Tuesday, July 31, 2012

40 Year Itch: A Few We Missed

The following albums were released in July of 1972.

1. John Cale The Academy In Peril


 Between John Cale's solo debut Vintage Violence and his best known solo album Paris 1919 came The Academy in Peril, a mostly instrumental album that shows off Cale's classical training. That's "Legs" Larry Smith providing the voice of the television director on the tune "Legs Larry At Television Centre". Album cover by Andy Warhol.

2. Johnny Nash I Can See Clearly Now

Along with The Harder They Come, Johnny Nash's I Can See Clearly Now, with its chart topping title track, paved the way for Bob Marley and The Wailers, Peter Tosh and other reggae acts to break into US markets in 1973. The deep track "Guava Jelly" was written by Bob Marley.

3. Argent All Together Now

Featuring the Top 5 hit "Hold Your Head Up", Argent's All Together Now is, if deep cut "Tragedy" is any indication, a mixed bag at best. More rock than prog from former Zombies keyboardist et. al.

 4.Nazareth Exercises

Roy Thomas Baker produced Scots soft rockers Nazareth's sophmore effort which sounds clean but not very memorable. Is this really the same band that would hit it big with "Love Hurts"?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Peter Murphy's All Time Top 10

From SMASH HITS JUNE 24, 1982 courtesy of Brian at Like Punk Never Happened

Peter Murphy provided this list for Smash Hits around the same time the single "Spirit" had charted. The forthcoming album The Sky's Gone Out featured covers of Brian Eno ( "Third Uncle") and, as a bonus track, David Bowie ("Ziggy Stardust") which may explain why those artists show up twice on this list.

   1. DAVID BOWIE The Bewlay Brothers - The lyrics are abstract but they convey something special to me
2. SCOTT WALKER If You Go Away- A very haunting love song beautifully sung

3. JACQUES BREL My Death- The lyrics are really strange.  They're also very moving because it celebrates death (which is how I think it should be approached because it's a rebirth.
4. JOHN LENNON Working Class Hero- I just totally agree with the lyrics.
5. THE BEATLES Within You Without You- It's a great psychedelic dance and it's way ahead of its time
6. BRIAN ENO Sparrow Fall Part Three- This conveys more in its simplicity than many songs manage in all their complexity
7. PATTI SMITH Horses- It's a strong poem set perfectly to music. Patti Smith sings like she's possessed and sometimes she goes into hysterical, indecipherable sections which amaze me

8. MARC BOLAN Life's A Gas- It's really sad when you think of him not being here anymore. And this is nice to remember him by
9. DAVID BOWIE All The Madmen- "And I'd rather play here with all the madmen for I am quite content they are all as sane as me."
10. DAVID BYRNE AND BRIAN ENO The Jezebel Spirit- This is set to a recording of an exorcism. It's very interesting.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

40 Year Itch: Wind of Change

For Peter Frampton's first solo album, post Humble Pie, he managed to get guest appearances from Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, Klaus Voorman and Spooky Tooth's Mick Jones. Ringo and Klaus played with Peter on Harry Nilsson's Son of Schmilsson.

There's a cover of "Jumpin' Jack Flash" that doesn't work for me, but the rest of the album is full of very listenable, often lightweight rock'n'roll with mostly forgettable lyrics. (The unforgettable lyric for me is the title cut's  “God knows/I warn’t meant to do no cooking” just because, well, it's so bad.) But I like the album.

Four of the songs ( including "Jumpin' Jack Flash") made the Frampton Comes Alive album which famously sold more than 6 million copies in the US alone. Wind of Change was a more humble success, peaking at 177 in the Billboard album chart.   

Saturday, July 28, 2012

40 Year Itch: A Shocking Rock Act in London

It happened on July 29, 1972. The world's first shock rocker ( sorry Alice Cooper), Screaming Lord Sutch,  is arrested for jumping from a bus and touring the city with four nude women. He is charged with "insulting behavior". How very British!


Sutch, whose 1970 debut album Lord Sutch and Heavy Friends topped a 1998 BBC poll as the worst album of all time despite having Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Nicky Hopkins helping him out, is trying to drum up publicity for his London gigs.

 Here's a clip from one of those gigs, the London Rock And Roll Show. This has to be seen to be believed. In fact it has to be seen to be enjoyed. The "hearing" part isn't all that great. Tho' that might be Ritchie Blackmore playing lead guitar.

 Suffering from manic depression, Sutch committed suicide by hanging in 1999.

Friday, July 27, 2012

40 Year Itch: Wherever He Laid His Hat

In 1971, The Temptations were in turmoil. They'd already lost David Ruffin even before entering their "Psychedelic Shack" period. Then, after singing lead on the chart topping "Just My Imagination ( Running Away With Me)" in 1971, Eddie Kendricks left. Paul Williams soon followed. The remaining Temps --who had made a name for themselves with smooth ballads ( "My Girl") and pop hits ( "Ain't Too Proud To Beg") had to carry on without their best known singers. 21-year old Damon Harris and Richard Street were brought in to fill the gaps. Tho' the slick harmonic singing days weren't gone forever, the young bloods did bring something special to the studio. They brought in the street.

It all culminated with the All Directions cut "Papa Was A Rollin' Stone", a 12 minute cover of an Undisputed Truth song that barely charted the year before. A seven minute version of "Papa" hit #1 in the pop charts and scored the Temptations three Grammy Awards. But the 12 minute version is the jam. For the first 4 and a half minutes "Papa" sounds like something Issac Hayes might have done. In fact it's hard to imagine a 12 minute Temptations song before Hayes recorded s 12 minute version of "Walk On By" and a nearly 19 minute version of "By The Time I Get To Phoenix" (on 1969's  Hot Buttered Soul). But again, those first 4 minutes are all instrumental...as played by The Funk Brothers and produced by Norman Whitfield. A thudding, simple bass line repeats itself over and over again behind some wah-wah guitar. The lyrics, by Barrett Strong, tell the story of a dead man who may have fathered some kids but never raised them.

All Directions, like its #1 Billboard charting predecessor Solid Rock, is out of print. And that's a shame. The album kicks off with another cover, Edwin Starr's "Funky Music Sho' Nuff Turns Me On". It sounds strange to these ears, half live and half studio produced.

"Run Charlie Run" follows with a song about white flight that features the unfortunate chant "The niggers are comin'". Otis Williams has said the band fought "tooth and nail" not to record either "Papa" or "Charlie". Let's just say you're more likely to hear the better of those two songs in a concert.

Side Two is softer. Mostly ballads. An Issac Hayes cover ( there he is again),  "Do Your Thing" is the highlight. Hayes's own version, on the Shaft soundtrack, was 19 and a half minutes long.

The success of "Papa Was A Rollin' Stone" would lead the Temps to record more long soundtrack-like songs ( especially on Masterpiece) but even Otis says "Papa" was the last great Temptations tune. And to paraphrase a line from Animal House,  Otis is my man.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

40 Year Itch: Bang Bang Shoot 'Em Up Destiny


Shy and private, Harry Nilsson struggled with his fame. When fame came a-calling with his US/UK #1 interpretation of Badfinger's "Without You" and the Top 10 "Coconut", Nilsson's reaction was an odd one, verging on self-sabotage.He reveled in his bawdy side and displayed a sense of humor that could easily be taken the wrong way.

The obvious single, "You're Breakin' My Heart", had a lot going for it. Both Ringo and George Harrison ( as "George Harrysong") played on the cut --and so did a young Peter Frampton. The only reason it wasn't released on a 45 was the lyric: "You're breakin' my heart/You're tearin' it apart/So fuck you."

For the recording of "I'd Rather Be Dead" (than wet my bed), Nilsson and producer Richard Perry recruited a couple dozen senior citizens, liquored them up, and had them help him with the chorus. Most of the recording sessions were filmed for an unreleased documentary called Did Somebody Drop His Mouse? and this scene towards the end is the most entertaining.

Thank God for YouTube because here is the entire 40 minute doc:

"Spaceman" wound up being the single. It peaked at #23 in the Billboard charts ensuring Nilsson's fame would be short-lived and he'd remain a hero only to the rock and pop cognoscenti.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

40 Year Itch: Hustlin' Times And Ghetto Streets

This dude is bad. And he ain't just fly. He's Super Fly.

Has any album captured inner city life better than Curtis Mayfield's #1 charting soundtrack? Tho' the movie has been criticized for glorifying drug dealers, the songs on the soundtrack couldn't be more critical. In his cool falsetto Mayfield sings of  ghetto princes pushing drugs and bedding the "baddest bitches", dead and dying junkies trying to get their next fixes,and children living in one room shacks and runnin' wild in the streets. All set to gorgeous string sections, funky bass lines and a cool conga player( Master Henry Gibson). 


It was 1972 --a year after Gordon Parks's Shaft grossed $13 million on a budget of $500,000. Now his son Gordon Parks Jr hoped to recreate the Blaxploitation magic with Super Fly, the story of Youngblood Priest, a cocaine dealer trying to quit the business and go legit. 

  Part of what made Shaft a hit was the Issac Hayes soundtrack which topped the Billboard charts,  won a Grammy and featured the inescapable Oscar Winning single "Theme From Shaft".

    In a documentary on the making of Super Fly , called One Last Deal, writer Phillip Fenty says someone suggested Curtis Mayfield do their soundtrack. As a member of the Impressions and in his solo work, Mayfield had already become a reporter of life in urban America. (Think "This Is My Country").

We had a lot of ideas and Curtis was certainly on our A List but whether we could get Curtis to do it for no money and all the rest of the stuff you know was something else.

Producer Sig Shore sent Curtis the 45 page screenplay and Curtis loved it.Nate Adams, who played the dealer and supervised the wardrobe for the film, says Curtis was a natural fit.

   He has an affinity for this drug hustler scene. He went back to Chicago and he had "Pusherman" in the can. He had "Freddy's Dead" already composed. he just didn't have it as Freddy's dead you know. When he came into the equation I knew we had something .

The movie achieved cult status. But The soundtrack was an even bigger deal --out-grossing the film thanks to two million selling singles "Freddie's Dead" (#2 RandB/#4 Pop) and "Superfly" (#5 RandB/#8 Pop).

The critics heaped praise on the album. Billboard wrote "This LP is not only great but will put the Curtis Mayfield name where it belongs -- at the top." Rolling Stone's Bob Donat wrote "Superfly is not only a superior, imaginative soundtrack, but fine funky music as well and the best of Curtis Mayfield's four albums made since he left the Impressions since the "Gypsy Woman" days."

 Other R and B artists would follow Hayes's and Mayfield's lead. 1972 saw the release of Bobby Womack's Across 110th Street  soundtrack and Marvin Gaye's Trouble Man. James Brown's Black Caesar soundtrack and Willie Hutch's The Mack both came out in 1973.

But by 1979, the year Disco Godfather came out, the days of Blaxploitation films were pretty much over.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

40 year Itch: Death of a Long Haired Drummer


"Bobby had the best groove of any drummer I've ever played with." -- Rick Derringer

On July 24, 1972 24-year old Bobby Ramirez had every reason in the world to celebrate. He and his buddy Jerry LaCroix were playing in one of the hottest bands in America: LaCroix, made up of former members of Edgar Winters' White Trash. They were touring the country with the Top 20 UK prog rockers Uriah Heep, their double live album with White Trash, Roadwork,  was on its way to gold and they'd just put on a stellar show that night in Chicago.

Ramirez, LaCroix and the band manager stopped at the wrong bar to celebrate. The story is that Ramirez went to the bathroom where a man, looking at Bobby's long hair, suggested maybe he'd missed the sign on the door. The ladies room was next door. When Ramirez shot back something with attitude the man punched him, drawing blood. The bar owner tried to intervene but when he refused to call the police, Ramirez followed his attacker out of the bar. LaCroix followed too. The next thing LaCroix remembers is waking up to see Bobby bloodied up and dying in the band manager's arms. His assailant had steel tipped boots and kicked Ramirez to death.

 LaCroix says when Bobby died so did the band's spirit. White Trash broke up that summer. Here's Jerry singing "Turn On Your Lovelight" with Bobby working out on the drums especially at the 3:00 mark.

Of Ramirez's drumming skills, Derringer told Modern Drummer "When I hear the recordings of our rhythm section-Bobby, me, and bassist Randy Jo Hobbs-on Edgar's Roadwork album, it blows my mind how tight we are. I miss him even now. He was also a good human being. In the future, I know we'll be grooving together for the Lord in heaven."

Monday, July 23, 2012

40 Year Itch: And Running Like A Blue Streak

With Saint Dominic's Preview, recorded in San Francisco with a band that included former Beau Brummel Ron Elliot, , Van Morrison sounds like he's celebrating the past five years of his solo career. How else to explain the diversity? You have songs that will remind listeners of the jazz explorations and stream of conscious lyrics of Astral Weeks ("Listen To The Lion" and "Almost Independence Day"), the pop hit styling of  Moondance and His Band and Street Choir ("Redwood Tree", "Gypsy") and the kind of jazzy club sounds Van would explore in his middle age (with "I Will Be There"). It was both critically acclaimed and his highest charting album in the US (#15) until 2008's Keep It Simple broke into the Top Ten.

It remains among my favorite Van Morrison albums.

                     Montgomery Chapel, San Francisco Theological Seminary where the cover was shot.

                                                           outtake shot by Michael Maggid

The lead track "Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile)" shares the exuberance of joyful love like "Brown Eyed Girl", Van's Top Ten hit from 1967. This is a song I recently played for my nine year old daughter after shutting off the Top 40 radio. Here, I explained, everybody is in the same room and they're experiencing this moment of creativity all together and that's something you just won't hear in 90% of the songs you hear on the radio because the producer is in LA and the singer is in NYC and the music track was recorded in England and just as I was about to say they don't make music like this anymore I stopped. Not only because that's what dad's always say when they get old but because Van was scatting "Chop Chop Chop She bop". 

 Anyway, how "Jackie Wilson Said" stalled in the charts somewhere in the 60's is crazy to me. 

The epic 11-minute "Listen To The Lion", actually recorded during the Tupelo Honey sessions, begins like one of the more thoughtful songs from Moondance before it takes its listeners on a meditative musical journey not unlike something on Astral Weeks. Plus, you can always look forward to the moment Van starts growling like a lion. In that way it's almost like the "here comes the Iron Butterfly screeching" moment in "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida".

 "Redwood Tree", my pick for deep cut, could have come off Moondance. It's just classic Van. As a single this only charted at #98 in the US. Stunning. Here's the demo followed by the track.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

40 Year Itch: The Spaceball Richochet


Released in the UK on the same July day as Rod Stewart's Never A Dull Moment, T. Rex's The Slider would be the band's highest charting album in the US. It came out at the height of "T. Rex-tacy" as Rolling Stone put it.

In the UK the band had four straight #1 singles. Everybody loved Marc Bolan, the pint sized glam rocker with the curly hair. Both boys and girls. Bowie wrote "Lady Stardust" about him . Ringo Starr was following him around with a camera.  Produced by Tony Visconti, Marc Bolan  recorded most of The Slider at the honky chateau, Château d'Hérouville, on the advice of Elton John.

Bolan called "Metal Guru", one of two UK#1 singles from the album,  a festival of life song:

"I relate 'Metal Guru' to all Gods around. I believe in a God, but I have no religion. With 'Metal Guru', it's like someone special, it must be a Godhead. I thought how God would be, he'd be all alone without a telephone. I don't answer the phone any more. I have codes where people ring me at certain times."

The other #1 song from The Slider, "Telegram Sam" recycles the "Get It On ( Bang a Gong)" arrangement and introduces the world to the phrase "main man". In the UK it sold 200,000 copies in four days. Neither single did much in the US but The Slider outsold its predecessor Electric Warrior. It's a tighter album. Full of rowdy riffs.

Rolling Stone called the album "a true phenomenon". Even when you dig deep, you're getting catchy tunes.
Here's Bolan and the boys playing "Buick Mackane"

 Ringo Starr ( who is credited with shooting the album cover) shot the following moment for his T Rex documentary "Born to Boogie" when Marc and Elton jammed at Apple Studios on "Children of the Revolution".

Although that single was released in 1972 it was not on the album.


 Bolan has just five more years to live before an auto accident. How did he feel in the middle of the T Rex hurricane in the Summer of '72? Perhaps the following lyrics from "Spaceball Richochet" offer a clue:

 How can I lay/
When all I do is play/
The Spaceball Ricochet.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

40 Year Itch: Madame Onassis Got Nothing On You

                         Never gonna own a race horse 
                       Or a fast-back mid-engine Porsche

It may have been the most magical record release day of 1972. Both The Slider, T. Rex's seventh album, and Never a Dull Moment, Rod Stewart's fourth solo album, came out July 21, 1972. Rod Stewart won the week. His album went to #1 in the UK. The Slider (which I will write about tomorrow) only hit #4. Never a Dull Moment also won the NME Pop poll for best album of 1972.

Never a Dull Moment does have some great tunes but I can't help thinking Stewart is trying to recreate his classic #1 album Every Picture Tells A Story. For both albums he had The Faces back him up so the arrangements and even the songs sound familiar. Really familiar. Every Picture Tells A Story has a Temptations cover "(I Know) I'm Losing You". Never A Dull Moment has a Sam Cooke cover ("Twisting The Night Away"). Every Picture Tells A Story's Bob Dylan cover is "Tomorrow Is A Long Time". Dull Moment's is "Mama You Been On My Mind"."Italian Girls" has the same drum fills as the title cut of "Every Picture Tells A Story" and relates another MILF done him wrong story.

 The "Maggie May" of Never a Dull Moment, the  UK#1 "You Wear It Well",  shares the same arrangement and most of the same chords. It also has a short acoustic preamble: "Interludings" (not unlike "Henry's Tune" from EPTAS). By the way there's a live 1977 Rod Stewart show featuring "You Wear It Well" on the terrific ROIO blog. 

Our deep cut is "Los Paraguayos". Rod Stewart needs some of that South American sun but he can't take his teenage lover because he might get thrown in a Mexican jail.

Both Bob Christgau and Rolling Stone's Stephen Davis said Never A Dull Moment was the best of Stewart's albums so far :

 Rod Stewart and his merrie men rock on, with the image of a happy-go-lucky tippler-musician managing to spread cheer, style and common sense through miserable times. Never A Dull Moment -- I guess the title is its own best review. 

 The good reviews would not last. After a best of collection, Sing It Again Rod, Stewart released Smiler in 1974. By then critics had caught on to his "MILF adventure, Interlude, Bob Dylan cover, Sam Cooke cover" formula and called him on it.

Friday, July 20, 2012

40 Year Itch: Jefferson Airplane Grounded

What? No mp3?


By 1972 all the flowers the hippies wore in the hair or handed out to passersby had faded and gone to rot and the band that symbolized for many the flower power of the Haight-Asbury scene had also changed. Marty Balin left Jefferson Airplane after Janis Joplin's death to pursue yoga and healthier living. Drummer Spencer Dryden had been dismissed from the band. Grace Slick had nearly killed herself by crashing her car into the side of a tunnel near the Golden Gate Bridge. Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonen had found new life as Hot Tuna. Drug use and alcoholism ran rampant. It was time to "ground" Jefferson Airplane for good.

In April of 1972 Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, Joey Covington, and Papa John Creach all returned to the studio for one last album. Drummer Covington would leave during the session and be replaced by former Turtle John Barbata.

It's a better album than you might think. Rolling Stone's Lester Bangs called it "one churning vat of fury after another".He goes on to say "Some essential spark is gone, and what remains is a rote scream. But it is the most furious muzak available, and if you're really stoned it might even seem as good as the old days."

 The most remarkable thing about the album may have been its cover.which featured a "stash box" promoting "9 Fine Blends of Fragrant Weed".The inner sleeve was made up of cigars.

Jefferson Airplane performed their last concert in September of 1972 at the Winterland in San Francisco. Jefferson Starship would launch in 1974 but would never receive the same kind of acclaim.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

This Man Wants To Kill Your Music Blog

            “This could put the genie back in the bottle.”
                                                          -Vance Ikezoye, CEO Audible Magic

     Vance Ikezoye is a very smart man and he's well on his way to being a very rich man -- at the expense of people who illegally put entire movies, television shows and albums online for free download as well as those of us who briefly share single songs with the hope of giving recognition to new and old recordings that would otherwise never see the light of day.

   There's no grey area. There's no "fair use" clause. No more excuses.

    We're all pirates now. And we're about to walk the plank.

   The CEO of Audible Magic has come up with a new weapon, content-recognition software, which makes it possible to identify copyrighted material by both its audio and visual fingerprint.

  This week Audible Magic teamed up with MediaFire to prevent unauthorized sharing of video and music clips.

   In a press release released Tuesday July 17th, MediaFire co-founder Tom Langridge said in a statement that reads like it's been vetted by a dozen attorneys.

  "We have a commitment to providing secure, simple, cloud storage, backup, and collaboration services to our customers. Employing Audible Magic's best-of-class content identification technology allows us to continue to innovate while ensuring that we are going above and beyond the requirements of the law in order to better assist copyright holders in enforcing their copyright."

    Winter is coming for those who write mp3 music blogs and post songs without permission. MediaFire is most likely just the first major file sharing company to join hands with Ikezoye. 

   Well, we still have YouTube.


    Actually there's been a great deal of pressure on YouTube to use some kind of filtering system to eliminate copyrighted material as well. That could mean deleting not just clips of TV shows posted without permission but clips featuring songs. The technology to automatically delete copyrighted YouTube files isn't quite ready yet but it will be soon.

And when the day comes when you can't hear the songs we're so excited about what is the point of a music blog? And how long before there's software that will make it impossible to post pictures or quote passages from articles, books or poetry?

   The genie may be going back into the bottle but so will a lot of the magic of the Internet Age.

   photo and Ikezoye quote are from The New York Times

Dreamin' Wild : The Emerson Brothers


Big dreams can begin anywhere. Even in small farm towns like Fruitland, Washington. It was here in the 70's that two brothers, Donnie and Joe Emerson, would daydream through their after school chores in the fields. They'd hurry each other up so they could get into a 16 track recording studio their father Don Emerson Sr built for them.

" I'm dreaming basically of thousands of people hearing what we were creating. My mind was open to all kinds of things." Donnie remembers.

"I could see they had talent. " Don tells me. We're sitting in lawn chairs outside the log wood studio not far from a two-lane highway that leads through an indian reservation, over a lake and eventually to an interstate exit about 60 miles from Spokane. Don relives a conversation he had with his teenage sons 35 years ago.

I said "Well, what do you want to do?"
I says "Do you want to milk cows or something?
That's the only thing you can make money at today"
They said "We don't want to milk cows. We want to play music."
"Ok" I says.

Donnie and Joe walk into the studio with their dad. There's olive green carpet on the floor and ketchup red carpeting on the walls. In the corner sits a pile of instruments including an old moog synthesizer.

"Oh gosh Joe, " Donnie says. " I see us right now playing together in here."

"And you correcting me on my drumming." Joe adds.

Don Sr had purchased his sons the best instruments for the studio. In all, it was about a $100-thousand investment. And this was the 1970's. Then he took out a second mortgage to turn the old dairy barn into a concert venue.

"It's a vision that my dad saw --that it would be cool for all of us to enjoy together and share with other people," Donnie says.

I tell Don Sr. I didn't know of a lot of parents who would go to such lengths to support their kids's dreams.

"Oh no." Don laughs. " I don't think they would either. Personally, they probably thought I was crazy. Honestly. "

When the self-pressed album Dreamin' Wild came out in 1979,  Donnie talked Spokane's PM Magazine into coming out to the farm. There in front of the cameras, the boys showed off their skills on tractors and hauling pipes.  Joe said of his dad:"He's been supporting us you know. He's been putting his money out for us and someday it will pay off and we'll be providing for him."

It didn't work out that way. Not even the brothers' classmates bought copies of the album. Thousands wound up in cardboard boxes sitting in a closet. Don Senior doesn't like to talk about how much money he lost on the dream but the Emerson farm, once 1600 acres of fields and timber stretching far off into the distance is today just 65 acres.

"It's just the way life goes," Don says.

His son Donnie feels like he had a role in losing in the farm.

"To say I don't miss the farm and I don't mind losing it, I would be lying to you. Cuz it was a gift to be on this farm."

In most cases this is where the story would end. As a cautionary tale about reality's way of destroying a million dreams for every one that comes true. Except this story --like an album--has a Side Two. And it's all thanks to that cheesy album cover.

"I wish I still looked like that." Donnie says holding the record.

"What are you talking about?" says balding Joe. "I wish I looked like THAT!"

In 2008 an amused record collector named Jack Fleischer bought a sealed copy of Dreamin' Wild in a Spokane antique store for $5. He uploaded the song "Baby' on his music blog and word began to spread. Within years Dreamin' Wild had become a cult classic.

Today when Joe listens to the album he says he gets a sense of amazement.

"It's like wow I see it now as little genius. He's a little genius. Not just because he's my little brother but there is a sense of genius happening."

Donnie doesn't take all the credit.

"I think I was definitely a conduit in a sense. Cuz I never worked at it .They just kinda came to me . I mean songs just came like it was nuthin' to me."

Donnie stills play some of the songs in a band with his wife. They perform regular gigs at the Red Lion in Spokane. The brothers jammed on an upbeat version of "Baby" in front of me.

Light In The Attic records has now re-released Dreamin' Wild and Joe hopes the record is well received and sells. Maybe the boys can take care of their old man like they promised more than 30 years ago. Not that Donnie Sr expects to ever get paid back for what he sees as a father's duty.

"You can have all the money you want but if you don't help your kids out, it's all in vain. You have nothing to pass on." He says.

Any regrets at all I ask?

 "None whatsoever." Don Senior says. " I would do it again. It's been a lovely life."

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Birth Of 10cc

L to R: Eric Stewart, Kevin Godley, Graham Gouldman, Lol Creme

In July of 1972 British entrepreneur and recording artist Jonathan King signed songwriter extraordinaire Graham Gouldman and his friends former Mindbender Eric Stewart, Lol Creme and Kevin Godley to a long sought after record deal. The four mates had been recording together for three years,  playing mostly bubblegum tunes for Kasentz-Katz under a variety of assumed names. As the Ohio Express ( yes, impersonating the same "band" that recorded "Yummy, Yummy,Yummy"), they recorded the Billboard charting "Sausalito" in 1969 with Graham singing lead.


As Hotlegs, they had a #2 UK hit in 1970 called "Neaderthal Man" and released an album called Hotlegs Thinks School Stinks.

The album contains moments of stunning beauty like "All God's Children".


 In 1970 they recorded "Umbopo" as Doctor Father. Among other names they recorded as : Crazy Elephant, Silver Fleet, Fighter Squadron and Festival.

Obviously the band knew they could write hit songs. Gouldman had written "For Your Love" (The Yardbirds) "Bus Stop", "Look Through Any Window" (both by The Hollies) and "No Milk Today" (Herman's Hermits). And yet they found themselves backing other musicians. They played on two Neil Sedaka albums including The Tra La La Days Are Over which featured a little song called "Love Will Keep Us Together" and "Little Brother".

According to Eric Stewart a momentous decision was made where all momentous decisions are made--at a chinese restaurant:

 "We asked ourselves whether we shouldn't pool our creative talents and try to do something with the songs that each of us was working on at the time."

 In early '72, the band cut "Waterfall" and presented it to Apple Records who turned it down. Not commercial enough. Determined, the band followed it up with the doo-wop inspired "Donna", it's "Oh, Donna" a nod to The Beatles "Oh, Darling".

  "We knew it had something. We only knew of one person who was mad enough to release it, and that was Jonathan King." Stewart recalled. At the time King was a hit making entrepreneur who sold three million copies of "Hooked On a Feeling" before Blue Swede copied the ooga-chakka arrangements for their hit in 1974. King drove over to the studio and heard a hit. He signed the band and dubbed them 10cc. Why 10cc? Though some band members disagree, Gouldman and Creme say 10cc is the average about of semen ejaculated by men.

10cc would go on to great success ( and become one of my favorite bands) especially in the UK where their 1975 single "I'm Not In Love" went #1 (#2 in the US blocked from #1 in three successive weeks by Van McCoy's "The Hustle", The Eagles's "One of These Nights" and Bee Gees's "Jive Talkin'".)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

40 Year Itch : Bomb Strikes The Stones Tour

Just over six weeks after the Rolling Stones began their STP tour of North America with a full blown riot in Vancouver , a bomb placed under a ramp at the Montreal Forum explodes in one of the Rolling Stones' equipment trucks. Thirty speakers are destroyed. Replacement gear is flown in from Los Angeles.

Montreal radio stations receive no fewer than fifty calls from would-be bombers claiming responsibility, but it's never determined just who planted the dynamite, or why. History suggests its the paramilitary Quebec Liberation Front but there are also some concerns that The Hells Angels want to send Jagger a message after he blamed them for the tragedy at Altamont.

 Mick Jagger's only comment: "Why didn't that cat leave a note?"

There's another problem: more than 500 counterfeit tickets were sold to the show. It is oppressively hot for the 20,000 fans who show up at the Forum. The Montreal Gazette reporter writes "In the top galleries of The Forum the temperature must have reached 120 degrees though outside it was a cool 75." In the video below you see Jagger tossing buckets of water on the crowd. Firecrackers go off and at one point a 40 ounce bottle is tossed at the stage:

Weekend Magazine  reports:

Ninety seconds later, a bottle sailed out of the crowd and hit him on the leg. He winced...Jagger didn’t know it wasn’t aimed at him. His truck had been bombed. People were shouting. The firecrackers sounded like shots. A bottle had just hit him. He wound up the song, giving Richards his end-it look.

Later, there was a party in Jagger’s room. He looked tired and washed out. ‘Not good, man,’ he said. ‘It wasn’t good.'


Monday, July 16, 2012

40 Year Itch : When Smokey Sings ...Solo


On July 16, 1972 Smokey Robinson and the Miracle performed their last concert together in Washington DC. Robinson said  he was retiring from the Miracles to concentrate on his job as a Motown vice president.
Robinson had first told the band  that he wanted to leave in 1969 to help his wife Claudette with the kids but after the four year old song "Tears of A Clown" hit #1 in 1970, he reconsidered.

Robinson and The Miracles charted about 50 hit singles including Motown's first million selling record "Shop Around", "You've Really Got a Hold On Me", "The Tracks of My Tears", "Tears of a Clown " and "I Second That Emotion".

For the final show Smokey's wife Claudette Robinson rejoined the Miracles onstage for the first time since 1964. Waiting in the wings was Billy Griffin, a Baltimore singer who traveled with the Miracles as Smokey's understudy during the farewell tour. At the end of the concert Robinson introduced Griffin to the crowd. After the show Robinson told reporters most of all he'll miss "the fellows. Just being with them, man. We've had a gas of a time."

 The last Smokey Robinson and The Miracles studio album, Flying High Together, was also released in July of 1972. It featured the R and B top ten "We've Come Too Far To End It All" and a large number of covers that were hits for others like "Oh Girl" ( The Chi Lites), "Got To Be There" ( Michael Jackson) and "Betcha By Golly Wow" ( The Stylistics).

In 1973 Robinson was back on the radio as a solo artist. His singles "Baby That's Backatcha" hit #1 on the R and B charts in 1975. 1981's "Being With You" was an even bigger monster hit .
With Griffin, The Miracles would endure and score a #1 hit in 1976 with the synthesizer driven disco hit  "Love Machine".

Sunday, July 15, 2012

40 Year Itch: 5 Big Hits That Peaked in July 1972

1. Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose: Too Late To Turn Back Now

When I was living in Charleston, South Carolina the rumor was that a Sister Rose lived in the projects there. That might help explain why a group that scored two big hits ( The #2 "Too Late To Turn Back Now" and 1971's #3 "Treat Her Like A Lady") has a multi million lawsuit filed against Capitol Records. What isn't in dispute is how great both records sound.

2. Frederick Knight: I've Been Lonely For So Long

Although he appeared in the concert film Wattstax, Frederick Knight goes down as a one hit wonder. But what a hit. "I've Been Lonely For So Long " reached #22 on the Billboard charts and was covered by both Paul Young and Mick Jagger ( on Jagger's only "must have" solo album Wandering Spirit). Knight also produced Anita Ward's disco hit "Ring My Bell".

3. Mouth and MacNeal : How Do You Do

#1 on the Dutch charts and a gold selling single in the US (which peaked at #8), Mouth and MacNeal's "How Do You Do" is the kind of ear worm that delights the kids and eventually drives parents up the wall. Mouth was a fomer construction worker who died of a heart attack in 2004. MacNeal has taken back her real name: Sjoukje Van't Spijker.

4 Godspell Cast : Day By Day

 With Robin Lamont singing lead, this Godspell cast recording peaked at #13 on July 29, 1972. Some of the lyrics closely match a 13th Century prayer:
 May I know Thee more clearly,
Love Thee more dearly,
Follow Thee more nearly

 5 Wayne Newton: Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast

Wayne Newton was already a Las Vegas entertainer when  "Daddy Don't You Walk So Fast" peaked at #4 in July of 1972. Between 1970 and 1975 the divorce rate in the United States increased to almost 40%. Not a few of those divorces happened in Newton's adopted home state of Nevada.
Three songs hit #1 in July of 1972: Neil Diamond's "Song Sung Blue"Bill Withers's "Lean On Me" and Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Alone Again (Naturally)"

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Captain Sensible's Top Ten Fave Songs

I thought I'd break out of the "40 Year Itch" cycle and do something really revolutionary. A 30 year itch post.

Damned founder and solo artist Captain Sensible made this list for the July 8, 1982 issue of Smash Hits at about the same time his cover of the South Pacific tune "Happy Talk" topped the UK charts with the help of backing vocals by Dolly Mixture.

The list comes courtesy of Brian at Like Punk Never Happened

 1.The Electric Prunes : Get Me To The World On Time -'Cos it's cosmic. It gets me there, gov'nor.
2. Small Faces: Tin Soldier - Great pop song. Saw them at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon once; the PA went off and I could still hear Steve Marriot's voice from the back.
 3. The Damned : Love Song - Best group since The Beatles

 4. Auntie Pus : Halfway to Venezuela - Auntie is a famous pilferer. He stole me an electric kettle once.
5. Dolly Mixture : Everything And More - Love 'em. So different from the other girl groups.

6. Wire : Outdoor Miner - Thought the production was brilliant. It was non-production; they left the veneer off. Total pop.
7. Jimi Hendrix Experience : Purple Haze - Whacky wonderful chap. He really made his guitar "talk ", as they say. No-one else will ever be as good.
8. The Anti-Nowhere League: So What - Disgusting bunch of animals. They sing something abysmal. The best band The Damned ever toured with.
9. The Supremes; Reflections : Don't like the group ('Cos they're Yanks), just the noises. Showed what you could do with a bit of imagination and no synthesizers.

 10. Pink Floyd: Arnold Layne - Syd Barrett shows you don't have to sing Americanisms. He's my hero. He did exactly what he wanted.

Friday, July 13, 2012

40 Year Itch : It Flies Out Of A Dream


On July 13, 1972 UK space rockers Hawkwind were shown on the BBC's "Top of the Pops" program performing their #3 hit "Silver Machine". The band felt ill at ease with idea of miming the song on a sound stage so the BBC recorded their July 7 concert at Dunstable Civic Hall.

 As you might imagine from just watching the first few seconds of the clip, the band had a difficult time not being upstaged by their six foot tall "happily bisexual" sometimes quite nude dancer "Stacia" whose measurements according to Penthouse Magazine were 42-28-39.

 This performance would haunt her in a way: "When we made Silver Machine we attracted a Top 20 audience of filthy little boys who came along to stare at me " she told Record Mirror in 1974.

Stacia wasn't sure at the time where her dancing would lead. She told Penthouse:

 "I want to try everything. You know, if I got an acting role, I'd take it...but it could only be in a horror movie. One guy in the States said I looked like Dracula's Aunt Trixie. We all invited him to dinner and he thought we were going to beat him up."

 Stacia stayed with Hawkwind until 1975. Today she is an artist living in Ireland.

Hawkwind is still going strong. Their 27th studio album was released in April of 2012.

We'll be revisiting Hawkwind in November.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

40 Year Itch : No More Crying


 With their home becoming a hippie commune, the members of Os Novos Baianos live in a perpetual haze of marijuana smoke. Three times they had taken a shot at recording their second album --something electric, something mutant, something inspired by Jimi Hendrix. Three times it had fallen apart. 

 And then one night...

There is a knock at the door.

Band members assume it's the police.

But instead it's...

...the legendary Joao Gilberto, the father of the bossa nova.

Gilberto jams all night with the band and returns the next night for more jamming.
He becomes their mentor.

Gilberto convinces the band to take the bossa nova lessons he's given them and try recording that second album again.

Oh, and while they're in the studio, Gilberto says they should cut a version of "Brasil Pandeiro" by Assis Valente.

The album Acabou Chorare ("No More Crying"), released in 1972, will be called the greatest album of Brazilian music EVER by Rolling Stone Magazine. It is certainly one of that nation's most influential albums. Buy your copy today. Listen to the entire album here:

 By the way, this story is a gross simplification of an article I found on the Sounds And Colours website

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

40 Year Itch: Just A Sea Of Air

After singing on the first three Deep Purple albums, including the hits "Hush" and "Kentucky Woman", Rod Evans was dismissed from Deep Purple who went on to record heavier, more popular ( and more plodding)  albums. After recording a solo album he founded Captain Beyond with Edgar Winter Band drummer Bobby Caldwell and two former members of Iron Buttefly: bassist Lee Dorman and guitarist Larry "Rhino" Reinhardt. Reinhardt has played with future Allman Brothers Bandmates Dickey Betts and Berry Oakley and it was Duane Allman who convinced Capricorn Records to sign the band.

Captain Beyond performing "I Can't Feel Nothin'(Part One)", "As The Moon Speaks (To The Waves of The Sea)" and "I Can't Feel Nothin' (Part Two)"

Captain Beyond's debut, released in July of 1972, offers listeners thirty five minutes of hard rock at its most powerful and precise. Like The Moody Blues albums of the time, songs effortlessly merge into each other.

 In an interview with Classic Rock Revisited, the late "Rhino" Reinhardt ( He passed away in January) talks about the time changes in the lead off track "Dancing Madly Backwards":

“Dancing Madly Backwards” is basically a blues song if you play it in 4/4. I switched it around to 5/4. It is a twelve bar but it has an odd meter to it. I had this riff and Bobby came up with that beat and when we played it together, the song was born.

Captain Beyond is also a blueprint for all the hard rock bands that followed. Some of the apparent Captain Beyond rules I've copped from listening to the album:

1. Don't worry about the lyrics; just sing them like a man.
2. Mix up the meters.
3. Mix up the guitar hooks. No fewer than three a song.
4. Give the guitarist some room!

I don't listen to a lot of hard rock but I hear Screaming Trees in some tracks. Unfortunately Capricorn Records heard a band that could boogie like label mates The Allman Brothers. But as "Rhino" said, that's not what Captain Beyond wanted to do:

We had a big problem with the record company. We put out the first album and they were calling us a ‘Super Group.’ It was just a term being thrown around. We were like “What Super Group? What are they talking about?” After the Allman’s came out with the Fillmore Phil (Walden) came to us and said, “I want you guys to start playing that kind of music.” A year before he thought we were the best thing since sliced bread and we were one of the best things that he had ever heard. I said, “That is not what Captain Beyond is all about. We can’t change from our first album to a second album where we sound just like the Allman Brothers. You’ve already got one of those.” But that is what happened; southern rock was taking over. We had a running battle with Capricorn. We have heard from people who worked at Capricorn over the years that Phil was under reporting how many albums we were actually selling so he could make it look like we were not doing anything, thus, he wouldn’t have to spend any money to pay us. We never even got the gold album that we should have. A lot of things went wrong. After the second album, it was over.

Too bad. But Captain Beyond left us with at least one classic album. Perhaps the best hard rock album of 1972.

Captain Beyond performs "Dancing Madly (On A Sea Of Air), "Armworth" and "Myopic Void"