Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Cephas-3 1/2 YEARS LP (Private Press)

If there is anything your neighborhood thrift store has in spades besides the ugly ceramic novelty ashtrays your Aunt Agnes used to butt her cigs into before pulling your eight-year-old personage over for a squirmy kiss it's private press religious albums. They abound in numbers just below Babs Striesand or Jim Nabors and when I see them I always wonder if they are there because someone died or someone lost their faith or someone figured you can only have so many of these things in the collection. I mean we all need space for those crucial high school chorus private press albums too.

I picked this LP up for a buck because it's of the "youth oriented" genre. So I was hoping some teenbo got to play a fuzz guitar solo on some uptempo rockist number that some faith group doofus figured really "spoke to the kids" but in reality made Loggins and Messina sound like Black Sabbath.

There is no info on the date this record arrived from the stampers of the vanity record pressers, but judging from the mutton chop sideburns on the lad on the back cover playing bass guitar I'd say 1972-74. Besides bass boy there are other black and white photos arrayed about, and it looks like a six-year-old cropped them. You get to see three teen girls in the chorus, one with so little talent she got handed the tambourine and got stuck behind a dead microphone. She's got glasses and frizzy hair you just know is a rusty red shade. Can't make out the boobage quotient but you just know this chick got no action at all from the guys so she figured she'd turn to Jesus because, you know, looks and all that are so superficial and when it come down to it it's way more important to help out getting clean water to a third world hovel, far from where that cute Tom Paxley wouldn't give her the time of day, and won't he feel bad when she dies of cholera and realizes what he could have had instead of that phony Marcia Grossman who stuffs her bra anyway.

Chick next to her has rather alluring features and dark hair but the overall effect is ruined by her big honker.

TALKIN' ABOUT JESUS (shouldn't that be SINGIN' ABOUT JESUS?) says on the back cover should be played IN CHURCHES, AT RALLIES, IN COFFEEHOUSES, IN SCHOOLS...waitaminnit, schools? I guess maybe Cat'lick schools but these born again types usually don't cotton up to stodgy ol' Catholicism or versie vicey, but maybe if they performed gratis and all so Father O'Brien didn't have to dip into the communion wine budget what the heck.

The best photos are from the rallies with hundreds of bellbottomed, long haired early 70s teens clapping along, or with arms raised in the air, and if you didn't know they were listening to "All My Trials" they could be shakin' it down to Grand Funk and the Pittsburgh Civic Arena. Yeah, that's another reason I wasted a buck on this. It's from my home town, and if YOU want information about TEEN CHALLENGE OF WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA and CEPHAS you can write to them at Box 6102, Pittsburgh PA 15212 or phone (412) 265-4100. If anyone answers tell 'em you got their number off an ancient private press religious LP, or just ask if their refrigerator's running.

Without using a magnifying glass it's tough to see if there are any really hot chicks in these photos, but of course given the fashion of the time it would be tough to tell anyhoo since OUR BODIES, OUR SELVES feminism was the rage and chicks were dressing like they were gonna go fell some trees in British Columbia. There seems to be one beauty up front wigglin' away and keeping time with the band, gorgeous ironing board straight brunette tresses falling to her waist. She probably got guilted into going with her Plain Jane friend who was always a third-wheel on Friday nights, but her boyfriend promised he'd have a doob sparked up the second she could split the place.

The IN SCHOOLS pic is great for the presence of a fat kid up front who either looks bored out of his skull or guilty he just cut a silent but deadly one. I can't decide. 

I can identify just a single black person in the photos of the crowds. Did they go to the trouble to insure there was indeed a "token" black? Must've been a tough sell, since black church attendees know that an acoustic guitar is in no way an instrument to get the booty shaking.

The IN COFFEEHOUSES photo has me confused because hey, this is Pittsburgh circa. early 70s and a coffeehouse would have been considered some esoteric West Coast thing where who knows what kind of weirdo things went on. In Pittsburgh you went to the Jenny Lee bakery and shoved a maple cruller into your mush and there just happened to be coffee in the joint. Coffee wasn't its reason to exist. Anyway I don't see any coffee machines and the architecture looks very much like a church basement or rec room and not like a coffeehouse at all. So unless some archaeological dig brings evidence to light I'll have to stuck with my gut and say there were no coffeehouses in Pittsburgh. Actually I'm still a little surprised there are coffeehouses today.

A sign on the wall of supposed COFFEEHOUSE says "Love is Patient" which pretty much tells you that the hip jean jacket wearing youth counselor would lay down a rap about not giving into premarital relations after rapping about how if Jesus appeared today he'd be shunned or thrown into jail for vagrancy or some other half-baked nonsense 'cause he's a rebel man, and if he makes people "uptight" about this point Johnny Schmoe in the audience is wondering if he'll be home in time to catch THE MOD SQUAD and wonder if Julie is gonna go undercover in some strip joint or something. And sheesh, Johnny'll wonder if he remembered to hide the last tube sock he jerked off into...

By the way Kris Kristofferson, if you read this, I doubt if you got any royalties for "Why Me, Lord" right?

Like I wrote, there is only one black kid in the audience but as for the musicians, they have a black dude pictured on the back who looks like he's nodding on junk!

And a few words from Reverend Richard Turgson (name written AND typed on the back sleeve) who penned these liner notes:
Some 1900 years ago a life, destined by the will of God, for 3 1/2 years gave hope to a lost and dying world-to this life we sing. Because of these 3 1/2 years Teen Challenge of Western PA's musical outreach "Cephas" has a hope to share with this "now" lost and dying world. We hope this record will keep you "Talkin' About Jesus".
Three-and-a-half years? I thought Jesus live to be thirty (actually about 33, ya heathen-ed.) I mean I was usually drawing pictures of Marvel superheroes in CCD classes, but 3 1/2 years? What's that? His prime miracle years?

What is a Cephas? My dictionary goes from "CEO" to "cephalic" being "of the head" which might be a derivation of "Cephas" I guess. Hey, Rite Record Productions Inc., did YOU check what it meant? After all it might been sumthin' dirty gettin' snuck by. It is something to do with "head" and all, but I guess if you can't trust Christers who can you trust? Don't answer that. Rite Records was out of  Cincinnati, and on the record label it's abbreviated as "Cinti, Ohio" which is QUITE an unusual abbreviation. "Cincy" being the most popular, or maybe "Cinn". Certainly not "Cinti" which I've never seen before.

Checking out the inner groove run-off for secret messages now. There's the matrix number and...aha! The date this killer diller platter was birthed scratched into the inner groove, 7/19/1974. I estimated this was done between '72-74 so let's have a big round of applause for me!

I realize I haven't mentioned the front cover of the LP, but that's because it's deadly dull with no pictures. Two color cover, black and gold. If you know about private press sleeves you know that once you go beyond two colors you're talkin' more mazzulah, and Jesus freaks aren't made out of money, right? Don't answer that. Do you think black and gold were chosen because they were the colors of the Pittsburgh Steelers? In '74 the Steelers had developed into a potent football force. Locals were proud of them for the first time, yeah, there is an off chance. But I doubt it. But if so, take that you Cinti Bengal fans who had to press this record up!

I can imagine that when this came out it was sold at shows, and of course foisted on family members who just had to buy one. Gramma filed it away next to her SING ALONG WITH MITCH LPs and someone's little brother or sister got one for a Christmas present when they woulda really wanted a 45 of "Bang a Gong" and by then they were really sick of their born again sibling talking about how Jesus was in tune with the North Vietnamese. You know, this "now" lost and dying world and all. Hey, that money you wasted on a pet rock could've gone to help a disadvantaged inner city kid!

Oh, and "Ensemble" is misspelled as "Ensamble" on the back cover, though I shouldn't really point it out given my spelling errors in this piece (what spelling errors???-ed.)
Bill Black's Combo-PLAYS TUNES BY CHUCK BERRY LP (Hi Records)

Winner winner chicken dinner! The shrink wrap was still on this beaut and the price sticker from some long demolished department store listen a mark down from $3.98 to $1.47. The thrift store charges a buck per, so I save 47 cents on top of that. Enough for a Strawberry Shortcake change purse had I intentions of luring an eight-year-old.

This record is so great on many levels...the basic cover art has no art at all, just the name of the band and the songs performed. Don't need some cockamamie Roger Dean fantasy world to try to disguise the turd inside. Add to that the back cover blurb by Elton Whisenhunt of THE MEMPHIS PRESS-SCIMITAR claiming that the album could very well become a music collector's item in the future. Well, may I call you Criswell Mr. Whisenhunt, because forlorn abandonment next to a bent ski pole in the thrift shop notwithstanding, I consider this a treasure indeed, easily one of the top five thrift finds of my life.

In Mr Whisenhunt's liner notes we also learn that "Nadine" blends a bop beat with a bequine beat that has to be heard to be believed  (!). "In the background one envisions a jungle drum beat. And to the minds eye comes a scene of exotic dancers swaying beneath palm trees beside a South Pacific ocean shimmering in the moonlight."

Bequine beat. Whatever happened to the days when people with pocket protractors reviewed records?
Tom Rush-THE CIRCLE GAME LP (Elektra)

"No Regrets" is an OK song but the rest bores mightily. And the best thing about this LP is that some sensitive teen girl did some artwork on the inner sleeve. Over a blue and black miasma that is either the sea, the earth, or an oil slick, a large peace sign done in alternating red, white and blus is in the foreground of an orange sun sinking below the horizon against a backdrop of yellow and red clouds. On the back of the album cover she doodled a basic tree, with red ink globes taking the place of leaves. How do I know a girl did it? Please, I went to Junior High you know! I onlly hope that the lass that bought this (probably on the basis of Rush's good looks, though she considered herself too "with it" to fall for some TV readymade heart throb like David Cassidy) eventually scored a Love LP from the same label.

I don't even remember if I owned this at the time of its release but I figured it was worth a buck at the thrift store and it is...if not much more. Supposedly the thin white duke's cocaine infused outing. It is more in tune with YOUNG AMERICANS soul vibe and therefore might sound better under the influence of ripple. The brief wash of Kraftwekian opening on the title cut notwithstanding, this hardly sounds like the pre-punk gestalt that was in the air and you mighta figured if Bowie had his ear to the ground he woulda come up with something more of the times than this rather stillborn LP.

I always liked the track "Stay" even though it sounds like a crystalline FM progressive exercise ready to be plugged in next to whatever swill rock jocks were plugging at the time, but the next two releases, LOW and HEROES, really usurped this. Probably because Brian Eno was on board and he had the presence of an actual human, Iggy, in his constellation. I played this on 1-11-16 because the news broke that Bowie joined Major Tom in outer space. I pretty much only listened to Bowie and Lou Reed in Junior High and pretty much listen to neither now. Horrid memories of being tortured by jocks has something to do with it, but I gotta say that's not the only reason.

Chris Stigliano (and a whole more even doltier than him beings-ed.) says THE MAN WHO SOLD THE WORLD is the "go to" Bowie album and I can't argue, but even that is shuffled to the back of the pile. You gotta remember though, back in the early 70s it was Bowie or CSN and Y or ugh... I don't wanna think about it, so wham bam thank you David.
Ruby Short and his Dragsters-HOT RODDER BATTLE ROCK AND ROLL (Palace Records, a division of Buckingham Records)

Hot rodders battle rock and roll, and which will win? Given that the overdubbed hot rod sounds are mixed way up above the somewhat stale but passable sax-driven instrumentals I'd say the hot rods, but that doesn't stop this from being a totally boss thrift store monster.

The front cover alone is worth the buck I paid, with HOT RODDER ROCK AND ROLL in big print above the name of the fictitious band, so small you'll need to spend another buck on a pair of reading glasses at the dollar store to make it out.Two great photos in full color, a slightly blurry model of a dragster, since I guess they were to cheap to use a picture from a car magazine and perhaps (but not too likely) credit and remunerate the photographer. Beneath the toy car is a photo of a biker (huh? It's not BIKERS BATTLE ROCK AND ROLL) straight out of a Kenneth Anger wet dream, his sidekick who sports a construction helmet instead of the usual biker chapeau, and the face of a dirty blonde in some magnificent shades. As for Mr. Construction Hat, with his cigarette dangling from the corner of his sneer, it seems he is signalling a right turn in his pants!

With titles like "Wrecked T-Bird" and "Drag Strip Doll" how can you go wrong? Includes a glossary of hot rod terms on the back of the LP, a few which may actually be correct. In the grand tradition of budget labels dredging up product and retro-fitting it to any fad, definitely blare this on your hi-fi before heading out to see the asphalt eaters at your local drag oval!

Subtitled "A Product of United Artists Special Products" (!) from 1967. You could probably get this for turning in Marlboro packages a la green stamps. Unfortunately I'm sure this never got re-relased on CD, so if you got emphysema from smoking, you're gonna have to get up from your recliner and change sides of this LP.

Some of the cuts are from the motion picture RETURN OF THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN and others are variations on the score from the above and THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN by Elmer Bernstein. I kinda remember this music being used in Marlboro commercials on the tube, but I could be mistaken as I was pretty young when the gumment put the kibosh on cigarette TV commercials.

Front cover has some long shots of cowboys out in the plains. Some photos show them enjoying a refreshing relaxation break with some pure Carolina tobacco. One shot has a cowpoke lighting up a Marlboro for his buddy in an intimate interlude. Kinda reminds you of that movie with the two gay caballeros who shared more than cigarettes. "So settle back and enjoy over thirty magnificent minutes of music---the music from Marlboro Country!"

Not Morricone by a long shot, but will suffice with a Jack Daniels chaser.
Doug Clark and his Hot Nuts-HOMECOMING LP (Gross)

I could only make it through one side of this. I had more enjoyment imagining the fashion choices of the people at the parties this was played at. Groaner double entendres with somewhat saltier material, it's actually refreshingly tame by today's standards (so is SALO: 120 DAYS OF SODOM-ed.), when even I think comedians should have their mouths washed out with soap.

This is Gross 103, Gross 101 being NUTS TO YOU and Gross 102 being ON CAMPUS. The cover shot on here seems to be an outtake photo from ON CAMPUS as it shows the band in a really dark, washed out photo obviously taken in winter (bare trees in the background) with a partial banner visible in the foreground where "PHI PSI" is no doubt part of some fraternity appendage. Two of the Hot Nuts are holding red square banners. You can't tell if they are simply red or had some writing on them that the crummy photo didn't pick up. Maybe they were in their Mao Tse Tung commie phase but knew better than to try Worker's Party limericks - they'd probably come off even more duff than the ones on this LP.

As an added bonus my copy has some brown stains on the front cover, no doubt some cheap whiskey and water someone spilled while trying to make time with a smokin' fox at a party where this was playing. Hope he didn't stain the shag rug.
Dick Dale and his Del-Tones-KING OF THE SURF GUITAR LP (Capitol)

The seams on the cover of this great LP (Dale's second) were so split that the previous owner covered three-quarters of the sleeve with duct tape! Hence, about two inches of front and back photos and text are hidden. The record looks gnarly but plays OK and if you have a Bar Mitzvah planned for a special someone may I suggest Dick's version of "Hava Nagila"?

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