The Spoonful boxes were really unpicked... I could tell because there were copies of garage rock faves like Cannibal & the Headhunters "Land of a thouasand dances" and The Nightcrawlers "Little Black Egg." If I didn't already have them, or were still in the business of reselling records, I would've grabbed them! Here are the records I did buy, why I bought them, and what (if any) influence I think they'll have on my comics writing.
TEX WILLIAMS: The Big Man/Another Day, Another Dollar In the Hole
What sold me on picking it up was that it was Tex Williams (Presumably of "Smoke Smoke Smoke That Cigarette" fame.) and that it was a white label promo, meaning that it was part of a shorter run sent out out to radio stations and record shops as samples. The label on an actual retail release would have a colored label. For small labels like this it's entirely possible they never got enough interest to run retail copies.
The songs were OK on this. "The Big Man" is a gospel inspired narrative about a rebel rouser who thought he was a big man until he ran up against... y'know... The BIG MAN. The flip, "Another Day Another Dollar In the Hole" is a hobo anthem railing against the pressures that keep a vagabond in his untouchable caste. (The A side is a better song as far as listening goes, but as far as comic story inspiration I'm more likely to draw from the B. Being beaten into submission by a higher power isn't nearly as exciting to me as railing against social ills that his almighty doesn't seem to care much about.)
GENE SIMMONS: Good Ole Country Music/Music Row Sadie
The artist ended up not being super obscure. It's Gene Simmons who had a small rockabilly type hit with "Haunted House." The A-side is Chuck Berry's "Rock and Roll Music" rejiggered to be about 'Good Ole Country Music" in passable fashion. The B-Side is a sad ballad about the fall of "Music Row Sadie" which is kind of monotonous in tone and not a very good song.
The selling point for this record for me was actually the hand written note from the record distributor on the plain white sleeve. "We just picked up distribution on this. It has been out 3 or 4 weeks and has heavy airplay. Order from us. Thanks, Nationwide Sound" Its weird to me that they took the time to hand write a note, but signed it as a company. There's no name or phone number or address. The folks at Marco Records couldn't have ordered copies based on this note alone if they wanted to! I think there's a story about that somewhere... the world's worst record distro rep makes a deal with the devil would be the first thought, but that's ground I've more or less covered before. Mysterious record store distro rep drops off cursed record would be my second.
THE BYRDS: I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better/All I Really Want To Do
That said, I feel like that time and place would make an excellent setting for Nix Comics stories. It pretty much has every vice and social injustice imaginable. I often toss around the idea of a crime noir series based ona music industry insider detective named Jett Matthews. (One of which I already have half planned with the afforementioned Mr. Dockery, although that one was inspired by the book "Save the Last Dance for Satan" by Nick Tosches on Kicks Books and has more of an east coast vibe. I suppose there's no reason Jett will jump coasts down the road...)
BILL DEAL & THE RHONDELS: Swingin' Tight/Tuck's Theme
That shouldn't undermie how cool this record is, though. Bill Deal and the Rhodels were on the poppy end of the 60s "Blue eyed soul" subgenre. Their music tended to be up tempo and fun party songs and the two tracks on this record are no exception. I like both sides quite a bit. In partiucular, the B-Side "Tuck's Theme" a real nice sound-track-era Booker T & the MGs feel to it.
This may be one of the least inspired picture sleeves I have ever seen. Kind of a shame... Blurry blue faces don't sell records. Its weird, too, because the Heritage Record label is great looking. (The actual label poking out over the top of the pic sleeve here.) I wonder if they lost an art director somewhere along the line.
As far as story idseas go, I kind of have one in my head where it turns out that nonsensical band names like "Rhondels" and "Shondells" are actually part of a secret alien communication system. Its not fully developed.
ROY HEAD: I Want Some Action/I Miss You Baby
Buying a Roy Head single unheard is a bit of agamble. There are a lot of songs in Head's catalog similar in tone and quality to "Treat Her Right," but sadly there are also a lot of songs that are more in the realm of late era Charlie Rich "Most Beautiful Girl" elevator music and some lazy bluesy numbers that are just plain dull. I had high hopes for this one based on the title, which would seem to require energy... You can't get 'Action" lest you bring it, after all. Plus, it's on Mercury and I was thinking that this might be a record they ran out in hopes of appealing to the audience they already had with a post-King-records era James Brown on their roster.
I'm happy to report its a great record in that very vein. No comic ideas have sprouted from listening to it, but it's excellent soundtrack material.
P.J. PROBY: I Can't Make It Alone/If I Ruled The World
Another thing is... He looked really cool. A super photogenic dude who could tell a whole narartive with a glance. I love this picture sleeve where he is lying in the grass looking contemplative and vaguely sinister. Is he thinking about some lost love in a bucolic setting or is he lying in wait for a kidnapping victim among weeds on a lonely country road? It really could be either. For $2, this is a case where the sleeve made the purchase worthwhile. I could probably spin three or four stories from staring at this photo.
(I listened to the songs and they were miserable.)
DON GIBSON: Baby We're really In Love/So How Come (No One Loves Me)
And Gibson kicks a little butt on that cover, making it his own by playing with the melody and adding a wonderfully subtle steel guitar. Just enough to make it brand new song. Shame it was essentially a B-Side. The A-Side "So how Come (No One Loves Me)" is kind of forgettable.
This is another picture sleeve that lets the viewer make up little stories. I assume he's leaning on his guitar case on the way to a show. Or maybe on the way back form one. Don is reaching deep into into his pocket for... something. And what is up with them crazy pailey pants!!! He looks perplexed and annoyed. I have more questions than the record and picture combination can offer, so I'll just start fillingin the blanks myself.
(This was probably a stock photo that appeared on multiple sleeves. Unless your name was Elvis, RCA was pretty lazy in that respect. I have three different Marty Robbins 45s that all have the same portrait pic on them!)
WANDA JACKSON: Roll With the Tide/Tennessee Women's Prison
Spoonful had a bunch of Wanda Jackson 45s, but I was trying to limit myself to 10 record total on Friday and so only selected this one based on the lurid B-Side title. 'Tennessee Women's Prison" is a Mama-Said type regret ballad told from the perspective of a wayward girl who left home for trouble at the tender age of 14. It's gold. I hate to say it, but to me, the best Wanda Jackson songs are the bad girl ones... Like "Funnel of Love" and "This Gun Don't Care." There is obvious friction between good girl Wanda and vice inherent to the songs which brings a palapbly tense energy.
If I were to start doing a lot of rockstar bio comics, Wanda would be at the head of my list of artists whose stories need to be told.
BOB LUMAN: The Great Snowman/The Pig Latin Song
This record is a great example of why Luman never really caught on. Its really uneven from side to side. The A-Side is a Hank Snow-esque narration about "The Great Snowman" and one of the worst songs I've heard in recent times. The B-Side, which was (probably) more intentionally kitschy, harkens back to Luman's rockabilly roots in tempo and tone. It's also perfectly stupid, from the back up singers introing the song with 'Oink Oink" sung in harmony to the dead pan delivery of the chorus sung in pig latin by Luman. It's the kind of song that you giggle to while you play really loud at the end of a night to clear out a party full of people you don't like.
Apparently Brett (Spoonful's owner) had originally wanted $10 for this. 9It's in really nice shape) but gave up and threw it in the cheap bins. I never would've paiud $10 for this, so I'm glad he did!
MIGHTY SAM: Fannie Mae/badmouthin'
Also, it was on Amy Records, Lee Dorsey's label when he released 'Working In A Coal Mine" and "Ride The Pony." I figured this song would probably be similar in character. (Turned out it was a little more bluesy that Dorsey ever was. More like Clarence Carter's brand of upbeat blues.)
Besides Bad Mouthin', a slow lamentation of a love affair gone wrong which did not disappoint me, the flip "Fannie Mae" was a great little uptempo song, celebrating the titular gal.