Here’s a group we could stand to bail out, the Beacon of Hope Chapel Singers from the Kansas State Penitentiary. What’s it like to be a creative person in prison? Imagine every interaction you have with the outside public mediated in some way: two-way glass, mail inspections, phone calls monitored. And if you are so lucky as to be released you are dumped out in the world wearing ill-fitting clothes, holding bus fare with no where to go. When do we talk about what its like to be in prison?
I don’t know who the Beacon of Hope Singers are, the record doesn’t have their names on it. Someone had the courtesy to write “Recorded November 1971” on the cover, and without that the record would remain undated as well as anonymous. In addition to a 20 (?) person choir, there is a small band composed of drums, guitar and bass. This recording can be classified as amateur at best but the songs still sound amazing. This track gave me chills.
“Place this record on the turntable, lie back in your favorite chair, put your feet up and find a new way to relaxation while Reveen tells you how to release each muscle from its tension.”
Reveen was a popular Canadian stage performer in the 80’s and 90’s. I think he is pretty well known up North, but I had never heard of him when I picked this record up. Unfortunately (fortunately??) this record is in horrible condition, but I wanted to make sure you could hear his creepy Canadian voice say say possibly the creepiest thing I have ever heard.
Lets take a trip up north, all the way to little Barrhead, Albaerta. We are listening to the 7th and 8th grade concert and stage bands with John Leonard directing. The track picks are pretty tame, except for the awesome version of “Son of a Preacher Man.” Why they picked this song, I have no idea. Surely they could not have predicted Quentin Tarantino picking the same song 16 years later for a pivotal scene in the movie Pulp Fiction. (The scene where Vincent Vega is waiting fro Mia to come down and she is talking to him over the intercom.) And you know what? Maybe old Quentin should have used the Barrhead Bands version instead, because it really is quite awesome. Hang in there for the hand claps. (The MPM loves hand claps!)
Another funny thing about this record is the choice of cover art. It seems that Fantasy Sound was getting a lot of use out of this water cashing on the rocks shot. From the Candian blog Five Bucks on By-Tor we can see a reuse of the same photo for another school band.
Brave Combo is the best band in America, and that is an undisputed fact. That’s why I don’t have to wait for Polka month (October) to post about the the 2 time Grammy award winning Polka band from Denton, Texas. If you find yourself anywhere between Dallas and St. Louis during the months of October/November, it is likely that Brave Combo will be playing within driving distance, and I recommend, nay, compel, you to seek them out. You will not be disappointed.
Let’s start with the track “Skin” that came out on the Duplex Planet flexi. Duplex Planet was a zine that compiled weird and funny things said by old people in a retirement home. The lyrics were written by a kooky old guy, the music is all Brave Combo.
“The skin could be reminiscent of Harry Truman
animals covered with fur, humans generally hair”
The first time I met Carl Finch, the awesome singer from Brave Combo, was at Soulard Oktoberst in St. Louis. I told him that I had lived in Denton, and seen them a million times. He asked where I had lived in Denton, and I told him on Hickory, in the shack next to the old gas station where Joe Normile hangs out. Well, wouldn’t you know, he had lived in one of Joe’s other shacks, and we had a nice laugh about good old Joe Normile. Brave Combo has a headquarters on the square in Denton, in the window in a big sign that says “PEACE THROUGH POLKA.”
Josh bought me this record in Nashville, and I totally love it. Thanks, Josh! Its really funny and from what I can tell, Freeze a Yankee made it to the top of the Dallas radio charts for a few weeks. It’s definitely centered on the energy crisis on the 1970s but I think it is surprisingly relevant today as well. Side One is “A Texas Solution to the Energy Crisis – Freeze A Yankee”
“Freeze A Yankee,
drive 75 and freeze them alive
Freeze a Yankee,
Let your thermostat rise and give them a surprise.
Cram them Yankee’s in little bitty cars
While we drive around in limousines.
There ain’t nothing in the world any more fun,
Then pumpin’ gas in those big Machines.
Us Texan’s love our Cadillac’s,
Big Continental’s and Pontiac’s.
We’re gonna keep all the gas we can make
And let them Yankee’s shiver and shake.”
Side 2 is “A Tribute to the Trinity, or Muddy Buddy, or Oozin’ Down the River.” Anyone in Dallas can tell you that the Trinity STINKS, on a good day it smells like a fart and on a bad day it smells like 10,000 rotting corpses.
“There’s lot’s of things in Texas
That we all hold quite dear
The Alamo and cowboys
And rivers swift and clear
South Texas has the Rio Grande
The Neches and Pedernales
But we wonder why the good Lord put
The Trinity in Dallas”
Another great find from the Lawrence antique mall. Connie and Ed are two crazy kids who love each other and love country music. Maybe not the best looking, or the best singers, but they wanted to make a record and gosh darn it, they did. Who am I to judge? Actually, there is real gold on this one, especially from Ed on his song “World of Dreams.”