Vinyl Dynamite #54

A heavenly hash of vinyl is coming your way.  We've got gospel on a budget (The Peaceful Valley Gospel Singers), psychedelic pop (Peppermint Trolley Co.), cosmic new age (Vangelis) and countrified comedy (Ray Stevens).   Let's dive in!

Thank You Lord for Your Blessings on Me - The Peaceful Valley Gospel Singers

There were an incomprehensible multitude of locally produced gospel records released during the 1970s.  Whole blogs are devoted to cataloging them and we've only begun to scratch the surface.  Generally speaking, they all are exceedingly low budget, are a family affair, deliver wonderfully awful album covers, and rarely sound as terrible as you expect them to.

I don't know anything about The Peaceful Valley Gospel Singers beyond what's on their front and back covers:  (1) they're from Columbus, Ohio and (2) are not photogenic.  Here's a couple tracks from their LP:

"If You Don't Like Shouting"

"Jesus Found Me"
A guest appearance from Wiz and Jeff Fuller is an auditory nightmare.  You have been warned.

Peppermint Trolley Co. (1969)

Consider this entry a repost from Vinyl Dynamite #13 from way back in 2009.  I wanted to restore the track, and also amend something.

In the '09 post I was a tad unfair to the group; counting them among the endless wave of cheesy psychedelic pop bands that flooded the record stores around this time.  You have to admit, their name does sound like a bubblegum psyche band... and they certainly look like a bubblegum psyche band. Plus, they sang the season one Brady Bunch theme for chrissake.  

Yet, with repeated listening, I've grown quite fond of this record, and discovered there's a depth and skill here that I hadn't noticed initially.  A member of the group, Danny Faragher, actually commented on the post, and filled me in on some facts that further demonstrated why they shouldn't be lumped in with bubblegum acts of the period.

I'd post the whole album, but they've re-released their record on CD.  So, one track will do for now, but I'd recommend you buy their album.

"I've Got To Be Going"

The Music of Cosmos (1981)

I was a massive Carl Sagan back in the 1980s.  You could say this guy changed my life more than any other influence - leading me into a career in science.  I read all his books (Dragons of Eden and Broca's Brain were favorites) and rented the Cosmos VHS tapes on the regular.

That being said, I'm not in love with new age music; around this time I was more of an Iron Maiden-Led Zep kinda guy than Vangelis.  Still, it made for great background music for Sagan's monumental miniseries.

"Heaven and Hell Part I" by Vangelis

"The musical content of COSMOS seemed to create a message of its own: almost as though it were the collective intelligence of the universe pleasantly calling our attention to the lessons at hand.' That comment Irom a self-styled over-the-road truck driver expresses simply and eloquently our intentions in selecting music for the thirteen hours of the COSMOS television series.

As with the golden phonograph record placed on board the Voyager spacecraft, bearing a sampling of "Earth's Greatest Hits" we included a variety of musical traditions and genres. Many hours were spent exploring the music of unfami­liar composers and performers and considering how old favorites would enhance the thoughtful words and rich visuals of the series.

Finding the music tor COSMOS was in itself a voyage if
 discov­ery We hope you will share in that experience, enjoy the music of this album, and then sample the original works from which these pieces were excerpted. It was always our intention that, in COSMOS, the images and music would be as important as the words. 

The cosmos is all that is. or ever was or ever will be. We our­selves are made of starstuff. We are a way tor the Cosmos to know itself. (Vangelis "Heaven and Hell" main title theme). Yet the Earth is embedded in fifteen billion years of cosmic time, it is fifteen billion light years to the cosmic horizon Our planet is a mere speck of matter circling one star in the obscure backwaters of a typical galaxy of four hundred billion suns. The immensities ol space and time encompass enormous emptiness, spectacular beauty and, perhaps, many other intelligent beings who wonder as we do. (Shostakovich. 'Symphony No. 11") The process which led to those other intelligences began sim­ply, we think, with the organic molecules that are plentiful in the gas and dust between the stars, molecules also readily formed in early planetary his­tory. Life here, on our little island in the cosmic ocean, is a testament to the possibilities hidden in hydrogen atoms, given fifteen billion years of cosmic evolu­tion (Vangelis, "Alpha" Irom Albedo 0.39")..."

Shriner's Convention - Ray Stevens (1980)

I'm not sure Ray Stevens' humor has translated well over the decades.  In fact, much of his stuff wasn't funny in the first place.  Like Gallagher, Stevens' work often looks lame and silly in the rear view mirror.

However, there was a reason this dude was so popular back then. He definitely hit the mark on the funny bone for folks of the late seventies-early eighties.  And, even now, I can find a few tracks on each album that stand up.  So here's a couple off his 1980 LP....

"Last Laugh"
A rather macabre song about a guy who wants to kill himself to spite his woman. The record skips a couple times due to a scratch - apologies.

"Coin Machine"
A pretty amusing rant against coin machines.  The frustration of trying to buy a pack of smokes or condoms or munchies and being denied is conveyed well here.  My favorite line: "You get nuthin' for a nickel. Twice as much for a dime."

The front and back have some pretty nice artwork from Herb Burnette, a guy who did a lot of cover art for country music albums.  Sadly, it looks like most of his stuff was photography and art direction; he rarely put his drawings to use.


  1. To this day I still ROFLMAO whenever I see the catoon from Omni magazine titled "Billions and Billions of Carl Sagans"....

  2. Is that Shriner's Convention lp a Mort Drucker painting?

    1. You don't read?

    2. Oh those word thingies! I got it! Herb Burnette! Penche

  3. The Peppermint Trolley piece was OK, But they don't sound much different than other similar bands of the era. But I generally like this sort of music, so that doesn't matter. They sound a bit like the Association.

  4. Man, I had no idea that Vangelis did the music for Cosmos. That show changed my life as well, though not as directly as yours, and I had no idea there was a soundtrack album for it. In hindsight it makes perfect sense that Vangelis scored the program and knowing that now you can hear a little Blade Runner running throughout it.

    1. Actually, Vangelis didn't score _Cosmos_, per se. Rather, Carl Sagan was a fan of Vangelis, and decided to use his music for the show. In other words, the music existed several years before _Cosmos_ debuted in 1980. The album _Heaven and Hell_ was released in 1975, and "Alpha" and its album _Albedo 0.39_ was from 1976. Hearing "Alpha" on _Cosmos_, incidentally, was the primary reason I got into electronic music.

    2. Very true. While most people "discovered" Vangelis when he scored "Chariots of Fire," a lot of shows were using his music as background for years. His "China" album produced "Chung Kuo" that many PM Magazine stations used when talking about electronic advancements and the like.