Top 10 Discoveries of 2021
Think you've heard it all? It's incredible that there are at least 10 records from the 60s and early 70s that I've never heard until this year. That's what's so great about being a record collector, there's always something out there you've never heard before. Here are my top 10 discoveries of 2021.
#10 - The Messengers: That's The Way A Woman Is
This group has an interesting story. The Messengers recorded a cover of “In The Midnight Hour” in 1967 for a Chicago based label USA Records. Shortly after the recording, the band signed with Motown and moved to Detroit. Because they were now with Motown, The Messengers couldn’t promote “In The Midnight Hour.”
Meanwhile in Chicago, “In The Midnight Hour” reached the top 5 on WLS and WCFL. A Chicago DJ wanted to cash in on the popularity of the record and formed Michael & The Messengers. The group recorded a cover of “Just Like Romeo and Juliet,” which became a top 20 hit in Chicago. The song appears on disc 1 of the Nuggets box set. Michael & The Messengers dissolved shortly after.
In Detroit, The Messengers recorded “Window Shopping” in 1967 and was released on Motown’s Soul label. They released an album in 1970 on the Rare Earth label, an album produced by R. Dean Taylor of “Indiana Wants Me” fame. In 1971, the group released “That’s The Way A Woman Is,” a record that sounds a few years ahead of it’s time. The song reached #62 nationally before going into oblivion. It’s time to give this record another chance.
Special thanks to Tom Fallon for giving me the record.
#09 - Chris Clark: I Want To Go Back There Again
Motown’s response to Dusty Springfield, the blonde-haired blue-eyed Chris Clark had a few releases on Motown’s subsidiary label V.I.P. Clark’s claim to fame is the Holland-Dozier-Holland power packed “Love’s Gone Bad.” The record should have been a major hit, but it only bubbled under the Billboard Hot 100.
Her follow-up, “I Want To Go Back There Again,” has elements of baroque pop, and is reminiscent of The Isley Brother’s “Got To Have You Back.” I found a promo copy at My Min d's Eye in Lakewood, Ohio.
#08 - Cloud: Cool Jane
Released on Audio Fidelity records in 1969, not much is known about this band. It’s a cool record that appears on the 100 disc series called “Lost Jukebox.”
Yes, 100 discs.
I checked out the song because I thought it had an interesting title. I wound up liking the record.
#07 - The Painted Ship: Frustration
Two Vancouver based bands make it on this year’s top 10. Coming in at #7 is The Painted Ship’s “Frustration,” a psychedelic-garage lament about the push-pull between individualism and conforming to the mainstream. The song was originally released as a B-side, but DJs in Vancouver were persuaded to flip the record.
“Frustration” reached #7 on CFUN radio in January of 1967. Released on London Records in Canada, the song got an American release on Mercury. The song did not chart nationally, but it did reach #2 on KNAK in Salt Lake City, Utah in May of 1967. This song is considered a Canadian garage classic. The song was requested by Rocco from the Crystal Cavern in New York City. Thank you Rocco!
#06 - The Northwest Company: Hard To Cry
The other band from Vancouver that appears on this top 10 is the Northwest Company, with their fuzz punk monster “Hard To Cry.” This record is an absolute scorcher that needs to be heard with the volume nob cranked all the way up to 11. The song didn’t make it on the national charts, but did appear on CFUN’s “All Canadian Top 10” in 1967.
I found a reissue at My Mind’s Eye in Lakewood. How this one alluded me over the years baffles me. This is an epic Canadian garage classic!”
#05 - Thundermug: Africa
This song just might have the greatest kazoo solo in rock & roll history. No joke. Somehow it works. Thundermug hail from London, Ontario and released “Africa” on Big Tree records in 1972.
“Africa” reached #24 on CKLW in Windsor and #15 on WIXY in Cleveland, the only major city in the US where the song was a hit.
This one was requested by Dutch The Barber from The Mug & Brush in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. This reached #15 on WIXY in 1972, so I’m dumbfounded that I didn’t discover this song sooner.”
#04 - The Outsiders: Haunted By Your Love
The song appears on The Outsiders In album from 1967. I've had the album for about 20 years, and probably haven't heard the full album since then, so this can be classified as a rediscovery.
Since it was an album cut, the song never charted. Less horns and more guitar and organ on this killer cut!
#03 - The Mod 4: Open Up Your Mind
An all teenage girl group from northwest Illinois blew my mind right outta my skull with this killer record! The Mod 4 recorded "Open Up Your Mind" in 1968 (though it sounds more like a 1966 record). Heavy on guitar with plenty of reverb, this song was a slam dunk as a top 10 discovery.
Discovered this song while listening to an old broadcast of the legendary WRUW radio program "Dig Baby Dig." Thank you John E. Midnight!
#02 - The Sensational Alex Harvey Band: Midnight Moses (1972 version)
The Sensational Alex Harvey Band received plenty of airplay on WMMS in the early 1970s thanks to Denny Sanders. They weren't as popular elsewhere in the United States.
The song was originally recorded as a northern soul record in 1969, but got a heavy rock reprise in 1972.
Special thanks to Greg in Willoughby, OH for requesting this one!
#01 - Fully Assembled: The Cheater
This is perhaps one of my most unique finds. It's a record I found in St. Louis, and initially thought it came from a St. Louis band because Musicland USA was based in St. Louis, and The Cheater was originally recorded by a St. Louis band called Bob Kuban & The In-Men.
Upon further inspection, I noticed the names in the credits: Jim Testa, Belkin-Maduri, Arnie Rosenberg. These are Cleveland guys! What's going on here?