Look at this cover.
I mean really take a moment to appreciate what's going on here. The fonts, the pants and a bad taxidermy job. What else do you people want?
What's that? I'm sorry, speak up. Did you say bongos, breaks and a Bobby Darin cover? Yeah, well belly up smart guy. It's got those too.
Jimmy Bowman - "Swings At The Golden Fox", came in to my life via small collection purchase in Las Vegas. Fitting, seeing as how the majority of this private press (Bow-Pete Records) LP of covers from the Minneapolis area falls in line with the lounge vibe of late 60's Las Vegas and thus, the majority of records found in that town. This LP is what I imagined Champagne's Cafe used to feel like.
Mr. Bowman does a great job of earning his check on this. Back cover photos and liner notes reveals that he not only held down all vocal duties, Piano, Celeste and Conga Drums but apparently he made wardrobe changes ala Elton John and awarded rich alcoholic white country-club members from the Midwest with private table-side serenades. Joining him on this musical odyssey was Bass player and backup vocals, "Duffy" Goodlowe, Conductor (?) Billy Wallace, Mike Elliott picking the strings, Jack Bertelsen on the drums, the Tenor Sax of Irv Williams and Bobby Lyle on Organ.
I'm not going to sugar coat it, the majority of this album is just that, eye-rolling lounge dredge that really struggles to hold my attention (I'm looking at you all of side 2). The initial hopeful track for me was the cover of Hoagy Carmichael's "I Get Along Without You Very Well" but like all the other songs on that side, I struggled to stay awake or even keep the needle on the platter.
Side 1, on the other hand, revealed (what I feel were) 3 surprising different songs that ran in their own packs. All 3 covers. All 3 had some flavor of note.
"Long Line Rider" was a Bobby Darin cover with deep political undertones about a viciously corrupt prison system in Arkansas. Not exactly your standard "give 'em the hits" type of cover. Later in the 80's, Robert Redford starred in a movie adaptation of the scandal called "Brubaker". Mike Elliot's guitar and Bobby Lyle's organ (ZING) really kill it on this track.
The cover of Nat King Cole's "Calypso Blues" is a pretty ambitious effort and the real gem for me. This uptempo track has remix screaming in between each note. The addition of the shakers, soulful blues organ and slight lyric edits from the original really turns this track out and makes it Jimmy's own.
And then there's old reliable. For most people who are "heads", a track listing with a cover of Blood, Sweat and Tear's "Spinning Wheel" is a no brainer with it's (mostly) guaranteed drum break in the middle of the track. But be warned, there are many, many versions and not all are great. But this one does not disappoint. The song itself is pretty forgettable and hokey but the break is worth it. Sample ready and full eBay ahead, my friends. Breaks like this is why most of us got in to this game. Sorry for the crappy quality.
The 3 song downloads are below along with some more pictures of the LP. I've also included some Youtubes of 2 of the tracks in their original form. I want a burrito.
Jimmy Bowman - "Long Line Rider"
Jimmy Bowman - "Calypso Blues"
Jimmy Bowman - "Spinning Wheel"
A quick little reference nod goes out to Kris Holmes over at Waxidermy for his post about the Jimmy Bowman 45 from this LP. His being some of the only info I could find on this artist.