1. The Houston Post, Get With it (Pams Productions)
The basslines thump and the bongos bounce. “Get with it,” the voices exhort, “get with the Houston Post!” The mood is celebratory. A manufactured celebratory. But still – it’s celebratory.
If music is a reflection of the society that engenders it, then the Houston Post’s America was equal parts discotheque glamour and marketing pitch. Sure, the Houston Post was trying to sell more newspapers, but that’s only half the story. “Get With It” doesn’t worry itself with the Post’s expanded sports section or its new Washington office.
Instead, it advertises the broader idea of the Post’s get-with-itude. It’s classic branding, and the Post’s determination to be something more than just the first choice in newpapers for Houston suburbanites is obvious here.
The flipside of “Get With It” contains the instructions for a dance. You can get a sense of how The Wink goes here. A little later here, too – you’re coming along nicely! Still, a little further along – everybody ready to Wink? You think you are, but actually you’re still not quite ready to do the Wink. Finally, after more instruction, it all comes together here, sort of.
Alas, the outreach never paid off for the Post. The paper eventually folded in 1995; the youthful demographic they so desperately appealed to grew up and started reading the Houston Chronicle instead.
A short history of the Houston Post can be found here.
2. Vox’s Wah-Wah Demonstration Record
This was a product demonstration record for the new Vox Wah-Wah guitar pedal, the device that quickly became the guitarist’s choice for sounding way groovier. The Wah-Wah would endure as one of pop music’s emblematic guitar sounds throughout the ‘60s, heard to sleazier effect as the ‘70s wore on. In early 1967, however, the Vox Wah-Wah was still an unproven commercial commodity. Likewise, the quarry here was not the average amateur teenaged musician but rather the business community, the music shops and suppliers and studios. They needed a little persuasion before stocking something ostensibly little more than a psychedelic do-dad.
If you can’t make it through the first four-and-a-half minutes of sales pitching, you can jump to the last bit, where everything is breezily wrapped up for us with the verve that we’re accustomed to.
Originally distributed on a laminate card to music shops that stocked Vox guitars and amplifiers, this selection has all the inevitable fidelity of music etched into cardboard grooves. The musician patiently demonstrating all of this for us is the California session guitarist (and inventor) Del Casher. There’s a good interview with Del here, where he reminisces about his involvement with the Wah-Wah pedal, Fender’s EccoPhonic Tape Delay/Echo unit, and a mysterious entity known as the Vox Ampliphonic Orchestra.
3. The Utica Club Natural Carbonation Band, The Utica Club Natural Carbonation Beer Drinking Song (RCA Custom)
Sadly, this garish discotheque existed only in TV commercials for Utica Club, once the proud “flagship” beer of the Matt Brewing Company.
Anything could happen at Utica Club. Paintings came to life. Waitresses slid down firemen’s poles. Octogenarians. Anything.
It was a spontaneous and strangely psychedelic fraternity that awaited you at Utica Club. As far as the music went, “The Utica Club Natural Carbonation Beer Drinking Song” was basically a post-“Incense and Peppermints” material that celebrated good-time, inebriated spontaneity. And why not hully gully your way over to the Wegman’s for a case of discount brew?
This selection was created for Matt Brewing Company by one of commercial music’s best-credentialed composers, the great Sasha Burland. Burland was also the brains behind two albums by the Nutty Squirrels, jazz cousins to Alvin & the Chipmunks.
“The Utica Club Natural Carbonation Beer Drinking Song” has been documented before at Otis Fodder’s music blog, the 365 Days Project. The discussion which originally ensued was instrumental in writing this post.