THE MASK MAN (AND THE AGENTS) One Eye Open (1969) + Bonuses

One Eye Open (1969)
Shuck & Jive Soul/R&B To Die For

I first scored this music in 2006 from WFMU, the greatest oddity blog on planet Earth. Since then, rarely has a year passed without it getting played for a week. If gimmicky, low-budget, 50s-styled, jive-rockinR&B soul floats your boat, One Eye Open will make you think you’ve died and gone to the Otis Day & The Knights Memorial Tray Table on the south side of Heaven. This stuff is so catchy, silly, soulful and vibrant that it’s a marvel it hasn’t been rediscovered and lionized. Veteran 45 poachers know this style of music well. Quick-buck singles issued and re-issued repeatedly for the black market, dated 1968-1970, though… it could just as easily been recorded 8 or 9 years earlier – as if pockets of old school musical resistance never developed beyond the early 60s. The stuff is obscure, and I’m not sure this is even the proper track list for this LP. Getting a correct band name spelling requires a P.I. license. But, the music speaks for itself, and if it speaks to you like it does me… then you may have found the meaning of life. A vinyl rip, of course.


One Eye Open (2:50)
Y’all (2:35)
Wigs (2:24)
Roaches (2:11)
The World Is A Cafeteria (2:23)
It’s The Thing (2:26)
In A Crowded Station (2:34)
Love Bandito (2:12)

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I was thrilled to discover that WFMU had just recently posted even more from The Mask Man and his many aliases and associated monikers. The history of these sides is even more confusing than the above LP, consisting mostly of music made by Harmon Bethea (The Mask Man) and a slew of different band configurations spread over various 45s and decades. Most of the details are culled from this valuable (but still understandably incomplete) resource, Soulful Kinda Music. Just to illustrate how immediate (and temporary) these singles and bands often were, some of the releases are credited to The Cap-Tans, L’Cap-Tans, L’Cap-Tans w/The Go Boys, Wailing Bethea & The Cap-Tans, Mask Man & The Cap-Tans… you get the idea. The same goes for multiple variations of Harmon Bethea and his Mask Man (Masked Man, Maskman, Maskmen) configurations. In the end, the names probably don’t matter, because it all sounds sublime. It’s more of the same shuck and jive (sometimes even the same re-written progressions), though, some of the early 70s material begins to introduce civil rights themes, while “Prices and Crises” speaks just as effectively to today’s current market situation. There are even a couple Harmon Bethea sides from the early 50s. Enjoy. This stuff is fun. And, after a few listens, you might even be convinced it’s important, as well. As it should be.


Prices And Crises - The Mask Man & The Agents (Jan 804, 1974) (3:52)
Talking About The Boss And I
Harmon Bethea (Musicor 1483, 1973) (3:44)
Stand Up Part 1 –
The Mask Man & The Agents (Vigor 707, 1970) (2:23)
Moon Dream
Bethea The Mask Man & The Agents (Dyna 139, 1969) (3:28)
When You Got Money
Bethea The Mask Man & The Agents (1969) (2:55)
I Wouldn’t Come Back
The Mask Man & The Agents (Dyna 143, 1969) (1:54)
Chicken Wings –
The Mask Man & The Cap-Tans (Ru-Jac 220, 1964) (2:36)
Soul Party Part 1 –
Billy Clark & The Maskmen (2:26)
Hot Gravy –
Billy Clark & His Orchestra (2:29)
I’m So Crazy For Love
The Cap-Tans (Dot 1009 & 15114, 1950/1953) (2:46)
Say Yes –
L’Cap-Tans (Savoy 1567, 1959) (2:31)

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“My Wife, My Dog, My Cat” (1969)
“She’s My Meat” (1970)
Thanks to Jeff for sending us these cool rarities from Superfly Soul: Riding Through The Ghetto, a 2CD collection of rare funk and soul sides, and
Dynamic Grooves: Funk and Groovy Soul From the Vaults of Scepter, Wand, Dynamo and Musicor. The Mask Man & The Agents track, “My Wife, My Dog, My Cat,” might be one of the best sounding tracks you can find by these guys, since its been remastered for this release. In reality, like a lot of Mask Man material, this one sounds like a stylistic re-write of one of their other offerings (or vice versa), “One Eye Open,” which you can hear above to compare. “She’s My Meat” is credited to Harmon Bethea (The Mask Man) and comes from 1970. Cool tracks both, and a good enough reason to move the entire post up top and introduce a few newcomers to it. Some Amazon sellers have the Superfly set for less than a buck (while two other sets in the series are selling for $15-$30), so if you’re interested, act fast.

22 Comments

  • 1
    RevolutionaryBum
    December 17, 2009 - 06:29 | Permalink

    Wow !!! gonna have a funky little christmas :D This is amazing… thanks for yet another turn on Willard,

  • 2
    Anonymous
    December 17, 2009 - 08:58 | Permalink

    These look rather good to me can't wait to pod them and groove

  • 3
    Capt. Willard
    December 17, 2009 - 04:19 | Permalink

    .
    .
    .
    Search HERE
    .
    .
    .

  • 4
    Dr. Prophecy
    December 18, 2009 - 00:16 | Permalink

    aaaiiiiiieeeee! you are ruining my life with this great shit! happy holidays willard, this is better than any new wallet or sweater!

  • 5
    Lawrence Wise (a.k.a. OSMOSIS)
    January 19, 2010 - 23:57 | Permalink

    Willard, it seems that due to recent events (namely, the passing of MASK MAN-Harmon Bethea himself this January), the music of Mask Man and The Agents should be getting some bigger love (especially from those of us in the DC area). It ain't nothin' but the funk (as I like to say). That Album (ONE EYE OPEN) should be a MUST download for anybody into the gritty downside of r-n-b from the '50s and '60s. This real funk blows most of Motown and Stax outta the water. Like I said, it fills me with pride because–damn!–Mask Man and The Agents were from DC.
    I never knew the funk my city had buried. Now, I'm going to start some deep digging.

  • 6
    Capt. Willard
    January 20, 2010 - 02:16 | Permalink

    Thanks for the info and comment.

  • 7
    Iggy
    December 29, 2011 - 10:58 | Permalink

    Can’t wait to listen. Happy New Year 2012 to you and yours!

    Iggy

    • 8
      Willard
      December 29, 2011 - 12:15 | Permalink

      You too, Igster.

  • 9
    Sean
    December 30, 2011 - 15:11 | Permalink

    Hey, this was on my “want list” that I dragged around to record stores for years before the Internet years…never found it.
    Thanks so much but can it really live up to the wait?

  • 11
    ate2zee
    January 26, 2012 - 02:07 | Permalink

    Thanks for introducing me to Mask Man. I’m not much into Super Heroes, but Mask Man, Masked Man, Maskman, Maskmen is now way up there on my list of music heroes. His music & your comments about him led me to want to know more. I ran across a lot of great info about him–sadly, it was written a couple of years ago in his Washington Post obituary. But the music he left behind is fun–& as they used to say–it has a good beat & you can dance to it. I wish I could have heard & seen him live, with the mask & the colorful streaks in his process that matched his suit.

  • 12
    January 26, 2012 - 02:25 | Permalink

    Cool. Thanks for the thoughts.

    Is THIS what you were talking about?

  • 13
    Jeff
    September 5, 2012 - 14:40 | Permalink

    Thank You. I’ve been looking for this stuff for years, every since I first heard One Eye Open on a comp. I have another song called My Wife, My Dog, My Cat from another comp a couple of years ago called “Superfly Soul Vol. 3″.

    I can get it to you if you would like. Tell me where and how to my email address.

  • 14
    Willard
    September 13, 2012 - 22:06 | Permalink

    Thanks Jeff.

  • 15
    buzzbabyjesus
    September 13, 2012 - 22:49 | Permalink

    Ain’t no Krautrock, that’s for sure.

  • 16
    Willard
    September 13, 2012 - 22:52 | Permalink

    Collardrock?

    • 17
      Doomcan
      September 14, 2012 - 21:02 | Permalink

      Guffaw!

      – DC

  • 18
    Duncan Walls
    September 14, 2012 - 07:49 | Permalink

    Oh Yes oh Yes more maskedman.

  • 19
    courtney
    September 14, 2012 - 15:51 | Permalink

    Glad to have more from the late great!

  • 20
    Doomcan
    September 14, 2012 - 20:59 | Permalink

    Superb! Thanks to all involved, and of course, to you Capt. Wiilard, Sir! Still my favourite watercraft, ever. Beware of tigers…

    Gratitude,

    – DC

  • 21
    Anonymous
    September 15, 2012 - 17:32 | Permalink

    WOW< Thanks this is great stuff!

  • 22
    MiddlenameWayne
    September 17, 2012 - 03:40 | Permalink

    I’ve got an old (late 1950s?) windshield decal of Al Capp’s “Wolf Gal” bearing the caption “Yore Mah Meat!” Some catch phrases were just MEANT to be eternal!

    – mnw

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