Archive for Charles Manson

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: An Early 1970s Two-Fer

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , on December 26, 2009 by 30daysout

My sister is spending a lot of time away from home lately.  My mom says it’s that new job of hers, my dad isn’t so sure.  I don’t care – today I was able to snap up two of her records, both by California music dudes who might have been pretty well-known back in the 1970s but are virtually forgotten today.

The first record is Bright Sun Is Shining, by Barry “The Fish” Melton.  This one is from 1970, and it was the first solo album by the guitarist from Country Joe and the Fish.  Melton was only 21 when he cut this album, which consists entirely of covers of blues and soul classics of the era.  He cut the blues covers in Chicago with sidemen including a young Donny Hathaway; Phil Upchurch, who was then the Chess House Band guitarist and was recording with Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters; and Chess regular Gerald Sims, who worked with people like Little Milton, Bobby “Blue” Bland and Mary Wells.  The other half of Bright Sun Is Shining includes soul music covers recorded in New York with members of the Wilson Pickett Band and Joe Newman, the great trumpeter from Count Basie’s band.

You can hear the production (by Sam Charters, who also did the Country Joe & the Fish records) is pretty straightforward, with little of the studio tricks of the era.  That gives Bright Sun a timeless feel, and Melton’s voice is not bad – he is a credible blues/soul grunter as well as a fine guitarist.  The Fish was Barry’s time in the spotlight, apparently; although he kicked around the music business for a while Melton found another career.  He has been a criminal defense lawyer since the 1980s, although he retired last year to devote more time to music.  Melton often plays with Peter Albin and David Getz (both of Big Brother & the Holding Company), remains a key figure in the San Francisco music scene and on his official website, he promises a new album for 2010.

MP3: “Third Degree” by Barry Melton

MP3: “Something You Got” by Barry Melton

MP3: “Wine, Women, Whiskey” by Barry Melton

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