Wednesday, February 29, 2012

40 Years Ago This Month: Brinsley Schwarz and Others I Missed

Brinsley Schwarz Silver Pistol

[Buy It]

Four English guys (including bass player Nick Lowe) find the sweet spot between The Band and The Byrds and invent "pub rock". This is Brinsley Schwarz's third album, and the first to feature a fifth member,  guitarist and songwriter Ian Gomm. "Merry Go Round" is a good example of the band's blue collar pop sensibilities. Makes you want to quaff a beer just listening to it.

Eric Andersen Blue River

[Buy It]

As beautiful and well crafted an album as Blue River is said to be, I have to admit I haven't listened to it all that much. Let's call it a "grower". After all The Rolling Stone Record Guide called Blue River "the best example of the 70's singer/songwriter movement" and Andersen did get Joni Mitchell to contribute some ethereal vocals on the title cut ( which I could listen to all day). Somehow the record company lost all the tapes to Andersen's 1973 follow-up album so any momentum Andersen created with Blue River was lost by the time 1975's Be True To You came out.

Fanny Fanny Hill

[Buy The Box Set]

Before the Runaways, The Go Go's or Bangles, there was Fanny, an all chick rock band made up of the two Millington sisters, Nickey Barclay on keyboards and Alice de Buhr on drums.  Richard Perry ( who would later oversee albums by Carly Simon and Ringo Starr) produced the first three Fanny albums, including Fanny Hill from which we're showcasing "Sound And The Fury", a rock n roll road song as told from a woman's point of view. The Go Go's played this live every so often.

Monday, February 27, 2012

40 Years Ago This Week: Nick Drake's Pink Moon Released

[Get Pink]

Nick Drake's third and final album is composed of eleven starkly-worded, starkly-arranged songs recorded in two nights. Producer John Wood recalls Drake sitting in front of the microphone and playing, his guitar and breathy upfront vocals creating the mood for eleven bleak songs. Consider "Parasite":

'Take a look you may see me on the ground/
For I am the parasite of this town.

The man who gave Drake a recording contract, Joe Boyd calls Pink Moon "a record of quiet desperation". Drake would die two years later at the age of 26 from an overdose of antidepressants.

There are thousands of people who have listened to Pink Moon more than I have. Like Beatles fanatics who've discovered clues on the cover of Abbey Road, Drake fans have read an awful lot into unsettling lyrics like those of "Road":

You can say the sun is shining if you really want to/
I can see the moon and it seems so clear

Friends say Drake became more distant in his final years. Every so often he'd show up at John Martyn's house where his wife Beverley would try to play hostess:

He would just come and spend the day or the night. I would make up a bed for him. You just had to let him do what he wanted, really, which was often to play the same album over and over again - or look out the window with a cup of tea in his hands for four hours.'

With no tour or interviews to promote the album, Pink Moon sold about five thousand copies in Drake's lifetime. Far fewer than his other two records. In his case not even death produced album sales. It took a Volkswagen ad's use of "Pink Moon" in 2000 to bring to the public's attention the music and myths of this troubled soul.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Shipment of 40 Year Old Cheese.

All of these singles were released on the same day: February 19, 1972.

Donny Osmond: Puppy Love (US#3/UK#1)

Gallery: Nice To Be With You (US#4)

Mouth And MacNeal: How Do You Do (US#8/Dutch#1)

Sonny and Cher: A Cowboy's Work Is Never Done (US#8)

And as your reward for working your way to the bottom of the post:
This nugget, a Billboard "Black Singles" Top 10, covered by Mick Jagger on his best solo album: 1993's Wandering Spirit.

[Buy The Album]

Saturday, February 25, 2012

40 Years Ago Today: "Give Ireland Back To The Irish"

[Buy Wild Life]

By 1972, John Lennon had established himself as the radical Beatle. After all it was Lennon who "imagined" a world without countries or religion, "nothing to live or die for" and sang "War is Over ( if you want it)" while McCartney was singing about a dog with three legs and "bip bop". That changed on January 30, 1972, "Bloody Sunday",  when British troops shot and killed 13 apparently unarmed protestors and bystanders in the Northern Ireland city of Derry.

Lennon responded to the massacre by showing up at a demonstration in New York City and performing a new song called "Luck of the Irish".

If you had the luck of the Irish/You'd be sorry and wish you were dead

The song would appear on Some Time In New York City in June, but by then it was completely overshadowed by an anthem McCartney knocked out with his new band Wings.

"Give Ireland Back To The Irish" was released as a single on February 25th amid protests from EMI's chairman. The BBC wouldn't play it. Neither would Radio Luxembourg nor the Independent Television Authority. Despite the  rousing chorus, it's not your typical protest song. The "cute Beatle" even uses some of his infamous charm: "Great Britain, you are tremendous".

In the interview below, McCartney says "The British government overstepped the mark and showed themselves to be  more of a repressive regime than I ever believed them to be".

Despite being banned from the airwaves, "Give Ireland Back To The Irish" managed to place in the UK Top 20, #21 on US charts and #1 in Ireland ( for just one week).

Thursday, February 23, 2012

40 Years Ago This Week : "Son Of My Father" Tops the UK Charts

[Buy The Best of Chicory Tip]

This week, 40 years ago, British poppers Chicory Tip pushed T. Rex's "Telegram Sam" out of the top spot on the UK charts with one of the first hits to feature a synthesizer.
    For three weeks "Son Of My Father" stayed atop the charts until Nilsson's "Without You", the biggest song of 1972, knocked it off.

"Son Of My Father" is a cri de couer from a schoolkid who decides to  break away from the "molded, folded, pre-packed" rules so he can make up his own life. But it wasn't the lyrics that got everybody's attention. It was the ear wormy hook played on a Moog Synthesizer two years before Kraftwerk's historic synthesizer album Autobahn.

Credit Giorgio Moroder, who wrote both the song ( with Pete Bellotte in Italian as "Tu Sei Mio Padre") and recorded the original version with the same Moog Synthesiser hook.

It would be hard to find anyone who had a bigger effect on 70's music. Moroder helped Donna Summer become the queen of disco with the salacious "Love to Love You Baby" and the other-worldly "I Feel Love" which became a blueprint for some of the experimentation David Bowie and Brian Eno would do with the Berlin Trilogy.

According to Bowie:

One day in Berlin ... Eno came running in and said, 'I have heard the sound of the future.' ... he puts on 'I Feel Love', by Donna Summer ... He said, 'This is it, look no further. This single is going to change the sound of club music for the next fifteen years.' Which was more or less right.

Moroder also did a lot of film soundtracks. Blondie hit number one in 1980 with "Call Me" from Moroder's American Gigilo soundtrack. Berlin scored a #1 U.S. in 1986 with "Take My Breath Away from Top Gun and in 1978 Moroder won an Academy Award for Best Film Score for Midnight Express.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

40 Years Ago This Month: Jimmy Smith records Root Down

[Get Your Root Down]

You can credit Hammond B3 master Jimmy Smith with transporting the nerdy organ from the back of churches and skating rinks to the front of the soul jazz stage. His 1963 album Back At The Chicken Shack is a Blue Note label classic.

     On a single February night in 1972, Smith recorded his funkiest album, Root Down, at a Los Angeles club. The funk came-- in large part-- from his young supporting crew, inspired by the sounds playing on the radio. Witness guitarist Arthur Adams's wah-wah guitar. Other musicians included drummer Paul Humphrey, percussionist Buck Clarke and , most surprisingly, bass player Wilton Felder of The Crusaders. "Most surprisingly" because Jimmy Smith preferred to play the bass lines himself...on the B3's 25 foot pedals. Most of Smith's jazz albums are more laid back affairs, closer to Root Down's cover of Al Green's then chart climbing hit "Let's Stay Together". But on this night the godfather of the modern soul-jazz organ and his bandmembers brought the funk to the house. (Verve's newly remastered album presents the full unedited versions ... sometimes doubling the length of the tracks.)

   The Beastie Boys sampled multiple parts of the title cut on their 1995 single "Root Down" which appeared on Ill Communication.

Monday, February 20, 2012

40 Years Ago: Esso's "Rock Star" Commercial

[Buy Elvis Now]

Elvis Now , a collection of studio tracks recorded over a two year period, is released February 20, 1972. The album includes songs by Gordon Lightfoot, Kris Kristofferson and Buffy Sainte-Marie.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

40 Years Ago Today: "Joy" Brightens The US Pop Charts

[Get Some Joy ]

Behold the genius that is Tom Parker. The chap who told Johann Sebastian Bach "No! No! No! You've written it too slow!" Well, maybe his genius is realizing that Jigsaw's 1971 version of "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" needed a harpsichord and a lighter attitude to really impress the Yanks. (Jigsaw would finally see some chart action in 1975 with their Top Ten hit "Sky High") After making its debut on February 19, 1972, the instrumental rose to #6 on the US pop charts. You can almost hear producer Miki Dallon yelling "More harpsichord!"

The 1971 Jigsaw version :

Saturday, February 18, 2012

40 Years Ago Today : Manfred Mann's Earth Band debut

[Buy It]

In 1972, the dean of all rock critics, Robert Christgau, gave just three albums his A+ rating: Paul Simon's eponymous album , The Rolling Stones 's Exile On Main Street and this multifarious album by Manfred Mann's Earth Band.
  From the beginning Manfred Mann always had a way with choosing covers. Their 1964 #1 hit "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" was originally a minor hit for The Exciters. "If You Gotta Go, Go Now" (UK#2,1965) "Just Like A Woman" (UK#10, 1966) and "Mighty Quinn" (UK#1 and US #10,1968) were all Dylan compositions. "Pretty Flamingo" (UK#1,1966 ) was written by the same guy who wrote The Banana Splits Theme. But all along Mann and his bandmates could knock out some pretty good stuff on their own.
My current obsession is the Beach Boys inspired "Up The Junction", a  follow up single to "Mighty Quinn" that went absolutely nowhere.

[Buy The Essential Manfred Mann]

When the band Manfred Mann dissolved, Mann himself began fusing jazz with hard rock.
That's a recipe for progressive self indulgence of the worst kind. There's some of that ( "Sloth", "Tribute") but in Mann's hands, the album works wonders for the most part. Gospel meets Deep Purple riffing on "Captain Bobby Scout". Watch as Mann responds to a band mate's "Let's boogie!" with a passionate three minute long Moog synthesiser solo below.

So the album rocks hard in places. But there are also some quiet originals that will break your heart."I'm Up And I'm Leaving" and "Part Time Man" both sound like something Ray Davies probably wishes he wrote.

Finally there are the covers. Dylan's "Please Mrs Henry", Dr John's "Jump Sturdy and Randy Newman's "Living Without You", the highest charting single from the album at #69. As most of us know, Manfred Mann's Earth Band wouldn't make a huge splash on the charts until they discovered Bruce Springsteen. "Blinded By The Light" went #1 in the US in 1976 and "Spirits in the Night" cracked the Top 40 in both the US and UK. But that was years after the Earth Band recorded their best album, a debut Christgau called "the perfect corrective to the willful brightness of boogie optimism."

Friday, February 17, 2012

40 Years Ago This Month: Say You Don't Mind

[Buy The Album]

Former Zombies vocalist Colin Blunstone returned from a few years of selling insurance to hit UK #15  in mid February of 1972 with this gorgeous string laden cover of Denny Laine's 1967 single. Yes, that Denny Laine. Former Moodys. Future Wings. ( see Denny's version below).

 The string quartet was arranged by Chris Gunning who would go on to win awards for composing film and TV soundtracks. "Say You Don't Mind" comes from the 1971 album One Year, which also features "She Loves The Way They Love Her" and "Caroline Goodbye", both recorded with his old Zombies bandmates.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

40 Years ago: Smyle If You Thought It Was A Beatles Reunion

I can't add a whole lot more about the Dutch band ( who hit their native country's Top 10 in 1972 with "It's Gonna Be Alright") that hasn't been said by anyone who's ever heard Smyle: their lead singer ( "zanger" in Dutch) sounds just like John Lennon. So much so that Bas Muijs went on to sing the Lennon parts on the Stars On 45 Beatles medley. A Dutch music fan caught up with guitarist Mark Boon to get a sense of what Smyle was like it is heyday.

"It's Gonna Be Alright" came out in a plain white sleeve with just our logo on it. That was done on purpose, as Polydor wanted to keep things mysterious, hoping people would suspect it was a Beatles bootleg. That was the sentiment back then you know, people desperately hoping the Beatles would reform and bands like Klaatu cashing in on it.
Here's a good story: At that point early in our career our manager got angry letters and phonecalls from the UK, urging us to change our name because there was another Smile active in the UK. We didn't budge an inch, so eventually that UK band changed their name to....Queen! It's true, I swear!
We also did some TV-shows back then and I remember sharing a dressing room with early ABBA, or rather Agnetha, Björn, Benny, Anni-Frid as they were known back then. We got along fine with them, and their guitarist Björn, having lost his own guitar at Amsterdam Airport, borrowed my Les Paul to mime their song Ring, Ring. He gratefully returned it to me, but when I got home, I found he'd given it a serious case of buckle rash, dents and scratches caused by that big diamond-studded belt of his...Mark Boon from

A few more choice cuts from Smyle including a video for the single Tandem.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

40 Years Ago This Week: John and Yoko Co-Host Mike Douglas Show

"They're not just Super Stars. They're Super People".

And with that Mike Douglas -- still basking in the glow from a tepid performance of The Beatles's "Michelle"-(see below) -introduced his co-hosts for the week of February 14-18, 1972, John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

For John and Yoko, it was a week to indoctrinate people with some hope for peace ( if you want it), equality and natural balance. Among the guests that week: activist Ralph Nader, comedian Louis Nye, Chuck Berry and The Chambers Brothers.

Lennon and Yoko were joined by the Elephants Memory Band  for a performance of “It’s So Hard” from Imagine.Later that week Yoko took it upon herself to howl through Chuck Berry's "Memphis". When it came time for Berry and Lennon to play "Johnny B Goode" you can see Yoko pick up the mic again only to discover that it had been shut off.

Later that year Elephant's Memory, John and Yoko released the god awful Some Time In New York City. and Lennon performed at Madison Square Garden. There is also this:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Neil Young's Harvest Turns 40 Today

[Buy Harvest]

[Buy Some Area Code 615]

The download I offered  isn't a tune from Harvest , the best selling album of 1972, or even from Neil Young. I figure anyone who finds their way to this blog has Harvest. The featured track is from Nashville session band Area Code 615. Young wanted the band to back him up for a session or two while he was in Nashville doing The Johnny Cash Show. Only drummer Kenny Buttrey could make it and , as it runs out, he didn't really get a chance to show his stuff. It was Neil's idea to limit him to the "Boom-Boom-Pah" beat on four album tracks: "Heart of Gold", "Old Man", "Alabama" and the opener "Out on the Weekend".

 Buttrey: That’s the way he heard it; he wanted [the rhythm] to be felt on the guitar. He dictated everything: bass, drums, all the parts. We improvised a bit on the verses, and I even managed to throw in a little hi-hat here and there, but that was about it. Later, when we were doing ‘Alabama,’ I tried to hit a tom-tom, and Neil stopped the whole thing and really came down on me. I did sneak one in right near the end of the song. I remember thinking, ‘It’s a little too late for him to pull this one out!’"

The fact that Neil was even in Nashville and not bedridden in California was something of a minor miracle.

Anyone who has ever experienced severe back problems knows how debilitating it can be. Neil Young had been in and out of hospitals for the two years between After The Gold Rush and Harvest. As he told Rolling Stone 's Cameron Crowe in 1975:

 I have one weak side and all the muscles slipped on me. My discs slipped. I couldn't hold my guitar up. That's why I sat down on my whole solo tour. I couldn't move around too well, so I laid low for a long time on the ranch and just didn't have any contact, you know. I wore a brace. Crosby would come up to see how I was, we'd go for a walk and it took me 45 minutes to get to the studio, which is only 400 yards from the house. I could only stand up four hours a day. I recorded most of Harvest in the brace. That's a lot of the reason it's such a mellow album. I couldn't physically play an electric guitar. "Are You Ready for the Country," "Alabama" and "Words" were all done after I had the operation. The doctors were starting to talk about wheelchairs and shit, so I had some discs removed. But for the most part, I spent two years flat on my back. I had a lot of time to think about what had happened to me.

Neil and the Nashville session musicians ran through the songs quickly, usually no more than three takes.
They recorded master tracks for "Heart of Gold", "Old Man" and several others the first night.

From Songwriter101:
Producer Elliot Mazer: Everyone was within about five feet of each other. There’s some leakage on account of that, but that’s what gave the record such a nice feel. Neil sat on a chair in the doorway between the living room and dining room, because that spot around the doorway had such a nice sound. ( Bassist )Tim (Drummond) and (steel player) Ben (Keith) were to his right, with Kenny on the other side so he could watch Neil’s right arm and get a feel for the backbeat on those songs.

After the telecast the next night, Neil brought back two other performers from the Johnny Cash Show: Linda Ronstadt and  James Taylor. The three of them cut the backing vocals to "Heart of Gold" and "Old Man" from a couch inside the control room. Taylor also added some banjo flourishes to "Old Man".

The Nashville sessions only make up half the album. "A Man Needs A Maid" and "There's A World" were both recorded with The London Symphony Orchestra with arrangements provided by Jack Nitzsche.

His devastating anti-drug number "Needle and the Damage Done", seen here on the above mentioned Johnny Cash Show and inspired by the death of Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten, came from a live performance at UCLA.

The "rockers" of the album ( "Alabama", "Words" and "Are You Ready For The Country?") were recorded in a barn on Young's Northern California ranch.
"Alabama" had some overdubs: a lead guitar line and harmonies from Crosby Stills and Nash.

Mazer tells the story of mixing the album at Young's ranch:

The PA was still out in the barn,and we had those JBL monitors in his house across the way. For a laugh, we ran the left channel into the barn and the right channel to the JBL monitors, then faced the speakers in the direction of Neil, who was sitting in a rowboat in the middle of this small pond that was located directly in front of the house. During the playback I asked Neil through the talk-back how the balance was, and he yelled back, "More barn!"

Harvest spent two weeks at Number One. "Heart of Gold" would top the charts in 1972 before getting bounced by America's Neil Young impression "Horse With No Name". "Old Man" also made the Top 40. But not all critics were impressed. Rolling Stone's John Mendelsohn wrote

(Neil Young)'s seemingly lost sight of what once made his music uniquely compelling and evocative and become just another pretty-singing solo superstar.

Young would eventually revisit the acoustic country arrangements of Harvest in Comes A Time and Harvest Moon. But as he wrote in his liner notes for Decade:

  'Heart of Gold' put me in the middle of the road. Traveling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch.

That ditch would lead to some of the most exciting and puzzling albums of his career.

Monday, February 13, 2012

40 Years Ago : Jo Jo Gunne Makes A Run Run Run For The Charts

[Get Yer Gunne]

40 years ago this week, Jo Jo Gunne, founded by two former members of Spirit, began climbing the UK charts with "Run Run Run", a tune as catchy and dumb as anything Sweet had recorded and yet NOT glam rock. Jo Jo Gunne would crack the Top Ten overseas and the Top 40 in the US before fading into obscurity.
Or have they? In 2005 the band reunited for more tours and recording:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

40 Years Ago This Week: Bowie Performs Queen Bitch on The Whistle Test

The Man who Sold The World ...By Turning Himself "Into a Bizarre Self Constructed Freak" with Mick Ronson in gold lame. Ziggy Stardust is fewer than four months away.

40 Years Ago Today: Allman Brothers Release Eat a Peach

{buy it}

Released just months after 24 year old lead guitarist Duane Allman's fatal motorcycle accident, the double album Eat A Peach  entered the Billboard album charts in the Top Ten and rose to #4. The album begins with a song that shows the determination of a grieving band to continue: "Ain't Wastin' Time No More". The band didn't waste much time at all. The Allman Brothers began touring without a new guitarist four weeks after Duane's funeral. 

The band plays its first set without their lead guitarist at Duane's funeral

16 year old Rolling Stone writer Cameron Crowe got some insight on the band's psyche for a 1973 article.

“I think,” says a close friend of the Brothers, “that Duane’s loss was much more traumatic than anyone realizes. He was pretty arrogant sometimes, and I think one critic said he had ‘an ego that could fill the Grand Canyon,’ but he had a talent to match. Most of the guys at that funeral were stuporous with grief, but they handled it beautifully, and I think you really have to look at it communally. Duane’s death was like an amputation. The organization cauterized the wound and tried to forget about it. They had to.

“See, most of the Brothers are from rural areas in the south, from tight, close-knit families. They took their new identity partially from Duane and partially from the band. When Duane died, the question of identity became paramount. They switched their total allegiance to the family: The constant mention of brothers and sisters isn’t any sham. It’s a necessity.

Greg and Duane

“But if the band hadn’t made it, it would have fractured the structure of their identities. They had to be successful, and if they hadn’t – in 1971 anyway – I think each and every one of those guys could have tumbled off the deep end in some way.

One of the album highlights -- and my favorite Allman Brothers song -- "Blue Sky," was written and sung by Dickey Betts for his wife, a native American woman named Sandy "Bluesky" Wabegijig. Duane played the song in concert only four times. We're fortunate the SUNY Stonybrook gig was recorded.

Sandy "BlueSky" Wabegijig

Dicky Betts

After a side of new songs ( including "Melissa"), the rest of Eat A Peach pays tribute to Duane with live cuts ( including the 33 minute "Mountain Jam"), tracks recorded with Duane ( like "Blue Sky") and a solo acoustic instrumental Duane recorded called "Little Martha".

Friday, February 10, 2012

Six Degrees of Separation: Booker T and the MG's to Luther Ingram

1. Booker T and The MG's: I Want You ( She's So Heavy)

[Buy it]

In 1969, The Beatles and Booker T & The MG's had mutual fan clubs. John Lennon called the Stax band "Book a Table and the Maitre D's" and, in 1970,  The MG's covered the entire Abbey Road album.

2. Bill Withers: Do It Good

[Buy it]

In 1971,  Booker T Jones produced and played on the Bill Withers debut Just As I Am. On the short track "Do It Good", Withers tells listeners how "Mr Jones" told him to just do what he does, and do it good. The following album Still Bill included the #2 1972 single "Use Me",  a track on the Anchorman soundtrack .

3. Gene Chandler: Groovy Situation

[buy the soundtrack]

Another track on the Anchorman soundtrack was the million selling single "Groovy Situation" from 1970. "Groovy Situation" was originally recorded by an R&B duo The "Duke of Earl" discovered, Mel and Tim.

4. Mel and Tim : Starting All Over Again

[Buy it]

Best known for 1969's  "Backfield in Motion"Cousins Mel Hardin and Tim McPherson scored a Top 20 in 1972 with "Starting All Over Again". That was a the year they performed at Wattstax,a concert held to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the Watts riots. Other performers included The Bar-Kays, Issac Hayes and The Staple Singers.

5. The Staple Singers: We The People

[Buy the album]

The Staple Singers performed "We The People" at Wattstax as well as "Respect Yourself, a 1971Top 20 pop hit written by Stax Records singer Luther Ingram and songwriter Mack Rice. Frustrated with the world, Ingram told Rice "black folk need to learn to respect themselves."

6. Luther Ingram : If Lovin You Is Wrong (I Don't Want To Be Right)

[Buy the album]

In the Summer of  1972,  Luther Ingram topped the Billboard R&B charts  ( and hit #3 on the pop charts) with "If Loving You is Wrong ( I Don't Want To Be Right)". He sold nearly 4 million copies of this song about an adulterous affair. Millie Jackson covered the song in our last Six Degrees.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

40 Years Ago This Month: Todd Rundgren's Something/Anything

[Buy the album]

Todd Rundgren's Something/Anything, released in February of 1972, is a generous double album full of melodies so sweet 4 out of 5 dentists suggest you brush heavilly after listening. On the first three sides, labelled "A Bouquet of Ear Catching Melodies", "The Cerebral Side"  and "The Kid Gets Heavy", Todd is playing all the instruments: guitars, bass, keyboards, drums and of course the instrument he mastered most...the studio itself.  The fourth side, called "Baby Needs a New Pair of Snakeskin Boots", is a live in-studio recording featuring a full band.

First, the sweet stuff:

The first side is full of sweet pop songs, including album opener "I Saw The Light" which, now that it's been mentioned a thousand times, does sound a bit like a good Carole King song. "It wouldn't Have Made Any Difference" and "Cold Morning Light" are both songs from a sweet boy who has apparently lost his dream girl. The entire album teems with sugary pop tunes, something Rundgren admits came so easily to him he got bored writing them.

"As soon as something becomes automatic," he told Rolling Stone's Cameron Crowe in 1978, "like the pop formula of Something/Anything?, I don’t consider it creative anymore. You’ve heard of crossover artists — I like to think of myself as a double-crossover artist.”

Still Todd could hardly argue with success. His Nazz era tune "Hello It's Me" hit the Top 5 in 1973, leading to this bizarre appearance on The Midnight Special.

Something/Anything? features more challenging tunes as well. Like all of Side Two's "Cerebral Side". For those who play the "Turn That Flawed Double LP Into a Single Great LP "game, these are the tracks that are most endangered. But you don't want to lose the playful "Intro".

As Todd told Creem Magazine's Ben Edmonds in 1972, Something/Anything? is a record about more than four discs of studio wizardry and a true star's songwriting skills:

"Something/Anything? is a record of experience, but the thing is that I'm bringing the experience into a really specific focus, and the experience is the whole thing that's creating the experience. It's not only a record about the experience, it's a record about recording the experience."

So along with the power pop classic "Couldn't I Just Tell You" you get flubbed count-ins and band members cracking up, all leading to our deep cut "You Left Me Sore" which, yes, could be about venereal disease. Or not.

So my Great Something /Anything? single disc album goes like this:

Side A

1. I Saw The Light
2. It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference
3. Wolfman Jack
4. Cold Morning Light
5. Intro
6. Black Maria

Side B

7. One More Day (No More)
8. Couldn't I Just Tell You
9. Hello It's Me
10. Some Folks Is Even Whiter Than Me
11. You Left Me Sore
12. Slut

What's yours?

For a one hour radio show Todd made to promote Something/Anything? visit Willards Wormholes

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

One of Paul McCartney's Kisses on the Bottom

[Buy Paul's album]

[Buy the Sam Cooke album]

With covers of such standards as "Bye Bye Blackbird", "It's Only A Paper Moon" and Fats Waller's "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter", Paul McCartney's new album Kisses On The Bottom may appear to be slipping into the Songbook snare that swallowed up Rod Stewart. After all, McCartney, who turns 70 this year,  has already paid tribute to the music he grew up hearing his father play by writing songs like "Your Mother Should Know" , "When I'm 64" and "Baby's Request" (from 1980's Back To The Egg)

Regardless, there is at least one surprising choice on the album and it's not "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive" .

It's a cover of the 1949 Charles Brown hit "Get Yourself Another Fool", also recorded by Sam Cooke in February 1963 for his bluesy cigarette and coffee classic Night Beat.

McCartney's old bandmate Billy Preston plays organ on this cut (Ray Johnson is the pianist), but my guess is Sir Paul picked this song at the urging of Diana Krall whose band backs up McCartney. Krall's husband, Elvis Costello, recorded the song in 1984 with The Attractions. It can be found on his Out of Our Idiot collection.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Five Mean Years of The Doors

[buy the debut album]

"Interviews are good but...critical essays are really where it's at."
-Jim Morrison, 1967

Longtime Rolling Stone writer Greil Marcus really takes this quote to the extreme, using Doors songs as launching pads for essays that bring up pop artist Richard Hamilton, Thomas Pynchon, Charles Manson, Mildred Pierce, Elvis Presley, Harvey Keitel and Allan Moyle's Pump Up The Volume among many others. Marcus has listened not just to the albums ( dismissing both Waiting for the Sun and Soft Parade as all but unworthy of attention), and seen the Oliver Stone movie ( which he admires)  but he's also studied numerous bootlegs. Read The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years [buy it] for the description of Morrison trying to find the willpower to get through "The End" before a heckling Queens,NY crowd in 1968. A year in, and you just knew this band wasn't going to end well.

One curious personal note: The first place I ever saw Talking Heads perform is the last place The Doors played: The Warehouse in New Orleans. Some folks are making a documentary about the least glamorous music club in the US
P.S.The BigO Audio archive has recently posted a few Doors bootleg cuts here. One called "Jimbo's Blues" is a spectacular set of live songs from 1970.

Monday, February 6, 2012

40 Years Ago Today: John Lee Hooker Jams With Rock Stars

[Get on the bus]

Blues master John Lee Hooker hosts a bit of a blues and rock summit on Never Get Out Of These Blues Alive, recorded with Elvin Bishop, Steve Miller, Charles Musselwhite and Van Morrison. Morrison and Hooker trade growling lines on the ten minute title track but it is Hooker's creepy cover of Van the Man's "T.B. Sheets" that is the real standout track.

Back in 1967, when Morrison originally recorded this song  about visiting a young girl dying of tuberculosis, Van broke down in tears and cancelled the rest of the day's session. Which reminds me that Hooker recorded this solid blues album in just two days.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

On Mardi Gras Day In N'Awlins, Da Best show Ain't On Da Floats

[Buy Some uh Dat Mardi Gras]

Every Year for Carnival Time, We make a new suit,

Red yellow green, purple or blue, We make a new suit,

We all try to make ours, as best as we could,

So when we out at Carnival, We be looking good,

Every Year for Carnival Time, We make a new suit,

Red yellow green, purple or blue, We make a new suit,

We got rhinestones on our suit, that shines like diamonds and stars,

Got to be sure that we 're together, cause we're sold on Mardi Gras, oh yall!

Every Year for Carnival Time, We make a new suit,

Red yellow green, purple or blue, We make a new suit,

Every Year for Carnival Time, We make a new suit,

Red yellow green, purple or blue, We make a new suit,

We got feathers, on our crowns, that stand a'bout eight feet high,

In every color, of the rainbow, We're beautiful , I ain't lying, oh yall!

Every Year for Carnival Time, We make a new suit,

We make a new suit

40 Years Ago This Month: The Sweet Release "Poppa Joe"

[Buy Something Sweet]

Before Sweet  ( nee The Sweetshop, then The Sweet) wrote their own hits, UK songwriters Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman ( who already made  this 1001Songs post ) helped them recruit teeny bopper bubblegum fans with songs like "Co Co", "Little Willy" and this mindless nugget "Poppa Joe".

"Poppa Joe" is basically a re-write of The Sweet's 1971 UK #2 hit "Co Co". It even includes the same cheesy Caribbean steel drums... and inane lyrics like :

   Poppa Rumbo Rumbo
   Hey Poppa Joe Coconut
   Hey Poppa Joe Hey Poppa Joe

Nevertheless "Poppa Joe" soared to number 11 in the UK and topped the chart in eight different countries.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Mardi Gras in Central Lock Up (1984)

[Buy Dis Here]

The krewes are already cruising the streets of New Orleans for Mardi Gras. In 1984,when I apparently considered myself a wry humorist, I wrote the following article for The Tulane Hullabaloo's Arcade.

Once again Mardi Gras will be celebrated in New Orleans! All of those rumors about the big Spring fete being moved to Sherman Oaks, California have finally been quashed. And this makes a party hearty fellow like me very happy and very eager. So when the Arcade asked me to write about my experiences last year I did a happy jig and agreed.

I was rather brutally awakened that morn, on a day known to many as Shrove Tuesday and to others as a bit of a Fat Tuesday. It was 5:30 AM, an ungodly hour for anyone to be up, and as my senses slowly rambled back to me, I realized I was in a place called Central Lock-Up. To this day I know not why I awoke that glorious morning in jail, but I'm almost certain it had to do with a brief conversation I had with a man named Charlton Heston. Chuck was once again riding a chariot but this time in the role of Bacchus. No sooner had I rebuked Mr Heston for not having made a good movie since "Planet of the Apes" (I mean "Earthquake " and "Airport 1975" had their moments) when a crashing blow came down upon my billy clubbed head.

A few hours later I found myself regaining consciousness to the fungal fumes of a hobo named Skeeter, who played Mardi Gras tunes all night on his guitar. We inmates sang along to Professor Longhair's "Mardi Gras in New Orleans", The Hawkettes' "Mardi Gras Mambo" and a rousing rendition of Al Johnson's "Carnival Time". I did a solo whistle of "Second Line" that almost brought a few of the guys to tears. It was the best night I'd had in jail since Christmas.

But it was all too good to last. That morning the guards shoved me down a hall to get booked. Helplessly I explained I didn't want any books, that I didn't feel like reading, and that I hadn't even figured out where the Howard Tilton Memorial Library sat on the Tulane campus*. An officer told me to shut my face and handed me a "Court Summons" which I tossed in the trash as I walked out of Orleans Parish Prison.

Ah! Mardi Gras. You could smell the beer, the debauchery and the vomit in the streets. At Happy's Liquor Store ( Get yer drunk on! Get Happy's) I picked up a pint of Mister J. Daniels and thought about the songs we sang the night before and one line in particular: "If you come to New Orleans/You've got to meet the Zulu King". I headed to Eads Plaza where I was arrested for intoxication and tossed back in jail.

Night fell by the time I got out. The trucks were racing down St Charles. Here was a parade I understood. No artistry really. Just unadulterated greed. I always cheer wildly for the trucks, especially for the orange public service vehicles that drive by measuring tree branches. I tossed a few pebbles into the street. Those kids will dive at anything that hits the ground on Fat Tuesday! I discovered I liked throwing stuff so I hopped on the next truck and whipped entire bags of purple beads at people. That's about the time a crashing blow fells upon my head.

So that night while King Rex and Mrs Rex danced together with all the little Rexettes inside Municipal Auditorium, I slept like a baby. In my own little dreamland. A place I like to call Central Lock Up.

*This sentence is dedicated to my old roommate, Micah, who specialized in puns so bad that they almost became funny.Almost.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Nick Rhodes ( Duran Duran) Picks Top 10 ( 1981)

Duran Duran keyboardist Nick Rhodes made this list for the April 2nd, 1981 issue of Smash Hits weeks before the release of the band's debut album. This list is courtesy of Like Punk Never Happened 

1. Talking Heads : Remain in Light - my favourite album; I especially like "The Overload" and all the rhythm tracks.
2. David Bowie "Win" ( from Young Americans)- With the Station to Station and Heroes albums coming close behind. I also like "My Death" from a bootleg as well.
3. Brian Eno: "R.A.F" ( B-side to "King's Lead Hat") -  How did I narrow down the Eno tracks to this one ? Probably because I like the sounds of it - and Snatch are on it too!
4. Yellow Magic Orchestra: "Nice Age" - A great pop song!
5. Roxy Music: "Sentimental Fool" (from Siren)- One of the hardest decisions of my life, but "In Every Dream Home a Heartache" is still my favourite title.
6. Giorgio Moroder: "The Chase" ( from Midnight Express soundtrack) - Love the drum sound and the sequencer.
7. Joel Grey: " Mein Herr" - From the soundtrack to "Cabaret". Makes a change from the rest of raucous rabble; reminds me of the bit in the film.
8. Marianne Faithful: "The Ballad of Lucy Jordan"  - The best track on a Great Forgotten Album of Our Time.( Broken English, released two years earlier)
9. Siouxsie and the Banshees: "Israel" - One of their many classic singles. Great guitar sound.
10. Sparks: "Tryouts for the Human Race" ( from No 1 in Heaven) : Always had a soft spot for Sparks and they just managed to edge out Peter Gabriel, Grace Jones, Syd Barrett, Lou Reed, Kate Bush, The  Doors and Kraftwerk.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Slice Of 40 Year Old Cheese: Paco Paco - "Taka Takata" (1972)

A new 1001Songs series that delivers thick slices of 40 year old cheese.

A handsome singer known in some corners as "The King of Rumba", Paco Paco had a Top 40 Dutch  hit with "Taka Takata" in the Summer of 1972. The song was also popular in the USSR and on a recent car trip with my kids.

What is "Taka Takata" about? According to the Yahoo translation service Babel Fish, it's a celebration of summertime on the beach:

how we like the summer In order to rise to us early To go to the beach single to bathe to us calm And if we do not go single we go with all the friendly We like to see many boats, to see much contented people And to see the sentadita viejecita in its door

Among the many covers ( including one from Paul "Love Is Blue" Mauriat) is this sped up version from French singing star Marian Conde. You won't find choreography like this on TV anymore, and that IS a shame.