Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Plastic Fantastic Vinyl


The third installment of 'Burque Garage, clocks in with twenty five tracks designed to keep your Tote-a-Tune portable stereo bumping for well over an hour. Have those D-cells handy, these tunes will have you cutting a rug like a Veg-O-Matic. You'll slice and dice like a Feather Touch Knife, you gotta hear these songs. They'll change your life, I swear. Albuquerque's music scene in the mid-1960s was prolific and what's even more amazing is that a high percentage of what was recorded is actually pretty damn good. I'm three installments in and there's been little drop off from the first installment. Albuquerque, while lacking a big “breakout” act during the 60s nonetheless holds up well when compared to other cities in the region during the same time period.

El Paso had Bobby Fuller, but the talent thinned out real quick after that. Ditto, Tucson and The Stone Poneys w/ Linda Ronstadt. West Texas churned out some heavyweights in the mid-1950s (Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison) but outside of J. Frank Wilson & The Cavaliers from San Angelo, 60s bands from Amarillo, Lubbock & Midland-Odessa had little impact outside of the region. In fact I'll even go out on a limb and declare that 'Burque's music scene was equal to that of Denver, which checked in The Moonrakers and The Astronauts (who were actually from Boulder) and a roster of lesser bands that weren't any better than what Albuquerque produced.

As is my custom, I've interspersed DJ platter throughout the mix. In this case the interruptions come courtesy of Tommy Vance, The Monkees (appearing on Bob Shannon's show on KRUX in Phoenix, Az.) and Steve Crosno doing his “Cruising with Crosno” thang on KVLC in Las Cruces. “all accordions all of the time, night & day, day & night” The Monkees work their shtick, improvising a farm report and commercials for Beeline Dragway while keeping the wackiness to a minimum. At one point Mickey Dolenz reminds listeners to come out to their concert the following night, tossing in a snarly aside “and if you don't believe we play our own instruments, come and find out” 

Of all the “Burque bands, King Richard & The Knights were the one that you could say had a distinct sound of their own. This was due to Dick Stewart's distinctive guitar style and the fact that they stayed clear of cover songs, sticking with their own material for the large part. Lindy Blaskey was capable of writing his own tunes, though his best known songs were in fact covers. “Out Here in Vietnam” is credited to Lindy Blaskey (sans the Lavells) and it's.... gasp! A pro Vietnam war song. Those were easy to write, especially if you weren't “Out there in Vietnam” It's some rather trite jingoistic bullshit “thanks be to the day when the Viet Cong will say that they've had enough” Coming from someone who obviously avoided service in Vietnam, it comes off as insincere and self serving. “It's a hard-ball world, son. We've gotta try to keep our heads until this peace craze blows over!”

Dave Rarick and The Morfomen as they tended to do, blow everyone away with three solid tunes. When compared to his contemporaries, Dave was on a whole other level. Quiet, unassuming and  loaded with talent, he worked every angle from doo wop to poppy harmonies and fuzz buster rave ups. Too good to be forgotten and too good to be ignored. The Morfomen are my pick of the week for best band ever. The Fireballs w/ Jimmy Gilmer chime in with a timeless folk rock song, that should have been a hit “Ain't That Rain” Written by George Tomsco and his wife Barbara, “Ain't That Rain” did top the charts... in Hong Kong, when it was covered in 1969 by Michael Kwan, Hong Kong Superstar, singer/guitarist/multi-instrumentalist. All things considered and despite some “lost in translation” glitches, Kwan's version ain't half bad. Plus, I can imagine that George and Babs picked up a nice fat residuals check courtesy of Mr. Kwan.

The Fireballs (especially George Tomsco) had a major role in the evolution of New Mexico rock & roll music. They were the first to score a Top 40 hit and the first and only New Mexico based band to record a #1 hit song. The Fireballs transitioned from an instrumental combo that matched beats with The Ventures and their ilk, to a vocal group that shot to the top of the pops (#1 song of 1963 w/ Sugar Shack) once Amarillo vocalist Jimmy Gilmer signed on. They also kept evolving with the changing music scene. A pet project of Norm Petty, The Fireballs worked all genres equally well. Sunny pop numbers, folk rock, frat rock, psyche, garage beat.... before finishing up their long careers as a country rock outfit (for contractual reason they called themselves Colorado)

Speaking of Norm Petty, in the mid-60s he sold off some of his recording equipment to Bennie Sanchez, matriarch of the Sanchez clan and owner of Hurricane Records. Which accounts for part of the reason that The New Things sound “all Buddy Holly” on “This Little Lite of Mine” (yes that's how it's spelled on the label) right down to the rolling toms. The New Things recorded for Hurricane Records (I have no idea who they were) Their other track on this playlist “The Only Woman You Can Trust” (is dear old mom) is straight up a blatant Standells knock off. Right down to the snarling vocals and flippant attitude. Back in those days you could do that and not get sued into bankruptcy.

I've said too much already, it's time for me to shut up and for you to start listening. Text accompanied by music is how I describe the Dirt City Chronicles experience. Outstanding in a field of one, Dirt City Chronicles and don't you forget it.

How About Now?- King Richard & The Knights
Let It Be- Lindy Blaskey & The Lavells
Sunny Sunday Dream- Lincoln St. Exit
Mr. Sweet Stuff- Fe Fi Four Plus 2
Thinking of You- The Morfomen
Ah, You're Dead- The Kreeg
How Far Up is Down- The Burgundy Runn
Please Don't Stop- The Sprytes
This Little Lite of Mine- The New Things
Ain't That Rain- Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs
You're Not Alone- The Morticians
Why Am I Alone- The Chob
She Doesn't Know- The Viscount V
Give Me a Break- The Striders
Don't Go Baby- The Morfomen
Don't Kill My Mockingbird- The Kreeg
The Things You Do- King Richard & The Knights
Sweets for My Sweet- Lindy & The Lavells
The Only Woman You Can Trust- The New Things
Route 66- The Monkey Men
She's The One- The Torques
Rod Hot Rod- The Kingpins
Out Here in Vietnam- Lindy Blaskey
Groovy Motions- Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs
What's Happened to Me- The Morfomen