For pop leftovers, and overall items of quality that don’t necessarily fit “the norm,” look no further than Atco Records. Atco, and stop me if you’ve heard this, was used by Atlantic Records to shell out quality cuts by a variety of soul, blues, R&B, and jazz personalities starting as far back as 1955. Bobby Darin, Bent Fabric, John Lee Hooker, Ben E. King, and Betty Carter are just a few greats represented on this insert sleeve. As functional as it is informative, Atco inserts bring a great deal of history to a single printed sheet.
Sound advice, really. Never Tease Tigers. In addition to a legendary ragtime piano player, Bent Fabric was pretty damn good at stating the obvious as titles for his albums (The Happy Puppy and The Drunken Penguin come to mind). This instrumental and pleasing to the ear album (easy listening, anyone?) is simple and jolly, much like the majority of Mr. Fabric’s album covers. Buy him for the cover, continue buying “for the good times.”
1969’s best selling album (in the US), was also the second studio effort by San Diego psychedelic rock Gods, Iron Butterfly. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, the song, occupies the entire second side of the record, and clocks in at a whopping 17:05. Atlantic Records wouldn’t see a more successful album until the release of Led Zeppelin’s IV in 1971. Which begs the question, why has it taken me so long to obtain this piece of modern rock history?!
Intoxicate your ears with this furry little squirt, The Drunken Penguin. Having been searching for this damn album for longer than I’m willing to admit, I’ve, in the process, acquired a few other ragtime, saloon-style piano records from Mr. Fabric, and am a much wiser, and well-rounded man as the result. Bent Fabric… (get to) know him… (get to) love him. This album was my introduction to the greatness that is Bent Fabric, and I implore you all to pour yourselves a heavy, taxi-calling glass.
As a break-off from Atlantic Records back in 1955, Atco Records served as home to non-soul / jazz / blues records throughout the early 1960’s and 1970’s, most notably Cream, Vanilla Fudge, Tim Hardin, and an early 1961 Beatles 7″ featuring Tony Sheridan (though some sources claim 1964). Before turning focus to mid-1970’s hard rock, Atco released catalog no. 33-210, which just so happens to be Tim Hardin’s earliest recordings (1963-ish), This is Tim Hardin. If the catchy logo doesn’t grab ya’, the historical significance of this genius’ earliest recordings should be enough to peak some interest, or at the very least, demand a spin on a random Thursday night.
This 1967 psych-rock album is the first from Long Island’s Vanilla Fudge, and would serve as the band’s most successful offering, peaking at #6 on the Billboard charts. With only three originals on the album Illusions of My Childhood, Pts. 1-3 (all instrumentals), Vanilla Fudge contains far-out and refreshing covers by The Zombies (She’s Not There), The Beatles (Eleanor Rigby and Ticket to Ride), The Supremes (You Keep Me Hangin’ On), and Cher (Bang Bang). For a refreshing take on classic 60’s flare, try some Vanilla Fudge in your groove diet.
A close friend and old roommate had a copy of this record back in the day, so when I saw it at Nickelodeon Records in San Diego for a cool $3, I had get it. From the cover, to the tracklist, to the Darin-esk cool within, Darin at the Copa, at least this copy, has found a welcoming place to call home in our collection.
Side note time: Nickelodeon Records was where I found my first Tim Hardin record, 1967’s This is Tim Hardin. I own all but a few of his albums now, and I’m grateful to the two women at Nickelodeon for helping to supply the essential ingredient to arguably the best discography known to man… arguably.
Short retort tonight, as the warm, guilty rays from the Hardin Sun cast fervent necessity that borderlines an acute obsession upon me and mine during these last few (years) weeks. I’ve gone so far as to hunt down the “Electronically Re-Recorded to Simulate STEREO” version of This is Tim Hardin to accompany the original mono version, and I have, today, decided it was worth a few good, conscious hours to digitize both albums for digital enjoyment. I’ve yet to find the proper ear-apparatus to showcase the difference between the two, but as with any obsession, logic gets second billing.
RIP James Timothy Hardin.
Have monkey, will operate organ. Bent Fabric, the whimsical piano master, follows his animal friendly, attention stealing formula with his 1964 effort, Organ Grinder’s Swing. A must for any fan of the solemn cool, Mr. Fabric opens the door to soothing piano rolls, a relaxing atmosphere, and adorable, domestic animals. Still on the lookout for his more prominent 1964 release, The Drunken Penguin, I find comfort in these open window, cool breeze piano eruptions, which are perfect for late night rye consuming moments of sporadic clarity. Thank you, Mr. Fabric.
As a special note, happy beautiful birthday to my amazing, and domestic animal loving mother, without whom, there would be no Groove. Happy birthday, mom!
I was able to find a stereo copy of This is Tim Hardin today at a thrifty little (unorganized) shop down in Long Beach. Already having been the owner of the original mono version, I couldn’t turn my back on this artificial (only because it was electronically re-recorded to simulate STEREO) stereo version for a cool $6. Possibly the best record I’ve ever laid ears on, I managed to acquire both copies the guy had (stereo for me, mono for a fellow Hardin-admiring buddy).
I am currently in possession of three This is Tim Hardin albums, and something tells me, it’s not enough.
“Are you ready to check out? You want both copies?!” – Guy
“Yes, guy! I have cash… why do you question the willing?” – Me, in my head
Bent Fabric, the Danish, piano-playing wizard, strikes again with his second major label release, The Happy Puppy. Continuing his drunken-saloon style of wistful merriment, Mr. Bent Fabricius-Bjerre couples intensity with enjoyable amusement, and he does it with animal-loving flair. Animal-friendly piano geniuses need recognition, this, is evident.
Quite possibly the most favored album in my collection, Atco Records’ 1967 released, 1963-64 recorded genius of pop music’s most overlooked son, James Timothy Hardin, This is Tim Hardin redefines perfection with each and every longing, soul-squirming spin. I can’t even begin to explore the majestic landscape that this harrowing album presents, and I’m not g’wan try. At a later date, with a much more educated mind, I’ll tackle the dynamic and vigorous layers of brilliance that this album exerts, but until then, I’ll drink my rye, and simply… enjoy.
There is something distinctly haunting that unjustly fills the room when I listen to the fortuitous desperation that surrounds Tim Hardin when he sings the lyrics, “I’ll never get out of these blues alive” on the Fred Neil classic, Blues on the Ceilin’ from Tim’s 1963 recorded, 1967 released (third) album, This is Tim Hardin. For you see, he didn’t. Escape those blues, that is. Mr. Hardin, my current crutch, passed on December 29, 1980. The cause of his untimely death? The blues… in the form of diacetylmorphine.
Other monumental iconic phrases from this track are:
– I’d do it all over, but I’d rather not
– Love is just a dirty four-letter word to me
– The bitter the blues, the better they keep
– The toast was cold, the orange juice was hot
White. Boy. Blues. As prolific an oxymoron as it is, has its fair share of respectable highlights. Tim Hardin isn’t known for his blues-driven ways (and that’s painfully unfortunate), but instead, for his often covered and heart-tuggingly sweet If I Were a Carpenter.
When I drink whiskey, alone, I subconsciously gravitate towards Tim Hardin. Like a beaming source of intellectual and soul-bearing light, Mr. Hardin asks only one favor of us while we enjoy his personal blues-documenting catalog, and the favor is that we must share in this man’s heartfelt dismay. Pain manifests itself in many forms, up to and including a soulful voice accompanying sincerity projecting from the blackened heart.
Not only is Atco an unincorporated gaggle of pleasant homesteaders in Camden County, New Jersey, it’s also a record label and subsidiary of Atlantic Records Corporation (ATlantic COrporation… see what they did there?). Founded in 1955, ATCO served as an outlet for acts that, for one reason or another, didn’t fit the Atlantic Records format (Atlantic Records needs to lighten up if you ask me).
One of ATCO’s early releases is the 1964 compilation titled, Ain’t She Sweet. I don’t own this record… but I wish I did. It features The Beatles (with Tony Sheridan, recorded in 1961), and fetches a hefty $600 on Discogs. Keep an eye out for this one in the $1 bins.
What I dig most about these old inserts, apart from the frequent reminder of how to care for my records, is the variety of new bands I otherwise wouldn’t have heard of. Now, I’ve heard of Bent Fabric (Bent Fabricius-Bjerre), but I didn’t realize that most of his covers featured animals. My favorite from this insert is undoubtedly, The Drunken Penguin. That, coupled with Alley Cat, The Happy Puppy, and Never Tease Tigers just became the top four records in my want list.
Thanks to the nice people of Atco, and ATCO for the groovy suggestions.