Private Pressings Go Public

Posted by Rick Frystak, January 31, 2012 02:05pm | Post a Comment
Anyone who wants to can make an LP record! Yes, anybody, and it’s always been like that. Why can’t the world hear your creativity? Break out of those bedroom studios and living rooms and lounges and let the people know of your greatness! Why work all your life on your axe and never be heard by the masses? Who needs to wait for a major label to sign you to a rip-off contact? Call ACME Records and they’ll make a short-run pressing for you if you have the dough.  

Vanity pressings and small labels have always floated just under the surface of the platters you’d see in Billboard. My friends made some back in those days. Faces filled of hope, fame and just plain good-old personal righteousness. Words like “Real People”, “Outsider”, “Loner Folk”, “Xain Psych”, and “Steakhouse pressing” are just some of the many tags tossed about now about this history. And they’re filled with samples galore if you dig that sort of thing. Who doesn’t need a 5-second turnaround out of a live version of “Raindrops Are Fallin’ On My Head”?

These are not the Holy-Grail garage records. These aren’t the $1000 regional soul records. Just “real people" doing hard work and craft, and they're all available on Amoeba’s site to the first-come! Just click the title and see if they’re still there.  

Steve Jolliffe

Journeys Out Of The Body
Nada Pulse Records U.K. 1983

The label’s logo is “Music For The Interior Life”.  Song titles like “Second Reality” and “Middle Dream State” describe the saga of this issue, co-produced by THE Jade Warrior. Calm but serious spatial, meditative, melodic improvising, usually in one key, with sitar effects, field recordings and electronic twitters. Steve very creatively plays a cache of instruments including the flutes, soprano sax, piano, synthesizer and samplers, and does a cosmic chanting style to further deepen the mystery of the lovely moods. Additional guitar and guitar synth players bubble above and below the “action” on this trippy droning jewel. The LP comes with a one-sheet insert describing Steve’s out-of-body and other-reality experiences. Steve’s still going strong as his web site reveals.

Original Soundtrack

Love Minus One
Margabi Music 1971

“Romantic” drama about an unwanted pregnancy and subsequent illegal Mexican abortion (uh…the “Minus One”part) between an innocent assault victim and a divorced man who hates the ex who’s taken him to the cleaners. This soundtrack composed by Denny Vaughn combines all the “edginess” of an Emmanuelle score,  with the compositional chops of a Franz Liszt ….lots of sweet, heartfelt strings.  They said, “Hey!  We ‘got a soundtrack record here!”.  A couple of groovers with harpsichord and electric bass later, some Paul Williams influence and an overall vibe of a late-afternoon ABC movie, and you know what I’m talking about. Very 1971. I hope there was a happy ending.

Ford & Angel

You Can’t Have Everything!
Montagne Records 1977

Featuring the twin-trumpet and vocals (but…gee…they forgot to credit the vocals on the sleeve) onslaught of Andy Angel and Frankie Ford (definitely not “Sea Cruise” F.F.), this schmear of cocktail lounge jazz ‘n pop lays it on heavy. With a tight mix by an un-credited engineer (who probably didn’t insist his name be on it), these cats can really sing and play and they hit all the heavies, like “Gonna Fly Now”, a heavy instro of “Cameleon” and “Feelings” along with seven other belters. Palm Springs watering holes don’t book acts of this caliber, so you have this LP to savor the vibe in your own home for a lifetime. Oh, and it’s signed!

Buddy Fry
Does It His Way
Mark Custom Records 1970

Hands down the swingin’est and grooviest steakhouse private press of its ilk.  Fry squawks his way through all the greats like “Who Am I”, “Dock Of The Bay”, ”My Way”, quite possibly the definitive version of “Both Sides Now”, and other icons of bottle boutiques around the globe.  Ably backed by some nice organ, drums, guitar and piano from his band called The Individuals, Buddy kills it on this live date from Speelmon’s Steakhouse in Iowa (pronounced SHPEEL-mon’s) with his mobile intonation, Irish-wake vibrato and deft knowledge of the lyrical spirit unto which these tomes have been resurrected. There’s even a drum break with clapping on “Ob-La-Di” egged on by Buddy. Nick The Lounge Singer worships at the feet of Buddy Fry, and the cover says it all: “No one else sings like Buddy Fry”.  I consider it an honor that half of my surname is “Fry”. Sealed copy!

Herb Pilhofer


Sound 80 Digital 1979

Here’s my digital offering for this session…my old keyboard player’s teacher, Herb Pilhofer.  Abstract expressionist cover gatefolds open into a tight-as-a-crab’s-ass jazz funk session for the Aja set. Brassy, reedy charts (Dick Oatts) and strings support the Minimoog groovestate and Gadd-ish compressed snare of the quite chipper-looking Pilhofer’s sound, with always-hip first-call sessionist soloing and all the chops.  Don’t forget that these hip jazz cats hearts, and they’re a couple soul-jerking ballads here with Herb tickling the Bosendorfer 88’s and that impressive string writing, but it’s mostly plugged in avocado funk not from L.A., but from a Minneapolis Label, pre-Rykodisc 3M 32 track digital studio with wood walls and stuff. Clean (it’s digital) and warm (it’s still digital) recording that makes the instruments right in your face. Wait, is that a phased panflute? Who knows. Who cares! Hell, I want this one for myself!
“If I weren’t a musician, I’d be a painter, a photographer, an architect...ideally all of them”.-Herb Pilhofer

Bob Chance

It’s Broken

Morrhythm Records 1980

Bubbly synthesizers and chunky guitar color the hobbling disco beat Bob’s story of “The Van Man”, a hip dude with a tricked out van that preys on cute girls. “...lookout!” Then he warbles about girls making fun of him every time he turns around. Or get into the groove of “It’s Broken”,  a 9-and-a- half minute  dance track that I’m sure had the studio rocking, with it’s floating Arp Solina, mis-mixed drums and tenuous bass line. Then, Bob’s waaay ahead of the World Beat crowd with the taped-juingle-sounds erotic funk minor chord freakfest stoned on Shirley Temples. Soft psych syrup shapes the uber- special seriousness in Bob’s super Masonic Lodge date-night boogie extravaganza. Privately pressed to sell off the keyboard stand. A sought-after winner all around!

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