Saturday, October 3, 2015

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 29

An old fashioned “battle of the bands” takes center stage on this edition of Dirt City Chronicles, the podcast. The combatants in this instance represent New Mexico's polar opposites. North vs. South. It's an imaginary rivalry for the most part, made up by the state's broadcasters in order to drum up interest whenever the Aggies and Lobos face off in athletics. Other than that, it's doubtful that the average New Mexican gives the idea much thought. The very definition of what divides Northern and Southern New Mexico is not very well defined. New Mexico doesn't always lend itself to a clean North/South division. It's far more complicated than that. For instance, Clovis is further north than Socorro, yet Clovis is solidly in the southern camp and Socorro staunchly sides with the North.

When a community was first settled and by whom, plays a big part on what side these “border” communities identify with. Belen is firmly aligned with the north, though its located just a bit further north than Clovis. Vaughn, Duran and Yeso are south of Belen, yet are culturally Hispano communities that identify with the north. Fence Lake, Pie Town & Quemado are north of Socorro and they're culturally connected to the south. If I were to draw a boundary across the state separating the north and south, I would start at the Arizona border, north of Fence Lake, continue north of Alamo, jot down to include Magdalena in the south, skirt south of Socorro and San Antonio, swing north to include Corona in the south, northeast to Ft. Sumner continuing northeast to House and then east to the Texas border.

Now that we have a clear line of demarcation, allow me to muddy up the water once more by stating that in the spirit of fair play, I'm including El Paso, Tx. with Southern New Mexico. Reason being that Albuquerque has a huge advantage in both the number of bands that formed during the 1960s and in the number of recordings produced. Without El Paso, this battle of the bands would be akin to “Rice vs. Texas” as JFK once stated. The Northern half of the state is nonetheless poorly represented outside of Albuquerque. Nobody's Children from Gallup, The Morfomen & Era of Sound from Española and The Frantics (a band originally from Billings, Mt. that was briefly based in Santa Fe during the mid-sixties) being the only representatives from outside the Duke City that I could muster.

To avoid redundancy, no songs already posted on previous episodes of Dirt City Chronicles podcast were included. This favors the southern half of the state more than the northern. (the only band from Southern New Mexico previously posted being The Beckett Quintet from Portales by way of ENMU. While no Murderer's Row, it's still a strong line-up. A bunch of “fell through the cracks” tracks included here, though nothing that can't be found on YouTube. Most of these songs have found their way onto one 60s compilation or another (“From The Grass To The Outer Limits! The Goldust Records Story” “Chicago 60s punk vs. New Mexico 60s pop” “Norton Records, El Paso Rocks” “Sixties Archives Vol. 4 Florida & New Mexico Punk”) et cetera et cetera

On this episode, Lindy Blaskey lead off with Hank Ballard's “Annie Had a Baby” which he curiously renamed “Would You Believe” An inside joke perhaps? Ann Faught held the purse strings at Space Records, the label for which Lindy recorded and it's been insinuated that Lindy had a special business relationship with Ann. The two also hook up for “Meet Me Tonight in Your Dreams” for which Ann gets a co-writer credit, which in all likelihood was one of those “Norm Petty” arrangements to cop a few extra royalties. King Richard & The Knights weigh in with “That's the Way it Goes” a song garnished with sublime country rock flavor. In the 1960s, Española was well represented on the local scene, what with The Morfomen, The Defiants and of course, Era of Sound, led by the Naranjo Bros.

The Plague had a Dick Stewart/Knights connection. Their drummer was none other than Corky Anderson of the original Knights. Steve Erickson, Larry Shyrock and Billy Main rounded out the band, The Plague is best known for one song, “Go Away” a shameless Kinks ripoff released in 1966 on Epidemic Records. I didn't make any of that up, I swear. I know far less about Axis Brotherhood than I would like to know. Their sublime version of “Signed DC” by Arthur Lee & Love, is right on the money. Kartune Kapers were produced by Lindy Blaskey and recorded for Lavette Records. Their cover of The Seeds “On the Plane” is top notch and they give that old Eddie Floyd warhorse “Knock on Wood” a bubblegum pop makeover that brings The Ohio Express to mind.

The university experience has nurtured more than its fair share of musicians over the years. College deferment was a surefire way to avoid or at the very least, postpone the draft. As a result, Duke City garage bands revolved around musicians attending the U. of A. or UNM. Southern schools, NMSU and UTEP (Texas Western) also fostered their share of rock bands The Chains (originally The Dolphins from Larchmont, N.Y.) enrolled together at NMSU before transferring to UTEP. A surprising number of bands popped out of Portales N.M., home to ENMU. The Chandelles, The Apple Glass Cyndrom and The Beckett Quintet, who signed with Nick Venet's Gemcor Records and were in the process of recording an album for A&M with Herb Albert producing, when the draft dispersed them.

The Brentwoods, from Hobbs, N.M. recorded at Norman Petty Studios, self released a single “Yeah Yeah No No b/w Babe You Know” 1967 on Our Records. Both songs written by Alyse Paradiso. “Yeah Yeah No No” was included on the Big Beat compilation “Learning to Fly” a collection of psyche garage bands from the vaults of Norman Petty Studios. The Apple Glass Cyndrom from Clovis (Bill Aguirri-vocals, Dale Sills-drums, Jon Williams-lead guitar, Scott Rebtoy-bass, Johnny Mulhair-keys) also recorded for Norman Petty and released a single for Column Records in 1969, “Going Wrong/ Someday. The single also made it onto “Sixties Rebellion, Vol. 15 Psychedelia” A low budget compilation series. of unknown origin, that also includes Albuquerque's own Hooterville Trolley.

If you know country music, there's one member of the Apple Glass Cyndrom that immediately gets your attention. Having worked at Norman Petty Studios as head engineer, Johnny Mulhair started his own studio, Johnny Mulhair Recording Studio in Clovis, N.M. Mulhair produced and engineered LeAnn Rimes first album “Blue” which has since gone platinum an amazing eight times. Johnny was nominated by the CMA and ACM for his work on that landmark recording. An accomplished musician Johnny was nominated by Music Row magazine as one of the top ten guitarist in country music. He's toured with LeAnn Rimes, Chicago, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and Will Banister, who records for Mulhair's own Clovisite Records.

Group Axis also from Clovis, also recorded for Norman Petty. They (I have zero band info for these guys) started out as The Shi Guys and recorded “Mystic Magic Movements” at Norman Petty Studios, which may have been an album, but in all probability was a single... either way it went unreleased. In 1968 Group Axis covered Buddy Holly and Howlin' Wolf on their next single “Not Fade Away / Smokestack Lightning” picked up for national release by Atco Records. Yet another single “Silly Ants” (b-side unknown) was recorded in 1969 and would later be included on the “Learning to Fly” Big Beat compilation album. According to the Norman Petty discography, Group Axis also recorded an album in 1970 that was never released. 

Annie Had a Baby (Would You Believe) Lindy Blaskey & The Lavells Albuquerque
I Want to be Friendly- The Wild Ones    El Paso
Girl in the Mini Skirt- Era of Sound Albuquerque/Española
I'm Getting Tired- The Grass Las Cruces
On the Plane- Kartune Kapers Albuquerque
Ode to the Wind- Danny and The Counts El Paso
St. James Infirmary- Nobody's Children Gallup
My Love- The Things El Paso
Signed DC- Axis Brotherhood Albuquerque
It's A Shame- The Chains El Paso
Go Away- The Plague Albuquerque
Alone and Crying- The Outer Limits Las Cruces
That's the Way it Goes- King Richard and The Knights Albuquerque
Why I Cry- The Pitiful Panics El Paso
Meet Me Tonight in Your Dreams- Lindy Blaskey & The Lavells Albuquerque
What Am I To Do- The Keymen Las Cruces
Write Me a Letter- The Morfomen Española
Going Wrong- The Apple Glass Cyndrom Clovis
Relax Your Mind- The Frantics Santa Fe
Yeah Yeah No No- The Brentwoods Hobbs
Stay With Me- Era of Sound Albuquerque/Española
She's Still a Mystery- The Chains El Paso