Friday, August 31, 2007

Robyn Hitchcock - I Wanna Go Backwards Box Set

The upcoming Robyn Hitchcock box set I Wanna Go Backwards is now available for pre-order and has streaming audio on Yep Roc's website. The release date is set for October 16, 2007 AD. The box covers the Hitchcock solo albums Black Snake Dîamond Röle (1981), I Often Dream Of Trains (1984) and Eye (1990) in their entirety. It also includes a two disc set called While Thatcher Mauled Britain Part 1 & 2 that includes some previously unreleased rarities, as well as some tracks that previously appeared on the Invisible Hitchcock and You & Oblivion rarities collections.

If you are an obsessive Hitchcock collector like I am (and if you're not, what's wrong with you?) you are likely wondering two things: What material here is genuinely new to me, and what is missing from the albums I already own? Good news! I've already done the research for you and created to this handy guide:

What's new?

Previously unreleased material on I Often Dream Of Trains:
Chant/Aether (different from You & Oblivion version)
Heart Full Of Leaves (alternate)
I Often Dream Of Trains (demo)
Not Even A Nurse
Slow Chant/That's Fantastic Mother Church
Traveller's Fare

Previously unreleased material on While Thatcher Mauled Britain Part 1 & 2:
Shimmering Distant Love
Lovers Turn To Skulls
The Beauty Of Earl's Court
Flesh Number 1 (different from Globe of Frogs version)
Parachutes & Jellyfish
Melting Arthur
You're So Repulsive
Lovely Golden Villains
Dr Sticky (live) (different from Invisible Hitchcock version)
I Wanna Go Backwards
The Abandoned Brain (different from Invisible Hitchcock version)

While the three proper albums will be available separately, the rarities discs are only available as part of the box set, so if you want them you'll have to spring for the whole thing.

What's Missing?
The most obvious omission is the mess that emerged from the sessions for Hitchcock's second solo LP, 1982's Groovy Decay. Yep Roc has promised Groovy Decay as a download-only release. No word on whether it will contain all the material from both Groovy Decay and Groovy Decoy, as the Rhino reissue Gravy Deco did.

Personally, I think it is kind of a shame that Groovy Decoy/Decay is not getting a proper reissue. True, Hitchcock (and many of his fans) hold these albums in low regard. And I admit the albums are partly spoiled by over-production, inappropriate arrangements and some weaker songs. But on the whole I think they're under-rated. The dance floors of the world will likely survive without the disco versions of "Kingdom Of Love" and "Night Ride To Trinidad" that showed up as bonus tracks on Gravy Deco, but "The Cars She Used To Drive," "Fifty Two Stations," "America," "The Rain" and several other songs hold up quite well.

Certainly it's better the material be available for download than completely unavailable (and all of these albums have been out-of-print for the better part of a decade). But perhaps I am old-fashioned in my belief that an album isn't really in print unless it is distributed for purchase on some physical media in stores that actually exist in the material world.

Missing from the original version of Black Snake Dîamond Röle:
"The Man Who Invented Himself" [This probably requires some explanation: as was the case with the Rhino reissue, the version of "The Man Who Invented Himself" that originally appeared on the Black Snake Dîamond Röle LP has been replaced with the Zinc Pear version. That probably requires some explanation too, but I'm not going to give it to you.]

Missing from the Rhino version of Black Snake Dîamond Röle:
Dancing On God's Thumb

Missing from the Rhino version of I Often Dream of Trains:
Mellow Together [In my opinion, this is no great loss. I always hated this song.]
Sometimes I Wish I Was A Pretty Girl (demo)
Cathedral (demo)
Mellow Together (demo)
The Bones In The Ground (demo)

Missing from the Rhino version of Eye:
Agony Of Pleasure (demo)

Missing from the Rhino version Invisible Hitchcock:
Falling Leaves
Eaten By Her Own Dinner
Star Of Hairs
Messages Of Dark
Blues In A
Dr. Sticky (studio version)
The Abandoned Brain (a different version is featured on the new set)

Missing from You & Oblivion:
Don't You
Mr. Rock 'n' Roll
The Dust
Polly On The Shore
Into It
Keeping Still
Ghost Ship
You & Me

I imagine it is possible that some of this material might surface on the next Hitchcock box set from YepRoc, but that seems unlikely given that the next box will focus on Robyn's work with the Egyptians. In the meantime, don't sell your Rhino Hitchcock CDs.

I've only listened to a bit of the streaming material, but much of the stuff I hadn't heard before sounds quite good. If you don't already own these albums, purchasing this set is a no brainer. If you do own them, hopefully my breakdown has made your decision whether to purchase or not an easier one. As for myself, the only decision I have to make is whether to spring for the vinyl or not.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

R.I.P. Wild Bill Hagy

Any Oriole fan of a certain age is bound to have fond memories of Wild Bill Hagy. My memory of Hagy is bound up with my early years of being an Oriole fan, particularly the 1979 season. Hagy was a Baltimore cabdriver and Oriole superfan who would lead cheers from the cheap seats of Memorial Stadium.

Hagy began a boycott of Oriole games in 1985 when the team stopped letting people bring their own beer to the stadium. He later started attending games again after the team moved to Camden Yards, but rarely led the crowd in his signature "O-R-I-O-L-E-S" cheer. He did it when Cal Ripken broke Lou Gerhig's consecutive games streak, and he did it one last time in Cooperstown when Ripken was inducted into the baseball hall of fame. Frankly, as beautiful as Camden Yards is, it has never matched Memorial Stadium for atmosphere, although that may have something to do with the declining quality of Oriole teams.

I would not be shocked to learn that Hagy was the inspiration for "Dancin' Homer" on The Simpsons. If there were a baseball fan's hall of fame, Hagy would be a shoo-in first ballot inductee.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

R.I.P. Max Roach

Max Roach died Wednesday night at age 83. Another giant no longer walks among us. Another link to our past is gone. All we are left with is the music. He was one of the best.

Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers - Rockin' and Romance

Rockin' and Romance from 1985 is my favorite Jonathan Richman album. That is not the same as saying I think it's his best (the critical consensus seems to be that the first Modern Lovers album is the best, and I won't argue with that). It's just that Rockin' and Romance is the album I've listened to the most over the years, and the one I have gotten the most enjoyment out of.

So why do I like this album so much? It's probably a combination of factors including the wonderful songs, the spirited performances, the production, as well as the point in my life when I first heard the album.

My first exposure to the album was in high school through my friend Pete, who picked up a used copy at the Annapolis Record and Tape Exchange. We both marveled at Jonathan's honesty and fearless Romanticism: here was a guy who could find beauty and mystery in a disposed of chewing gum wrapper, and wasn't the least bit embarrassed about his enthusiasm for a piece of trash. Rather, he seemed to take a perverse delight in celebrating the things the rest of the world would rather dispose of. It took me a couple years to find my own copy of the album, but when I ran across a still-sealed cut out I snatched it up as quickly as I could and held on to it tight, afraid someone else might spot my sacred treasure and buy it out from under me.

Andy Paley deserves a lot of credit for his production on this album. Jonathan's complaint about the production on Jonathan Sings! being sterile cannot be applied to this album. Quite the opposite. Some might call the recording lo-fi, but I don't think that's right either. Rather, Paley simply eschews modern audio recording technique in favor of a much more organic sound that goes a lot further toward capturing the essence of Jonathan's songs and the group's performances than multi-tracking ever possibly could have. The sound is live, real and tangible. Paley was no idiot savant in the studio--he could do slick and overproduced as well (or as badly) as anyone (consider Brian Wilson's first solo album for example). Fortunately, Richman and Paley had the wisdom not to record this album like that. Instead it sounds like the whole band set up in a small studio and recorded the largely acoustic material around a single stereo microphone. However they did it, it sounds fantastic, capturing all of Richman's charm and the enthusiasm of the performers. Paley also plays some mean toy piano on the album.

Despite the fact that this album has never officially been released on CD, it is available on CD. Sort of. Twin/Tone has made much of their catalog available in the form of custom made CDs that can be purchased through their website. You can order a custom CD of this album for $15 plus $5 shipping (and if you don't already own it you should). Unfortunately, you won't get any cover art, but don't let that stop you because I created some high quality CD art (zip file) that you can download and print out yourself.

Rockin' and Romance is a cult album by a cult artist. According to Twin/Tone's website the album sold 19,360 copies on LP and cassette combined (which is actually pretty good by 80s indie label standards). You can probably add about 20 custom made CDs to that total. Would I like to live in a world where you could buy Rockin' and Romance at the supermarket, and you had to special order a custom burned CD of Slippery When Wet? Yeah, I think I would. It would be a different and weirder world for sure, but you'd have a hard time convincing me it wouldn't also be a nicer one.

"The Beach" is a seasonally appropriate ode to, um, the beach. "Vincent Van Gogh" is Richman's second song about a great painter, this one much happier and more positive than "Pablo Picasso," (which is almost perverse considering the subject). Art historians might quibble with Richman's methodology, but his thesis ("he loved color and he let it show") is as rock solid as the beat. Perhaps my favorite song is the album's closer, "Now Is Better Than Before," a frank and touching song about how love can grow stronger over the years. It is both sentimental and completely honest at the same time (a difficult feat). It is almost more beautiful than this world deserves. But since we can't live in a world where Jonathan Richman is a multi-platinum artist and Bon Jovi has small cult following, at least we can be thankful we live in a world where an artist as talented and unique as Jonathan Richman can sustain a 30+ year career on the margins.

[Custom CD available from Twin/Tone]

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers - Jonathan Sings!

Four years after his final Beserkley album, 1979's Back In Your Life, Jonathan Richman reemerged with a new record label (actually two, Rough Trade in the UK and Sire in the U.S.), a new Modern Lovers, a somewhat revised musical style, and a new album that was really quite special.

Jonathan Sings! marks the beginning of a transitional period in Richman's career. Over the next four years Richman would release three albums on three different labels before settling in to a long tenure with Rounder Records and then another long tenure with Neil Young's Vapor Records.

Jonathan's new Modern Lovers included backup singers the "Rockin' Robins" (Ellie Marshall and Beth Harrington), as well Ken Forfia on keyboards, former Rubinoo "Curly" Keranen on bass, and Michael Guardabascio on drums. Utilizing two female backup singers in particular gave the album a different flavor than his previous releases. It's a good choice because it gives Richman someone to play off of with his sometimes conversational singing style.

For the most part the silliness of the Beserkley years is absent here. There are no Rockin' Leprechauns, Abominable Snowmen, Martian Martians, Parties In The Woods, or Dodge-Veg-O-Matics on this album. In their place is a set of very simple and heartfelt songs that focus on life's simplest and most profound pleasures. The album is all about the things that make Jonathan Richman happy: love in a stable relationship ("Somebody To Hold Me," You're The One For Me"), summertime ("That Summer Feeling"), music ("This Kind Of Music," "Those Conga Drums"), childhood nostalgia ("Not Yet Three," "The Tag Game"), special places ("Give Paris One More Chance," "When I'm Walking"), and doing your own thing without worrying about what others think ("The Neighbors," "Stop This Car"). Think of this album as musical prozac.

It's hard to call this a more "mature" Jonathan Richman. A sense of child-like wonder and innocence is still at the core of these songs, despite the fact that the self-conscious silliness of some of his previous work is missing. "Not Yet Three" is perhaps Richman's finest articulation of what makes the child's perception of the world superior to the inevitable cynicism that accompanies adulthood. This song could have been my son's theme song when he was around three: it very much reminds me of his absolute determination to take full advantage of every bit of joy the world has to offer, a quality that has already begun to fade somewhat at five. "That Summer Feeling" is a Richman classic that he would later re-record, and would remain in his core live repertoire for years.

In the liner notes to the 1993 CD reissue of this album, Richman is typically modest about the quality of the album:
Personally, I can't listen to this record...I loved the band that made it, and I loved the songs, but I sang the songs bad and the recording technique didn't capture the way we really sounded. It was sterile in comparison to the real thing.

Jonathan actually has a point about the recording technique, it does sound a tad sterile, but not so much that it diminishes my enjoyment of the wonderful performances. What a shame that this fantastic album has been out-of-print for so long.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers Live

Modern Lovers Live from 1978 is, in my opinion, one of the greatest punk rock records of all time. Now it might seem ridiculous to argue that this is a punk album (and maybe it is ridiculous, but like Jonathan Richman, I'm not afraid to be ridiculous, so bear with me). After all, this album focuses on Richman's most whimsical and childlike material. How can an album full of songs like "Hey There Little Insect," "I'm A Little Airplane," "My Little Kookenhaken," "Ice Cream Man" and "I'm A Little Dinosaur" be punk? This is innocent, sticky sweet stuff that even an eight-year old might find juvenile.

Certainly my enthusiasm for this album is not universally shared. Rock critics despised Jonathan Richman's post Beserkley Chartbusters embrace of his inner child. In The New Rolling Stone Record Guide, Dave Marsh dismisses this phase of Richman's career thusly:

In his original incarnation as the hyperthyroid lead singer of the Modern Lovers, Richman gave new hope to the socially inept. He looked like the kid who stumbled over his own feet in the high school lunch room and got the shit kicked out of him on general principles: short hair, sloppy clothes, no cool. But a real genius for metaphor was expressed in songs like "Road Runner," "Pablo Picasso" and "Government Center."

On Rock and Roll and "Live" Richman lost his vision and became once more a teenage twerp, warbling about Veg-a-Matics and other garbage, replacing the Lover's flat punk rock with even flatter folkie music. Now you know why everybody picked on that kid in high school.

Fortunately, Jonathan Richman was not interested in being some performing flea in Dave Marsh's fascist rock and roll circus. Richman was not inclined to play out Marsh's self-aggrandizing fantasy of the punk rocker as geek turned hipster. Jonathan Richman didn't want to make music so that rock critics could feel better about their high school traumas, and rock critics never forgave him for it. Instead, Jonathan did something much more profound and important; he followed his own muse where it led him, and did exactly what he wanted to do--critics (and audience for that matter) be damned. And that my friends is punk rock.

If punk rock is nothing more than a doctrinaire musical style (loud, fast and angry music), then no, this is not punk rock. But if punk is based on a DIY spirit and an aesthetic of radical individualism, then this music more than qualifies.

There is another aspect to this album that is punk that might not be immediately apparent given the sense of childlike wonder inherent in this material. Richman's interaction with the audience, though shrouded in his nice-guy persona, is borderline confrontational. Audience members regularly yell out for his older, more aggressive songs ("PABLO PICASSO!!!" "ROADRUNNER!!!") and Richman, in a simultaneously charming and passive aggressive manner, refuses to comply.

The 8 minute rendition of "Ice Cream Man" on this album is extraordinary. Richman does about 12 encore reprises of the chorus after the song comes to an initial end. David Cleary writing at All Music Guide criticizes this tactic as extending the song "well past the point of honest enjoyment." It's a fair criticism. After all, isn't 8 minutes of "Ice Cream Man" about 4 minutes too many?

Well, yes and no. Richman's performance of this song reminds me to a certain extent of the comedy of Jerry Lewis. Lewis will take a simple sight gag that is funny on the surface and then extend it to the point that it becomes painful, then keeps it going even longer to the point that it becomes funny again simply because you can't believe he's willing to keep such a ridiculous gag running so long. It is a style of performance that is confrontational, and alienates many, which is why opinion on both Lewis and Richman tends to be so divided. I'll let you guess where I stand on Jerry Lewis, but I make no secret of my love for Jonathan Richman.

This is an extremely well recorded live album that truly captures the spirit of the artist's performance at a critical juncture in his career. In my opinion it's one of the best albums of his career. My only complaint with the album is that--with only 9 songs--it is far too short. I'm sure there is a lot more material from these shows moldering in the vaults somewhere. I'd love to hear other Richman favorites from this period like "Dodge Veg-o-matic," "Abominable Snowman In The Market" and "Here Come The Martian Martians" added to this collection. I just hope Jojo didn't break down and play "Roadrunner" or "Pablo Picasso" as an encore, because it would totally shatter my understanding of Richman as an uncompromising artist. We should all pray twice a day for an expanded double CD edition of this album complete with liner notes from Jonathan Richman telling us how bad it is.

[Available at Amazon]

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Original Modern Lovers

I woke up this morning and decided it should be Jonathan Richman week at Flowering Toilet.

What can I say about Jonathan Richman? He is probably best known for his earliest music, which is often cited as a primary influence on punk rock. Some people refer to his early 70s band, The Modern Lovers, as "proto-punk." I think the idea here is that Jonathan Richman is supposed to be an important artist because the Sex Pistols covered "Roadrunner."

In the early 70s Richman was inspired by the Velvet Underground and The Stooges to form a band to perform his own loud 2 to 3 chord songs. The Modern Lovers primitive, primal music was deeply out of step with what was then fashionable within rock circles (think Yes, ELP, etc.). As a result, The Modern Lovers couldn't get a record deal, and by the time the music they recorded in the early 70s got released, loud, simple music was fashionable again thanks to the rise of punk rock. When The Modern Lovers was released by Beserkley Records in 1976, Richman was sometimes referred to as the "godfather of punk" (despite the fact that he still looked to be around 15 years old).

By 1976 the other members of The Modern Lovers had moved on to bands that would have more commercial success with a variation on this newly fashionable type of music. Jonathan had moved on too, but to something entirely different. His new music was decidedly more gentle, generally written from the perspective of a wide-eyed innocent, and was utterly devoid of the cynicism and anger that characterized the punk rock explosion of the 70s. Just at the time his early music became an influence on a new generation of musicians, Jonathan Richman again found himself totally out-of-step with the prevailing rock ethos. Rock critics fell over themselves praising his early recordings while dismissing his newer work as inconsequential garbage by someone who had totally lost the plot.

But here's the thing those critics (and a lot of other people) didn't understand: Jonathan Richman was still punk, and he always would be. And his new music was great whether the critics or anyone beyond a small cult following got it or not. I'll explain why in later posts.

For now, enjoy a couple of early Modern Lovers demos recorded by Kim Fowley in 1972, and released in 1981 on an LP called The Original Modern Lovers. In the liner notes Jonathan says this music is no good (Jonathan always says his music is no good), but you can make up your own mind about that. "I Wanna Sleep In Your Arms" was covered by the Feelies, and "Roadrunner" was covered by everybody. "Roadrunner" is also the greatest driving song ever written.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

One Year

Just over one year ago a middle aged music fan with a large record collection noticed the growing popularity of music blogs and dared to say "me too."

I started this blog one year ago as of Aug. 6th with this post on Robyn Hitchcock. I never thought I'd keep this blog going for a whole year. Sometimes I'm not sure why I have. Mostly it's been the enthusiasm of my friends that has kept me at it--especially Adam, Pete and Dan. I'd like to thank them, regular and semi-regular readers, and Guy (who needs to post again one of these days!) for keeping this interesting for me.

I don't know if this blog will last another year, but I don't feel like I'm out of things to say or material yet.

The Attractions - Mad About The Wrong Boy

Following in the tradition of Crazy Horse and The Rumour, Elvis Costello's supporting band The Attractions (Steve Nieve, Pete Thomas and Bruce Thomas) released a "solo" album, Mad About The Wrong Boy in 1980.

The album suffers somewhat from back-loading, that is, a greater proportion of the album's good songs fall on side two. Side one of the record, a few decent songs aside, sounds like a fairly clichéd and even annoying new wave record. Steve Nieve's keyboards often sound too busy, and the vocoder is sometimes employed to cover up for the expected lack of a distinctive vocalist. Songs like "Little Misunderstanding," "Damage," and "Motorworld" sound very much like failed genre exercises, and don't date particularly well.

"La-La-La-La-La Love You" starts off side two on a much more enjoyable note: rather than forced sounding new wave with too many trendy sound effects, side two sticks to the pub-rock model of Rockpile or Nick Lowe. It's a shame they didn't stick more closely to this formula for the entire album, because the group is obviously much better working within this style; "Sad About Girls," "Single Girl," "Lonesome Little Town," "Taste of Poison," "Talk About Me" and "Camera Camera" (get it?) are all enjoyable new wave flavored pub rock.

So while we may not have been mad about the wrong boy, The Attractions did manage to make one half of a good record without their boss. Elvis Costello thought highly enough of "Sad About Girls" to make a go of recording it for Trust, but in the end opted not to share songwriting duties with anyone else. Costello's version can be heard on the Rhino and Rykodisc editions of Trust and on the Out Of Our Idiot compilation (and no doubt some future deluxe reissue from UMG).

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Soul Asylum - Welcome To The Minority Box

On August 10th Hip-O Select will re-release Soul Asylum's two A&M albums along with a CD of previously unissued live material from 1990 in a box set called Welcome To The Minority. Both Hang Time and ...And The Horse They Rode In On have been out-of-print for years now, so it is good to see this material coming back into print, even if only in a limited edition, internet only form.

I do have one major complaint about the set. It seems that the bonus material from Horse that I posted here earlier ("One Way Conversation," "Little House On The Edge" and "Village Idiot") will not be included in the set. It is a curious omission considering the promo-only material from Hang Time is included on the first disc. I sent an email to Hip-O asking about the oversight, and will let you know if I hear anything back. It's hard to imagine there is a good reason for this, but you never know. It seems like a missed opportunity to include everything in the UMG vaults that would be of interest to hardcore fans of the group. A remix of "Something Out Of Nothing" is on the Horse disc, for those who have been dying to hear that.

The third disc looks to be fairly representative of the band's live shows at the time, and includes covers of "The Tracks Of My Tears," "I Put A Spell On You," and "To Sir With Love" as well as a smattering of tracks from their indie days that were always highlights of any Soul Asylum show ("Freaks," "Closer To The Stars," "Made To Be Broken"). The live disc will no doubt be quite welcome to old-school fans of the band like myself who find the slickness of After The Flood off-putting (although you gotta love "Rhinestone Cowboy"). Soul Asylum were in my opinion one of the best live acts around during the late eighties and early nineties. (I am holding out hope that Hip-O Select will release a similar set for the Feelies, because I would love to hear a vintage live show from them as well--if you feel the same way, send Hip-O Select an email).

"James At 16 (Heavy Medley)" is a bonus track on disc one of the set, having originally been issued as a b-side to a promo only 12" for "Standing In The Doorway." It is an absolute killer medley that goes a long way toward suggesting just how much fun a Soul Asylum live show could be. Any band that can segue seamlessly from The Nuge into The Gap Band deserves to be remembered as one of the greatest of all time. I'm only leaving this track up for a couple days since it will soon be available commercially.

Friday, August 03, 2007

The Gospel Rangerettes - He Loves Me

I found this obscure country gospel record by a mother-daughter duo years ago in a small record store in New York City. The near homemade look of it convinced me that it was something I ought to buy. I'm glad I did.

Most of the songs on the album were written by the maternal half of the duo, Elizabeth Van De Venter. For the most part the songs are quite good, with an appealing, primitive quality to them that only enhances Elizabeth's obviously very real passion for her subject.

This is probably one of the more rare records I own. I imagine there weren't many of these pressed, although I did notice someone currently has a copy of this album for sale on eBay (not me, I'm keeping mine). I couldn't find any information about Elizabeth Van De Venter or her daughter Karen on the internet so I can't tell you anything about The Gospel Rangerettes beyond what is printed in the liner notes, which I have transcribed in full:

Elizabeth Van De Venter started singing in church at about age 16 with her aunt, Mrs. J. H. Rosenboom, of Trenton, Mo. It was this aunt who helped her overcome her natural shyness and gave her the desire to work for the Lord.

When Karen, Van's eldest daughter, showed promise at 18 months, Van began to spend many hours rocking and singing to her, bringing her love for song to what it is today. Van neither reads nor writes music, but God has blessed her ministry in song with many songs, some of which are on this record.

Her method of guitar playing is "unusual" being what she calls "only good enough for my own enjoyment." Van and her husband, Herbert, have five children. Their wish is that the message in song in this album will be a blessing to all who hear it.

Karen and her mother have been singing together in public since Karen was about four years old. Her natural ability for harmony became apparent at this age. Karen has traveled over many states, singing for the Lord, and has been on radio, TV, and stage since an early age. Although she is now a married woman, Karen still gives the sparkling appearance of a little girl on the stage, as she stands not quite five feet tall. Her vivaciousness is enjoyed by all that work with her.

She attended Canyonville Bible Institute, where she sang in the choir and trio. Her main aim is to live a life that will inspire others to follow Christ.

B. F. "Lucky" Mason is another boy from Tennessee. He started learning to play the guitar at about 9 years old, and has added to this, the five string banjo, mandolin, Hawaiian and bass fiddle. "Lucky," who has over 20 years announcing experience, is originator and manager of the "Shut-In-Club" program heard over station KVAN in Portland, Ore. The program is now in its fourth year of continuous broadcast. "Lucky" is the author of many songs, some of which have been published.

"Lucky" has that soft, quiet way of the south that makes him a blessing to all. He and his wife, Villa, have five children.

Rev. Roy Sims comes from the state of Washington near the Canadian border in a town called Riverside. Before Roy became a Christian, he rode the Rodeo circuit across the United States. But one day, in Eugene Oregon, while he was in the bucking chutes, the Lord spoke, and Roy gave his heart to God. From that time on, he has preached the gospel, and at one time spent better than two years as missionary to the Tinget Indians in Alaska. He is self-taught in guitar, banjo and mandolin.

Roy's lovely wife, Merle, is a great help and inspiration to him. They have one sweet daughter, Lola Le.

While this is not a record I listen to a lot, I find "Little Bitty Children" stuck in my head more frequently than you might think.