Showing posts with label The Petards. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Petards. Show all posts

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Day After The Sabbath 115: Top of the Scott's (Badcat Records)


Download from: [mf] or [mg]
unzip password:  tdats


TDATS 115: Top of the Scott's - Badcat Records interview by Rich Aftersabbath on Mixcloud

As many of you will have discovered by now, one of the greatest free resources on the net for finding out about obscure music is Rate Your Music (link). Although it seems to have been originally created as a way of rating and reviewing the records you personally own, due to its "wiki"-type ethos of user contribution it has become one of the best general catalogues in the world for all recorded music.

Scott Blackerby
I go there almost daily, and one contributor/reviewer who frequently comes up on albums and bands that I am interested in is a user that goes by the tag of RDTEN1 (link). He now has over 2500 reviews there! I have found leads from so many of his detailed reviews in making TDATS that I decided he fully deserved some praise here. When I made contact with him recently I was not surprised to find out that he has been an avid record collector and dealer for years, he has a lot of interesting things to say and he plys his trade under the name Badcat Records (link). His name is Scott Blackerby and he lives in Reston, Virginia. What I have done here is asked Scott to pick fifteen tunes for a comp, and say a little about each one. The majority of the acts he picked are brand new to TDATS so hopefully it will be an informative listen for you all. Following that is an interview I conducted with him, mostly regarding what it is like to deal in obscure rock and how he finds the nuggets and information for his reviews.

Scott ~ "Here are 15 of my favorite song finds from 2014. Musically they’re all pretty much rock, hard rock, or blues-rock oriented.  Admittedly there are some oddball choices; Irish blues-rocker, Quebec garage rockers, A German band, and one from Peru."

TRACKS
01. Bloody Mary - Dragon Lady (1974) from album 'Bloody Mary'
There's a rumour going around that Bloody Mary is either Sir Lord Baltimore under another name, or is at least connected in some way. Not surprising as the vocals do sound remarkably similar to John Garner...although he refutes any connection. Scott's full review can be read >here<. "Based on everything I'd read, I have to admit the percussion heavy opening came as a surprise to my ears, but once the lead guitar and keyboards kicked in (along with the screeching lead vocals), I felt more comfortable with the collection's hard rock reputation.   The opener actually boasted what may have been the album's best melody.   rating: **** stars"
02. The Fallen Angels - Room At The Top (1967) from album "The Fallen Angels"
Scott's full review here. "Penned by Bryant, 'Room At the Top' was a driving pseudo-garage tune that showcased Richard Kumer's powerhouse drumming and some Wally Cook sitar touches (actually it sounded like an electric guitar given an odd tuning).  The band actually gave the track a cool, pseudo-British feel (imagine Mick Jagger fronting a true guitar band).  Always loved the freak-out fade.  Roulette tapped the track as the lead-off single.    rating: **** stars"
03. Mitch Ryder - Ain't Nobody White (1979) from album 'Naked But Not Dead'
Scott's full review here. "The third 'Look Ma, No Wheels' composition, anyone who doubted Ryder still had his killer voice only needed to check out the raw, bluesy 'Ain't Nobody White'.    What a growl of a voice and the live version was even tougher than the studio take  !!!   There's an extended, slightly stoned performance of the song from the German RockPalast series (youtube)  rating: **** stars"
04. Rory Gallagher - Let Me In (1975) from album 'Against the Grain'
Scott's full review here. "Anyone who knew Gallagher has a hardcore blues artist was probably going to be surprised by the boogie-styled 'Let Me In'.   Maybe not quite top-40 material, but surprisingly commercial and accessible.  There's a clip of Gallagher performing the tune for a 1975 episode of Don Kirshner's Rock Concert. It's worth watching just to see a somewhat stiff Kirshner reading the introduction off of cue cards (youtube).  You had to wonder if Kirshner had a clue as to who Gallagher was. rating: **** stars"
05. Les Napoleons - Fou De Toi (1966) from album 'Les Napoleons A Go Go'
Scott's full review here. "Having been released as their debut single, 'For de Toi' was a blazing Kinks-styled garage rocker showcasing an amazing Jean Guy De Levo solo (Dave Davies would have been proud of the performances.  There's decent live black and white television performance of the tune, though the video and sound are out of sync (youtube)  rating: **** stars"
06. Flo & Eddie - It Never Happened (1972) from album 'The Phlorescent Leech & Eddie'
"When it comes to biting humor, Flo and Eddie are among the best acts out there.  Bolstered by a dark, folk-rock melody that snuck into your head and wouldn't leave, 'It Never Happened" was one of the best tunes on the album.   rating: ***** stars"
07. One St. Stephen - Junkie's Lament (1975) from album 'One St. Stephen'
Scott's full review here. "Well, with his ravaged vocal delivery, 'Junkie's Lament' literally did sound like a strung out addict wailing away on his last couple of breaths.  Iggy Pop on steroids?  Seriously disturbing tune.   rating: **** stars"


08. String Driven Thing - Josephine (1974) from album 'Please Mind Your Head'
Scott's RYM review here. "Always loved James Bell's churning bass line on this one  ...  nice Bad Company-styled blues-rocker that should have provided the band with a massive AOR commercial success.  rating: **** stars"

09. Terry Reid - Live Life (1973) from album 'River'
Scott's RYM review here. "Easily one of the best things he's ever recorded, 'Live Life' had everything going for it including a tasty, slightly Latin-esque melody (thanks to Willie Bobo's percussion), some first-rate guitar, and one of Reid's most energetic performances.  The video and sound quality aren't great, but there's 1973 performance of the tune on British television.  The live version was way funkier than the studio version (youtube).  rating: **** stars"
10. We All Together - Silly Roadman (1974) from album 'Volumen II'
Scott's RYM review here. "Even though something seemed to have been lost in the translation, 'Silly Roadman' had a cool, mildly lysergic, mid-'60s flavor that I find fascinating.   Love the segment about halfway through where the song shifted into heavy rock mode with Guerrero toughening up his voice while guitarist Cornejo and keyboardist Varvande got a chance to briefly stretch out.   rating: **** stars"
11. Fanny - Place in the Country (1971) from album 'Charity Ball'
Scott's RYM review here.  "Penned by Barclay, 'Place In the Country' was one of the album's best rockers.   Nice showcase for the group's harmony vocals.   rating: **** stars"



12. The Petards - Drive (1968) from album 'A Deeper Blue'
Scott's RYM review here. "Nice Beatles influenced rocker ...  how could you not like a German band that could work Florida and Georgia into their lyrics.   How many American bands have ever worked Bavaria or Niedersachsen"

13. Hudson Brothers - Hard On Me (1975) from album 'Ba-Fa'
Scott's RYM review here. "A typical hard rocker that you probably didn't want a ten year old to listen to ...  well today the lyrics are very PG.   Nice to hear them toughen up their sound a bit.   rating: **** stars"



14. Stephen Spano - Eye To Eye (1975) from album 'Eye to Eye'
Scott's RYM review here. "Featuring fuzz guitar, meltdown synthesizer, and full rock instrumentation, the title track was quite different from the rest of the album.  Rock, progressive moves, and even jazzy chords ...  it was all here.  One of my picks for standout performance.  My only complaint is the tune faded out just as Spano was beginning to showcase his tuneful lead guitar moves.   rating: **** stars"
15. John Entwistle - Ten Little Friends (1972) from album 'Whistle Rymes'
Scott's RYM review here. "Great little boogie rocker with Peter Frampton providing the blazing lead guitar.  As for the song, I've read different different stories including it was inspired by a gift of a pack of toy trolls that Keith Moon gave to Entwistle.  The trolls included a character named "Mr. Bones".  An alternative story traced the song to an autobiographical base - namely a reflection of Entwistle's musical dexterity on multiple instruments.  Regardless, it was one killer tune. rating: **** stars"


Interview with Scott

Hi Scott, thanks for your time! Before I start the questions proper - what's the significance of your RYM username, "RDTEN1"?

The tag (which was originally for my email address) is actually work related.  I work for the Navy and it relates to the kind of money I deal with Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation, Navy (RDTEN).   For some reason RDTEN wasn't available, so I grabbed the next best thing - RDTEN1.

True story - every now and then I'll get unsolicited email from people wanting a picture of me thinking it stands for red 10, or a hot looking redhead.   Amazing.  When I tell them I'm a middle aged white guy, many folks don't believe it.

Q1. Can you tell us some of the major events and influences in your life that lead you to start BadCatRecords?

So, BadCatRecords is a small on-line website that focuses on talking about and selling '60s and '70s vinyl.  I started it 2004 when I woke up one day and discovered I had somehow managed to accumulate some 30,000 albums.  A back-of-the-envelope calculation indicated that if I did nothing but listen to albums 12 hours a day, it would take me four years to get through the collection.  That was just way more vinyl than I ever needed and it seemed unlikely I was ever going to get that kind of spare time to simply listen to music, so I decided to set up a small website and start selling some of the stuff.

Q2. How long has it been going now? Can you tell us a little about your 
experiences of starting it and how it has developed since then? 

I started selling in 2004.  My initial plans were to list LPs in some of the specialized music publications favored by hardcore collectors (like Goldmine) but a friend at work taught me some basic HTML .  It was enough to let me set up a barebones, but functional website where I started listing vinyl  - www.BadCatRecords.com.   It took a couple of months to upload about half of my original collection and then it took a couple of years for the website to generate a steady stream of traffic and customers.  Today it averages 500+ hits a day.  I realize that's nothing in the overall scheme of things, and unfortunately most of those hits are simply people reading record reviews, or looking for information on a band.   Still, over the ten years the site has now had over a million visitors.  I realize Amazon gets that kind of traffic in a matter of hour, but for a small, homegrown site like mine, which gets virtually no publicity, that's still a neat accomplishment.  

A couple of months back I ran a query against the BadCatRecords name and was surprised at how many on-line references and links there were to the website.  

Ironically, on occasion people mistake BadCatRecords for a true storefront business.  Last summer I was cutting my lawn when a couple of young German collectors showed up looking for BadCatRecords.   Their English wasn't great and my German was equally limited, but they finally realized what I was saying.  Since they'd driven out to Reston,  I let them to browse the stacks.  They ended up buying about 100 soul LPs so it turned into a productive day for all of us.

Q3. Do you have any stories regarding extremely rare finds or particularly 
memorable finds and sales? 

With a regular day job and family obligations (soccer, music lessons, Boy Scouts, homework, etc. ), I don't have a great deal of time to go looking for stuff.  Still, like every collector I've had some nice finds.  

I was at a local community yard sale and  an older lady was selling a bunch of stuff including what appeared to be a stack of religious LPs.  I wasn't expecting anything, but scattered throughout the religious and easy listening stuff were some rare psych LPs (Food, Kak, Mason, etc.).  She was asking a dollar for each LP.  I asked her where she'd gotten the psych stuff and she told me it belonged to her older son.  She'd been asking him to clear the stuff out of her house for years and had finally decided to do it herself.  I told her the psych stuff was worth way more than a dollar. She seemed surprised and asked if I would be willing to pay $10 a pop.  I ended up buying 20 psych LPs for $10 apiece.  Yes, I know I probably should have paid her even more.  Virtually all of them sold online within a matter of weeks.

About two years ago I bought an Ultra Violet LP with an Andy Warhol designed cover.  I found it buried in the discount bin  at a local used record store for a dollar.   Musically it's one of those clear-out-the-party kind of LPs, but the Warhol cover and the fact few copies were pressed makes it a collectible.   It was gone literally an hour after I listed it on line.   

To be honest, most of the music I buy is based on it being something that looks interesting to me.  I've purchased albums for the cover art.  I've bought albums because of the label they were issued under.   I've bought albums because I recognize a band member.   Sure, I'll buy something I know I can resell for a profit ("Dark Side of the Moon" with the posters and stickers), but the vast majority of my collection was purchased because it looked like something that would be cool to hear.   Moreover, most of what I buy is on the cheap side.  While I'd love to spend $200 - $300 for an LP, that's not really in the family budget.

As for sales, I list albums on the BadCatRecords site, but also sell on MusicStack, GEMM. Amazon, and a couple of newer sites.   Deep pocket collectors tend to buy directly off the BadCatRecords website.  There are some collectors who seem to have immense resources at their disposal and I've even dealt with a couple of European and Japanese collectors who buy rarities as an investment.   I've had people spend thousands of dollars on vinyl.  I had a guy spend close to $1,000 on a sealed Peter  Grudzien LP.  Perhaps he got a bargain since it is rare, but those kind of purchases are simply mind-boggling.   Personally I can't image spending that kind of money on an album.   Maybe when I win the lottery.  That said, for every buyer who drops the equivalent of a mortgage payment on vinyl, there are a hundreds who are spending $10 - $50 to buy a slice of their past.  Those are the folks who make up most of my sales.   

I somehow got interested in tax scam albums (you can look the topic up on the BadCat website - link) and about a year ago got a call from a local guy who found some tax scam LPs and wanted to sell them.  He gave me a great price and they quickly sold off my website.  Wish I had more of that happen.   LOL 

Q4. Are you originally from Reston, Virginia? Have you always lived around 
there? How has living there influenced your musical tastes and pursuits, or any 
other places you have lived?

Born in Southern Alabama.  My father was a Department of Defense civilian who had a series of overseas postings.  I spent 14 years living with my family throughout Europe.  Virginia became the family "home base" between overseas assignments.   

The Washington DC area is where many of today's jobs are located.  I would be hard pressed to make the kind of salary I earn here were I living somewhere else in the country.   Admittedly you pay a steep price to live in this area, but it has a very cosmopolitan feel.   If you're into culture and music, there's always something going on in this area.  If so inclined, you could literally see a concert every night of the week.  Doesn't happen in my case, but if you're a young hipster with disposable cash, the opportunities are there ...

It tends to get overlooked, but the Washington DC area has long had an active musical scene - there are some impressive 60s (Fallen Angels), 70s (Artful Dodger) bands that called this are their home.   Go-Go music may not have caught on nationally, but the late Chuck Brown remains an icon in this area.  Think of all the hardcore bands that called this area home - Bad Brains, Slickee Boys, Teen Idles, Fugazi ...   I love all of those bands.  The other thing Washington DC had when I was a teenager was WHFS.   WHFS was this funky little FM radio station that had DJs like Damian Eistein and Jonathan "Weasel" Gilbert.  The station let the DJs pick what they wanted to play which meant it was literally  everything and anything other than top-40 material.    I can't even begin to count the number of albums I bought after hearing something played on WHFS.

Living overseas as a teenager certainly impacted my musical tastes and consumed a big part of my limited disposable income.   As much as I loved Armed Forces Network (AFN) and top-40 rock, I loved European radio stations, including Radio Luxemburg, and Radio Caroline.  Whereas AFN had a pretty regimented play list, European stations were all over the musical map.   There are literally dozens of bands I never would have heard on American radio - some good, some not so good, but all different from typical American top-40.   It certainly opened my ears to a musical sounds far beyond the top-40 most of my friends lived in.   As a teenager I spent a couple of years living in Belgium.  A buddy of mine (hi Mark), introduced me to record libraries.   I'd never heard of the concept, but the way it worked was you paid a membership fee, brought in your record stylus for them to check, and then you could check out a dozen LPs at a time.   I'm still selling albums that I "discovered" living overseas - Bees Make Honey (pub rock), The Boots (German garage rockers). Irish Coffee (Belgian rockers),  Taste (Irish blues-rockers).   The list goes on and on and on ...

Q5. Have you ever been a musician yourself? If so, what do you play and were/are 
you in a band?

Bought a bass in high school and took the instrument to college, but was smart enough to realize there were people far more talented than I was.  I think I read somewhere music critics are all frustrated wannabe musicians.   That would certainly capture it for me.   Maybe when I retire I'll have time to learn how to play an instrument.   Luckily both of my kids seem to have the musical talents I didn't get.

Q6. You appreciate and appraise a very eclectic range of musical genres. Could 
you tell us what your favourite styles in old rock are, and why? 

I looked at this question and wondered about it for a couple of minutes.  I actually looked through a pile of records on my desk and it dawned on me that yeah, my tastes are pretty eclectic.  The current stack has a copy of the new AC/DC release (vinyl), a couple of tax scam LPs, an obscure soul LP, and a copy of an album by the Dutch band Pussycat.  I guess that is  diverse.  Musically I'm willing to try pretty much anything.  I have an eleven year old and I'm surprised at how much of the contemporary stuff he listens to that I actually enjoy.  Yes, I'll admit to having some rap and even Lady Gaga on my iPhone.   

What do I really enjoy ?   I think it's only natural that we gravitate to what we grew up with.  In my case I I love '60s soul, power pop, '70s FM rock, new wave, AOR bands.  The list goes on and on.  I've even been trying to understand jazz.   Is there anything I can't deal with ?   Sure there is.  Can't say I'm a big fan of old country,  bad disco, or Musique Concrete.  Auto-tuning drives me crazy.    True story - For years I'd read articles about Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music".   I remember thinking no album could  be that bad. There had to be a reason the album kept showing up in so many media stories.   I tracked a copy down in college and, yes, it was that bad.   I've only been able to listen to the double LP once.    

Q7. Who are some of your favourite artists from those styles, famous or not? 

I could go on for pages and pages.

Rory Gallagher, Danny Gatton, and Roy Buchanan are all favorite guitarists.  Sadly, all have passed-on, though I was lucky enough to see Gallagher play - once at a street festival in Brussels Belgium.   Gatton and Buchanan were both local artists (Buchanan lived in Reston for a couple of years).  While each released some enjoyable material, they were supposedly even more impressive in a live setting.

I'm a big soul fan.  Wilson Pickett (who lived and died in Northern Virginia),  Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell, Laura Lee ....   There's a whole universe of soul artists out there who are all but unknown today.   It's always struck me as ironic that I sell more soul to Europeans and Japanese customers than Americans.  It makes me wonder how Americans can be so blind to their own culture.

I love 60s and '70s pop psych bands like Anonymous, Big Star, The Byrds, Colours, Ellie Pop, Flat Earth Society,  The Leopards ...

I'll admit to having a long standing taste for blues-rock bands like Bad Company, Free, Taste, and yes, even AC/DC.   After a crappy day at work, a couple of AC/DC tunes are a good way to re-set your balance.

Q8. Personally, I think the short period between the late '60s and early '70s 
for psych/prog/hard rock was the most creatively interesting time in rock 
history. What are your opinions on why there was such a creative explosion 
during those times.

Sounds like a grad school thesis waiting to happen.   I'm a little too young to have been socially aware during that timeframe, but there's probably something to be said for that thesis.   Why did the lines start to come down?  Not sure, but that "golden" period  certainly didn't last very long.  I can remember while I was in high school you would hear all sorts for musical genres played on the same radio stations (The O'Jays followed by Firefall), followed by George Harrison).  By the time I graduated from college that kind of genre mixing was largely gone with radio becoming more and more homogenized

I don't list to a great deal of radio these days, but when I do, I hear a more open and eclectic playlist coming back.  When my kids listen to the radio you're liable to hear a fairly diverse mix that includes rap, country, pop, dance tunes, hard rock, etc.   Musical diversity is so much better than hearing a single genre all day long.


Q9. What other periods and genres which are markedly different do you listen to, 
up to the current day? 

Pretty much whatever is playing is okay with me.   My eleven year old complains if I have an oldies rock station on.   To be honest, what little time I spend in my car tends to be spent listening to NPR. Shows you what cutting edge tastes I have.

Q10. Your appraisals and reviews are very well-informed and written.  What are 
your main methods of gathering the information, and have you ever studied, or 
worked in, any domains other than your record business, that have helped you 
develop your skills? Had you ever considered journalism?

Thanks for the compliment.  I try to research the groups I write about, but in many cases there simply isn't a great deal of reference material out there to work with.  As such, a lot of the stuff I've dumped on the BadCatRecords website and other places is little more than speculation.  Fact of the matter is that a lot of what I've written is probably wrong, but until some comes along and provides the actual facts, that's the best you can do.  I also try to avoid popular bands.  Does anyone need to hear what I think about "Revolver" or "Hotel California"?   Probably not. 

In my real life I work for the US Navy and the job I have entails a lot of writing, so there's a clear overlap.  Hopefully the music stuff is more interesting than some of the business stuff I write.

Years ago Goldmine published a couple of items I wrote and some material I wrote ended up in an obscure book music reference book (The Acid Archives) published by a Swedish music collector by the name of Patrick Lundborg.  Sadly Patrick passed away in June 2014.    Do I have a great a American novel in me ?  If so, it has never shown any interest in getting out.   There are a bunch of topics I'd like to write more about and publish on the website.   I'm still interested in tax scam records.  What a great concept - let's release music that we purposely don't want to sell in order to get a tax break.  How American can you get?   I've got a bunch of material on banned record covers.   There are other obscure topics as well.

Q11. How often do you get in touch with the artists themselves? Do you have any 
interesting or particularly memorable stories on doing so? For instance, times 
when you got some valuable information by some effort, that nobody may have ever 
discovered other-wise.

It seems I hear from someone I've written about at least once a month.  Most of the times it will be someone happy to see they've been remembered and offering to provided information, or correct factual errors I've made in a write-up.  Frequently they'd like help in reconnecting with former band members.   Occasionally I can help.  Someone contacted me a month ago looking for an ex-husband. Many want to buy an album they released, or were somehow affiliated with.   Musicians seem to suffer a lot of broken marriages and house fires.  I've made at least a half dozen sales to band members who effectively lost everything  associated with their prior lives.  

Every now and then I'll hear from someone who thinks I'm an asshole for having written something critical of their work.  I try not to be mean-spirited when I write something.  Occasionally I lose that battle and if someone calls me on it, I'm at least willing to look at the topic again.  I won't reveal the person's name, but I wrote a scathing critique of a song this individual had written.  It was one of the most irritating hits I've ever heard.  The writer wasn't amused and let me know that I was a no-talent loser.   That's fine, but after listening to it, their song still sucks.   Anyhow, I'm thrilled to hear from all of these folks. The fact they took time from their busy lives to contact me is a treat and I still marvel that they somehow managed to stumble on to the BadCatRecords website.

So within the last two months I had two exchanges that left a lasting impression on me.

I found an obscure album at a flea market.  Though I'd never heard of the band I bought the album because I knew a little bit about the label it was released on.   Anyhow, I started looking into the band and discovered it wasn't really a band, rather was the work of a single guy.  To protect his privacy I won't name the individual, but he's become a Grammy winning composer, producer, and writer.  I tracked him down and sent him a note asking if he'd ever heard this album. Turned out he wasn't even aware of the LP.   It was apparently some material he had recorded as a demo and unknown to him some unscrupulous folks had released it under a different name without his knowledge.  I sold him one of the two copies  I had.   It was a nice feeling reuniting the "creator" and his music.

Again, I'll protect the person's privacy, but about two months ago I got an email form a lady living in Majorca.  Her father was visiting her and they had somehow ended up looking for his name on the internet.  He'd been in an obscure English '60s band and they ended up at the BadCatRecords website because I'd written a review of the band's one and only LP.   The review included photos and links to a couple of the band's songs that I'd found on YouTube.   Here's where the story turns sad, but also kind of uplifting.  The father suffers from dementia, but when they were looking at the band photos and the song clips, he regained his focus and started telling the daughter about his days in this band.   
It was touching for her to take the time to write me to tell me how nice it was to have regained her father, if only for a few hours.  She was also nice enough to pass along some of the information her father had provided on the group.

As I said, most of the interactions are positive, though there are some exceptions.  I've had some artists tell me I'm a douchebag for writing less than sterling reviews.  I always remind them comments reflect one person's opinion.  Nothing more than that and the fact of the matter is very few people are ever going to see one of my reviews.  Over the last decade  I've been threatened with a couple of lawsuits.   One relatively unknown band apparently hired a legal firm to protect their legacy (not that they had one).  They came after me apparently under the impression BadCatRecords was reissuing the group's albums.  I was selling a single used copy which was well within my rights.   The law firm went away after I suggested they were wasting their time.  Another artist demanded I turn over a rather valuable copy of her album as it belonged to her.   I suggested she get a lawyer and take me to court.  Haven't heard back from her.  Still have the LP for sale.

Again, most of my dealings are very positive.  The thing you walk away with is what a tough life music is.  Virtually none of these folks made much money and few of them are known beyond hardcore collectors circles.  The lucky ones moves on to the next stage of their lives and kept music as a hobby.   Others have held on to the dream, even when there's no chance of making it.   Just speculation on my part, but if there is an afterlife, I would not be surprised to discover there are lots of music managers, A&R folks, and record label presidents occupying some of the lower and hotter tiers of that afterlife.

Q12. What is the future for Bad Cat Records? Do you have any further plans 
regarding your love of rock music; maybe a book, or your own label, or other 
types of project in mind?

I've sold about half of the collection so there are only another 15,000 LPs to go.  Well, there would be 15,000 if I stopped buying.  The fact this is a hobby rather than a business makes a big difference.  If I had to depend on this for a living I would be in big trouble.  There's certainly money to be made in vinyl, but you'd have to scale up to a massive level and you'd have to constantly be looking for new stock at a time when more and more people are getting back into collecting records.  I can't help but feel that if it were a job, it would lose much of the joy I associate with it as a hobby.  Besides, with a real life and a family, I don't have the time, the interest, or the personal drive to do this on a full time basis.  

So BadCatRecords will remain a hobby.  The extra income has helped the IRS pay down the national debt, and allowed us to pay some of our older kid's college tuition costs, as well as allowing us to pay off the mortgage on a rental property.  That's about the right level of intensity.

Q13. Do you watch much live music? For instance old bands from the days of the 
records you sell, that are still around. Or old-styled/retro bands, around where 
you live or further afar? 

I typically see a couple of bands a year.  As I mentioned, the Washington area is full of clubs an music venues.   We live ten minutes away from WolfTrap Farm Park which has a wonderful summer concert program covering everything from opera to surprisingly contemporary group - Ke$ha played there this past summer.   Opera and Ke$ha.   Who would have thought?    Jiffy Lube Pavilion is 30 minutes away.  The down side is that as much as I enjoy a concert,  ticket prices are simply stunning these days.   Paul Simon and Sting were in town a couple of months ago and while I was interested in seeing them, the asking prices were simply insane.  There's no way I'd pay $100 to see anyone.   

That means my wife and I tend to see local acts such a Mary Ann Redman (a wonderfully talented Washington area singer) and older groups that are no-longer prime sellers (Doobie Brothers, Peter Frampton, Rush, Steely Dan, ZZ Top).

Q14. Could you tell us about any other favourite established or new artists from 
your local area, or anywhere around the world?

Sure, though these aren't going to be The Day After The Sabbath  oriented metal acts, but so what.

As mentioned, there's a local singer named Mary Ann Redman whom I think is great.  She has an amazing set of pipes and has a loyal local following.  My wife and I  see her once or twice a year.  Here's a link to her website:  http://www.maryannredmond.com/ (maybe she'll send me a pair of tickets to a show).

Sadly she died in  1996, but Eva Cassidy was a fascinating Washington area singer.   She recorded an amazing album of duets with the late Go-Go musician Chuck Brown.  Her cover of Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready" is stunning.   One of Cassidy's cousins runs a tribute website: http://evacassidy.org/eva/ 

He's not a local musician, and while he is well known to 60s pop fans, few other folks have heard the name Emitt Rhodes.   He's way to pop for most The Day After The Sabbath followers, but Rhodes  is simply one of the best pop artists to ever record.  I won't spend a lot of time detailing his musical career, but the guy recorded some of the best Beatles- esque albums ever released before basically dropping out of performing.    He's a longtime favorite and I would love to see some established act give him a helping hand to re-invigorate his career.  Here's a link to his website: http://www.emittrhodesmusic.net/emittstory.html 


Q15. Are there any bars, venues or record stores or other music fan haunts that 
would be good to check out for anyone who finds themselves in Reston or wider 
Virginia?

The area is awash in bars, but as a 50 + year old dad, I'd be hard pressed to tell you what this month's in-place is.   If you're looking for a low key place that serves wonderful chilli dogs, a decent selection of beers, and doesn't have a dress code - Vienna Inn in Vienna, Virginia (couple of miles down the road from Tysons Corner).  http://viennainn.com/
Whitlows On Wilson is located in Arlington, Virginia and has a cool vibe and a younger crowd. http://www.whitlows.com/
Bier Baron Tavern; Madam's Organ, Church Key - all nice places in DC.

I live near the Reston Town Center which is an upscale area full of happening restaurants and bars.  Very young and fashionable demographic which means I don't have much need for it, but so what.  http://www.restontowncenter.com/index.php 


Music venues I can do a little better:
The Birchmere - very eclectic list of bands  http://www.birchmere.com/
State Theater - nicely restored  old movie theater that had an interesting mix 
of local and national bands http://www.thestatetheatre.com/index.xml
Warner Theater - http://www.warnertheatredc.com/
9:30 Club - saw ZZ Top here a couple of years back - http://www.930.com/
WolfTrap yes it's a national park with concerts !!!  http://www.wolftrap.org/


Q16. What have you learnt from your experiences of running Bad Cat? Do you have 
any useful advice for rock fanatics who do something similar, or are considering 
starting something similar?

Wish I had some silver bullet piece of advice that would make everyone successful.  I don't.   Things I've learned include:

Keep good business records for the IRS
Be nice to the post office staff (I see them so often I know them by their first names)
Treat customers the way you would like to be treated
Don't over-grade vinyl; if an album is VG, don't describe it as being mint
If someone asks you to take a picture of the 'B' side matrix of an album groove, tell them you've already sold it.  Someone that obsessive simply cannot be pleased.   They're not worth the time and frustration.
Focus on what you enjoy.   If you hate Scandinavian death metal, why would you sell it?
Buy sturdy LP mailers and buy them in bulk (500 or more at a time in order to keep the costs reasonable)
Try to put your family and friends before any of this other stuff
Try not to lose the joy that brought you into the business.  I guess it sounds kind of saccharine, but the fact of the matter is I still get a thrill out of hearing a new album. There's just something incredibly cool about hold the album sleeve; reading the liner notes, and enjoying an album on a good stereo system, or with a quality pair of headphones.


Q17. Finally, do you have anything further to say to The Day After The Sabbath  
followers who will be reading this and listening to your picks?

I'd actually spent time on The Day After the Sabbath website, I remember reading an article on Fred Cole and Zipper, and have to admit I was surprised you'd have any interest in BadCatRecords.   Your comments about having read many of the BadCat online reviews certainly made me smile.   You always kind of wonder if anyone knows you have stuff out there.  Anyhow, thanks for the nice comments about the site reviews, and for the opportunity to answer your questions.  It was a blast.

Thanks for your time Scott, and all the best!

Rich signing out. Check out Scott's site at http://badcatrecords.com/ and his RYM activities at https://rateyourmusic.com/~RDTEN1



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Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Day After The Sabbath 95: A Shrine to DooM Foregone

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password:  tdats
Welcome to TDATS 95! It's that time again......another batch of doom-laden misery awaits. Now a tradition here, partly in honour of 'The DooM That Time Forgot' series that was made by RYM friend LibertyCaps a few years ago. For some links to his volumes, and related ones from me, check out the DTTF round-up and check out my most recent doom special: Vol62: The DooM That Time Reprised.

Here we have a diverse mix from all over the world. Some of the tracks are from heavy psych/hard rock albums which I'd recommend to look out for, like those of Fort Mudge Memorial Dump, The Petards, Atlantis Philharmonic, Icecross, Shuttah and Alphataurus. Then we have the more unexpected inclusions like the Australian jazz experimentalists Company Caine and a single from the pop writer Barry Mason.

Once again I have used the art of the talented Virgil Finlay for the cover. Look him up and prepare to be amazed at his vision of dimensions unseen and workings beyond reality.

Tracks
01. Alphataurus [Italy] - Dopo L'Uragano (1973)
       from album 'alphataurus'
02. Grupa SOS [Serbia] - Magnovenje (1974)
       single
03. Fountain of Youth [US] - Witness People (1969)
       single
04. Fort Mudge Memorial Dump [US] - The Singer (1969)
       from album 'fort mudge memorial dump'
05. Barry Mason - [UK] Over The Hills and Far Away (1966)
       single
06. The Petards - [Germany] Big Boom (1971)
       from album 'pet arts'
07. Missus Beastly - [Germany] Remember - Sweet Girl (1973)
       from album 'super rock - made in germany'
08. The Collectors [Canada] - Teletype Click (1969)
       from album 'grass and wild strawberries'
09. Atlantis Philharmonic [US] - Atlas (1974)
       from album 'atlantis philharmonic'
10. Company Caine [Australia] - The Day Superman Got Busted (1971)
       from album 'a product of a broken reality'
11. Icecross [Iceland] - 1999 (1973)
       from album 'icecross'
12. Shuttah [UK] - Bull Run (1971)
       from album 'the image maker vol 1 & 2'

references/credits:
Alphataurus.it | Flower Bomb Songs | Atlantis Philharmonic.com
Barry Mason | krautrock-musikzirkus | The Petards.com | Icecross.net
Jugo Rock Forever | Midoztouch.com

Alphataurus
Alphataurus
Alphataurus introduce this set with a fittingly ominous thunder storm, from there the song develops with all the drama and passion you'd expect from Italian prog. They were from Milan and their 1973 s/t album was produced by the Magma label, founded by Vittorio De Scalzi (singer/guitarist) of one of Italy's most important bands, New Trolls (see Vol37). It had a great triple-gatefold cover with a portentous image of a desolate landscape showing a dove of peace dropping bombs, industrial pollution and nuclear war. A pretty clear indicator of the band's world-view at the time.

Alphataurus gatefold LP 1973
Alphataurus gatefold LP (1973)
According to Discogs the line-up that recorded their album was: Alfonso Oliva (bass), Giorgio Santandrea (Drums,percussion), Guido Wasserman (Guitar),  Pietro Pellegrini (Piano, Organ, Moog, Vibraphone, Spinet) and Michele Bavaro (Vocals). The band are still a going concern and you can check their recently updated site at www.alphataurus.it

Grupa SOS
Grupa SOS
A rare inclusion of a Serbian band is next; Grupa SOS. I have not found much information on them, but a little was revealed with help from Ipsissimus Mocata in the TDATS fb group. He pointed out that some members re-appeared in the later-'70s as 'Riblja Čorba', a great band which I had already been saving up for further east-european comps, with the common members being Rajko Kojić (guitar, 1977) and Vicko Milatović (drums, 1977). The track here is a thick slice of prime Black Sabbath worship, some of the most faithful you'll ever hear from the times and full of that evil guitar tone! The rest of Grupa SOS was Miroslav Aleksić Miša (bass, vocals), Dragan Štulović Štuks (guitar, 1972-77), Aleksandar Tasić Tasa (guitar, 1972) and Stevan Stevanović Stiv (drums, 1972-77).

Fountain of Youth LP (unreleased)
Fountain of Youth LP (unreleased)
The Fountain Of Youth are next, a '60s psych band that made only a few singles (though RYM says they made an unreleased album). The lineup was Jimmy Panza (lead vocals & drums, Gary Itri (bass & vocals), Gary Jenschke (lead guitar & vocals) and Ken Molberg (rhythm guitar & vocals). The track I used could be described as sludge-pop, with it's prominent bass combining with the fuzz to create a thick bottom end. I found some great info over at Flower Bomb Songs : "They were a teen group from Fredericksburg, Texas who previously recorded as The Crossfires releasing the following 45:  'Who'll Be The One'/'Making Love Is Fun' (Tower 278)... They came to the attention of the Colgems label who signed them in March 1968 (there is a mention in a Billboard magazine from this time)..

The Fountain of Youth
The Fountain of Youth




Looking at the promo pic of The Fountain Of Youth it shows the teenagers to be a clean cut, square looking combo in psychedelic shirts. By the time of this single, their 4th for Colgems,  I'd be surprised if they looked as wholesome as this. 'Liza Jane' was released in April 1969 and is typical bubblegum pop of that time period. The jewel is the heavy psych flip 'Witness People'... There isn't that much information around about The Fountain Of Youth but they seemingly had a lead singing drummer! Richard Podolor produced their Colgems singles. He also worked with psych outfit The Glass Family, The Starfires, The Standells, The Chocolate Watch Band and many more I'm sure."

The Fort Mudge Memorial Dump
The Fort Mudge Memorial Dump was a recent find for me, and I have to say their s/t 1969 album is something to get excited about. A great combination the heaviest "Boston Sound" psych you'll find, with Caroline Stratton's vocals resembling Grace Slick and some killer guitar workouts from Dean Keady, which in places resemble Hendrix at his sludgy-wah'd best. The track I used here is one of the heaviest and longest from the album, and features a cool emotive male vocal performance which I presume is from one of the other listed members: James Deptula, Dave Amaral or Richard Clerici, but I don't know which. For such a well formed, great-sounding record there is little information to go by but here's what is stated about them: "They were from Walpole, Massachusetts, that started playing by 1969, gathering a good number of fans. They got filed into the “Boston Sound”, among the Ultimate Spinach, the Beacon Street Union, Orpheus, Tangerine Zoo, ect."

Barry Mason
Barry Mason (circa 1967)
Barry Mason is an English popular music song-writer who also sung on occasion, he had a hand in some very famous songs, like Tom Jones' "Delilah" and even an Elvis song, "Girl Of Mine", so he doesn't really come under the banner of obscure/unappreciated artist, but I've included his 1966 track "Over The Hills and Far Away" as it's got a definite doom-laden atmosphere and I love it. A bit of a curve ball, ripe for a heavy cover maybe? Here's Barry performing recently and here's an interview mentioning some or the greats he's worked with: www.songwriter.co.uk/page64.html


The Petards
The Petards
The Petards are a German band from Schrecksbach (Schwalm City/Hesse) who I used once before back on Vol82. Over the course of five solid albums they ran the well-worn path from 60s psych, to progressive/hard rock. They have a web site and have played with a close-to-original lineup as recently as 2009. 1972's 'Pet Arts' LP is probably of most interest to TDATS, with brilliant stuff like "Flame Missing Light" and the track I have used here, "Big Boom". They also recorded under the psudonym Flittermouse, and made an album of CCR covers as 'Zonk'.

The 'Missus Beastly' included here are a bit of an enigma. The story goes thus: In 1971 a guy called Henry Fromm posed as the drummer, flautist and even manager of the original German group "Missus Beastly", although they had never met him. Their 1970 debut album was unsuccessful. Soon after, Henry had the album illegally re-released on a budget label. Then he started his own group, stealing the name, and made two LPs and three singles under the name "Missus Beastly" on his own label. Nobody has ever heard of him again. In 1974 the real Missus Beastly reformed after a hiatus and made two more albums.

Henry Fromm's Missus Beastly
Henry Fromm's
Missus Beastly
All this caused me a lot of confusion, after hearing some of the singles from the 'bogus' band and really liking them I wanted to know more and found what was apparently two different-sounding German bands from the same period, with some connection that went further than just sharing the same name, that didn't quite make sense.

I have used a track called "Remember - Sweet Girl" from a live album 'Im Garten des Schweigens - Spinatwachtel'  released by Henry Fromm's version of the band. I must give huge thanks to a guy called Gunnar Bülow who contacted me via Youtube, clearing up the story of the bands and supplying me with the song, thanks man!

The Collectors 1969
Vancouver's The Collectors are another band here with a bit of an unexpected appearance of doom. The track I have used is from their second album, which was based on a hit stage-play of the same name: 'Grass and Wild Strawberries' by George Ryga, with Ryga writing the lyrics. Guitarist Bill Henderson was later in Chilliwack. The Collectors first hit was 'Lydia Purple' and I am pleasently surprised to realise that the song has appeared in TDATS before, on Vol16 as a cover by Holland's Cargo.

Atlantis Philharmonic
Atlantis Philharmonic
Cleveland, Ohio's Atlantis Philharmonic was a duo that made an unusual album in 1974. A well-produced concept piece which was equal parts Sabbath doom and Styxian Midwest prog pretensions, with epic themes and song lengths to match. The song used here, 'Atlas', begins with militaristic stomp and continues with chugging riffs between the prog-pomp verses. The LP was self-recorded and released after a lack of label interest, and a second album was recorded too. All instrumentation was laid-down by only two guys; Joe DiFazio (organ, pianos, harpsichord, Mellotron, Moog, guitar, bass, bass pedals, lead vocals) and Royce Gibson (percussion, backing vocals). Reportedly the band supported some big names like Stxy, Wishbone Ash and King Krimson. There is a small web site regarding the band, that has a link to buy their second album, and some extra info which states that they found a third member Roger Lewis, which would explain how they must have managed to perform such a full sound live: atlantisphilharmonic.com

According to RDTEN1 at RYM, "By the early-'80s DiFazio had largely dropped out of music. He obtained a masters degrees in computer technology from Indiana State University, though he also found time to complete a music degree. He is currently a professor of new media and computer technology at Indiana State University."

Gulliver Smith
Gulliver Smith
Melbourne's Company Caine were another unusual band, that mixed blues and psych with horns. I'm very happy to have just found a live clip of the song I have used here, 'The Day Superman Got Busted': youtu.be/WvFVn8GDAv8 Here's a snippet from the extensive article over at Midoztouch: "[singer] Gulliver Smith's stage presence helped to earn Company Caine renown for their performances, and as the group came together they amassed a strong set of strikingly original material co-written by Gulliver, Russell Smith (guitar) and Jerry Noone (sax). They became established as one of the leading attractions on the Melbourne 'head' circuit, gigging alongside bands like Spectrum, Sons of the Vegetal Mother, Tully and the (new) Aztecs. 
Company Caine LP
Company Caine LP 1971
In the words of Ian McFarlane, "... the band's music was more expansive, more 'out there' than just about every band of the day". But this should not be taken to mean that the music was wilfully obscure or 'difficult'. In fact, notwithstanding the 'freaky' and experimental elements, it was a unique amalgam of rock, pop, blues, soul, R&B, jazz and avant-garde that was both challenging and accessible. Another key feature was the surreal humour that pervaded their work. The fact remains that their music could - and should - have reached a far wider audience."

Icecross
It's about time Iceland's Icecross appeared on TDATS! The first time I heard the album I thought it was one of those releases with a dubious claim as to the year it was made because it doesn't sound quite like anything else from it's time, which is claimed to be around 1972/3. It seems to have been taken straight to the heart of those who are searching for some direct link between early hard rock and what is now known as extreme metal and the likes of satanic black metal. I can see what would lead to this, the atheistic sentiments of tracks like 'Jesus Freaks' and the doomy,  dissonant and jarring riffs. There's now an informative site for the band here: icecross.net where you can read about how Axel Einarsson (guitar, vocals), Ómar Óskarsson (bass, vocals) and Ásgeir Óskarsson (drums, vocals) got together. I would regard it as a must-hear album, and whether you like or not you will have to agree it's unique, for it's sound and especially it's country of origin!

Shuttah LP - Shadoks label
Shuttah LP - Shadoks label
Coming to an end for this volume, Shuttah is a mystery indeed. The only available album has been issued on the ever-reliable Shadoks label, on Vinyl and CD. All I can discover and all that anybody seems to know is that this double album was recorded for Virtigo at the IBC studio in London. This studio was used by some of the biggest names, such as The Beatles and The Stones, so it is suspected that who ever Shuttah were, they were not amatures. The album is a progressive mix of psych, blues and experimental sound effects which together makes for an early conceptual progressive rock album, the whole thing is loosly themed around the 2nd world war. The production of the album sounds very professional which is another indicator that it was a serious attempt with money behind it.

IBC studio, London
IBC studio, London
The former IBC owner, Geoff Oliver, claims to have no memory of it at all. What I have not been able to find out yet is how anybody knows the scant details that are stated, such as the year of 1971 and the Vertigo/IBC connection. If anybody out there knows more, drop me a line. Here is what the Shadoks label has to say: "We have searched for a very long time, including an interview with the owner of IBC studios in London where The Who and also The Beatles recorded. We have enquired with copyright control in UK, nothing. We know nothing. We're only aware of one pair of acetates, that are in the hands of a collector." This begs the question, can we really confirm any of what little is known? At the moment, no.

Thanks to all those that have commented and support this blog, and those that have contributed. Lastly, thanks for listening! Rich

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