Sunday, June 30, 2013

40 Year Itch : I Switched from Coke to Pep

You wouldn't think a band whose last album, There's A Riot Goin' On, hit #1 needed to make a comeback record. But a lot happened in the two years between Riot and Fresh, which was released on June 30, 1973. Drug busts. Cancelled shows. Rumors of bass player Larry Graham hiring a hit man to take out Sly. 

The music is often spare but the syncopated beats are always tight. Sly is playful at times. ( the Top 20 "If You Want Me to Stay" --featuring Sly on bass; "If It Were Left Up to Me") Sometimes he's preachy ( "Babies Makin' Babies"). He's often self-referential in both his lyrics ("Something could have come and taken me away /But the main man felt Sly should be here another day") and his music ("Keep on Dancin'" could be "Dance to the Music, pt 2).

The "Que Sera Sera" cover is interesting for so many reasons. Among them was yet another rumor: that there was something romantic going on between Sly and Doris Day! 

Fresh remains my favorite Sly and the Family Stone album. (Constant radio airplay ruined some of the Family Stone's biggest hits for me) 

It's the sound of one of our great geniuses revealing just how little instrumentation is necessary to find the funk. I agree with Rolling Stone's 1973 assessment of the album :

In its own sense, and on its own terms, it is (Sly's) masterpiece.

By the way , Mr Stone may appear to be high kicking it on the Richard Avedon shot cover, but he was actually lying on a glass table and shot from below.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

40 year itch: Those We Missed from June of 1973


One of the most sampled records of all time, "Bongo Rock" was celebrated in a 2006 article by Will Hermes for The New York Times. as the "National Anthem of Hop-Hop". The mastermind behind this album of mostly re-imagined surf tunes is Michael Viner, who produced soundtracks for Frankie and Annette movies. In June of 1973 the album popped up briefly in the 190's of the Billboard 200.


Willie Nelson's first masterpiece was recorded after Nelson moved to Austin, TX. Talk about crossover artists! Here's where Nelson began to attract both hippies and redneck audiences. A great starting point to discover the cult of Willie.


Roger McGuinn tries on all kinds of hats on his first solo album: the new Dylan ("I'm So Restless"); the CSN&Y style rocker ("My New Woman"); and the chuggin' pre-Petty tunesmith ("Lost My Driving Wheel"). Check it out!


The six and a half foot tall Chicago by way of Texas electric blues guitar giant Freddie King released his final album for Leon Russell's Shelter Records. They all sold well. The Allman Brothers covered the title track on Hitting a High Note.

Also didn't get around to Chicago VI and several others.

Friday, June 28, 2013

40 Year Itch: 10cc Hits #1

"I was amazed, but pleased that the BBC never banned the track, although they limited its airplay, because they thought it was about the ongoing Northern Ireland conflicts. In fact, it was about an Attica State Prison riot like the ones in the old James Cagney films." - Eric Stewart

On June 23, 1973 10cc knocks Suzi Quatro's "Can the Can" from the top spot on the UK charts with their catchy single "Rubber Bullets". 

       But this isn't the only UK Top 40 tune on which the members of 10cc are playing. 

        They can also be found on Neil Sedaka's #26 tune "Standing On the Inside" which was recorded while the band were still session musicians at Strawberry Studios.

1. 10cc : Rubber Bullets 
2. Fleetwood Mac: Albatross 
3. Suzi Quatro : Can the Can 
4. T. Rex: Groover 
5. Peters and Lee: Welcome Home
 6. Wizzard : See My Baby Jive 
7. Hot Shots : Snoopy Vs The Red Baron 
8. Stealers Wheel : Stuck in the Middle With You 
9. Medicine Head : One and One is One 
10. George Harrison : Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)

26. Neil Sedaka: Standing on the Inside

Billboard ad,  July 1973

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ron Sexsmith's Hotel Covers

Buy Ron's Forever Endeavor

Ron Sexsmith's Twitter Feed is a good read. Especially if you like groan inducing puns ( "Harnessing the winds energy is a wind wind situation"). Now he's posting  links to a series of wonderfully intimate performances he's calling Hotel Covers.

You can catch them all on his new YouTube channel Rawnboy.

The first one is Springsteen's "Bobby Jean" from Born in the USA, recorded the morning before his Birmingham,UK show.
His other covers to date:
June 19 :Warren Zevon "Dirty Life and Times"
June 21:  The Muttonbirds "Esther"
June 22: Sam Cooke "When a Boy Falls in Love"
June 22 Randy Newman "Every time It Rains"

June 23 The Kinks "Schooldays"
June 24 Bob Dylan "John Wesley Harding"

June 25  Joni Mitchell "Borderlines"
June 26  Buddy Holly "Peggy Sue Got Married"

June 27 Tom Waits "Fish and Bird" is his latest. Let's hope it's not his last!

40 Year Itch: "She Got The Same Jazz Only More So"

Bob Gruen

On June 30, 1973 John Lennon and Yoko Ono appear on the US program Flipside to discuss her double  album Approximately Infinite Universe. John says engineers like to pretend there's some mystique to recording and they like to treat artists as children. He says Yoko got "the same jazz only more so."

Yoko says when she sang, engineers headed off the bathroom leaving only John behind the board.
Yoko then performs "Winter Song".

One of the great tracks from the album is "Catman (The Rosies Are Coming")

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

40 Year Itch : I'm Famous But Most People Don't Know What I Do

In this interview conducted during an Australian tour, Zappa discusses new songs "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow" and "St Alfonso's Pancake Breakfast"; how he scores the songs and leaves room for improvisation; the kinds of musicians he wants in his band; his favorite Blues guitarists and singers; censorship problems; how songs were based non real stories including a bit about a mud shark at Seattle's Edgewater Inn.

He also talks about Hot Rats; future film projects; Reuben and the Jets and commercial success which leads Zappa to point out more people know what he looks like than what his music sounds like: "I'm famous but most people don't know what I do.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

40 Year Itch : King Crimson plays Central Park

King Crimson performs "Easy Money" live at Central Park on June 25, 1973. The line up consists of the same musicians who recorded Larks Tongue in Aspic namely Bill Bruford on drums, Jamie Murr on percussion , John Wetton on bass and vocals, David Cross on violin and keyboards, and Robert Fripp on guitar. According to bootlegs the band played
Doctor Diamond,
Larks Tongues In Aspic Pt. I,
Easy Money,
The Talking Drum,
Larks Tongues In Aspic Pt. II,
and finished with 21st Century Schizoid Man.

Monday, June 24, 2013

40 Year Itch: 1973's Sexiest Album Covers

Two years before they rescued Fleetwood Mac, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks released the poor selling but wonderful sounding Buckingham Nicks. The album has yet to be released on CD.


As you can imagine outtakes from the album cover shoot are surprisingly popular for an album that failed to chart.


Formed in the UK by former Nice bass player and vocalist Lee Jackson, Jackson Heights suffered poor sales despite the band's very approachable progressive rock sounds. 

Their fourth and final album is best remembered for its widely celebrated album cover.


The same year she played Brigette Bardot's lover in Don Juan 1973, Jane Birkin released  her Serge Gainsbourg produced debut Di Doo Dah. Anyone who has heard her breathy vocals on Gainsbourg's classic Histoire de Melody Nelson must at least be curious. The video below is shot on a topless beach.


One of the leaders of Brazil's Tropicalism sounds, Gal Costa 's esoteric 1973 album India was immediately banned thanks to the album cover which appears to be focused on The back cover is just as salacious.


Jazz guitarist O'Donel Levy tries to grab the uh...jazz crossover market with this funky album on which he covers Stevie Wonder, Billy Preston and an uncredited Allen Toussaint. Fans came for the ass but stuck around for the funk.

                                                               GASOLIN' 3

The Danish Beatles, Gasolin' recorded some of Denmark's top selling albums in the 70's, including the English language Gasolin' 3 which features a woman in distress. Will you be the lucky guy to save her day?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

40 Year Itch: Terry Reid plays the Old Grey Whistle Test


On June 19th 1973, Terry Reid and Del Shannon performed on BBC2 's "Old Grey Whistle Test".
Reid was promoting one of the year's all time great albums, River. Sit back in awe of this enormous talent and remember Jimmy Page offered him the Led Zeppelin vocalist job before Reid turned Page on to Robert Plant.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

40 Year Itch: My Soul Must Weather the Storm


On June 22, 1973 the Bee Gees hosted The Midnight Special for the second time that year and performed their singles "Run To Me", "I Gotta Get a Message To You"  as well as "Alexander's Ragtime Band" .When they weren't singing they clowned around on stage in an adorable way that might remind you of Beatle antics in Yellow Submarine. ( Yes! They were that animated)

Behind the scenes things weren't quite so fun. Despite going #1 in Hong Kong their single "Saw a New Morning" stalled at #94 in the US. The album Life in a Tin Can  peaked at #69 stateside. It would be two years before the brothers Gibb got back on their hit making track with Main Course and "Jive Talkin".

Friday, June 21, 2013

Meet "That Lady"

Purchase 3+3 for $3.99

The Isley Brothers 1973 hit "That Lady, Pt 1 and 2", which  peaked at #6 on the pop charts and #2 on the R and B charts,  was actually a remake of their 1964 song "Who's That Lady". The band, made of the three original Isley Brothers and cousins Ernie Isley, Marvin Isley and Chris Jasper, were jamming on the song, trying to give it a Santana feel, when they found that "fine, foxy new" sound.
Guitarist Ernie Isley especially shines.

One of the decade's great summer tunes! And one of its best albums which I will discuss at length later this year!

the 1964 version

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Give It A Giggle, Instead Of A Sigh


His second album since parting ways with the James Gang, Joe Walsh's The Smoke You Get The Player You Get went Gold on the strength of the #23 hit "Rocky Mountain Way" --which became one of the first songs many a young bass player would learn in the decades to follow thanks to the fact it note.

Most of the album is not riff heavy rock n roll ( there are a lot of acoustic numbers) and it's not really a Joe Walsh solo album. His band Barnstorm contributes more than back up. In fact I've just realized my deep cut choice, " Happy Ways",  is written and sung by bass player Kenny Passarelli. Apparently he can do a lot more than play one note (fretless) bass.

Walsh followed up this album by playing on Dan Fogleberg's Souvenirs and then his own So What, which featured "Song For Emma", a tribute to his four year old daughter who died in a car accident earlier that year. In 1976, he joined The Eagles in time to play on their best album Hotel California. His 1978 solo But Seriously Folks got me through high school.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

40 Year Itch : Only Our Rivers Are Free

On June 16, 1973 the legendary modern Irish folk band Planxty's National Stadium concert was first broadcast to the rest of the country.

Christy Moore had already become of Ireland's biggest draws when he met up with a group of young, inventive multi-instrumentalists in the village of Prosperous. Together as Planxty, they generated a new sound combing  traditional instrumentation ( bodhran, hurdy gurdy, uilleann pipes, bouzouki) with modern folk adn ballad singing.

The self titled debut ( also known as "The Black Album") , released in May of 1973, is still considered by many to be the high water mark for Celtic music.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Preachers And Poets and Scholars Don't Know It


Former Animals Keyboardist Alan Price didn't just contribute songs to the three hour Lindsay Anderson film O Lucky Man!. He appears in the film, playing himself, commenting like a Greek Chorus on the misadventures of Malcolm McDowell's coffee salesman. (Not dissimilar to the way Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye appear in Cat Ballou.)

Despite the brief running time ( 24:43), Price's soundtrack is one of the decade's best.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Once Again I'm Free

{out of print}

The follow-up to Cymande's now recognized Rastafarian funk cult classic debut ("Bra", "The Message"), Second Time Around barely crept into the Billboard Top 200 LP chart in June of 1973 despite higher production values and a US Tour, opening for Al Green and Mandrill.

    In 1974, the 11 piece band , made up of British musicians from much sunnier climes , toured Europe with The Chi Lites and Eddie Kendricks before disbanding. Some of the songs on Second Time Around appear on the CD version of Cymande's debut...but not "Crawshay".

Cult status was confirmed by Cymande's (pronounced Sah-mahn-day) songs appearing in Spike Lee's Crooklin and sampling by the Fugees on The Score.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Marvin Gaye releases "Let's Get It On" single

On June 15, 1973 Marvin Gaye released the single "Let's Get It On", a song that makes a strong case for sexual liberation and defined Gaye as one of he great sex symbols of the 70's.

   I can't see anything wrong with sex between consenting anybodies. I think we make far too much of it. After all, one's genitals are just one important part of the magnificent human body. I have no argument with the essential part they play in the reproduction of the species; however, the reproduction process has been assured by the pleasure both parties receive when they engage in it

    Marvin Gaye, Let's Get It On liner notes.

"Let's Get It On" would hold the #1 position in the Billboard Hot 100 list for two weeks in September.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday Funk : Riding in a Spaceship 1984

            Can't live in 1973 all the time. Here's some Italian disco circa 1980.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Soul Top 20 June 9, 1973

The Spinners celebrate replacing Barry White at #1 on the Soul Charts by playing the Apollo Theater with special guests Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes

1. The Spinners : One of a Kind (Love Affair)

2. Barry White : I'm Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby
3. Dells : Give Your Baby a Standing Ovation

4. Gladys Night and the Pips : Daddy Could Swear, I Declare
5.Bloodstone : Natural High

6. The Independents : Leaving Me
7. Chairmen of the Board : Finders Keepers
8. Tyrone Davis : Without You In My Life

9. The O'Jays : Time to Get Down
10. Sylvia : Pillow Talk
11. Billy Preston: Will It Go Round in Circles
12. The Dramatics : Get Off My Mountain

13.  New Birth : I Can Understand It
14. the J.B's : Doing It to Death
15. First Choice : Armed and Extremely Dangerous

16. Intruders : I'll Always Love My Mama
17. Stylistics : You'll Never Get to Heaven ( If You Break My Heart)
18. Michael Jackson : With a Child's Heart
19. Mandrill : Fencewalk

20. James Brown : Think

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Get Down With Something Good

In 1973, Gilbert O'Sullivan ("Alone Again ( Naturally)" , "Clair") hit #1 in the UK and Ireland and the US Top 10 with this song written to his dog.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Two Bands With "Revolving Door Syndrome"

Savoy Brown guitarist Kim Simmonds is the only consistent member of this UK band that spent most of its time touring in the US. In 1971 Dave Peverett, Roger Earl and Tone Stevens all left the band to form Foghat. The next year vocalist Dave Walker left to join Fleetwood Mac for one album. Simmonds hired a new frontman, Joe Cocker soundalike Jack Lynton for Jack the Toad, an album that sounds like it was influenced by the pub rock sound. In a good way!

After Randy Bachman left The Guess Who, Burton Cummings oversaw the band through various personnel shake ups before getting around to recording this most underrated of the band's albums. #10 is pretty damn good but it's highlighted by the strange single "Glamour Boy" which makes fun of David Bowie ( or is it Marc Bolan? Alice Cooper?)

Glamour boy Get your costume on, 
you got 'em lined up, waitin' for you
 Glamour boy You got 'em standin' in the aisles
 so don't hang 'em up
 For twenty-five thousand dollars you can look like a woman tonight

A full page ad for the single in Billboard Magazine, June 2, 1973


Monday, June 10, 2013

The Campus Report June 9, 1973


On the left side of the dial college radio stations were thriving in the early 70's. As non-profits, they didn't need to worry about attracting advertisers so they played what they wanted to. Suddenly, an oasis of progressive music appeared. Thanks to Aquarium Drunkard for his timely post of the Link Wray tune just a week or so ago.

Schoolcraft College
Rob Mulrooney reporting

1. Speedy Keen "Aries Lady"
2. The Kinks "One of the Survivors"
3. Link Wray "Be What You Want To"

University of Chicago
Pete Mensch reporting

1. Strawbs "Lay Down"
2. Chick Corea "Inner Space"
3. Ohio Players "Pleasure"

University of Toldeo
Walter Griffin reporting

1. King Crimson Larks Tongues in Aspic
2. Leo Kottke My Feet Are Smiling
3. McCoy Tyner Extensions

Sunday, June 9, 2013

John and Yoko, Move Over

Billboard full page ad May 1973

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Well Some Call Me Jeepster


On June 8, 1973 ABC TV broadcast the world premiere of the new T.Rex single "The Groover". Warner Brothers took out two full page ads in Billboard Magazine to hype the event, a last desperate gasp for T.Rex to finally make it in America. Although the single was a Top 10 hit in the UK ( the band's last), it did nothing in the US and, to be honest, I can't even find a copy on any of my T.Rex albums.

Sounds to me like T.Rex is imitating its 1971 sound. By '73. Marc Bolan and the gang were doing far more interesting things like "Electric Slim and the Factory Hen".