Various Artists

Bloodshot: The Gaity Records Story, Vol. 2

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The story of David Hersk's custom studio and record company, Gaity, and its three tiny affiliates, Perry, Twayne, and Laura, gets a second volume here, rife with rarities from what is generally described as "America's most primitive label." Much of Gaity's sound came from the heavily tiled and naturally echoey basement studio Hersk recorded in, coupled with massive amounts of tape echo to hide a multitude of vocal and instrumental sins. The other ingredient came from the bands and artists themselves, playing with a go-for-broke spirit that was awfully hard to ignore. Although these singles were little more than vanity pressings funded by the artists using his label, Hersk still exercised producer's prerogative in selecting what material (wisely pushing originals) would bear the Gaity imprint. This second volume corrals 20 more examples from this legendary label with typically unbridled, hard-rocking results. The tale of the Gaity "house band," the Glenrays, gets told in this volume, starting with their crude acetate of "Easy Rhythm," cut when they were still the Crown Teens. They only saw a single release on Gaity ("Easy Rhythm" b/w "Haunted by Repetition," both which appear on this collection), but they backed up numerous artists on various sessions and left -- for a Gaity artist -- a wealth of unissued material behind, including "Hey Little Willie." Local favorites the Big M's ("Get Going") and Jerry Roberts and the Toppers ("Change Your Mind") are also aboard. Gaity was also still recording doo wop -- what little existed of it existed back then in the Twin Cities -- and the Velquins' lone single ("My Dear," "Falling Star") is the only departure here from the label's hard-rockin' teen combo sound. By 1960, Gaity's rep was big enough to corral three acts from nearby North Dakota to make the trip up to ply their wares in Hersk's basement studio. The Corvairs check in with "Volcano," a crude instrumental (even by Gaity standards); Curtis & the Galaxies contribute the stroll beat "Theme From a Fireplace," and Fargo's bandstand kings Howie Butler and the Reflections induce everyone to "Have a Good Time." The following year, Gaity recorded the sloppy frat-band racket of the Miller-Olsen Combo, issuing their novelty "Fidel Castro Rock." This was the last Gaity single to be recorded in the original Gaity studio, as Hersk relocated the whole operation to the Empire Photosound Building in downtown Minneapolis. The relocation forever changed the sound of Gaity Records, but Hersk -- who was winding down the label by 1964 -- went out on a rocking high note, recording and issuing sides on the Jades, a band that pointed toward the new burgeoning teen scene in the Twin Cities. All four of their issued sides are here, making a fitting closer to these two volumes chronicling a label that played out the D.I.Y. aesthetic in the late 1950s in the land of the windchill factor.

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