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An Omnivore’s Appetite: Tasty Treats From Jellyfish, The Knack, Buck Owens and Ernie Kovacs Coming Soon

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Nobody could accuse the fine folks at Omnivore Recordings of not living up to the label’s name!  After all, “omnivore” is derived from the Latin for “all” and “everything.”   And Omnivore’s recently announced slate of upcoming releases certainly qualifies as encompassing music from an incredibly wide variety of genres and eras.  The label’s packed line-up for May, June and July takes in legends from the world of comedy and country-and-western plus new wave and power pop pioneers!

Two releases were previewed on Record Store Day and are now arriving in complete form.   A RSD-exclusive vinyl EP from The Knack sampled two live songs from the archive of late Knack frontman Doug Fieger, and now comes the full release, Havin’ a Rave-Up!  Live in Los Angeles, 1978. Recorded at two of Los Angeles’ most renowned music spots, the Whisky a Go-Go and Doug Weston’s Troubadour, Havin’ A Rave-Up! Live In Los Angeles, 1978 captures The Knack on the cusp of stardom.  Indeed, shortly after these 1978 sets were recorded, Capitol Records signed The Knack and “My Sharona” (the album’s closing track) took the country by storm.

Bassist Prescott Niles remembered, “Midway through our first show at the Whisky a Go-Go I felt a tingling sense that I was finally in that dream band. And it was called The Knack. We had been together as a band for a mere two weeks and this was our first public performance . . . we blew the roof off the place . . . We all knew on that night in 1978 that we had found our collective dreams, our boyhood fantasies, and a ticket to ‘the toppermost of the poppermost’ (as Doug would often quote).”  The date for Havin’ a Rave-Up! is May 22 in both CD and digital formats.

Hee-haw!  There’s more Buck Owens on the way.  A fantastically whimsical coloring book from the Bakersfield legend and television host was another highlight of Omnivore’s Record Store Day releases, and a flexi disc included with that vintage coloring book featured tracks recorded by Owen and his Buckaroos at the White House of President Lyndon B. Johnson.  On June 19, Buck Owens’ Live at the White House will arrive for the first time on CD and digitally, and as a bonus will also include The Apollo 16 Program.  The core White House set documented Washington, DC performance of Owens, Buddy Alan, Doyle Holly, Don Rich and The Buckaroos on September 9, 1968 and includes the hit single “You Ain’t Gonna Have Ol’ Buck to Kick Around No More.”  Four years later in 1972 (coincidentally the same year Capitol released the Live at the White House album on vinyl), Owens recorded a unique half-hour program intended for the astronauts aboard Apollo 16.  Apollo 16 astronaut Charlie Duke recalled that the crew “played those tapes a lot during our flight to and from the Moon.”  Omnivore has included this true rarity on Live at the White House, which is set for release on June 19!

After the jump: previously-unreleased treasures from Ernie Kovacs and Jellyfish – when was the last time those two names appeared in the same sentence?

The same date sees another inventive and long-anticipated release.  Comedian and actor Ernie Kovacs (1919-1962) was one of the zaniest and most beloved figures in the early days of television, but the renaissance man also hosted game shows, appeared in motion pictures, served as an on-camera disc jockey, wrote for Mad and even authored a novel!  Omnivore is rescuing from the vaults a recording of Kovacs performing as one of his most memorable characters, Percy Dovetonsils.  Percy was a poet in thick glasses with glued-on eyeballs, a zebra-patterned smoking jacket and a pronounced lisp.  Kovacs’ Percy Dovetonsils Thpeaks was recorded for Vanguard Records in 1961 but has never been released until now.  Omnivore will issue it on CD, Digital, and LP with download card on June 19. The first run of the LP will be limited to 1,000 copies pressed on limited-edition lavender vinyl, with future pressings to be made available on black vinyl thereafter.

Kovacs, who perished in an automobile accident in 1962, left behind the recordings and files of information for Thpeaks, including an artist’s mock-up of the album cover.  Omnivore has worked with Kovacs’ archivist Ben Model to assemble a finished release, and Model (a silent-film accompanist) has composed a piano score in keeping with Kovacs’ wishes to have “88 bars of music between each line” of the album’s offbeat poetry!  Bonus tracks have been included from the Kovacs Unlimited program (including a poem dedicated to Kovacs’ wife Edie Adams), and Model has also contributed liner notes to the new release.

Finally, power pop band Jellyfish releases its first-ever live album through Omnivore on July 3.  Live at Bogart’s captures a 1991 gig in Long Beach, CA, with the band touring behind their debut album Bellybutton.  The 13-track concert recording includes five previously unissued performances; the remaining tracks had seen release only as B-sides and on compilation discs.  Live at Bogart’s will be available on CD and on vinyl, first as a limited-edition (1,500 copies) double-LP on translucent blue vinyl, followed by an unlimited edition on black vinyl thereafter. The double LP release will include three sides of music, with a fourth side sporting laser-etched artwork.  In addition to the band’s own material, fans will no doubt enjoy a take on another iconic power pop tune, Badfinger’s “No Matter What,” plus covers of Player’s ”Baby, Come Back,” Argent’s “Hold Your Head Up” and Paul McCartney and Wings’ “Let ‘Em In.”

Andy Sturmer (singer/songwriter) and Roger Manning (singer/songwriter) formed Jellyfish with Jason Falkner (guitarist) and Chris Manning (bass) but Falkner and Chris Manning departed the band’s ranks following the Bellybutton tour.  Spilt Milk was recorded by Sturmer and Roger Manning with personnel including longtime Hall and Oates sideman T-Bone Wolk and composer/producer Jon Brion, but  Jellyfish went its separate ways following the Spilt Milk tour.

Though the band lasted for only two albums over four years, it is still fondly remembered in rock and power pop circles, as evidenced by the quick sell-out of Omnivore’s recent reissues of Bellybutton and Spilt Milk on 180-gram colored vinyl.  (Both of those titles are still available on black vinyl.)  You can look for Live at Bogart’s on July 3 on limited-edition colored vinyl – while it lasts! – and on CD.

Below you’ll find track listings for all four titles, and pre-orders are currently being accepted at the Omnivore shop!

Jellyfish, Live at Bogart’s (Omnivore Recordings, 2012)

  1. Hold Your Head Up (Argent cover)/Hello
  2. Calling Sarah
  3. The King Is Half Undressed
  4. I Wanna Stay Home
  5. Bye Bye Bye
  6. She Still Loves Him
  7. Will You Marry Me
  8. Now She Knows She’s Wrong
  9. Baby Come Back (Player cover)/Baby’s Coming Back
  10. No Matter What (Badfinger cover)
  11. All I Want Is Everything
  12. The Man I Used To Be
  13. Let ‘Em In (Paul McCartney & Wings cover)/That Is Why

Tracks 3-5 and 10-11 previously unreleased

The Knack, Havin’ a Rave-Up: Live in Los Angeles, 1978 (Omnivore Recordings, 2012)

  1. Let Me Out
  2. Your Number or Your Name
  3. Good Girls Don’t
  4. End of the Game
  5. Here on This Lonely Night
  6. It’s Alright
  7. That’s What the Little Girls Do
  8. Evil Lies
  9. Come a Little Bit Closer
  10. Daughter of the Law
  11. Art War
  12. (She’s So) Selfish
  13. My Sharona
  14. (Havin’ a) Rave-Up

All tracks previously unreleased except Tracks 1 & 13 previously released on Live in Los Angeles, 1978 EP (Omnivore, 2012)

Ernie Kovacs, Ernie Kovacs Presents Percy Dovetonsils…Thpeaks (Omnivore Recordings, 2012)

  1. Intro
  2. Ode to Stanley’s Pussycat
  3. Ode to Mona Lisa
  4. Lament From a Germ’s Eye Viewpoint
  5. Ode to the Happier Days of the Roman Coliseum
  6. Ode to Whistler’s Mother
  7. Thoughts While Falling Off the Empire State Building
  8. Side One Closing
  9. Some Pertinent Thoughts of Julius Caesar While He Was Being Assassinated
  10. Ode to Sam, the Taller of Two Monkeys
  11. Ode to a House fly
  12. Ode to an Emotional Italian Knight
  13. Happy Birthday to a Bookworm
  14. The Night Before Christmas on New York’s Fashionable East Side
  15. Cowboy
  16. Side Two Closing
  17. “Roughing It” Interview
  18. A Day at the Races
  19. Ode From a Worm’s Eye View
  20. Ode to a Hangman’s Noose
  21. At Home with Lorelei LaTour
  22. Poem for Edith Adams

Tracks 1-16 from unreleased LP Percy Dovetonsils…Thpeaks
Tracks 17-22 “Just Outside the Bookends” from Kovacs Unlimited television program

Buck Owens, Live at the White House (…And In Space) (Omnivore Recordings, 2012)

  1. Introduction
  2. You Ain’t Gonna Have Ol’ Buck to Kick Around No More
  3. Act Naturally
  4. Together Again
  5. Love’s Gonna Live Here
  6. Crying Time
  7. Happy Times Are Here Again
  8. Streets of Laredo
  9. Orange Blossom Special
  10. Gentle on My Mind
  11. When I Turn Twenty-One
  12. I’ve Got a Tiger By the Tail
  13. Truck Drivin’ Man
  14. Good Ole Mountain Dew
  15. Sam’s Place
  16. Roll in My Sweet Baby’s Arms
  17. White Lightning
  18. Georgia Pineywoods
  19. I’ve Got a Happy Heart
  20. Milwaukee, Here I Come
  21. Sally Was a Good Old Girl
  22. Tall Dark Stranger

Tracks 1-13 from Live at the White House, Capitol SW 71105, 1972
Tracks 14-22 previously unreleased

Written by Joe Marchese

May 2, 2012 at 09:08

3 Responses

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  1. According to your headline, the score is Jellyfish 2, Kovacs 0.


    May 2, 2012 at 14:19

    • It should at least be a draw. 🙂

      Joe Marchese

      May 2, 2012 at 14:21

  2. I got a copy of the Knack CD last week and I’ve already listened to it a couple of times. The band was on fire, of course…they were a ferocious live act…and the set list is great. I had no idea that “Art War,” which didn’t show up until “Round Trip,” was such an early song, and I’m a big fan of “Daughter Of The Law.”

    The sound quality of this recording is pretty good for what it is, but you should be aware that it’s not a pristine, soundboard-quality recording. It’s a little bass-heavy and the vocals are just slightly distorted, but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the album. The following disclaimer appears in the booklet:
    “Please Note: These recordings are sourced from Doug Fieger’s personal archives. All efforts have been made to restore them to authorized bootleg quality, and are presented here for historical purposes only. Now step inside the club, circa 1978,. and enjoy the show!”

    Cheryl and the folks at Omnivore did an excellent job with this release, which has become the norm for them (the previously released Jellyfish LPs and the Alex Chilton CD were all outstanding). Can’t wait to hear the Jellyfish live album they’re releasing soon.

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