Two weeks ago, I saw this 45 rpm single on sale at eBay and immediately checked my online discography. No information. But the price was low, so I took a chance: both compositions were Rowles originals, and he’d recorded AFTER SCHOOL late in life. I entertained the whimsy that his singing voice could, I thought, be called “THE GRAVEL PIT.”
How many Jimmy (he preferred Jimmie) Rowleses could there be, anyway?
I looked up “Dick Noel” and “Patrice Records” and found that Noel, a trombonist and singer (I think) had recorded sessions with “The Academy Brass,” whose august West Coast personnel included Billy Byers (arranger), Carol Kaye, Rolly Bundock (string bass); Jack Sperling (drums); Bud Shank (reeds); Al Hendrickson, Bobby Gibbons (guitar); Emil Richards (vibraphone); Larry Bunker (tympani); Billy Byers, Charlie Loper, Dick McQuary, Dick Noel, Ernie Tack, George Roberts, Joe Howard, Ken Shroyer, Lloyd Ulyate, Milt Bernhart (trombone).
AND Jimmy Rowles (keyboards).
If you’re still with me, May 1968 ads in BILLBOARD and CASH BOX advertised the coupling of AFTER SCHOOL and BEHIND THE FACE.
Now, the 45s do not have the whole band: definitely string bass and drums and some quiet guitar on BEHIND THE FACE. I theorize that at the end of the session, after the horns had gone home, someone either suggested to Rowles that he record — playing and singing — two originals, or perhaps he had the idea himself. That they were issued (as far as I know) only on a “promotional copy” suggests that they were given or sent to radio disc jockeys with the hope that they could become quirky hits, perhaps in the manner of Mose Allison. (Dave Frishberg had not become famous in 1968 as a singer of his own songs.)
The idea didn’t work, but we do have the six or so minutes of music. (My transfers are imperfect, but you knew they might be.)
His quirky love song:
and a hard-to-characterize song that marries sly wit and a plea for equality:
This post is for Michael Kanan, Jacob Rex Zimmerman, and Stephanie Rowles, but everyone else is encouraged to listen in and marvel.
May your happiness increase!