Monday, April 29, 2013

Tommy Roe - Sheila!

Life was great for Tommy Roe in early 1963, having a hit single with Sheila and getting ready to begin a UK tour sharing top of the bill with fellow American singer Chris Montez who was supporting his hit single Let's Dance. Little did Tommy know that the ‘up and coming’ band signed a month earlier to open the tour had just released a fairly big single themselves and would upstage the two leading acts! After the first night of the tour, Tommy agreed to let the opening band close the show for the remainder of the tour. It would soon be well known that nobody could follow The Beatles.


If an artist was to be upstaged by anybody, The Beatles would have to be the most forgiving. But let’s forget about The Beatles for a moment and concentrate on this catchy single that started it all for Roe called Sheila.

Tommy Roe was born in Athens, Georgia. He started playing and performing music at the age of fourteen performing at high school dances and parties. Eventually, he ventured to record a song he had written called Sheila for a small record label called Judd Records. Once ABC got wind of this song, they signed Tommy Roe to their label and re-recorded the track for their own release. Sheila went on to be a smash hit reaching number 1 on the charts in Canada, USA and Austrialia and number 3 in the UK.
I’m a little stuck in the middle on my thoughts of this song. Sure it has a great catchy drum beat, steady rhythm guitar and fun lyrics, but it’s hard to not hear Buddy Holly’s Peggy Sue throughout this single. Now I know it is well documented that it was heavily influenced by Peggy Sue, but this is an understatement. The similarities between the two are uncanny, if this single was released in today’s lawyer heavy world then a lawsuit would be sure to follow.

But in Tommy Roe’s defense, I’m sure he was just trying to give the audience what they wanted to hear and he didn’t have as much inspiration in the early 60’s like he would today. Regardless, originality definitely wasn’t there, but it's a catchy song nonetheless.

The original US pressing of this single would be on the ABC label with Save Your Kisses as the ‘B’ side. My copy is on the Canadian shadow label Sparton who pressed records for ABC until 1969. Sparton labels were fuchsia with black print for most of the 60’s (like my copy of Tommy Roe’s 1964 single Everybody shown below) switching to a yellow label in 1969. This makes my copy of Sheila a 1969 re-release.

The rest is history; Tommy went on to have a few more hit singles including the songs Everybody, Sweet Pea and Hoorway for Hazel and his last big hit Dizzy in 1969. He continued recording for twenty more years after Dizzy but failed to top the charts. A pretty impressive career on it's own, but he will go down in history as the man that The Beatles opened for on March 9, 1963.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Johnny Cash - Orange Blossom Special!

I’m always excited to find Johnny Cash records when hunting for vinyl and luckily in a recent dig I found a copy of the single Orange Blossom Special. Having only been familiar with Johnny Cash’s live version of this song on the At Folsom Prison LP, I was excited to hear his studio recording of this song.

Orange Blossom Special was written by Ervin T. Rouse in 1938 and originally recorded with Ervin and his brother Gordon Rouse in 1939. People like me who are only familiar with Johnny Cash’s version know it as a harmonica heavy song. The original, however, was recorded an instrumental with the fiddle as the lead instrument even though Ervin had written lyrics. This original version is also quite a bit faster than Cash’s version, making it a pretty catchy bluegrass number. The fiddle imitates the sound of a train which I’m sure played a part in Cash covering the song, hence the whole “steady as a train” style he will always be remembered for.

On the At Folsom Prison live version Johnny Cash continuously blows two harmonicas from left to right up the scales back to back, there was no real skill in this harmonica playing but it was the novelty effect that was appealing. In this studio version, the harmonica is played much more complex (played by Charlie McCoy rather than Cash) and it gives it a more detailed sound.

Along with the harmonica, there is a saxophone present being played by Boots Randolph. Boots was well known as a part of the Nashville sound, recording with artists such as Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis and even REO Speedwagon. I wasn’t familiar with Boots’ work until I recently picked up a few of his albums in a collection which coincidentally also included this Orange Blossom Special single. It’s funny how I never hear of someone like Boots and then his name turns up continuously.
This is the American pressing label (not my copy). The Canadian label is identical except the color.

This is an original 1965 Canadian pressing of the single with Cash’s All Of God’s Children Ain’t Free song on the ‘B’ side. Columbia used this orange label starting in 1960. Aside from the color, this label is identical to the red US label used at this time. In my collection, the only thing better than an original pressing is an original Canadian pressing! It may not be a rare single, but important nonetheless being one of Johnny Cash’s best covers and most well-known songs.





Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Rooftop Singers - Walk Right In!

The Rooftop Singers were a folk trio in the 1960’s consisting of Erik Darling, Bill Svanoe and Lynne Taylor. They are most remembered for the single Walk Right In. Besides it just being their first big hit, it was also the first song they recorded together and the entire reason that they formed the group.


Erik Darling (formerly of The Weavers) liked the song Walk Right In which was written and originally recorded by Gus Cannon in 1929. He wanted to record his own version of this song adding harmony singing. This is the reason that he recruited Bill and Lynne, just to record the harmony for this single. The trio were a good fit and they went on to record a full album (titled Walk Right In).

After the success of this single, The Rooftop Singers recorded a total of three LP’s before calling it quits: Walk Right In (1963), Good Time! (1964) and Rainy River (1965).  Lynne was only involved in the first two albums and then was replaced by Mindy Stuart for Rainy River.
The single Walk Right In (B side is a cover of the Bob Nolan song Cool Water) was released on Vanguard Records, an independent label formed in New York in 1953. It began as a classical label but evolved into other genres, and became a fairly big name in folk music. Vanguard released records from Joan Baez, Country Joe and the Fish, Ian and Sylvia, etc… Vanguard still exists today, you can check out their website at

This copy of Walk Right In is on the shadow label Encore Records. On the label it says “by arrangement with Vanguard Recording Society Inc.” A shadow label (Encore) is a label that another label (Vanguard) made an arrangement with to press and release their records in another location (Canada). They are still technically original pressings, just pressed at a different plant and with a different label.

This is a nice little piece of music history. The Rooftop Singers were short-lived and considered an early one hit wonder but regardless, it’s a great cover of a classic song. Check it out on the video below.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Quiet Parade - Old Haunts - review!

“One by one all the children are leaving/they’ve got no reason to stay/in this tiny little town on the edge of the ocean/it’s starting to lose its way”
These lyrics are from Edge Of The Ocean, one of the five great songs by Yarmouth’s Quiet Parade’s brand new EP called Old Haunts. They sum up the mood of this EP nicely, songs about struggling small towns, saying goodbye to friends, moving to bigger and better places and slowly losing touch with these friends. It’s not hard for many of us East Coasters to relate. Sure, it may be a sad topic for some, but somehow they give it a positive twist.

Old Haunts began when Trevor Murphy (formerly of Sleepless Night and The Establishment) looked to record a solo album. He started jamming with his band Quiet Parade and before he knew it his solo effort turned into another great band effort. Quiet Parade consists of Trevor singing lead vocals and playing guitar; Jay Methot on guitar, Anthony Phillips on bass, Josh Pothier on drums and Julia Weir on piano. These five are not just good, they excel at their instruments. The talent is evident on each song and it’s something fellow musicians can appreciate. Nothing is done the easy way, but instead all members continuously take chances with their instruments and it pays off. Sure it sounds amazing, but it’s the originality than excites me. Now of course Quiet Parade is not new to the scene, having released a handful of singles, as well as two prior EP’s and two prior albums.
The last three years Quiet Parade was voted the Best Band To Listen To Quietly by The Coasts Best Of Music Readers Poll, so I went into this with the expectation of light elevator music or jazz. To my surprise, the album began with a rocking song called Ghosts that was full of energy. Sure the songs may have slowed down a bit throughout the album, but I would definitely not call it quiet. Five strong songs, more than one would expect in a full length album.

This album is produced by Daniel Ledwell, whose recent work included the ECMA 2013 pop recording of the year album The Beautiful Wild by Jenn Grant (Daniel is also the keyboard player for In Flight Safety). Daniel is quickly becoming my producer of choice for these East Coast indie bands by making them all sound amazing and really setting the bar for sound on these smaller releases.

Jenn Grant herself makes a few appearances in this album, singing backup on Ghosts and How Come You Never Call. A ton of action is going on with this short five song EP.

Be sure to check out Quiet Parades bandcamp page at They have loads of free downloads, plus their past few albums and EP’s available for purchase (name your price). Also be sure to pick up a copy of this great new EP on CD or digital for only $5. The only thing missing by Quiet Parade so far is vinyl releases, and here’s hoping they grant us this in the near future!


Friday, April 12, 2013

Bete Smith - Interview!

Up next for our collector interviews we have local artist Bete Smith. Bete has loads of cool hip hop albums along with a great collection of local indie music. I have been after Bete for a long time to get this interview and it was sure worth the wait. Also be sure to check out Bete Smith's great new songs from his upcoming EP Foxwitches on Soundcloud by clicking HERE!


Introduce yourself!

Name: Bete Smith

City/Town: Fredericton, NB

Maritime Vinyl (MV) - What do you collect? Vinyl; CD’s; Cassettes; 8 tracks; bootlegs; music memorabilia; magazine; etc..

Bete Smith (BS) - Mainly vinyl, though I do have a small bunch of EPs and albums on CD simply because the music isn’t available on vinyl.

Canadian indie LPs: records by bands I know – C’Mon, …And the Saga Continues, and Hard Charger (my brother Tom’s band)

MV - Do you prefer one audio format more than others? (example: vinyl more than cd’s)

BS - I prefer vinyl, for a few reasons.  To me, the large jacket and artwork make records feel simultaneously more delicate and more official, if that makes any sense.  Vinyl just seems like it’s worth archiving and caring for, whereas a CD could be left under the floor mat of your car for six months and still look/sound the same when you re-discover it.

C’Mon colored: “Bottled Lightning of an All-Time High” LP by C’Mon, with screen-printed sleeve and insert
I also like being able to see the grooves in the record, especially since this can be a fun way of discovering the instrumental breaks or interludes on a record without ever putting the needle to the vinyl.  Can’t say that about any other format.


MV - How big is your collection?

BS - Approximately 200 vinyl records, a few 7” singles and about 50 CDs.

MF Doom LPs: “MM…Food” by MF Doom, “The Mouse and the Mask” by Dangerdoom, and “Madvillainy” by Madvillain

MV - Do you concentrate your collection on one or more artists in particular?

BS - My goal is to eventually possess my favorite album (or 2) of each of my favorite artists.  However, there are a few artists who make a larger “contribution” to my collection: Prince, High on Fire, Flying Lotus and Stevie Wonder, to name a few.


MV - What is the first album you remember purchasing? Do you still have it?

BS - The first album I remember purchasing is a cassette of the soundtrack to the movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Good stuff on there – very much of its time, with the new jack swing sound.

Mastodon colored: “Leviathan” LP by Mastodon

However, the first album I bought which really made a difference in my life as a musician and music lover is the album “Lethal Injection” by Ice Cube.  I bought the cassette while on a trip to the US with my elementary school band.  I was nearly eleven years old and convinced one of the chaperones on the trip to take me to the Sam Goody store in this strip mall while the other kids ate lunch at McDonalds. 

Iron Fist seven inch: a split 7” record released by my former band, Iron Fist, along with tunes from Hard Charger

That tape opened my eyes to a type of music that I hadn’t been exposed to at that time, even though I had been listening to a lot of what radio called “urban” music for the previous couple of years.  This stuff definitely wasn’t getting any air time in Atlantic Canada, so it was brand new to me. 

Hip hop LPs: “Desire” and “We Are Renegades” by Pharoahe Monch and “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” by Public Enemy

I refused to let the other kids listen to the tape on my Walkman, because I knew they couldn’t handle the lyrical content and would rat on me to their parents or to one of the chaperones.  So, I spent most of the week-long trip studying that Ice Cube tape and wondering what else I had been missing.


MV - What is your favorite item in your collection?

BS - Two records come to mind, neither of which is particularly rare or valuable, and both of which I purchased this year.

“Voodoo” by D’Angelo stands out because I’ve wanted the record for years but it hadn’t been reissued on vinyl since its release in January 2000 (I believe only 500 were originally pressed, which isn’t a whole lot for a multi-platinum selling album) and copies were going for over $100 on eBay.  It was rereleased in December 2012 with new liner notes on nice, heavy vinyl and it sounds great. 

High on Fire colored: my favorite LP of all time, “The Art of Self Defense” by High on Fire

The other is “The Art of Self Defense” by High on Fire.  This one was reissued a couple of times over the years but I didn’t like the way it had been done, with new artwork, etc, and it was still hard to find on ebay, etc.  It was reissued in 2012 by Southern Lord records, who did a great job of remastering the album and collecting the original album demos, as well as a couple of bonus tracks from the first reissue.  It was pressed on double vinyl (some are colored – I got the brown version) and it sounds amazing.  This is my #1 favorite album of all time.  To my ears, it’s the heaviest music ever put to record.


MV - Do you still actively collect or was this something you concentrated on in the past?

BS - I still actively collect, but I try not to go overboard with spending.  On average, I probably buy 1-2 records per month.  Sometimes more, if I find some interesting stuff at the flea market or something.


Evidence colored: “Cats and Dogs” double LP by Evidence

MV - What is your preferred way of adding to your collection? Shopping online? Flea Markets? Independent music stores? Etc… Any favourite store or websites?

BS - I really like spending my money at independent stores, but find that they often don’t have what I’m looking for, and special orders for records from the UK, reissues from the US, etc, can take a long time to arrive, if they ever do.

Most of the time I buy from, because the prices are good, the shipping is cheap (often free) and they often re-stock hard to find items that go out of print quickly upon release.

Flea markets are great for finding strange and unusual records, which is great for me as I like to search for “sampler fodder” for making tunes on my computer.  The weirder the record, the better, as I like to sample from material that almost no one would recognize, even before I do my thing and chop it all up, rearrange it, change the pitch, the speed, whatever.


MV - How do you store your collection? Shelves? Boxes? Your attic?

BS - I store my records on a shelf that my dad made while he was in shop class in high school.  The shelf has some miles on it, but I have no intention of ever using anything else to store my records.


MV - Does your significant other support your collection? Did you have to convince him/her?

BS - My wife supports my collection, though she would usually prefer to listen to music on her laptop.  She has good taste, though, and can appreciate when I finally get my hands on something I’ve been looking out for.


MV - What is on your “wish list” at the moment?

BS - I’m looking out for a couple of things by Curtis Mayfield (Curtis, Superfly), as well as the Kinks (Village Green, Something Else, Arthur).  Mainly, though, I’d like to get my hands on “The Cold Vein” by a hip hop group called Cannibal Ox. 

Heavy LPs: “De Vermis Mysteriis” and “The Art of Self Defense” by High on Fire and “Leviathan” by Mastodon

MV - Do you ever miss the days when it was a challenge to buy some albums? Now you can find virtually anything online! Is it getting too easy?

BS - I’m glad it’s getting easier to find things on vinyl.  Just wish I had more places, locally, where I could search for odd, used records.  Bargain bin stuff.


MV - Do you know any other collectors?

BS - I know a few collectors, but rarely get a chance to flip through their collections.  I honestly don’t know what most of them collect.


MV - I have never met a “selective” collector quite like you before. Most people strive to have all the albums by an artist that they like, yet you always want a select few albums by any artist. What made you become such a minimalist when it comes to collecting?

BS - This mostly comes down to my eclectic taste in music (and all things, really).  I enjoy so many different styles of music that I don’t have a lot of time to spend on any one type.  So, I usually have a few “go-to” albums for any given mood I may be in.  A few heavy records, a few blues, a few soft R&B, a few funky R&B, hard hip hop, “out there” hip hop, etc. 

If I had a massive collection of any one artist’s stuff, I would still only reach for my 3 or 4 favorite records by that artist.


MV - I know that home recording is a big passion of yours. What would you classify your home recordings as? (rock? Techno? Electronic? Jazz?)

My music covers a lot of different styles, but mainly I’d say it’s in the hip hop vein, with some influences from house and psychedelic rock sneaking in there.  Sounds weird, but I think it works. 


MV - Do you ever use samples from vinyl records in your songs?

BS - Most of my tunes include samples, though I make a point of never just looping a portion of a record (many of my favorite hip hop records were made this way, so no disrespect).  I prefer to choose a section of a record, chop it up into pieces and then play the different little “slices” on my MIDI keyboard, so that I can rearrange the tune and make it my own, so to speak.  Some of my tunes use a few portions of the same record, filtered and then layered over one another; while others include samples from several different records. 

Rare finds: rare import LPs collected for sampling

MV - Does vinyl have any advantage over digital when you are using samples for recordings?

BS - Everything I use is edited in the computer anyway, so the only difference for me is the added noise (warmth?) that you get from using certain records, which can add character to feel of a tune.  Crackle, hiss, the sound of the needle dropping onto the table – these can all add character to a tune.


MV - Do 45’s give you more of an advantage over LP’s? (or vice versa)

BS - I don’t really have a preference, though I know a lot of serious record diggers would tell you that 45s are where it’s at due to the number of rare drum breaks that are only available on 45.


MV - Do you submit your recordings to labels or upload them to websites? Or are you home recordings private?

BS - My stuff isn’t intentionally private, but I haven’t actually shared any of it publically.  I plan on doing so in the near future, though. (UPDATE - some songs now available)


MV - How did you get introduced to home recording?

BS - My first exposure to this stuff was in the production studio at a local radio station.  My dad would work on various things for the stations and I would sit in with him and watch what was going on.  Sometimes I would help with manual cues on tape reels, sound fx CDs, etc.  This was all before computer automation became an industry standard, so it helped to have an extra set of hands in the studio.

The other person who really influenced me is my friend Dave, who I played with in a band for six or seven years.  Dave would record all of our EPS and albums onto his computer and then we would all sit down and work out the mixing stage together.  That taught me a lot about equipment, mixing, and most of all the ease with which you could learn to create your own recordings without any outside help or influence.


MV - I imagine your recording skills have grown a lot over the years. Where do you learn new techniques and ideas?

BS - Most of my early-stages learning was derived from reading online production forums and watching tutorials on Youtube.  Over the past couple of years I’ve learned a lot more from experimentation.  It also helps to choose a few favorite albums from different genres and decide what it is about the production on that particular record that you like or dislike.  My focus for the past 12 months has been working understanding the processes that went into creating my favorite hip hop LPS circa 1988-1996.  


MV - Does getting into home recording require a large financial investment?

BS - Of course you would need to invest in a few things to start off, but you could certainly choose a more expensive hobby than music production.  The money required really depends on what type of recording you would like to get into.  To make electronic music on the computer, for instance, you would primarily need a decent computer, DAW (digital audio workstation) software, something for monitoring your audio (decent studio headphones for beginners, near-field studio monitors for advanced mixing) and it helps to have a MIDI keyboard, to avoid having to try and play your laptop or computer keyboard like an instrument.


MV - You introduced me to some albums that I would not have normally picked up in the past, for example the “Flying Lotus” album (see review here). Do you have any obscure albums that you would recommend to our readers to check out that fall under a similar category as “Flying Lotus”?

BS - If anyone is interested in checking out Flying Lotus, I always recommend the “Los Angeles” LP.  That one is just gorgeous-sounding but it also hits you in the gut if you play it loud.

Flying Lotus LPs: When the Quiet Comes, Cosmogramma, and Los Angeles

It’s hard to think of any similar-sounding albums, so I’ll just recommend a few others that possess that combination of beautiful melody and powerful impact:

Actress – “Splazsh”

Shabazz Palaces – “Black Up”

TV on the Radio – “Return to Cookie Mountain”

Burial – “Untrue”

Outkast – “Aquemini”

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Steven Tyler - Does The Noise In My Head Bother You? - review!


Steven Tyler’s autobiography “Does The Noise In My Head Bother You?“ was a hard book to put down. I guess it’s easy to keep it interesting with a life like his! There is plenty to cover: he has consumed more drugs than some would think is humanly possible (he even smoked a plastic comb); he “entertained” an endless line of beautiful women; he wrote/recorded/performed some of the most recognized rock songs; and he has a fan base that stretches through every living generation.

His story is told in his own poetic way: full of rhymes, slang and vulgarity which works perfectly. It’s as if he has told this story in an interview and it was transcribed on paper, it’s not the typical “rock stars thinking that they are journalists” approach. Tyler plays with your emotions making you cry telling of when his mother passed, but more often you will be laughing at his priceless reckless stories, especially when told in his style.

He covers everything in this memoir, not dwelling on any of the boring details of his childhood, but instead quickly jumps to his music career which began as a teenager. Having spent more of his life on drugs than sober is not something that he is proud of but, he doesn’t shy away from his troubled past either. He has battled his addiction through various rehabs numerous times, always in the public eye but, owns up to his mistakes and keeps his head held high.

Tyler has been the source of many rumors and stories in the tabloids and he confronts most head on and puts any misconceptions to rest. Was he on drugs when he jumped on stage during Joe Perry’s gig in 2009? Yep! Did he keep it a secret from the rest of the band that he was going to join American Idol? You bet! You don’t have to like what decisions he made in his life, or agree with his direction for the future, but at least he gives us his side of the story with honesty and reasoning.

This book gave him the opportunity to dump all kinds of juicy secrets about his fellow band members but instead, he takes the high road and always leaves a level of the unknown. He tells us of many of their troubles and addictions but avoids singling anyone out. This is the story of Steven Tyler, not Aerosmith.

I highly recommend this music memoir. It was an easy read, yet still full of detail. He never lets you get bored and holds nothing back. Steven Tyler lives the rock star life that most people only dream of living and he never acts as if he took it for granted.





Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sound City - review!


I have to admit that I wasn’t as excited for the Sound City documentary as most music fans. It was just so hyped up that it seemed impossible to live up to my expectations. Regardless, I gave it a shot, went in with an open mind and I was not disappointed. I really liked it!

This documentary is split into two parts. The first half is the history of the Sound City recording studio. It revisits many of the classic albums that were recorded at this facility. Some of the albums are by artists such as Rick Springfield, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash, Nirvana and Rage Against the Machine.

When Sound City studio was created, its sole purpose was to record the best albums by the best artists. In order to achieve this goal, they knew that they would require the absolute best equipment for production. Now, appearance-wise Sound City was described as a total dump. It had grungy second hand furniture, shag carpet on the walls and empty bottles and cigarette butts everywhere. Sure, they didn’t spend money on quality furniture and soap but, the appearance of this building would prove to be irrelevant. Instead, all of the money was invested in the equipment, particularly the neve console sound board. This proved to be a successful approach since the walls were full of platinum records.

The sound quality of this studio was successful in attracting the best artists. This resulted in some pretty significant events in music history taking place at Sound City:

-          It was the Sound City studio that Mick Fleetwood was scoping out to record the next Fleetwood Mac album. He was shown an example of the studio’s work by playing back a new album they had recorded by the band Buckingham Nicks and of course, the rest is history. Besides choosing Sound City to record the next Fleetwood Mac album he also asked Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks of Buckingham Nicks to join Fleetwood Mac.

-          Neil Young decided to try out Sound City. When he recorded the vocals for the song Birds he loved the sound so much that he re-recorded all of the vocals on the current album he was working on called After the Gold Rush.

This is just a taste of some of the events that happened here at the studio. Sure, all of these events are not directly tied to the neve console and the sound quality, but indirectly they are. None of these great artists would have been at this trashy studio had it not been producing such great sound.

The second half of this documentary is after Sound City had closed down; Dave Grohl (of the Foo Fighters) bought the legendary neve console and installed it in his own studio. He gathered many of his famous friends and recorded a new album using the vintage equipment.

The accompanying album for Sound City is a fun listen. It’s cool to hear Rick Springfield perform a full out rock song on The Man That Never Was, great to hear Stevie Nicks sing again on You Can’t Fix This and it was very cool hearing Paul McCartney playing with the surviving members of Nirvana on Cut Me Some Slack. It’s a fun album to hear but it’s nothing that will have any lasting effect on me. It is lacking feeling. The sole purpose of this album was to record using the legendary equipment.  These songs were written for the purpose of recording this album and sound rushed, lacking any great lyrics. It’s cool to see this all-star lineup record together, and it’s great that they are using this legendary gear but, it failed to achieve anything special.  

Overall, the Sound City documentary was a great film and I highly recommend it to all of my analog friends. The album is fun listen but only when accompanied by the documentary giving it some purpose.