Saturday, September 12, 2020

A Civil Rights Fable

Today, I have an extremely interesting record, one that is perfect as well for this particularly moment in history.

But first, I want to say that I have again updated another quartet of posts, this time from June of 2012. These posts include: a fun Gene Marshall record about an honest-to-goodness real sea-bound college, an interesting record from Norm Burns combining social relevance with supper club stylings, a Sammy Marshall special featuring some truly odd and interesting lyrical turns of phrase, and some less than competent garage band material from Mike Thomas and Tin Pan Alley. I must say, that was a particularly strong month of offerings.

And now:

I don't quite know what to make of this record, which I just acquired a few days ago.

I thought I knew that Sandy Stanton largely shut down his Fable outfit in the late '50's, with few documented releases after that point, and with Film City apparently coming to life by 1963 or so. A few much higher-numbered Fable releases exist, including one from the early '70's that I've posted, but nothing has been documented between release record # 714, circa 1958 or 1959, and record # 1060, which is undated.

Yet here's a record that has to be from at least the fall of 1963, based on one of the references (multiple sites indicate that year, but it could be guesswork), it features the Chamberlin, which was the hallmark of Stanton's releases on Film City and its offshoots (and never during the heyday of Fable), and it could be a vanity release or a hybrid or even some other category entirely, rather than a song poem.

Both sides of this record have been available online before, and one still is, but neither has been identified as a Fable release, or listed with the credit seen here, to Sandy Stanton's Orch and Chorus. The artist in question, Bob Starr, seems to have reissued the record, along with other recordings, naming his band "The All Star Band", at some point in the late '60's, entirely removing its link to the song-poem world.

None of that would be terribly interesting to much more than a few people, were in not for the fairly fascinating content of the record. For both songs on this record are about aspects of the civil rights movement in the early and mid 1960's. What's more, both are catchy and well made. They sound nothing like anything else I've ever heard on Fable, and I'm fairly certain that the drummer here is NOT the Chamberlin, but rather an actual drummer playing along with the Chamberlin player. which I'm not aware of ever being done on a Film City production.

The listed A-side, and the better of the two, to my ears, is the swinging, R and B flavored "The Freedom March". After the martial opening, the movin' and groovin' begins. The opening lines remind me of "Rockin' Robin" of all things, and I'm fairly certain that "Old Abe Lincoln" did NOT sign the Bill of Rights, but putting that aside, I find this record fairly addictive and even intoxicating in spots.

Download: Bob Starr with Sandy Stanton Orch and Chorus - The Freedom March

The Flip Side, "The Jail House King" is no slouch either. It features a righteously proud lyric about Martin Luther King, Jr., referred to here are "Luther King", no doubt because it fit the pattern of the lyrics better.

This is a decent ballad-style record, especially for a song-poem record, and I really enjoy Bob Starr's Folk-Blues style of singing.

Download: Bob Starr with Sandy Stanton Orch and Chorus - The Jail House King

I would be very interested in hearing anyone else's thoughts, information, insights or other input about this unique record.


Stu Shea said...

Hey, thanks for posting this. It's absolutely fascinating, the collision of gospel-oriented storytelling lyrics and a nifty singer with this wobbly, insane production sound. I guess right now I need to listen to it a few more times. Man, I'm so glad you found this!

Apesville said...

Nice this site says 1962 but no prove