Posts by Patrick Harrington

“(He’s Our Dear Old) Weatherman” comes from Mark Wirtz’s Teenage Opera, which he began working on in 1967 but which was not released in its entirety until 1996. Wirtz began the project while working as a producer for EMI and tapped members of the band Tomorrow, including guitarist Steve Howe, along with the children’s chorus from Corona Stage School to record it. In 1967 he released one 7” of material from the opera, which nearly topped the charts in the U.K., but he was unable to convince EMI to continue financing the project and he ultimately left the label in 1969. He continued working on the project and the full soundtrack, including “Weatherman,” was released in 1996 by RPM Records as A Teenage Opera. Wirtz continues to record and produce, releasing Lost Pets 2 in 2010.

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“Memories” is the first track off Red Dirt’s 1970 self-titled release on Fontana Records. While the album received little attention at the time, the group’s blend of blues rock with prog and country influences has made it a hot commodity for collectors, with the original pressing going for as much as £600. In 2010, Morgan Blue Town reissued the album with five bonus tracks and featured “Memories” on their Truly, This Must be Heaven compilation. After the group disbanded, producer Geoff Gill and guitarist Steve Howden joined Fickle Pickle, who released one album, Sinful Skinful, on the Dutch label Explosion a little later in 1970.

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Red Dirt - Red Dirt

In 1937, Austin Powell, lead singer of the Harlem Harmony Hounds (actually based out of Chicago), joined another Chicago trio comprising Jimmy Henderson, Chuck Barksdale, and Ernie Price to form The Cats and the Fiddle. They first appeared as extras in various films before serving as the backing group for The Dandridge Sisters on the song “Harlem Yodel” in the 1938 short film “Snow Gets In Your Eyes.” Through their film appearances they were able to secure recording time at Bluebird Record’s Chicago studio and recorded eighteen tracks in two marathon sessions. Henderson, who led and composed “I Miss You So,” died in 1940 just as the song was starting to get significant radio attention and the group disbanded in 1951, though by then Powell was the only remaining member of the original lineup. “I Miss You So” can be found on Bear Family Records’ 2012 Street Corner Symphonies: The Complete Story of Doo Wop compilation as well as We Cats Will Sing for You Vol. 1 1939-1940 released by Acrobat Music in 2007.

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The Cats and the Fiddle - We Cats Will Sing For You, Vol 1

Following Morris Day’s departure in 1984, Prince approached the remaining members of The Time and convinced them to form The Family with his then-fiancé Susannah Melvoin (twin sister of Revolution guitarist Wendy Melvoin) and Eric Leeds. “Yes” comes off their self-titled album, put out on Prince’s Paisley Park Records in 1985. Though Prince wrote and performed most of the tracks himself, “Yes” was one of the first collaborations between Prince and Leeds, who would later form Prince’s jazz-fusion project Madhouse. The group released only one single, an extended version of “The Screams of Passion,” and gave only one public performance before disbanding, with singer St. Paul going on to a solo career and the remaining members joining an expanded Revolution. Leeds continued to work with Prince after break-up of The Revolution and released his solo album, Times Squared, on Paisley Park in 1991. The group reunited in 2007 and continues to perform and record under the name fDeluxe.

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The Family - The Family

Composer Sohichiro Suzuki began releasing instrumental music as World Standard in 1985. “The Lonely Driver 1952” comes from his 1997 album Country Gazette, which was produced by Haruomi Hosono and released on Hosono’s Daisyworld Records. Country Gazette is the first volume of a three-part Discovering America series, which arose out of Suzuki’s interest in combining electronics with the sound of ’60s American folk music. According to the liner notes, Country Gazette was inspired by John Fahey and attempts “to take us to nowhere on the banjo sound.” In addition to his releases as World Standard, Suzuki has put out three albums under the name Everything Play, and he collaborated with Hosono on the soundtrack to the Japanese film Gu Gu the Cat. Though Suzuki records many of the instruments himself, he also takes advantage of a backing group for live performances that features Hosono’s daughter, Mina.

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World Standard - Country Gazette