Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1968)
- Gordon Alexander -- vocals, guitar
- Ben Benay -- guitar
- Al Casey -- guitar
- Pete Chrislieb -- sax
- Jim Gordon -- drums, percussion
- John Guerin -- drums, percussion
- Plas Johnson -- sax
- Carole Kaye -- bass
- Bill Pitman -- guitar
- none known
Rating: *** 3 stars
Title: Gordon's Buster
Country/State: St. Louis, Missouri
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: 31094
Gordon Alexander is kind of a musical mystery. He was supposedly part of the duet Peanut Butter 'n' Jelly and generated a little attention placing the song 'Strawberry Tea' on Tiny Tim's debut album. If you've never heard that LP, I'll tell you that Alexander's contribution was easily the album's most psychedelic number. From there he somehow attracted Columbia's attention, scoring a recording contract in 1968
Most of the attention accorded to 1968's "Gordon's Buster" stems from the fact three tracks were produced by Curt Boettcher. Sonny Knight handled the other eight songs. Having listened to this set dozens of times in an effort to crack the code, I have to admit the Boettcher connection seems to be the set's main claim to fame.
Columbia may have signed Alexander, but judging by this album they were clueless with what to do with him. That left the guy a no-win situation. Starting with the bland cover art, tracks like 'Thinking In Indian Again', 'One Real Spins Free' and 'Windy Wednesday' seemed intent on selling watered down pop-psych tunes to middle America that wanted to be culturally relevant, but not too relevant. With backing from an all-star cast of sessions players, Alexander wrote all eleven tracks (several only one longer than three minutes). He was certainly a versatile writer, though his lyrics were dense, stream-of-consciousness affairs that haven't aged all that well ('Autumn is a Bummer' probably sounded ancient in 1970). It made for one of those albums where you can spend a lot of time playing spot-the-influence. His voice was okay, though I always smile when I see the picture of a young man and then hear his gravelly vocals which sound like they were coming from a much older performer. Alexander's delivery was also odd displaying a penchant for putting a bizarre echo effect on his voice
"Gordon's Buster" track listing:1:49
1.) Looking for the Sun (Gordon Alexander) - 2:37 rating: ** stars
The opener 'Looking for the Sun' was one of the three Boettcher produced songs. The first time I heard the song I had the mental picture of a 50 year old guy trying to cash-in on the public's affection for mid-'60s psych. That image certainly classhed with Alexander's album cover photo. The other mental image this one left - Richard Harris' 'Macarthur Park'. Harris' tune was over-the-top. So was this singer/songwriter effort, except it added an irritating flute solo to the mix.
2.) Letter to Baba (Gordon Alexander) - 2:44 rating: ** stars
The sax-powered opening gave 'Letter To Baba' a '50s feel before it morphed into '50 big band blues flavor. Imagine Tony Bennett trying to appeal to the hippy crowd. Interestingly the song demonstrated that Alexander actually had a really nice voice.
3.) Topanga (Gordon Alexander) - 2:29 rating: *** stars
'Topanga' found Alexander taking a stab at The Mamas and the Papas styled Vaudeville pop-stylings. The arrangement included a New Orleans 2nd line band arrangement. It wasn't a genre I particular enjoy, but I'll give it a third star for quirkiness.
4.) Autumn Is a Bummer (Gordon Alexander) - 1:48 rating: *** stars
The title alone makes me smile. Yes, Alexander actually sings those lyrics. Another tune that recalled John Phillips and company. He actually sounded a little like Phillips on this one. Super short tune.
5.) A Bunch of Us Were Sitting Around a Candle In San Francisco Getting Stoned and I Hope You're There the Next Time (Gordon Alexander) - 1:58 rating: *** stars
Middle America trying to turn on and be cool. LOL Heavily orchestrated ballad which had a strange echo effect, goofy lyrics and a little bit of bossa nova influences. The tune should have been released as a single just so listeners could have heard DJs trying to announce the title.
6.) Waiting for the Time (Gordon Alexander) - 1:56 rating: ** stars
And just when I thought the album had hit its nadir, along came 'Waiting for the Time'. This one made it sound like Alexander had been listening to a heavy dose of Roger Miller.
1.) Thinking In Indian Again (Gordon Alexander) - 1:56 rating: **** stars
Perhaps the album's strangest tune ... I'm guessing Alexander was pretty stoned for this session. In less than two minutes he manages to cram together one of the funniest vocal deliveries I've ever heard with some hysterical trippy lyrics ("how is your mind bending?"). Add in bizarre echo effects on his vocals, some tasty fuzz guitar, Carole Kaye's classic bass and a meltdown ending with someone voicing "hurt me" over and over.. Just for the bizarre factor, I'll give this one a four star rating.
2.) Puppet Theatre 23 (Gordon Alexander) - 2:03 rating: *** stars
Not hard to imagine this one in some Joel Dorn off-Broadway show until the MOR horn arrangement kicked. And yes, I'd like to know why does the sunshine inside the wall? Why is the flowerpot is broken?
3.) One Real Spins Free (Gordon Alexander) - 2:24 rating: *** stars
'One Real Spins Free' was another song that tried to mash-up Alexander's hippy sentiments with a commercial arrangement; in this case a really big horn arrangement. Columbia tapped the tune as a single, though I'm guessing most radio stations were as clueless as I am with respect to what the song's about.
- 1968's 'One Real Spins Free' b/w 'Topanga' (Columbia catalog number 4-44594)
4.) Windy Wednesday (Gordon Alexander) - 3:47 rating: *** stars
The second Boettcher produced song, just when I was starting to get acclimated to Alexander's growling voice, 'Windy Wednesday' found him switching gears. A lysergic-tinged ballad, the song found Alexander singing in a strained falsetto. Imagine a 20 year old choirboy with his hand caught in a car door. The performance was even weirder given Alexander's measured, gasping performance. He sounded like he was struggling to spit out each and every word.
5.) Miss Mary (Gordon Alexander) - 2:55 rating: *** stars
Opening with some nice electric lead gave me momentary hope, but then Alexander's performance turned the song into what sounded like an R-rated children's song. The backing vocals were hysterical. When he rhymes Mary with library I can't help but smile. This was the third Boettcher produced track.
And that was it for Alexander's musical career. He apparently turned his attention to real estate.
In 2011 the small Kismet label reissued the album on CD (Kismet catalog number KIS 4015CD)
BACK TO BADCAT FRONT PAGE
BACK TO BADCAT CATALOG PAGE
BACK TO BADCAT PAYMENT INFORMATION