Topeka is an Kaw word that means “a good place to grow potatoes.” That may be true, but it’s not good for much else.
Witness two desperate pleas for attention (for something other than being the home of the outrageously bigoted Westboro Baptist church): changing the name of town temporarily to “ToPikachu” in 1998 to capitalize on the raging Pokemon craze and changing it again in 2010 to “Google” in efforts to lure the search engine to building a new facility in Kansas.
This record is proof that Topeka was thinking up weird shit way before those two stunts. In 1990, far into the era of cassette tapes, they decided that a promotional LP was the way to go. Ron Harbough narrates a short historical vignette preceding each schmaltzy, canned tune. Why would anyone take pride in Topeka when they couldn’t even be bothered to find local musicians to record this incredibly boring record (all songs written and produced by Impact Broadcast Media, Nashville, Tennessee)? Just try to listen to these with a straight face. Ha!
Taking Pride in Topeka
Say hello to John, Ron, Don and Dave– The Boos Brothers, from Kansas City, Missouri. Along with drummer Paul Walter (the blond one) the Brothers “have cut a wide happy path of truly exciting family entertainment.”
The Bros are backed by a terrifically lazy band who manages to make sludge out of otherwise normal pop songs. Add the wavering, almost hesitant Boos quartet on top and the end product is bordering on surreal, but dare I say– pleasant? The organ, guitar and bass trio (uncredited) have a style that can’t help but outshine the boys in the white jumpsuits.
These two track are both original numbers written by Don Boos (second from left.) This record should be appreciated for its authenticity, from the technical glitches in the songs to the typo on the back of the record. And if you listen to it in just the right mood, you might even enjoy it.
The Boos Brothers – By My Side
The Boos Brothers – We Call It Love
Bird lives in Lawrence, Kansas tonight. This is a bootleg recording from the Howard Theater (Washington D.C.) in March and April of 1953.
This addition to the Parker discography was published in 1983 by VGM records. Clearly a bootleg recording, the sound quality is not the finest, however, these two tracks stand out: the classic “Ornithology” and a break-neck “Anthropology,” in which the band barely manages to keep in step.
From the liner notes, “After Bird finishes his extraordinary solo [on Anthropology], it is the pianos turn and the piano man can be heard emitting a groan just before he is to dig in. His groan is not only in appreciation and amazement at what Bird had just played but undoubtedly is a cry for help from somewhere outside himself– for he must realize that he is not like Bird and that he is a mere mortal.”
No one is quite sure about the identities of the other members of the quartet– and I’ll leave that for the Ornithologists to ponder. (It seems that most people agree that the drummer is Max Roach.) The All Music Guide calls this recording, “of primary interest to long-time collectors,” but neglects to call attention to the electric atmosphere of this recording. The cheers and shouts of the crowd are heard regularly, at one point laughter can be heard during a goofy bit of drum solo on Ornithology. This room noise adds so much to the tracks I would happily sacrifice the sound quality inherent to most “privately produced” recordings of the time.
Two seconds after I finished taking a photo of this record I dropped my phone on it and cracked it. Which is a real bummer because this was a great track. And it’s not likely I will ever see this again. Are you playing your tiny violin for me?
This is (was?) #103 on the Original Sound label. Larry Bright and OS both had minor hits in the 60’s, but by the 70’s both had seen better days. “Bye, Bye, Texas,” is a nice original number, uptempo and about Texas, of course. The flip side is one of the worst cover versions ever of one of my favorite Beatles songs, “I Saw Her Standing There.” It’s sooo bad y’all. But let’s focus on the positive. Which is that Side A is pretty good and you should check it out. And that at least I ripped a copy of the good side before I destroyed this record. And that I will most def be on the lookout for some of the earlier Original Sound stuff.
Larry Bright – Bye, Bye, Texas
The Thrasher Brothers are a semi?-well known gospel oriented group from Birmingham, Alabama. (Let’s assume they mean in “Brothers” in the “Bro” sense, there are nine of them after all.) Not a lot of info turned up on this LP, but I have to wonder if this wasn’t some kind of fundraiser or promotional item for an actual event, the “14th Annual Cherokee County Fair,” which is repeated again and again as a refrain throughout the title track. My copy is autographed. Don’t be jealous.
I am going to hold this up as a prime example of Goof-core. You aren’t familiar with this genre becuase I just invented it. It’s a mix of country, pop and nonsense. It’s sincere without taking itself seriously. It’s wacky but never outrageous. It’s an inexpiable wholesomeness and a corny joke. You get what I’m sayin’ here? It’s Goof-core and you heard it here first. Let me know what y’all think.
Thrasher Brothers-Cherokee County Fair (download&stream)
The soul sounds are on Savoy, and in this case James Cleveland means your everlasting soul. The King of Gospel music leads his large choir in “another sincere emotion-filled album of superb selections that are destined for immortality.” Perfect listening for Sunday morning brunch. (Yes, this is the group that backed James Brown in the Blues Brothers movie.)
James Cleveland – In The Ghetto
James Cleveland – Trouble In My Way