Monday, 1 February 2016

Sonny & Doug's Sum Pair from 1977, another tax scam label release...

Guiness records was another tax scam label.  From discogs:

Guinness Records was a tax shelter record label set up by Prelude Records. The records were never meant to be sold, but the label accountant enabled a cousin in Florida to make some cash by setting him up as a wholesale dealer. 

Wait a minute-- what?    Moreover, you can see they released no fewer than 50 albums in the one year they were active, 1977!  It's still hard for me to believe it was really worth all that effort.

Returning back to this release, some lovely and useful information from rym:

So here's one of the Guinness releases that you can actually track back to its original life ...  A Long Island New York-based duo consisting of guitarist/keyboard player Sonny Hahn and singer/keyboard player Doug Miller, this is an outfit I don't know much about, nor have I ever been able to dig up much on them.  Released by the small Euphoria label (apparently a short lived Jubilee offshoot), their sole release 1971's "Sum Pear" was well worth looking for (though it's relative rare and increasingly costly - I've seen two original copies in twenty years). Produced by Bob Gallo, the set offered up a great mix of psych-influenced rockers ('Better Get Down'), straight ahead rock ('Bring Me Home America'), and more conventional folk rock ('I Can See').  Miller had a nifty voice and Hahn's penchant for feedback drenched guitar (check out the blazing 'Got Me Tragedy'), were both strong selling points.  Some interesting lyrics and the presence of a full backing band with a kick ass rhythm section in the form of bass player Bob Dorsa and drummer John Scaduto certainly didn't hurt the proceedings.  With the pair writing virtually all of the material (a killer cover of Mickey Newbury's 'Down On Saturday' being the lone non-original), highlights included 'Hey Sun', the wah-wah guitar propelled 'What's So Bad About Feelin' Good', the hyper-speed 'I Need Lovin'"' and the horn-propelled 'Thoughts of Slumber'.

Five years later the album reappears on Guinness.  Same track listing, but different song sequence and as you can see new artwork.  So what's the common denominator here?  Producer Bob Gallo and 'album coordinator' Louis Lofredo.  Wonder if these guys were aware that they'd been reissued ... 

Here you can see the original LP.  At eight dollars for the least, the above reviewer must have been distracted by all those great songs.  Note how much more enjoyably pleasant the tax scam cover is compared to the 'real' cover from 1971.

Track A3's Bring me home America's Black Sabbathy sound:

I love that they dare to stretch the word 'America' in the chorus on the medieval rack torture instrument of the tritone, and with the chorus in D and the verses in G sharp, the doomsday sound comes through loud and clear.  In fact had they used a dropped-D tuning it would have sounded like proto-Nirvana as in some of Kurt's dark Bleach or Insecticide tracks.  Perhaps it would be a good idea for someone to introduce this track to the future President of the United States, His Majesty the Donald of 
Trump?  Despite his obvious synpathy for 'tax scams' I'm pretty sure he would ban the tritone just as much as muslims, mexicans, and aggressive female interviewers...

The album alternates between hard and soft rock, clearly at home with both styles, in one earlier song the hilarious and unprescient line occurs "there will always be mountains left to climb" -- perhaps on Venus, but not here on earth, where today Mt. Everest has come to resemble the Carnival in Rio for its hordes of 'explorers' during the 'climbing season' so much so that a moratorium had to recently be declared to clear off all the frozen dead humans that were stuck along the sherpa-guided paths, pity those unsuccessful, or perhaps half-successful ones who did not quite master the exit strategy of the mountain and were too elated with their ascent to come back down... no, today there is not a square yard on the surface of the earth yet unexplored, except the bottom of the oceans.

A particularly nice song on side b recalls my old favourite J.F. Murphy, its name was incorrectly recorded thanks to a mistake on discogs, but is called "Thoughts of Slumber":

Quite a delight to listen to I would say.  Really, altogether an unfairly unknown lost album...

1 comment: