One of the fun things about record collecting is that it's a very mobile hobby -- at least as long as physically moving a collection is not involved. After more than a century of disc production, they tend to still turn up nearly anywhere.
Sometimes the records even do some traveling in an attempt to find a new home, by gathering at a sellers' convention. Last week I traveled with some friends to the recurring show/sale at
No, Simon's not saying anything doomy about breaking up or crashing his motorcycle. This one's an early effort by the Shangri-Las, with the group largely just calling out dances from the era. The flip sounds like the same backing track with the lead vocal removed and a bunch of honking sax added. It's not the same song that was later a hit for the 1910 Fruitgum Company. (Smash 1866, 1963)
Little Richard -- "I Don't Know What You Got But It's Got Me (Pts. 1 & 2)"
Mr. Penniman rarely had trouble adapting his musical style to the sound of the day. This mid-'60s release, released near the end for Chicago's venerable Vee Jay label, finds him emulating the sound of Stax/Volt a bit before it really began crossing over to the pop charts in a big way. The guitar was courtesy of a pre-Experience Jimi Hendrix, though there's no fireworks on display. (Vee Jay 698, 1965)
The Royalettes -- "It's a Big Mistake"/"It's Better Not to Know"
Due to their name I'd always thought this group was MGM's attempt to answer to the huge success of the Supremes, and maybe on a superficial level it was. But their lone medium-sized hit, "It's Gonna Take a Miracle," and the follow-ups sound more like a female version of Little Anthony & the Imperials. The label copy reveals this is due to the involvement of Teddy Randazzo, also the architect of the Imperials uptown soul sound. Of the four I snagged at the show, "It's a Big Mistake" is probably the best, toning down the strings a tad and adding other instrumental flourishes. Unfortunately, these singles are all surprisingly trashed for non-hits. (MGM 13507, 1966)
The Stratfords -- "Never Leave Me"/"Enaj"
This one was a total mystery when I picked it up, and I was expecting doo wop; the label is distributed by Herald/Ember, and the typeface looks straight out of the 1950s. However, it's a Dick and Dee Dee/Dale & Grace-style vocal duet, with a surf-meets-the-Tijuana Brass instrumental flip. From what I can gather searching online, this was actually a gigantic radio hit in Baltimore. (O'Dell 100, 1964)
The Music Explosion -- "Where Are We Going"/"Flash"
The Music Explosion was another one of those groups who came out of nowhere (well, Ohio) with one major hit and lower-charting follow up ("Little Bit of Soul" and "Sunshine Games") and a ton of later records that may or may not be connected to the original group, courtesy of the machinations of the Kasenetz-Katz bubblegum empire. "Where Are We Going" is a pretty nifty sort of garage-soul number and sounds like it could be the real group; the flip is one of K&K's patented backwards B-sides. (Laurie 3440, 1968)
Chris Montez -- "(Let's Do) The Limbo"/"Rockin' Blues"
This is one of the non-charting successors to his monster hit "Let's Dance." The top side's Chubby Checker-via-Montez, but the flip side is indeed rockin'. (Monogram 508, 1963)
Little Johnny Taylor "You'll Need Another Favor"/"What You Need is a Ball"
"You'll Need Another Favor" was Taylor's first single for the Galaxy label, and this slow blues was also one of his first successes on the R&B charts. It's stylistically similar to the monster hit "Part Time Love," which was his next release and also a big pop chart hit. I like the double entendre-laced, somewhat vocal group-style flip side better. (Galaxy 718, 1963)
Arthur Conley -- "Walking on Eggs"/"More Sweet Soul Music"
I generally pick up anything by this underrated soul singer. This is a later effort, and is additionally notable because both sides are produced, arranged and co-written by Jerry Williams Jr., better known as R&B maverick Swamp Dogg. The excellent mid-tempo "Walking on Eggs" later was recorded by the Dogg himself on his "Finally Caught Up With Myself" album. (Capricorn 0001, 1972)
C and the Shells -- "I've Fallen in Love"/"You are the Circus"
Because one Dogg's not enough, here's another writing/producing effort featuring his usual method of turning what the listener may expect upside down (for example, the follow-up lyric to "I've Fallen in Love" is "with a married man."). Some internet searching uncovers the fact that this group was formerly the Sandpebbles ... who were Calla Records labelmates with "Little Jerry Williams." This record is kinda beat as well, so I'll be searching for a better copy! (Cotillion 44024, 1969)
Don Covay -- "Shingaling '67"/"I Was There"
Another underappreciated soul performer and songwriter, Don Covay only intermittently had hit records under his own name during a recording career stretching back to the mid-1950s. "Shingaling '67" is what one would expect, a soul dancer, albeit with a midtempo groove, and proved to be a minor R&B chart hit. The gospel-tinged flip is much more serious, a tale of love and murder. (Atlantic 2375, 1967)
Sam & Dave -- "A Place Nobody Can Find"/"Goodnight Baby"
Despite what I'd heard with my own ears in the past -- middling country -- I'd read the Sims label out of Nashville also put out some good soul records, so I took a flyer on this one. Holy cow. "You Put Your Touch on Me" is a great Southern soul ballad, and the flip is no slouch either. I guess I have to stop ignoring Sims records now. (Sims 317, 1967)
The Hillsiders -- "Rain is a Lonesome Thing"/"You Only Pass This Way One Time"
One of the last records released on Motown's unsuccessful country/rock offshoot, Mel-O-Dy. This record exhibits the same sort of inability to definitively pick one style or the other as many of the other singles on the label do, with both sides falling somewhere in the middle -- though "Rain is a Lonesome Thing" does manage to get pretty close to a countrypolitan sound, despite that booming Motown bass. (Mel-O-Dy 120, 1965)
Gamma Goochee, Himself -- "(You Got) The Gamma Goochee"/"Gonna Buy Me a Dog"
I've seen this record mentioned before, usually because the B-side was covered/destroyed by the Monkees on their first album, but never actually seen a copy. It turns out at one point "Gonna Buy Me a Dog" was an actual song. Even better is the topside, a fun frat-rock stomper that can't even be ruined by child vocals at the end.(Colpix 786, 1965)