Last week NUVO music editor Kat Coplen and myself co-authored the cover feature "100 Best Hoosier Albums Ever." I originally conceived the piece with the hope of stirring up interest in local music for the arrival of Record Store Day. From that perspective I think the idea was a success, as our list has sparked heated debates amongs Indiana music fans.
So to continue the RSD related coverage, I've taken on an even messier challenge - spotlighting a sampling of some of the best Hoosier 45s. 45 RPM records were much cheaper to produce than full length LPs, so they exist in significantly greater abundance. Indiana produced some of the greatest garage, rockabilly, funk and psych 45s the world has ever heard. So in no particular order, here are 45 of my favorite 45s.
The Highlighters "Funky 16 Corners" Indy's Highlighters recorded a handful of classic 45s, like their influential debut "Poppin' Popcorn." Some have speculated that "Poppin' Popcorn" influenced James Brown's foray into the short-lived popcorn dance craze. But for me the group's greatest work is "Funky 16 Corners," a deep funk classic that roars out of the gate with vocalist James Bell shouting out the band's Indianapolis hometown. The song was a local R&B hit in 1969 and later helped kick-off the resurgence of interest in Indiana funk during the late 1990s.
The Jackson 5 "Big Boy" Released on the Gary based label Steeltown, "Big Boy" might be the most influential Hoosier 45 of all time. The sweet soul ballad featured lead vocals by a nine year old Michael and marks the Jackson family's first step towards global stardom.
Ronnie Haig "Don't You Hear Me Calling Baby" This 1958 release by Ronnie Haig is one of the biggest singles to emerge from the Indianapolis rockabilly scene. Featuring Haig's nimble guitar work the song looked to be on track for top 40 status when it was banned in Boston on the suspicion that Haig could be heard saying "fuck" during the songs fade-out.
Lattie Moore "Out of Control" Born in Kentucky, Lattie Moore established himself as a major personality on Indiana country music radio during the 1950s. So much so that an LP title from the period bills Moore as the "The Indiana Hoosier." Moore was a honky-tonk singer with an occasional rockabilly kick.
A haunting ballad about the struggles of alcoholism "Out of Control" was co-written with country great George Jones. "What goes wrong with the mind of a man in a bar who sits and keeps drinking... for him there is no future," Moore and Jones observe.
Dow Jones and the Industrials "Can't Stand the Midwest" Indiana can make a legitimate claim to being at the forefront of punk rock/new wave culture and groups like Lafayette's Dow Jones and the Industrials are the reason why.
MX-80 Sound "Big Hits" The 1976 debut from one of the most innovative Indiana bands ever, Bloomington's legendary MX-80 anticipated the guitar noise of no wave and post-punk bands like Sonic Youth.
The XL's "Maryjane" An intense blast garage-psych madness from 1968 Terre Haute. Tom Ferguson's scorching wah-wah guitar and Bill Evans' snarling vocals would've sounded right at home on the Stooges' 1969 debut LP.
The Rhythm Machine "The Kick" Heavy psychedelic funk from Indy's Rhythm Machine.
The Gremlins "Wait" A relentless 1966 garage classic from Elkhart's Gremlins. Features a wild mid-song Farfisa break and piercing androgynous vocals from the band's 15 year old leader Barry Heflick.
The Jaguars "It's Gonna Be Alright" Released on Santa Clause, Indiana's Skoop label, The Jaguars define the '60s garage-punk sound. The Black Lips have spent their entire career trying to recreate what the Jaguars do so naturally here.
Lost Weekend "Trouble" A mini psych-funk masterpiece from early '70s Gary. "Trouble" takes on themes of social justice and racial conflict prevalent in classic soul music of the era.
International Grapfruite "Naptowns Alive People" Ron Matelic was represented twice in our top 100 albums list. First for his work with garage band legends Sir Winston and the Commons and later for his work with '70s classic rockers Anonymous. This Beach Boys style bubble-gum number fell somewhere in between those projects. The A-side features the band naming off some of Indy's biggest high schools.
The Blue Angels "Quick Sand" There's something wonderfully off about this early '60s recording by Hammond's Blue Angels. The off-kliter handclaps and out-of-tune overly-reverbed guitar sound like Duane Eddy on acid.
Jimmy Scruggs "Indiana Pacers Theme" Indy doo-wop legend Jimmy Scruggs recorded this "Shaft" style funk instrumental as the theme for the ABA era Pacers' radio broadcasts in the 1970s.
Oscar & The Majestics "Got To Have Your Lovin" Tough, fuzzed-out, blue-eyed soul from Northwest Indiana's premier '60s garage rock outfit.
The Olivers "Beeker Street" Released in 1966"Beeker Street" is an incredible blast of garage-psych madness from Fort Wayne's Olivers.
Society Inc. "Society" Deep '70s funk from the Ft. Wayne-based soul label BET Records.
The Jiants "Tornado" A throbbing 1959 rocker from Marion, Indiana's Jiants. Soaked in twang and reverb, "Tornado" is a lost rockabilly classic.
The Moonlighters "Funky Moon Meditation" Classic 1970 Indianapolis funk release on the Indiana Avenue based Blue Eagle label.
Jim Alley "Dig That Rock And Roll" A strong dose of rockabilly recorded in 1960 by Muncie rocker Jim Alley.
Black Conspirators "Just Got To Be Free" Rare 1971 psychedlic-funk release from Anderson's Black Conspirators.
Keith O'Conner "Cindy Lou" A fantastic Buddy Holly-style rockabilly tune from Peru, Indiana native Keith O'Conner.
Keith and the Daze "Slightly Reminiscent of Her" By the mid-1960s Keith O'Conner had abandoned the rockabilly sound heard on "Cindy Lou" and adopted the flowery psychedelic pop of groups like The Hollies.
Brad Long "Love Me Again" Logansport's Brad Long sounds wonderfully out of step on this 1977 release. Brad's jangling guitar pop has more in common with mid '60s British Invasion than the new wave and prog rock of the era.
Turner Bros. "Let's Go Fishing" Both sides of this 1974 release from Anderson's Truner Brothers are brilliant. "Let's Go Fishing" is a modern soul classic, while the B-side instrumental "Running in the Rain" brings the funk.
Lawson Rudd "Shake This Town" A great 1960 country-flavored rockabilly obscurity out of Kingsford Heights, Indiana.
The Endd "Out Of My Hands" Incredible 1966 garage-psych nugget from Laporte, Indiana.
The Hamilton Movement "Love Circuit" Massive drum breaks abound on this dance-floor groover from Indy's Hamilton Movement.
Little Murray and The Mantics "Goddess Above" An tremendous slice of jazzy funk recorded at New Palestine's 700 West - the same studio that produced Amnesty's classic "Free Your Mind."
Funk St. Workshop "Git On Up" Yet another funky '70s classic from 700 West.
Devils Workshop "Satan's Soul" Great instrumental funk from South Bend's top '70s soul group.
Funder Cooper "I Didn't Know (Don't Shoot Me)" A unique uptempo soul release on Lamp with great jazzy Latin-tinged rhythms. Rumor has it that Billy Wooten is featured on vibes.
Spider Harrison "Beautiful Day" Spider Harrison was a DJ on WTLC when he cut this groovy 1970 record for Lulu Records.
Me and Them Guys "I Loved Her So" A hypnotic 1966 Farfisa-heavy garage rocker from Greencastle, Indiana.
Jerry Parsons & The Blue Jeans "Don't Need No Job" Jerry Parsons' hoarse shouted vocals make this obscure rockabilly release on Columbus, Indiana's Amp label.
Dawn 5 "A Necessary Evil" Interesting lyrics on this gloomy 1965 garage rock from Indy's Dawn 5.
Toxic Reasons "Ghost Town" Excellent 1982 release from Indy's response to The Clash.
Dancing Cigarettes "Puppies In A Sack" 1980 debut from Bloomington's art rock pioneers. The sound of Ohio bands like Pere Ubu and Devo echo strongly here.
Observers Observing Observables "Watch Out for the Other Guy" Noisey new wave from Indy circa 1980.
The Smears "Kicked My Butt" Bloomington garage-punkers The Smears were Indiana's answer to early girl '90s girl rock bands like Bikini Kill and L7.
Killing Children "Certain Death" Well crafted hardcore from 1983.
Billy Ball and The Upsetters "Sissy Walk" A super heavy dose if instrumental funk from the saxophone of Indy soul legend Billy Ball.
Art Adams "Dancing Doll" A certified rockabilly classic recorded in Indianapolis in 1960.
Sir Winston and the Commons "We're Gonna Love" One of Indianapolis' best and most important garage acts. "We're Gonna Love" is a fuzz guitar classic.