Wanna Dress Vintage Like a Rock Star? Ask One Yourself

Photo courtesy of The Freakouts
The Freakouts' Meg Michelle Cambern and Wild Mocassins' Zahira Gutierrez
By day four of a recent "staycation," my family and I had little to do and less money to do it with. My daughter suggested an afternoon of bargain-hunting in the thrift stores.

Everyone piled into the family vehicle and off we went. She asked what I planned to buy, if anything. I told her, without hesitation, I'd be searching for a concert T-shirt commemorating The Rolling Stones' 1981 American tour.

"O-kayyyy," she said. "Good luck with that."

"Preferably, a jersey, with red or blue sleeves," I said.

"Riiiight," was her response.

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5 More Bizarre "Basement Tapes" We'd Like to See

My God... it could be ANYTHING.
Recently over in England, someone dug up some old tapes of a band called Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, a band who may have gone largely unheard of for the rest of time, were it not for the fact that their drummer was one Ringo Starr. Yes, two years before he started drumming for The Beatles, Ringo was in another, showier pop band that may have influenced the early glam-rock scene. Maybe not, but we'll at least be able to hear what they sounded like when their album is released later this month.

Aren't there other performers out there with tapes tucked away in a basement or closet somewhere? Perhaps of an earlier musical project they'd rather never saw the light of day? Oh, there simply must be!

Why, we can almost picture the surprisingly detailed descriptions, which we are certainly not making up...

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Mail Dump: Janis, Little Richard, dBs, Donovan, Etc.

The mailbox has been truly kind the past several weeks. Sure, there are still piles of useless dreck to wade through/past/over. But those all get to go to the big box in the dark closet and await the apocalypse.

But there are standouts and surprises almost daily. Let's begin with three important reissues.

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$5 Awesome: The Toys Soundtrack

Rocks Off has picked up some CDs over the years at prices so low we think that it would've been less insulting to the artists if we had stolen them. Some of these have become our favorite albums, and in this column we'll tell you what they are and why!

Original-Soundtrack-Toys Nov1.jpg
For Rocks Off's money, there is no more under appreciated movie than Toys, starring Robin Williams. We have watched it every Christmas, and with each viewing we grow more and more attached to the story of a toy maker who has to grow up to preserve innocence and whimsy in the face of commercialism and war.

One of the things we remember so vividly as a child was the music video that Robin Williams and Joan Cusack use as a distraction to infiltrate the heart of the Toy factory. It had everything that a music video should have! Violins, red suits and bowler hats, hot female vocals, weird men falling from the sky, the works. It was simply surrealism at its finest.

One day about four years ago we were pawing through the CD racks at the Montrose Half Price Books when we stepped on our untied shoelaces and fell to the ground. Once the ringing sensation left us, we found ourselves staring right at the jewel case for the Toys soundtrack. Apparently they hide the good stuff down below at Half Price... or it's more possible we simply enjoy what no one else will buy. Regardless, we bought the CD for less than the price of a Jumbo Jack, and it has never been out of our car since.

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$5 Awesome: Murry Attaway's In Thrall

Categories: Cutout Bin

Rocks Off has picked up some CDs over the years at prices so low we think that it would've been less insulting to the artists if we had stolen them. Some of these have become our favorite albums, and in this column we'll tell you what they are and why!

Back in the days when Rocks Off's main hobbies were high heels and powerbombs, we lived way down in Clear Lake far from Sound Exchange, Cactus and other fine music retailers. So we and the Wife With One F - who was the Girlfriend With One F at the time - would amuse ourselves by getting plastered in the aisles of Wal-Mart at 2 a.m.

On one of these trips, we headed over to the music section after an invigorating pillowfight, and it was at the bottom of a giant $1 bin that we found one of our Top 10 albums, Murray Attaway's In Thrall.

Attaway was the singer and rhythm guitarist for the Athens, Ga., indie group Guadalcanal Diary. They hung out with R.E.M and the B-52s and others in the scene, but they never quite reached high enough to cement their place in music history. The band called it quits in 1989, and Attaway attempted a solo career with this album in 1993.

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UPDATED: Meet The Rhodes Kids, Houston's Mobbed-Up '70s Family Band

UPDATE (April 10, 2014): According to a letter we received today from Gary Rhodes, currently a worship pastor in Waco, the Rhodes family had very little idea who they were really doing business with in the early '70s. "We (including our parents) were totally unaware of any ties the record company owner had with the porn industry," he writes. "We had barely been with this company a few months when we heard about it, and after finding this out immediately terminated the relationship. Only a couple singles and one album recording had been done. Shortly after that, contact with Mr. Cammarata was also terminated." The activities mentioned in the 1988 Chronicle article about Cammarata did not happen until years after the Rhodes severed contact with him, he adds.

The early 70's was a glorious time for the "family showband." The Cowsills started it all a few years earlier, and the lifestyle was soon immortalized on the screen by the fictionalized Partridge Family. But for every group like the Osmonds or the Jackson 5, there were dozens of others, perhaps less talented, certainly less famous, who crisscrossed America in their leaky busses from cocktail lounge to county fair, hoping for that big break that would get them the invite to Vegas or Hollywood.

Houston's own Rhodes Kids, largely forgotten unless you're a thrift-store record-bin regular, was one of those bands who did get the invitation to the Big Time. The seven Rhodes Kids were the children of an Exxon engineer and a concert pianist, and had already been playing together casually before relocating to Houston in 1970.

It was here that Paul, Ron, Gary, Patty, Marsha, Brett and little Mark got serious, hiring a manager, choreographer, and practicing daily. Their first gigs were at Village Inn Pizza. It may not have been glamorous, but hey, free pizza.

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Irlene Mandrell: Work Those "Thighs Of Texas"


Irlene Mandrell

Texercise (1983)

You already know the greats of Texas' recorded history. Roy Orbison. Lightnin' Hopkins. ZZ top. Jandek. But no Texas record collection is complete without this regional remnant of the exercise album craze, Irlene Mandrell's Texercise.

Born in Corpus Christi, Irlene grew up in the shadow of her successful sisters, Barbara and Louise, and cast about involving herself in various projects trying to find her niche. While her siblings were playing No. 1 hits at the Grand Ole Opry, Irlene was guest-starring in skits on Hee-Haw, attempting a career as a stock-car racer and joining the "aerobics" craze with Texercise.

Swapping leg-warmers for cowboy boots, Irlene leads us though a full workout of Texas-themed moves: The Pecos Pull. The Big Bend. The Thighs of Texas. No longer would Texas housewives with a few extra pounds have to work out to exercise videos made by commie Hollywood celebs or the liberal East-Coast gymnastic elite. This one was all Texas, down to its Texas-size gatefold album cover. The "yee-haw" calls were even provided by none other than Asleep At The Wheel's Ray Benson.

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Nixon-Era Album Reveals Highway Between Heaven And Houston, Texas

Rev. C.L. Jackson

You Can Go To Heaven From Houston, Texas

Preach on, Brother Jackson

Cutout Bin got a record (yeah). In a thrift store in Houston, Texas (yeah). I was feelin' low (yeah). Like the world was out to get me (that's right). So I put on the record (yeah). I played it LOUD (right on). And I heard Rev. C.L. Jackson (yeah). And Rev. Jackson said to me (yeah). I need to get on the highway (yeah). Then Rev. Jackson told me (yeah). About choppin' off John the Baptist's head (yeah).

Then Rev. Jackson told me (yeah). Something about riding in a dump truck (that's right). Then Rev. Jackson told me (yeah). To open my eyes and look around (yeah). Now I'm there (yeah). In the church (yeah). I'm in the pews (yeah). In the front row (yeah). I'm at the Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Houston, Texas (yeah). On the corner of Jensen and I-10 (yessir).

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Cutout Bin: The Rev. Mr. Goodwill Fairley's Musical Guide To Race Relations

Categories: Cutout Bin
Rev. Mr. Goodwill Fairley

Pull Up a Chair and Listen

Meet Rev. Mr. Goodwill Fairly. With a name like that, you just know he has something to say. And, by God, you're going to listen. Pull up a chair. Don't worry, he'll get one for you. Wait a sec as he grabs an old flag out of the bottom of a box and hangs it on the curtains.

The Rev. Mr. says: "Here are the two keys on an old piano, White Key and Black Key, and, we need them both, in order to get good music, harmony, and good race relation." I like how he puts music first. He could have mentioned food, but you can't have everything.

"You do not condemn all the Black Keys on the old piano, just because some of the keys go bad or get out of line, neither do any of you condemn all the White keys on this old piano, simply because some of the White keys go bad." OK, we think we can see where he's going with this.

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Cutout Bin: Jeff "Crazy Heart" Bridges Also Collects Awful Album Covers

Categories: Cutout Bin

Tuesday afternoon, Cutout Bin received a breathless phone call from a friend: "Are you watching Ellen??"

Um, no... Some people work for a living. Not me, but some people.

So it turns out Jeff Bridges is on Ellen, and wouldn't you know it, he has his "bad album cover collection." Uh oh. If this is anything like nearly every other bad album cover collection shown in print or on television, it will consist primarily of scans from Cutout Bin's website, BizarreRecords.com.

First up: Joyce. The first, and as yet unsurpassed, gem of my collection. The record that finally caused me to take a stand at an Austin thrift store a decade and a half ago.... "I will NOT pass up another horrible record just because the other collector nerds don't care about them. I will buy JOYCE." A tag showed that the record was unsold at 50 cents at some garage sale. My first joke when I posted it (via 28.8 baud modem) on my Web site: "This record has doubled in value. It cost me a dollar." Fifteen years later, and there's Jeff Bridges... "the Dude" himself... riffing on the same damn price tag on the same damn record.

Next up: a record called Swing That Gospel Axe. Huh, that one's not mine. Putting it on the BizarreRecords Wanted List.

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