My wife’s sister lives in the suburban Atlanta area. Despite our regular visits there over the years, I’ve yet to set foot in Wax ‘n Facts, a semi-famous record store that’s been in the Little Five Points district for over 40 years. Expect this oversight to be corrected on our next visit to see Ruth.
The co-founder of Wax ‘n Facts is Danny Beard, who subsequently stumbled into becoming a record producer and the proprietor of DB Records, a small label that punched above its weight during a twenty-year existence. DB’s biggest moment was probably its first, when it released the original version of the B-52’s “Rock Lobster.” The label became a launching pad for other groups (mostly originating in Georgia) that graduated to major-label status, including Fetchin Bones, Guadalcanal Diary, the Swimming Pool Q’s, and the Reivers. The last of these became a favorite of mine in the early 90s.
The lead singer for the Swimming Pool Q’s, Anne Richmond Boston, left the group after their 1986 album Blue Tomorrow flopped and they lost their deal with A&M. (If you want to know what the Q’s sounded like, check out “The Bells Ring.”) She resurfaced four years later on, yep, DB Records, with a delightful album titled The Big House of Time. Of course it didn’t sell well, and soon found itself relegated to cutout bins across the country. I scooped it up in Lexington for $2.99 not long before I moved back to Kentucky in the fall of 1992 (a sticker with the price is still on the jewel case). It’s perhaps the most obscure album I’ve written up in this series–I can find clips for just four of its eleven songs. Fortunately, they’re all among the disk’s best tracks.
The opening song is the cheery “Dreaming,” one that Boston wrote with her husband Rob Gal.
A majority of the tunes on The Big House of Time are covers. One is John Hiatt’s “Learning How to Love You,” from his breakthrough Bring the Family. Boston brings an enthusiasm that’s a welcome contrast to the somber, acoustic treatment in the original.
The other two songs I’m able to embed can be found on mixtapes I made for myself around thirty years ago. The closing track on one them (I wrote it up here) is her take on the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Darling Be Home Soon.”
Finally, Boston offers a driving version of Neil Young’s “When You Dance I Can Really Love.” While a faithful cover in terms of arrangement, it’s (dare I say it?) an improvement on the original.
I wish I could offer up other cuts now (maybe I’ll add some should they ever appear). Should you ever come across a copy of TBHoT, it might be worth a small investment (used copies start at $11 on Amazon these days).
DB Records lasted until 1997. The only other DB releases in my collection are the first and fourth Reivers albums, Translate Slowly and Pop Beloved. Given how much I enjoy what I have, I imagine I’d do well to jump on other DB disks should I ever see them.
This weekend included the memorial service for my college roommate James. I’m not going to attempt any sort of summary, at least just now–I’m still processing it all, I suppose. If you’re interested, my friend Warren did a fine job of expressing his experience of the event here.