Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Great Roger Smith


Here's a record I've owned for all of about five hours, and I couldn't wait to share it with all of you.

Because today's featured singer is Roger Smith. He primarily recorded on the Air label, but his name turns up on a dozen other, smaller labels; in this case, the tiny "Top Rock" label. The blandest of names masks one of the most unusual singers of song-poems in the field. I have only heard a handful of records he recorded, but have loved every one of them. He had a borderline ridiculous, yet endearing way of selling a song.

The reason I have never featured Roger Smith here is that most of the tracks I own which were released under his name, I own only as MP3's, those graciously gifted to me by fellow collectors. and I have generally not featured records that I don't personally own. And the only Roger Smith record I did own, prior to today, has already been shared on another blog. I see that the post I refer to, now has dead links, so maybe I should share that record, soon, but in the meantime, here's the better of the two sides, posted to Soundcloud. It's one of my favorite records ever.

Today's offering, which doesn't quite match that track for sheer wonderfulness and insanity, is still 100% wonderful. It's called "Same Old Stuff" - a mention in Billboard dates this release to late 1961, but it seems to exist pretty much out of time, a rather peculiar and unique mix of elements of Western Swing, Dixieland and Roller Rink Organ. And if I haven't already made it clear, it's magnificent from start to finish. As if that musical backing wasn't enough to draw me in for multiple listens, Roger Smith again provides a weirdly compelling and inimitable vocal. I love this singer, and I love this record.

Download: Roger Smith, Western String Band - Same Old Stuff
Play:

As much as I've just praised the Roger Smith side of this record, I don't want to neglect the flip side, which is just as wonderful in its own way. It helps that the singer is Cara Stewart (that always helps), but in addition, this is a funny song with some inspired lyrics about the implications of having a lot of kids on one's love life. If I'm taking the lyrics literally, I believe the writer intends us to think the protagonist of the song has 15 children. Cara Stewart does her usual great job of selling the material, and Lee Hudson's group, with that indelible guitar sound, support her nicely.

Download: Cara Stewart, Lee Hudson Orch - Eeny Meeny Miney Mo
Play:



Not that you asked, but an even better song, on a similar subject (at least in the early verses) - and one of my very favorite records ever, is by Jimmie Driftwood, and can be found here.

2 comments:

Timmy said...

Yes, both of these cool sides are winners... I think Cara has the advantage, because of her vocal stylings.

Stu Shea said...

That's a solid two-sider! As you say, both sides have pretensions toward certain types of music, but are gummed up enough with other influences that they sound like nothing else. Thanks!!