Tag Archives: Three Degrees

Where should I sign?

Autographed Taylor Swift folklore CDs at the Exclusive Company in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

This is quite a story if you haven’t already heard it.

Delivery guy drops a box of 30 autographed Taylor Swift “folklore” CDs at a record store 15 minutes before it opens. A young woman signs for it. She’s sitting on the sidewalk, waiting for the store to open. She realizes what the package likely contains and protects it as if it were gold. She hands it over to the record store manager when he arrives to open for the day.

Well, that happened right here in Green Bay a week ago. The record store is The Exclusive Company, one of my regular stops. The store manager is my friend Tom Smith. The Taylor Swift fan is Brandy Baenen, who’s 26.

“‘Taylor would not have wanted me to walk off with this,” she told Tom, who later that day told the story on social media and watched it go viral.

Which got me to thinking about autographs. I’ve never been a big autograph guy. Not athletes, not celebrities and not musicians. I’d rather chat briefly with them, say I enjoyed their performance, and leave it at that.

That said, I do have a few signed records and CDs.

The late, great Steve Goodman signed his “Artistic Hair” record for me after I saw him play at the old Madison Civic Center in the spring of 1983. I vividly remember Goodman sitting at the table, looking up and asking my name for the inscription. Either I mumbled or he misheard me. As you see, he signed mine “JOE / Hello / Steve Goodman.” I was vaguely disappointed at first, but have long since enjoyed it as another delightful gift from Goodman.

Colin Hay Man @ Work autographed CD

After Colin Hay played a solo one-nighter at our local casino lounge in the summer of 2005, I queued up for his autograph on his “Man @ Work” CD. Our son Evan was 10 at the time. He was just getting into music. One of the songs on that 2003 record, “Beautiful World,” was one of his favorites.

Sleepy LaBeef Nothin' But the Truth autographed LP

Sleepy LaBeef, the human jukebox, was one of my all-time favorites. I pulled out “Nothin’ But the Truth,” his 1986 live record, for Sleepy to sign when he played a rockabilly festival at our local casino in 2007. At some point, I managed to crease a corner of the album jacket, and that bugs me to this day.

Carlene Carter autograph on Stronger CD

Carlene Carter autograph on Carter Girl CD

Though we saw Carlene Carter live in 2009, my autographed CDs came by mail. She has the best penmanship and nicest signature of any of my autographs. Fun fact: Ray Nitschke was a close second.

(I also have a CD signed by all the members of The Ides of March, circa 2011, but that was a post-show assembly-line deal rather than a face-to-face meetup. The Ides’ Jim Peterik signed his book for me three years later. I have a 12-inch single signed by all three ladies in The Three Degrees, circa 1978. Bought that for fun.)

(Found while rounding up those autographs: Autographed CDs by blues guitarists John Cephas and Phil Wiggins — a birthday gift in 1993 after we saw them earlier that year — and by country singer Danni Leigh from after a 2004 show at our local casino lounge.)

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Filed under August 2020, Sounds

Jerry’s basement

Explosions have rocked our basement this summer.

Our rec room, of course, is where our 16-year-old son and his pals gather to play video games and watch Netflix.

There is an old 26-inch TV to which the Xbox is attached. The old stereo components are still there, too. A turntable, a CD player, a receiver and two small but nice speakers, all dating to the early ’90s. One day, our son found out that the TV was hooked up to the stereo system. If you turn on the receiver while playing video games, the explosions blast through the speakers.

It was not all that different in Jerry’s basement in the summer in the mid-’70s.

We didn’t have video games, of course. We had APBA, a table-top baseball game with cards and dice. There were three, four, five, sometimes six of us. We played in the afternoon, went home for supper and at times resumed at night.

Fairly clear now why the ladies did not dig us then.

Jerry also had a stereo. If memory serves, it was one of those old compact stereos from which the turntable dropped down and the speakers swung out. We cranked up the volume as best we could, but there were no explosions.

Jerry didn’t have many records — none of us did then — but we often played most of what he had. So much so that I remember most of those records to this day, more than 35 years on. They included:

“Montrose” by Montrose (1973). We were listening to Sammy Hagar before he was Sammy Hagar.

“Desolation Boulevard” by the Sweet (1974). Try as I might, I can’t remember hearing the original version of “A.C.D.C.,” which Joan Jett has so memorably covered.

“Physical Graffiti” by Led Zeppelin (1975). I wasn’t much of a Led Zep fan, but I loved “Boogie With Stu.” Still do. Last summer, one of my son’s pals — a guitar player — said he’d love to get a copy of this record. You should have seen his face when I handed him the vintage vinyl a couple of weeks later.

“16 Greatest Hits” by Steppenwolf (1973). This, for us, was classic rock. I really didn’t dig them much at the time. Neither did our JV basketball coach.

“The Adventures of Panama Red” by the New Riders of the Purple Sage (1973). Um, so, yeah.

“That Nigger’s Crazy,” by Richard Pryor (1974). Hugely influential in honing our collective sense of humor, which at the time also was being shaped by the National Lampoon (the magazine and the radio show), Cheech and Chong, George Carlin, Monty Python and Johnny Carson.

Again, fairly clear now why the ladies did not dig us then.

Hey, we were 16. It was 1973. Here are some more sophisticated artists we weren’t digging in Jerry’s basement. If we knew then what we know now …

“Dirty Ol’ Man,” the Three Degrees, from “The Three Degrees,” 1973. This was their first studio album. It’s full of Gamble and Huff’s great Philly soul. This is a great tune that was bigger in Europe than in the States.

“Standing In The Shadows Of Love,” Barry White, from “I’ve Got So Much To Give,” 1973. This was his first album. There was a time before everyone knew Barry White was synonymous with seduction. This was that time. (This edited version of this Four Tops cover is from “Barry White’s Greatest Hits,” 1975. The original LP version which runs longer.)

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Filed under August 2011, Sounds