Friday, April 16, 2010

Meteor Shower Over Wisconsin - God Just Loves The Packers

A meteor shower over Wisconsin late last night, and several other Midwestern states looks like the end of the world. But it's just really a large green football shaped meteor that's just coming to Wisconsin where it belongs. The sign the Packers will win the Superbowl next season is what some people are saying. The first video portion of this is over the skyline of Milwaukee taken by WISN. The second part of the clip is over Iowa,the third clip is Madison,Wisconsin, a quick flash...yes it's a sign...Well, it could happen,right?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Wisconsin Rocks Volume 4 - The First Rock And Roll Song Recorded in Wisconsin and VERY First Swastika/Cuca Records Release

Volume 4 is a hot one! This volume contains the earliest Cuca Records/Swastika Records release.
Along with bands from the same time period 1957-1962. This volume also contains The Fendermen's very first version of "Mule Skinner Blues",released in 1960. The story about Swastika Records and Willie Tremain's Thunderbirds "Frankie's Rock"is an odd one. I spoke to Jim Kirchstein owner/knob twiddler/engineer of Cuca Records,and Swastika Records label and name was just done without much thought,and no real meaness meant. He came up with the logo and name simply because he was living around a lot of people who spoke German,and lived in a small community of German ,Swiss,and other European families. It was common that most people who lived in the smaller towns spoke fluent German at home, and he did it thinking it wouldn't hurt anyone,and possibly just for a minor joke. He also noted that the Swastika logo was a good luck sign.
The problem with it, is that it wasn't really a joke,and when Jim wanted to press more records at a Chicago RCA Record pressing plant, they were a little uncomfortable with the label name and logo, and while ordering his next batch of records quickly dropped the Swastika Records logo and name right there and then. While he was on the phone ordering the records he quickly came up with the Cuca Records name and from then on, was the label's name. Now, these days, the original label and design of the Swastika logo is highly collectible, and noted as an oddity.
Jim isn't so proud of this fact these days, but you know you do crazy things when your just starting out, he says. He didn't think it would bother people at the time. Without a doubt,it is one way to get noticed! How else are you going break into the music market, and get your records played.
Cuca Records was a small one man operation, and never tried to use payola to get the records played on the radio Jim sent out records all over to radio stations to get played, and did whatever he could. The story is The Fendermen record was broke in small market radio and then grew from there to be one of the biggest, out of nowhere songs of 1960.
And it was all somewhat accidental! In December of 1959, a record salesman named Ron Straussburger stopped by Jim's label with a tape,and Jim set it aside for the holiday season,not thinking much of playing it. Ron asked Jim to consider releasing this tape on a 45 rpm record.
Jim rediscovered this tape left there on his shelf,in January of 1960,and heard the novelty rockabilly song "Mule Skinner Blues". He recognised the song being a version of a Jimmie Rodgers song from 1930 called Blue Yodel No. 8. The Fendermen duo recorded their version of this song in their basement,and that's what Jim had on his tape. Well, it was a great version of this song, updated complete with yelps,screams,and howls. Jim thought it could be a potential hit and released it,as Cuca label number 1003 and sent few copies here and there for radio play, with a note saying "This is new,we're small, Please give it a listen" The Fendermen got their break, from radio stations, in La Crosse, Wisconsin and other small market radio stations in midwest towns,radio listeners loved the song! Jim says "it simply grew from requests from listeners calling in loving the song", and that's the story. The song "Mule Skinner Blues" got as high as number 2 in the Billboard Charts that year.
Enough for Cuca Records to get established,noticed and able to put out more records.
And Jim Kirchstein ran the label from 1959 to about 1973 or so. So many bands from Wisconsin recorded at the Cuca label it must be mentioned a lot here on this blog. If it wasn't for Jim and his label,many bands would never have gotten to record and make singles in the 50's,60's,and early 70's.
And here's the tracks on this particular volume:

01. Intro
02. The Fendermen- Mule Skinner Blues (First Version)
03. The Noblemen- Dragon Walk
04. Dave Kennedy & The Ambassadors- You Didn't Listen
05. Bobby Dean- It's A Fad, Ma
06. Vilas Craig- Gotta Find My Baby
07. The Soul Brothers- What did She Say
08. The Teen Kings- I Might Have Known
08. Steve Sperry- That Ain't So
10. The Thundermen- Flyin' High
11. The Tornados- Scalping Party
12. The White Caps- Rock 'n Roll Saddles
13. Ken Davis- Shook Shake
14. Johnny Jay- Sugar Doll
15. Gary Lane & The Mad Lads- Henrietta
16. Scottie Stuart- Nightmare
17. The Teentones- Sands of Arabia
18. The Zakons- Wasted
19. The Furys- This Way Out
20. The Montereys- Rocker
21. Bud Squires & The Teen's Men- Like Now
22. The Six Shooters- Rotation
23. Willie Tremain's Thunderbirds- Frankie's Rock
24. Ronie Premier & The Royal Lancers- Angel In My Eyes
25. Bobby Dean- Dime Store Pony Tail
26. The Bonnevilles- Sky Dive

There's a lot of other very strong tracks on this volume:
The Noblemen are a fabulous mixture of novelty/ instrumental
"Dragon Walk" is one of my favorites! It has this wonderful sleazeball
sax weaving in and out of the song! It's nuts! Music to strip to!
The Teen Kings deliver the goods with "I Might Have Known" a
fine rockabilly song that came out on Cuca's sister label Sara Records.
The Zakons,from Green Bay,who I mentioned before with also a fine
instro called "Wasted", a cool early doo wop song by The Soul Brothers
From Milwaukee called "What Did She Say". Other faves include:
The Tornados (From Woodruff,Wisconsin) instro
"Scalping Party"complete with war whoops and hollers! Excellent!

The earliest Wisconsin rock 'n' roll song ever recorded is on here too!
The White Caps (From Appleton,Wisconsin) with "Rock 'n Roll Saddles"
from 1957! Wow! Where else are you gonna hear this????
I also love Gary Lane & The Mad Lads from Milwaukee,
"Henrietta" is a real shouter! (also released on Cuca Records in 1964)
Scottie Stuart's "Nightmare" is also really fun rockabilly number.
That song came out in 1960,and Scottie was from Madison.
Just listen to the cool rocking guitar! Why didn't that become a hit?!
It's complete with screaming and hollering!
I also love the Bonnevilles (From Waukesha) "Sky Dive" from 1960.
Another wonderful sax fueled instrumental rock song that shoulda
been a big hit!
I don't know about you, but this is a real great disc hipsters!
Dig it, Dig it right here! Don't forget to tell me what you think
of it,leave a comment, scream,holler!
Wisconsin Rocks Volume 4

Wisconsin Rocks Volume 3 More Great Rock From Wisconsin!!!!!

Wisconsin Rocks Volume 3 -Various Artists from the wealth of Wisconsin independant bands from 1968-1977 on this disc.
Here's the low down kids:
01. The Skunks- I Recommend Her
02. Tony's Tygers- Little By Little
03. The Sidewalk Skipper Band- Cynthia At The Garden
04. The Sidewalk Skipper Band- Strawberry Tuesday
05. The Tygers- I Believe
06. The Love Society- Do You Wanna Dance
07. The Skunks- Small Town Girl
08. The Robbs- Changin' Winds
09. Thee Prophets- Playgirl
10. The Love Society- Tobacco Road
11. The Wrest- Bet Your Sweet Bippy
12. The Unchained Mynds- We Can't Go On This Way
13. The Coachmen- Girl In The Wind
14. The Skunks- Doing Nothing
15. Thee Prophets- Some Kind Of Wonderful
16. The Love Society- Let's Pretend(We're Making Love)
17. The Underground Sunshine- Birthday
18. Thee Prophets- Rag Doll Boy
19. Bare Fat- You Can All Join In
20. The Freeloaders- I Who Have Nothing
21. Larry Lynn- Back On The Street Again
22. Today's Tomorrow- Witchi Tai To
23. The Messengers- I Gotta Dance
24. Cherokee- Girl,I've got News For You
25. The Messengers- That's The Way A Woman Is
26. The Black Society- Look Around You
27. Truc- There's A Moon Out Tonight
28. Sunblind Lion- Jamaican Holiday
29. Bad Boy- Thinking Of You

The Skunks,Tony's Tygers,The Sidewalk Skipper Band,The Messengers,
The Black Society, Truc, Bad Boy,Cherokee,The Robbs, Thee Prophets,
were all from the Milwaukee area,The Unchained Mynds were from
La Crosse,The Love Society were from Plymouth,
The Underground Sunshine from Montello, Wisconsin.
The Sunblind Lion were originally from Appleton ,Wisconsin.
The value of this music is this : you get to hear these singles as they came out,and that's sometimes the only way you can hear these bands, just able to produce a 45 rpm single, which to me sound great! Many of the 60's bands broke up as they got older,went to college,got married, got drafted(didn't head for the northern or southern border to escape that impending doom of the Vietnam War). The Robbs got signed to Mercury Records and made some nice pop records! Some were lucky and continued on making records in other bands....I want to mention that the The Skunks in particular, they were on a Chicago label with more of a chance to get into radio air play, because of Quill Records (which Sundazed Records just released "We're Gonna Change The World! The 60's Chicago Garage Sound of Quill Productions)Wonderful stuff by the way!
Please check out Sundazed Records for that comp! You won't be sorry,it contains other songs from The Skunks,besides that great garage 60's sound of the Malibu's, The Riddles, The Commons Ltd. "I'm Gonna Change The World!",The Delights "Every Minute,Every Hour"! Wow it's cool,and only limited to 1,000 copies. Get one now before they're gone!

Bare Fat released this single here on Bang Records,in 1969. The Freeloaders single came out on A & M Records(in 1969), The Messengers single came out on Rare Earth Records in 1971. All of these labels were pretty new (only a year or two or three years as a record label) at the time,and were open to releasing singles by fairly unknown bands. I think the labels were hoping that one of these bands were going to make it into the charts,and cause a lot of excitement, but it just didn't click. Other bands on the Rare Earth label,A & M Records and Bang Records nudged these Wisconsin bands out. Too bad,I think it is just luck,chance and if you toured a lot,to get the name of your band out there...
But most of the other bands on this set/series got local airplay-local radio-and local gigs at the local high school/VFW Halls or Teen hangouts, which was pretty cool enough. A little taste of local fame was nice too. So I give you more Wisconsin rock and roll obscurities,enjoy...
Comes complete with scans front/backs/more info about where the bands came from!
Wisconsin Rocks Volume 3