The Tarots

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- Johnny Kitchen --




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Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Disco Madness

Company: Heinquarters

Catalog: AW 14061

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1660

Price: $150.00


The first and the rarest of the three albums by Johnny Kitchen and associates under The Tarots nameplate ...    Classic tax scam release.  Forget about the psychedelic cover, or the disco title. The music on 1977's "Disco Madness" had nothing to do with either genre which was surprising since the collection seemed to touch on every other musical genre known to mankind.   Speculation on my part, but given the wild stylistic diversity across these ten songs, you were left with the impression these were studio demos, outtakes, and other musical flotsam and jetsam that Johnny Kitchen and company had gathered up and slapped together without any interest in artistic integrity.   The fact the song titles bore no relationship to the underlying tunes only underscored that contention.   Good example, the supposedly Kitchen original 'My Only Girl' was actually a big band remake of Neil Diamond's 'I'm a Believer'.   Similarly, listen to the lone side one vocal 'Don't Go Home' and try to figure out where the title come from since the song refrain was actually "we'll build a new world".   99.9% of music collectors will have absolutely no interest in this one (or the other two Tarot LPs), but the collection actually had a couple of unexpected charmers.  Almost certainly recorded by a crew of Southern California-based studio musicians, 'Dream Girl' offered up a great slice of instrumental raga-rock.   Just as eclectic, but even better was the 12 string guitar folk tune The Funk''.


"Disco Madness" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Candy, Roses & Love (instrumental)   (L. Priessman) - 2:45

'Candy, Roses & Love' opened the collection up with a slice of decent early-'60s surf rock.   The sound was classic, though the 'Yakety Yak'-styled sax solo gave it a late-'50s feel.  Yeah, The Ventures meet Boots Randolph covers it nicely.    rating: ** stars

2.) Butter n' Eggs (instrumental)  (Johnny Kitchen) - 2:10

Standard Albert-King-styled blues instrumental workout.   Sounded like it was edited down from an in-studio jam session.   rating: ** stars

3.) Been Thinking It Over  (L. Priessman - Johnny Kitchen) - 2:12

In spite of the title, 'Been Thinking It Over ' was a MOR-remake of a popular '60s hit ... problem is the source song has evaded me for years.  Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass meets a New Orleans band. rating: **

4.) Don't Go Home  (Johnny Kitchen) -  2:31

Nice mid-'60s pop ballad ...   this anonymous male-female duet was worth hearing for a couple of reasons.  The pair had voices that made it nearly impossible to distinguish their sexes.  Both sounded like they were singing though nasty head colds, or they were doing their best to showcase their best Bob Dylan impressions.  Finally, there was no way the song title was 'Don't Go Home' since those words never appeared in the lyrics. My guess was the original title was actually  'We'll Build a New World'.   rating: *** stars

5.) Dream Girl   (L. Priessman) - 2:22

In spite of the title 'Dream Girl' was a rockin' raga instrumental that sounded like it had fallen off some '60s Bollywood.   Have to admit I found this one charming.   rating: **** stars


(side 2)
Country Boy, County Girl (instrumental)  (L. Priessman) - 2:34

Wow, one strange tune ...  violin, harpsichord built on a melody that sounded like it had been borrowed for 'Jesus Christ Superstar'.   Second tier It's a Wonderful Day.  rating: *** stars

2.) Glory Be   (L. Priessman) -2:32

Etremely raw and not very good blue-eyed soul tune.   I'd guess the tune was originally titled 'So Groovy' rather than 'Glory Be'.   rating: ** stars

3.) The Funk (instrumental)  (L. Priessman) - 2:42

Acoustic twelve string guitar number that was actually a bit funky in a Mason Williams style.  Come to think of it, 'The Funk' actually sounded a lot like a Mason Williams tune; albeit without the instrumentation.   Coincidentally it was the album's standout performance.   rating: **** stars

4.) My Only Love - l   (L. Priessman - Johnny Kitchen) - 2:54

Nah, it wasn't written by L. Priessman and Johnny Kitchen. In spite of the title, this was actually a big band cover of Neil Diamond's 'I'm a Believer'.  Kudos to the producers for displaying one of the worst ever editting jobs on the end of the song.  rating: ** stars

5.) My Town (instrumental)  (L. Priessman) -2:10

The instrumental 'My Town' ended the album with a tasty Ramsey Lewis Trio-styled soul jazz charmer.   rating: *** stars





Genre: blues

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  It's In the Cards

Company: Richard

Catalog: AW # 14064

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: minor ring wear

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1625

Price: $100.00



Ah, the mysterious Johnny Kitchen reappears on another tax scam release ...


The Album World conglomerate is one of the most intriguing, if least known members of the tax scam family.  It certainly has the most eclectic roster of acts ranging from children's' albums to more pop/rock oriented projects like 1977's "It's In the Cards".  Similarly, Johnny Kitchen is one of those names that keeps appearing on tax scam releases and other rock obscurities, but there's precious little information to be found on the man., let alone anything that ranks much above speculation.


Like most tax scam albums, this one didn't provide much in the way of bibliographical information, though Kitchen's fingerprints were certainly on the collection, notably the three tunes credited to him ('Get Off My Back', 'Get Out', and 'The Girl In Blue').  A largely instrumental set, most of the tunes had a mid-'60s vibe; tunes like the title track, 'Funk' and 'The Funk' sounding like they'd been lifted from "B" movie soundtracks.  The funny thing was most of the material was surprisingly accessible and enjoyable, including Kitchen's blatant rip off of 'Whole Lotta Love'. for anyone interested, there were two vocal performances on the album - 'Funkie Rumba' and 'Get Out'.


"It's In the Cards" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) It's In the Cards (instrumental)   (Loren Nichols) - 3:52

Nice pounding, fuzz guitar-powered instrumental that sounded like it could have been lifted from the incidental music composed for some throwaway blaxploitation flick.  Shame it has such an abrupt ending.  It sounded like some simply hit the pause button before the song was over.   rating: *** stars

2.) Funk (instrumental)  (L. Priessman) - 2:59

'In spite of the title, 'Funk' was a pretty, bluesy-flavored keyboard and guitar-based instrumental that again sounded like it might have been snagged from a film soundtrack.    rating: *** stars

3.) The Funk (instrumental)   (L. Priessman)- 2:12

The instrumental 'The Funk' was probably the album's best performance, sounding a bit like Booker T. and the MG's trying to get down and dirty.  Nice Memphis-on-amphetamines vibe.   rating: **** stars  r*

4.) Funkie Rumba  (L. Priessman) - 2:02

Again, the song title didn't seem to have any relationship to the song itself, but 'Funkie Rumba' offered up the first vocal, imagine a sixty year old lounge singer trying desperately to sound happening.   The song did feature a killer bass performance.    rating: **** stars

5.) Gaily Gail Featurette   (instrumental)   (L. Priessman) - 2:57

Nice enough guitar powered pop tune, though you had to wonder where the 'Gaily Gail Featurette' title came from.     rating: *** stars


(side 2)

1.) Gentle (instrumental)    (L. Priessman) - 3:01

Imagine Danny Gatton taking a stab at a pop-psych tune ...   Another slice of film music.   rating: *** stars

2.) Georgia Way (instrumental)     (Ralph Morris) - 2:55

Ignoring the ridiculous title, 'Georgia Way' exhibited some surprisingly impressive hard rock moves ...   Lots of screaming guitar for fans of the genre and another album highlight.  rating; **** stars

3.) Get Off My Back (instrumental(   (Johnny Kitchen) - 3:12

Kitchen may have titled this one 'Get Off of My Back' but for all intents and purposes it was a straight ahead rip off of 'Whole Lotta of Love'.  He's lucky to not have been sued for copyright infringement.  rating: *** stars

4.) Get Out   (Johnny Kitchen) - 2:48

The second vocal performance, 'Get Out' was also a good example of a tax scam album including material from multiple, uncredited sources.   There's no way this was the same outfit that recorded most of the instrumentals on this album.  rating: *** stars

5.) The Girl In Blue   (Johnny Kitchen) - 3:10

I've listened to it dozens of times and the melody from 'The Girl In Blue' bares an uncanny similarity to another tune, though I've never been able to identify the source.   Regardless it was another pretty instrumental with an early fade.   Someone out there will recognize the melody.   rating: *** stars





Genre: blues

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  Knight In Blue Armour

Company: Arnold

Catalog: AW # 14070

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG+

Comments: minor ring wear

Available: SOLD

Catalog ID: SOLD 6040

Price: SOLD $150.00


The second Tarots LP on the Album World conglomerate ...   Released by the Nashville-based Arnold label under Album World distribution, this collection was credited to The Tarots.  The credits indicated Kitchen was responsible for penning eight of the ten tracks (the other two credited to 'L. Priessman') and though the liner notes provided no information on performers or production, there's a good chance he also produced the set. That said, given the production sound and feel, it seems highly unlikely that Kitchen penned any of these tracks.  Exemplified by material like 'Love Work Shop' and Snow Job'' a disproportionate number of songs on side one had a distinctive '1960s Chicago blues flavor. while side two flopped over to 1960s'styled cocktail jazz and soul.  Rounding out this short collection were a couple of true oddball numbers including a bizarre Elvis-styled rocker ('Found Me a Love') and the unexpected psychedelic rocker ('So Much Time'').  The poor sound quality and abrupt editing made the album sound very much like a bunch of outtakes and studio demos that had been haphazardly stitched together. 


 "Knight In Blue Armour" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Love Work Shop  (instrumental)  (Johnny Kitchen) - 2:22

'Love Work Shop' was a harmonica-powered, double time blues workout.  Very Butterfield Blues Band or James Cotton-ish which means you'll either like it, or find it dull and ponderous.  For what it's worth, this one sure wasn't recorded in 1977 ...  at least to my uninformed ears it had a distinctive '60s feel.   rating: ** stars

2.) Stay Away  (instrumental)   (Johnny Kitchen) - 2:43

Another blues instrumental, the highlight on 'Stay Away came in the form of the acoustic slide guitar that kicked the song along.  The playing was extremely crude and low tech, but was actually very impressive generating quite a bit of energy.  Not sure what the abrupt cutoff was about ...   rating: *** stars

3.) Found Me a Love   (Johnny Kitchen) - 2:13

'Found Me a Love' was an anonymous Elvis-styled rocker.  This one also had a mid-1960s feel to it and I bet there's someone out there who'd be able to place it.   rating: *** stars 

4.) Snow Job (instrumental)   (Johnny Kitchen) - 2:10

Once again featuring harmonica as lead instrument, the instrumental 'Snow Job' was a return to pedestrian Chicago styled blues.   This one didn't do a great deal for me, though genre fans will probably get something out of it.   rating: *** stars   

5.) Soft Lips (instrumental)   (L. Priessman) - 2:34

The jazz-soul instrumental 'Soft Lips' sounded like something out of the Young Holt Trio's catalog.  Definitely more soul than jazz and probably the best song on the first side.   rating: *** stars 


(side 2)
1.) So Much Time   (Johnny Kitchen) - 2:24

'So Much Time'  started side two with a totally unexpected slice of classic 1960s psychedelic rock ...  Complete with freak-out guitar and suitably trippy lyrics, this one could have been mistaken for prime Electric Prunes.   rating: **** stars

2.) Repunzel (instrumental)   (Johnny Kitchen) - 2:54

Showcasing a jazzy electric keyboard, the instrumental 'Repunzel' sounded like a continuation of Deodato's '2001 a Space Odyssey'.   rating: ** stars

3.) Open Up Your Eyes (instrumental)   (Johnny Kitchen) - 2:31

'Open Up Your Eyes' was a big, 1950s-styled easy-listening instrumental  Instantly forgettable.  The only good thing about this one was the acoustic guitar solo that suddenly appeared near the end.  Otherwise, total yech.    rating: * star

4.) Love Sy-Ko-Sis (instrumental)   (Johnny Kitchen) - 2:34

The instrumental 'Love Sy-Ko-Sis' offered up another slice of jazz-soul.  It was actually kind of commercial in a laxative commercial fashion.    rating: * star

5.) Beautiful Trip  (instrumental)  (L. Priessman) - 2:16

'Beautiful Trip'  closed the album out with a Ventures-styled instrumental guitar rocker.  Very period and also one of my favorite performances on the set (I'm a big Ventures fan).    rating: *** stars


Totally bizarre even by tax scam label standards which means it'll appeal to a small group of hardcore collectors.  And 'So Much Time' was actually a great slice of 1960s psychedelia ...  wonder who actually did this song.