Thursday, February 28, 2013

40 Year Itch: Those We Missed From Feb '73

Pleasant progressive rock from the UK that never quite made it over the hump ( ha?) to become big stars in the USA. Future sax player Mel Collins would perform that intense solo in the Rolling Stones hit "Miss You" and Brian Eno would contribute to their 1977 album Rain Dances. But Camel was still seeking its sound when they recorded their self-titled debut, highlighted by "Never Let Go" and the instrumental "Six Ate" ( a play on the tune's time signature).

Not a single original member of Fairport Convention remained when the band recorded Rosie. Richard Thompson and Sandy Denny made guest appearances on the title cut but the album is dominated by the songs of  Dave Swarbrick ( who played on  Unhalfbricking and joined the band for Liege and Lief) and, oddly, the voice of Australian newcomer Trevor Lucas. The hilarious band on the road tune , "Hungarian Rhapsody", is another highlight.

Cool album cover but these dull expanded jams can best be summed up , as Robert Christgau noted, by the title of the final cut: "(Sometimes I Feel So) Uninspired." The album has its fans. But to these ears, Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory is one of 1973's big disappointments along with Bob Dylan's Dylan, Fleetwood Mac's Penguin, The Byrds reunion album and David Bowie's Pin Ups.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

40 Year Itch: Alcohol And Razorblades


"Billion Dollar Babies is a total representation of ourselves as the by-product of the affluent society from which we've come."
- Alice Cooper

Billion Dollar Babies is the greatest of Alice Cooper's albums. It's packed with hits : "Elected" (US#26); "Hello Hooray" (#35) and including yet another Alice Cooper anthem "No More Mr Nice Guy" (US #25) and includes some of the band's most ambitious exercises ("Unfinished Sweet", "Generation Landslide") as well as a few over the top "shock" numbers, most notably "I Love The Dead".

   Hear Now are 5 Fun Facts about the MUSICK on Billion Dollar Babies

1. The opening track, "Hello Hooray" was written by Canadian folksinger Rolf Kempf and recorded, I shit you not, by Judy Collins on her 1968 album Who Knows Where The Time Goes.

2. Alice Cooper recorded much of the album in Cooper's Greenwich, Connecticut mansion, known as the Galecie Estate. A Saint Bernard named Gretchen had free run of the house which was filled with assorted amplifiers, guns and the Warner Brothers gallows.

 In search of the perfect sounds, some songs were recorded in the greenhouse. Others in small rooms.The mansion burned down six months after the band had left.

3. When the band moved to London for more recording, they ran into a series of other rockers. One "superstar jam" involved Keith Moon, Marc Bolan, Harry Nilsson and Donovan. Only Donovan was sober enough to actually contribute something to the album: the second vocals on the title cut.

4. The McCartney-esque ballad "Mary Ann" was originally written as a Vietnam protest song with the lyrics "Uncle Sam, I'm really sad about you; indeed I am; I just can't be around you..." The new lyrics are supposed to be about UK moral crusader Mary Whitehouse.

5. "I Love The Dead" is the song Melody Maker's Michael Watts claimed Alice Cooper was performing in Philadelphia when he was accidentally beheaded by his guillotine:

The singer, dressed in black, had just stabbed a plastic doll and was being led to tha guillotine by mock-executioner, the Amazing Randi, as part of the act dubbed "commercialised surrealism" by critic Pauline Kael. 
   Cooper was mouthing the refrain "I love the dead before they're cold" as his head was settled on the block. The audience was totally hushed. 

 Then scenes of excitement unparalleled in Philly, "home of the Twist," broke out as the heavy knife blade fell unexpectedly quickly and Cooper's head jumped two feet into the air and then landed in the basket.

 "Oh my God, no!" shouted Randi, and flung his hands to his face in horror. Most of the audience thinking it all part of the show burst into a loud cheer, but in the front rows to the right of the stage, young kids shrieked as they wiped blood - "rhesus negative" a hospital spokesman later stated - from their faces and clothes.

Of course it was a hoax. Or was it?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

40 Year Itch : Refried Confusion


In New Orleans, Dr. John's 1972 collection of Big Easy classics, Gumbo, is the Night-Tripping album near and dear to the heart. But Dr John's best album of the 70's is his funky 1973 follow-up, In The Right Place, which rightly provided the Doctor with his biggest hit nationwide.

For Right Place, Dr John met up in Miami with his Crescent City compadre Allen Toussaint and Toussaint's house band, The Meters. The Meters were led by their keyboard player Art Neville with whom Dr John had played in New Orleans recording sessions dating back to the 1950's.

Dr John says some famous friends contributed lyrical ides to his hit, "Right Place, Wrong Time" (US #9). Bob Dylan offered up the first line : "I'm on the right trip, but in the wrong car". Bette Midler gave him "My head's in a bad place; I don't know what it's there for". Doug Sahm came up with " I was in the right set, but it must have been the wrong sign". And an old saying in the Ninth Ward provided the mystical line "I'm just in need of a little brain salad surgery". His promoter mentioned that line to Emerson Lake and Palmer who must have liked it. They named their next album Brain Salad Surgery.

In his autobiography Under A Howling Moon, Dr John writes of the album:

  The album had more of a straight-ahead dance feel than ones I had done in the past, although it was still anchored solid in R and B. Atlantic pushed hard to promote it, and it yielded two hits -"Right Place, Wrong Time"  and "Such A Night" (#42).

"Such A Night", which I wrote, is a ballad, a sweet, easy groove that Allen developed into something that sounds almost like an old music hall soft shoe tune. Allen had always been one of the keys to great New Orleans R and B as a writer, player, producer and singer. I had written the songs eight year before, but Allen convinced me that we needed it for the album and I'm glad he did; it became a hit, with that fonky Allen Toussaint touch to the production.

The next recording involving Dr John was Triumvirate, a trio he formed with Mike Bloomfield and John Hammond Jr. In 1974, Dr John teamed up with Toussaint and The Meters again for Destively Bonnaoo.

Monday, February 25, 2013

40 Year Itch: Kobaia Vs. Planet Earth


Here's a novel concept: write songs in some made up alien language --say Kobaian--about earth battling an alien planet--say Kobaia. And spread the story over the course of ten albums. That's what the French prog rock band Magma did and , no, they did not experience a huge amount of chart success. Outside France.

 But on February 25, 1973, Magma did get national exposure when they appeared on a French television show. Their performance failed to answer the questions most audiences needed to know:  is this all a put on ..or, even more mind blowing, is Magma actually the most dedicated progressive rock band in the entire world!!!!

 Later in the year, Magma's operatic magnum opus Mekanik Destrictiw Kommandoh was released. The French edition of Rolling Stone calls it the 33rd best French rock album ever.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

40 Year Itch: Leonard Cohen Retires ...Kind Of

"I'm leaving the music scene...maybe the other life won't have many good moments either, but I know this one, and I don't want it"

It had been a tough year for Leonard Cohen. His 1972 tour of Europe and Israel, filmed by documentarian Tony Palmer, ended with a frustrated Cohen walking off the stage mid-concert in Jerusalem. The film, Bird On The Wire, cost Cohen $125,000 and wouldn't be seen until 2010. Aside from the financial pressure, Cohen was exhausted by the demands of the music industry and angry at himself for playing along.
Something he opened up about when he sat down with Melody Maker's Roy Hollingworth for an article that appeared on February 24, 1973.

"Well, I wish everybody well on ‘the rock scene’, and may their music be great. May there be some good songwriters – and there will. But I don’t wanna be in it. 

 "I have songs in the air but I don’t know how to put them down. Anyway, I’m going." 

 Have you been writing much recently?

 "I’ve found myself not writing at all. I don’t know whether I want to write. It’s reached that state. I have a book of poems out, and I'm pleased with them. But I don't find myself leading a life that has many good moments in it. 

 "So I've decided to screw it. And go. Maybe the other life won't have many good moments either . . . but I know this one, and I don't want it. 

Entertaining Israeli Troops in 1973. Cohen joined the Israeli army during the Yom Kippur War

 "No matter how withdrawn you feel from the scene – no matter how protected you think you are. No matter how little you think you're really involved with it. . . . You find yourself drawn into it.

 "You find yourself worrying like 'I should have another song. I should write this. I should do better. I should appear more on public. I should be greater. I do envy that song, I do envy this one.' Well . . . forget it."

 "I just feel like I want to shut-up. Just shut-up."

"Passing Through" from Leonard Coehn LIve released by Columbia Records in 1973

 "This is the time. This is the time to retire to another life. This is a time to retreat. It's a time when inferior men are coming forward, and the scene is being taken over by men who are rather shoddy. This is a purely personal feeling, from personal experiences. 

 "They may want to make me a bigger star – but I have other plans."

Cohen spent most of the mid 70's living on a Greek Island but he continued to write songs and poems. He began recording his next studio album New Skin for the Old Ceremony a year after this interview. In 1976 he resumed touring. His most recent album, Old Ideas, came out in January of 2012.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

40 Year Itch : The Worst Album of 1973?

Contrary to critical belief, Squeeze is not the worst album of 1973. Far from it. The reason critics have long derided the album is that the only member of the Velvet Underground who played on Squeeze was Doug Yule. Yule replaced John Cale in time to play and sing on two VU studio albums, 1969's The Velvet Underground and 1970's Loaded. Had Squeeze simply been sold as a Doug Yule solo album, it would be embraced these days as one of the era's great little nuggets.

But that's not what happened.

Polydor Records and VU manager Steve Sesnick made the sleazy deal to call the album recorded by Yule ( with Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice) a Velvet Underground album.  Yule never earned a duime from the album. To this day , Yule doesn't feel good about what happened. He told The Huffington Post's Steven Shehori :

"To me it's so far in the past, and there was so much emotion tied up in how I was treated by Sesnick, I don't think I can have an objective view of it. Admittedly at the time, I was very confident about it. I was really having a good time and I enjoyed the tunes."

If you give Squeeze a chance, you'd enjoy the tunes as well. The 11 hook-filled songs give off a real Loaded vibe. I'd even say it's a far more consistent effort than that first Lou Reed solo album.

But it still barely ranks as a footnote in the Velvet Underground legacy.

Still rock fans should note: this is the album that helped Glen Tilbrook and Chris Difford come up with an alternative to the name of their band Captain Trundlow's Sky Company.

As Tilbrook told Glide Magazine:

“The Velvet Underground had a really bad album out at the time when they were without Lou Reed or John Cale and it was called ‘Squeeze’. We thought it would be funny to name it after that.”

Friday, February 22, 2013

40 Year Itch : Let's Sip A Cup Of Kindness

To be a songwriter's songwriter is a great way to win acclaim but it's not enough to make yous a household name. Such was the fate of Mickey Newbury who remains best known for writing "An American Trilogy" ( recorded by Elvis and more than 400 other artists) and "Just Dropped In ( To See What Condition My Condition Was In) --a hit for Kenny Rogers's band, The First Edition. 

Heaven Help The Child, released in February of 1973, features a lineup including Chet Atkins on guitar and Vassar Clements on fiddle. While "Why You Been Gone So Long" has traces of the kind of  bluegrass and country you might be expecting with such artists, the rest of the album has best been described as "hard to categorize".

Witness the beautiful title cut, another American Trilogy,  which begins in New York in 1912, makes it way through Paris in the 1920's and winds up quoting William Tecumseh Sherman's famous line "War is Hell". When Heaven Help The Child failed to sell, it took the wind out of Newbury's sails. He moved to Oregon, recorded sporadically and raised three kids with his wife. Newbury died in 2002 at the age of 62. For a more through review of the album check out my  Star Maker Machine buddy The Rising Storm review.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

40 Year Itch : The Masterpiece

[Out of Print]

Producer Norman Whitfield followed up The Temptations's All Directions and its 12 minute #1 single " Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" with Masterpeice, the most self serving album title since Big Star's #1 Record. Cut down from 13:35 to 4:22, the wah wah guitar and violin strewn title track was a #1 R and B hit.


 Whitfield's nearly side long arrangements dominated the album. There's more Funk Brothers instrumentation here than the voices of The Temptations and, believe me, The Temptations knew whose "masterpiece" this was.

 In 1973 an embattled Whitfield would leave Motown to start up a new label signing The Undisputed Truth, Rose Royce and Willie Hutch.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

40 Year Itch : Walk On Hot Coals

Irish guitar god Rory Gallagher could outplay and out sing just about anybody in the blues-rock scene including Eric Clapton. His songs might first strike listeners as standard hard rocking blues. But then came time for the solo and, with a beat up old stratocaster,  that's when The Irish Rocket would take off.

 The only complaint critics had is that his albums rarely sounded different from each other. Blueprint, released February 20, 1973, probably bolsters that case. But Rory didn't go for studio sweetening, overdubs,  and multi-tracking. He was a purist...and rightly celebrated for it. Maybe Blueprint is not the place to start ( as Live in Europe and Tattoo are more likely to seduce the uninitiated), but it's better than 98% of the blues rock recorded at the time.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

40 Year Itch : With a Pint To Get It Down

There's nothing wrong with good time rock and roll and Irish rockers Bees Make Honey--like their better known English pub counterparts Brinsley Schwarz-- did their best to keep the ale flowing and the smiles glowing on the faces in the audience. There's nothing to hate and everything to like about their 1973 debut album Music Every Night. Unfortunately the album never got released in the U.S. The band  broke up. Its members moved on, joining Man, Ace and Barclay James Harvest.

     Still, the video below reveals the good times Bees Make Honey shared in crowded pubs back in their heyday as they play "Caledonia".

As a special footnote: here's child prodigy Frank "Sugarchile" Robinson playing the Louis Jordan hit "Caldonia ( What Makes Your Big Head So Hard)" in the 1946 film No Leave No Love. Robinson reached #14 in the R and B charts with this tune and then toured with Count Basie.

And Van Morrison's version, a 1974 single.

Monday, February 18, 2013

40 Year Itch : Black Byrd


Miles Davis flirted with fusing jazz and funk on his 1972 album On The Corner.  Donald Byrd--who died at age 80 earlier this month- had a full on menage a trois with the two and became one of the most successful jazz crossover artists of the Seventies beginning with 1973's Black Byrd.

   Byrd began his career as a highly sought after trumpeter during the Be Bop era. He played with George Wallington, did his spell with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers ( 55-56). His "Cristo Redentor" from 1963's A New Perspective fused jazz and gospel.

 By the 70's, after Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye proved Soul Music as an art form, Byrd embraced funk. The tunes on Black Byrd have a groove. Some have lyrics. (Marvin Gaye recorded "Where Are We Going?"a year earlier). The result was the Blue Note label's best selling album at least until Norah Jones came along.

   While the R and B community embraced Byrd, the jazz world did not. As Byrd said in a 1982 radio interview:

“The jazz people starting eating on me.They had a feast on me for 10 years: ‘He’s sold out.’ Everything that’s bad was attributed to Donald Byrd. I weathered it, and then it became commonplace. Then they found a name for it. They started calling it ‘jazz fusion,’ ‘jazz rock'.

His group made up of Howard University students, The Black Byrds, eventually recorded on their own and had two notable pop hits: "Walking In Rhythm" and "Rock Creek Park". Hip Hop artists sampled his music ( favoring 1975's Places and Spaces over the 1973 album) But it all started here with Black Byrd.

For a great feel about Byrd's career check out Soul Sides.Com's article.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

40 Year Itch : A Supernatural Delight

While Elton John holds firmly at the top spot with his first #1 hit, "Crocodile Rock", the US charts see two new entries in the Top 20: Deodato's future Grammy winning "Also Sprach Zarathustra" from 2001: A Space Odyssey enters the chart in the Top 10 and Dr Hook and the Medicine Show's satirical "Cover of the Rolling Stone" debuts at #15 on its way to #6. King Harvest, a band made of American expats in Paris, is on its way to peaking at #9 with "Dancing In The Moonlight".

1. Crocodile Rock
Elton John
2.You're So Vain
Carly Simon
3. Could It Be I'm Falling In Love
The Spinners

4. Oh, Babe, What Would You Say?
Hurricane Smith
5. Love Train
The O'Jays

6.  Superstition
Stevie Wonder
7.  Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)

8.  Do It Again
Steely Dan
9.  Killing Me Softly With His Song
Roberta Flack
10. Why Can't We Live Together
Timmy Thomas
11.  Dancing in the Moonlight
King Harvest

12. Rocky Mountain High
John Denver
13. The Last Song
Edward Bear
14.  Dueling Banjos
Eric Weissberg
15. The Cover Of The Rolling Stone
Dr. Hook And The Medicine Show

16.  Don't Expect Me To Be Your Friend
17. Daddy's Home
Jermaine Jackson
18. Trouble Man
Marvin Gaye

19.  Do You Want To Dance
Bette Midler
20. The World Is A Ghetto

Saturday, February 16, 2013

40 Year Itch : Eloquent Profanity

After Sailin' Shoes failed to hit , Little Feat broke up. Bass player Roy Estrada went into computer programming and was replaced by two New Orleans musicians, New Orleans native Kenny Gradney and Merry Clayton's percussionist brother Sam. New Orleans music fan Paul Barrere, a Hollywood High classmate of Lowell George's, also joined the band. The new line-up changed the sound of Little Feat as Paul Barrerre recently told :
Little Feat before myself and Sam (Clayton) and Kenny (Gradney) were very cerebral. If you listen to the first two records there’s some incredibly diverse music on there. But the one thing that they didn’t do really, really well… I hate to bust ‘em on this, but they didn’t boogie. When you listen to the original “Tripe Face Boogie” it sounds pretty stiff. I think what happened when Sam and Kenny and I joined was we brought in some funk. It just got a little more soulful, and I think they all appreciated that.

Dixie Chicken
is the album that helped Little Feat find its audience. It's where they introduced their trademark lazy, grooving second line shuffle on songs like "Dixie Chicken, "Two Trains" and "Fat Man in the Bathtub"--all concert favorites. Lowell George's slide guitar never sounded better. But if the album is full of good vibes, it didn't necessarily feel that way to George as he revealed to an Australian broadcaster:

 Dixie Chicken had a very thick sound because there was a lot of overdubbing done. As a matter of fact the song Dixie Chicken had nothing except the original conga part on it from the original session. And drums were overdubbed, and nobody does that. I mean you do, but you regret it later. I had a very good engineer at that point, Richie Moore, who got a very good drum sound on that particular tune. And so I just plodded right through as best I could. And it was fun. That whole album took a great toll emotionally and physically. I collapsed for two weeks after it was over.

While the band sounds like they finally got it together, the label didn't see it that way. Warner Brothers wouldn't invest in promoting an album by a band that looked like it would break up any minute. And they were right. Little Feat were always breaking up, getting back together, recording and touring.

For a listen on their live sounds check out this 1974 concert at the Bottom Line

 They would get close, especially on the 1978  live album Waiting For Columbus, but they would never top Dixie Chicken. In 1979, in the middle of a solo tour, Lowell George collapsed and died of an apparent heart attack. He was 34.

Friday, February 15, 2013

40 Year Itch: Before The Splatter of Marmalade

[Purchase Atem]

On February 15, 1973 Edgar Froese, Christopher Franke and Peter Baumann , the members of Tangerine Dream, took to the stage of the Theatre Parisien l'Ouest in Paris to perform with their handmade electronic instruments, tape machines and keyboards. 500 fans were turned away at the door. The music was atmospheric and hypnotic and so was the light show. It would probably still stand as one of the great highlights of Tangerine Dream's career except for the actions of a single audience member.
  As Tangerine Dream's own website puts it:

One idiot from the audience threw a large plastic bag filled with marmalade onto Edgar’s equipment. He hit his mark perfectly and a large part of the equipment was destroyed by the marmalade which oozed over knobs, faders and keys.

Atem, released in March of 1973

This would still be a big year for Tangerine Dream. DJ John Peel spent much of 1973 championing Atem, released in March, as the album of the year and by December the band would trade their German label for Virgin.

The portable analog synthesizer VCS-3, one of Tangerine Dream's most used instruments

Thursday, February 14, 2013

40 Year Itch: Bowie's St Valentine's Day Massacre

[Purchase Aladdin Sane]

  With the likes of Truman Capote, Salvador Dali and Todd Rundgren in the audience, David Bowie took the Radio City Music Hall stage to perform an unforgettable sold out concert on Februaru 14, 1973. It was unforgettable alright.

After a fan leaped on stage to embrace Ziggy during "Rock And Roll Suicide", Bowie fainted. Some people thought it was part of the act. Others could swear they heard gunshots. But those who have listened to the concert bootleg, St Valentine's Day Massacre, couldn't hear anything like that.

     An attending nurse blamed the ordeal on exhaustion. Someone with a medical degree added that Bowie's blocked up pores from all that Ziggy Stardust make-up probably didn;t help matters. David Bowie slept for 12 hours straight and performed again the next night.

1. Ode to Joy (Introduction)
2. Hang Onto Yourself
3. Ziggy Stardust
4. Changes
5. Soul Love
6. John I'm Only Dancing
7. Moonage Daydream
8. Five Years
9. Space Oddity
10. My Death
11. Watch That Man
12. Drive-In Saturday
13.Aladdin Sane
14 Panic in Detroit
15 Cracked Actor
16 The Width of a Circle
17. Time
18. The Prettiest Star
19. Let's Spend The Night Together
20. The Jean Genie
21. Suffragette City
22. Rock N Roll Suicide

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

40 Year Itch : Just A Sexual Glider

 On February 14, 1973 T. Rex played their Slider track "Buick MacKane" live on the German version of Top of the Pops, Musik Laden. Marc Bolan is in rare form and the band stretches out the tune by two minutes thanks to Marc's guitar God theatrics. (Jack White, eat your heart out) Though it wasn't a single, the band made a promo video for "Buick MacKane" as well.( Seen below)


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

40 Year Itch : Living On Solid Air

"I didn't like that finger-in-the-ear stuff. I'm a funky, not a folkie."
 -John Martyn

 Described as a "poet-ruffian" by the Guardian, the tempestuous John Martyn released his best album, Solid Air, in February of 1973. It's one of those middle of the night folk-jazz "growers" that, if heard at the right time, will mesmerize its listener. Fans of Terry Callier, Beth Orton and Nick Drake should find something special here.

     Martyn had already made five albums by the time he entered the studio with acoustic bassist Danny Thompson and Fairport Convention's Dave Pegg and Dave Mattacks. Playing an effects-laden acoustic guitar, Martyn and his band explored that place where deeply personal lyrics meet hallucinogenic improvisation.

The title cut was dedicated to Martyn's friend , Nick Drake, who had died of an overdose 18 months earlier.

Of the song Martyn said "Now Solid Air... I really like the title track. It was done for a friend of mine [Nick Drake], and it was done right with very clear motives, and I'm very pleased with it, for varying reasons. It has got a very simple message, but you'll have to work that one out for yourself."

The best known song, his tribute to kinship "May You Never", was covered ( some say "butchered") by Eric Clapton on Slowhand, earning Martyn a sizable royalty check. At a lifetime achievement award for Martyn, Clapton sent a message saying Martyn was "so far ahead of everything, it's almost inconceivable".

Monday, February 11, 2013

40 Year Itch : Hornswoop Me Bungo Pony

On their sophomore album Tyranny and Mutation , released February 11, 1973, Blue Oyster Cult raised the volume and kicked up the intensity for a release that would be the most raucous of their career. The album hits the ground running with their Canadian Mounties  tribute "The Red and The Black" ( later covered by The Minutemen on 3 Way Tie For Last). The song features the unforgettable lyrics:

 Hornswoop me bungo pony, dogsled on ice/ 
                  Make a dash for freedom baby don't skate on polar ice

Blue Oyster Cult doesn't take their foot off the pedal until after they've melted heads with the likes of "7 Screaming Dizbusters" and "Hot Rails To Hell". And that's just Side One ( "the red side").

Side Two ( "the black side") is less crazed but notable because it features "Baby Ice Dog"  the first BOC tune co-written by keyboardist Allen Lanier's then-girlfriend Patti Smith. Always a critical favorite, Blue Oyster Cult rewards the listener who dives deeply into the back catalog.

Patti Smith and Allen Lanier

Sunday, February 10, 2013

40 Year Itch: Crocodile Rock Hits #1

Carly Simon loses #1 to Elton John on the US charts for February 10, 1973 while Hurricane Smith peaks at #3 with "Oh Babe What Would You Say". The O'Jays and Roberta Flack ( at #11 with "Killing Me Softly" are charging up the charts with a bullet). This is Elton John's first #1.

1. Elton John: Crocodile Rock

2. Carly Simon: You're So Vain
3. Hurricane Smith: Oh Babe, What Would You Say

4. Stevie Wonder : Superstition
5. Loggins and Messina : Your Mama Don't Dance
6. The Spinners: Could It Be I'm Falling In Love
7. Timmy Thomas: Why Can't We Live Together

8. The O'Jays : Love Train
9. Steely Dan: Do It Again
10. War : The World is a Ghetto

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Alison Moyet's All Time Top 10

Along with Depeche Mode's founding member Vince Clarke, Alison "Alf" Moyet added a soulful voice to the machine beats and melodies of early 80's synth pop. The result for Yazoo ( or Yaz in the US) was a hit album with 1982's Upstairs at Eric's ( featuring two solid dance numbers in "Situation" and "Don't Go" and my toddler daughter's fave ballad "Only You"). When Alf presented the February 1983 edition of Smash Hits magazine with her Top 10 list, she and Vince were recording the follow-up, You And Me Both. The list , notable for being mostly old school soul, comes courtesy of Brian at Like Punk Never Happened.

Yazoo "Nobody's Diary"

Sam Cooke "I Love You For Sentimental Reasons"

Family "Sweet Desiree"

Gladys Knight and the Pips "Don't Burn Down the Bridge"

Thursday, February 7, 2013

40 Year Itch: World's Most Forgotten Boy



"I felt doomed at the time, very doomed. No one was listening to me.."
      -Iggy Pop, World's Most Forgotten Boy

    Raw Power, released February 7 1973,  is the sound of  a "street walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm"  falling down the stairs, loading up on heavy ordinance and threatening to destroy everything in its sight. The album offers a blueprint to every band with punk aspirations. Kurt Cobain called Raw Power his favorite album ever. It's on just about every list of great rock album. And so , naturally, it was ignored by the buying public despite rave reviews from, among others,  Rolling Stone's Lenny Kaye:

   With Raw Power, the Stooges return with a vengeance, exhibiting all the ferocity that characterized them at their livid best, offering a taste of the TV eye to anyone with nerve enough to put their money where their lower jaw flaps. There are no compromises, no attempts to soothe or play games in the hopes of expanding into a fabled wider audience.

Dropped by Elektra after 1970's Fun House failed to sell big numbers, the Stooges broke up. Iggy was a messy heroin addict.  But then he became another rehabilitation project for David Bowie. Mott The Hoople and Lou Reed benefited from Bowie's sexually ambiguous glam rock make-over but Iggy wanted nothing to do with that. With James Williamson on guitar, Iggy brought back the Asheton brothers and recorded in London. Of the sessions, Williamson tells Blurt Online the Stooges had the studio to themselves:

 We didn't really have any adult supervision. We were in there doing it on our own. We didn't have a producer; all we had was an engineer from CBS Studios and us. That's what allowed us to lay those tracks down, because I don't think any self-respecting producer would have let us do those because who could relate to that music? It was completely brand new at the time and if had had any sense we wouldn't have laid them down, but we liked them and that's how it happened. There's an authenticity about that music that is rarely captured on record.

Columbia rejected  Iggy's original mix of the album. The band had to wait until David Bowie found a day to mix the album. The result was a thin and famously muted release. And yet, the album influenced an entire generation of punk rockers and secured Iggy's place as the Punk Messiah.

 Iggy still reigns to this day. Just watch the reaction of the San Francisco fans sharing the stage with Pop recently.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

My Top Ten Tunes by Andy O of Blue Zoo

Now known as the founder of the mushroom foraging group Fungi To Be With, Andy O was at one time vocalist for a promising UK band called Blue Zoo. Though dismissed  as "a bunch of fucking tossers" by one YouTube comment maker, their Top 20 single "Cry Boy Cry" anticipates Gene Loves Jezebel pop-Goth hits by at least two years. #4 is most likely "Dance Away" as "Dancing The Night Away" is a new wave hit by The Motors. Andy made this list for the January 20th, 1983 issue of Smash Hits which comes to us courtesy of Brian at Like Punk Never Happened.

Monday, February 4, 2013

40 Year Itch : Paid The Cost To Be The Boss

Following in the funky footsteps of Issac Hayes ( SHAFT), Curtis Mayfield (SUPERFLY) and Marvin Gaye (TROUBLE MAN), James Brown ( and Fred Wesley) finally contributed a soundtrack album to a blaxploitation picture. Sold as the Godfather of Harlem, Black Caesar stars Fred Williamson as a black member of the Mafia who goes to war with the rest of the city while bedding down with pretty lady Gloria Hendry.

    It seemed natural to have the Godfather of Soul work on the soundtrack to a movie about the Godfather of Harlem. There are some decent cuts on the soundtrack ( released in February of 1973) -- most notably the opener "Down And Out In New York City" and "The Boss". Both feature great funk instrumentation and lyrics gangsta rappers of the 80's and 90's would envy. The rest of the album, made up mostly of Wesley instrumentals, isn't so inspired. The "Dean", Robert Christgau, gave the album a D+ and suggested Brown "should never be allowed near a vibraphone again".

James Brown and Fred Wesley would return later in the year with another soundtrack, Slaughter's Big Rip-Off, which featured one of the great tag lines in film history :"The mob put the finger on Slaughter …so he gave them the finger right back curled around a tight trigger."

Saturday, February 2, 2013

40 Year Itch: When Fridays Rocked

Beginning February 2, 1973, rock fans who stayed up after Friday's The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson were rewarded with music and comedy. After a special hosted by John Denver in August of 1972, NBC made The Midnight Special a regular thing. Each show had its own host.

On February 2, the host was Helen Reddy, still riding high on her #1 hit "I Am Woman". Among the other performers that night were The (Clarence White era) Byrds, Curtis Mayfield, Don McLean, George Carlin, Rare Earth and Ike and Tina Turner.

The show stuck around until May of 1981. By then musical guests had included such 1001Songs faves as David Bowie, Elton John, Rod Stewart, The Cars, Blondie, Roxy Music, Genesis and hundreds more.


Friday, February 1, 2013

40 Year Itch: ELO on TOTP


On February 1st 1973 Electric Light Orchestra appeared on Top of The Pops to play "Roll Over Beethoven", the band's Top 10 single from their forthcoming second album ELO 2. The album isn't an easy listen--with overly orchestrated, overlong progressive monstrosities not the least of which is the eight minute album version of the single.

ELO founder Roy Wood left the band during the recording, leaving Jeff Lynne behind as the main songwriter. Lynne's Beatlesque feel would pay off for ELO months later with their October single "Showdown", a favorite of John Lennon's who called ELO  "Son of Beatles".

The second cut of ELO II, "Momma", is our favorite. By a long shot.