Big Stir Records have released a collection of twenty-two songs from twenty-two artists who had a new release this year on their label. Twenty-Two, the album, harkens me back to the good old days of K-Tel. I still like compilations, and this is the fourteenth compilation that I have listened to this year. Some dodgy ones would make good frisbees. But not this one; it is a keeper.
One of the critical factors to consider when listening to compilations is the flow. Does one song bleed into the next one, or does it jar and clash? I will not run through this compilation song by song, but I will give a few highlights.
Highlight number one is the opening track conveniently. We’re Going Downtown by Chris Church blasted out of my speakers, and I immediately focused on the playlist. Chris Church rocks us into a transition that smoothly moves to Summer Blue by Lannie Flowers. I have previously listened to and blogged about some of these artists. I wrote about Lannie Flowers and his album Flavor of the Month in September of this year.
However, some have flown in under my radar. One of those new songs is track four, Stop the World, by The Incururables. It is very reminiscent of the New Wave of the late 70s and early 80s. This song brings to mind Brinsley Schwarz, Elvis Costello and that British New Wave scene.
Another song I like and is new to me is the song Choker by Walker Brigade. I am positive I have heard them before but not this song. It’s a bit different in the sea of rock and roll that it is floating in. Not quite hard rock and not quite folk, I think I’ll default and call it good music.
Maple Mars is another tight band. I remember them because they gave me an earworm with their song Useless Information.
Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White is a great topical song that talks about colour coding people and putting them into boxes based on the shade of colour of their skin.
Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) is a song that I have on a compilation album, 60’s Summer of Love (Collector’s Edition). I think The Test Pressings, a good band name, have made a good cover of this song and moved it from pure pop to light rock.
The next track is another cover; Mama Told Me Not To Come. I am familiar with the Three Dog Night version, probably the rendition that most people associate with this track. However, there is some fascinating history behind the song. It was written in 1966 by Randy Newman for Eric Burdon‘s first solo recording, Eric Is Here, released in 1967. Although credited to Eric Burdon and the Animals, there are no Animals on the album.
Randy Newman‘s turn at recording Mama Told Me Not To Come was released on his 1970 album 12 Songs. Newman’s piano and Ry Cooder‘s slide guitar gave a more bluesy feel to the song.
Also in 1970, Three Dog Night released a longer, rock ‘n roll and funk-inspired version (titled “Mama Told Me (Not to Come)”) on their album, It Ain’t Easy. The album had Cory Wells singing lead in an almost humorous vocal style, Jimmy Greenspoon played a Wurlitzer, Michael Allsup played guitar, and Donna Summer sang backing vocals, though uncredited.
Billboard ranked the record as the No. 11 song of 1970. The single was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America on July 14, 1970, the same day that It Ain’t Easy was certified gold. It was also the number-one song on the premiere broadcast of American Top 40 with Casey Kasem on July 4, 1970. Pardon my rabbit trail; we will now return to the 22.
Lanny Flowers shows up again on track 19 with a Beatlesque tune called Lost in a Daydream. It is very Sgt. Pepper and an enjoyable listen.
The other songs on this album are consistently good, and they all avoid jarring transitions from song to song. Overall this is a good sample of the quality music that comes out of Big Stir Records. I look forward to what they bring us in 2023.
Available on Apple Music