Troy Shondell

Troy Shondell

 

Esso Steel Band

Esso Steel Band

 

Red Ingle

Red Ingle

 

Katie Lee

Katie Lee

 

Les Compagnons de la Chanson

Les Compagnons de la Chanson

 

Les Compagnons de la Chanson

Compagnons

 

Rubinoos

Rubinoos

 

The Coachmen

The Coachmen

 

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan

 

Flash Cadillace LP Cover

Flash Cadillac LP


Page 1

Artist Index     Songs from Off the Wall     Other Music Links     Page 2     Page 3     Page 4

The purpose of this site is to share some musical oddities and rarities, records that I've acquired over the past half century and more.

Click on the artist name below the pictures in the left and right frames to go that artist's section on this page. The artist name and title are at the top of each section. There are additional links to other information about the artist in some sections.

Clicking on the artist name and song title opens a new window. Click on the play button to hear the song; near the top there's an option to download it.

Click on any picture for a larger image. Pictures open in a new window. To view photo in Full Screen mode, press F11 to enter and exit Full Screen mode.

It seems likely that page 4 will be the last page in this series, though I may add a few more items. Certainly I have not run out of eligible songs and artists, but doing it right is very time consuming, and there are plenty of other resources for terrific stuff that you might have missed, not the least of which is You Tube. For roots music, there's No Depression; Vinyl Beat has prices, photos of album covers, and tons of other information, including music samples. The International Bluegrass Music Association site is a good jumping off point for all things bluegrass, while the National Traditional Country Music Association site helps keep the good old stuff alive. It goes without saying that any genre you can think of is represented somewhere.

Oodles of Internet radio stations, as well as multi-station services like Pandora, offer other paths to discovery. And of course, my other music pages are legendary, especially in the room where I'm now sitting, and are linked below.

Comments, questions or suggestions via Email are welcome.

--Dick Estel, January 2009; updated February 2014

   

Artists

 
Songs from Off the Wall

Magda Franco - Ojitos Traidores

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Magda Franco: Ojitos Traidores

I've had this record for decades, probably from a record station I worked at while in college. I have not been able to find any information on this artist other than an album that is listed on Amazon, but unavailable now and in the foreseeable future. However, there is a two-fer CD by Magda and another artist available from an Amazon associate. The translation of the title is "treacherous eyes."

 

Rugged Ralph the Rapid Rabbit Runner

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Ralph: Rugged Ralph the Rapid Rabbit Runner

Another record I've had for decades; don't know where I got it but it probably came from one of the record stations where I worked briefly in the early 1960s. The artist is identified only as Ralph; the composer is G. Shelton.

I've enjoyed this record over the years without worrying too much about its origins, but in January 2009 I did a Google search, and found ANOTHER artist had performed the song. There it was on a CD by Troy Shondell, who had a million selling hit with "This Time" in 1961. Then a few of my remaining brain cells kicked in and I thought, "Maybe Ralph is really Troy." I found a downloadable source of the CD, played "Rugged Ralph," and sure enough, it was the same recording. A look at Troy's listing on All Music Guide revealed that his real name is Gary Shelton, and the mystery of Ralph was solved.

Several of Troy/Gary/Ralph's CDs are available on Amazon.

Update: In July 2010 I received some more information about this artist from Norm Katuna, who reports that he has the original of this song, with the artist name listed as Raunchy Ron & His Ravishing Ruckus Rompers, Greenlake Records. Click here for a look at the flip side of the label scan provided by Norm.

 
Banjo Boy

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Jan & Kjeld: Banjo Boy

Jan & Kjeld are two Danish brothers who had a hit in 1959 with "Banjo Boy," sung in German. I had this record back in the 60s, again don't know the source, but I think I bought it somewhere. I sold it for pennies, then bought a copy a few years ago for a whole lot more.

See them lip-synching live on YouTube!

CDs by Jan & Kjeld are listed, but not necessarily available,  on Amazon.

  
Lou Carter

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Lou Carter: If I Had a Nose Full of Nickels
I Got a Rose Between My Toes

Louie the Cabbie was created for the Perry Como TV show of the 1940s and 50s. Newark-born Louis Carter was actually a piano player and arranger for the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra (some sources say Jimmy Dorsey), but he enjoyed his greatest fame as Lou the Singing Cab Driver, even getting paired up with superstars of his day like Bobby Darin. I remember hearing these two songs on the radio, played by Fresno’s top deejay, Al Radka. Al played the hits of the day, but did not hesitate to include oddities and in fact anything that he thought people might enjoy. Carter died September 25, 2005 at age 87.

You'll find lyrics to these two songs here, and more song downloads here

 
Esso Steel Band

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Esso Steel Band: April in Portugal

The Esso Trinidad Steel Band began their career in 1942. Originally named the Tripoli Steel Band in honor of the U.S. Marines Hymn (with its reference to "the shores of Tripoli"), the group's roots lie in the evolution of the steel pan, the homemade percussion instrument forged from the milk tins, paint cans, and oil barrels clotting Trinidad's shores.  

At first a means of creative expression for the island's poor, steel pan bands eventually surfaced across Trinidad, leading to fierce competition at the annual Carnival celebration. In 1964 the band won the first official Steel Band Music Festival.

In 1965, the Esso oil company agreed to sponsor the Tripoli Steel Band, which was renamed the Esso Trinidad Steel Band as a result. Esso provided instruments, uniforms, and touring finances for the 28-piece outfit, which in 1967 made its international debut at the Montreal Expo World's Fair (by Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide).

Again, I’ve had this record for decades and while I probably wouldn’t want an album of this type of music, it’s fun to listen to every few years.

There’s one used CD available from Amazon partners.

 
The Exciting Voices

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Exciting Voices: Didn't it Rain

In my college days I spent a lot of time at the Record Center, one of the first stores in my area to offer discount LP albums. When Jerry the manager played this for me, I don't think it made much of an impression. Later I began to appreciate it as one of the finest examples of powerful black gospel.

Wordpress.com provides the following information:

The first Bel Canto label 45 was “Didn’t It Rain” b/w “Swing Low Sweet Chariot,” a thrilling vocal credited to Evelyn Freeman & the Exciting Voices, which had as many as 14 singers, including Freeman’s husband, Tommy Roberts, Gwen Johnson, sister of Ray and Plas Johnson, Johnny Woodson of the Kuff Linx, Margaret Bradford and bassman George Bledsoe on violin. That same unit also backed Peggy Lee on her 1958 hit, “All Right, OK, You Win.”

Freeman was sister of Ernie Freeman (who had the big instrumental hit “Raunchy,”) and had a gospel career before crossing over to R&B. Though “Didn’t It Rain” saw no action upon release, years later the tremendous vocals and throbbing bass line made it an underground hit, and it was later picked up for release on the United Artists label

On the final week of Nov. 1964, a full six years after the song first saw light of day on 45, Wallich’s Music City ranked “Didn’t It Rain” on United Artists at #1 on their Flashbacks list, a tribute to one of the best of 1958, which never hit in its day.

If you'd like your own copy, it was listed on EBay a few years ago for just under $40 (!) It's probably harder to find by now, but you can also hear it on You Tube.

 
Gamblers

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The Gamblers: Moon Dawg
LSD-25

In 1960, a group of studio aces got together to record an instrumental entitled "Moon Dawg." The song was composed by one of the players involved, Derry Weaver, and has come to be considered the first example of surf music or surf rock ever released. This is enough in itself, yet flipping the single over is the historical equivalent of a sugar cube on the tongue: "LSD 25" is apparently also the first song recorded in tribute to that particular hallucinogen, an inspiration important enough in rock to inspire genre names -- acid rock and psychedelic rock -- as well as many other songs.

The actual membership of the Gamblers represents something of a significant gathering of creative musical talent in Hollywood during the period; the individuals involved representing links to such diverse artists as Frank Zappa, the Beach Boys, and Joe Cocker. The drummer on the single was Sandy Nelson, perhaps the most famous drummer associated with surf music.

The bassist on the session was Larry Taylor, later a member of Canned Heat. One of the guitarists was Elliot Ingber, who went on to play with both Zappa's Mothers of Invention and Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band. Leon Russell was on the session as well, meaning there were two keyboards on the track, since Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys also claims he played piano on "Moon Dawg." As time goes on and the record becomes more famous, an increasing number of Los Angeles session dudes claim to have been one of the Gamblers.

 
Red Ingle

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Red Ingle: Cigareets, Whusky and Wild Wild Women
Temptation (Tim-Tayshun)

The first song here bears a resemblance to a song with a similar theme that appeared on a couple of 50s era folk albums under various names, including "The House Mother's Singalong." None of them can match Ingle's hilarious approach to the temperance battle.

Born in Toledo, Ohio, Ingle (1906 - 1965) had begun performing professionally by age 15. He joined the Ted Weems orchestra in 1931 and stayed until the band broke up after the outbreak of WWII. 

In 1943 he joined Spike Jones and his City Slickers, which is perhaps the career credit for which Ingle is best remembered. His musical versatility, comic timing and creative spark served him well there, along with his aptitude for funny voices and sound effects.

By the Spring of 1947 Ingle had left Jones and formed his own band, The Natural Seven, which recorded almost exclusively for then-fledgling record label Capitol Records.

In these two classics he’s ably assisted by one Cinderella G. Stump, who was in fact pop star Jo Stafford. I don’t recall where or when I first heard these songs, but I know it was some time before I happily acquired this now treasured 45.

Enjoy live performances of both songs on YouTube: 

Cigareets              Tim-Tayshun

     
McKendree Spring

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McKendree Spring: Cairo Hotel
Feeling Bad Ain't Good Enough

McKendree Spring is neither odd nor particularly rare, but they are a sadly under appreciated band. Built around the soulful voice and wild electric violin of Fran McKendree, they put out six albums that caught my attention in the 1970s.

As far as I know, they had only one song that was played on the radio in my area, "God Bless the Conspiracy." It's good, but different from everything else they did. The songs here are my favorites.

Their 2007 CD is available from Amazon; CDs of their older albums are available from Amazon associates at the same site. Amazon also has many of their vinyl albums.

   
Liberty Bluegrass Boys

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Liberty Bluegrass Boys:
Too Old to Stand a Broken Heart

Normally I wouldn't consider a Flatt & Scruggs song to be obscure, but I think this one qualifies. I first heard the song when this group performed it at a bluegrass festival in Nevada, and bought the CD directly from the group. 

During a different festival, I joined a picking and singing session in the parking lot. There was a woman who knew every song everyone sang -  except this one. So I've chosen the song to represent bluegrass, one of my favorite types of music. As far as I know, the Flatt & Scruggs version is available only in a high-price box set that can probably be found only at specialty stores (I bought mine on-line from Tricopolis Records of Lake Elsinore CA).

I saw the group at a bluegrass festival in Nevada twice, but it's now hard to find anything about them, other than a couple of You Tube videos: Faded Love and Orange Blossom Special. These videos feature a guest singer/fiddler, and don't really represent what the Boys were like.

Several years ago I talked with a former banjo player from the band, and he had lost all touch with Ray Bennett, leader and founder of this great Texas band.

     
Katie Lee

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Katie Lee: The Guilty Rag
Shrinker Man

If you were not aware of the world in the 1950s, it's difficult to appreciate the extent to which pop psychological speak became a part of the every day vocabulary. In today's "less civil" era we'd probably call a jerk a jerk; back then he was "expressing hostility," or maybe was a victim of "sibling rivalry."

I'm not sure what prompted me to buy Katie Lee's album Songs of Couch and Consultation, but I've enjoyed it ever since. The songs were written by Bud Freeman (lyrics) and Leon Pober (music), with Bob Thompson conducting. The album is available on CD.

Although Katie was described as a "singer of folk songs" in concerts and clubs, this was a new venture for her. By the way, I had never heard of her before nor since when I first posted this. More recently a correspondent from Fargo wrote, "My first encounter with her was at a gift shop in Jerome, AZ about 1991. The shop had a book of hers called "10,000 Goddam Cattle" which was about cowboy songs. I bought the book and a companion cassette on which she sang many of the songs she wrote about. At that time she apparently lived in the Jerome area. She had another cassette I did not get which was her musical settings of poems by cowboy poets Charles Badger Clark and Henry Herbert Knibbs."

Katie Lee died on November 1, 2017, at the age of 98.

Note: The best song on the album, "Gunslinger," is not included here because it was covered by the very well known folk group The Limeliters, and is available from Amazon on their two-fer CD, The Slightly Fabulous Limeliters/Sing Out.

    
T-Birds

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T-Birds: Bag Pipe Stroll
Full House

This is one of two records here that have a personal connection for me (the other is the Randy Paige number). The T-Birds were a bunch of college age kids in Fresno who made two or three records under different group names. I worked with the drummer, Sid Mosesian, at a local drive-in restaurant.

Sid was a real character and one of the few people I've met in my life that I would describe as "hip" in the best sense of the word.

He was an accomplished actor, appearing in plays at Roosevelt High School and Fresno City College. He had a modest career in Hollywood under the name Sid Haig, appearing in several TV series and a number of horror films.

As for the T-Birds, I'm pretty sure they are long gone, but I still like this record.

    
RCA Dog

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Randy Paige: To Cry Alone

Randy Paige (real name Randy Upp) was the son of Meldean Upp, who owned radio stations in Coalinga and Tulare CA, where I worked briefly in the early 1960s. Randy was the company's bookkeeper.

He made at least two records for RCA under the Paige name, and also recorded with his sister Donna as Dale and Donna Darling.

Although he had a pleasant voice, and "To Cry Alone" had a commercial pop sound, Randy's true calling seemed to be in the world of accounting.

(I sold my copy of this 45 RPM record, so there are no photos available.)

   
Rubinoos

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Rubinoos: The Magic's Back
If I Had You Back

These songs came from a "5-cut mini-LP" which I bought around the time it was first issued, in 1983. Although the group started in 1973 as a quartet, this outing features only founding members Jon Rubin and Tommy Dunbar. It's a nice power pop presentation, but the group's various singles never went above the lowest reaches of the charts.

    
Les Compagnons de la Chanson

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Les Compagnons de la Chanson: The Three Bells

This nine-man French group had great success worldwide with "The Three Bells," a song later covered by the country-pop group The Browns. 

I remember this recording being played extensively on a request radio show in the late 1950s and early 60s. I've owned three versions of it over the years, including a 78 RPM single. This one's from a 10-inch mono LP.

Several albums are available on Amazon in CD and MP3 format. An incredible live version, featuring Edith Piaf, is available on You Tube, as well as a version by just Les Compagnons. It's good; the one with Edith is transcendent.

    
Valley Grown

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T. Sherman Lewis: Panama

In 1978 a Fresno radio station issued Valley Grown, an album of music by local artists. Most of it was forgettable rock of the era, but one song stood out - a satirical take on the then-recent transfer of the Panama Canal to Panama.

Lewis was a real estate and insurance agent; his present activities are unknown, and a Google search did not reveal any useful information.

    
Troublemakers

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Pearl Harbor & The Explosions: Busy Little B Side

This song comes from a Warner Brothers sampler, Troublemakers, featuring new and hopefully upcoming artists of the era (1974).

Lead singer Pearl E. Gates appeared with the Tubes and other groups before forming the Explosions.

Some albums and MP3s are available from Amazon.

      
Cumberland Three

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The Cumberland Three: The Risin' Canal
Along the Colorado Trail

In the wake of the Kingston Trio, folk groups proliferated in the late 1950s and early '60s. A few, like the Smothers Brothers and the Limeliters gained fame on their own; others, like the Cumberland Three and the Coachmen (next artist below) made a brief splash and quietly disappeared. One member of the Cumberland Three did OK, however - co-founder John Stewart moved on to the Kingston Trio when this group folded after a year.

The first selection here was known to me as long as I can remember as "The Erie Canal," but by any name it's one of those good old folk songs whose origin is lost in the past.

Several CDs are available from Amazon.

      
The Coachmen

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The Coachmen: The Little Land

The Coachmen were pretty far down in the list of obscure folk groups. Their existence is acknowledged on All Music Guide, but there's no biographical information. The album notes reveal that they are from San Francisco. Recently a nephew of one of the members told me his uncle was drafted, and that brought an end to the group.

The song here is one I've heard done by several groups; this was the first version I heard, and it remains a favorite.

Despite their less than stellar career, at least one CD is available from Amazon.

     
Big Daddy

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Big Daddy: Safety Dance
Girls Just Want to Have Fun

When Big Daddy sang the big hits of the 80s, it sometimes sounded like they were recording back in the 50s - which was exactly the point. "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" threatens to turn into "The Duke of Earl," while "Safety Dance" reveals its debt to "The Twist." A similar mix runs through all their work.

Since so much time has passed since they first made these recordings, listening is a double blast from the past.

An MP3 album at Amazon offers their versions of some newer songs, including "Money for Nothing" and "Welcome to the Jungle."

     
Great White Wonder album label

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Bob Dylan: Talkin' John Birch Society

It's hard to think of Dylan as "obscure," but the album shown definitely fits that category. This song will bring back memories for those who remember the ultra-conservative John Birch Society. It's from a double bootleg LP, Great White Wonder, which includes material later released commercially as "The Basement Tapes," as well as assorted live performances and other outtakes.

Of course, there are zillions of Dylan items for sale at Amazon, but you can probably only find this album at the Clovis Antique Mall, where I sold my copy a few years ago.

    
Flash Cadillac LP

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Flash Cadillac: Cryin' in the Rain
Teenage Eyes

Flash Cadillac & the Continental Kids may not be obscure, but they are definitely "off the wall."

In recreating hits of the 50s and 60s, they had their own approach - not trying to reproduce the originals, not really paying tribute - just doing them in their own goofball way. They had a short-lived but enjoyable TV show back in the day, but you would be hard pressed to find anyone under 40 who knows who they are (or were).

CDs, vinyl and MP3s are available from Amazon.

        

Off the Wall Page 2     Page 3     Page 4

Jan & Kjeld

Jan & Kjeld

 

Lou Carter

Lou Carter

 

Red Ingle Cover

Red Ingle

 

McKendree Spring

McKendree Spring

 

Liberty Bluegrass Boys

Liberty Bluegrass Boys

 

Valley Grown

Valley Grown

 

Pearl Harbor & the Explosions

Pearl Harbor & The Explosions

 

Cumberland Three

The Cumberland Three

 

Big Daddy

Big Daddy

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Updated November 10, 2017