like a Pure Prairie League song, yet completely new. It’s about letting God do the driving, since he is the one that is in charge.

“Let Us Be One” has an America-ish sound to it. A nicely flowing tune.

“And The Wind Was Low” a slower tempo tune, yet it doesn’t lose the listener’s interest even it has elements of Air Supply thrown in the mix, it’s never cliche.

 

“A Brand New Song”,  has the same harmonies as featured in the other tunes. It’s a nice sort of new tune for [the new then] decade. Has some McCartney sounding guitars placed at just the right moments.

The last track until the reprise of the first track, ” Feel The Love” features Chuck singing with piano, bass, drums, guitars. The composition builds to the chorus of  Feel the Love which is the best part of the song. One can definitely hear the Beatles influence in the track.

Someone on youtube put together an eleven track playlist of the album. Enjoy!

Love Song Full Album Playlist