Tuesday, 21 June 2016

"Running Jumping Standing Still" by "SPIDER" JOHN KOERNER and WILLIE MURPHY (1993 Red House Records '25th Anniversary Edition' Expanded CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"...Good Times Don't Go To Waste..." 

"...Do you feel like an outcast...well the Red Palace is the name of the place...good times don't go to waste..." - John Koerner sings on the barrelhouse opener "Red Palace" where his six-piece ensemble of late 60ts Folk outcasts feel like The Band have hit a bar and hijacked the upright piano in the corner - drunk and fearless...

Taking its album-name from the Richard Lester Goons Film of 1960 (Directed by Lester and Peter Sellers) - Folky and Bluesman "Spider" John Koerner got together with Blues keyboardist Willie Murphy to make an album of all sorts. It's hard to describe this LP - part Folk-Rock, part Americana - it could easily be The Band album between 1968's "Music From Big Pink" and 1969's "The Band".

"Running Jumping Standing Still" is pictured and critiqued on Page 50 of the truly gorgeous hardback book that accompanies the November 2006 "Forever Changing: The Golden Age Of Elektra Records 1963-1973" 5CD Deluxe Edition Box Set - given a sort of 'overlooked' pride of place. And this gorgeous-sounding Red House Records ‘25th Anniversary Edition’ Expanded CD Reissue and Remaster brings it to audio life big time. Here are the mixed-up details...

USA released February 1993 - "Running Jumping Standing Still" by "SPIDER" JOHN KOERNER and WILLIE MURPHY on Red House Records RHR CD 63 (Barcode 033651006329) is a '25th Anniversary Edition' CD Reissue and Remaster and plays out as follows (49:43 minutes):

1. Red Palace
2. I Ain't Blue
3. Bill & Annie
4. Old Brown Dog
5. Running, Jumping, Standing Still
6. Sidestep [Side 2]
7. Magazine Lady
8. Friends And Lovers
9. Sometimes I Can't Help Myself
10. Goodnight
Tracks 1 to 10 are the album "Running Jumping Standing Still" - released June 1969 in the USA on Elektra Records EKS 74041 and in the UK on Elektra EKL 4041 (Mono) and Elektra EKS 74041 (Stereo) – reissued in the UK in 1971 on Elektra Records K 42026. Produced by FRAZIER MOHAWK and recorded at Elektra's Paxton Lodge on the Feather Rover, Keddie, California - all songs by John Koerner and Willie Murphy. The STEREO MIX was used for this CD.

BONUS TRACK (Previously Unreleased):
11. Some Sweet Nancy

JOHN KOERNER - Guitar and Vocals
WILLIE MURPHY - Piano, Electric Bass and Vocals
KEN JENKINS - Trombone, Tenor Saxophone, Cello and Acoustic Bass
JOHN WILCE - Banjo and Mandolin

The gatefold slip of paper that is the inlay has brief but informative liner notes by ERIC PELTONIEMI about the 'might have been' album and its gestation, reissue credits and so forth - it even offers a potted Koerner/Murphy discography - but no photos and a distinct lack of wow. The same can not be said of the fantastic Remaster by ROGER SIEBEL from original tapes - this Red House Records CD sounds amazing - a tiny bit hissy in places but never dampened down or pro-tooled out of existence. There's warmth to these recordings that bring in my mind of the neutrality Link Wray achieved on his Link Wray and Mordecai Jones album in the early 70ts on Polydor (see review for "3-Way Shack").

"Spider" John Koerner and his eclectic voice/guitar tunings went way back with Elektra Records to 1963 and the legendary "Blues, Rags & Hollers" LP (followed in 1964 with "More Blues, Rags & Hollers"). Both records were Rag Mama Rag albums Koerner did with the duo of Tony "Snaker" Glover" and Dave "Liitle Sun" Ray. Those LPs shook up the Folk-Blues scene at the time and are hard to find (Rhino remastered both in 2004 onto 1CD when they began reissuing Elektra Records Folk artists in earnest). Koerner also had three songs featured on the equally legendary and wonderful "The Blues Project" LP on Elektra in 1964 - see my review of that inside February 2015 "The GREENWICH VILLAGE Folk Scene" 5CD Box Set in Rhino's "Original Album Series". Minneapolis kid Willie Murphy was a Keyboard and Bassist who would later go on to produce Bonnie Raitt's debut LP and ply his trade as Willie And The Bees following his departure from Koerner after their lone collaboration flopped.

Riding the shirt tales of November 1968’s "Music From Big Pink" by THE BAND - the Folk/Blues/Jazz/Vaudeville mash-up that is "Running Jumping Standing Still" LP hit the shops in June 1969 in the USA in a blizzard of Elektra publicity - but no one took any notice. But since its commercial failure on release – it’s gained a sort of hallowed reputation amongst Americana collectors as the illegitimate but deserving child of The Band’s musical legacy.

Actually “Running Jumping Standing Still” is a difficult record to describe. Never is this more apparent on the near eight-minute "Old Brown Dog" which is a Band amble on piano and acoustic guitar that despite its length doesn't overstay itself. And just when you think you've got a measure of its Americana folksiness - it launches into piano soloing that feels like Herbie Hancock let loose on a Steinway with a few brandies - and he don't care. It's quite brilliant really. "It Ain't Blue" has beautiful musicality in its 'lonesome' moan while "Running Jumping Standing Still" is fast and furious - like The Doors gone hillbilly. "Sidestep" is a Rock song at its guitar core while the excellent "Magazine Lady" even has slightly Psych brass sections that sound like Mungo Jerry popped a few mushrooms and turned on a microphone (it was picked as the track to represent the album on the "Forever Changing" 5CD Box Set). "Friends And Lovers" is a pretty piano ballad where they sound like Emitt Rhodes on Probe Records. "Goodnight" ends the record with Koerner 'putting to bed my tired head'. The Previously Unreleased song "Some Sweet Nancy" was meant for the record apparently but left off due to vinyl's limitations - it's excellent and similar to "Sometimes I Can't Help Myself".

A mad record - a great album - a cocktail of so many styles – "Running Jumping Standing Still" by "SPIDER" JOHN KOERNER and WILLIE MURPHY is all of these disparate things and worse. I dig it man. This is one orphaned son of The Band that deserves your cuddles...

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