Monday, October 26, 2015

Dirt City Chronicles podcast episode 31

Las Cruces is the runt of the litter when compared to the El Paso/Juarez metroplex. Especially so in the early 1960s when Las Cruces had a population of just 30,000. Nonetheless, an eclectic cottage industry of studios, labels and bands trickled forth from Las Cruces. Granted, the bulk of this boom, was the work of two pragmatic local characters. Emmit Brooks, who established Goldust Records Co. in 1965 and iconic borderlands disc jockey Steve Crosno, who along with Manny Rivera, founded Frogdeath Records. One of the most highly sought after brands among vinyl collectors in the Southwest. Crosno, working with limited resources was forced to be more selective of whom he recorded and that meant that his personal preferences dictated to a large degree what was released on Frogdeath.

Frogdeath Records definitely reflected the personality of Steve Crosno. From the label imprint which depicted a bullfrog listening to a phonograph (ala RCA's Little Nipper listening to his master voice) with a heavy boot looming overhead, to the puns and mispronunciations printed on the label. It all added up to the work of a smart ass genius. Frogdeath had a limited run, probably no more than a dozen known releases. Working on the fly (and on the cheap) with Crosno wasn't easy as Danny Parra (Danny & the Counts) recalls: “ We recorded “For Your Love” b/w “It’s All Over” in a single live take in Steve’s home without a drummer! Unbelievable! The recordings were meant to be a dry run but Crosno decided to put them on vinyl since he could promote them on KELP”

After that initial haphazard session, Danny & The Counts butted heads with Steve over the direction their music was taking. “We ultimately made it clear to him, that we wanted to pursue the English music trends as a group and abandon R&B. He wasn’t happy about this because his whole market niche was R&B …. so we had an eventual parting of the ways.” said Parra. Crosno's radio show and “Crosno Hops” a mobile sock hop that hit every podunk burg within driving distance of El Paso, revolved around r&b/soul numbers. Fuzzy, hyper, garage be bop don't cut it on the dance floor when you're looking to rub up on a gal. The homies in Segundo Barrio pined for Tex Mex Soul, James Brown and golden oldies... Steve Crosno delivered the goods and in their eyes he could do no wrong. 

Don't Need You No More- The Outer Limits
And She'll Cry- The Celtics
You Need Love- Danny & the Counts
How Do You Feel?- The Chains
When Will I Find Her- Mike Renolds and the Infants of Soul
You Came to Me- Dave Caflan
Not Fade Away- Group Axis
Walking Away- The Outer Limits
Walkin' and Talkin'- The Keymen
Want to Be Your Loving Man- Dudley and the Do-Rites
I Love You For What You Are- Four Dimensions
Don't Leave Me- The Outer Limits
Someday- Apple Glass Cyndrom
Stop the World- The Chains
Silly Ants- Group Axis
Babe You Know- The Brentwoods
Shakedown- Bobby Fuller & The Fanatics
Begin Your Crying- The Outer Limits
Meet Me Here (In New Orleans) David Hayes & The Pawns
Think I'm Losing You- The Four Frogs
Ode to Loneliness- The Motivaters
Waves- The Outer Limits
Something's Wrong- The Wild Ones
Wine Wine Wine- Bobby Fuller & The Fanatics
Smokestack Lightning- Group Axis
Talk Talk- Terry Manning