Black Phoenix Blues
(Roaratorio - ROAR31) LP $15.75
No one in the shady, quick-buck backwater of the music industry known as the “send us your lyrics” demo mill possessed an array of talents as distinctively individual as Rodd Keith. The genius of his gifts as a singer, composer and arranger was destined to remain a well-kept secret during his lifetime by virtue of the complete disregard — verging on invisibility — in which song-poem records were held. He was a commercial musician in the most literal sense of the word, but within those confines, displayed an oddball, personal vision that frequently transcended the work-for-hire nature of his music. Dating from 1966 to 1974, the sixteen previously unreissued songs on the third Roaratorio collection of Keith’s vast output showcase the scope of his work: the should’ve-been-a-hit “You And I”; the elegant exotica of “I Love Lovely Chinese Gal”; the history lesson of “The Explosion Of Holden 22 Mine”; the harrowing psycho-killer musings of the title track; “I’m Proud To Be A Hippie From Mississippi,” the stoner’s answer to Merle Haggard’s “Okie From Muskogee”; the lo-fi “The Game Of Love” (which, in the tradition of Keith’s infamous “I’m Just The Other Woman,” prompted the dissatisfied customer to request a more conventional re-take); the disturbingly desperate “Sing My Death Note,” which was discovered on one of Keith’s private reels; and the unclassifiable WTF-ery of “Abidin’ Tuh The Rule.” Artwork by Josh Journey-Heinz, liner notes from noted blues guitarist and one of Keith’s musical and personal compadres from the early 1970s Debbie Davies, download coupon.
My Pipe Yellow Dream
(Roaratorio - ROAR23) LP $15.50
The late, great genius whose prolific output was almost completely confined to the song-poem industry had a knack for turning sow’s ears into silk purses. “Song Poems Wanted” read the ads. “We need new ideas for recording!” The send-us-your-lyrics business was a borderline scam, taking whatever lyrics came their way from would-be songwriters and – for a fee – setting them to music. The second Roaratorio anthology of Keith’s work compiles fifteen previously unreissued songs from 1966 through his death in 1974, including a never-before-heard cover of “Choo Choo Train.” My Pipe Yellow Dream showcases the full range of his talents. From exquisite mid-60s pop balladry (“Deep Velvet”) to blue-eyed soul (“You Don’t Have To Alibi”) to folk-rock (“Tired Of Waiting”) to solo Chamberlain creations (“Red Sports Car”) to gospel testifying (“O Jesus My Savior”) to a pair of patriotic screeds (the all-spoken word “America The Not So Beautiful” and the bizarre world lounge funk of “Search Out Your Soul, American”), this collection continues the rehabilitation of Keith’s legacy from thrift-shop throwaway to celebrated cult artist. Gatefold jacket, liner notes by song-poem vocalist Dick Kent, digital download coupon.
Saucers In The Sky
(Roaratorio - ROAR10) CD $7.50
Rodney Keith Eskelin (aka Rodd Keith, Rod Rogers) would’ve certainly found the recognition during his lifetime that his talent demanded had he not chosen to work in the lowest depths of the music industry: the “send us your lyrics” field, known today as the song-poem genre. Saucers In The Sky gathers together twenty-six previously uncollected Keith gems from the hundreds upon hundreds of songs he recorded before he lept from a highway overpass in 1974. Packaged in mini-LP gatefold sleeves with liner notes from Del Casher (inventor of the wah-wah pedal and guitarist on many of Rodd’s early recordings), and Stacey Keith (his daughter).