I get a lot of random records, tapes, and books in the mail, because publicists forget that outlets for which I used to work aren’t around anymore, or someone finds the address hidden on my website, or… whatever. This is a way to keep them from piling up uselessly in the corner of the office.
For thems what isn’t aware, Record Store Day was pushed back from April, then again to June, and now it’s a series of “drops” taking place at the end of August, September, and October. This allows for greater social distancing for those who want to join in the annual celebration of independent record stores, while also letting those same stores see a monthly boost to their bottom line all the way through to the start of the holiday season.
For Analog Adventures, we’re going to spotlight a couple of labels we think have some intriguing releases. First up is the always-reliable ORG Music with two excellent collections of music.
While the band has appeared on innumerable deep-cut soul compilations, Laugh to Keep From Crying marks the first ever full-length release from Nat Turner Rebellion. The Philly Soul and R&B group broke up before their first LP could be completed, so this 12-track vinyl LP compiles the group’s sought after singles and a wealth of never-released material sitting in Pennsylvania vaults since the early ’70s.
Originally released as part of subscription label Vinyl Me, Please’s Classics series in April of 2019 as a collaboration with Mad Dragon Records, this marks the first wide release of the Nat Turner Rebellion collection. Sadly, it doesn’t include the bonus 45 featuring the Sly & the Family Stone fuzz-guitar stomp of “Right On We’re Back” or the Tempations-flavored “Ruby Lee,” but the included cuts on this fire red vinyl LP still smoke.
The printed inner sleeve presents a history of the band as well as a brief primer on the band’s namesake, connecting the two through the history of civil rights protest music. Melissa A. Weber does a great job of connecting all the dots, and efficiently delivers everything a neophyte to the band’s music needs to put them in a greater context.
It is a little unfortunate that the only band member of which any information is given is Joseph Jefferson, who founded the Nat Turner Rebellion and was the group’s primary songwriter. He’d go on to write a string of songs for the Spinners, although none of them have quite the electric verve of his work with his band. Jefferson passed away just last month, and the Philadelphia Inquirer devoted a solid chunk of their remembrance to his work with the Nat Turner Rebellion.
Laugh to Keep From Crying really jams, and it’s a damned shame this took 50 years to make it to folks’ turntables. This is an excellently presented release, and deserves time on your turntable, although there’s also a download code, as well.
Also out on on August 29th is ORG’s seventh annual collection of music from the legendary Sun Records. The Sun Records Curated by Record Store Day series started in 2014, and has seen record store employees pick their favorite notable cuts and hidden gems from throughout the label’s storied history.
While 2016’s The Other Side of Sun and its sequel in 2018 focused on “obscure soul, garage, and psychedelic gems” from the label, and there have been blues cuts on past comps, Sunrise On the Blues marks the first specific focus on the genre, which is where the label originally got its start. Limited to 4,000 copies, the collection digs into the music from the label’s early years, from 1950-1956.
I was unfamiliar with most of the cuts, except “Mystery Train,” by Little Junior’s Blue Flames. Later re-recorded by Elvis Presley, the mournful blues uses a sax to evoke the sound of a train whistle and still manages to remain one of the album’s highlights, even with the tough task of following up an early Howlin’ Wolf cut, “Everybody’s In the Mood.” I appreciate the fact that the folks choosing all these cuts went with artists I like, but didn’t go with obvious choices: Earl Hooker’s “Goin’ on Down the Line,” instead of “The Hucklebuck”; Doctor Ross’ “Cat Squirrel” instead of “Come Back Baby,” et cetera.
Fun fact: Johnny Adams’ “I Won’t Cry” isn’t actually a Sun release. It’s actually from the Ric/Ron label, and was produced by Dr. John, way back when he was just Mac Rebbenack. However, he released his biggest hit, “Reconsider Me,” on SSS International in 1969, which was the company which bought out Sun and the year it did. I guess that counts as a connection, because SSS would reissue “I Won’t Cry” after Adams had his big hit.
Sunrise On the Blues: Sun Records Curated By Record Store Day Vol 7 comes on black vinyl, and the inner sleeve is printed, but it has a big ad for Tito’s vodka. I assume that they’re co-sponsoring this release, and that’s fine — it’s the house brand of choice at La Casa de Spacek — but it’s weird seeing something normally reserved for radio station samplers in the late ’90s and early ’00s appearing on a curated vinyl release.
While the majority of their releases are hitting on the first drop day, August 29th, they also have a few trickling out in September and October, and it’s on October 24 ththat Infectious Grooves’ Take U on A Ride EP sees release.
The four-song EP is a 45rpm 12-inch record on transparent orange color vinyl, and features nutso artwork from Pascal Brun and Marcel Szerdahelyi, limited to 1500 copies. As near as I can tell, this is a weird little compilation. It’s billed as “three unreleased tracks from 1995,” but the credits make everything confusing. The first three tracks are all noted as being first recorded in 1995, but “Funky Farm” — a remastered version of “Funny Farm,” released on the Mike Muir / Suicidal Tendencies / Infectious Grooves compilation, Year Of The Cycos, in 2008 — is the only one of the three older cuts to not have “1995/2020” noted after it.
I’m assuming that this means there’s some extra work on “Now You’re Gonna Get It” and “Just Came Down,” the original versions of “Payback’s A Bitch” and “What Goes Up,” respectively, which were released originally on Suicidal Friends & Family (1997) and Mas Borracho (1999). “Take You On A Ride” is the band’s first new music in forever, and the only cut to be noted as simply “2020.”
I love the fact that Robert Trujillo is still part of the band, despite the fact that he now plays bass for Metallica and has since 2003. It’s cool to hear him play some funky-ass slap on these cuts, which are for the most part definitely hewing to the old-school Infectious Grooves sound, sounding a lot like early Red Hot Chili Peppers as opposed to the weirder versions of the band’s sound, which can come across as a really jarring mix of punk-funk, like someone had added a lot of groove rhythms to Suicidal Tendencies songs.
You can read about all of ORG Music’s 2020 Record Store Day releases and check out their dates here.