Mascot Records, Mike Condello Celebrated with New Albums, Record Release Party
Even the most ardent music fans have a skewered impression of Phoenix's early rock musical landscape. It starts with Sanford Clark and Marty Robbins, then you cross a whole spread of barren desert 'til you get to Lee Hazlewood and Duane Eddy, and then nothing until the early rumblings of Waylon Jennings and Alice Cooper.
Local music historian John P. Dixon has worked tirelessly to fill in the blank terrain, and two new releases continue that labor of love. The first one, The Mascot Records/Jack Curtis Story, collects nearly all the A-sides that local music impresario Curtis issued on his homegrown label between 1961 and 1968, plus a bunch of other rarities -- including an alternate take of "Why Don't You Love Me" by the Spiders, Alice Cooper's earliest recorded incarnation.
A CD-release party for both albums is scheduled for Saturday, June 22, at Zia Records on the corner of Camelback and 19th Avenue. Special guests include Jack Curtis, Frank Fafara, Mikie, Tony Castle, P-Nut Butter, and John P. Dixon.
Because it starts with embryonic rockabilly and wholesome teen idolatry and ends in the confused fog of psychedelia, the Mascot set is not unlike the endless supply of Joe Meek compilations that you find on Amazon.
Like the star-crossed British producer, Curtis believed wholeheartedly in early Buddy Holly rock 'n' roll, made some adjustments to the game-changing Beatles, and then lost interest when drugs took all the fun out of rock. Curtis wasn't as nearly as eccentric or passionate as Meek -- his platters were made to capitalize on and promote the music that was popular in his teen dance venues, Stage 7 and the V.I.P. Club.
But it does have its moments of lushly orchestrated soda-shop rock -- and some just plain weirdness, such as local teen dream Frank Fafara's self-penned ode to idolatry or oppressive three-digit heat, "Golden One" ("The Golden One shines down / Shines down on the land / He crushes some before him / Leaves the others stand"). And there's the well-adjusted 1961 death-disc "Angel of Mine," wherein Nick Landers just wants to be left loving his teen angel without any voice-cracking hysterics.