Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Hound's Mystery Disc #2- The Spark Plugs

Our blogeration today concerns just one tune, which is fairly well known among record folks as Chicken by the Spark Plugs. It was re-issued a few year back on Norton (with the Condas' The Bird as the b-side, a tune that had never been released until the aforementioned Norton 45, it came to me via a listener to my old WFMU radio show who sent me a cassette of his dad's band which consisted of two songs the Condas recorded and made a few acetates of). Chicken was also covered by the Cramps I believe. The problem is there is no record called The Chicken by the Spark Plugs, at least that I know of. It was never issued on 45, only on the above pictured LP on the budget Sutton label, and according to the label, the tune is called Painless Thoughts, although none of the tunes on the disc's label appear to match up to their titles. There are ten songs on the album, most of which are fairly dreary ballads or mid tempo pop rockers that sound like Troy Shondell on a bad day. Then there's the tune in question-- Chicken aka The Chicken aka Painless Thoughts, a fervent Freddie Cannon style rocker with a blaring saxophone section and a rabid guitar solo that sounds like it could be the ill fated Kenny Paulson, star of Cannon's Tallahassie Lassie and one time Dale Hawkins sideman. So who were the Spark Plugs and where were they from? Was The Chicken ever issued on a 45? And what of Sutton Records? Sutton never listed an address on their label but it seems like most of their releases where pressed in the sixties, other LP's on the label I've seen are easy listening drek (the Hi-Los, Francis Bey Orchestra, Victor Herbert) or jazz, some of it featuring fairly well known performers such as Lionel Hampton At The Vibes, Duke Ellington meets Leonard Feather, Django Reinhardt and his Guitar, which seem to contain material leased from other labels. A good one to keep an eye out for is Harry "The Hepster" Gibson's-- Rockin' Rhythm LP which has some of his best stuff on it. I've only seen two other rock'n'roll albums on the label-- The Sentinals- Vegas Au-Go Go, which is a live, fairly mild garage thing if I remember correctly, and the Surf Teens- Surf Mania, which I've never heard. My guess is that Sutton was owned by a either a company that pressed records; a la Golden Crest whose story is told in John Broven's wondrous new book Record Makers and Breakers: Voices Of The Independent Rock'n'Roll Pioneers (University Of Illinois Press, 2009) or a one stop distributor. Where did Sutton lease the Spark Plugs masters from? The cover photo shows a distinctly pre-Beatles looking quartet in matching velvet collar suits and huge pompadours. And what of the non-matchng song titles? One is called He's My Blue Guy, hard to believe these greaseballs would be singing about a guy? The lyrics to the tune that matches up to the track listed concern a girl with Lonely Eyes which is probably the real title. The one that's listed as Rap A Way seems to be a tune called Sugar Doll, something of a Buddy Knox style pop rockabilly. The tantalizingly titled Spark Plugs is an instrumental that's actually pretty rockin', easily the second best tune on the LP, it features a pounding piano player and honking sax solo. The label has no songwriting or publishing credits listed, nor does the cover. There had to be at least five members of the band: piano/sax/guitar/bass/drums (although Chicken seems to have at least two saxophones), yet the cover photo shows only four Spark Plugs. There are a lot of questions about this group, this record, and this label. Does anyone out there have any of the answers?
For the record, our last mystery disc-- Blowin Through Yokahma Pt. 1 & Pt. 2 (Munro) is still
a mystery.

23 comments:

garage 66 & mojo repair shop said...

I thought Chicken by the Spark Plugs was released on the songs The Cramps Taught Us series on vinyl and CD.
I ought to double check the liner notes and see what they say,not that it's correct,but I thought it was a legit single.

Bruce said...

The track used on the Born Bad series was taken from the Sparkplugs LP.
Blowin' Thru Yokohama is the Medallions (Munro 1) but incorrectly listed on the comp LP of the same name. I think.

The Hound said...

I know it's on the Born Bad series, the question is wa it originally issued on a 45 or only the Sutton LP?

I co-compiled the Blowin' Through Yokaham LP, it's not incorrectly named, the question on the link is just who were these Medallions (it's not the West Coast group who did "The Letter", "Edna", etc. on Dootone),
and where their other releases on Munro?

Bruce said...

Just trying to help!
I don't believe there is a single by the Sparkplugs called "Chicken". But I've always assumed that one day a single called "Chicken" would turn up that was the same track.
A question...
Is the Medallions (of "Lolo Baby") the West Coast group?

The Hound said...

"Just trying to help!"

I appreciate it, sorry if my response seemed cranky,
I didn't intend it to be.

" But I've always assumed that one day a single called "Chicken" would turn up that was the same track.

Me too. That's basically the point of the posting, since Sutton doesn't appear to have recorded the material they released, I'm asking if anyone has ever seen a copy on 45,and if so what the label it's on and any other info that might have turned up.

A question...
Is the Medallions (of "Lolo Baby") the West Coast group?"

Lolo Baby is the same group that recorded for Dootone.

The Hound said...

"Is the Medallions (of "Lolo Baby") the West Coast group"

Ooops! I just pulled the record out, I was wrong in the above response, they sound like a totally different group and since the label (Singular) is from Philadelphia, I'm gonna say it's a totally different group than the West Coast Medallions and the "Blowin' Through Yokohama" Medallions.

Bruce said...

Well, that's one mystery solved.

Bruce said...

Another question...
I don't (yet) have the Norton reissue of the Poontang Perkins "Put De Pot..." (that was also on "Blowin' Thru'..."). Is it Phil Flowers under another name? And what label was it on??

The Hound said...

I don't (yet) have the Norton reissue of the Poontang Perkins "Put De Pot..." (that was also on "Blowin' Thru'..."). Is it Phil Flowers under another name? And what label was it on??

From an unlabeled acetate, Billy made the name up, don't tell anyone...

garage 66 & mojo repair shop said...

Mysteries solved,more to come.That's what I like about music.

The Hound said...

"Mysteries solved,more to come.That's what I like about music."

Not my two mysteries, not even a hint on the Spark Plugs or the Medallions....

flamingo said...

No solution this time either! But the track was apparently on at least one other sutton lp: "THE BEAGLE & THE FOUR LIVERPOOL WHIGS- (Worst-ever version of "I Want To Hold Your Hand" but the 'Other Favorites' include really decent doo-wop in the style of Dion & the Belmonts; etc. "Painless Thoughts" is by The Spark Plugs, & is really the "Bock Bock Chicken" song) Sutton EX $88 Rare! " (for sale on groovytunesday.com). Here's an incomplete Sutton discography, with some more rock'n'roll: http://forbiddeneye.com/labels/sutton.html

The Hound said...

" is really the "Bock Bock Chicken" song) "

Is it credited to the Spark Plugs on the record you mentioned or the Beagle and the Four Liverpool Whigs?

flamingo said...

I don't know - I haven't seen the album myself...

Anonymous said...

The tracklist on the Beagle and the Four Liverpool Whigs:

A.
1. Rap-A-Way
2. Painless Thoughts
3. Tear A Love
4. I Want To Hold Your Hand
5. Should We Love
B.
6. My Sheila
7. He’s My Blue Guy
8. Give A Love
9. The Cheat
10. Pillow Thoughts

...and a scan here:
http://monstr66.narod.ru/images/Beagl.jpg

--Dominic

The Hound said...

"The tracklist on the Beagle and the Four Liverpool Whigs:"

The exact same tracks listing (in a different order) as the Spark Plugs LP, except "I Want To Hold Your Hand", my guess is these tracks also don't match up and are the same ones I mention in the blog. Thanks for the detective work....

Artie Mondello said...

Unrelated, but speaking of mystery discs, did Miriam ever forward ya "I Want To Marry An Egghead" by Leona Bass ("with the Lost Guitars") on the Lorida label? Damn thing's been haunting me since I dug it up from a church thrift store back in the 90's, along with a coupla other Lorida releases. Even took a road trip to Lorida, FL (literally in the middle of nowhere) to try to dig up info, and zilch...

The Hound said...

I've turned up a few other Lorida releases over the years, mostly pretty lame-- Harold Crosby- Bastille Blues and one, I can't remember the title by a guy named E. Jay Eckles. Not much known about the label,
or the artists, didja try the local phone directory?

Artie Mondello said...

Is that Eckles Lorida rekkid "Turnip Termite"? I haven't seen it in person, but a buddy of mine taped it for me years ago. Anyway, yes, the Lorida label had some incredibly awful crap, specifically the Harold Crosby releases, but "I Want To Marry An Egghead" (the B-side of their first release -- A-side is the forgettable "My Heart's With You On Trial, by Ralph Tullo with the Lost Guitars) is unlike anything I've heard before or since. The Shaggs' country cousin, thrice removed? Or did some hick get his 12-year-old daughter drunk & record this in the living room prior to conceiving their child/sibling? Haunting & baffling... Give 'er a listen:

http://www.delusionaires.com/mp3/egghead.mp3

The weekend after I bought it, I drunkenly spent my entire birthday evening playing it again & again deciphering the lyrics, and then hours bugging directory information trying to track down any name connected with this or any other Lorida release, just to try to locate this gal. No dice. When we took the road trip to Lorida to dig in person, no dice again. Finally asked a local at the grocery if the name meant anything to her, and she shrugged & said, "Well, Bass is a pretty common name in these parts..." Do tell...

The Hound said...

"Is that Eckles Lorida rekkid "Turnip Termite"? "

I think it was called You Make Believe, I ended up trading it away for something I really wanted to a nut who collected only Fla records (I grew up in S. Fla.),
and he had one on Chart I really wanted (Elder Beck-- R&R Sermon), I can't remember the b-side but it didn't have anything to do with turnips....

Caroline C. said...

I have this record, which I got, jacketless, from the Salvation Army in Santa Monica in the late 70s or early 80s.

The Hound said...

" have this record, which I got, jacketless, from the Salvation Army in Santa Monica in the late 70s or early 80s."
Now you know what the cover looks like...

Anonymous said...

Speaking of "The Beagle and the Four Liverpool Whigs LP"... I'm posting one on EBAY right now!!

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