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Listening Report: Record Store Day Colored Vinyl Party With Darlene Love, Jonathan Richman & The Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio

Mark Smotroff connects some dots across generations and genres…

I don’t know ‘bout you folks, but I could sure use a little uplift these days!

Browsing through some of my Record Store Day (RSD) gems I have wanted to tell you about I realized there were at least a few albums sharing a common vibe: fun!  So stack up your automatic record changer — or line these albums up in your to-play-bin — for a couple hours of groovin’ funshine. 

Darlene Love’s The Many Sides Of Love: The Complete Reprise Recordings Plus!

This was one of the great surprises this year, a compilation of rare tracks by the great Darlene Love from the mid ‘60s and beyond. For those of you who don’t know, Darlene was one of the amazing voices on Phil Spector’s legendary “Wall Of Sound” productions of the early 1960s. So if you’ve ever heard the song “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”  from Spector’s iconic holiday album A Christmas Gift for You from Philles Records, you have heard Darlene Love’s voice. She also sang lead on The Crystals “He’s A Rebel” and “He’s Sure The Boy I Love” among others.  

Unbeknownst to this reviewer, Darlene had many records out in the 1960s with her group The Blossoms. And she kept recording and performing into the ‘80s and ‘90s doing soundtrack work on movies like Dick Tracy. She even did a killer cover of the old Ike & Tina Turner classicRiver Deep, Mountain High” (written by Spector with Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich) for the Broadway show, Leader Of The Pack — which she starred in as herself!. 

This RSD release is a gem compiling all these tracks on a lovely slice of pretty turquoise vinyl with a fabulous period-accurate tri-color Reprise Records label design. The standard weight album is well centered and dead quiet. The package comes with terrific detailed liner notes and archival photos making this an essential release for anyone into Darlene’s music as well as classic “girl group” sounds. Other favorite tracks so far:  “My Love, Come Home” and a wonderful track by legendary Wrecking Crew guitarist Barney Kessel called “TV Commercials” featuring Darlene on the lead vocal. 

Jonathan Richman’s Modern Lovers 88 

Next up on your party playlist should be Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers’ final studio release, Modern Lovers 88. Celebrating its 35th anniversary, the album was remastered in an all-analog process from the original tapes by Kevin Gray at Cohearant Audio and pressed on opaque “Hot Nights Sky Blue” vinyl.  The notion of an audiophile treatment for Jonathan’s music might seem counter intuitive given the simplicity of his band and arrangements but it is exactly that factor which might make you want to pick this up even if you aren’t already a fan.

This album-closing version of “The Theme From Moulin Rouge” is quite haunting a beautiful and might even be a good demo disc for some of you audiophiles out there as it is simply a vocalese arrangement backed with rich, jazz-flavored, warm electric guitar.  Many of the song titles underscore Jonathan’s alternate universe, good time sensibilities such as “When Harpo Played His Harp” (a tribute to the late harp-playing Marx brother) and “California Desert Party” (which lovingly pokes fun at social norms out of those living in Desert regions).  Again, fun stuff here…

Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio’s Live In Loveland

This album was one of the must-get releases on RSD featuring a sweet hour long live-in-the-record store set by this great rocking funky-soul jazz organ trio from Seattle. Pressed on pretty pink translucent vinyl and spinning at 45 RPM, this album smokes and delivers the goods as only Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio can.  Rich Hammond organ tones and deep drum grooves form the bed for some scorching electric guitar and keyboard solos.

Recorded as part of an appearance at the Ohio-based store — Plaid Room Records — that is also home to their record label (Colemine Records), Live In Loveland is another no brainer album to get that you’ll want to spin at many parties to come.

Some great covers of James Brown’s “Ain’t It Funky” and Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up” pepper this tasty set.  If you can’t find their new  live album in your favorite independent record store — which is where you’ll find the great sounding Record Store Day pink vinyl edition — also try to pick up their last studio effort called Cold As Weiss which is excellent as well (and is offered on a neat ice blue vinyl variant). 

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