Saturday, April 25, 2015

40 Year Itch : He's a Razzamatazz Man

Another weird gem from 10cc's uneven The Original Soundtrack.

Friday, April 24, 2015

40 Year Itch: The Death of Pete Ham

    The music industry doesn't realize that musicians in its care must be treated with gentleness and sincerity, only then will the music grow and flourish. Musicians are special, sensitive people who give much, and many, like Badfinger, are adrift within a hostile so-called "industry" that seems based solely on money and self-interest
-Tony Beresford-Cooke, friend

On April 24, 1975 a despondent Pete Ham hanged himself in his garage studio. He left behind a note for his pregnant girlfriend Anne who discovered his body.

That last line again:

"Stan Polley is a souless bastard. I will take him with me"

   Sam Polley is the business manager who signed Badfinger to a deal with Warner Brothers which came with a huge multi million dollar advance that the members of Badfinger would never see. In return the band had to produce two albums and an additional two singles every year. 
   Noting $100,000 in missing funds, the publishing division of Warner Brothers spent a year trying to contact Polley. They got no response.  So WB Records pulled the band's excellent comeback album, Wish You Were Here, off the shelves. Polley still wasn't taking or returning calls. Now, as Badfinger began recording their next album, to be titled Head First ( and featuring bitter songs like "Hey Mr Manager" and " Rock'n'Roll Contract") lawyers got involved. They stopped payment on Warner Brothers checks to Badfinger and convinced record execs to turn down the new album. To top it off Apple was suspending royalty payments to avoid getting swept up into the lawsuit. And still no word from Sam Polley.
  By April of 1975 Pete Ham had a pregnant girlfriend ( for whom he had written "Lay Me Down"), new house payments, no money and no way to earn any money. He told his bandmate Tom Evans he knew a way out. He died at the age of 27.
   Head First was released 26 years after it was recorded.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

40 Year Itch : Chugging Like a Choo Choo Train

Charles Bronson on the set of 1975's Breakheart Pass

  Glen Campbell's cover version of the title track was a #1 country/ pop/ adult contemporary crossover smash but when you dig a little deeper into Southern Nights, you find some funky New Orleans soul thanks to Allen Toussaint's decision to team up with his house band, The Meters.

   On "Last Train",  I wonder of Toussaint is huffing and puffing to keep up with a young lover or whether he's suffering from Alvin Toffler's Future Shock, fearing the speed of rapid change that could mean the end of the railroad.

Full page ad in Rolling Stone

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

40 Year Itch: Hollow and Naked

   First of all there are two AC/DC albums called High Voltage. The ballsy six minute groove fest "Soul Stripper" comes from the first one, the uneven 1975 Australia-only release. A sign of great things to come! 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

40 Year Itch : That Sweet 60's Harmony

   With the popularity of so many soft rocks acts on the charts ( America, David Gates, Dan Fogelberg, Pure Prairie League, Seals and Crofts), it seemed like a good time for The Beau Brummels to give it another go. With Ted Templeman and Lenny Waronker at the helm, the San Francisco band recorded a surprisingly good album that didn't sell. "You Tell Me Why" is the only tune they had updated from their earlier catalog. The original 1965 single was produced by Sly Stone.

  The Hollies enjoyed moderate success with their Bruce Springsteen cover, "Sandy", which peaked at #85 in the US but went Top 10 in The Netherlands.  Manfred Mann's Earth Band would also release a Springsteen cover in 1975, "Spirits in the Night" and then again in 1977, the #1 hit  "Blinded By the Light" .

Monday, April 20, 2015

40 Year Itch : Sh*t! Goddamn!

   For decades we've all assumed the blistering guitar solo on this track was cut by phenoms Eddie Hazel or Michael Hampton, but in George Clinton's autobiography, Brothers Be, Yo Like George, Ain't That Funkin' Kinda Hard on You?, we learn that it is an unnamed, strung out white guy who wandered into the studio and agreed to play on the song for $25.

"We set him up, started the track and he just started to play like he was possessed. He did all the rock and roll that hadn't been heard for a few years, and he did it for the entirety of the track. Even when the song ended, he didn't stop."

Clinton gave the man $50 but never gave him a credit on the album . To this day, nobody knows who he is.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

My Top Ten By Courtney Love

  Courtney Love made a grunge heavy list of her top ten favorite albums for Spin Magazine's Alternate Record Guide, published in 1995, a year after her husband's suicide. That's the same year Hole's second album, Live Through This, went platinum and Barbara Walters named Love one of the year's 10 Most Fascinating People. There are two Nirvana albums, but equally interesting is the Echo and the Bunnymen album which I can imagine her listening to on a walkman as she travelled around Ireland and England in 1982.

1. Echo and the Bunnymen : Heaven Up Here
2. Nirvana : Nevermind

3. Gun Club : Fire of Love
4. Pixies : Surfer Rosa

5. Mudhoney : Superfuzz Bigmuff EP

6. Leonard Cohen : Songs From a Room
7. P J Harvey : Dry

8. Husker Du : New Day Rising

9. Nirvana: In Utero
10. Nine Inch Nails : The Downward Spiral

Fun fact : Courtney played "The Bride" in a 1988 Ramones video for "I Wanna Be Sedated".