Thursday, January 26, 2017

Request: Gravedigger V - The Mirror Cracked (Superb Garagerock US 1984)

Size: 141 MB
Bitrate: 256
Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
Artwork Included

Classic caveman garage rawk from San Diego. This CD combines their Voxx debut album with the live tracks, outtakes and demos from their later LP's "The Mirror Cracked", also on Voxx.

The Gravedigger Five was a garage rock revival band formed in 1984 in San Diego, California. The band was part of the Paisley Underground, a musical movement centered around Los Angeles, California, which referenced 1960s West Coast pop and garage rock. The band's lineup consisted of Leighton Koizumi on vocals and sound effects, Ted Friedman on lead guitar, John Hanrattie on rhythm guitar and backup vocals, Dave "The Animal" Anderson on drums and percussion, and originally Chris Gast, who was replaced on bass and backing vocals by Tom Ward. When the Gravedigger Five broke up, members of the band went on to form The Morlocks and Manual Scan.

The members of the Gravedigger Five began playing together around 1983, practicing under the name "The Shamen" in bassist Chris Gast's garage. The group began writing songs together while its members were still teenagers; lead singer Leighton Koizumi was only sixteen years old when the band began to perform. When the band eventually went on to play the Whiskey A Go Go, the band members had to wait outside between sets, as the members were too young to be in the club. The name "The Shamen" was abandoned after the group discovered that the name was already in use by another band, and so after a night of brainstorming, purportedly at a local Bob's Big Boy, the group renamed their band the Gravedigger Five, a take-off on the old "Monster Mash" backing group The Cryptkicker V. 

All Black and Hairy
After only a few performances the group caught the interest of Voxx Records owner Greg Shaw, who signed the band to his imprint in January, 1984. The band recorded their first LP the same year, sleeping together in a car in an alley adjacent to the studio while not recording. Their first LP, "All Black and Hairy," was released towards the end of 1984, but even before its release original bassist Chris Gast was ejected from the band as a result of his substance abuse problems. Shortly after Gast's dismissal the rest of the band fell apart and the group disbanded. The band released its entire catalogue posthumously. Following the breakup of the band, Voxx released the band's first LP, "All Black and Hairy," in 1984. 

The Mirror Cracked
In 1987, three years after the breakup of the band, Voxx Records released a second Gravedigger Five LP. Under the title "The Mirror Cracked," Voxx packaged a number of unreleased All Black and Hairy session tracks, backed with eight crudely-recorded live tracks recorded in 1984. The Gravedigger Five's second release contained a number of cover songs, including two Stoics songs, "Enough of What I Need" and "Be a Caveman." The LP also contained a version of "No Good Woman," with fellow Paisley Underground alum Paula Pierce of The Pandoras on backing vocals. Lead singer Koizumi took offense to the mediocre way the album was assembled. 

After the Gravedigger Five
After the Gravedigger Five disbanded, Koizumi and Friedman moved to the Bay Area where they founded The Morlocks, another Paisley Underground garage rock revival band which continued the Gravedigger Five sound. Dave Anderson and Tom Ward continued on together in the band Manual Scan, and afterwards Anderson went on to perform with The Trebles, The Answers, The Crawdaddies and Skid Roper. The band reunited for one final show in 1999, playing Cave Stomp at New York’s annual garage rockathon. This would be the last time a full reunion would be possible as bassist Chris Gast died in New York in 2000. 

01. All Black and Hairy  
02. Tomorrow Is Yesterday  
03. No Good Woman  
04. Do Like Me  
05. Hate  
06. She's a Cur  
07. Searching  
08. She's Gone  
09. Night of the Phantom  
10. Don't Tread on My  
11. One Ugly Child  
12. She Got  
13. Stoneage Stomp  
14. Mirror Cracked  
15. Enough of What I Need  
16. Be a Caveman  
17. No Good Woman - Gravedigger Five, Paula Pierce  
18. It's Spooky  
19. Drivin' Me Insane  
20. Stop It Baby  
21. Searchin' [Live]  
22. She's Gone [Live]  
23. Enough of What I Need [Live]  
24. Be a Caveman [Live]  
25. She's a Cur [Live]  
26. Mirror Cracked [Live]  
27. Night of the Phantom [Live]  
28. Tomorrow Is Yesterday [Live] 

+ Surprise Album (1984 Release)

Part 1. Gravedigger V
Part 2. Gravedigger V
Part 1. Gravedigger V
Part 2. Gravedigger V
Part 1. Gravedigger V
Part 2. Gravedigger V

Little Sonny - New King of Blues Harmonica (Rare STAX Album US 1969)

Size: 68.2MB
Bit Rate: 256
Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
Artwork Included
Source: Japan 24-Bit Remaster

New King of Blues Harmonica, the first album recorded by Little Sonny, finds the harpist living up to his name, turning out a hard-driving collection of Chicago blues. At times, he's a little too hung up on sounding like Sonny Boy Williamson, but for the most part, this is thoroughly enjoyable, high-octane Chicago blues. However, the presence of an organ on most of the record may be a little distracting for purists.

Little Sonny (aka Aaron Willis) grew up in Alabama, but came into his own as part of the fertile Detroit blues scene before finding a home with the famous Stax soul music label. On this album, he deftly mixes deep blues with soulful R&B with excellent results. It’s a pretty heavy burden to be called the "new king" of anything, let alone something as rich as the blues harmonica legacy, but he is up to the task. 

Little Sonny sings on a few tracks, and he has a fine voice, opening with the classic Jimmy Reed shuffle “Baby, What You Want Me to Do,” the band takes things at a nice easy gallop. “Don't Ask Me No Questions” has a Little Walter-ish feel, with Sonny making the strutting lyric his own. “Goin’ Down Slow” revisits some classic blues territory to good effect, with Sonny taking his time and delivering the vocal and harp with class and dignity. 

The Hohner 1896 Marine Band 10-hole diatonic harmonica
The remainder of the album consists of instrumentals featuring Little Sonny’s harmonica playing. While he never did quite ascend to the the level of king, he was quite a player as these performances demonstrate. Songs like “Eli’s Pork Chop” mix the down home blues with some soulful touches to good effect, with the organist in the band and occasional horn accompaniment move things along nicely. 

Blues fell on hard times for a while in the 1970‘s, with clubs closing and some of the legendary musicians falling ill and passing on. But Little Sonny was an example of the torch of the blues being passed on to a younger man, and on this album he held that torch high.

People who’ve heard Little Sonny’s albums, New King of the Blues Harmonica and Black and Blue on Enterprise Records (a division of the Stax Organization), are surprised to see him in person. From the funky music he plays, listeners expect an old, raggedy, hard-drinking stereotype of the typical down-and-out bluesman.

Harmonica-friendly Amplifiers Fender 59 Bassman Combo
"I suppose some of the things I’ve been through should have driven me to drink," admits the youthful, clean-cut Sonny, who doesn’t drink, smoke, or mess with dope. "I’ve seen too many bad examples of too much alcohol. Also, my mother was very religious, and I promised her I’d never drink. If I’ve got an audience, that’s all the alcohol I need. I couldn’t go onstage and do a good job if I were high."

Little Sonny surprises many people, especially young blues fans, with his sober approach to the blues, but he’s just trying to be himself.

"The idea that a man has to use foul language, dress raggedy and bummy, and get into cuttin’ and shootin’ scrapes in order to sing the blues is just a sham. I feel what I sing and play because of the things I’ve been through. I’ve had my share of hard times, but that doesn’t give me an excuse to drink and swear and cut up."

When Sonny plays his harmonica or sings the blues, all the rugged experiences he’s survived come out in his music.

Born in a one-room country shack in Greensboro, Alabama on October 6, 1932, he spent many of his younger days hungry and barefoot. He’s never seen his father. And he was looked after by his mother who made their clothes without the benefit of a sewing machine.

"The other kids used to laugh at me, but I made up my mind that I was going to be somebody regardless of what people thought. When I started playing music, people told me to my face that I’d never make it," Sonny admits. "The blues is a living thing, and I have lived the blues. When I think of the unfair things that have happened to me because of the color of my skin, of all the times I’ve had to go in the back door, I know I’ve paid my dues."

Sonny, who was born Aaron Willis, listened to the blues on the radio when he was a boy. His mother considered the blues "the old people’s way, something dirty," but she bought her son five-cent harmonicas. Sonny tried to play them without much success.

Baseball was his main interest. He played on sandlot teams in Alabama for a few years before moving to Detroit seventeen years ago.

"I knew no baseball scout was going to see me as far back in the woods as I was. I didn’t really have aspirations of being a musician when I came to Detroit. But then, I saw Sonny Boy Williamson."

Sonny was "spellbound at the way he played. After the show I went home and practiced for hours. Every day after that I would practice until I got the sound I wanted."

Sonny Boy Williamson also inspired Aaron Willis to adopt the name Little Sonny. Working in a used car lot by day, Little Sonny would go from bar to bar at night making a little money taking pictures and hoping for a chance to sit in with the musicians onstage.

After sitting in with Washboard Willie at the Good Times Bar one evening, Sonny was offered ten dollars a night, three nights a week by the club owner. Within six months, Sonny formed his own group. During the years that followed, he worked five shows a night in many Detroit bars and clubs, packing the rooms every weekend. He spent two years at the Bank Bar, four and a half at the Congo Lounge, five years in the Apex Bar, and two years at the Calumet Show Bar. He still took Polaroid pictures of the customers between sets and often he earned more money from the photography than from entertaining. It was a rough grind, but he managed to make a living and eventually to buy a car and a home for his wife and four children.

Sonny has had some unpleasant experiences with small record companies over the years. He sent a homemade demo tape of "I Got to Find My Baby" to Duke Records in Texas. They sent him a contract and issued the rough tape. He never got near a recording studio. The musician’s union got him out of that one. All Sonny received for recording "Love Shock" with the JVB Recording Company was twenty-five dollars he borrowed from them. He started his own label Speedway and although he couldn’t get any airplay, he sold enough copies of "The Mix Up" in the clubs he worked to clear expenses.

Excello Records bought "Love Shock" from JVB and got Sonny’s name on a two-year contract. But they never recorded him, so he sat it out. "Orange Pineapple Cherry Blossom Pink" sold well for Wheelsville, USA Records, but Sonny was never paid. Then, Revilot Records expressed an interest and he cut "The Creeper." It sold fairly well, but Sonny didn’t like the way the sound was mixed. He was in control of the next few sessions which produced "Don’t Ask Me No Questions" and "Sonny’s Bag," his first Top Twenty hit in Detroit. From then on, things got better.

Late in 1969, Al Bell, executive vice president of the Stax Organization, offered Sonny his first opportunity to cut an album. New King of the Blues Harmonica,released on the Enterprise label, was recorded in five and a half hours. Sonny and his band knew all the songs so there were few retakes.

For his second album, Black and Blue, Sonny flew to the Stax studios in Memphis and recorded eleven sides in one weekend. It was the #1 blues album in Detroit and #3 on the local LP charts. Sonny has played several music festivals, he headlined two blues concerts at Wayne State University, he’s been written about in several books on the blues, and, in general, his reputation has been growing.

Sonny’s music has been called everything from blues to jazz, and some listeners detect spiritual and rock influences. He enjoys listening to and learning from all kinds of music.

"I’m working on my own ideas," says Sonny, "not something the other man has already done. A lot of other blues musicians say I’m playing rock music because it’s up-tempo, and it’s a different style. They’ve never heard it before and they refuse to say it’s blues.

"Other harmonica players will play their part of a song then pause, then play again. Well, I’m constantly playing. I breathe in and out of the harmonica, and I fill in where other musicians would have a space," says Sonny, who prefers an Old Standby 34B harmonica for its fast action and tone quality.

Little Sonny has been playing the blues for sixteen years. He’s had over a dozen singles and two albums. He’s received excellent reviews for his performances and recordings. But he knows that there’s still more territory to be covered before he can sit back and say he’s had that really big break.

"I’ll pay my dues until the day comes," he says. "My time will come, and I’m going to work for it."

That’s what the blues is all about.

01. Baby, What You Want Me To Do  03:54
02. Eli's Pork Chop  06:39
03. Hey Little Girl  02:38
04. Hot Potato  03:11
05. Don't Ask Me No Questions  03:58
06. Tomorrow's Blues Today  02:45
07. Back Down Yonder  02:43
08. Sad Funk  03:04
09. The Creeper Returns  04:12

1. Little Sonny 1969
2. Little Sonny 1969
3. Little Sonny 1969