Wednesday, January 30, 2013

40 Year Itch : KISS Plays First Gig

On January 30th, 1973, just weeks after Ace Frehley answered an ad in Village Voice from a band called Wicked Lester seeking a lead guitarist, the newly christened Kiss played their first gig at the Popcorn Club.Three people showed up.

Inspired by Alice Cooper and the New York Dolls, the boys took to the stage wearing makeup in March of 1973. By 1974, they were Hotter Than Hell

Monday, January 28, 2013

40 Year Itch : The Caped Composer

Released in January of 1973, and written on Yes's tour of the United States, Rick Wakeman's Six Wives of Henry VII is an album of instrumentals. Each track is devoted to one of Henry VII's wives, about whom Wakeman read on long plane trips between gigs.  The album was recorded in London with members of Yes and The Strawbs and was debuted in a BBC performance on The Old Grey Whistle Test ( seen below)

The album sold 15 million copies and stands up better than most of the albums from the progressive rock era. That's despite mostly dreadful reviews that met the album.

inside cover of Six Wives

Saturday, January 26, 2013

40 Year Itch: A Star in the Face of the Sky


Released on January 26, 1973 , Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player --the #1 album that secured Elton John's rise to superstardom--also carries a whiff of mediocrity about it. Even Elton has dismissed it. "I really like some of the things on Don't Shoot Me but as far as continuous flow, it doesn't hold up. It's really a bubblegum album."

      Elton and the band knocked out the album just weeks after Honky Chateau came out. His contract called for two albums a year and the pressure was getting to Elton. "I made Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player really on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I was so ill. I didn't know it, but I had glandular fever and was very slow."


The album contains two big singles. The first was the cheesy early 60's tribute "Crocodile Rock" that, in its "la la las" quotes Pat Boone's "Speedy Gonzales".

The better hit was the enigmatic but beautiful "Daniel". In its final verse Daniel is revealed to be a Vietnam vet trying to get back home to the life he led. But without that reveal, plenty of people guessed Elton was singing about a boyfriend he missed.

  Our favorite deep cut is "Elderberry Wine" which could have been an A-side single despite its rhyming "You aimed to please me/ Cooked black-eyed peas me." In all, 1973's Don't Shoot Me was just a slight hiccup. Elton's greatest album was ten months away.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

40 Year Itch : The Kinks Play the BBC

The Kinks played an amazing 30 minute set at the BBC Television Centre on January 24, 1973 for the program "In Concert".
 The set list:
1. Counter
2. Victoria
3. Acute Schizophrenia Paranoia Blues
4. Dedicated Follower of Fashion
5. Lola

6. Holiday
7. Good Golly Miss Molly
8. You Really Got Me
9. All Day and All of the Night

10. Waterloo Sunset

11. Village Green Preservation Society
12. Ending

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

40 Year Itch : Lost and Found

While The Kinks busied themselves with concept albums like Everybody's In Show-Biz and Preservation Acts 1 and 2 for RCA, their former label Reprise put out The Great Lost Kinks Album , a contractual obligation album of extra songs, B sides, singles ("I'm Not Like Everybody Else", "Plastic Man"), soundtrack songs and tunes originally cut for a 1968 Dave Davies solo album ("Lincoln County", "Groovy Movies"). 

      Some of the sound quality is abhorrent . Lawsuits were filed. In 1975 RCA discontinued the album. 

     Still, the album has enough to recommend it that Robert Christgau gave the album an A- , writing "Fragile, unkempt, whimsical, sometimes thrown away, with brother Dave left room for a cinematic fantasy of his own, it sticks close to the harmless eccentrics who comprise the only socially significant subculture about which Ray has ever had anything interesting to say ."

Monday, January 21, 2013

40 Year Itch: The Stones Play Hawaii

Big O's Roio website [for entire show]

One week after Elvis performed his worldwide concert from Hawaii via satellite, The Rolling Stones formally kicked off their Pacific Tour with three shows in the Aloha islands on January 21-22, 1973. Ben Fong-Torres and photographer Annie Leibowitz followed the band for a Rolling Stone magazine cover story. But I prefer the way local columnist Wayne Harada describes the first night:

Jagger at the beginning of  "Sweet Virginia"
Jagger made his entrance in pure stardust -- with glitter flowing from his hair, the lights reflecting his rhinestoned headband and matching bracelet, his eyelids painted a decadent silver, his clinging white bodysuit revealing a trim, feline frame.
  And it was a screeeeammm when he burst into "Brown Sugar"...

(Jagger) is both clown and adagio dancer, in a myriad of expressions. Sometimes he smiles a gentle smile: another moment, he is vulgar and even sexual in his caresses with his microphone...It was indeed the greatest show on earth.

The next stop was supposed to be Japan but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs refused to let the band enter because of drug charges. The Pacific Tour resumed February 11th in New Zealand. The Hawaii shows were the last Rolling Stones concerts to feature Mick Taylor.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Trevor Horn's All Time Top Ten

Nicknamed "The Man Who Invented The Eighties" thanks to his interest in synthesizers, future CBE  and former Buggle  ("Video Killed The Radio Star") Trevor Horn had left Yes ( for whom he played bass on Drama) to produce albums for Dollar, ABC and Spandau Ballet when he presented Smash Hits this Top Ten for its May 13, 1982 issue. He would return to Yes as a producer on the comeback 90125 which makes that #6 comment very telling. The list comes courtesy of Brian at Like Punk Never Happened.

Tom Dolby Airwaves

Doll By Doll Stripshow

Friday, January 18, 2013

40 Year Itch: Anybody Goin To San Antone?


In this case "And Band" includes Dr John, accordionist Flaco Jimenez, jazz saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman and some guy named Bob Dylan who wrote "Wallflower" for Doug Sahm. Sahm has led the Sir Douglas Quintet through its commercial peaks ( "Mendocino, "She's About a Mover"). Now , newly signed to Atlantic, Sahm--who embodied all that was great in Texas music-- was given the ultimate opportunity to record a huge commercial album.

Not that the results sold all that well.

But And Band is a great party, played in good spirits by good friends. Among the highlights is a cover of the 1970 Charley Pride #1 C and W hit "( Is Anybody Goin' To) San Antone" and "I Get Off". One can only hope Dylan had half the fun with The Travelling Wilburys.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

40 Year Itch : My Land Is Like a Wild Goose

It is striking to these ears just how vulnerable Gram Parson's voice sounds on GP. And for several good reasons. After a motorcycle accident in 1970, Parsons spent two years living like a rock star. He briefly became Keith Richards' best drug buddy, even holing up at the guitarist's French villa during the recordings of Exile On Main Street. Richards finally had to kick Gram out of the villa and all attempts by Gram to see his friend during the Rolling Stones US tour were thwarted.

Still, he had fans including Reprise Records exec Mo Ostin who signed Parsons.  Backed by members of Elvis Presley's band and the harmonies of recent discovery Emmylou Harris,  Gram recorded GP , released in January of 1973. It's an album that references classic C and W sounds . The difference, really, is the lyrics and that voice full of lost hope, exhaustion and the shadow of doom. Side One has three straight great songs. Parson's "A Song For You", Tompall Glaser's "Streets of Baltimore" and "She", written by Parsons and his International Submarine Band mate Chris Ethridge who died last April.

Below is a rare video of Parsons and Harris singing "Streets of Baltimore" on stage. Parsons would not live to see out 1973 but we'll save that sad story for another day.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

40 Year Itch : Sing With Me, Sing For the Years

40 years ago this month Boston rockers Aerosmith released their debut album, Aerosmith, on Columbia Records. Despite the presence of "Dream On", the album's first single was "Mama Kin" a song in which Steven Tyler hD so much confidence, he had the words "Ma Kin" tattooed on his arm. Despite its heavy riff, the single bombed. The album barely broke into the Top 200, peaking at 166.

Click Here to learn  How Aerosmith Landed A Record Deal (August 5, 1972)

While the band would earn a reputation as the American Rolling Stones, it is their Led Zeppelinesque tune "Dream On" that truly stands out on the debut.Tyler wrote the classical keyboard riff on his father's piano when he was a teenager.

Joe Perry told Classic Rock Magazine he didn't care for the song:

"Back in those days you made your mark playing live. And to me rock 'n' roll's all about energy and putting on a show. Those were the things that attracted me to rock 'n' roll, but 'Dream On' was a ballad. I didn't really appreciate the musicality of it until later, but I did know it was a great song, so we put it in our set. We also knew that if you played straight rock 'n' roll you didn't get played on the radio and, if you wanted a top forty hit, the ballad was the way to go. I don't know if we really played it much live, in those days if you only had half an hour to make your mark, you didn't play slow songs. So it wasn't until after it became a single that we really started playing it."

As a single "Dream On"  peaked at a disappointing #59 in the pop charts, but the ballad showed just enough promise for Columbia Records to keep Aerosmith on the label. A decision that would prove very fruitful in the years to come. Aerosmith has sold more than 150 million albums.

Monday, January 14, 2013

40 Year Itch : Aloha From Hawaii


On January 14, 1973, just half an hour past midnight, Elvis Presley made TV history when his concert was beamed live via satellite from the Honolulu International Center Arena  to Australia, Thailand, Japan and many other countries. 40 in all. European nations watched on a delayed basis. Because it was the same day as Super Bowl VII,  NBC broadcast the concert April 4, 1973 where it was reportedly seen by more people than those who watched the first man step onto the moon.

 Colonel Tom Parker got the idea of a satellite concert from Nixon's televised visit to China. He told reporters a billion people would see Elvis perform.
To prepare for the concert, Elvis lost more than 20 pounds training with his Kung Fu master Kang Rhee.

Following the "Also Sprach Zarathrustra" intro,  Elvis , wearing his "American Eagle" jump suit, stepped in front of 6000 fans on a huge stage and put on one of the best shows in his life. The stage was built with a runway which allowed Elvis to walk out into the audience, kiss the ladies and wipe his sweat off onto anything they handed him. He was tan. He was playful. He sang 24 songs including hits "Burning Love", "Suspicious Minds" and "Hound Dog" and covers from George Harrison ("Something"), James Taylor ("Steamroller Blues") and Marty Robbins ("You Gave Me a Mountain").

After the show Elvis met the actor he singled out during the concert, Jack Lord of "Hawaii 5-0". The two agreed to meet for dinner at Lord's house and began a friendship that lasted until the King's death.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

40 Year Itch : Back From The Abyss


"It really wasn't difficult to get people to help. In fact, you might be surprised at a few names I could mention who would have given their right arms to join in this band."- Pete Townshend

On January 13, 1973 Eric Clapton headlined a pair of charity concerts at the Rainbow Theatre in London. The real charity might have been Clapton himself. Three years deep into his heroin addiction, Clapton had been seen only once since Derek and the Dominos dissolved. At George Harrison's Bangladesh bash.

It was Pete Townshend who got Clapton back on stage where he fronted--with little in the way of rehearsal-- an all star band that includes Stevie Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Ronnie Wood. The resulting live album is ragged, almost lifeless.

 Rolling Stone's Bud Scoppa wrote

 "Rainbow Concert presents some of the best people in rock at their most egoless and supportive. But the crucial question — is Clapton able to come out of isolation and return to his music and to the people who care about it? — remains unanswered."

But critical reviews aside, Clapton admits Townshend saved his career and possibly his life: "I did that very much against my will. It was purely Townshend's idea. I'm indebted to him."

And things would get much better from here on out, beginning with the sensational 461 Ocean Boulevard.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

40 Year Itch : Top 20 Singles This Week

                                 Top 20 Songs This Week 40 Years Ago

Carly Simon moves up one notch to grab the top spot with "You're So Vain". Stevie Wonder moves up from #2 to #2 and Billy Paul falls from the top spot to #3. Jethro Tull's "Living in the Past" and Three Dog Night's "Pieces of April" make their first appearance in the Top 20.

 1.You're So Vain Carly Simon
 2 Superstition Stevie Wonder
 3 Me And Mrs. Jones Billy Paul
 4 Clair Gilbert O'Sullivan
 5 Funny Face Donna Fargo
 6 Your Mama Don't Dance Loggins and Messina
 7 Crocodile Rock Elton John
 8 Papa Was A Rollin' Stone The Temptations
 9 Why Can't We Live Together Timmy Thomas
 10 Superfly Curtis Mayfield
 11 Hi, Hi, Hi Wings
 12 It Never Rains In Southern California Albert Hammond
 13 Oh, Babe, What Would You Say? Hurricane Smith
 14 The World Is A Ghetto War
 5 Love Or Let Me Be Lonely The Friends Of Distinction

 16 Living In The Past Jethro Tull
 17 Sitting Cat Stevens
 18 I Wanna Be With You The Raspberries
 19 Pieces Of April Three Dog Night
 20 Keeper Of The Castle The Four Tops

Friday, January 11, 2013

40 Year Itch: Stevie's Soul Train Tune

This magic moment occurred on Soul Train on January 13,1972. Stevie , who can make even a grand piano sound funky, plays an impromptu tune about Soul Train and the Soul Train gang. Lovely the way the audience members sing along.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

40 Year Itch: Genesis Plays the Bataclan

On January 10, 1973 Genesis performed six songs at Le Club Bataclan in Paris for a French television program. Gabriel dressed up the fox on the cover of Foxtrot , the band's most recent release. Genesis was at the height of its powers. A live album, recorded the following month, would be their first album to enter the Top 10, and another magnificent album, Selling England By The Pound, would be recorded in August. It would be a few more years before Gabriel's theatricality would drive him out of the band and Phil Collins would take on singing duties.


 The sequence:

 1 The Musical Box
2 Supper's Ready ( a generous excerpt)
3 Interview
4 The Return of the Giant Hogweed
5 The Knife

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

40 Year Itch: Such a Cool Chick Baby

"I enjoy the B-52s, because I heard them doing Yoko. It's great. If Yoko ever goes back to her old sound, they'll be saying, "Yeah, she's copying the B-52s."
-John Lennon to Playboy Magazine

This. Is. Why. I .Do. This. Blog. To pluck the transcendental among the sloughed off. Approximately Infinite Universe, released January 8, 1973, is one of those treasures,

In 1980 the kindest critics congratulated Yoko Ono for keeping up with her husband on Double Fantasy. But back in 1973, she surpassed him ( and his Mind Games) by combining the experimental avant garde and feminist screeds with the more approachable pop. Mick Jagger, who plays some guitar on the album, reported to friends that Yoko is "really trying to sing properly. She's not singing. She's really trying to sing".

Not that the critics got it. In his review for Rolling Stone Magazine, Nick Tosches absolutely trashes the double album:

           Is that shit or is that shit? I mean, is there any need to dissect and discuss the faults of such schticks? The beatnik poets on Perry Mason used to write better stuff, for Chrissake.

To which I say: just listen.

This is music that sounds like it came out last week.

Yoko recorded the album with Elephant's Memory who shine here far more than on Some Time in New York. John Lennon produced and plays guitar on two songs ( "Move On Fast", "Is Winter Here To Stay?") The single "Death of Samantha" inspired the name of the 80's Homestead band.


The ironic footnote is that once DJ's got an opportunity to remix and update Yoko's songs they became dance club hits. In 2011, the year Yoko turned 76, "Move On Fast" hit #1 on the dance charts, her sixth consecutive chart topper.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

40 Year Itch : The Dream of Amsterdamee

After more than ten years of celebrating Southern California, living in Southern California, recording in Southern California and going crazy in Southern California, The Beach Boys ( even Brian Wilson!) gathered their wives, kids, technicians and hangers on and moved to the Netherlands for an expensive but apparently productive year.

From Creem Magazine
The result is Holland, released January 8, 1973, the band's last studio album for more than three years. You can take the Boys out of California but apparently you can't take California out of the Boys. The centerpiece of Holland is a three song California trilogy highlighted by Al Jardine's cowpokey if not slightly redundant "California Saga: California" which became a Top 40 hit in the UK.

There's much better stuff on Holland. Carl Wilson's "The Trader" shows his terrific contributions on 1971's Surf's Up ("Feel Flows", "Long Promised Road") were no fluke. The highlights both come from Brian Wilson and friends. "Funky Pretty" is the deep cut. Listen closely. Five of the seven band members ( Carl, Mike, Al and the new South African members Blondie Chaplin, Ricky Fataar ) contribute lead vocals as synthesizers swoop and wail in the background. Genius at work!

When the Boys returned from the Netherlands with Holland, Dave Bursyn at Reprise Records rejected the album because he didn't hear a single. It was Bursyn who got Brian Wilson in a room with his Smile collaborator Van Dyke Parks. Together, with a great deal of credit apparently belonging to Parks, they finished an old Wilson song called "Sail On Sailor". Drummer Dennis got the first crack at lead vocals. He did one take and then left the studio to go surfing. Carl tried to sing the song and, while it was a passable effort, he felt Blondie's straight -forward voice best suited the song. Released as a single in 1973 "Sail On Sailor" only managed to reach #79 on the pop charts. In 1975, a re-release of "Sail On Sailor":fared better, reaching #49.

Holland would be followed up in 1973 with a live album. Chaplin and Fataar would leave. The Beach Boys became popular live acts but they wouldn't produce another studio album until the disappointing 15 Big Ones in 1976. To fill in the gaps, record buyers loaded up on those two amazing compilation albums, Endless Summer and Spirit of America.

Monday, January 7, 2013

My Top Ten By Flock of Seagulls's Mike Score

For the December 23, 1982 issue of Smash Hits Magazine, Flock of Seagulls keyboardist and vocalist Mike Score came up with a list of new wave pop tunes, a White Album classic and two songs from former Be Bop Deluxe guitarist turned experimental art rocker Bill Nelson At the time, the Seagulls single "Wishing" was a top ten hit in the UK and #3 on the US Modern Rock charts. This image comes courtesy of Brian  at Like Punk Never Happened.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

40 Year Itch: Madman Drummers Bummers

 "The rhyming dictionary was on fire."
    Bruce Springsteen

On January 5, 1973 Bruce Springsteen released his debut album Greetings From Asbury Park to both critical acclaim and a mostly uninterested record buying public. And listening to the album with fresh ears, I can see why. Springsteen packs more words per stanza than any rocker before. It's Dylan at double-speed. And it can be jarring for a listener to try to try to keep up. What do some of those lines mean anyway? 

Madman drummers bummers and Indians in the summer with a teenage diplomat
 In the dumps with the mumps as the adolescent pumps his way into his hat
 With a boulder on my shoulder, feelin' kinda older, I tripped the merry-go-round
 With this very unpleasing sneezing and wheezing, the calliope crashed to the ground

In an episode of VH1 Storytellers, The Boss gave us some insight on the lyrics and the way he was writing using word association:

"Madman drummers" : Vinnie "Mad Dog" Lopez ( his first drummer)
"Bummers" : The characters around the Jersey boardwalk
"Indians in the Summer": his little league baseball team as a kid.
"In the dumps with the mumps": another childhood memory, literally being sick with the mumps
"With a boulder on my shoulder": a really BIG "chip" on his shoulder.

These are all lines from Spingsteen's first single "Blinded By The Light" which hit #1 for Manfred Mann's Earth Band  in 1977. Only Manfred Mann and his band pronounced "deuce" in the line "wrapped up like a deuce" as "douche"...leading Springsteen to tell the following story:

Greetings sold only 25,000 copies in its first year of release. Now, of course, we can all hear the birth of a rock n roll genius in the grooves. But it really wasn't until Born to Run became such a huge hit that fans and radio programmers ( especially "Spirit In The Night") rediscovered Greetings.

Friday, January 4, 2013

A Milestone Moment

Not that anybody else gives a shit

Thursday, January 3, 2013

40 Year Itch : The Lost Jean Genie Performance

On January 3rd, 1973, David Bowie recorded this performance of "The Jean Genie" live to air the following night on the BBC's "Top of the Pops". Check out Mick Ronson's extended guitar solo and Bowie's extended harmonica solo! Tapes of the show had been wiped and the video was lost for decades before the only man with a copy, cameraman John Henshall (whose fish-eye lens shots are used several times here),  made it available for the BBC to re-air in 2011, much to the delight of rock fans worldwide.


"The Jean Genie", featuring its dirty Bo Diddley riff and lyrics that may be about Iggy Pop, was released November 24, 1972 and peaked at #2 in the UK but only #71 in the US. The Sweet's "Blockbuster", released in January of 1973, shares the same beat and heavy guitar sound. But both Bowie and Sweet have all agreed it was coincidence.
     Songwriter Nicky Chinn described a meeting with Bowie at which the latter "looked at me completely deadpan and said 'Cunt!' And then he got up and gave me a hug and said, 'Congratulations...' After all "Blockbuster" went #1.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

40 Year Itch : Little Jimmy Osmond Rules The UK

 At age 9 years and eight months, Little Jimmy Osmond became the youngest person to ever hit #1 on the UK singles chart. His insipid "Long Haired Lover From Liverpool" stayed at the top of the charts for five weeks there...though it just barely scratched its way into the Top 40 in the US. Because in the United States, most of us are all slightly creeped out by the idea of 9 year old boys being lovers.

Jimmy is now president of Osmond Entertainment and recently did a stint on the UK reality series I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here. Here he is back in THE day.

Meanwhile, does anyone else think Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford could be a long lost Osmond?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My Top Ten By Bananarama's Siobhan Fahey

[Purchase Deep Sea Skiving]

Happy New Year! To promote a string of singles that would appear on the1983 Bananarama debut Deep Sea Skiving, Siobhan Fahey gives Smash Hits a list of her ten favorite songs, featuring a heavy dose of American R and B as well as a nod to her Irish roots ( The Wolfetones "James Connolly") and The Sex Pistols whose "No Feelings" they covered in 1982 for a UK film called Party Party. This list comes courtesy of Brian at Like Punk Never Happened.