By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
THE FRANTICS FOUR: "DOWN BY THE OLD MILL STREAM"
South Florida's musical roots run deeper than Expose, you can bet. From the Blues Image to Sixties teen beaters the Morlocks, our area had plenty to offer during the various rock eras. Try on this slice of Fifties psychobilly for all the echo-laden screams and reverb-drenched guitar primitivism you can stand. Totally frantic.
WOODY WOODBURY LOOKS AT LOVE AND LIFE
Alternative-music 'zine Forced Exposure recently ran an article describing what they called "cocktail punk," positing this record as a prime example. Recorded live at the Bahama Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Woody busts the 88s with tales of drunken eighteen-holers and every booze joke in the book. Only recently retired, the Woodman reminds us how frisky adults used to hang on Federal Highway, before the advent of early-bird specials.
THE JUDGE'S NEPHEWS
Arms folded, slacks flared, here come da...Judge's Nephews. You can tell by the size of their belt buckles that these guys were seriously hip. After only six months as a group, the Nephs managed to epitomize "the sophisticated modness of the `What's Happening Now' generation," rocking Miami Beach with nightly shows at Alfred's Lounge at the Forge on Arthur Godfrey Road. On the strength of these tepid, pseudo-Latin takes on the Bacharach/Webb songbook, the pundits at June Records declared it would be "a short time until they become the talk of the nation." That was the mid-Sixties, and that was the nascence of the "Miami Sound." Like they say, the rest is history. These days Carlos Oliva (who produced the Miami Sound Machine's first two albums) fronts the eight-piece Los Sobrinos del Juez, salseros-about-town, globetrotters, and the house band for Telemundo's La Feria de la Alegria.
LORD FLEA AND HIS CALYPSONIANS: SWINGIN' CALYPSOS
They may have signed with a major label, but these Jamaicans were Miami all the way, playing joints like Grey's Inn, Biscayne Boulevard's Club Calypso, and the Eden Roc. An incredible album, Swingin' contains hot numbers such as "Calypso Be Bop," wherein the Flea scats around lyrics about Miles and Bird. Porkchop's copious banjo solos will blister your brain; the late, local, Jaco Pastorius often cited bassist Lord Fish Ray as an influence, even though Ray's instrument consisted of one string and a washtub, with the running board of an old Ford for a neck. For all-out Flea mania, check the band's appearance in the 1957 movie Bop Girl Goes Calypso. Awesome!
BERJ VAUGHN: INSTRUMENTALLY YOURS:
This cat Berj has a jacket that's such a lurid pink it screams Miami Beach. In Instrumentally Yours, thoughtfully subtitled A New Album of Spectacular Originals, Berj has crafted the perfect cocktail-tinkling soundtrack for 1960s Biscayne Boulevard. As musical director of the "world famous" Pow Wow Room of the Thunderbird in Miami Beach, Berj was free to "blow the way he wants to blow." This plate was etched in four days. Shake yourself an appropriately dry martini and sip your way through tunes like "Fruit Cup," "Mama Maria," and "Keen Chick."
REUBEN J. YOCUM: FLORIDA MELODIES
The term curio doesn't begin to describe this piece of work from '64. Absolutely huge-sounding orchestral dirge pop, the words and music of Mr. Yocum are a vision of South Florida that our bed-tax dollars are still hawking to this day. From the oxymoronic "Meet Me In Florida at the World's Fair in N.Y." to the humbly titled "Florida Intracoastal Waterway," singer Kathy Kent is said to "vibrantly project the exotic allure of Florida." One only wishes her vocals were as jaunty as the way she sports that gob hat.
DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY WITH THE FOUR POPULAIRES
Subtle swingers with a nautical theme, the Four laid down the jams in the "lovely Panorama Room" of the Pier 66 Restaurant in Lauderdale. The Populaires' "decidely different offerings" captured here include versions of "But Not for Me," "Fascination," and "Me and My Shadow." Like many of the loungers in this selection, the Pops also plied their "smooth delightful rhythms" in Vegas and Honolulu, but this live selection is proof positive that South Florida truly floated their boat.
TUBBY BOOTS GOES TOPLESS
What can you say about a guy who looks like this? In his Sixties heyday, Tubby Boots was Miami Beach. Come to think of it, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
No collection that attempts to document South Florida would be complete without an album or two from Wayne Cochran and the C.C. Riders. While you allow your eardrums to be incomparably assaulted by these maniac soul men, scan the liner notes by Jackie Gleason ("Wayne Cochran...is untamed. He doesn't just sing -- he explodes. How sweet it is.") and dig the cool 1967 photos of the Miami legend with some patrons at the Barn on Rickenbacker Causeway. The soul and character of our beloved South Florida musical heritage is like the stain on the back of Wayne's shirt, the grime of a nightclub floor ground into the skin of a performer writhing in his own sweat. May it continue forever. Ladies and gentlemen, start your collections!