TRINI LOPEZ – More Trini Lopez at PJs – (Reprise) – 1963

Trini Lopez - More Trini Lopez at PJs

I'm in a rush.

Trini, Johnny, Melanie?

When I'm in a rush to put out a comment I turn to old favourites –  or rather new favourites. Artists who haven't let me down, left my spirits and cause the words to fall from brain to keyboard.

Also I can use a lot of  "refer  to my other comments" when filling al the detail.

These things are important. I do have a life, apparently. And there are things I need to do.

So, with that in mind …. let's slip on Trini Lopez' "More Trini Lopez at PJs" or rather, to use it's full title " By Popular Demand More Trini Lopez At PJ's"

Ahh, err, refer to my other comments for background on the great Trini Lopez.

This album came out in August 1963 and was designed to cash in on the success of Trini's first album "Trini Lopez Live at PJs" released in early 1963.

As Richie Unterberger says: "When More Trini Lopez at PJ's was issued by Reprise near the end of 1963, Trini Lopez could have hardly been a hotter artist. His Trini Lopez at PJ's album (also reissued on CD by Collectors' Choice Music), which unexpectedly blasted him to #2 on the LP charts earlier in 1963, was still riding high, and his version of "If I Had a Hammer" had given him a huge singles hit as well. Lopez had told producer Don Costa that he wanted an opportunity to go into the studio after recording the first At PJ's album, but for the time being that would have to wait. Not ones to tamper with success, his follow-up would again be recorded live, at the same club, with a similar mix of standards, folk tunes, rock'n'roll songs, and Latin music. And indeed, it would be nearly as popular as its predecessor, sailing to #11, although it was issued just a few months later". http://www.richieunterberger.com/lopez2.html

Trini, from what I have heard, even on his studio albums does not deviate far from his trademark live sound. On this his second album , and another live one there was never going to be any chance of anything but a copy of the first hit album. The thing is that Trini, as a working musician, had a large repertoire of hits of the day, old hits, personal favourites and the odd original which he could play at any given time.

Much like the first album here are some up-tempo folk hits, some country, some tin pan alley and some pop songs all done to the Trini beat. It is the beat that counts – it's about dancing. If you happen to like the song anyway then that is a bonus. If you didn't like the song you might just come way with a new found respect for it.

It seems, though, that the first album was more "high energy" than this one. Don't get me wrong this album is still up-tempo but the fast and furious bounce is a little more subdued.

Still, your feet will tap.

Produced by Don Costa.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Oh, Lonesome Me – (Gibson) –  A #8 Country Hit in 1957 for Don Gibson. A good version by Trini. It isn't as mournful as the original. A strange way to start an album thoughhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oh_Lonesome_Me
  • Never On Sunday – (Towne, Hadjidakis) –   The theme song of the Jules Dassin film of the same name from 1960. English lyrics were added and many versions were done but The Chordettes had a #13 in 1961 with it. The song is quite melancholy – Trini's version is good but, again, a strange way to start an album. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Never_on_Sunday_(song)
  • Heart Of My Heart – (Von Tilzer, Lamb) –   an old Tin Pan Alley standard recorded by many. Old school schlock ….the audience sings along (I assume overdubbed but who knows). This is distinctly old fashioned and not aimed at the dancing crowd.
  • Corazon De Melón (Watermelon Heart) – (Rigual, Valando, Carson) –   a song normally associated with Rosemary Clooney from her Latin team-up LP with Perez Prado, "A Touch of Tabasco" from 1960. This one suits Trini perfectly.
  • Go Into The Mountains – (Herring, Sawtell) –   John Herring and Paul Sawtell were Tin Pan Alley writers. I'm not certain but this may be a new song for Trini. Pleasant.
  • If You Want To Be Happy – (Guida, Royster) –   Jimmy Soul's #1 from 1963. The feminists would shut this song down pretty quickly nowadays. The thematic point may be an interesting question for debate but the in your face statement about "never letting a pretty woman be your wife" is not PC. The Calypso beat and song origin may have be tolerated because it wasn't being sung b Wasp-ish males but it's a strange one for Trini do do. I don't think shimmy-ing and grinding up to your babe on the dance floor whilst singing, "Get an ugly girl to marry you" is going to help your chances. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/If_You_Wanna_Be_Happy
  • Walk Right In – (Cannon, Woods) –   The Rooftop Singers #1 hit from 1962. Trini does a great version with just the right amount of swing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walk_Right_In
  • Lonesome Traveller – (Hays) –   Recorded originally by The Weavers in 1960, Trini, still on a folk kick, probably learnt that version off The Limeliters version from 1960. This sort of up-tempo folk suits Trini's vocal delivery. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lonesome_Traveller_(Lee_Hays_song)
  • Green, Green – (McGuire, Sparks) –   The New Christy Minstrels #14 hit from 1963. Very bouncyhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_Christy_Minstrels
  • Goody Goody –  (Mercer, Malneck) –   "Goody Goody" from 1936 is a song composed by Matty Malneck, with lyrics by Johnny Mercer. Done by a lot of trad singers, Frankie Lymon had a # 20 with it in 1957. Hmmmmmm, perhaps Frankie Lymon can get away with it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goody_Goody
  • Yeah - (Lopez) –   A Trini original. A good little groove of a tune. Once for the dancers.
  • Kansas City – (Leiber – Stoller) –   Done by everyone, Little Richard released it in 1959, but Wilbert Harrison had the hit with it (#1, 1959). A great version.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kansas_City_(Leiber_and_Stoller_song)

And …

Again, perfect for parties …. I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1964  Kansas City  The Billboard Hot 100  #23 

Album

1964 #11

England

Singles

Album

1963 #35

Sounds

Oh, Lonesome Me

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-P-34gAb5Go

Never On Sundays

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KP7i1Fs3ezg

Corazon De Melón (Watermelon Heart)

Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gd8F01rZjNM

Lonesome Traveller

Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=147ld1ste5s

Yeah

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRLxRSqcJ7c

Kansas City

mp3 attached

                                           

Others

From the film "Marriage on the Rocks" (1965) (check out cool bass player David Shriver here) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=607SigBgSoM

Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/more-trini-lopez-at-pjs-mw0000015389

http://www.richieunterberger.com/lopez2.html

Bio

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trini_Lopez

http://www.markguerrero.com/14.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Costa

Trini's band were Mickey Jones on drums and  David Shriver on bass. And they were total dudes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggCWbqmud88

Website

http://www.trinilopez.com/

Trivia

  • "By then Lopez had played a noted, if overlooked, role in bringing the folk, rock, and pop worlds just that little bit closer together. When told that Marty Balin of the Jefferson Airplane cited Lopez's combination of electric instruments and folk songs as an inspiration for deciding to play folk-rock, Trini responds, "The reason he probably said that is because I did start that out. I was doing it in '61, '62, until I recorded. Nobody was doing it in 1962. So I was right there at the beginning of that. That's a nice compliment." — Richie Unterberger, http://www.richieunterberger.com/lopez2.html
Posted in Folk Rock, Garage, Surf and Frat, Pop Rock, Rockabilly and Rock n Roll | Tagged | Leave a comment

LONE JUSTICE – Shelter – (Geffen) – 1986

lone justice - shelter

It's taken me some time to get to this second and final album from California cowpunkers Lone Justice.

Or, rather, it's taken me some time to revisit this album.

In 1985 I reviewed their first album" Lone Justice" for the University of Queensland student newspaper, Semper. I loved the album.

At that age I was actively listening to anything from California and Cowpunk with it's rough punky edges (well it sounded rough in the overproduced 80s), it's retro classicism and it's non mainstream pedigree appealed to me.

Search this blog for other references to cowpunk (specifically the Rave-Ups comment) but it is fair to say that Cowpunk was a form of music that was punk crossed with country, roots rock with an edge, paisley underground gone rural. It seems to incorporate all the elements of the California underground / independent rock scene whilst becoming a distinct genre in itself. It was the precursor to Alt Country, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Background, wikipedia: The roots rock band Lone Justice was formed in Los Angeles by guitarist Ryan Hedgecock and singer Maria McKee. The half-sister of Bryan MacLean, a member of the seminal psychedelic outfit Love, McKee's involvement in the L.A. club scene dated back to her infancy; at the age of three, she joined MacLean at a performance at the famed Whisky-a-Go-Go and was befriended by Frank Zappa and members of the Doors. As a teen, she studied musical theater, and briefly performed in duos with MacLean and local blues singer Top Jimmy. McKee and Hedgecock first met while dabbling in the L.A. rockabilly scene, and their mutual affection for country music inspired them to found Lone Justice in 1982. Initially, the group was strictly a cover band, but the additions of veteran bassist Marvin Etzioni and Don Heffington, a former drummer in Emmylou Harris' Hot Band, prompted McKee to begin composing original material inspired by Dust Bowl-era balladry …  Gradually, elements of rock began creeping into the Lone Justice sound as well, and soon the band became a local favorite. At the urging of Linda Ronstadt, they were awarded a contract with Geffen Records; their self-titled debut appeared in 1985, followed by a tour in support of U2.

Lone Justice' first album sat firmly in that Cowpunk genre and it was a treat. It was a little slicker than it's contemporary genre mates (it was produced by jimmy Iovine)) and aimed at the mainstream though it, ultimately, sat  outside Top 40 mainstream.

This second album came out and Lone Justice had done what many bands had done before them and since … they softened their sound to make it more marketable and appealing to the mainstream.

This isn't horrendous. It may not be suiciding-ly noble but it may be pragmatic.

At the time when I listened to this (and I was more rigid than I am now) I was a little disappointed so this eventually ended up into a "maybe I'll get rid of it" pile..

It has sat there till now.

I have even got a couple of Maria McKee solo albums so the only excuse for not revisiting this earlier is laziness (and the fact that I have too much to get through).

My disappointment back in 1987 might have been reasonable but if the music is good, well, then they were right to do so.

Luckily I think, despite some of the unfortunate 80s emphasis on production they got Little Steven in from Bruce Springsteen's band in (to produce along with Jimmy Iovine and the band themselves). Springsteen was still riding on the wave of "Born in the USA" and it was assumed, given that Maria McKee already leant the way of Springsteen in temperament and themes, that this was the way Lone Justice should go. Little Steven was either told to or naturally guided Lone Justice towards that sort of rock n roll, with country, bar and old time rock n roll shadings.

The other producer (apart from the band) was Jimmy Iovine (he also managed the band) who was sort of non-mainstream mainstream producer. As a recording engineer he worked on Springsteen's Born to Run and Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell albums. He went on to produce (or co-produce) Patti Smith, Tom Petty and U2.

This was big money – well the band were signed to Geffen records …and they were pushed, promoted and groomed and assumed to be the "next big thing".

And that is the problem … there are too many radio friendly 80s sounds on here.

The band has been subdued (the band is largely made up of good session musicians … only Ryan Hedgecock on second guitar remain from the original line-up) but McKee's voice keeps the material afloat. Maria McKee (who I had a crush on – indie chicks of the time always floated my boat) had a ballsy big voice (lie a country-ish Patti Smith) which was expressive and sensual.

She could write also (an interestingly her half brother was Bryan MacLean of 60s rockers "Love") and Ii see this album as a stepping stone (as did the record label no doubt)  to a solo career which subsequently happened. McKee actually went onto some success in the solo field. Not quite superstar but reasonably successful (google her).

I should say McKee was born in 1964 so had some good talents at a young age.

Shelter is probably mislabelled by calling it a Lone Justice album. This really should've been released as McKee's debut solo effort .. and it is one where the record label is directing traffic.

As I listen to this now I realise that it does transport be to a time in my youth the only difference being is that it sounds a lot better now than it did then …not great, but better.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • I Found Love – (Maria McKee, Steven Van Zandt) – A good country rock with gospel like backing ….
  • Shelter – (McKee, Van Zandt) –  a nice, sing a long mid tempo ballad. The 80s production let it down though it is catchy.
  • Reflected (On My Side) – (Shane Fontayne, McKee) –  patchy – filler.
  • Beacon – (Fontayne, McKee) – again, filler.
  • Wheels – (McKee) –  a big ballad and well sung.
  • Belfry – (Fontayne, McKee, Van Zandt) –  big 80s sound with a Springsteen guitar line
  • Dreams Come True (Stand Up and Take It) – (McKee, Gregg Sutton) –  A grittier and more sensual vocal.
  • The Gift – (McKee) – another big ballad … a good one. 
  • Inspiration – (McKee, Sutton) –  a great, mid-tempo pop song that is big. This sounds like some of Lisa Marie Presley's recent work.
  • Dixie Storms – (McKee) –  an acoustic (mainly) ballad …and a treat…. possibly the best track on the album.

And …

Quite good, though not as good as their first album …. I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1986 Shelter – Mainstream Rock Tracks #26

1987 Shelter –  The Billboard Hot 100 #47

Album

1987 #65

England

Singles

1987 I Found Love #45

Album

1986  #84

Sounds

http://recordlective.com/Lone_Justice/Shelter/a3dd54f5-4424-3e8d-a55b-4da1465025e7/

I Found Love

Clip

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcl8xx5tPbc

Shelter 

Clip

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvo9MbTkUbE

Inspiration

Mp3 attached

Dixie Storms

Mp3 attached

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWdwe9LFPtY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nNf-1DJCrPc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ystALTFm1t8

doing Creedence Clearwater

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyAATgzDg8c

with John Cougar

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yy2vgftMKNY

Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/shelter-mw0000190713

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shelter_(Lone_Justice_album)

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1986-12-02/features/8603310089_1_maria-mckee-lone-justice-shelter

http://terliz.blogspot.com.au/2007/12/lone-justice-shelter.html

for archivists you can find that that Lone Justice review from 1985 here:

https://espace.library.uq.edu.au/view/UQ:243883/SF_1985_September_10th_EditionEight.pdf

Bio

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lone_Justice

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_McKee

http://www.clevescene.com/cleveland/justice-served/Content?oid=1471878

a visual bio

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwSGS9xxaI0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wb01KRDJsQ8

Website

http://mariamckee.org/default.htm

Trivia

  • Keyboardist Bruce Brody was in the Patti Smith group and played the piano on the Springsteen penned "Because the Night". He also co-produced the Maria McKee hit "Show Me Heaven" from the "Days of Thunder" soundtrack and film (1990).
  • Guitarist Shane Fontayne went on to become the guitarist for Bruce Springsteen during the 1992-1993 "Other Band" Tour

Lone Justice - Maria McKee 01                    Lone Justice - Shelter line-up                    Lone Justice - Maria McKee 02

Posted in Alt Country | Tagged | Leave a comment

SUE SAAD AND THE NEXT – Sue Saad and the Next – (Planet) – 1980

Sue Saad and the Next - Self Titled

The new wave was a big wave which put out many, many music acts.

I don't have any stats to prove this but it seems like everyone between 1978 – 1980,  who was even vaguely new wave was signed.

There had been plenty of money made off music in the 70s … and there was., perhaps, an assumption that the good times would not, or should not, end. In many ways the 70s were the era of decadence … money, technology, a liberal social atmosphere and drugs all led to excess (both personal and musical).

The charts were largely dominated by disco acts or acts from the 1960s. The label heads were even older still but enjoying their condos and overseas holidays.

But, inevitably, the kids and young people who buy records wanted something new ….hence the ”new wave" which was grab bag of bands. Some were a return to the basics of rock n roll, some adopted new technology and looked to new horizons, some were experimental. Most only had one thing in common: the desire to distance themselves from the mainstream rock and pop sounds of the 70s.

The label heads seeing this on the horizon, and not wanting to lose their incomes, went on a mad rush and stared signing up every new wave act.

It is ironic then that when the new wave caught on all those bands that had formerly been kicking against the "old" sounds would be signed up and marketed in a similar way to those bands they replaced.

It also meant that in the rush many acts that aren't new wave but sounded close enough (to record executives ears) were signed up also.

Good for them.

Sue Saad and the Next are one of those.

Wikipedia: Sue Marie Saad, James Lance and Anthony "Tony" Lloyd Riparetti met in junior high school while growing up in Santa Barbara, California. Given their mutual interest in music, they began collaborating and eventually formed Calliope. They achieved some success and released several singles. One of these, "We've Made It", dealt with the generation gap and so angered a local disc jockey that he destroyed the record while still on air and voiced a tirade against the band … The three formed a new band around 1978, Sue Saad and the Next, whereupon they moved to San Francisco and then Los Angeles hoping to find work as sidemen. It was during this time that they began writing songs and recording them on their Rodney Sound four-track tape recorder. They were later joined by guitarist Billy Anstatt and bass player Bobby Manzer, studio musicians who had played together in the rock musical Zen Boogie, wanting to perform in a regular band. The band played in clubs and similar venues throughout Los Angeles and were eventually signed by Warner Bros. Records to develop as writers. Then-chairman Ed Silvers brought the band to record producer Richard Perry who immediately signed them to a contract with his company Planet Records in late-1979.

Planet records owner, producer Richard Perry, started Planet in 1978 more or less as a vehicle for his own productions which were (largely) recognizable for their clean sound. His biggest selling act was the Pointer Sisters. In his rush to acquire "new wave" acts he got The Next (he also got The Cretones, The Plimsouls, and American Noise).

The Next were a high energy bar band as new wave was breaking.

Look, I don't have a problem if a band isn't "authentic" as long as they have some tunes , smarts and skills. Just because it isn't power pop or new wave doesn't have any negative bearing on the music. I'm just trying to locate the music historically. I do like to pigeon hole but there had to be some grey area also.  If power pop is a more acceptable, rock n roll form of new wave (check my other power pop comments for extrapolations on that) and those bands were getting signed up as new wave then the bands that were straight ahead high energy rock with a pop sensibility were being considered as new wave and also got signed.

Sue Saad and The Next take this high energy, not quite new wave, not quite power pop, rock and roll approach.

To music execs it all sounded the same.

Of course when a band realises they have been swept up in the same they dress (or their stylist does) them accordingly. Converse All Stars sneakers, leather jackets, an urban backdrop, tough poses and lots of black they have but you would ever mistake them for The Ramones or any other of other punk or new wave acts.

Richard Perry produced the album with drummer James Lance. "the whole project taking less than twenty days to complete. Lance had said that the songs on the album 'evoke youthful passion seasoned with wry adult knowledge, as well as a toughminded picture of daily American life and the ways it can be lit up by moments of rock and roll celebration'." http://www.theproducers.org/suesaad.htm

I'm not sure if i hear that here but the band is a solid guitar based rock band : think a less ballsy Pretenders or Loverboy fronted by a chick. At times they lean to Pat Benatar and Heart but there is just enough quirkiness in them to keep them away from the true mainstream

This was their only album but I suspect if they did continue on into the mainstream 80s their sound would have become more ploddingly dull (as did the mainstream 80s).

Interestingly (to me if to no one else) four of the songs were written by (or co written by) D.B. Cooper. He doesn't appear in the band line-up but is "very specially" thanked in  the credits as D.B. "Dirty Boy" Cooper. There have been a couple of D.B. Coopers around  but due to the cult like status of the historical events surrounding DB Cooper (google it) there have been many artists that have played and recorded under this name. In 1980, though, a D.B. Cooper released an album called "Buy American" on the Warner Brothers label and it was snappy US power pop. Most references to that refer to D.B. Cooper as a band but it seems to me from that album sleeve (back and front) that D.B. Cooper is an individual. It  would seem that given the power pop /  new wave overtones of both albums, the fact that both albums were released in 1980 that both  were recorded in California  and that Tony Riparetti and Sue Saad, of The Next recorded back up for D.B. Cooper's nect album "Dangerous Curves" (1981)   I think that, that D.B. Cooper wrote for Sue Saad and the Next

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Gimme Love Gimme Pain – (S. Saad – J.Lance) – a thumper and quite catchy.
  • It's Gotcha – (S. Saad – T. Riparetti – J.Lance) – a zippy track – lot's of energy and it would have played well live. It could use a little more punch though by the end it has hit the mark. The song references life on the "mean streets".
  • Prisoner – (D.B. Cooper – J.Lance) – a big ballad "new wave" style …. you could see this in a Hollywood movie about young-uns at the time. Pat Benatar isn't dissimilar though this song is quite good.
  • Young Girl – (S. Saad – J.Lance) – a treat. Very Ray Davies in it's lyric (despite the gender). This is an excellent song that has tempo shifts and good musicianship.
  • I I Me Me – (J.Lance – T. Riparetti) – This one thumps with a more New York new wave sound…and is amusing: about how people at parties talk about themselves too much (which is, again, quite Ray Davies).
  • Your Lips-Hands-Kiss-Love – (D.B. Cooper) – Good though it sounds as if there is a roots rock song in there trying to break out.
  • I Want Him – (D.B. Cooper) – A good song – some local references of the day in the lyric and a good melody and backing.
  • Cold Night Rain – (S. Saad – T. Riparetti – J.Lance) – the obligatory emotionally over wrought ballad – which is a bit of a throwback.
  • Won't Give It Up – (S. Saad – T. Riparetti – J.Lance) – another fast number. Good playing with the usual lyrics about playing in a rock n roll band. It is both silly and endearing.
  • Danger Love – (D.B. Cooper) – Springsteen-ish themes and some Kinks-ian (circa 1979) riffs make this quite interesting.

And …

Not perfect but entertaining …. I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1980 Won't Give it Up # 107 

Album

1980 #131

England

Others

1980 "Young Girl" # 20 (Netherlands)

Album

Sounds

http://recordlective.com/Sue_Saad_and_the_Next/Sue_Saad_and_the_Next/873acadb-e089-49af-8cd9-0027c26659a9/

Young Girl

live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1Zj8Jl8m34

mp3 attached

I I Me Me

Mp3 attached

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hb2TfhJuVvk

Review

http://www.spin.com/2013/04/blame-the-knack-fake-new-wave-feeding-frenzy-essentials/130405-sue-saad-and-the-next/

http://vinylgoldmine.blogspot.com.au/2008/05/sue-saad-and-next-self-titled.html

Bio

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sue_Saad_and_the_Next

http://scream-it-loud.com/interviews/tony-riparetti/

Website

http://www.theproducers.org/suesaad.htm

http://growboredbigscott62.blogspot.com.au/2013/11/sue-saad-next.html

Trivia

  • The song "Prisoner" was covered twice. Once by Sheena Easton (1981) and then by Uriah Heep (1982).
  • Guitarist Tony Riparetti went on to score music for film, mainly on independents and for (legendary B director) Albert Pyun
  • Despite the "punkiness" of Saad's name (Sue Saad), it seems to be her real name.
Posted in Power Pop, Punk and New Wave | Tagged | Leave a comment

PETER ROWAN – Peter Rowan – (Flying Fish) – 1978

Peter Rowan - Peter Rowan

Peter Rowan isn't a household name but he is well known to rock obscure-ists and .ore importantly to enthusiasts of American bluegrass.

And he has been playing guitar, yodelling, singing and song writing for a long time.

Wikipedia: Rowan was born in Boston, Massachusetts (1942). From an early age, he had an interest in music and eventually learned to play the guitar. At the age of twelve, he heard Elvis Presley for the first time and later, in junior high school, he formed a rockabilly band, the Cupids. Influenced by the blues musician Eric Von Schmidt, Rowan traded his electric guitar for an acoustic and began to play the blues. He was also influenced by the folk sound of Joan Baez. In college, he discovered bluegrass after hearing The Country Gentlemen and The Stanley Brothers. He soon discovered the music of Bill Monroe, and with some help from banjo player Bill Keith, he was invited to Nashville to audition for Monroe. Accompanied by Keith, Rowan went to Nashville and was hired in March 1965 as guitarist and lead vocalist of Monroe's Bluegrass Boys. His recording debut as a "bluegrass boy" took place on October 14, 1966 and he recorded a total of fourteen songs with Monroe before his tenure ended in the spring of 1967.

Rowan teamed up with David Grisman in 1967 forming the band Earth Opera which frequently opened for The Doors. In 1969, Rowan joined Seatrain, along with Richard Greene. In 1973, Rowan, together with Greene, Grisman, Bill Keith, and Clarence White formed the bluegrass band Muleskinner. The band released one album. The same year, (1973), Rowan and Grisman formed Old and in the Way with Greene, Jerry Garcia, and John Kahn. Greene was later replaced by Vassar Clements.[8] Old and In the Way disbanded in 1974 and Rowan joined a rock band led by his brothers. Three years later, in 1977, he left his brother's rock band. For a time, he was touring with Richard Greene in Japan and playing clubs with fiddler Tex Logan. He also formed the Green Grass Gringos.

But, how does a kid from Boston become part of the vanguard of bluegrass musicians. Well, in those days it was easier I expect. The music was more accessible, the migrations after the second world war send everyone and the folk boom in the US opened the doors to all types of roots music to urban audiences. The music was everywhere and you dint have to look hard to find it.

Rowan's blog explains a little more,  "Born in Wayland, Massachusetts to a musical family, Rowan learned to play guitar from his uncle. He spent his teenage years absorbing the sights and sounds of the Hillbilly Ranch, a legendary Country music nightclub in Boston frequented by old-time acts like The Lilly Brothers and Tex Logan".

So from an early age Rowan was perfectly placed to hear the sonic boom of post war American music. The pre-war music of bluegrass, country, blues, and trad pop were all alive and well the post war would electrify everything and bring in rhythm and blues, rock n roll and many other forms of music. For a kid who was into music there was no shortage of influences.

And influenced he was. Rowan took it all in and incorporated it into the styles he liked, "Even more engaging, anyways, it’s the possibility to trace the first steps of the career of Peter Rowan, excellent guitarist and mandolin player from Boston, Massachusetts, with Texas and Mexico in the heart and a whole roots dictionary in his fingers. If you have a quick look at the most sparkling among the traditional bands that have been hitting the stage from the 1960s onward, it’s likely that Rowan (who joined Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys in 1965 at the age of 23) is one of the protagonists.

 From the psychedelic folk and bluegrass of the unfortunately forgotten Earth Opera of David Grisman (The Great American Eagle Tragedy is a must-have masterpiece reissued 10 years ago by Wounded Bird) to the jazzy smoked country-rock of Seatrain, from the purely hard bluegrass of Muleskinner to the freaky western of the New Riders Of the Purple Sage, ending with the Bay Area super-group Old & In The Way (starring Jerry Garcia, Vassar Clements, Grisman etc…), Rowan is always there". http://nodepression.com/article/review-peter-rowan-free-mexican-airforce-classic-tracks-flying-fish-albums-roots

Rowan would always fall back on the bluegrass he loved as a kid but would incorporate new sounds … which by definition placed him amongst musicians of the "progressive bluegrass" movement.

Wikipedia: " Progressive bluegrass is one of two major subgenres of bluegrass music. It is also known as newgrass, a term attributed to New Grass Revival member Ebo Walker. Musicians and bands John Hartford, New Grass Revival, J.D. Crowe and the New South, The Dillards, Boone Creek, Country Gazette, and the Seldom Scene pioneered innovations in the genre. Some groups began using electric instruments and importing songs from other genres, particularly rock & roll. Progressive bluegrass became popular in the late 1960s and 1970s, but it can be traced back to the banjo and contrabass duets that Earl Scruggs played even in the earliest days of the Foggy Mountain Boys. The four key distinguishing elements of progressive bluegrass are (1) instrumentation, frequently including electric guitars, drums, piano, and more, (2) songs imported or styles imitated from other musical genres like jazz, rock and others, (3) non-traditional chord progressions, (4) lengthy "jam band"-style improvisation. However, not all these elements are always present in progressive bluegrass".

This album is Rowan's solo debut and in some ways he takes a step back … but not into straight bluegrass. He could have gone any number of ways but here he has contemporary country rock sounds but with a overlay of music past … a little straight country, some yodelling, a bit of Tex Mex, bluegrass.

This isn't the sound of some urban hipster jumping onto a musical trend (or some English hack digging through Americana looking for an identity*) . Rowan's entire musical career had been moving to this point. And, importantly, Rowan who clearly knows his music wasn't just happy to sit here, he was always introducing things, fine tuning. He had already incorporated rock into his bluegrass (or bluegrass into his rock) but he would introduce south-of-the-border Tex Mex  and American roots into this album and would go on to  incorporate flamenco, reggae (the most dreaded of all musical styles to me, especially when done by whites), and other styles.  He never breaks from bluegrass but he adds external influences, because he is, errr progressive.

Smaller, stupid, or insincere artists will have radical shifts in their music. Their music is not organic and not an extension of what they like. Their bottom line in money or fame or both perhaps fanned by self delusion (think the incredibly irrelevant and insincere "Mumford and Sons"). This music will be, ultimately, worthless … no matter how many people buy it and love it. Rowan, on the other hand, may not make a bundle, but continues to be true to himself (no matter how corny that sounds).

Rowan's writing is clear and crisp, He doesn't sound grizzled or backwoods and nor needs to be as the music is pastoral, beautifully evocative and, not surprisingly, played beautifully. He, also, doesn't sound regional. There are no strong accents and this gives the music, perhaps, an accessibility that it otherwise wouldn't have for those who don't want to try a little harder. These are not criticisms but observations. The song writing is strong and the music comes like a cool breeze blowing pas you as you sit on a hill watching the world go by …

All tracks composed by Peter Rowan; except where indicated

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Outlaw Love – a beautiful start and not unlike something off one of the country Byrd albums.
  • Break My Heart Again – I'm a sucker for accordion, Mexican sounds and a yodel here and there.  This could be singer songwriter with a country Mexican bent.
  • Woman in Love  – a pleasing love song.
  • When I Was A Cowboy – (Leadbelly) – This is Leadbelly's (yes, that one) version of the old cowboy song "The Old Chisholm Trail" which was recorded by him (whilst in prison) in 1933.It's a beautiful intermingling of country and blues styles. Rowan adds his own touched and the song is disarming.
  • Land of the Navajo  – Originally doe with his group Muleskinner this is an indictment of the treatment of native Americans. Beautiful and quite sad.
  • The Free Mexican Airforce –  Where's my tequila? The accordion, the Spanish guitar and the party atmosphere always work on me. Excellent … nice Tex Mex with sly, subversive lyrics.
  • Panama Red  – The song was originally done by the country-rock band The New Riders of the Purple Sage (1973) who Rowan was writing for. He later performed it with his band Old and in the Way (recorded 1973 but released 1975), before doing it here. Panama red is a high potency cannabis … which explains the joyous exaltations in the song, perhaps. It is very catchy …the song that is.
  • Midnite Moonlite  – Nice fiddling and a pretty love song
  • The Gyspy King's Farewell – Another great song like the Byrds with accordion …supplied by the great Flaco Jimenez.

And …

A winner … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

Nothing no where

Sounds

http://recordlective.com/Peter_Rowan/Peter_Rowan/2aa06cd0-2823-3267-90f1-b957bb9d1bba/

Land of the Navajo

Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zoc3-pTttdM

The Free Mexican Airforce

Mp3 attached

Midnite Moonlite

Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLnDWc8APGg

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5p0AryAE6Bw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWyaRmi0O7g

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_mMYzIm-gs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKh8XjgoQfc

Seatrain

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ayz1bwRLNW4

Muleskinner

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSZ6hs_Q1mc

Review

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Rowan_(album)

Bio

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Rowan

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/peter-rowan-mn0000322339/biography

http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3430400054.html

http://grapewrath.blogspot.com.au/2010/05/peter-rowan.html

Website

http://www.peter-rowan.com/

Trivia

  • The album is produce by Peter Rowan and dedicated to his father Paul Donovan Rowan and the blue yodeler Jimmie Rodgers
  • Credits: Accordion – Flaco Jimenez (tracks: A2, A4), Acoustic Bass – Buell Neidlinger (tracks: A1, A3, A5, B3), Roger Mason (2) (tracks:  A4, B2), Todd Phillips (tracks: A2, B1, B4), Autoharp – Mike Seeger (tracks: B4), Bajo Sexto – Jesse Ponce (tracks: A2, B1, B4), Banjo – Lamar Greer* (tracks: A4, B2), Fiddle – Richard Greene (tracks: A1, A3, A5, B3), Tex Logan (tracks: A4, B2), Guitar, Vocals, Mandola – Peter Rowan, Harmony Vocals – Alice Gerrard (tracks: B4), Estrella Berosini (tracks: A2, B4), Laura Eastman (tracks: B4), Mandolin – Barry Mitterhoff (tracks: A4, B2), Pedal Steel Guitar – Jimmy Fuller (tracks: A2), Slide Guitar – Paul Lenart (tracks: B4)

 * I refer to the rather sad (Bragg) recent "argument" with Pokey LaFarge on Americana … http://themusic.com.au/news/all/2014/03/11/billy-bragg-and-pokey-lafarge-did-not-get-along-at-womadelaide/

Posted in Alt Country, Country, Country Rock | Tagged | Leave a comment

CHER – Stars – (Warner Brothers) – 1975

Cher - Stars

There is something about Cher.

Something beyond her current image.

Regular readers of this blog may find it amusing that I like Cher, but I do.

Certainly I don like her more recent stuff ("recent" being defined as anything after the 1970s) but I do like and  love a lot of her music.

I can here sniggering out there but in all honesty, all the people I know who love 60s pop have room for Sonny and Cher and no sniggering goes on there.

So why can't I like Cher's 70s output?

It is corn, it is cheese, but above all it is pop … and I like pop.

You have to admire Cher.

She hasn't the greatest voice (it's not bad but it's not like …), she isn't the greatest interpreter of songs (like Helen Merrill), she isn't a formal musician (she doesn't play an instrument), and she doesn't write her own music.

And yet she has had a successful career.

Why?

Strength of personality and one of the most distinctive voices in pop, which she projects and promotes beautifully.

And, yes, she is intelligent.

Well, if that is the case, why doesn't she write her own songs?

She never needed to  … starting out she had the gifted Sonny Bono, when she went solo she was a big star and songwriters would throw songs at her and she could pick what she wanted. She could lay back, pick songs, sing them, have hits and enjoy life rather than suffering the anguish of the songwriting process.

It may not be as noble but if you have talent it doesn't matter.

If string a few words together with music is songwriting and songwriting is a sign of intelligence then all I can say there are about 100 Einstein's playing in Brisbane tonight.

No, no, intelligence isn't that. It's something else outside of music. Music may be a part of it but it's not music alone.

For critics to sit back and attack entertainers because they don't write songs as some sort of a reflection on intelligence is stupid.

Sure, you can attack them if they do covers and don't add, interpret or do anything with the song but a good talented entertainer will always do that.

Let's face it. If you like a song you are listening to and you didn't know the singer didn't write it then what's the difference? It's music not literature. Music, unlike literature is usually a collaborative process anyway unless the singer, writes, records, produces, plays all the instruments himself.

Cher knows her limitations and knows that she has to utilise what she has to bets advantage. And that is her voice, her force of personality, and her musicality. And that is smart. And, despite, some missteps and questionable records she has shown she has the smarts when it comes to music.

If you hum to it, tap your feet to it, dance to it it can't be all bad can it?

So what does a person do who doesn't write their own songs, isn't a "musician", isn't  a great interpreter of songs but is intelligent and has a desire to express themselves?

You pick songs you think mean something to you and then you have a legend like Jimmy Webb  produce, arrange and conduct your album.

And this album is the result.

This was Cher's first album without the influence of Sonny Bono and the first for the Warner Brothers Label. Cher was newly divorced at age 29, independent for the first time since she was 16 and famous. She, clearly, wanted to say something. Her step away from her past security and an uncertain future, especially in personal relationships, gives the album a slightly melancholy tone.

This becomes her singer-songwriter album even if she didn't write anything. She inhabits the songs and with Jimmy Webb's attention to detail makes this mix of bluesy rock, country rock and MOR one of her most personal statements.

Jimmy Webb can be credited for some the sweeping and gently epic big sounds here. He has made a career out of that and he knows how to get the epic without falling into bombast. This is slick, as you would expect from Cher, and she is not adverse to bombast (especially later in her career) but this is restrained. Big, but restrained. Comparatively speaking

The musicianship is first rate and there are no ragged edges but this was the mainstream 70s of the west coast.

A lot of  you out there still wont have time for this but then again you probably don't listen to Carly Simon, Janis Ian or Joni Mitchell.

Having said that, that doesn't mean the album will be successful or the audience will be in tune with you. 

And this is the case here. The album did not chart well.

Cher had a number of failures in the 70s, album wise(perhaps the 70s and its dominance of singer-songwriter music ), acted against her … she eventually moved more to a dance and disco thing where people don't care it you write your own music or not … and had greater success.

Yes, yes, I'm biased and I had a crush on Cher when I was a teen. Still do. Maybe I'm letting that cloud my judgement in relation to the person and the music but when I hear her sultry low voice she has the same effect on me as Marlene Dietrich … a sort of instant aural erection.

Refer to my other comments for more biographical background and sexual frustration relating to Cher.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Love Enough – (Tim Moore) – from his self titled album (1975). A perfect example of 70s singer songwriter pop song.  I'm surprised it wasn't a hit for someone.
  • Bell Bottom Blues – (Eric Clapton) – the song first appeared on the Derek and The Dominos (of which Duane Allman was a member) album "Layla" (1970). I'm pretty ambivalent to Clapton but this song was a good one and Cher extracts all the drama from the plea for love. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_Bottom_Blues_(Derek_and_the_Dominos_song)
  • These Days – (Jackson Browne) – from Jackson Browne's "For Everyman" (1974) album though it was first recorded by Nico in 1967 and by Duane Allman's brother Gregg on his 1973 album "Laid Back". A good version, well sung.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/These_Days_(Jackson_Browne_song)
  • Mr. Soul – (Neil Young) – written by Neil Young when he was in Buffalo Springfield for the "Buffalo Springfield Again" (1967) album. The song is suitably groovy and dirty and of course catchy, as it is in it's original version. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mr._Soul
  • Just This One Time – (Jimmy Webb) – from his "Land's End" (1975) album…but first done on his "Reunion" album with Glen Campbell (1974). This is a typical Webb big ballad with the emphasis on "big". Dollops of gospel and soul allow Cher to go the full Diva and it's hard to dislike.
  • Geronimo's Cadillac – (Michael Martin Murphey) – This is, perhaps, Murphey's most famous song from Murphey's album "Geronimo's Cadillac" (1972). Cher taps into her (partial) Native American ancestry here as she had in the past ("Half Breed" etc). It's not authentic but the song is a good one and Cher does a good version. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geronimo%27s_Cadillac_(Michael_Martin_Murphey_song)
  • The Bigger They Come, The Harder They Fall – (Jimmy Cliff) – originally titled "The Harder They Come" and written by reggae artist Jimmy Cliff for his 1971 Soundtrack to the movie "The Harder They Come". According to the liner notes Van Dyke Parks arranged the steel drums on this album ..so I'm assuming they are referring to this song. This is, perhaps, a misfire. It is certainly bouncy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Harder_They_Come_(song)
  • Love Hurts - (Boudleaux Bryant) – Boudleaux Bryant who, with his wife Felice, wrote "Bye Bye Love" and "Wake Up Little Susie," for the Everly Brothers. "Love Hurts" was an album track on "A Date with The Everly Brothers", but Roy Orbison had the first hit with it in 1961 (albeit in Australia #5, it was the flipside to his US #1 "Running Scared").  The song has since been covered many times was by Jim Capaldi (#95 US, #4UK 1975), Gram Parsons (1973), Nazareth (#8 US 1976, #15 UK 1977, #1 Canada 1976) and others. She would re-record later (for the "Love Hurts" album 1991) in a more hard-rock fashion closer to Nazareth's version while this is more slow and dreamy with Webb's influence all over it.
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_Hurts
  • Rock and Roll Doctor – (Lowell George, Fred Martin) – recorded by Little Feat for their "Feats Don't Fail Me Now" (1974) – down south rock n roll from Cher. This would fit well on a Delaney & Bonnie or, errr Little Feat album.
  • Stars - (Janis Ian) –  written by Ian for her 1974 album also entitled "Stars". The song, about celebrity and its associated loneliness was relevant to Ian and clearly to Cher. The lyric would become especially resonant with the commercial failure of this album

And …

Another interesting twist in Cher's musical history. Knowing my friends I'm not sure I would be allowed to put it on at parties but I would play it at home myself. It's a undiscovered minor gem …. I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

Album

1975 #153

England

Sounds

http://recordlective.com/Cher/Stars/058eb23b-5830-4ee6-9137-c73faded21c1/

Bell Bottom Blues

mp3 attached

Just This One Time

live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8XbgHd1nSs

Geronimo's Cadillac

live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4T9CSFA9ic

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bS3O5zg290k

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQlhH6tDBc8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LT_y5qri00o

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvnGiSpsMpE

Review

http://www.cherscholar.com/stars.htm

http://divaincarnate.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/cher-stars-1975.html

http://theseconddisc.com/2011/01/27/reissue-theory-cher-a-womans-story-the-warner-bros-years/

Bio

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cher

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/cher-mn0000107090/biography

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Webb

Website

http://www.cher.com/

Trivia

  • "The Warner Bros. years found Cher experimenting with a variety of musical styles and producers for a handful of singles and four complete albums: Stars (1975), I’d Rather Believe in You (1976), Cherished (1977) and Two the Hard Way (1977). The lineup of talent who joined Cher at Warner Bros. is staggering: Phil Spector, Harry Nilsson, Jimmy Webb, Snuff Garrett, Steve Barri, then-husband Gregg Allman, and even Sonny Bono." http://theseconddisc.com/2011/01/27/reissue-theory-cher-a-womans-story-the-warner-bros-years/

          Cher - in pensive mood 1978                    Cher - Time Magazine 1975    

Posted in Pop Rock | Tagged | Leave a comment

TIM BUCKLEY – Look at the Fool – (DisCreet) – 1974

Tim Buckley - Look at the Fool

Tim Buckley seems to be one of those acts that floats in and out  cult favour from time. I think he is out at the moment but I could be wrong.

I've got a few Tim Buckley albums in the pile behind me but I've only ever listened to two, "Happy Sad" (1969) and "Greetings from L.A." (1972)

I bought "Happy Sad" in 1986  purely because it was on the Elektra label. I had no other knowledge of Tim Buckley.

That album proved to be hypnotic.

Tim Buckley is hard to pigeon hole musically because he is a adventurous vocal virtuoso. He  started out as a more traditional folk-rock artist, but then incorporated other styles into his songs, including blues, jazz, avant-garde, Latin and funk (on this album). Over each of his nine studio albums he showed some degree of musical divergence.

Wikipedia: "Timothy Charles "Tim" Buckley III (February 14, 1947 – June 29, 1975) was an American singer and musician. His music and style changed considerably through the years; his first album (1966) was mostly folk, but his subsequent albums incorporated jazz, psychedelia, funk, soul, avant-garde and an evolving "voice as instrument" sound. Though he did not find commercial success during his lifetime, Buckley is admired by later generations for his innovation as a musician and vocal ability. He died at the age of 28 from a heroin overdose, leaving behind his sons Taylor and Jeff, the latter of whom later went on to become a musician as well".

Look at the Fool is the ninth and last album by Tim Buckley before his death in 1975.

This album is polarising

The ultra sharp Richie Unterberger had this to say on allmusic "Tim Buckley's final album is a sad, burned-out affair, suffering from weak, poorly conceived material and washed-out soul-rock arrangements. Most troublingly, Buckley's voice — the one asset he could always count on — had itself begun to deteriorate. Here his vocals were distressingly thin, like torn socks that have gone through the laundry cycle one too many times".

And, Richie is a Tim Buckley fan!

Richie says in allmusic's biography of Buckley, "One of the great rock vocalists of the 1960s, Tim Buckley drew from folk, psychedelic rock, and progressive jazz to create a considerable body of adventurous work in his brief lifetime. His multi-octave range was capable of not just astonishing power, but great emotional expressiveness, swooping from sorrowful tenderness to anguished wailing. His restless quest for new territory worked against him commercially: By the time his fans had hooked into his latest album, he was onto something else entirely, both live and in the studio. In this sense he recalled artists such as Miles Davis and David Bowie, who were so eager to look forward and change that they confused and even angered listeners who wanted more stylistic consistency. However, his eclecticism has also ensured a durable fascination with his work that has engendered a growing posthumous cult for his music, often with listeners who were too young (or not around) to appreciate his music while he was active".

It is fair to say that most mainstream critics hate it.

Most Tim Buckley fans think it is an ambitious failure

There have been attempts to resurrect the album from is generally negative press. Hardcore Buckley fans refer o his experimentalism and the fact he had to go this way (eventually) and that this album is part of a progression and, perhaps, a misunderstood masterpiece.

At the time the album got mixed reviews but the passing of time and the  general negativity to white funk soul  – which is what this album is – haven't helped it.

I don't mind white funk as long as it is white funk and not white guys trying to beat the black guys at something they never can. White funk is therefore elements of black funk with a white sensibility attached … a quirkiness and the drawing in of external non-black musical influences.

Buckley does that here. There are elements of Latin, and psych with some typically quirky (read obscure and lyrical) lyrics.

Despite the fact that Buckley wrote the words and music none of that is greatly relevant on an album like this. This album and the genre of funk soul (generally) is about creating a vibe and usually a vibe you can dance to. The words don't matter as much because the music is what counts. So, Buckley is limited by the musical form he is trying to emulate. Sure he adds bits and pieces to this but he ultimately has to rely, not on his voice, not on his lyrics but on those familiar beats.

And that is the biggest problem. Buckley's greatest strength is his expressive voice and I'm not sure it works with this form of music. Recording techniques aside his voice seems to drop in and out from it's up front position and, perhaps, is a little lost in the music. Elvis Presley, a different but equally virtuosic vocalist tackled white funk soul when he did a session at Stax Studios in 1973* and I think suffered some of the same problems Buckley has here. The delivery is in the music and vocalists will suffer. Elvis also recorded more traditional type Elvis songs along with the white funk and they work a lot better. Buckley doesn't do that.

Having said that, Buckley (and to a lesser extent Elvis on his similar material) sings the hell out of some of these white funk songs and his technique and virtuosity creates some amazing performances. It's like his voice (which is tortured and pained and only occasionally happy) is fighting against the music rather than being a part of it as they should be, probably. Whether that is good or bad I don't know but it is striking and it hits you viscerally.

The very (amazing) black backing vocalists are a blessing and a curse. They make the album more commercial (and I think that is a bad thing here – it makes the music a little familiar) but they also help lift the music and perhaps create a bridge to connect Buckley's voice to the music.

I should mention that Buckley's "Greetings from L.A."(1972) also has some funk in it but Buckley isn't as single minded there.

Ultimately, despite what Richie Unterberger says (and I have regard for him) this album isn't a bad album. It perhaps, and I can't comment as I haven't heard all of his work, isn't as good as other Buckley albums but it it's much better (and much more ambitious) than a lot of white funk and white disco coming out at the time (think some of the bad mid to late 70s Rod Stewart albums) ….and a few of those tracks are, err amazing.

It is pointless to refer to the publics appreciation of the album …the public had very little interest in Tim Buckley especially by this stage

The cover artwork is not the best  … no one disagrees on that.

All tracks written by Tim Buckley unless noted.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Look at the Fool  – this starts as a slow funk and then becomes quite dramatic and a touch bombastic (and there are a couple of silly sounding notes) but, ultimately, the song is strangely memorable as Buckley groans, sings and yelps his way across the song backed by angelic backing vocalists.
  • Bring It On Up  – a very black sounding song title and a full on funky sound
  • Helpless  – quite a groove with the backing vocalists in fine form
  • Freeway Blues – (Larry Beckett/Buckley) – Larry Beckett is a poet and songwriter. Buckley and Beckett started writing together in the mid-1960s, when both were members of Southern California group The Bohemians. Evocative and gritty funk
  • Tijuana Moon – (Larry Beckett/Buckley) – strange, really strange and very, very compelling. Like a Broadway show about funky bluesman lost in the Caribbean.
  • Ain't It Peculiar  – wow – great funk
  • Who Could Deny You  – Blood Sweat and Tears territory here but without the hooks in the horns.
  • Mexicali Voodoo – I don't know what's going on here. I don't think anyone was. Everyone is doing their on thing but it holds together.
  • Down in the Street  – a "socially relevant" lyric and some hard funk.
  • Wanda Lu  - totally different to the rest of the album and , perhaps, the best song on the album. That's not because it's different but rather because it's in a style of music I like. Garage, like Sam the Sham etc. Great fun.

And …

I like Buckley and the more I listen to this album the more it grows on me. Maybe it is a masterpiece? …. I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

Nothing no where

Sounds

http://recordlective.com/Tim_Buckley/Look_at_the_Fool/b67dfd25-8a35-3f14-b1e7-e9c1910590c9/

Ain't It Peculiar 

Mp3 attached

Wanda Lu

Mp3 attached

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMTEtDBHGY4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtU-9EMSYu0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3yGzp7tfmQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwWcGSB8wWI

Review

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Look_at_the_Fool

http://www.progarchives.com/Review.asp?id=178509

http://www.allmusic.com/album/look-at-the-fool-mw0000199400

http://badcatrecords.com/BadCat/BUCKLEYtim.htm

http://freeingjohnsinclair.aadl.org/node/198124

http://guesswhatimlisteningto.blogspot.com.au/2010/10/final-albums.html

Bio

http://www.timbuckley.com/tim-buckley-chronicle-of-a-starsailor/

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/tim-buckley-mn0000595101/biography

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_buckley

http://timbuckley.net/bios/goldmine.shtml

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/tim-buckley-dead-at-28-19750814

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4CCuJblouo

Website

http://www.timbuckley.com/

http://www.timbuckley.net/tweener2.shtml

Trivia

  • The album is produced by Buckley's guitarist, Joe Falsia.
  • The backing vocalists are Venetta Fields, Clydie King, Sherlie Matthews and are legendary …            

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venetta_Fields                        

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clydie_King

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherlie_Matthews

  • Venetta Fields lives on the Gold Coast.

 

*You can hear those Elvis tracks indispersed over the "Raised on Rock" (1973), "Good Times" (1974), and "Promised Land" (1975) albums or collected on the 3 CD set – Elvis at Stax (2013)

Posted in Singer Songwriter, Soul, Funk & Disco | Tagged | Leave a comment

TRINI LOPEZ – Trini – (Reprise) – 1966

Trini Lopez - Trini

I have a few Trini Lopez album entries on this blog. Check them out for biographical details of the vastly underrated Trini Lopez.

In 1962 Trini hit it big doing occasional originals and many covers all transformed to fit his sound, to which I have said before:

"Trini's go-go guitar sound which was part rock n roll, part pop, and all California… His audience wanted to dance to songs they knew but with a beat that didn't require them to change their dance moves".

For a Mexican-American (a "Spanish-Americano" on the albums back sleeve) from Dallas, Trini had done good.

And, in 1966 there was no reason to change.

The 60s were a fertile and inventive time for music with dominant styles changing every couple of years (sometimes every year). Middle America however, then as now, once comfortable didn't budge as easily.

Trini's hip new sound (and he was at the front of the good time go go beat) was, by now, firmly entrenched in middle America's musical psyche.

With bankable sales, then, he wasn't about to change.

And, more power to him …listening to this music some 50 years later you can still hear the excitement in the voice of the poor kid who has done well.

The back sleeve under a banner of "The Excitement of Trini"  refers succinctly and sharply on his rags to riches career and to his electrifying live show. And these two factor sum up Trini. This is the kid who escaped Dallas Saturday nights "throwing rocks at tractors" (according to the sleeve) for the fame and fortune of being a pop star.

Pop can be disposable and maybe this album is but in Trini I can hear the music of someone who has escaped his background and sings  and plays guitar knowing that unless he gives100% he may return to a lifetime of Dallas Saturday nights where "Spanish-Americanos" are excluded from the fun.

Don Costa, arranged and produced the album and he, having worked with Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett  etc brings a more rounded trad pop sound. The guitar keeps the rhythm but the beat is punctuated by horns which are everywhere.

Costa has to make sure that the "older crowd" are hooked also.

Costa, also, probably, influences the song selection. There are the usual pop hits of the day ("Yesterday", Baby the Rain Must Fall" ) but there is also the MOR standards ,both recent standards and new songs destined to become future MOR standards ("Fly Me to the Moon", "The Shadow of Your Smile", "One of those Songs" etc).

The sound isn't Trini doing go-go music fro the 20 somethings or even the 30 somethings but rather go-go for the over 40s …and by that I mean over 40s in 1966.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Fly Me To The Moon – (Bart Howard) – I love this song in all it's incarnations but I'm particularly fond of Bobby Darin's 1963 version or Sinatra's 1964 version. . Here Trini has given it beat and changed it's meaning. The ethereal romantic quality of the song is no longer there but the rhythm and lyric still make it catchy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fly_Me_to_the_Moon
  • I Will Wait For You – (Legrand – Gimbel) – from the film "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" (1964) which was a popular French film that had art house come popular success in the United States. The song was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song at the 38th Academy Awards held in 1966. Again, this has been done by everyone including Sinatra and Darin, again. Trini does well on the this ballad. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Will_Wait_for_You
  • Baby, The Rain Must Fall – (Bernstein-Sheldon) – from the great Robert Mulligan film starring Steve McQueen, Don Murray and Lee Remick, "Baby the Rain Must Fall" (1965), Glenn Yarbrough provided the vocal for the song in the film and it went to #12 on the Charts in the US (1965). Trini's version is suitably energetic and the song is a good one. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_the_Rain_Must_Fall_(song)
  • If You Were Me – (Marcellno – Greenbach) – I don't know much about this song's pedigree but drummer Jack Greenbach, wrote this with Jerry Marcellino, who later wrote and produced records for Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five. There is some nice guitar in the break.
  • Call Me – (Tony Hatch) – English pop singer Petula Clark recorded this in early 1965. Trini's fellow American Latin Chris Montez released a cover in late 1965 which peaked on the Easy Listening chart at #2 and on the Hot 100 at #22 in the US in early 1966. There have been many other versions.  Trini's version is suitably brezzy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Call_Me_(Petula_Clark_song)
  • I'm Gonna Be A Wheel Someday  – (Bartholomew-Hayes) – a rock n roll standard written by Fats Domino and Bartholomew and Hayes. The song was first recorded by Bobby Mitchell & The Toppers (1957) but subsequently recorded by Fats and everyone else. This doesnt fit in with the other songs on the album and was, I would think, a song Trini would have been playing in the late 50s around Texas.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%27m_Gonna_Be_a_Wheel_Someday
  • I'm Comin' Home, Cindy  (Lopez – Zeller) – I don't know much about Phil Zeller (though, clearly, he's not the metal musician that comes up when you google.). He seems to have been a songwriter who worked with Sinatra. He did quit a few co-writes with Trini over a number of albums.  The song seems to be a variation on the traditional country folk "Cindy Cindy" songs. In melody it's a throwback to rock n roll (which seems to be the style Lopez most often writes in) with horns added over the top. Not entirely successful but not bad either.
  • The Shadow Of Your Smile – (Mandel – Webster) from the film "The Sandpiper" (1965). The song won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year and the Academy Award for Best Original Song. In 2004 the song finished at #77 in AFI's "100 Years…100 Songs" poll of the top tunes from American cinema. Again, it was recorded by everyone and, yet again, I'm most familiar with the Bobby Darin (1965) and Frank Sinatra versions (1966). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Shadow_of_Your_Smile
  • Trini's Tune – (Lopez – Kusik) – Larry Kusick was another 60s songwriter and Trini has teamed up with him on this novelty tune. Trini extols the virtues of Trini's music! This is naff but it's catchy in a totally MOR prime time TV special way.
  • The 32nd Of May  – (Ahlert – Snyder ) – June Ahlert and Eddie Snyder were more MOR trad pop writers in the 60s and that's what this song is.
  • Yesterday – (Lennon McCartney) – is this the most covered Lennon – McCartney tune? The Beatles had a #1 with it in 1965. Everyone has done it. I'm partial to the Elvis cover (1969) but this version is quite good in a bompy, slick way, though the song itself is pure tin pan alley. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yesterday_(Beatles_song)
  • One Of Those Songs Holt – (Calvi – Holt) –  One of those songs aka "Le bal de Madame de Mortemouille" was a song by French composer Gerard Calvi (English lyric by Will Holt). It dates back to 1958 and perhaps a show or film score Calvi was working on. I don't know who did the first English version but Jimmy Durante recorded it in 1966 as did Brenda Lee and Max Bygraves (in England). This is music hall which doesnt work with trini's style.

And …

Pass me a fruit cocktail with an extra big umbrella and get me my slippers … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1966  I'm Comin' Home, Cindy  Adult Contemporary #2 

1966  I'm Comin' Home, Cindy  The Billboard Hot 100  #39 

Album

1966 #54

England

Singles

1966  I'm Comin' Home, Cindy Cindy  #28 

Album

Sounds

Full album

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mj2UhPs62o4

Baby, The Rain Must Fall

Mp3 attached

Others

Trini live in the 60s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z33hxOWjDLA

Live in 2014

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbGHoRNPRP0

Review

Bio

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trini_Lopez

http://www.markguerrero.com/14.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Costa

Website

http://www.trinilopez.com/

Trivia

Posted in Pop Rock | Tagged | 1 Comment

GLADYS KNIGHT & THE PIPS – Imagination – (Buddah) – 1973

GLADYS KNIGHT & THE PIPS - Imagination

When talking about  Gladys Knight & The Pips "Neither One of Us" (1973) album which immediately preceded this I said, "Gladys Knight and the Pips came through the Motown factory in the 60s with a few top 20 pop hits including "I Heard it through the Grapevine", "Every Beat of My Heart") and transitioned into the 70s easily where they had most of their hits. They really were on fire 1971 – 75, though they had to leave Motown (after this album) to prove their worth (they went to Buddah records)".

This is that album.

This was a big commercial hit and showed (in part) that soul could adapt itself to 70s musical genres rather than just extending it itself as a "dance music".

Check out my other comment for biographical detail on Gladys Knight & The Pips.

This was their 10th album or so and their first on the Buddah label. A lot of this sounds MOR – singer songwriter soft rock filtered through a soul colander.

And that's not a surprise

The album is mainly produced by Tony Camillo or Kenny Kerner and Richie Wise.

Tony Camillo (tracks: 1, 5, 6, 8), Kenny Kerner and Richie Wise (tracks: 2, 3, 4, 7) and Gladys Knight & The Pips (track 9).

All songs are co-produced, apparently, by Gladys Knight & The Pips.

Camillo had worked in soul for a long time. He worked on many pop, rock, soul and disco recordings in the 1960s and 1970s, including recordings by Dionne Warwick, Eric Carmen, The Stylistics, Millie Jackson, Chambers Brothers, Peaches & Herb,  The 5th Dimension ,Grand Funk Railroad, Stevie Wonder, Martha Reeves, The Supremes, Parliament, and Tommy James.

No surprises there.

Kenny Kerner and Richie Wise do surprise though. Former members of early 70s hard rock band "Dust" they produced 4 tracks. They went on to produce Kiss.

Apart  from an emphasis on beat in a couple of songs their hard rock tendencies aren't up front. I'm not sure why they were chosen to produce. Camillo on the other hand  leans towards a smoother pop sound whether he is recording rock, hard rock or soul.

The most noticeable stylistic trend is the singer songwriter sounds. Gladys Knight & The Pips do five songs by Jim Weatherly (they had done one, "Neither One of Us", on the album of the same name and that went to #2 in the charts(1973)). Weatherly, white, was born in 1943 in Pontotoc, Mississippi and played quarterback at the University of Mississippi (and was an All-American) before choosing song writing over a football career.

He had that rugged sensitivity that was popular in the 70s … think Mac Davis, Danny O'Keefe etc.

This is white music though Gladys Knight & The Pips manage to give it some soul and funk … Gladys Knight could sing anything I suspect.

It is still, perhaps, a little too slick for my ears. Don't get me wrong, I love pure pop , but this hybrid adds sugar to something which should a little raggedy around the edges. Black American music in the 70s was about sounding Black with a capital "B"… street talk, Afro-American slang, funk, jive and a general immediacy were as important as the sounds and dance-ability of the music.

This has taken the schmaltz of confessional singer songwriter songs and adds a little black sugar.

Gladys Knight & The Pips were, I suspect, bold in going in tackling more white sounds.

But it worked – a handful of hit singles and a hit album means "money talks".

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Midnight Train To Georgia – (Jim Weatherly) –  Slick, very slick but catchy in a very, err slick way. Originally written as "Midnight Plane to Houston" it's a song about the power of love. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midnight_Train_to_Georgia
  • I've Got To Use My Imagination - (Barry Goldberg, Gerry Goffin) –  First release by Barry Goldberg October 1973 apparently.  This has a great thumping disco beat which must have packed the dance floors. Infectious.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%27ve_Got_to_Use_My_Imagination
  • Storms Of Troubled Times – (Jim Weatherly) –  from Weatherly's self title album (1973).  Lots of emotion….but engagingly (over) dramatic.
  • Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me – (Jim Weatherly) – a country hit for Ray Price in 1973 (#1). More emotion. Some of the country can be heard coming through  – black country soul MOR http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You%27re_the_Best_Thing_That_Ever_Happened_to_Me
  • Once In A Lifetime Thing – (Jim Weatherly) –  slick and dramatic.
  • Where Peaceful Waters Flow – (Jim Weatherly) –  from Weatherly's "A Gentler Time" (1973) LP. Very singer songwriter through the black diva filter.
  • I Can See Clearly Now – (Johnny Nash) –  Johnny Nash' magnificent #1 from 1972. It has been covered many times since ..my favourite is by Harry Dean Stanton (live). This song is totally re-imagined with the Pips sing lead. It isn't a great version. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Can_See_Clearly_Now
  • Perfect Love – (Paul Williams) –  from Paul Williams "Just An Old Fashioned Love Song" (1971) LP. Strings and horns and schmaltz. The Pips are up front with Gladys on this though I suspect it would have been better if it were Pip-less.
  • Window Raisin' Granny – (B. Knight, E. Patten, G. Knight, W. Guest) – Lead vocal by a Pip, this is great and moves (with it's social observations) into O'Jays territory. Perhaps this is the best track on the album and, interestingly, the only one produced by the band.The only trac

And …

The soul, groove and funk is in the vocals – the arrangements are pure MOR . It still it works,  though only sporadically on my ears … tape a few and sell.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1973  Where Peaceful Waters Flow  The Billboard Hot 100  #28 

1973  Midnight Train To Georgia  The Billboard Hot 100  #1 

1974  I've Got To Use My Imagination  The Billboard Hot 100  #4

1974  Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me  The Billboard Hot 100  #3

Album

1973 #9

England

Singles

1973  Midnight Train To Georgia  #10

1974  Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me  #7

Album

Sounds

http://recordlective.com/Gladys_Knight_&_The_Pips/Imagination/297a4a0b-3904-3565-9767-2e7591516f82/

Midnight Train To Georgia

Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zh_Sz-8zlAY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suu2x5AOJTk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSXLOQPozOc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v78-ftcqpNw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynQAtLD4utU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avGw0kPaw2s

I've Got To Use My Imagination

Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zoCpNHDgpA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4_GA2iagAw  

Window Raisin' Granny

Mp3 attached

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWvwP72FuVg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSw7vulUfME

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNtNlnN4O-s

Review

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imagination_(Gladys_Knight_%26_the_Pips_album)

http://www.allmusic.com/album/imagination-mw0000654780

http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/mb28

http://soultrain.com/2013/11/04/classic-soul-album-spotlight-gladys-knight-the-pips-imagination/

http://www.funkmysoul.gr/gladys-knight-the-pips-1973-imagination/

Bio

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gladys_Knight_%26_the_Pips

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Weatherly

Website

http://gladysknight.com/home2.html/

Trivia

Posted in Soul, Funk & Disco | Tagged | Leave a comment

ALAN PRICE – Lucky Day – (Jet) – 1979

Alan Price - Lucky Day

I like my English music to sound …errr English.

Accepting (as any reasonable person must) that rock music is an essentially organic American medium to, then,  transplant that music to England I need those bands to try a little harder.

Aping American acts won't cut it.

Sure I have time for the musicality and sheer audaciousness of The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Animals and others who are trying to beat the Americans at their own game Their lyrics are full of bayous and Mississippi deltas, their rock swaggers and struts with the gin and juke joints of the south and industrial north but I can accept their artifice because they never for once pretended to have invented anything and give credit where credit is due.

There is the lineage of English bands (Munford and Sons being the most recent) which pretend to be English but really just play American native music dressed up and repackaged in English clothes. They have style consultants to make the music "hip" and old English snobbery to give them credibility. Their repackage is sold successfully to the world, even to the Americans who lap it up. American insecurity whether it be in literature, film and music  still exists amongst a percentage of Americans. "We must turn our heads to England for credibility in the arts …. yes but it's like the emperor's new clothes after the emperor has stepped on a dog turd".

There are other bands that wave the English flag but really only recycle American riffs for the local English domestic market. Most of the so called "Britpop" bands fall into that category. Most of the English markets lap them up because they are domestic, can be seen live and probably live around the corner from you. They rarely hit the big time outside of England. And, they are largely dull unless you are member of the English diaspora or a unreconstructed Anglophile.

There are still others who are in it for a buck who don't have a obvious or even subconscious philosophy. Whatever works that's what they produce and sell.

Then there are the English bands I like most. Those that use rock music as a way of exploring their Englishness. They have no trouble adopting American music and usually acknowledge the same. But, their music explores English themes and attitudes from within a American pop cultural world.

The 20th century, like it or not, was the American century.

Many good bands / acts  fill the gaps between those categories but the ones I like the most are these obstinately English ones who draw from all types of music without stealing … ones that are English without a chip on the shoulder, who don't give a fuck and have an acute understanding of pop cultural history. The Kinks, Robyn Hitchcock, David Essex, David Bowie come to mind.

Alan Price fits into that group also.

Price hinted as much talking about blues from the United States, "We had a missionary zeal for this music, I think we identified with it, because it (Tyneside) is a strong area politically, you know, working class. There was a strong trade union ethic up there, and we felt that blues music, the poor black music, represented the same things as the whites had. And we didn't really have contact with our own folk music, whereas the American black music was born of people in the cotton fields, but then heavy industry as well, when you moved up north to Chicago, and we identified with both the sound and the primitive side of it."

http://www.saga.co.uk/lifestyle/people/celebrities/alan-price.aspx

See my other Alan Price entry for biographical detail but by way of shorthand lets say, Alan Price was born in the north of England, in 1942, played organ in The Animals, left and formed the Alan Price Set, and then put out a series of solo albums, that are variously autobiographical, adventurous, commercial, or weird but always very English.

On top of that he is very smart.

This album is quite commercial. Price has tackled most of the popular styles of the day and a few styles from "yesterday". Price likes his older music but knows he needs to sell records as well. Not every song is a winner but Price's smarts makes the songs a lot better than they would be other hands.

His strengths are in his inventiveness and in his autobiographical writing and that applies to this album. The best songs are the very personal or those drawn from the narrative of his own life. When he's just trying to write a generic pop song, thinking about melody, pop hooks and instrumentation, he doesn't succeed as well .. though there are some individual charming retro type pop songs.

The other problem is the slick production and reliance on synths … it hasn't dated well.

All tracks by Price unless notes. Price produced the album though the sound production is by Bones Howe (was it recorded in America?)

The album was released in England in 1978 with a different track order and sleeve and under the non-international commercial title of "England My England".

Despite the song of the same the album has influences from all corners of the globe.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • This Is Your Lucky Day (The Girl Won't Get Under)  – (Billy Day / Mike Lesley) – wtf? I know Price had a commercial poppy side to him but this is white disco!
  • Groovy Times   – This is pure soft rock with a gentle, escape from the rat race and live on a beach vibe going for it. It is malarkey but it works (especially with a pina colada).  It is vaguely reminiscent in feel and mood to Michael Nesmith's "Rio" from 1977
  • Baby Of Mine - Price is walking into Paul McCartney territory. Very pleasant with a slight faux gospel feel.   
  • Those Tender Lips – doo wop!  
  • Mama Don't Go Home – a slight calypso steel band feel. If Harry Belafonte had discovered synths he may have released a track like this. It doesn't work here and it wouldn't work for Harry.
  • I Love You Too – big pop which sounds like its from an early 70s soundtrack (minus the production) trying to copy Brill building 60s pop. I like this, it's quite catchy.  
  • Citizens Of The World Unite – a interesting (and still relevant) lyric that comes of as Ray Davies meet the eccentricity of Mick Ronson.  Ed Keupper seems to have lifted part of this the melody for his song "Also Sprach The King Of Euro Disco" (1986) I think.
  • Help From You – more McCartney-isms…and it goes on too long.
  • Pity The Poor Boy – another song that sounds like soundtrack filler.  
  • England My England – for a song about England the song starts out with a French feel, or perhaps a Russian feel if they were doing a chanson song. Snippets of England as known by Price I'm not sure what it's about but it's great.

And …

Not great but there are a handful of great tunes and Price, still, remains a undervalued talent…. I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

nothing

England

Singles

1979 Baby of Mine #32

Album

Sounds

This Is Your Lucky Day (The Girl Won't Get Under)   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZ5YKPi_AQg

Groovy Times 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeCwIRBFx8I

Baby Of Mine   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKCo6tHIHEM

Those Tender Lips 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXcSbeevjNo

Mama Don't Go Home  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGN632wU_-c

I Love You Too  

mp3 attached

Citizens Of The World Unite 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DymKY6GrWSw

Help From You   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKKgc8M4sHg

Pity The Poor Boy  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFsrU-HRNUI

England My England

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0OE9Cqbo9k

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQ4ZGGt-1rs#t=27

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSiTtAuBL8g

Review

Bio

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/alan-price-mn0000931804/biography

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Price

http://alanprice-.tumblr.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bones_Howe

Website

http://alanprice.absoluteelsewhere.net/index.html

http://www.alanpricefansforum.org.uk/

Trivia

  • "One of Price's early American heroes was Jerry Lee Lewis, and, to his joy, he was lucky enough to meet and work with him on a show: "We did a Granada TV special with him, and I remember we were in a side rehearsal room, myself and group that I was with at the time. I was playing piano and showing them what I could do, when Jerry Lee Lewis walked in, with a big cigar. He sort of pushed me off the piano stool, sat down, and played the most marvellous boogie-woogie. He had never been given the credit for his piano playing, his left hand was absolutely stupendous – fantastic independence, could do great boogie, and could actually make the piano talk. He put his cigar on the end, you could feel it almost burning the grand piano, then he played a few and turned to me and said 'that's how you do it'." http://www.saga.co.uk/lifestyle/people/celebrities/alan-price.aspx

Alan Price - Lucky Day - England

Posted in Rock & Pop, Singer Songwriter | Tagged | Leave a comment

DAVID ESSEX – The Whisper – (Mercury) – 1983

David Essex - The Whisper

I've always liked David Essex and his albums from the1970s…and I know that some of you regular readers are to shy (wimps) to get on this blog and say the same but let's sing out the joys of David Essex.

Having said that, this is from 1983 and I fear the worst.

1983 was a shoulder year. The big, bombastic, overproduced sound which typified a lot of 80s mainstream was about to hit.

Essex (see my other comments on him for biographical details etc) was always a quirky performer who had some good pop hooks in him but mainstream 80s sound could kill anyone.

He was a big, big English star (with some overseas presence) in the mid 70s but by the early 1980s his commercial popularity was diminishing. His two previous albums "Hot Love" (1980) and "Bop the Future" (1981)  weren’t big hits.

He needed something.

"A Winter’s Tale" was written by Mike Batt and Tim Rice in 1982  in response, apparently,  to a request from Essex. It was released as a single in December 1982 and peaked at #2 on the UK charts. "Tahiti" a song from  the West End musical "Mutiny!", that Essex was starring in, was then released and went to #8 in England (1983). This set the stage for another album … this one.

Essex decided to collaborate further with Mike Batt. He recorded some of Batt's songs and Batt sang some backing vocals, played some guitar and co produced this album.

The two charting songs were added to various versions of the album in an obvious attempt to increase the sell-ability of the album.

It didn't work, the album didn't do well.

Oddly, on this Australian version neither of the hit songs is included on the album. Then again "A Winter's Tale" only got to #33 in Australia…. and the album didn't chart.

Essex's career, always a mishmash of music, film and entertainment went more mainstream but that doesn't mean he didn't put out some good music … even in the 80s.

He was never out of step with what was happening around him but he was quirky enough to distinguish himself from contemporaries.

Luckily, this album doesn't envelop itself in 80s production. It is "big" in parts, and it is slick and there is brass and saxes but then again this was always in Essex's music. He was initially successful during the "glam" era after all.  There are nods to new wave sounds, rap, synth arrangements and even a little cheesy Caribbean funk but they are, generally, in the back ground.  The best of his music though was in the commitment to form and the determined quirkiness. Here we have Essex trying some new things, but there are obvious traces of his former sound running throughout.

Accordingly the album comes out as neither contemporary nor retro.

It comes out as a David Essex album …instantly identifiable, slightly out of touch and engaging

All sings written by Davis Essex unless indicated otherwise.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • The Whisper   – strange …and the tile song. Very much a song from Essex in the 70s though with a bigger clearer sound.
  • You're In My Heart  – a gentle ballad which in other hands would have been pure mush. Here it's just mush but quirky mush, and catchy. Perhaps there is a nod to Yazoo in the melody.
  • Down Again  – More Essex from the 70s and with a little influence of his former regular producer, Jeff Wayne. There is a nice guitar solo in the bridge which is probably Chris Spedding.
  • Fishing For The Moon – (Mike Batt) – sweet and semi orchestral in sound. Quite typical of Batt who wrote Art Garfunkel's "Bright Eyes". It's pleasant but not distinctive.
  • Ears Of The City – (Mike Batt) – this sounds, lyrically, a little like 80s Bowie. It's naff but pleasant.
  • Love, Oh Love –    quite strange. This reminds me of some of the more eccentric P.J. Proby recordings from the 80s. Essex sings in a different pitch to normal (as he does on a couple of songs on this album). This is strangely endearing.
  • Moonlight Dancing –   wtf …Essex raps. The song is clearly a cash in on the success of Blondie's "Rapture" mix of pop and hip hop.
  • Love Is A Stranger   –  Essex is trying to be new wave here … it's awful
  • Ernesto – you've got to admire any song about Che Guevara. This could have come from a stage show but with the gentle Caribbean rhythms and straight faced lyric this is quite eccentric, but I like it.
  • Two Runaways   – more New Wave … something like The Psychedelic Furs or David Bowie slumming it. Again this is naff but this is catchy and I think the "naffness" comes from the fact that you don't expect Essex to be singing it. If someone else was doing it you'd think it was a pretty good song.

And …

Patchy but not as bad as some critics would have you believe. Essex is surprising as always …. I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

nothing

England

Singles

1983 You're In My Heart  #59

1984 Fishing For The Moon         #76

Album

1983 #67

Sounds

http://recordlective.com/David_Essex/The_Whisper/da5ff463-5e2f-3f70-846b-5f2583e520d2/

Down Again   

mp3 attached

Ernesto

mp3 attached

Others

A Winter's Tale

Videoclip

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUK8aiRq_Iw

live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYzhz0VZ_R8

Tahiti

Videoclip

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3VZJ0ZTESc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9G2lqY3Nuk0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fR3hhc_Nfg8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdTg9n0_Rsc

Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/the-whisper-mw0000850333

Bio

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Essex

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/david-essex-mn0000645474

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Batt

Website

http://www.davidessex.com/

Trivia

  • Personnel: David Essex : vocals / Chris Spedding : guitars / Martin Bliss : guitars / Rod Demicks : bass / Pete May : drums / Ray Cooper : percussion / Mike Batt : keyboards / Pete Giles : keyboards / Produced by : Mike Batt and David Essex
Posted in Punk and New Wave, Rock & Pop | Tagged | 2 Comments