We Found a 36-Year-Old KDKB Local Compilation -- Here's What We Thought Of It
Doing some crate digging at Tracks in Wax, I uncovered a rather strange relic: an album showcasing local music. The cover was a faded license plate with the words Arizona Sounds Vol. 1, sponsored by KDKB 93.3 FM. It was printed in 1977.
As a Phoenix native, I've always had an interest in this sprawling metropolitan's weird history, so finding a dusty record with 12 local artists from yesteryear (none of whom I've heard of before) really piqued my interest. Thankfully, short blurbs about each artist were printed on the back of record, as Wikipedia and Google weren't very helpful. It reads, "KDKB radio has always taken an interest in local artists featuring their music both on tape and in live "on the air" broadcasts." I find that strange, since they obviously don't do much of that now. You can read the whole transcription here but otherwise there is little to no information on these bands online. Let's break this album down and dive into a little of vintage Arizona, shall we?
-100 Years of Music That Defined Arizona
-Kimber Lanning on Sleepwalker's "Out of Here" (1998)
-Howe Gelb on Rainer's "One Man Crusade" (1994), "The Inner Flame" (1997), and "The Farm" (2002)
-Sara Cina on the Gin Blossoms' "Found Out About You" (1989)
Early Peas - "Long Day"
This is very Neil Young, with plenty of soothing guitar textures. File this under easy listening. The bio on the back simply says: "From the land of low riders and green chile come Early Peas -- previously known as Chuck Cutter and Mark Meyers."
Custer's Last Band - "Crazy Bass"
This might not surprise you, but there are a lot of country influences on this album and that dichotomy of rock n' roll versus western standards clearly shows. "I had a friend who lost his mind," lead singer Skip Reichert says by, "playing country music all the time." The rest of the story goes that the young, crazy bass player went on to be a successful musician in Nashville, living on a farm, that whole spiel. It's interesting to think how country was once more mainstream and going against that might mean your band didn't succeed.
Shep Cooke - "Roller Coaster Ride"
Let me be flat-out honest with you -- this song is awful, filled with terrible, boastful metaphors, boring guitar, and Shep Cooke's creaky voice. And I actually feel comfortable saying that, because it appears that unlike many other bands included in this list, Cooke had a moderately successful career -- he appeared on Johnny Carson's show, and he lent some guitar, vocal work, and toured with Tom Waits. Most of all, he tenured in the Stone Poneys with Linda Ronstadt, but I had one of Ronstadt's records and hated that too. A few duds were to be expected on a record like this, so let's just move on.
The Bob Meighan Band - "From Who"
The Neil Young impersonations are really thick on this album. That's not such a bad thing. I could listen to this on summer evenings.
Joe Bethancourt - "Snakes and Cactus"
Ol' Joe introduces this song by listing the subject matter: snakes, cactus, 40 miles of bad road, one Gila monster, a sign shot through with holes and other images of the Southwest before it was domesticated into endless suburban sprawl. But before Joe starts his song, he mentions it doesn't have any words. Heh. It bursts into dueling banjoes.
I love how Bethancourt describes his music: "He's mainly into what could be called progressive mountain music, or perhaps " 'The Gonzo' of mountain music." Given that he predated "post-rock" by a few decades, he might have been onto something.
Fairweather - "'46 Plymouth Rag"
This is a song about a car. It's not even a nice car, but some junky old thing that, by the way, the record tells me is currently running. Or was. I doubt it's even in a junkyard anymore. It was probably recycled into an aluminum can or something.
It's not a bad song, but I can't think of a lot of vehicle tunes that really move me. It's interesting that Fairweather says "shit" on this song. Not sure how that made it past the censors. Another interesting thing is the language used on these albums, like calling metro Phoenix "Summerland." You don't hear that one very often.