Friday, January 30, 2015

40 Year Itch : It's Only For Show

    Between Queen gigs, Roy Thomas Baker spent January of 1975 producing the glam super group Jet's 1975 self titled debut. Bassist Martin Gordon and keyboardist Peter Oxendale were once in Sparks and had played on the breakthrough single "This Town Ain't Big Enough for the Both of Us". Vocalist Andy Ellison and drummer Chris Townson had played with Marc "T.Rex" Bolan and guitarist Davy O'List had played in both The Nice and Roxy Music. The result is fantastic and in the matter of its quirkiness, years ahead of its time.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

40 Year Itch : This Much Madness

Jack Nicholson by Harry Benson, 1975

   After parting ways with Motown and The Temptations, producer Norman Whitfield started his own label, Whitfield Records, and devoted his attention and genius towards fellow Motown refugees The Undisputed Truth ( "Smiling Faces Sometimes"). From 1975's Cosmic Truth comes this psychedelic and funky cover of Neil Young's "Down By the River". There were five session players credited with playing guitar on the album including Dennis Coffey and Melvin "Wah Wah" Ragin, so I dont know who's playing the smoking lines on this tune.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

40 Year Itch : Here Comes the Express

Brooklyn Transit Express followed up their 1974 Top 5 hit "Do It (Til You're Satisfied) with "Express", a mostly instrumental disco-funk tune that spent January and February climbing the pop and soul charts, eventually hitting #1 on the latter. Give it up for the conga player!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

40 Year Itch : Engines Softly Screaming

Helen Mirren in 1975 play based on Janis Joplin,  Teeth 'n' Smiles

  1975 witnessed the emergence of Helen Mirren as not only an immensely talented and beautiful stage actress...but also  as a woman who spoke her mind. During a now infamous interview on Michael Parkinson's show, she responded to his cheeky, clearly sexist questions which lingered on both her figure and a review that described her as "projecting sluttish eroticism".

When he asked her whether her "equipment" got in the way of her becoming a serious actress, she responded:

 "Because serious actresses can't have big bosoms, is that what you mean?"

   Even without Gary Glitter at the microphone, his back up band could produce UK hits. "Goodbye My Love" hit #2 on the UK charts, held off the top spot by Pilot's "January".

Monday, January 26, 2015

40 Year Itch : Crack Baby Crack

   On January 26, 1975, "Cracked Actor", Alan Yentob's documentary about David Bowie, aired on BBC2. Shot on his Diamond Dogs tour of America, the film reveals Bowie in a fragile state, both mentally and physically. Pencil thin, with multi-colored hair, Bowie admits all of the characters he created in the early 70's affected his mental state:

I got lost at one point. I couldn't decide whether I was writing characters or they were writing me, or whether we were all one in the same.

  At about the 51-minute mark, we see Bowie in his identity: as the palest soul singer in Rock history.
With back-up singers, including Luther Vandross, Bowie goes over the future Young Americans track "Right" in a Philadelphia studio.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

40 Year Itch: Creeping!...Crawling!...Crushing!

   From the classic Wishbone Ash album, There's the Rub, comes the throbbing bass and dueling guitar work-out "F.U.B.B." ("Fucked Up Beyond Belief") which might be one way to describe the low budget 1975 monster movie "The Giant Spider Invasion". For the big spider, the production crew dressed up a Volkswagen Beetle and let the VW's red tail lights stand in for the eyes.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

40 Year Itch : A Magic Night in Cologne

   On January 24, 1975, half an hour before midnight,  an exhausted Keith Jarrett, suffering from back pain, sat down at a piano in a sold out Opera House in Cologne and began improvising. A recording of the concert, complete with hoots and cheers from the audience, would become the all time best selling album of solo piano music. It would also, unfortunately, launch thousands of piano noodling imitators.