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Austin360 On The Record: Cobras, Belle Sounds, Primo the Alien, more

Guitarist Denny Freeman, who died in April of cancer, was a co-founder of 1970s-'80s Austin band the Cobras and wrote the liner notes to a recently released live set from the Continental Club in 1981.

Austin360 On The Record is a weekly roundup of new, recent and upcoming releases by local and Austin-associated recording artists. 

Archival releases

Cobras, “Caught Live at the Continental Club” (Jungle). By the time the Cobras recorded this performance at the historic South Congress Club in January 1981, founding singer Paul Ray and hotshot guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan had moved on to other things. But the members who remained, and who’d been added, assured that the talent level of this Austin rhythm & blues band remained impressive.

Foremost among them was guitarist Denny Freeman, an original member who’d become an anchor of the local blues community across town at Antone’s. New to the mix was “Junior” Medlow Williams, a powerhouse vocalist with a magnetic stage presence who’d come to Austin from West Texas. Saxophonists Joe Sublett and Luke McNamee had helped to flesh out the band’s sound, with bassist Leland Parks and drummer Rodney Craig anchoring the low end.

“Live at the Continental” serves up original material such as “Tomcat” alongside blues classics including Freddie King’s “See See Baby.” Williams' soulful vocals and the horn section’s sultry swing blend seamlessly on “Harlem Shuffle,” while Freeman’s guitar blazes on the instrumental theme to the circa-1960s TV show “Peter Gunn.”

Freeman also contributes no-nonsense, informative liner notes to the 16-song set. “Many players came and went over the years,” he writes, “but everybody learned something he could take with him because the band covered many aspects of R&B, from Bobby 'Blue' Bland to the Crusaders, and from Ray Charles to Johnny 'Guitar' Watson.” He notes, too, that this disc is the second set of live material to surface long after the band’s heyday, following the 2011 CD release of an album recorded at Armadillo World Headquarters in 1979.

“Live at the Continental” arrived earlier this year, just before Freeman died of cancer in April. Here’s their rendition of Roosevelt Jamison’s “That’s How Strong My Love Is”:

Freddie Steady 5, “Tex Pop.” Bandleader Freddie Krc has legit country bona fides, having drummed with Jerry Jeff Walker for many years. But his heart has been more in power-pop since the circa-1980s heyday of his local trio the Explosives. “Tex Pop,” which primarily teams Krc with his old Explosives bandmate Cam King, originally came out in 2007 as a 14-track set. Four more tunes have been added for this reissue, including a sweet cover of the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “You Didn’t Have to Be So Nice.” Other notable musicians who appear on various tracks include keyboardist Patterson Barrett, guitarist Bradley Kopp and bassist Mark Andes. Here’s the group’s rendition of Gene Clark’s “She Has a Way”:

Belle Sounds, “Stay Alive: The 2020 Singles.” “We had committed to releasing a single every month in 2020 long before we found out what 2020 would actually be like,” Belle Sounds leaders Noëlle Hampton and André Moran explain on the Bandcamp page for this 12-song set. When the pandemic arrived in March of last year, the local pop band’s plan seemed almost prophetic, as many artists moved more toward quick-hit singles when touring behind a full album was off the table. We covered several of those singles in Austin360 On The Record as they emerged last year; in early 2021, the group gathered them all together for this album-length collection. Here’s the Seela-animated video for the track “Now You See Me":

New releases

Primo the Alien, “Heart on the Run” EP (Spaceflight). The synthpop project of singer-songwriter Laura Lee Bishop, Primo the Alien combines deep dance grooves with soaring vocals on this four-song set co-produced with Taylor J. Webb. It’s the first of two Primo the Alien EPs scheduled for this year; a second set titled “Rock Professor” is due digitally this fall. A vinyl release combining both EPs also will be available this month. Here’s the video for “Thunder”:

Coming soon

JUNE 11: Choctaw Wildfire, “Uh Huh,” release show June 11 at Sagebrush.

JUNE 15: Magna Carda, “To the Good People”

JULY 9: Flatlanders, “Treasure of Love” (Thirty Tigers)

JULY 9: Pat Byrne, “Into the Light”

JULY 9: Giovanni Carnuccio III, “A Matter of Time”

JULY 17: Christine Renner, “Heartbreaker” EP

JULY 23: Robert Harrison, “Watching the Kid Come Back”

JULY 23: Molly Burch, “Romantic Images” (Captured Tracks)

JULY 30: Nobody’s Girl, self-titled (Lucky Hound)

AUG. 13: Jade Bird, “Different Kinds of Light” (Glassnote)

AUG. 27: Shinyribs, “Late Night TV Gold”

AUG. 27: Bob Schneider, “In a Room Full of Blood With a Sleeping Tiger”

AUG. 27: Altin Sencalar, “Reconnected” (Next Level)

AUG. 27: Suzanne Santo, “Yard Sale”

More from Austin360 On The Record:

MAY 28:Wayne Sutton, Tee Double, Asleep at the Wheel, more

MAY 21:Dayglow, Ida Red, Ray Prim, more new local music

APRIL 23:Lady Dan, Croy & the Boys, Missio, more