Saturday, March 31, 2012

Deep Cuts: Pictures of Home


For all those hours we've spent trying to dissect lyrics and admiring musicality, sometimes we just want our music to be big and stupid. With Machine Head ( released March 31, 1972), Deep Purple is all riffs, banal lyrics and instruments turned up to 11. Which is about the age you need to let yourself feel to really enjoy it.

The album kicks off with "Highway Star" which , to me at least, signifies their ambition to finally conquer the United States. After all nobody in the UK often uses the word "highway". Like T-Rex's "Jeepster" and Alice Cooper's "Under My Wheels",the rumbling "Highway Star" interweaves cars and girls to the degree they might as well be the same thing: "Nobody gonna take my car/I'm gonna race it to the ground/Nobody gonna beat my car/It's gonna break the speed of sound" Then about two minutes in, keyboardist Jon Lord plays a little Bach-esque solo ( picture Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap playing his lovely "Mach" number on piano, "Lick My Love Pump").

This monster album also contains "Smoke On The Water" ( Number 4 on Total Guitar Magazine's Greatest Guitar Riffs Ever), the hilarious sci-fi themed "Space Truckin"(We had a lot of luck on Venus/We always have a ball on Mars) and , surprisingly the first single, "Never Before", for which Deep Purple made a promo video.

But my deep cut choice is Track 3 , the driving "Pictures Of Home". Recording in Switzerland, Ian Gillian was apparently not just homesick ( and recovering from hepatitis) but feeling paranoid when he wrote the lyrics."I'm alone here/ With emptiness, eagles and snow/ Unfriendliness chilling my body/And whispering pictures of home". As if to mirror Gilllian's unease, Lord, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore  and even bassist Roger Glover all play unsettling solos.

Machine Head reached number 1 in the United Kingdom and stayed in the top 40 for 20 weeks. It reached number 7 in the United States, remaining on the Billboard 200 for 118 weeks. Heavy metal fans can all thank Deep Purple for this big, loud and dumb album. A true classic!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Lester Bangs And The Spotlight Kid: 40 Years Ago Today


In the March 30, 1972 issue of Rolling Stone, legendary music critic Lester Bangs gave the new Captain Beefheart album, The Spotlight Kid, a rave review. Bangs said Beefheart had finally found that sweet spot where great artistry and mass appeal intersected.

He has been called everything in the past from a man wasting the clear ability to be the world's greatest white blues singer, to an impossibly complex musician who may or may not be the real avant-garde, but is certainly an elitist taste. While I have always held to the opinion that there's been nothing playing on the face of the earth as far out as Beefheart for about 3 or 4 years now, I also recognize that his former style was a bit beyond the attention span or interest of the average listener. Which is certainly not to slight mass tastes, either; after all, why should things have to be as far out as possible all the time?

Bangs singled out the single "I'm Gonna Booglarize Ya, Baby" and its B-Side "Click Clack", a train song he describes as the best thing on the album. Bangs summarizes:

There comes a time in the career of every pop musician who also happens to be a serious artist when he realizes the need for a balance between the most intensely personal type of statement and music of mass appeal. If he can strike that balance without compromising his integrity, he is probably a greater artist than even his staunchest fans previously suspected, and with any exposure at all the public would pick up immediately on the truth and beauty of what he is doing. With this album, Captain Beefheart has struck that balance with total success, and I wouldn't be surprised if he were a major star a year from now. Though you may have been a great shadow hovering over our music for half a decade now, Don, it can be said that in 1972 you've really arrived.

The Spotlight Kid was indeed Captain Beefheart's highest charting album, peaking at #131 in the Billboard Top 200. The follow-up album Clear Spot was another commercial attempt, released in October of 1972. I'll be writing about that one later this year.

Alice Cooper on the cover of the March 30, 1972 issue of Rolling Stone

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Forgotten Funk from 1972


Southern fried stone cold afro-funksters from Louisiana pay respect to The Godfather of Soul on this cut. The whole album is full of sizzling, greasy funk.


From Atlanta G-A comes the hot funk of Black Heat, another band featuring so many musicians ( Hammond Organ, Congas, Harmonica, horn section) you have to wonder if anybody got paid enough to buy themselves a fried chicken lunch. True phonksters say this is a must have.


Between eight and eleven West Indian expats gathered together in the UK to record this funky/psychedelic/jazz/rootsy LP featuring "Bra", a song sampled by both Grandmaster Flash and De La Soul. The LP also includes "The Message" which went Top 40 in the US R+B charts and led to a tour with Al Green.


These Long Island funksters moved to Paris where they tore up the scene and drew inspiration from their biggest fans, North African immigrants. The album didn't hit stateside until 1976 when disco ruled the airwaves and record stacks. Decouvrez The Lafayette Afro Rock Band! ( Their 1974 cut "Hihache" has been sampled by everybody from Biz Markie to Wu Tang Clan)


This East L.A. latin rock band hits a funky Meters tipped groove on "Almendra". A shame they were one of a handful of Santana inspired bands who had one of those "one and done" musical careers.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

40 Years Ago Today: A Hunk, A Hunk Of Burning Love


On this day in 1972, Elvis Presley recorded his final Top Ten hit "Burning Love". The song would rise all the way to #2 before getting blocked from the top spot by "My Ding A Ling", an egregious novelty hit by another rock n roll veteran Chuck Berry. (And yet you can buy the song on Elvis's 30#1 Hits collection.

Presley reportedly did not care for the song which was first recorded by Arthur "You Better Move On" Alexander in 1971.

The song was written by Nashville recluse Dennis Linde whose 1973 version sounds like something John Fogerty might have put out in the mid 80's. Linde played guitar on the Elvis single and alos wrote "Goodbye Earl" for the Dixie Chicks.

Monday, March 26, 2012

40 Years Ago Today: Mott The Hoople Break Up ( Or Do They?)

[Purchase Brain Capers]

It happens more often than we'd like to remember. Great bands end not with a bang but with a whimper. And so it would have been for Mott The Hoople. On March 26, 1972 Ian Hunter and the boys decided to call it quits. Had it not been for David Bowie, Mott's last album would have been Brain Capers ( a hard rocking effort that kicks off with  "Death May Be Your Santa Claus") and their last single would have been their cover of Danny Whitten and Neil Young's "Downtown" ( aka "C'mon Baby Let's Go Downtown") which features the lead vocals of not Ian Hunter but Mick Ralphs.

It was, of course, a huge flop! But by then, so was Mott The Hoople. They rocked as hard as ever but that didn't translate in ticket or record sales. They were actually losing money on tour. In Zurich they landed a gig at a club that was once a huge gas holder As Ian Hunter remarked "If this is fame, then forget it."

When they returned to England the band members set off in their own directions with Overend Watts calling up David Bowie to see if he needed a bassist. Bowie, who had once offered Mott "Suffragette City", got the band together and played them a new song he'd written. That song was "All The Young Dudes" and it would not only revive Mott's career but would make them one of the biggest rock n roll acts in the mid-70's.

I'll post a whole lot more on  Mott The Hoople  on September 8, the 40th anniversary of All The Young Dudes.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

40 Years Ago Today : Kinks Kronikles


      Like a lot of Americans when I thought of The Kinks I thought of "You Really Got Me", "All Day And All Of The Night" and "Lola" and not about a hell of a lot more. I was familiar with the One For The Road live album and Give The People What They Want but, added together, I wasn't getting much more than the three chord anthem side of this band. And then, in college, somebody lent me The Kink Kronikles, a bargain priced ( $5.99) double album compilation  of what at least one man, music critic John Mendelsohn, considered to be some of the best songs The Kinks recorded between 1966 and 1970. And I've been a huge fan ever since.

  Somebody with a critical ear really needed to have done a double album like this for The Beach Boys (1967-1973) but that's a topic for another post. ( What songs would I put on a Beach Boys Kronikles?)

   Of course you can take issue with some of Mendelsohn's choices. Including only the title cut from Village Green Preservation Society probably delayed my discovering my favorite Kinks album by at least two years. From Face to Face, of course you should pick "Sunny Afternoon" . I can understand "Fancy".  But "Holiday in Waikiki" over "House in the Country" or "Too Much on My Mind"? That's nuts.

  Still Kinks Kronikles, released March 25, 1972 and compiled without the assistance of The Kinks who left Reprise for RCA,  is a generous treasure chest full of gems: singles that made no impact in the US ( "Autumn Almanac", "Days") and glorious B sides ( "She's Got Everything", "Mindless Child of Motherhood").

Robert Christgau gives the compilation an A and Rolling Stone ranked the album #231 on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Friday, March 23, 2012

40 Years Ago This Month : Alone Again ( Naturally)

The Irish son of a butcher, Gilbert O'Sullivan achieved international fame with "Alone Again ( Naturally)". The single, released in March of 1972, had a six week run at the top of the Billboard charts that was interrupted for one week by Looking Glass's "Brandy (You're A Fine Girl)". Casey Kasem's American Top 40 ranks the song as the 5th most popular of the 70's.

Gilbert O Sullivan dressed as a British schoolboy

Any song that sells three million copies is going to get noticed. Dutch comedy duo Van Kooten en De Bie wrote completely new lyrics to the song, calling it "1948". Cabaret star Gerard Cox recorded the hit single which Dutch fans still consider "een monumentaal nummer."

Thursday, March 22, 2012

40 Years Ago This Month: Feedback


With only the middle aged drummer Ed Cassidy  remaining from Spirit's original line-up, Feedback should probably be considered an asterisk. Much like The Velvet Underground's Squeeze ( which only had John Cale replacement Doug Yule leading the band) or The Doors's Morrison-less Other Voices .That's the conclusion of The Rolling Stone Album Guide which gives Feedback one star out of five calling the album "not really Spirit and "not very good". The band's two visionaries had moved on. Vocalist Jay Ferguson left to front Jo Jo Gunne, taking original bassist Mark Andes. Randy California had injured himself in a horse riding accident and was too depressed to carry on.

Enter recent University of Texas law school graduate Al Staehely ( pronounced Sta-Hay-Lee) and his brother John. Imagine inheriting a band that had just recorded a classic like Twelve Dreams of Dr Sardonicus and having to follow that up. With Sardonicus producer David Briggs on board, they did the best they could and it's actually worth hearing. Check out "Darkness" and "Witch", the single "Cadillac Cowboys" and the prog-jazz instrumental "Puesta del Scam". This new line-up had the necessary chutzpah. When Cassidy left the band, the Staehely brothers toured as Spirit as long as they could. Today Al is a top entertainment lawyer.

Over time some critics have reassessed FeedbackAll Music Guide sums up Feedback this way: " Feedback is a solid performance and remarkable album which deserves its place in the Spirit catalog, and not the status of bastard son. It is a legitimate Spirit project and it is very, very good"

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

March 1972 : When The Blues Meet The Boogie

All of these albums were released in March of 1972

[Buy Smokin']

With co-founder Peter Frampton off seeking solo glory, Clem Clemson comes aboard to play some smokin' guitar on this Top Ten hit. Humble Pie is Steve Marriott's band now. He produces the album and actually collapses from nervous exhaustion during recording. The album's best known for "30 Days In The Hole" but "You're So Good To Me" is one of 1001Songs fave songs of the 70's. You can almost see The Robinson brothers of Black Crowes fame sitting together furiously taking notes.

[Buy Roadwork]

The live double disc follow-up to White Trash, Roadwork - which hit number 23 on the album charts- plays like a rock soul blues and gospel revue. Like his blues guitar playing brother Johnny, Edgar is a Texas albino with enormous talent as a keyboardist, saxophone player and vocalist. About halfway into the show Johnny comes onstage to play on Rick Derringer's "Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo" . Later in the year, Winter will release They Only Come Out At Night featuring his #1 monster hit "Frankenstein" and the #14  "Free Ride".

[Buy D and B Together]

Atlantic Records exec Jerry Wexler wasn't thrilled with Country Life, the last Delaney and Bonnie album the duo recorded, so he added a few cuts ( some, like "Comin Home" and "Groupie" dating back to 1969) and changed the running order. It's a sign of  Delaney and Bonnie's popularity among musicians that they were able to get Eric Clapton, Tina Turner and Billy Preston, among others, to play on the album. The couple divorced in 1973.

[Not Available]

Featuring both his Derek and the Dominos band mates and Delaney Bramnlett, Bobby Whitlock's self-titled debut album is full of similar whiskey drenched southern blues rock . George Harrison and Klaus Voorman also play on this, the opening track. Criminal that this is out of print.

[Buy Recall The Beginning A Journey From Eden]

The last album Steve Miller would release before hitting his commercial stride with 1973's The Joker, Recall has a brilliant second side featuring one of Miller's best songs ever -- "Journey From Eden".  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

40 Years Ago Today : Fog On The Tyne Hits #1

[Buy the album]

On March 20, 1972 the British folk/rock band Lindisfarne scooted Paul Simon out of the way to clinch the top spot on the UK album chart with Fog On The Tyne. It's a position the likable Geordies would hold for four weeks. At the time Lindisfarne were touring the US first with The Kinks...where one UK journalist was asked by a new American fan "Have you heard of Linda's Farm? They're going to be big, big, big!" Well, maybe not in the US. After The Kinks tour, they opened for Fairport Convention, then Seatrain and then Tim Buckley.

“It’s been varied as far as reception,” singer Alan Hull told Melody Maker. “Take Cleveland, where they really freaked over us. Then take San Francisco, where we played with Buckley. We came on stage, had a blow, and the audience just sat there and stared, but I found that interesting – they weren’t baffled, they were just in a state of having to listen. We know we’ve got to sow the seeds, and we know we’ve got to put up with this.”


1. Lindisfarne (488)
2. Slade (361)
3. T Rex (322)
4. Neil Reid (285)
5. Chicory Tip (247)
6. New Seekers (238)
7. Colin Blunstone (216)
8. Faces (202)
9. Olivia Newton-John (189)
10. Labi Siffre (130)
11. Rod Stewart (125)
12. Wings (109)
13. Middle of the Road (85)
14. New World (79)
15. Rock 'n' Roll Allstars (64)
16. Badfinger (47)
17. Sweet (47)
18. Tony Christie (45)
19. David Bowie (42)
20. America (41)

It's been often said that Lindisfarne were to the Northeast city of Newcastle as The Beatles were to Liverpool. They heyday wouldn't last much longer and the band faced members leaving and lower album sales. In 1995 Alan Hull passed away at the age of 50. Last month a panel approved a memorial plaque that will be erected at city hall to honor Hull who performed more than 150 concerts there.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Top 5 "Wrecking Crew" Tunes

[Buy The Book]

Kent Hartman has pulled back the curtain to reveal the great session musicians who really played on many of our favorite hits. The Wrecking Crew was a group of incredibly talented artists who played on records by The Beach Boys, The Mamas and The Papas, The Monkees, The Grass Roots, Sonny And Cher and Paul Revere and The Raiders.

The Wrecking Crew at a Phil Spector session

Among them: Glen Campbell, Leon Russell, drummer Hal Blaine, and bassist Carol Kaye. In The Wrecking Crew Hartman tells the true stories behind the great songs ( Sonny wrote the lyrics to "I Got You Babe" on a pizza carton) and celebrates the unheralded musicians who taught a generation how to rock and roll.

Carol Kaye ( in 1974)

Kent has been kind enough to send me a list of Top 5 Fave Wrecking Crew Tunes:

"Bridge Over Troubled Water" - Simon & Garfunkel - 1970

The biggest hit of their career and one of the best-selling pop hits of all time. Listen toward the end of the song for the crashing sounds. That's Wrecking Crew drummer Hal Blaine on his hands and knees in the studio slamming tire chains on a cement floor.

"Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)" - The First Edition - 1968

You may not know it, but that's Kenny Rogers singing the lead vocals. Yes, that Kenny Rogers! And the Wrecking Crew are playing all the instruments. Note Wrecking Crewer Mike Deasy's spacey guitar stylings.

"Mr. Tambourine Man" - The Byrds - 1965

Only one Byrd played on this, the band's first single. It went straight to number one with Roger McGuinn playing his twelve-string Rickenbacker and the Wrecking Crew playing everything else. Four out of five Byrds weren't very happy that day.

"Wichita Lineman" - Glen Campbell - 1968

Most folks don't know it, but the Rhinestone Cowboy actually got his start as an out-of-this world session guitarist in the Wrecking Crew. And when it came time to cut his own singles? You guessed it---Campbell hired all of his pals from the Crew to play right along side him.

"Good Vibrations" - The Beach Boys - 1966

At the risk of bursting a whole lot of balloons, it should be noted that, instrument-wise, there isn't a Beach Boy on this song. Or on virtually any of their other hit records. Once again, it's all the Wrecking Crew.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The New Beach Boys : 40 Years Ago Today

[Buy "So Tough"]

When the Beach Boys took the stage at State University Plaza in Albany on March 16th 1972, you couldn't blame the crowd for looking confused. The Boys had invited two members of the South African band The Flames to join them on tour and record.

Ricky Fataar ( third from the right in the photo above) was there to drum in the place of Dennis Wilson who accidentally injured his hand when he put it through a glass door. Blondie Chaplin (second from the left), replacing Bruce Johnson, joined to add vocal harmonies and play guitar. Back in 1970 they recorded an album for The Beach Boys label Brother Records. You can hear a sample of their Beatlesque tunes here via The Rising Storm.

After a series of warm-up concerts for a Summer tour of Europe, Chaplin and Fataar went into the studio for ten days in April with the rest of The Beach Boys to record Carl And The Passions - "So Tough" which  included some old Flame tunes like "Here She Comes" and "Hold On Dear Brother". The two stuck around for Holland, with Blondie singing lead on the great "Sail On Sailor" and "Funky Pretty". They also played on The Beach Boys In Concert.

Fataar may be best known for playing the George Harrison-ish member of The Rutles, Stig O'Hara. Blondie Chaplin has toured as a backing vocalist and guitarist with The Band and The Rolling Stones.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Here's How You Give Away a Grammy: 40 Years Ago Today

40 years ago today, on March 15, 1972, The Fifth Dimension sang songs from artists nominated for Best Pop Vocal Perfomance by a Duo Or Group. And the winner'll just have to watch to find out.

This was a big night for Carole King and Tapestry. Best New Artist was Carly Simon. James Taylor won Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male. Simon and Taylor got married in November.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Busiest Beatle : 40 Years Ago This Week

[Get A Blast From Your Past]

This week, 40 years ago,  Ringo released  "Back Off Boogaloo". The George Harrison produced single would be a Top Ten Hit in both the US and UK. Ringo says he wrote the song after having dinner with Marc Bolan of T. Rex. Apparently Bolan used the word "boogaloo" over and over again. The promotional video featured Ringo befriending Frankenstein.

On March 18th, Ringo was at London's Wembley Empire Pool filming the T.Rex concert for his documentary Born To Boogie. The playful film intercuts sketches and poetry from Marc Bolan with concert footage and jam sessions including a version of "Children Of The Revolution" with Elton John on piano and Ringo on drums. You can see Ringo and Marc's friendship at work in this series of outtakes.

Here's a recent clip of  Ringo talking about his friendship with Marc and how they made the movie.

Here's a few clips from the movie. Some people compared it to Magical Mystery Tour. The mouse was Ringo. Born To Boogie hit theatres in December of '72. You can see the entire film on YouTube. In 1972, T.Rex was selling 100,000 records a day if you can believe Wikipedia.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Southern Fried Country Soul Grab Bag

To mark the crazy reality show that is the Republican presidential contest heading into the Deep Southern states of Alabama and Mississippi this week, enjoy this grab bag of 1972's best Southern-fried country soul.

[Buy It]

Louisiana native Joe Simon followed up 1971's "Drowning In The Sea of Love" with his million selling #1 R and B hit "The Power Of Love".

[Buye Some Bettye]

Another Louisiana native, Bettye Swann recorded a series of great singles in the early 70's, including this classic, originally recorded by Etta James for Tell Mama.

[Buy It]

The title track from Mississippi native Otis Clay's incredible 1972 album recorded for the same label that made Al Green a star. Brinsley Schwarz covered this nugget on their New Favourites album

[Buy It]

Before Alabama native Candi Staton scored a huge disco-era hit with "Young Hearts Run Free", she showed us her bluesy side on a self-titled album  recorded in Muscle Shoals.

[Buy It]

Mississippi born Ernie Hines recorded his 1972 album Electrified with both The Bar-Kays and The MGs. This amazing album includes  the title track as well as the anthemic "Our Generation"

Sunday, March 11, 2012

40 Years Ago Today " Without You " is Number One

[Buy Nilsson Schmilsson]

On March 11, 1972 Harry Nilsson's "Without You" ended its four week run at number one in the US and began its five week run at the top of UK charts.

Credit booze. Really. Nilsson has been up all night drinking and listening to albums.
He told the story to Dick Clark:

"After sobering up the next day, I said, 'What was that Lennon tune we were listening to last night?' We went though a bunch of (Beatles) albums and couldn't find it. Finally I said "No! It wasn't The Beatles, it was another group. It was Grapefruit or something "

Actually it was Badfinger. The album was 1970's No Dice.

Although the demo is a bit rough ( and therefore incredibly revealing) Harry knew he had something special. With the help of producer Richard Perry, Nilsson went after a more epic sound--one that showed off his incredible voice and his incredible range."It was a different record for its time. It was a big ballad with a heavy backbeat, and although many artists have cut songs like it since, no one was doing it then.--Richard Perry
Gary Wright of Spooky Tooth plays piano. Klaus Voorman is on bass. The single was the biggest hit of the year. Period. It sold millions of copies and earned Nilsson a Grammy Award. Paul McCartney called it  "the killer song of all time."

The sad footnote: both of the writers behind the lyrics "I can't live/ If living is without you" committed suicide by hanging themselves. Pete Ham in 1975 and Tom Evans in 1983.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Thick As a Brick : 40 Years Ago Today

[Get Thick]

I've already heard Americans give all sorts of explanations for its title, Thick As A Brick. That's a common British slang expression. It means someone's as intelligent as a bunch of crap.
~Ian Anderson

Ian Anderson was a little pissed off about the way critics and fans called Aqualung a concept album. While it's true that quite a few songs mention religion in one way or another Anderson says, really, it was just a bunch of songs.

And by the way, stop calling him Jethro.

As Anderson says in an interview on the remastered CD:

The first things about Thick As A Brick was "let's come up with something which is the mother of all concept albums and really is a mind boggler in terms of what was then relatively complex music and also lyrically was complex, confusing and above all a bit of a spoof."

It was quite deliberately, but in a nice way, tongue in cheek and meant to send up ourselves, the music critics and the audience but not necessarily in that order. But it was meant in a nice way. This was the time of "Monty Pythons Flying Circus" and a very British kind of a humor which was not terribly well understood by the Japanese and the Americans when we finally went out to perform Thick as A Brick in concert but they sat politely if a little confused.

So what is the concept? It begins with the silly idea that a 12 year old boy named Gerald Bostock wrote the lyrics...despite the very Andersonish lines:

The Poet and the painter casting shadows on the water --
as the sun plays on the infantry returning from the sea.
The do-er and the thinker: no allowance for the other --
as the failing light illuminates the mercenary's creed.

The cover--complete with thoroughly written and thoroughly ridiculous newspaper articles--actually took longer to produce than the album itself.
Critics probably didn't know what to make of Thick As A Brick at first. The first Rolling Stone review praised the album :
     Whether or not Thick As A Brick is an isolated experiment, it is nice to know that someone in rock has ambitions beyond the four or five minute conventional track, and has the intelligence to carry out his intentions, in all their intricacy, with considerable grace. 

But time has not been kind to the album. The Rolling Stone Record Guide called Thick As A Brick "virually unlistenable". It truly is a thick album. The listener has to tramp through this bungled jungle of lyrics and musical ideas, drum solos and breathy flute solos and the same acoustic guitar refrain over and over again. Make no mistake: Jethro Tull worked very hard on this spoof...but if Thick As a Brick is a joke, it's really not that funny or one you want to hear over and over again.


Ian Anderson is not only touring Thick As A Brick this year, he has recorded Thick As A Brick 2!
As he told Billboard Magazine, he had a conversation with former Gentle Giant frontman Derek Shulman:

At some point, probably late in 2010, one of us said, 'I wonder what Gerald Bostock -- the little kid on the (original) album cover who supposedly wrote the lyrics -- would be like today?' " Anderson recalls. "That caught my attention -- 'Yeah, I wonder...' So in January of 2011 I started to sketch out a scenario of what would be some of the many possibilities of what could have befallen him. It was not going back and saying 'What happened in 1973?' It was taking a 40-year leap into the present day -- good food for thought, and applicable to all people of my age who might be looking back at their lives and thinking, 'I wonder if I had done this and not that...' So it turned into something that amused me enough to write a concept album for the year 2012."

Friday, March 9, 2012

I Was A College Radio DJ In The 80's: Salem 66 - Pony Song

[out of print]

Salem 66 began as an all-female trio who named their band after the famous witch trials locale and Dylan's favorite highway. They released "Across the Sea" as a single in 1984. Then they added a male guitarist for their first album, 1985's A Ripping Spin. Those of us in the WTUL basement were already digging the Rainy Day compilation and LA's Opal. To our ears, this was another welcome addition to The Paisley Underground. But Judy Grunwald and Elisabeth Kaplan bristled when Spin Magazine made the comparison.

"We never were and are not a psychedelic band" Kaplan declared.
"Never will be." said the male guitarist
 Well...Grunwald admitted using the psychedelic description early on but that was before the LA scene.
 "So to use that word didn't really connote that you were best friends with (The Dream Syndicate's) Steve Wynn or something."
"It teaches you not  to label yourself ever." said drummer Susan Merriam.

Sorry we brought it up.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

40 Years Ago: Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil Return to Brazil

[Buy Transa]

In the late 1960's the Tropicalismo movement transformed popular music in Brazil by combining traditional salsa rhythms and bossa nova harmonies with electric guitars and psychedelic lyrics. The leaders of the movement, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, brought a new level of excitement to Brazilian music. But they also threatened that nation's military dictatorship. Both men were jailed for two months and then deported. They lived under grey skies, exiled in London for two and a half miserable but productive years.

Veloso and Gil in London

Finally, in early 1972, both men were allowed to return to Brazil but not before Veloso recorded Transa, a moody, mostly acoustic album. Veloso sings in both English and Portuguese and combines his tropicalismo sounds with the rock sounds he was hearing in England. Some of the longer songs are almost hypnotizing. Rolling Stone calls Transa one of the ten best album is Brazil's history.

The final track is a brief 12-bar  message to all of those British songwriters he was hearing in a song called "Nostalgia":

You sing about waking up in the morning /
But you're never up before Noon

Forty years later, Veloso has been called Brazil's "Bob Dylan, Burt Bacharach and Paul Simon all rolled into one." Gil is also still performing as well as working as a politician and environmental advocate.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Six Degrees of Separation: The Merseybeats to The Mothers

[Buy The Very Best Of The Merseybeats]

  In 1964 Beatles contemporaries The Merseybeats release "Really Mystified", a B side to the UK #13 hit "Don't Turn Around", from their self-titled album. Elvis Costello and The Attractions record a cover which appears on Imperial Bedroom reissues.

[Get Happy!!]

 Two years earlier, EC and the Attractions drop Get Happy!!, a R and B influenced album Costello with twenty peppy tracks like "Beaten To The Punch". Costello wrote all but two of the tracks. "I Stand Accused" was another Merseybeats cover.

[Get Her Very Best]

The other Get Happy!! cover was the Van McCoy written "Getting Might Crowded", a Top 30 UK hit in 1965  for Betty Everett . Although she recorded the original version of "You're No Good" ( which Linda Ronstadt took to Number One in 1975), her greatest hit was "The Shoop Shoop Song ( It's In His Kiss)"

[Get Merry]

Merry Clayton, best known for her vocals on The Rolling Stones song "Gimme Shelter" but who also sings on Joe Cocker's "Feelin' Alright", Neil Young's first album  and Lynyrd Skynrd's "Sweet Home Alabama", was the first to record "The Shoop Shoop Song". In 1971 she released two albums. Merry Clayton has this Neil Young cover.

5.Little Feat "Dixie Chicken"

[Get It]

Merry's brother, Sam Clayton has been  a percussionist and vocalist with Little Feat since their third album, 1973's Dixie Chicken. The album cover was designed by Neon Park aka Martin Muller.

6.The Mothers: The Orange County Lumber Truck

[Buy The Album]

Neon Park is best known for the Weasels Ripped My Flesh album cover for The Mothers Of Invention. Park combined the cover of a Man's Life magazine with an advertisement for an electric shaver. Incidentally, future Little Feat  founder Lowell George played guitar on this album.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

40 Years Ago This Week: Oh Girl

[Buy The Album]

On March 2, 1972  The Chi-Lites released "Oh Girl", their only single to top the Billboard Hot 100 charts.(  "Being In Love" is the flip side and an indication of just how good the album, A Lonely Man, is.)

  Give it up for the smooth sensitive soul man and his harmonica.

"Oh girl/I'd be in trouble if you left me now/
'Cause I don't know where to look for love/I just don't know how"

Monday, March 5, 2012

40 Years Ago This Week: Glitter

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[Give To Safe Horizon]

Born Paul Frances Gadd, the man who would become Gary Glitter reinvented himself several times (first as Paul Raven then as Paul Monday) before he invented his trademark sound. With two drummers, a guitarist who played the same lines as the sax player, and football stadium cries like "HEY!" and "C'MON C'MON" the Glitter sound took the UK by storm. Even teenage girls could barely contain themselves in front of the slightly overweight 30-something lead singer .

Glitter is the first album and it's a bit of a mixed bag. Along with the two versions of "Rock and Roll" ( Part 2 is the instrumental you still hear in stadiums and arenas), "I Didn't Know I Loved You ( Til I Saw You Rock N Roll)" and "The Famous Instigator", you get a handful of 50's covers ( Chuck Berry's "School Days", Richie Valens's "Donna") that just sort of sit there. The most recent reissues also contain "I'm The Leader of The Gang ( I Am)" of of three UK #1s Glitter recorded.

The heady days for Gary Glitter lasted just four years and have since been overshadowed by arrests for child pornography and child sex abuse. Glitter has retired from rocking and has talked about writing a book to prove his innocence.