Ian Whitcomb & Bluesville – You Turn Me On (The Turn On Song)

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Ian Whitcomb

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Listen/Download – Ian Whitcomb & Bluesville – You Turn Me On (The Turn On Song)

Greetings all.

Welcome back to Iron Leg: the Sweltering…
I just walked out back to take out the garbage and I very nearly melted on my way to the bin.
Jeebus it’s hot out.
Naturally, not being a complete moron I realize that it is summer and I should expect temperatures like this (and in reflection I do remember griping about the cold during the winter), but no amount of reality prepares you for the feeling of your hair catching fire as you step out into the sun.
Fortunately (for me anyway) I’m writing this in the air conditioned sanctuary of my record room, with an album being recorded on the turntable and my sons on the other laptop playing computer games (my wife is recuperating on the divan…).
I have a backlog of vinyl awaiting digimatization, and since a lot of it is entire albums I want to record, I can just set up the recorded, drop the needle on the record and go about my business until the side is complete (now playing/recording Chad and Jeremy ‘Of Cabbages and Kings’ soon to be featured at a blog near you.
The tune I bring you today is of a slightly earlier vintage, and teeters right at the edge of Novelty Canyon, but I dig it for a couple of significant reasons.
Way back in the day, when I was a long-haired college student I pulled out my library card and borrowed a book entitled ‘Rock Odyssey’ by today’s artist, Ian Whitcomb.
Whitcomb, and Englishman who attended college in Ireland and had a couple of hits here in the States has had a very interesting career indeed, moving on later in life as a curator of sorts of early pop music, a re-popularizer of the mighty ukulele, writer and all around nice guy.
Though it’s been nearly 30 years since I paged through ‘Rock Odyssey’, I recall it being a fantastic read, both as a personal memoir and as a vividly rendered look at the world of rock and pop circa 1965/66.
Whitcomb hit the charts with ‘The Turn On Song’ in the Spring of 1965, just as the British Invasion was colliding with Sunset Strip mod-ism, so he fell right into the thick of the Shindig, the Hullaballoo and all such groovy things.
Interestingly, when Whitcomb first came to the US he was based out of the Pacific Northwest, thus the credit on the label of the 45 for Jerry Dennon/Jerden Records (as in The Sonics et al).
The record itself is a bright, poppy, piano driven blues all running under Whitcomb’s somewhat bizarrely affected falsetto (affected in that it sounds like a put on as opposed to a classic, doowop/soul falsetto) leading up to his breathless (quasi-orgasmic) heaving. It’s just the kind of thing that would have (and did) get an easy foothold in the charts, and as soon as America’s teenaged girls got a look at Whitcomb’s toothy smile and long, Beatle-y hair, it was all over but the shouting.
‘The Turn On Song’ was actually Whitcomb’s second chart hit with his band Bluesville (formed while studying in Ireland), the first being ‘This Sporting Life’, which scraped the outer limits of the Top 40 a few months earlier.
I hope you dig the tune, and I’ll be back with something groovy later in the week.

Peace

Larry

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for a new guest mix in the Funky16Corners Soul Club

The Small Faces – Tin Soldier

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The Firm of Jones, McLagan, Lane and Marriott

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Listen/Download – The Small Faces – Tin Soldier

Greetings all.

I hope all is well on your end.
I have some stuff to take care of this Friday, so I’m going to try to make this brief.
The Small Faces were without question – at least in my fevered mind – one of the most important British bands of the 60s.
They were not only possessed – by virtue of their collective talents – of a monumental creative power that allowed them to exist as paleo-Mods with a taste for American soul, as well as masters of a certain brand of R&B infused psychedelia following a parallel track alongside that of the Beatles, but betrayed by a discography that while packed from end to end with amazing recordings was unfortunately brief, and often eclipsed by the divergent paths of the bands members after the dissolution of the original organization, I.e. many more heads are wrapped around the Faces and Humble Pie than have ever heard a Small Faces record (other than the ubiquitous and somewhat falsely representative ‘Itchykoo Park’).
Outside of the UK – where they attained a much higher level of notoriety than they did here in the States – their catalog is the property of hardcore Mod/garage types who rightfully worship at the four-cornered monolith of Marriott/Lane/McLagan/Jones (as did a certain young, leather-lunged mod named Plant who built an entire career lifting the Small Faces version of Muddy Waters’ ‘You Need Love’).
Though I swear by pretty much everything they did during their short (no pun intended) existence, one record looms above all others, that being ‘Tin Soldier’.
Both the greatest Marriott/Lane composition and the band’s finest recording, ‘Tin Soldier’ is a poetic, powerful love song as well as a lesson in the use of dynamics in the rock’n’roll setting. Opening with the steady tick-tock of Kenny Jones’s drums and Steve Marriott’s initial statement of the lyric, ‘Tin Soldier’ alternates between a certain rough plateau, and short, explosive segments marked mainly by Marriott’s guitar and Ian McLagan’s earthy electric piano.
It’s as close to a work of genius as was created during the mid-60s, including the works of the aforementioned Fabs, the Stones and everyone else, big and small that were making magic in the recording studios of the United Kingdom.
All hail the Small Faces and those that sail with them.
See you on Monday.

Peace

Larry

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for a jazz funk cover of a jazz funk original…..

Scott Walker – Mrs Murphy

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Scott Walker

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Listen/Download – Scott Walker – Mrs Murphy

Greetings all.

I hope all is copacetic in your little corner of the universe.
I’m coming off an excellent weekend, spent chilling with my wife and sons (it was Father’s Day after all), meeting up with some old friends and just enjoying the beginning of summertime.
You’ll notice that I didn’t say ‘summer’, since the season, and summertime are – at least in my fevered brain – two distinct things. The former rolls into New Jersey at least a month before the official date, and gets humid and sweaty very quickly. The latter is more of a mood that comes in when my wife has finished school for the year, the kiddies switch to summer mode and we can all relax a bit, sitting in the screen house out back, in the shade, enjoying the breeze off of the river.
That’s summertime.
As I sit here writing this, the very late afternoon/very early evening sun is lowering in the sky across the street, and everybody (aside from myself, natch…) is taking it easy. I’m here in the record vault, hunched over the laptop, pecking away at the keyboard.
Of course while I do this. I get to listen to one of the greatest records that the mighty Scott Walker ever recorded, ‘Mrs. Murphy’.
I’ve gone on at length in this space about my love affair with the music of Scott Walker (with and without the Walker Brothers), and the song I bring you today is one of the big reasons for it.
If you’re in any way unfamiliar with Scott’s stuff, head on over to iTunes and grab yourself a copy of ‘Boy Child’, the best single shot comp of his 67-70 solo stuff, then rent the documentary ‘Scott Walker: 30th Century Man’ and stay with it until it starts looking like East German public TV (you’ll know what I mean).
Scott was, during his few years with the Walker Brothers and for the four or five years afterward when he was creating his finest solo recordings, the very definition of a singular talent.
Though the mighty baritone was always there, it wasn’t until the very end of the Walker’s run, with tunes like ‘Orpheus’, that the Scott of the solo years would begin to emerge.
The tune I bring you today is another leading indicator thereof, written and recorded toward the end of the group’s tenure.
‘Mrs Murphy’ appeared in 1966 on one side of a split EP, very plainly titled ‘Solo Scott/Solo John’ (with tracks by John Walker on the other side). ‘Mrs. Murphy’ is a wonderful artifact of a bygone era, when pop stardom and actual musical quality were not yet mutually exclusive.
To describe ‘Mrs.Murphy’ as brilliant is too easy. It manages to excite musically, with Scott’s majestic voice alongside Reg Guest’s very cinematic arrangement, all wrapped in a wonderful tune, but once you get a chance to digest the lyrics, it takes on another dimension entirely.
Like so many of his contemporaries (though most of them were actually English) Scott was able to capture something of the ‘kitchen sink’ vibe rising from the English working class and translate it into song.
‘Mrs. Murphy’ takes place in an apartment building with a cast of characters that in a few short verses encapsulates petty (but seemingly inescapable) gossip, rumors of infidelity and questionable paternity, troubled marriage (related by members of an older generation) all while a younger man (the subject of the rumors) sits in his room, dreaming, until the other part of the infidelity equation, Mrs. Johnson, arrives at his door.
‘Mrs Murphy’ is like the skeleton of a short story, removed and set to music, and like the finest work Scott Walker would do over the next few years, practically transcendent, largely misunderstood by all but the members of his devoted cult. It is picturesque, dark and even biting.
You can currently find ‘Mrs Murphy’ included as part of a budget – and fairly comprehensive – Walker Brothers comp called ‘After the Lights Go Out: The Best of 1965-1967’ (which included all their best stuff, as well as the aforementioned ‘Orpheus’).
I hope you dig the tune, and I’ll be back later in the week.

Peace

Larry

 

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for a new jazz funk edition of Funky16Corners Radio.

Claudine Longet – Jealous Guy / Don’t Let Me Down

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Claudine Longet

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Listen – Claudine Longet – Jealous Guy / Don’t Let Me Down – MP3

Greetings all.

I hope the completion of another week under the lash finds you well, or at least well enough to appreciate something on the mellow side.
I have to begin by saying that I wouldn’t have heard this track if it wasn’t for my man Alejandro over at La Colmena de Humo. A while back he sent me an MP3 of today’s selection thinking (correctly) that I’d dig it, and (naturally) I did.
While I would say that I was certainly aware of Claudine Longet, as actress (‘The Party’), personality (married to Andy Williams and involved in a hugely scandalous shooting in the 70s) and even singer (her records are big faves the Easy crowd), I would also say that none of those things would have spurred me on to investigate her any further, especially by buying any of her records.
Before I heard today’s selection, my impression of her (which I still feel is largely correct) was as a very pretty, marginally talented chanteuse who got as far as she did in show business via a combination of her good looks, marriage to one of the bigger stars of the 60s (Williams) and her very essence as a representative of a certain very specific, very groovy end of the zeitgeist, that being the sexy French girl singer end, inhabited by the likes of France Gall and in a much more musically substantial way, Francoise Hardy.
There’s just something very fresh, attractive, and international jet-set-y about the idea of a beautiful Gallic waif, whispering heavily accented sweet nothings into our ears, and Claudine Longet fit that mold as well as anybody.
That all said, when Alejandro sent me the recording in question, my regard for his superior taste in music overpowered any suspicions I might have had about Miss Longet and I gave it a listen.
Good thing too, because much to my surprise, her 1972 medley of John Lennon’s ‘Jealous Guy’ and the Beatles’ ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ (though there’s barely enough of the latter sewn into the lining of the former to constitute a full-fledged medley) was surprisingly good.
Certainly it might take some of you a moment or two to adjust to the odd juxtaposition of Lennon’s lyrics and Longet’s whispery, vaguely Fudd-like delivery (like ‘I began to lose con-twowww…’), but you soon find yourself overpowered by the charm of the enterprise. The arrangement (laid down by a set of crack LA and Nashville sessioners) is quite good (I don’t know that I’ve ever heard a synthesizer employed more subtly), and the overall effect is to remind you what a great song ‘Jealous Guy’ is.
There are a number of excellent interpretations (I’m partial to Donny Hathaway’s), and Claudine Longet’s ought to be near the top of the list.
I hope you dig it too, and I’ll be back on Monday.

Peace

Larry

 

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some dance floor funk.

Laurie Johnson Orchestra – Theme From ‘the Avengers’

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Laurie Johnson

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Listen – Laurie Johnson Orchestra – Theme From ‘The Avengers’- MP3

Greetings all.

My apologies for the absence of a second post last week, but (as you’ll see described in today’s Funky16Corners post) I was indisposed.
The tune I bring you today is one of the greatest pieces of TV theme music ever written, courtesy of Mr. Laurie Johnson.
Though it seems unlikely I was exposed to the Avengers when the series was first broadcast here in the US – I was but a tot – I did see them repeated in syndication.
Aside from the fact that ‘The Avengers’ especially the Steed/Emma Peel era (1965-1968) is an iconic representation of a stylish variety of UK small-“m” mod, the theme from the show is evocative of the same cultural signifiers and then some.
The little of the 1960s I remember first-hand, is generally represented by things colorful, slick and modernist, i.e. cartoons and the kind of white-plastic, colored vinyl Op-Art world that got its start in early-60s Swinging London and lasted well beyond its due date as far forward as the early 70s.
‘The Avengers’, which combined the old-school bespoke look of John Steed and the jet age futurism of Mrs. Peel, boiled down the vibe of the pre-hippie 60s to its Pan Am heliport essence, i.e. urban, urbane yet swinging, restrained yet ready to explode at any moment.
Laurie Johnson (Laurence Reginald Ward Johnson) got his start writing theatrical music in the 50s, moving on to TV and the movies in the 60s. Johnson’s ‘Theme From the Avengers’, with its opening Bond-like fanfare, quickly switches gears layering lush strings over a propulsive horn section, using harp and glockenspiel filigree around the edges. As 60s TV show themes go, ‘Theme From the Avengers’ stands along as both utilitarian (i.e. a great representation of the show itself) and as a stylish piece of music all on its own.
Oddly enough, the soundtrack album was released in the US on the storied HBR label.
Johnson, who still tours today went on to write the theme to the ‘New Avengers’ (a show he co-produced) in 1976.
I hope you dig the tune and I’ll be back later in the week.

Peace

Larry

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some organ funk.

Peggy Lipton – Lady of the Lake

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Peggy Lipton

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Listen – Peggy Lipton – Lady of the Lake – MP3

Greetings all.

I hope all is well on your end.
The Funky16Corners 2010 Pledge Drive week has come to an end and we will persist for another year.
I hope you all had a chance to check out last week’s mix.
In the write-up for that mix I made passing mention of having picked up a Peggy Lipton album to get my hands on a particular pop-psyche gem that I was planning on blogging.
To borrow a phrase from a great man, Wanna hear it, here it is!
I first heard the song I bring you today when, out of curiosity I downloaded the aforementioned album from a blog that focused on oddball recordings by celebrities. Lipton was of course best known for her role as Julie Barnes on ‘The Mod Squad’ which ran on ABC from 1968 to 1973. These days she’s better known as the mother of Rashida Jones (of ‘The Office’ and ‘Parks and Recreation’). I don’t think I expected much, and almost didn’t make it all the way through the album since the rip was rife with skips and otherwise incomplete songs.
However, right there, a few songs from the end of the record I heard a tune that blew me away.
I mean it – el smacko – right between the ears.
I gave the song in question several listens to make sure that I wasn’t appreciating it as the result of diminished expectations, and, after much consideration, during which time the song grew on me, I decided that it was not.
The tune in question, ‘The Lady of the Lake’, written by Carole King and Toni Stern (who co-wrote many songs with King including the huge hit ‘It’s Too Late’) was originally written for, and recorded by the Strawberry Alarm Clock in 1967.
The version by the SAC is cool enough, but doesn’t come within a mile of the recording by Peggy Lipton.
It helps to mention that despite any assumptions you (or I) might have about actors butting into the recording industry, Lipton – who wrote some of her own material – had a pretty nice voice. That, and the fact that the arrangement of ‘Lady of the Lake’ is brilliant make it a certifiable lost classic of late-period LA psyche-pop.
Like so much that was coming out of the area in 1968/69, ‘Lady of the Lake’ is infused with the very spirit of the time, mixing hippie wonder, lysergic excursions and quality pop music into something wonderful and in this case, unexpected.
It’s the kind of record you can listen to repeatedly without tiring of it.
Lipton recorded at least one more album on Ode, and though I haven’t heard it I’ll be looking for it.
I hope you dig it and I’ll be back later in the week.

Peace

Larry

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some classic R&B made famous by the Beatles.

Iron Leg Digital Trip #33 – Hey Ladies!!

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Iron Leg Digital Trip #33 – Hey Ladies!!

Playlist

Brian Auger and Julie Driscoll – Save Me (Polydor)

Jeannie Piersol – Your Sweet Inner Self (Cadet Concept)

Sweetwater – Look Out (Reprise)

Lulu – Love Love to Love Love (Epic)

Roberta Flack – Compared to What (Atlantic)

Lynne Randell – It’s a Hoedown (Epic)

Peggy Lipton – Wasn’t It You (Ode)

Evie Sands – I Can’t Let Go (Blue Cat)

Cher – Hey Joe (Imperial)

Shirley Bassey – Light My Fire (UA)

Janis Ian – Younger Generation Blues (Verve)

Jonna Gault – Good Vibrations (RCA)

Peggy Lee – Spinning Wheel (Capitol)

Herbie Mann and Tamiko Jones – The Sidewinder (Atlantic)

Roberta Lee – Come to the Sunshine (Montclare)

Rotary Connection – Burning of the Midnight Lamp (Cadet Concept)

Labelle – Won’t Get Fooled Again (WB)

Listen/Download 76MB/192K Mixed Mp3

Download 75MB Zip File

Greetings all.
This – as promised – is the mix I’ve been working on for the Iron Leg end of the 2010 Pledge Drive.
Though things in this regard have always been focused over at Funky16Corners, both blogs are produced by the same hardworking staff (that would be me…) and are centered in the same web/server space, so, all boats picked up by a rising tide and all, what benefit’s the big blog, also keeps Iron Leg afloat.
That I didn’t get this mix up and running until today has everything to do with a batshit crazy schedule, the heart of which was occupied by the purchase and assemble of a screened gazebo to protect the family from the cossack horde of mosquitos that descends on us as soon as the temperature rises above 60 degrees. We have a river a block away on one side and a creek a block away on the other. This would be great as a defensive measure in time of invasion, but during peacetime it’s pretty much just a giant mosquito incubator, and there’s something in our Grogan blood that the beasts find delectable.
Anyhoo, this is another one of those mixes that came together organically, in that I seemed to be picking up a lot of interesting stuff by female singers, and when I started to consider what the next Iron Leg Digital Trip would be, the idea kind of presented itself, and I ran (limped) with it.
There are a couple of tracks here that should be familiar (through previous appearances either here or at Funky16Corners), and a bunch of newer stuff, criss-crossing genres.
Things get started with Brian and Jools with their storming version of Aretha Franklin’s oft-covered ‘Save Me’. I’ll admit that I don’t always dig Driscoll’s voice, but it’s cooking on this track.
I picked up my first Jeannie Piersol 45 last year, solely on the strength of it being bew to me and on the storied Cadet Concept label. I liked the 45 so much I tracked down a copy of her other CC 45, both created with the assistance of none other than Darby Slick! Piersol did have something of a Grace Slick feel to her vocals, but both 45s have an unusual, soulful edge to them. ‘Your Sweet Inner Self’ manages to take that vibe and mix it with a bit of hippie-speak.
I knew nothing of Sweetwater (including the fact that they performed at Woodstock) until someone made a TV movie about the band a few years back.. I picked up one of their albums and liked what I heard. The band had one of those sonic mixtures that was very common in the late 60s, that being a collision of rock, soul, jazz and pop that worked well with an audience that had a much broader palate than what we see today. ‘Look Out’ is testament to the fact that prior to her tragic accident, Nansi Nevins had a powerful voice.
Lulu’s ‘Love Loves to Love Love’ is a mod classic, with a fat drum sound that prowls on the outskirts of funk.
Roberta Flack’s solid version of Gene McDaniel’s ‘Compared to What’ (one of my faves) has a slow, earthy funk to it, and Flack’s amazing voice wraps around the lyrics like a fur coat. It hails from her amazing first album.
Australian Lynne Randell’s ‘It’s a Hoedown’ is another vintage Iron Leg track with enough soul power packed alongside its pop kick to move a dancefloor, and enough ‘Last Train To Clarksville’ to remind you that she dated Davy Jones.
Yes, you read correctly. The next track is indeed by the same Peggy Lipton who starred on ‘The Mod Squad’. She made two albums in the late 60s, both of which are worth picking up. I grabbed the first one to get my hands on a dynamite pop-psyche track (which will be featured in this space sometime soon) and while I was listening to the album, one of the tracks sounded very familiar. After I wracked my brain a little I remembered that ‘Wasn’t It You’ had also been recorded by the Action. Lipton’s version is groovy, even if it lacks a little of the immediacy of the Action’s take.
‘I Can’t Let Go’ was – oddly enough – a song that I first heard performed by Linda Ronstadt! It was a few years later that I heard the Hollies’ version, and several more before I was exposed to the original by Evie Sands. Sands was a great, if terribly unlucky, singer who recorded a couple of great 45s, including what IU would consider to be the definitive version of ‘Take Me For a Little While’. Her take on ‘I Can’t Let Go’ moves at a slower pace than the Hollies, but builds slowly to a kind of grandeur.
Cher, despite her chameleonlike dodging from genre to genre, had a few solid folk-rock/pop years as a solo which she served concurrently with her time with Sonny. Her take on ‘Hey Joe’ is actually pretty good.
Pretty much everyone with access to a recording studio made their own version of the Doors ‘Light My Fire’. I featured Shirley Bassey’s version over at Funky16Corners a while back, and it is a stunner!
I’ve said it in this space before, but I will reiterate, if you aren’t already hip to Janis Ian’s early Verve albums, pick some up because they are filled with excellent, often fuzzed out folk rock like ‘Younger Generation Blues’.
If memory serves I found my first Jonna Gault 45 in a huge mountain of records that my father-in-law sent my way. I eventually grabbed a copy of her unusual RCA album. Gault was a kind of a self-contained artist, writing, arranging and producing her own odd mixture of pop and show tunes. She also recorded a couple of cool cover versions, one of which was the take on the Beach Boys’ ‘Good Vibrations’ featured here.
Peggy Lee was another multi-talented artist, starting out as a big band singer, moving on to writing a lot of her own material and developing a serious, jazz oriented interpreter of popular song. By the late 60s, Lee – like just about everyone else – was taking a stab at a broader market, covering contemporary pop material like Blood Sweat and Tears ‘Spinning Wheel’. Unlike so many of her ilk, she was good at it.
Herbie Mann is best known as the premiere proponent of the flute in soul jazz, Tamiko Jones recorded for a variety of labels, doing soul, jazz and even disco. The album she did with Mann features a couple of very cool tracks, their cover of Lee Morgan’s ‘The Sidewinder’ being one of them.
I have never been able to find out much about Roberta Lee, and even less about how she came to record Van Dyke Park’s ‘Come to the Sunshine’ (a hit for Harpers Bizarre). I dig her version, but she makes it sound like a commercial for the Florida Tourist Board.
Rotary Connection, featuring the voice of Minnie Riperton, are something of an acquired taste, bridging soul and psychedelic rock the way they did. Their version of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Burning of the Midnight Lamp’ is fairly faithful to the spirit of the original.
This mix closes out with one of my favorite digging discoveries from last years trips down to Washington, DC. Thanks entirely to the largesse of my man DJ Birdman – who pulled the record out of a pile and handed it to me – I was introduced to LaBelle’s groovy cover of the Who’s ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’.
I hope you dig the mix, and of you do, think about heading over to Funky16Corners to make a donation in the 2010 Pledge Drive.
See you next week.
Peace
Larry

Peace
Larry


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PS Make sure to head over to Funky16Corners to donate to the 2010 Pledge Drive.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too…

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