2003   OCTOBER 27   #300

Larry Taylor - Baby Face / Little Boys

Today's selections require a bit of explanation. On previous days where I've offered my collection this year, I've described the late great ALS-research fundraising Mammoth Music Mart, a gigantic tent sale which used to run every fall in the Chicago area. Well, the artist behind these two songs is a guy named Larry Taylor, and I began finding stuff (mostly reel-to-reel tapes) he had been involved with, while shopping at the ALS sale, around 1989. It took a few years before I connected a varied group of tapes to this one man (even though some of them had his name or initials on them), because the material covered so many different styles and genres.

Anyway, I've pieced together a good part of his musical life, from these tapes and from a few other sources. He worked in Chicago, and led small combos in the fifties and early sixties, both doing instrumental music and backing up singers, largely doing trad jazz (dixieland, etc.). He even had a nightly show on Chicago radio. But by the mid '60's, he had started writing and recording his own music, involving his friends and peers in the process (interestingly, one of these friends was Dora Hall).

He recorded at least enough for an album, and released one single (with plans for the album), but I don't think the album ever was released. His own music (and the other songs done "his way") for this album are hardly traditional - the instrumentals sound more like something David Seville would have produced, and the originals have a very odd sound.

Since Larry Taylor had been the musical act on a radio show in 1962 which presented itself (and its dixieland and pop standards) as a relief from that horrible rock and roll , his next step was downright bizarre: he got one of the first Moog Synthesizers, and successfully sold a label on putting out a recording of what sounds to me like random fiddling with this instrument. I've never heard his "Moogmania" album on vinyl, but it was released (although this may have been on Dora Hall's label, so perhaps that's not a "release" in the typical sense), and I do have two copies of the album on reel-to-reel.

Among the Larry Taylor tapes I own are several radio interviews, about ten episodes of that '60's radio show, various versions of the tracks which would have been on his album, the synth recordings, and, perhaps most amazingly, the session tapes for a Dora Hall Dixieland album, featuring Mr. Taylor leading a small, and really hot combo. These tapes feature both multiple takes of the backing tracks, then Dora recording her overdubbed vocals over some of these tracks. I've looked through all the Dora Hall albums I've ever been able to find, and I'm convinced these tracks were never released.

Anyway, what we have hear, back to back, are two tracks from Mr. Taylor's unreleased album, the first is an instrumental version of the standard "Baby Face", and the second is the quite strange Larry Taylor original, "Little Boys". I'm fairly sure that the vocalist at the beginning and end of this track is none other than Dora Hall.

If anyone knows anything further about Larry Taylor, I'd welcome the chance to learn more.

- Bob Purse

TT-4:21 / 4MB / 128kbps 44.1khz