A List of Things We Lost is the rare vinyl blog of the sometimes corporeal, always ephemeral Unbreakable Records.

Nothing posted here will be found on a compact disc. Links are lingering somewhere at the end of each post; go find 'em!

No commercial endeavor is implied or supported by the posting of this music, it is for personal enjoyment and consumption only.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Another great rarity, and one which people seem to be rarin’ to find. So, this one’s for you!

Pretty much everyone comes to Danny Holien’s self-titled album [Tumbleweed TWS 102, 1972] through the lead track, “Colorado.” Originally hailing from Cannon Falls, Minnesota, Holien had fronted the under-recorded (and therefore legendary) garage band the Shades. Moving west to Denver, he got caught up with a bunch of drug-gobbling rockers and second generation hippies, recording this gem in the process. Holien lived in the Rockies, near Evergreen, CO. His album reflects the pensive and acoustic fingerstyle guitar one might expect, but it isn’t lacking in the frenetic workouts that a Nuggets-era band like the Shades employed. “Colorado” was the biggest hit that the short-lived Tumbleweed Records would score, but it’s just one among many strong, country inflected jangles herein. He was in good company both proximally and sonically: Stephen Stills was right around the mountain in Nederland, CO, where he was busy recruiting the crew that would become Manassas. In fact, a quick search for “Colorado” on ye olde Google shows many people misremembering it as a Manassas tune.

Holien’s hit (his album was Tumbleweed's best success) was actually a protest against the possibility of the ’72 Olympic Winter Games being held in the state. It’s propelled by the same thump that marks contemporaneous CSNY-related tunes like “Ohio” and “Chicago” (also, coincidentally, named for U.S. locales), but the rest of the record is replete with jazzy interludes, lilting flute jams and harmony-laden acoustic/electric orchestrations. As part of the burgeoning preservationist movement, Danny Holien decried development and promoted the state’s natural beauty that would be all but lost if the Olympics came to Denver. And also, I mean, everyone knows how much skiers love weed, so it’s understandable that those back-to-the-land types were afraid the olympians would come & smoke what them musicians was working so hard to grow.

Other highlights are the twangy, tangy “Hick,” the eastern vibes of “Satsanga” and the garagey rave-up “Lino The Wino”. Danny Holien was produced by the great Bill Szymczyk, who’d previously worked with the James Gang and helped B.B. King with his crossover success “The Thrill Is Gone.” Szymczyk would follow Joe Walsh’s upward trajectory, engineering and producing massive hit albums for the Eagles and the Who, among others.

Colorado-based Tumbleweed Records’s brief existence actually owes a lot to Szymczyk, who, along with ABC-Dunhill A&R head Larry Ray and musician/producer Robb Kunkel (whose excellent Abyss is also a cult fave) wangled something like $1.5 million from gas masters Gulf+Western, of all companies, which was eager to exploit the continuing upswing in sales in the hippie music market. Tumbleweed’s most prescient release was the debut of Michael Stanley, which featured Walsh, Todd Rundgren and Rick Derringer. Considering that most of the label’s releases were in editions of 500, all with gatefold covers and lavish, full-sized, textured-paper booklets, and didn’t get much past the region, it’s unsurprising that Gulf+Western pulled the plug after only about 11 releases (but probably gleefully, what with the massive tax write-off that Tumbleweed provided for its parent company).

At 16 pages long, Holien’s liner notes feature hand-printed scores of all the melodies on the album. I’m not sure who’s benefit this was for, but it’s a lovely touch, one of those you’d-never-get-this-with-a-CD moments. Reticent and reluctant to tour, Holien returned to southern Minnesota shortly after recording this record, continuing to play around in the intervening decades with his band Cookies, but dropping out of the biz for all intents and purposes. I haven’t heard Cookies, but considering the strength of playing and writing on Danny Holien, I’m sure what he’s doing today is just as worth checking out.

Thursday, September 18, 2008



October 1, 2012: Alex Stimmel's Ashman-Reynolds piece will be featured in the upcoming Ugly Things #34.  All-new interviews with Aliki Ashman, Harry Reynolds and the Heavy Metal Kids' Keith Boyce (as A-R's 17 year-old drummer) - nice tie-in with my very first List post.
Should hit the stands by Early November . . . Go buy it!

Ashman Reynolds has been called a British supergroup of sorts, and I’d tend to agree, if you’d consider a group to be “super” even when it’s composed of musicians no one’s ever really heard of. Although members came from – and would move on to – Blue Mink, Picadilly Line, Fleetwood Mac, Heavy Metal Kids, Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Savoy Brown, Murray Head, Nazareth and Long John Baldry’s band, the band’s namesakes were Aliki Ashman and Harry Reynolds. Ashman had put in serious time in the late-60’s singing with both the Graham Bond Organisation and Ginger Baker’s Airforce, and Reynolds was a formidable session bassist and guitarist.

Their sole album, 1972’s barnstorming Stop Off, is as well-rounded an apotheosis of the British infatuation with American country rock as will be heard, holding its own with contemporaneous albums by the Faces and Stones. Ashman Reynolds also expertly hits West Coast rural psych moves, in part because of their three-guitar frontline (with Reynolds joined by Rod Edwards and Mickey Keene).

With washes of gospel organ, blue-eyed soul wailing and ripping guitar leads, Ashman Reynolds rock the down-home family-n’-friends feel of early Delaney & Bonnie, replete with sparkling group interplay and strong songs. Why they didn’t stay together is a mystery; so is how they came together in the first place. As mentioned above, everyone found continued work in the rock biz, most likely moving on to higher-profile and better-paying gigs. So Stop Off is exactly that - one of those rare alightments at the right place and time that produced a singular and unrepeatable tour de force.


In keeping with the ethos of the List, I’m not ripping anything that can be bought on CD or LP reissue, but I just had to share some sweet recent pulls from the stacks. Click the links to get some consumer action & hear for yerself...

Pride - S/T [Warner Bros. WB, 1970]
Mysterious, quasi-anonymous loner/downer folk. Draped with acoustic breakbeats and fuzzy psych touches, and masterminded by David Axelrod, billed here as "D.A. Axelrod", and his brother, who presumably does the
singing. Sounds like a lot of Axe's usual L.A. heavies on it, too. Part of the highly-recommended 2CD Reprise Sessions set.

Doug Ashdown - The Age Of Mouse [Sweet Peach, 1970]
Sprawling double album of Christian-themed acid-folk by this Aussie singer/songwriter. Was the first release for the Sweet Peach label, and was subsequently released in the U.S. on Coral as a single disc (Faintly Blowing has a dl to that one), but the whole sprawling epic is well worth the listen.

Martha & the Vandellas - Natural Resources [Gordy GS952, 1970]
By now my favorite Martha Reeves album and one of the best on the Motown roster, I'd say. Slammin' covers of
Something and Everybody's Talkin', and funky original tunes from the usual Hitsville stalwarts.

Roxy - S/T [Elektra EKS 74062, 1969]
After the baroque-folk-psych of Family Tree, the prolific Bob Segarini formed this Canadian band, whose sole self-titled LP is one of my favorites of all his projects. Segarini went on to form the, er, wacky (or wack, depedning on your taste) Wackers, and then redeem himself with a solid career as a powerpop star.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Awrightie then. . .

Sun, 9.13: Unbreakable Records is back in the saddle this coming Sunday (& every Sunday in September) at the Flea. As if with cosmic timing, our return coincides with the Flea's first annual Superstar DJ Record Fair!

So on top of boxes upon boxes of hot new pulls for the stall, I'll be spinning a short set mid-day of some rare funk 45s, all of which will be for sale. Many other stores, musicians & all-around tastemakers will also be spinning AND selling from their personal collections!

Fri, 9.19: Our good friends in Apothecary Hymns are playing with The Low Lows from Austin, TX, featuring Parker Lee Noon of Parker & Lily) at Union Pool. Sweaty psychedlia from the hardest-working power trio in the Brooklyn underground. Don't miss it!

Coming up: Unheard treasures from Ashman Reynolds, Danny Holien, Michael Fennerly and more. . .

Friday, July 18, 2008


Now here’s some folks who just don’t give a shark fuck. Love Backed By Force [Alien Records, Bealien3], the product of Ziro Baby’s & Gaby de Vivienne’s short-lived (and final) configuration of the Tronics, should sit rightly beside the work of the Velvet Underground for its lasting influence on DIY indie rock, whether anyone knows it or not.

Tronics evloved from the Gits, a late-70s UK thrash band led by Ronnie Git, who would soon recast his already-pseudonymous persona & nom de musique in the guise of Ziro Baby. After some line-up shake ups, Baby renamed his project "Tronics", releasing his first 45, “Suzy’s Vibrator” b/w “Favorite Girls”, in 1978. After a second single, the band dissolved again, washed in a constant spin cycle of hard drugs & personal differences. Ziro Baby soldiered on, pursuing sundry eclectic musical endeavors with an ever-rotating cast of musicians until regrouping with de Vivienne. The 17-year old Baby got down to some serious biz in 1980, recording Love Backed By Force mainly by himself, with all of the nonchalant swagger of one who knows exactly how to do it himself.

Baby had already recorded the first two Tronics albums, Tronics and What’s The Hubub Bub (both of which were cassette-only, with the latter credited as helping to create the cassette-format release phenomenon of early indie rock) in the kitchen of his basement flat in Earl’s Court, surrounded by addicts & hangers-on. His m.o. for Love remained the same: thoughtful yet primal guitar parts laid out under vocals that reflected odd, impassioned ennui. By the time he got down to Love, Baby’s sound was perfected; though production value hovers at an honorably low line, there’s just enough to reward repeated listens. He croons with a love of straightforward songwriting, reflecting 50s pop in structure and sound, often contrasted with the foil of de Vivienne's naive/knowing singalong harmonies. The duo sound like they're taking a walk through an increasingly weird and dark forest, Baby always finding his way home by dropping breadcrumbs of delicious synths and lo-fi freakouts.

Although the UK punk label Wrench has reissued What’s The Hubub Bub on CD, the debut is still out-of-print, as are all the singles & this gleaming gem. The live bonus tracks that Wrench dug up to supplement Hubub sound great, & the disc is highly recommended not only to show the different iterations that Ziro Baby used to hone his musical image, but also because it's fan-fuckin-tastic. So go buy it!

After Tronics petered out in 1984, our erstwhile DIY demigod changed his name to Zarjaz, a word lifted from the popular British comic 2000 A.D. that translates, naturally, as “excellent.” Expressing his thanks for Baby's impact, Alan McGee's Creation Records released a 45, "One Charming Nite" b/w "My Baby Owns A Fallout Zone", with the band called “Les Zarjaz.” As a sad testament to what people do & don’t know, the Tronics MySpace page has woefully few visitors. Elsewhere, Freakapuss purports to be Zarjaz’s latest foray back out of the ether, but when you go there, all you get is some drone & a weird image. Sounds about right.

Zarjaz's Creation single is described by one reviewer as “silly numbers done in mediaeval style... it is not surprising the label turned down the chance to release a follow-up single.” Sure, a few tunes do have this kind of quality, like “Ice Flod Festival” and “Min Dama”, but in the context of a whole record it works charms like an old housewife remedy. Fear no critic: the stylistic diversity & sheer psychic cycle that Love Backed By Force gives the listener is an unrivalled joy.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


In keeping with ALOTWL's current chronology, may I present to you: The 80's. And is there any better way to dive into the decade of clubbed-out, drugged-out commercial excess than a double album of disco? No, no there isn't.

Tantra was a short-lived but hugely influential multi-racial, mixed-gender Italian quintet that operated within the subgenre of "Cosmic Disco." Although the tracks themselves were often long and spacey, the epithet actually derived from the name of a club, "Cosmic," based in northern Italy. The acknowledged innovator of the cosmic sound was DJ Daniele Baldelli, who began straying from the commercial sound of current (1979) italo-disco and began incorporating rock guitars, heavy funk basslines, tribal rhythms, eerie electronics and the like into his club mixes, generally keeping the bpm's up around 120+. (He also played 45s at 33 & vice versa. Crazy europeans!)

Tantra released two full-length albums in Europe on Phillips in 1979: The Hills Of Katmandu and Mother Africa. These were then collected for the American market in 1980 as The Double Album [Importe/12 MP-310]. Produced by Celso Valli (aka Quelli Del Castello) - who's spoken of by those in the know on the same level as Giorgio Moroder - Tantra hits all the requisite cosmic moves, with thumping, droning rhythm figures and extended jams. As Brian Chin, editor of Discotheque magazine, observes in his liner notes, "Disco is changing music, constantly absorbing new influences and techniques," speaking of the genre as "a fresh and progressive one."

Of course, it probably helped if you were on some tasty drugs, as the band was:

I get my kicks daily / I'm friends with most of the big shots
I'm full of dope mainly / To cut out the stage flops ("Top Shot")

Smoke-scented breeze fills the trees / And you drift away ... On forever!
Sweet-smelling substances / Liberate fantasy / We're together! ("Hills of Katmandu")

The Hills Of Katmandu LP had one long track on each side ("Hills" b/w "Wishbone) and was the bigger hit of Tantra's two Phillips albums. Here, it bookends Mother Africa, which, as the title implies, dives even further into the tribal/cosmic funk of Hills, with the title track, "Su-ku-leu" and "Hallelujah". Unfortunately, the one thing that Importe/12 didn't preserve was the freaky -cool cover art of the original releases (you can peep those here).

Maybe Importe just wanted heads to trance out to the slightly intoxicating orange burst of the cover:
More likely, they couldn't get the rights to the artwork. In fact, it's apparently all but impossible to get in touch with whoever owns the rights to the music, too, which is why anything by Tantra fetches some nutso prices on eBay. This may also be because, whether you love disco or hate it, The Double Album is a creature of its own, with enough cross-pollination going on for everyone to dig.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Since I inadvertently began A List Of Things We Lost with an album from the year of my birth, I'm just gonna keep moving forward in time.

We're almost at the 80s, but not quite yet. Ooh, but when we get there. . . .

Though The Headboys isn't quite a horrible rarity, I haven't found anyone, even among the Flea's hipnoscenti record browsers, who've heard of the band or heard the album... So this one's for you, Brooklyn!

Edinborough residents Lou Lewis (guitar and vocals), George Boyter (bass and vocals), Calum Malcolm (keyboards and vocals) and Davy Cross (drums and vocals) formed the hypertight but short-lived Headboys in 1977. Their self-titled debut [RSO RS-1-3068] arrived in 1979 on impressario Robert Stigwood's label. The band recorded it themselves in Malcom's own studio, in conjunction with Peter Ker (who'd produced hits for the Motors).

I love The Headboys for its sonics, the sea of guitar and keyboard tones and the way they're all layered. Lewis is a killin' guitarist and, what's more, the record sounds great despite the band's misleading DIY sloganeering on the back: "Nae dolbies, nae aphex, nae bother."

Lead-off "The Shape Of Things To Come" has little in common with the similarly-titled Yardbirds rave-up; rather, it's an upbeat pop romp that had chart success in both the U.K. and the U.S. (just check out some comments on other blogs to see how fondly people remember the song). "Stepping Stones", likewise, has nothing to do with the Monkees, though the verse rocks like vintage Traffic - hell, they even go out on a hot-ass leslie'd guitar solo. But the chorus always gets back to a classic powerpoppy hook, sweet as a sugar doughnut.

The 'boys infect your ears and take over your head with the same jaunt as Elvis Costello had at the same time, perfectly mixing 60s mod-pop with modern arrangements and not wasting a note. Every tune has something to recommend it, from pub singalong choruses to tasteful analog synths, quirky but not overused. "Experiments" (whence the title of this post) predates both the sound and themes of Thomas Dolby's later smash "She Blinded Me With Science." Oh - and it's much better.

Though they'd been playing together for two years before the album was released, and "The Shape Of Things" was getting good airplay, the Headboys decided they were nonetheless unprepared for life on the road, and retreated from the wake of their minor success back into the studio. Their second record never did see the light of day, and I'm happy they maintain their own Myspace page, which does feature some unreleased tracks.

According to the band's own bio, they were reluctant to become part of the New Wave trend, despite the message of "Changing With The Times". Maybe it's because, as one listen to The Headboys demostrates, they thought they were simply making music, not waving a flag for a genre.

Monday, June 9, 2008


Aw hell yeah, here's one just hows I likes em: super funky, super rare, not a whit of info to be found.

To judge by the cover (come on, we all do it) Harold Dumont Sings Duke Ellington (Cleemo CL-1001) stirs minor intrigue with its low-budg look, though what the music promises is less clear. Dumont dresses the definitive, cheesed-out mid-70s crooner, with huge lapels & a mohair vest. But one glance at the back cover liners indicates otherwise.

Accolades from Nipsy Russell portend. . . something different, if not necessarily good.

And then you hit it: "The disc was put down in three sessions and can really be said to fall in three categories; Jazz: [sic] R & B; and Easy Listening. The first session consisted of a small rock group with strong jazz overvibes: Grady Tate - Drums ; Bob Crenshaw - Bass ; Garnet Brown - Trombone; Mel Davis - Trumpet."

Grady Tate always signals goodness. Add to that the use of "jazz," "R&B," "easy listening" and "rock" in the same paragraph. How could I not rush it to the tt?

Further personnel for the sessions include Bobby Mann - Guitar; Derek Smith - Keyboard ; Mel Lewis - Drums ; Marvin Stam & Thad Jones - Trumpets ; Bill Watrous - Trombone ; Margaret Ross - Harp ; Richard Davis - bass.

Rare-groove fusion at its finest, with solid jazz cred. Dumont's style is over the top, a borderline-silly baritone that sometimes gallops where the tight arrangements try to rein it in. Grit slinks off of every track. The uptemo tunes are all burners, with lower-key ones set to a steamy simmer ("Mood Indigo" is a wah-wah jaw dropper).

Cursory web searches reveal absolutely nothing about the label, the singer, the producer... nada. The album was produced by Harold Dumont and Harry Hirsch, who also wrote the liners & engineers the record. Nothing indicates the year; I'm going with the latter end of the 74-77 spectrum, but listen & comment & tell us what you think. Maybe Hirsch also created Cleemo Records just for this album (or else it folded shortly thereafter), it being catalog # 1001. The only two verifiable things I can tell you about Harold Dumont Sings Duke Ellington: it has in the past fetched upwards of $40, and "It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing" seems to be a Euro DJ club fave.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Back at the Flea or, There Used to Be a Season Called "Spring"

Unbreakable will be back at it again, same booth - E22. Stop by & say "hi," buy some stuff, buy some other stuff, you know, the usual. I have a canopy - yes, going pro - so you can stave off the 95 degree heat standing under it & perusing the newly-filled dollar boxes.

Remember when there was a time between winter & summer called "spring"? Those were the days.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


Sunday, June 1, marks my record selling debut at the Brooklyn Flea in Ft. Greene. What better way to kick it off than to throw up some honest-to-goodness, super-rare, jam-kicking-out rock-n-roll? (yeah I love those hyphens!)

Snotty glam at its finest, most idiomatic, Anvil Chorus (Atco SD 36-114, 1975) is just the platter. Produced by Andy Johns, the decadence of the decade shimmies off the turntable, with The Kids (previously Heavy Metal Kids) providing all the right Bowie/Mott/Stones/Dolls moves with none of the pretense. I mean, look at those mugs! Any mother would have been proud to get them out of her house and onto some beer-soaked stage somewhere in North Cardiff.

Found this one in the stacks in my basement and, given the blunt cover art and back portraits, had to play it immediately. Wowee zowee, as they say. Not much info about it to be found, though, save for the excellent hermaneutics of Julian Cope's Head Heritage crew. Apparently both albums, though released on Atco, are super hard to come by these days. Why? I have no idea. But until the WEA reissue arm realizes what's sitting below its craggy corporate nose, Anvil Chorus will be our little secret.