Monday, January 24, 2011

RICHARD ANTHONY and THE BLUE NOTES - THE BOSTON MONKEY


D A N C E ! ! !

On the last Sunday of every month, my radio show "On The Record" turns into the "Classic Soul Blowout", where I spin nothing but soul and R&B records from the 60s and 70s. Soul records have been the lifeblood of my existence ever since I was a kid. I started collecting records when I was a baby (literally - my parents would throw old 45 rpm records in my crib to get me to stop crying!! Somewhere in my photos I actually have a picture of me in my crib with a few 45s.....if I find it I'll post it) and quickly decided that the record collector life was for me. I was a weird kid. Anyhoo, doo-wop was the name of the game where I grew up (Newark, NJ), so as soon as I had the wherewithal (and the pocket money) I went searching for old original doo-wop 45s.

It didn't happen. They were just too damn expensive. I saw old guys (old to me, anyway) paying sums of three, four hundred dollars for ONE 45. That was alien to me. I thought old 45s were supposed to be had for a quarter or fifty cents, like at the garage sales I went to. To this day, I still think that way - there isn't a record IN THE WORLD worth three or four hundred dollars to me. The MOST I have ever paid for a record was $225.00, and that was for an original copy of the "That'll Be The Day" LP by Buddy Holly - mint minus, original flat black label. I kept it for 10 years and sold it to a guy in Finland for $250.00.

I quickly realized I was not going to be a doo-wop collector for several reasons; a) too expensive; b) as much as I love it, doo-wop is formula music - after a while, it all starts to sound similar; and c) I can't STAND doo-wop record collectors - they listen to NOTHING but group harmony records (they HATE the term "doo-wop"), think that The Beatles ruined all music, and they all try to one-up novice collectors by saying things like, "You ever heard-a dis rekkid? You NEVER heard-a dis rekkid! Dey pressed FOUR copies-a dis rekkid in a garage in 1955, an' I got one! I paid FIVE THOUSAND dollars for dis rekkid! My wife divorced me 'cause I spent the kids' college fund on dis rekkid, BUT I GOT DIS REKKID! Your copy is a repro! I got the original!". The saddest part is that these collectors have priced doo-wop records out of the range of most collectors' pockets, so nobody WANTS original doo-wop 45s anymore. Even sadder is the fact that, as the years go by, the big-time doo-wop collectors are dropping dead from old age, and their children will sell their collections for pennies on the dollar (probably to pay for that college education they never received).

Back to when I was a lad: when I'd ask the record man if he had any OTHER 45s, he'd point me to a box and say with disdain, "well, we have these other 45s - soul, surf and (gag) GARAGE rock (gag)". So I bought those. For a quarter, 50 cents, sometimes a dollar. In my mind, if I went out to buy records with $100 in my pocket, I'd CERTAINLY rather come home with 100 or 200 soul, blues, surf and garage 45s than ONE or TWO doo-wop 45s.

But I digress. My fascination with soul music started at an early age, when a neighbor gave me a copy of "The Best Of Sam Cooke" on RCA Victor. Not a bad place to start! In those early years, I collected what they call "sweet soul" - slow to mid-tempo tunes, heavy on the group harmony.  But as the years went by, I began to get into soul records with a beat - not necessarily "Northern Soul" which I think is one of the most OVERRATED forms of music - and began going to clubs whose DJs played these records.

That's how I learned about "The Boston Monkey" - my good friend Phast Phreddie Patterson turned me on to this (and a host of other cool records). Richard Anthony and The Blue Notes were, apparently, a Philadelphia group, hooking up with producer Frank Virtue (most famous for "Guitar Boogie Shuffle" with his group, The Virtues) and making records for Virtue's Fayette and Virtue labels. Then, in late 1965, the new dance craze came along - The Boston Monkey. How the Boston Monkey differed from the Monkey is beyond me, but by early 1966 there were records about it by Billy Butler, Alvin Cash, Les Cooper and The Soul Rockers, The Manhattans, and The Hustlers. But Richard Anthony and The Blue Notes top them all. It's a killer production by Billy Jackson and Jimmy "Wiz" Wizner (who did a lot of work for other Philly groups like The Tymes and The Dovells) and has a killer riff that runs through the whole song (same one as The Temptations' "Get Ready"). It was released in April, 1966, and died on the vine (Swan Records was on its last legs as a label, closing up shop in early 1967). Well worth the hunt, especially if you want to kick-start a 1960s soul party.

Promo copies of this record have a blank B-side. Both myself and Phast Phreddie are searching for a stock copy which actually has the B-side, called "No Good". Anybody got one?

Anyway, tune in to my "Classic Soul Blowout" show on WFDU-FM, 89.1 on your dial if you're in the NYC area, or at www.wfdu.fm on the internet! I'll even let doo-wop collectors take a listen!

Richard Anthony and The Blue Notes - The Boston Monkey (Swan 4257) - 1966


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