HELP – Self Titled – (MCA / Decca) – 1971

Help - Self Titled

There is not a lot of information out there on these guys.

There is a very short entry on them in wikipedia and a couple of scattered reviews elsewhere on the net. Everything is a rehash of that. The information highway is only as good the information being placed on it.

Even the drummer, Chet McCracken, who has had a subsequent career doesn't refer to Help or their pair of LPs they released in the early 70s on his website.

You have to go to primary sources to write a complete history of the band if you want to. I won't be advancing the original content of the information highway here but I have consolidated what little I could find.

It seems the band were originally from California, having formed in 1969 when drummer Chet McCracken (former "Evergreen Blue Shoes" with future Byrd Skip Battin) and guitarist Jack Merrill, joined bassist Bob Rochan. Help began played clubs in the area and gained a reputation as a powerful live band In late 1969 the group signed with the major label Decca Records after producer Val Garay saw them in a Los Angeles concert and was impressed. Two albums and a couple of singles followed.

That's it.  The chatter on the net stems from a CD reissue of those two albums a few years ago. The reissue did not bring them any more fame but it did raise their profile.

But, what happened?

This band had it all. They can play, they can sing (all three of them), their songs aren't bad, they were around at the right time with the right sound, and they had major  label behind them (the copy of the record I have is an Australian pressing on MCA so clearly they were being pushed, though ever so slightly).

Richie Unterberger at allmusic says in his own perceptive way "When you read books with day-by-day chronologies of the concerts of big rock bands, Help is the kind of group you might see listed as third-billed in the early '70s to the Who, the Kinks, or whoever. It's prototypical early-'70s American album rock, not unlikable in any significant way, but fairly yawn-inducing all the same". http://www.allmusic.com/album/help-mw0000480243

He is right though yawn inducing may be a little harsh.

The dude at Badcat records, who is no less perceptive, says "Help's one of those early-1970s groups that had considerable talent and released a pair of decent albums that just seem to have gotten lost in the tidal wave of music being released during that timeframe.  Their short recording catalog (two albums and two singles) is also sort of interesting for the musical shift the band underwent within a year's time – their self titled debut album had a heavy country-rock vibe, while the follow-up set featured a far more rock orientation.  It's actually kind of funny to note that a website run by one of the members (referenced below), doesn't even mention this band … "  http://badcatrecords.com/BadCat/HELP.htm

The history of music is littered with the right band at the right place with the right sound and the right amount of talent but no subsequent career.

Why these guys failed while others succeeded I don't know. Sure you can point to other better records in the same style but these guys only lasted two albums – who knows what they may have done.

That's the ups side.

On the downside there are limitations on this record that that why they folded, perhaps. The lyrics are of the time, as is the music. It doesn't transcend the time. There are a couple of catchy songs but not enough. A record has to have a majority of catchy songs or a couple of songs that jump out at you. This LP doesn't do that.

It's pity the band plays well in that power trio format popular at the time (Hendrix band, Cream, Taste, Mountain) though laced with country. The drummer was only about 19 years old also! The guitar licks are tasty and the bass is nicely up front on some songs. Best of all, all three of them sing (though the guitarist and bass share the leads) and the harmonies are glorious.

Moby Grape, The Byrds, Manassas, Grateful Dead, Brewer and Shipley  and, especially, Crosby Stills Nash and Young come to mind.

If you like the sound (country rock with psychedelic overtones) this is perfectly acceptable and you know what …I think it may grow on me …I don't know … time will tell.

All you need is Tarantino to sue a track on his version of "Walking Tall" meets "Easy Rider".

Their follow up album is heavier (apparently) with hard rock, more acid psych and a bit of prog rock (and perhaps some religious overtones looking at the titles) replacing the country vibes.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • For Sale -(Jack Merrill) – some hippie sentiments but this one starts off gentle and increases to a nice gentle thump
  • Open Up The Door -(Bob Rochan)- a country-ish mid tempo song with some full hippie lyric – "open up the door, people, give the world a chance"
  • I Tried Too Hard -(Bob Rochan, Jack Merrill)- A gentle love and loss ballad – nice
  • Easy To Be Free - (Rick Nelson) – A good cover of a Rick Nelson song from his country rock period. It's from his "Rick Nelson In Concert" album from 1970 which was also on the Decca label. Did Help they get onto it through there, hear the album, hear it on the radio (#48 1970), or see him at the Troubadour, Los Angeles in 1969 with his Stone canyon Band and where the album was recorded?
  • Run Away – (Bob Rochan)- funky country rock – very tasty
  • Keep In Touch -(Jack Merrill)- some more hippie come prog rock sentiments and some nice guitar but this one goes on a bit – it does predate the wonderful excesses of Jeff Lynn's War of the Worlds" though.
  • Take A Look At Yourself -(Bob Rochan, Jack Merrill, Chet McCracken) – good mid tempo rocker.
  • Commit Yourself  -(Jack Merrill, Bob Rochan, Chet McCracken) – naff and silly and more than a little hippie….but enjoyable!
  • Help Me, Help You, Help Me -(Bob Rochan, Jack Merrill)-  this one goes on far too long though no more than the others – but it feels like it.
  • Tennessee Waltz – (Redd Stewart, Pee Wee King) – Patti Page had a #1 of this in 1950. A gigantically popular song. It has been covered many times since, including versions by other rock and pop acts who have double (or tripple) timed it. Help have sped up the tempo but it works. They manage to capture the melancholy in the song …. it helps to know the original but this is great. ttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tennessee_Waltz

And …

Patchy but more than good with subtle memorability …. I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

Nothing no where

Sounds

For Sale

Mp3 attached

Easy To Be Free

Mp3 attached

Run Away

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6ZjAoYpHGQ

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3G9TFXkpRNE

Review

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

http://www.allmusic.com/album/help-mw0000480243

http://www.redtelephone66.com/2010/02/help-help-1971/

http://translate.google.com.au/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.foroazkenarock.com/t7438-help-un-heraldo-del-futuro-1969-1970&prev=search

Bio

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help_(band)

http://recordcollectormag.com/articles/help-didnt-get

http://www.power-pickers.com/evergreen-blueshoes

Website

http://www.chetmccracken.com/

https://www.facebook.com/sandwichmn?ref=mf

Trivia

  • Drummer Chet McCracken was also in Evergreen Blueshoes (before) and The Doobie Brothers and The Chet McCracken Band (after). He also sessioned for many artists.
  • This album was produced by Val Christian Garay and Mark Hopkins McNabb. The engineer was Dave Hassinger best-known for his work with the Rolling Stones.

Help - Self Titled - Back Sleeve

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

BADFINGER – Ass – (Apple) – 1973

Badfinger - Ass

Badfinger – what happened?

The question is often raised in relation to this band.

They are variously referred to as starcrossed, tragic, unlucky, the victims of bad management.

All these things are, perhaps, true but when enough excuses are put up in relation to a band who did receive the breaks you wonder whether they just didn't have enough to cross over into the big time.

The truth is that music nerds, obsessives and goof balls need a secret "tragic" band by which they can communicate to other nerds to the exclusion of the masses.

To that end Badfinger fit the bill.

Today, apart from Beatles completists, cultists  and music nerds Badfinger are largely forgotten.

There story is tragic (a couple of suicides) and they were the victims of bad management (later) but they had a good go at the top but were found lacking.

Allmusic: "There are few bands in the annals of rock music as star-crossed in their history as Badfinger. Pegged as one of the most promising British groups of the late '60s and the one world-class talent ever signed to the Beatles' Apple Records label that remained with the label, Badfinger enjoyed the kind of success in England and America that most other bands could only envy. Yet a string of memorable hit singles — "Come and Get It," "No Matter What," "Day After Day," and "Baby Blue" — saw almost no reward from that success. Instead, four years of hit singles and international tours precipitated the suicides of its two creative members and legal proceedings that left lawyers as the only ones enriched by the group's work".

Wikipedia: "Badfinger were a British rock band that originally consisted of Pete Ham, Mike Gibbins, Tom Evans and Joey Molland. The band evolved from an earlier group called The Iveys that was formed in 1961 by Ham, Ron Griffiths and David "Dai" Jenkins in Swansea, Wales. They were signed by the Beatles' Apple label in 1968 as The Iveys. In 1969, Griffiths left and was replaced by Molland, and the band renamed itself Badfinger…Badfinger had four consecutive worldwide hits from 1970 to 1972: "Come and Get It" (written and produced by Paul McCartney), "No Matter What", "Day After Day" (produced by George Harrison) and "Baby Blue". In 2013, "Baby Blue" made a resurgence onto the "Hot Rock Songs" Billboard 100 chart at number 14, due to its featuring at the end of the series finale of the hit TV show Breaking Bad. Their song "Without You" has been covered many times, including a Billboard number one hit for Harry Nilsson".

They were on Apple records, then Warner Brothers, supported some of the big acts of the day, had top producers (Chris Thomas, Paul McCartney, Todd Rundgren)  and between 1970 – 1972  they had three Top 10s and another Top 20 in the USA. (and two Top 40 albums)

So, what went wrong?

Despite the tragedy, shouldn't the music be more mainstream? I've only heard three of their albums so I'm probably not in a position to answer that with any certainty but I suspect that their Beatles association was a blessing and a curse.

They love and admire the Beatles … and that comes through clearly in their sound (though on this album they rock out a little more). The trouble is, though, I suspect, that the audience may have perceived them as Beatles rip offs.

And what's worse they were a singles act in an era when to be "meaningful" and "serious" you had to be an album band (and Badfinger's albums didn't do so well). That position, of course,  is twaddle but that was the rule of the day when Badfinger were in there ascendency.

In the US The Who had 4 Top 10 albums in the same period even though their singles didn’t do as well. Other album acts (where albums charted significantly higher than singles) around the same time were  Led Zeppelin, The Faces, Ten Years After, Deep Purple, Bad Company, Rod Stewart, David Bowie (in the early to mid 70s) and Eric Clapton.

They were certainly more popular than the Small Faces, The Move, The Pretty Things, Humble Pie, The Animals, Mott the Hoople,  Free (and perhaps even the Kinks at the time) .

OK, they weren't up there with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Elton John but they were hardly unknown.

Perhaps the Hollies match them in terms of success (and perhaps in a few other ways).

Interestingly, despite their English (or, rather, Welsh origins) in England none of Badfinger's albums even made the Top 100 (and they had only three charting singles – though all three were Top 10) … powerpop was always a more American enthusiasm (despite partial Anglo roots in the style) … but that's another story (or rant as the case may be).

Of course Anglos themselves (through their music publications) have heralded Badfinger as a great English powerpop band but they really could have helped them by buying their records at the time.

They did in America and that's a bigger, more difficult market.

I think what has happened to Badfinger's legacy is that when we come back to look at that era we look for the "great bands" the mass culture populist music historians have singled out for us and, despite Badfinger having a couple of  (arguably) near great albums, those two factors,  being a singles act and a poppy Beatles sound-a-like band, has been an albatross around their neck.

And they cannot get away from the Beatles comparisons. Other Beatles obsessive like Emitt Rhodes (who I have raved about before), can avoid unfavourable comments because he is American and lends the Beatles themes to American sensibilities (so the comparisons are a little more interesting because of its differences) and because he plays all his instruments and produces himself.

It's a pity as there is some seriously good music across the albums I have heard and even here on this album, which the fans don't like as much – probably because it is a little less power pop and little more rock.

Badfinger were the highlight of British power pop but by this their fourth album they were exploring more 70s sweatier and heavier rock sounds as well as some country-ish sounds.

Well, it was recorded in 1972.

It works but there is a lot of deja vu here ….

The sessions for the album started with producer Todd Rundgren (who did their previous album) but the group had a falling out with him after only a week of sessions, which resulted in the recording of only two tracks. Badfinger went to produce the album but Apple didn't like it so producer Chris Thomas was brought in (to remix it).

Most of the songs on the album were written by guitarist Joey Molland and not Pete Ham, who wrote Badfinger's most well-known songs (he contributed only two songs). That's not a criticism just and observation.

These events, though, give the album a choppiness when it really needs a cohesive centre.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Apple of My Eye – (Pete Ham) – McCartney at his best! Apparently the song is a jab or a "Dear John letter" to their record label.
  • Get Away – (Joey Molland) – a 70s chug a lug mid tempo rocker
  • Icicles – (Molland) – not too bad
  • The Winner – (Molland) – so so. One of only two songs not produced by Chris Thomas and Badfinger. This was produced by Todd Rundgren
  • Blind Owl – (Tom Evans) – errrr, so so.
  • Constitution – (Molland) – a heavy rock song. Quite unlike a lot of Badfinger (a lot like Vanilla Fudge) but it's not too bad…. and Queen may have ripped them off a little.
  • When I Say – (Evans) – not too bad … a grower …and a little like The Hollies.
  • Cowboy – (Mike Gibbins) – silly pop of the kind that Ringo would throw onto a Beatles record every now and then. So, of course, I like it……
  • I Can Love You – (Molland) – nice lyrics but a little dull – produce by Todd Rundgren.
  • Timeless - (Ham) – a moody ballad come rocker with an extended jam on the end.

And …

Not too bad but my mate likes Badfinger so he is getting it …

Chart Action

US

Singles

Album

1974 The Billboard 200 #122

England

Singles

Album

Sounds

http://recordlective.com/Badfinger/Ass/f152d542-855d-3dd7-ba18-b20d934dd722/

Apple of My Eye

Mp3 attached

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C53QAuOoSgc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XonFZjuyc6E

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyBS_1vGwpU

Review

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

http://www.allmusic.com/album/ass-mw0000745047

Billboard: December 1, 1973 (U.S.)
Rolling Stone: January 31, 1974 (U.S.)
Fusion: March 1974
Zoo Review: April 11, 1974
New Musical Express: April, 1974 (U.K.)
Circus: May 1974 (U.S.)
Phonograph: May, 1974
Stereo Review: August, 1974 (U.S.)

Bio

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/badfinger-mn0000064303/biography

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

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

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Evans_(musician)

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

Website

http://badfingerlinks.bravepages.com/index.html

http://peteham.net/

http://www.badfingersite.com/

https://www.facebook.com/OriginalBadfinger

http://www.badfinger-iveys.com/

http://www.badfingerlibrary.com/

http://www.tomevans.info/

Trivia

  • Wikipedia: "Ass was Apple's last original album that was not by an ex-Beatle. From then on, only the Beatles as solo artists were left to release records on the Apple Records label".
  • Wikipedia: "The group performed a wide range of cover tunes on the London circuit from Motown, blues, soul to Top 40, psychedelic pop, and Beatles' hits, which garnered interest from record labels. Ray Davies of The Kinks auditioned to produce them, recording three of their songs at a 4-track demo studio in London's Old Kent Road on 15 January 1967: "Taxi" and "Sausage And Eggs", songs by Ham; and Griffiths' "I Believe in You Girl". On 8 December 1966, Collins and the group signed a five-year contract giving Collins a 20% share of net receipts, the same as the individual group members, but only after managerial expenses had been deducted. Collins said at the time, "Look, I can't promise you lads anything, except blood, sweat and tears". The group performed occasional concerts backing David Garrick, while performing as The Iveys across the United Kingdom throughout the rest of the decade".
  • "In 2013, "Baby Blue" made a resurgence onto the "Hot Rock Songs" Billboard 100 chart at number 14, due to its featuring at the end of the series finale of the hit TV show Breaking Bad". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_Blue_(Badfinger_song)
  • Wikipedia: producer "Christopher P Thomas (born 13 January 1947 in Brentford, Middlesex) is an English record producer who has worked extensively with The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Queen, Procol Harum, Roxy Music, Badfinger, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Pete Townshend, Pulp and The Pretenders. He has also produced breakthrough albums for The Sex Pistols and INXS".
Posted in Power Pop, Rock & Pop | Tagged | 1 Comment

FRED GERLACH – Songs My Mother Never Sang – (Takoma) – 1967

Fred Gerlach - Songs My Mother Never Sang 01

I’m not a guitarist.

Sure, I learnt how to play basic guitar with the Sisters of Mercy nuns on Given Terrace in Paddington as a kid.

Sure, I fooled around with the guitar.

I’m not a guitarist.

I never played in a band.

But then again a lot of people who play guitars aren’t necessarily guitarists.

Are they?

I suppose I’m trying to distinguish those who play guitar from those who take it to the next level.

That level being the stretching the instrument and the ability of the player.

Unfortunately, my lack of knowledge in the instrument doesn’t allow me to accurately explain the guitar qualities of a virtuoso like Fred Gerlach.

But one listening confirms that this person is a guitarist extraordinaire and I can say that even if I am not.

You can do the searching yourself.

Good luck though.

There is precious little out there on Fred Gerlach.

I bought this album on a $3.99 whim but I was surprised to see "Yugoslav" references on the album which led me in search of (given my Croatian ancestry) his historical ancestors.

I had suspected that there may be a Slav connection as Gerlach is name quite common in Croatia but I just didn't know.

The search was time consuming but I have determination …especially when I'm restless or bored.

Perhaps, not unsurprisingly, despite my best efforts, very little information was found on the "information superhighway"…

Fred Grelach:

Born: August 26, 1925 (Detroit, Michigan)

Died: December 31, 2009 (San Diego, California)

Gerlach was born of the son of Yugoslavian parents and they seem to be of Croatian extraction.

There is no indication as to his origins when you search him but a search of his brother Joseph (born Ivan)  who fought in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in Spain in the 1930s reveals Croatian origins … "Born Ivan Rujevcic in Vurota, Croatia, where he lived until the age of 13—John R. Gerlach came to the U.S. in 1928 aboard the Leviathan, the largest cruise liner of its time. In Detroit, he reunited with his mother Maritza Rujevcic and step-Father, Anthony Gerlach, then a labor union organizer and national Croatian political leader as well Secretary of the I.W.O" The entry goes on to confirm that Fred was his younger brother. http://www.peoplesworld.org/john-rujevcic-gerlach-1915-2008/

At some stage he moved to New York City.

He served in World War II in the Infantry as a point man for a tank battalion (advance scouts searching for anti-tank bombs) and BAR man in Germany and then in the Philippines. He was profoundly shaped by those experiences.

He returned to New York City after the war and became involved in the New York folk scene centred on Washington Square.  He knew Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly and they would stay with him from time to time. He hung out with Cisco Houston, Guy Carawan and Tiny Ledbetter (Leadbelly's niece) also.

He was deeply influenced by Leadbelly, who he also played with and he was one of the very earliest 12-string players, after Leadbelly.

He may have had some kind of falling out with the People's Song folks way back when and it made him kind of bitter.  (People's Songs was an organization founded by Pete Seeger, Alan Lomax, Lee Hays, and others in 1945, in New York City, to "create, promote, and distribute songs of labor and the American people." The organization published a quarterly Bulletin from 1946 through 1950, featuring stories, songs and writings of People's singer members).

In the early 1950s he sang in the Jewish Young Folksingers chorus conducted by Bob Decormier, Peter Paul and Mary's musical arranger and director. Mary Travers sang in the chorus too, and so did all the members of the folk group The Harvesters.

The Reverend Gary Davis was an authentic street musician and his third album was recorded in New York in 1957 by Fred Gerlach and Tiny Robinson and sometime later issued as “Pure Religion and Bad Company”.

Gerlach drifted out to California in the late 50's, played San Diego coffee houses in those early days and eventually settled there.

His first album, "Twelve String Guitar", was released in 1962 on Folkways records.  There are some notes to say it was recorded in 1958. Gerlach says on the back of this album (Songs My Mother never Sang) from 1968,  "Seventeen years ago I recorded an album called Gallows Pole. This is my first album since that time". That would make his first album 1951. Who the fuck knows?  I've not heard the first album but it is much applauded. It is also one of the first "commercial" twelve string guitar albums (even if recorded in 1958) from around the same time John Fahey started his recording career.

Subsequently Gerlach entertained himself by building an airplane in his attic and sailing on an old German sailboat..

He came over to Europe, in the late 1950s early 1960s, and appeared at the Ballads and Blues Club in London (with Pete Seeger) a couple or more times.

He lived in Santa Monica near the airport with his wife Barbara

He would play Laundromats and once at the old Los Angeles airport.

He played at the Showboat Lounge, Washington DC in 1962 or 63.

He taught guitar classes in 1963

He was a regular at McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, California where musicians stopped to practice including Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder.

His nephew (Joseph's son) Stephen Nicholas (aka Jesse Lee Kincaid) ended up playing guitar and forming a band with Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder called "The Rising Sons" http://www.jessekincaid.com/html/bio.html

By around the mid 1960s Gerlach was actively making 12 string guitars. He would fly down to Central America to search for and buy the wood he used for his guitars. He was also known as "the" source for Brazilian rosewood for many years.

He recorded this album in the late 1960s.

He appeared on Bob Baxter’s television show, “Guitar Workshop” in 1975.

He was in high demand as an (legal) ivory gun grip maker.

He was a semi regular at the Adams Avenue Roots and Folk Festival in San Diego in the 80s.

That's it.

Good luck if you can find anything else on the man.

It doesn't sound like much but the guy was a key person in the 12 string guitar folk movement even if he was rather on the fringes of the general folk movement.

He was a product of his time … a white kid from the industrial north east in the early 1950s obsessed with the rural blues, just like Dave Van Ronk was later.

It was people like Gerlach who paved the way for the rootsier side of the folk boom in the early 60s.

His music though would never find mainstream acceptance and his name would not be a common one but there is no doubting the influence he has had…. see "trivia" at the bottom of this comment.

This album was recorded 1967, 1968 or 1970.  The 12 string boom was over (it lasted a few years between about 1963 and 1967) but Fahey's Takoma label was dedicated to releasing albums by 12 string guitarists like Leo Kottke and Robbie Basho.

Perhaps that was gave Gerlach the impetus to record again. He was known to Fahey and idolised by Kottke and others.

I suppose he would fit into the American Primitive Guitar school, the music genre started by John Fahey in the late 1950s where avant-garde and neo-classical compositions are played using traditional country blues fingerpicking techniques.

This album is not good time guitar music or the tuneful toe tapping songs of Glen Campbell, Tommy Tedesco or others (no offence to them though).

This is music from the folk fringe.

That's not to say you can't have a good time listening to it.

And, more importantly, you don't need to be a guitarist to appreciate it.

A guitarist may appreciate the virtuosity but a punter like me just gets off on the sounds and the emotions those sounds are meant to elicit.

Gerlach had complete control over this album as he says on the liner notes: "This batch of songs was brewed in mine own living room. Two Magnecord #728's were used with two Electrovoice mikes #666 and two Electrovoice mikes #655C. About 400 hours of playing and editing over a 3 month period resulted in the chosen 9. Thumps, squeaks and crashing pitfals were left in when I felt it was valid to the effort. And here I thank John Fahey for giving me full control of my output."

I wonder if the other 399 hours are around?

I have no detail in relation to the writing credit of the songs though I suspect they are originals or traditionals arranged and adapted by Gerlach.

And, he is quite right, his mother (being of Croatian extraction) probably never sang these songs…I'm assuming that;s his parents on the sleeve also.

This is music to be taken as a whole across a whole album – put this on , get a drink and let your brain be sent on a holiday….an adventure holiday.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Get It, Got It, Had It – wow, this sounds like there is a whole band going at it.
  • Mutatis, Mutandis – from the Latin meaning "with the necessary changes". The picking is great
  • Mod Squat –  very tasty  
  • The Cheese Grater  – beautiful, powerful and surprisingly not covered by any rock guitarists that I know of.
  • Eyrie    – the only overdub on the record he does the guitar first and then lays down the vibes over it (according to liner notes). Excellent.
  • Memories – wow, sublime.
  • Cigani   – an ode to the Yugoslav gypsy known as Cigani
  • Banat   – snatches of lyrics – one word! A song about the middle European province of of Banat (which is inhabited by Croats and others) and the southern Slav Kolo dance.
  • Slide – just what the title says

And …

Excellent…. I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

as if

Sounds

Banat   

mp3 attched

Others

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sUFihFieT8

Review

Bio

http://www.bluemomentarts.de/bma/fred_gerlach/fred_gerlach.html

http://www.wirz.de/music/gerlafrm.htm

http://freevenicebeachhead.wordpress.com/2013/09/01/folksinger-fred-gerlach-venice-circa-1969/

http://www.peoplesworld.org/john-rujevcic-gerlach-1915-2008/

http://www.alba-valb.org/volunteers/john-gerlach

Obit

http://www.tributes.com/show/Fred-Gerlach-87468525

comments and interviews

http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=126358

http://theunofficialmartinguitarforum.yuku.com/topic/3734/Fred-Gerlach#.UtrYO8J–M8

http://twogoodears.blogspot.com.au/2010/08/fred-gerlach.html

http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/fred_gerlach/twelve_string_guitar/

http://www.folkways.si.edu/albumdetails.aspx?itemid=365

http://sandiegotroubadour.com/wp-content/pdf/2004_4_Apr.pdf

http://sandiegotroubadour.com/wp-content/pdf/2004_6_Jun.pdf

a good history of the 12 string

http://www.frets.com/FretsPages/History/12string/12stOrigins.html

The early folk scene in san diego

http://sandiegotroubadour.com/2013/09/san-diego-coffeehouses-in-the-1950s/

Website

Trivia (or rather observations and tributes)

  • Via email (January 28 2014) I spoke to Fred's nephew, author Quentin Guerlain and he said to me "in realtion to Fred It’s only logical that you came through the back door, my uncle, Fred Gerlach, to happen upon my father and myself—in that you’re a music blogger, of Croatian heritage, and Fred Gerlach was the son of Croatian immigrants who became a kind of well-kept secret in Americana music:  an exponent of the 12-string guitar both as a solo instrument and as accompaniment to folk songs.  I refer you to Fred Gerlach’s more important first album:  Gallows Pole And Other Folk Songs –  Fred Gerlach and 12-String Guitar.  This is a classic of his finger picking  style.  Fred went on to become a guitar maker as a side interest." Quentin went on to some other detail which isn't included here as he wanted to substantiate the same though he does say "By the way, my family roots come from  a hamlet called Vurota on the banks of the Kupa River, about 10 miles from Sisak".
  • Fred’s nephew, Jeese lee Kincaid, says: “Taj Mahal connected with me in Cambridge. We were both aspiring folksingers in the thriving acoustic music scene. We played hootenanny nights at the Club 47. My repertoire was exclusively the replication of my uncle Fred Gerlach’s songs on his “Gallows Pole” album. His music, nurtured in me, was a powerful and engaging musical force that brought me notice. The music certainly was unique compared to what other musicians around me were performing. Up until the Beatles, a lot of them were trying to recreate authentic American folk music. Once the Beatles hit, forget it. They plugged in, combed their hair forward, and forgot about the roots in a rush to cash in”.   http://www.jesseleekincaid.com/uncategorized/rising-sons-story/
  • Leo Kottke being interviewed with the question: "Was it banjo that got you into the guitar?". Answer, "Peter Seeger and Fred Gerlach [did], I guess.  Fred Gerlach, the wood cutter down in Los Angeles, put out a record about 17 years ago on Folkways that's really a fine album.  And I used to listen to Seeger's Goofing-Off Suite and Gazette; and I listened to an awful lot of people".   http://www.guitarmusic.org/kottke/ggpj721.html
  • Reflections by Dave Van Ronk. "Of course I was aware of the folk music thing in Washington Square.  I had been hanging around the village for a few years by this time, and the sight and sound of happily howling Stalinists offended my assiduously nurtured self-image as a hipster, not to mention my political sensibilities, which were at the time vehemently I.W.W. anarchist. (To this day, I cherish a deep-seated loathing for anything that smacks of good clean fun.)  In due course I came to realize that there were some very good musicians operating on the fringes of the radical Rotarian sing-alongs: pickers and singers like Tom Paley, Dick Rosmini, and Fred Gerlach, who were playing music, cognate with early jazz, with a subtlety and directness that simply blew me away.  The technique they employed was called 'fingerpicking, wherein the right thumb keeps time–not unlike the left hand in the stride piano playing I was already familiar with–while the index and middle fingers pick out melodies and harmonies.  What struck me most forcefully was that if you can do this you don't need a band. I immediately cast off my carefully cultivated snobbery and set out to learn.  Like the man said: 'Sometimes you have to forget your principles and do what's right." http://recollectionbooks.com/bleed/Encyclopedia/VanRonk/folkways.htm
  • In an interview with Guitar World Jimmy Page describes how they came up with "Gallows Poll" on "Led Zeppelin III" (1970): "A traditional song which stems from Lead Belly. I first found it by Fred Gerlach. He was one of the first white people on Folkways records to get involved in Lead Belly. We have completely rearranged it and changed the verse. Robert wrote a set of new lyrics. That's John Paul on mandolin and bass and I'm playing the banjo, six-string acoustic, 12-string and electric guitar. The bloke swinging on the gallows pole is saying wait for his relatives to arrive. The drumming builds nicely." http://findingzoso.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/gallows-pole.html#!/2012/08/gallows-pole.html
  • Bob Baxter, "Fred was a craftsman and a player. He built huge 12 strings that matched his powerful strength. He said that, (quote) "anyone can put 12 strings on a guitar, but that isn't a real 12. A 12 has to be big. It has to be big bodied to carry the sound. Big to carry heavy bronze strings, like Leadbelly used to play. It's special. Nothing like it. A lot of people just play a 12 because it sounds pretty. The extra strings give you 'instant arrangement'. You know, it makes all the chords sound new and different without any effort. It just isn't like that. The 12 should be played because it's demanded. Because no other instrument will do. Leadbelly couldn't play on a 6 and be Leadbelly. A 12 is for 12 music, a 6 is for 6. Nobody today wants to make the effort." (quoted from Baxter's Guitar Workshop)
  • Bob Baxter himself, tried to play one of Gerlach's 12 string creations and had this to say about it in the same book: " I discovered one key that gives a hint of his special ability. His 12 string is almost too big to play. The large body cut off the blood under my forearm when I tried it, and my hand started to fall asleep halfway through the tune. The fingerboard was so wide I had to execute the chords in segments. And as for fretting the extra heavy bronze strings, I wished I had a pair of vise-grips. The neck was like a telephone pole and my fingernails were immediately chisled away to nothing by the double strings. All in all, Fred's talent is directly related to Fred's physical ability. No little girl is going to play 12 string according to the gospel of Gerlach. No 6 string picker is either, unless he's as powerful and dedicated as Fred. "
  • In The Folk Music Source Book (Larry Sandberg & Dick Weissman (eds), 1976) ioIn a section named "blues revival" Gerlach's Folkways LP from 1962 is credited as "being a major influence in the revival of interest in virtuoso twelve-string guitar styles in the late 50s urban movement." what ever that might have been.

Fred Gerlach - Songs My Mother Never Sang - Back Sleeve               Fred Gerlach - circa 1969               Fred Gerlach - in the 1950s

Posted in Folk, Roots Rock | Tagged | Leave a comment

TRINI LOPEZ – The Rhythm & Blues Album – (Reprise) – 1965

Trini Lopez - The Rhythm & Blues Album

Trini's ninth album and only three years since his first.

When you are on a good thing milk it.

You have to pay the bills.

Check my other comments out for biographical details of the vastly underrated Trini Lopez.

Trini's go-go guitar sound which was part rock n roll, part pop, and all California was still the rage still in 1965. His audience wanted to dance to songs they knew but with a beat that didn't require them to change their dance moves.

It's all about the beat.

And here he serves up some solid R&B hits from years, but not distant years, past.

A good idea it was as in the immediate preceding two years Trini had served up similar themed albums all cashing in on his go-go beat  … "The Latin Album" (1964), "The Folk Album" and "The Love Album" (both 1965).

The only odd thing is that Trini stays away, largely, from the heavy R&B and plays it safe with the more pop  oriented tracks. There is nothing wrong with that but the thought of Trini tackling heavy R&B and pop-i-fying them is perhaps more interesting than tackling R&B material which already leans to pop.

But as it stands this is an album for parties and would sound great as background at a dinner gathering ..one where any number of Screwdriver cocktails have been consumed whilst nibbling on Spicy Cheese Balls or dipping into a Clam or Guacamole Dip. The sit down menu would start off with a Shrimp Cocktail, followed by Zesty Pork Chops and Pork with Sauerkraut Pinwheels, and then for desert a Strawberry Shortcake Baked Alaska or any fruit in gelatin.

Fuck it … that sound's a lot better than a generic Domino's pizza.

Of course there is every chance that your guests would be dancing … especially if they had enough Screwdrivers.

The album was apparently "recorded live" … maybe it was but I suspect its was recorded in the studio with added on chatter and claps.

Producer Don Costa "discovered" Trini Lopez but is best known for his work with Frank Sinatra (whose label, "Reprise", Trini is on).

Originals

  • Wee Wee Hours – (Chuck Berry) – an old Chuck Berry tune dating back to 1955. A favourite one of Chuck's though not often covered. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wee_Wee_Hours
  • Ooh Poo Pah Doo – (Jessie Hill) –  Hills hit from 1960 (#5 R&B US, #30 Pop)
  • Hurtin' Inside –  (Brook Benton/Cirino Colacrai/Clyde Otis/Teddy Randazzo) – First release by Brook Benton (January 1959) (#23 R&B US, #78 Pop)
  • Double Trouble – (Jack Greenback/Mel Larson/Jerry Marcellino) – perhaps an original?
  • Watermelon Man –  (Herbie Hancock-Hendricks) – Herbie Hancock famous tune from his debut album, "Takin' Off" (1962).Jazz lyricist Jon Hendricks added words to the song and recorded it on "Jon Hendricks Recorded in Person at the Trident" (1963). Manfred Mann also released a well known version on their album "The Five Faces of Manfred Mann"(1965). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watermelon_Man_(composition)
  • Don't Let Go –  (Jesse Stone) – The magnificent song by the magnificent Roy Hamilton first done in 1958 (#2R&B, #12 Pop). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don't_Let_Go_(Jesse_Stone_song)
  • I Got A Woman –  (Ray Charles) – The great Ray Charles song from 1954. Done by everybody most notably by Elvis on his debut album from 1956, "Elvis Presley" and many times since. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Got_a_Woman
  • So Fine –  (Teddy Randazzo/Bobby Weinstein)  -
  • She's About A Mover –  (Doug Sahm) – The 1965 hit song by Sir Douglas Quintet. (#13 1965 US). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/She's_About_a_Mover
  • Little Miss Happiness –  (Jack Greenback/Melvin Larson/Jerry Marcellino) –  another original?
  • Let The Four Winds Blow –   (Dave Bartholomew – Fats Domino) – A hit for Fats Domino  (#2R&B, #15 Pop).
  • Shout – (O'Kelly Isley/Ronald Isley/Rudolph Isley)  – "Shout" from 1959 by The Isley Brothers only went to #47 but has been covered by everyone including Johnny O'Keefe in Australia (1959), Dion (1962), The Shangri-Las (1964), The Kingsmen (1965), Tommy James and The Shondells (1967),? and the Mysterians (1967), Joan Jett (1980),Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (1986), Garth Brooks (2013).  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shout_(The_Isley_Brothers_song)

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Wee Wee Hours – Trini captures the delicate sensuality of this Chuck Blues. Trini would play live with Chuck on the Hullabaloo TV show later in 1965 (Doing Memphis Tennessee)
  • Ooh Poo Pah Doo –  this one moves nicely and has "party" written all over it and has some nice guitar work.
  • Hurtin' Inside – slight and quite 1950s but it moves.
  • Double Trouble –  I think it's an original but it's a throwback to the early 60s but it's quite catchy.
  • Watermelon Man – sly and sexual. Quite a treat  
  • Don't Let Go –  The audience (?) really comes to the front on this one. This song moves. Not as good as Roy Hamilton's original but great nonetheless.
  • I Got A Woman –   Ray Charles great song taken casually
  • So Fine –   a pretty good mid-tempo MOR song. Quite catchy.
  • She's About A Mover –   maybe Trini can relate to Doug Sahm's Texas background. He nails this. Go-go it is but it works.
  • Little Miss Happiness –  shades of a gentler "La Bamba".
  • Let The Four Winds Blow –  hmmmmm, quite good but Fats Domino's original is better.
  • Shout –  Trini does a strictly MOR version of this stomper. It's such a good song but this is pretty clean. I can see people dancing to it, on Sunset Strip circa 1965, though.

And …

Not the best Trini but it's still perfect for parties …. I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

Album

1965 #46

England

Singles

Album

Sounds

Wee Wee Hours   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQDV04rYXlk

Ooh Poo Pah Doo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyM6FW-Sx44

Double Trouble

mp3 attached

  

Watermelon Man   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzZpG3qe8qc

Don't Let Go   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMi2J3g5zLw

She's About A Mover

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDd0eDHC_AQ

Others

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjAvQ22_05I

live with Jose Feliciano

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

Review

Bio

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

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

interview

http://www2.gibson.com/news-lifestyle/features/en-us/trini-lopez-0610-2011.aspx

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

Website

http://www.trinilopez.com/

Trivia

  • Liner notes by Dean Martin (apparently) – (he was, reportedly, one of Dean Martin's favourite performers)

Dean Frank And Trini 1963Trini Lopez and Chuck Berry 1965

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

RACHEL SWEET – … And Then He Kissed Me – (CBS) – 1981

rachel sweet - and then he kissed me

Rachel Sweet was born in Akron in 1962 !

1962!

The exclamation mark is there is because this is Rachel's third album and it's from 1981.

Teen stars aren't unusual but Rachel's voice is full and forceful and certainly sounds older than her years.

Allmusic: Rachel "began her singing career at age six, doing everything from singing commercial jingles to touring with Mickey Rooney and opening for Bill Cosby's Las Vegas act. Between 1976 and 1978 she recorded a few failed straight-ahead country singles for the local Derrick label ("Any Port in a Storm," "Paper Airplane," and "The Ballad of Mable Ruth Miller and John Wesley Pritchett") and a handful of demos for songwriter Liam Sternberg, who shopped them to Stiff Records. Stiff signed the young singer and debuted her on The Akron Compilation. She recorded her first album, Fool Around, with backing from the Rumour in 1978. She promoted the album on the Stiff package tour (The Be Stiff Tour) using the Records as her band. The album didn't sell particularly well, but it did receive a fair amount of critical praise…  The attention was short-lived, though, and Protect the Innocent, released through Stiff/Columbia, went virtually ignored the following year. She switched to Columbia in 1981 for …And Then He Kissed Me, an uneven album that nevertheless featured the Top 40 hit "Everlasting Love," a duet with Rex Smith. After one more album, 1982's Blame It on Love, Sweet retired from the music business to pursue an education, returning sporadically, most notably to sing the title track to John Waters' Hairspray, as well as Cry-Baby".

She went on to graduate from Columbia University in French and English Literature in 1988 and has since focused on establishing an acting, writing, and producing career.

Putting aside that there is something decidedly Lolita-esque in her marketing. Well it was the 70s (and early 80s) …. teens were all over the place – from David Hamilton books, to album covers. It was different time and culture, decidedly different.

I'm sure we can judge that era but I'm not sure if we can pass judgement.

Rachel however hasn't been totally sexualized the way The Runaways were or even some of the more recent girl singers are.

Perhaps it's because there was some belief in her abilities beyond exploitation as a female late teen.

She can sing, and sing well.

In reality she is probably no younger than the girl group singers she covers from the 60s.

It is clear that Rachel loves Bruce Springsteen and Phil Spector (though Springsteen himself loves Spector). This album comes across at that strange point where the mainstream hit the new wave where Springsteen, because of his straight ahead rock 'n' roll and Spector because of his life in another time were considered to be new wave. The new wave eschewed prog rock, soft rock and disco and just about everything in favour of classic rock sounds. It was easy to see why those new sounds from the past, which were out of step with current trends, were popular to the new wave.

Given her pedigree it is not surprising that Rachel ended up on England's premier new wave label, Stiff records, for her first two albums.

And that's not surprising also because the English new wave was devouring "retro American sounds" from Velvet Underground, The Stooges, to girl groups and surf music and Rachel with her retro-ish perspective fit into that perfectly.

She became another one of those American's that the English adopted (and made famous)  in the late 70s … Katrina and the Waves (well Katrina anyway), Chrissie Hyne, Stray Cats, Lene Lovich, The Flamin Groovies (made famous again) …

This album was her major debut on Columbia (CBS) and featured tight New York back up session musicians rather than (her previous backup) Stiff bands The Rumour or The Records …she would have been better with them to my ears. There's nothing wrong with the playing (guitarist Rick DiFonzo was in The A's and Greg Scott was in Breakwater whist the others were blooded session musicians) but the band may have put more pressure on the producers,  Rick Chertoff  (on five songs) and Pete Solley (on 4 tracks) to turn in something a little more ragged.

A slick sound that cuts through all the songs.

American Chertoff was a hit maker but very slick, Pete Solley was more sympathetic to retro sounds but his sound was equally slick (though perhaps more tasteful) .

The company should have got Dave Edmunds or Nick Lowe in.

Most of it works though there are hints of the mainstream rock sound that would ruin the mainstream 80s.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Shadows Of The Night – (David Leigh Byron, Rachel Sweet) – D.L. Byron wrote this though it doesn't appear on his only (?) solo album from 1980, "This Day and Age" (which is commented on this blog). He was a above average power popster but this song comes across as very Bruce Springsteen (and a little Jim Steinman). The song is quite good (Rachel added some lyrics) though very "big" in that Bruce Springsteen way prior to "Nebraska".  As I said elsewhere", the song was covered, in 1982 "by Pat Benatar which went on to sell over four million copies and win a Grammy (big wig)" who did a bombastic version which was more Jim Steinman than Bruce Springsteen.
  • Then He Kissed Me / Be My Baby – (Phil Spector, Ellie Greenwich, Jeff Barry) – "Then He Kissed Me" was originally done by the The Crystals (1961) and "Be My Baby" by The Ronettes, both in 1963 and both written by the same trio. They are cornerstones of the Spector sound. Rachel suits the song and the band are similarly sympathetic. Not many of the bad 80s sounds had intruded. Everyone has done these songs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Then_He_Kissed_Me  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Be_My_Baby
  • Billy And The Gun – (Rachel Sweet) – slow and dramatic – another Bruce Springsteen-ish song. Rachel is slightly whiney on this one.
  • Party Girl – (Rachel Sweet) – more Springsteen though this one works perfectly.
  • Two Hearts Full Of Love – (Eddie Schwartz) – Eddie Schwartz is a Canadian musician and wrote this song for his first solo album, Schwartz (1980). Oddly enough he also wrote "Hit Me with Your Best Shot" which became a hit for Pat Benatar in 1980 (#9US). Full bodied rock.
  • Little Darlin' – (Amanda Blue, Holly Knight) – Spider was an American rock band from New York with a female vocalist, Amanda Blue. This track comes from their first album, Spider (1980). A great track ….and almost as good as the original.
  • Fool's Story – (Rachel Sweet) – a good big beat ballad
  • Everlasting Love (with Rex Smith) – (Buzz Cason, Marc Gayden) – "Everlasting Love" is a song written by Buzz Cason and Mac Gayden (both prolific in music)for  Robert Knight in 1967 (#13). As wikipedia says " Ultimately "Everlasting Love" was released as an A-side for Knight and reached #13 in 1967. Subsequently the song has reached the U.S. Top 40 three times, most successfully by Carl Carlton, who peaked at #6 in 1974, with more moderate success for remakes by Rex Smith and Rachel Sweet (#32 1981) and Gloria Estefan (#27 1995). Thus, "Everlasting Love" is one of two songs (the other being "The Way You Do the Things You Do") to become a Top 40 hit in the 1960s, '70s, '80s and '90s.and since remade several times". Co-singer Rex Smith was a 20 something teen idol who replaced Andy Gibb as host of (the duff) "Solid Gold"  in 1982 and also starred in the TV series Street Hawk (1985). This is not as bad as the later versions, surprisingly. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everlasting_Love
  • Streetheart – (Rachel Sweet) – hmmmm, a taste of what would become the mainstream in 80s rock.

And …

Not perfect but certainly above average … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1981  Everlasting Love  The Billboard Hot 100  #32 

Album

1981  …And Then He Kissed Me  The Billboard 200  #124 

England

Singles

1981  Everlasting Love  The Billboard Hot 100  #35 

Album

Sounds

http://recordlective.com/Rachel_Sweet/…And_Then_He_Kissed_Me/e46de58c-7ff2-3738-8361-963e0e4d5988/

Then He Kissed Me / Be My Baby

Video clip

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5f-rLfEHCLI

live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRIO0yw19dc

Party Girl

Mp3 attached

Everlasting Love

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ii0lBDb6xc

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kefap3g8yOY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gvg47M0HObI

an Elvis cover (a good one)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1agzpjWtV4

Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/and-then-he-kissed-me-mw0000857069

http://www.allmusic.com/album/and-then-he-kissed-me-blame-it-on-love-mw0000350808

http://myfavoritedecade.blogspot.com.au/2014/02/rachel-sweet-and-then-he-kissed-me-1981.html

Bio

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

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/rachel-sweet-mn0000861372/biography

http://www.cleveland.com/tv-blog/index.ssf/2011/06/akron_native_rachel_sweet_savors_writer-producer_role_on_hot_in_cleveland.html

http://stianeriksen.com/2012/07/28/rachel-sweet-reluctant-rock-star-turns-50/

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

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

Website

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rachel-Sweet/119557243757 http://www.bobbyshred.com/rachelsweet.html

http://rachelsweetspot.tumblr.com/

Trivia

  • Rachel appeared in the 1992 Seinfeld episode "The Contest" as George Costanza's cousin …Are you 'master of your domain'?
Posted in Punk and New Wave, Rock & Pop | Tagged | Leave a comment

NICK LOWE and his Cowboy Outfit – The Rose of England – (Columbia) – 1985

Nick Lowe - Rose Of England

In my (probably) myopic view of rock 'n' roll Nick Lowe is one of the holy ten of English acts who have practiced that distinctly American idiom over a lengthy time with any conviction.

He knows how to rock out, has a fine sense of musical history, doesn’t seem to want to reinvent the wheel, doesn’t claim he invented anything new and, is respectful of the music's origins and is totally unpretentious.

What he has done is take a distinctly American music medium (without trying to water it down  or make it Anglo-hip like Mumford and Sons do) and played with it to create something contemporary and relevant. He realises that the "sounds" are old but that (discerning) contemporary audiences don't care. His tales of young love are universal and transcend countries and generations. He had incorporated (as he always done) tales of England (here circa 1985) which are beautiful and come across, because of their musical idiom, as songs from American pop  and rock n roll. An American rock 'n' roller would have no problem singing them. In his love of the American music idiom, with an English context, he becomes a relative to Ray Davies, Dave Edmunds, Alan Price, Eric Burdon and perhaps Robert Plant..

Of course Nick is well versed in Americanisms having lived there and been married (from 1979-1990) to June Carter's daughter (Johnny Cash‘s step daughter) Carlene Carter, also a country singer.

Nicholas Drain "Nick" Lowe (born 24 March 1949) and as a teenager he played in a bands, including Three's a Crowd and Sounds 4 Plus 1 with his friend, guitarist Brinsley Schwarz. In 1965, the pair formed the guitar pop band Kippington Lodge, which landed a contract with Parlophone Records the following year. Over the next four years, the group released five singles, none of which received much attention. In 1969, Kippington Lodge evolved into the country-rock band Brinsley Schwarz,

From there his career moved forward in an increasingly influential arc.

Allmusic: "As the leader of the seminal pub rockers Brinsley Schwarz, a producer, and a solo artist, Nick Lowe held considerable influence over the development of punk rock. With the Brinsleys, Lowe began a back-to-basics movement that flowered into punk rock in the late '70s. As the house producer for Stiff, he recorded many seminal records by the likes of the Damned, Elvis Costello, and the Pretenders. His rough, ragged production style earned him the nickname "Basher" and also established the amateurish, D.I.Y. aesthetics of punk. Despite his massive influence on punk rock, Lowe was never really a punk rocker. He was concerned with bringing back the tradition of three-minute pop singles and hard-driving rock & roll, but he subverted his melodic songcraft with a nasty sense of humor. His early solo singles and albums, Jesus of Cool and Labour of Lust, overflowed with hooks, bizarre jokes, and an infectious energy that made them some of the most acclaimed pop records of the new wave era. As new wave began to fade away in the early '80s, Lowe began to explore roots rock, eventually becoming a full-fledged country-rocker in the '90s. While he never had another hit after 1980's "Cruel to Be Kind," his records found a devoted cult audience and were often critically praised".

This was Nick’s 7th solo album and as a 20  year veteran of the music industry (as performer, writer, producer) he knows what he is doing. The 80s (with the discovery of new musical technology) wasn't always good for straight roots music but Nick has made it sound authentic and vibrant. There are also some alt-country, rockabilly and Americana sounds here which, naturally enough, fit in well.

For me, rightly or wrongly, my favourite albums usually contain one quater covers to three quarters originals (whether written by the artist or not). On the originals I find out whether you can write or perform original material but on the covers I see whether you can interpret someone else's song and make it your own.  The latter may seem easier but isn't because you have to suffer comparisons which you don't have to with original material.

Lowe, picks his covers wisely. Great songs, done well with the right amount of Lowe humour.

The album not be as sharp as some of Nick's other works but he has set a high bar for himself and this album doesn't disappoint.

The album is produced by Nick Lowe and Colin Fairley with the exception of I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock & Roll) which was produced by Huey Lewis who also plays harmonica on it.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Darlin' Angel Eyes – (Nick Lowe) – excellent roots rock with some nice cheesy organ work. (that sentence is an Australian colloquialist's wet dream).
  • She Don't Love Nobody – (John Hiatt) – John Hiatt wrote it but it seems that Nick was the first to record it. Subsequently it was a hit for the Chris Hillman’s country rock group The Desert Rose Band (#3 US Country 1989). A subtle and beautiful song with a gentle melody and catchy refrain.
  • 7 Nights to Rock – (Henry Glover, Louis Innis, Buck Trail) – Originally recorded by Moon Mullican in 1956. The production is slick but the song's sexual implications "Seven nights or rock, seven nights of roll" with various girls is irresistible.
  • Long Walk Back – (Lowe, Belmont, Carrack, Irwin) – an instrumental which is distinctly, and unashamedly, "old school"
  • The Rose of England – (Nick Lowe) – a excellent song. It seems to be a response to the patriotic English song "Rose of England" by Ivor Novello.  The gentle and catchy melody hides a lyric which is quite biting and cynical.
  • Lucky Dog – (Nick Lowe) – a guitar driven mid tempo rocker.
  • I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock & Roll) – (Nick Lowe) – first popularized by Dave Edmunds (on his 1977 album "Get It"). This is a great song but Edmonds version is best despite some nice organ.
  • Indoor Fireworks – (Elvis Costello) – Lowe’s friend Elvis Costello recorded this on his “King of America” album from 1986. The acoustic verses work, the more produced chorus doesn't.
  • (Hope to God) I'm Right – (Nick Lowe) – some nice world play in the lyric.
  • I Can Be the One You Love – (Nick Lowe) – a country-isy love song with a bounce
  • Everyone – (Leslie Ball, Gary Rue) – first done by Nick though covered by The Brilliant Mistakes in 2005.
  • Bo Bo Ska Diddle Daddle – (Webb Pierce, Wayne Walker) – First released by Wayne Walker (1957), Subsequently done by the The Go Getters (2003). A nice slow groove.

And …

Bring me a beer and my dancing shoes, in that order … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1985 I Knew The Bride  Mainstream Rock #27

1985 I Knew The Bride (When She Use To Rock N Roll)  The Billboard Hot 100 #77

Album

1985 #119

England

Singles

Album

Sounds

http://recordlective.com/Nick_Lowe/The_Rose_of_England/cb478bb4-45da-4e33-b5ef-7acee93b7f11/

She Don't Love Nobody

live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6_Ax9JfC08

Nights to Rock

Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjBgiA7v-B4

The Rose of England

Live

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

mps attached

I Knew the Bride – (When She Used to Rock & Roll)

Video clip

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kn1CXbf2xF8

Indoor Fireworks

live with Elvis Costello

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFfWa5h0tro

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0l3QWUXVho

with Rockpile

ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7O4GagrfqO8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3jiCi7aFZE

with Elvis Costello and Robyn Hitchcock

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnvMKMKl2B0

doing Elvis (the proper one)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sZ8t7NaJe8

2007 full concert

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

Review

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

http://www.allmusic.com/album/the-rose-of-england-mw0000650438

Bio

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/nick-lowe-mn0000866841/biography

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

Website

http://www.nicklowe.net/

Trivia

  • Lowe was also in Little Village (with Ry Cooder and John Hiatt) and Rockpile (with Dave Edmunds)
Posted in Alt Country, Rockabilly and Rock n Roll, Roots Rock | Tagged | Leave a comment

THE ASTRONAUTS – Everything is A-OK! – (RCA) – 1964

Astronauts - Everythings AO K

I have waxed lyrical about The Astronauts on this blog before so refer to those comments for background and philosophical ruminations, if any.

I can't move forward without saying The Astronauts were a working bad.

By that I mean , artistic considerations are important but you have to pay the bills and this band was one of many where music was an occupation as well as (or instead of) a calling.

And, The Astronauts, worked  … both in the studio and on the road.

Their debut album "Surfin' with The Astronauts" made a minor splash (sic) in the US (and around the world) in 1963.

Its sound of Fender reverb tonnage and two rhythm guitars certainly caught the ear of the youth and with its "beach" theme it became an instant classic of "surf rock".

Not bad for a bunch of boys from Boulder, Colorado (which is nowhere near surf for you geographically challenged).

They followed that album with this, recorded live at the Club Baja in Denver (though the liner notes seem to suggest the club is in Boulder).

Live albums from this era I am always suspicious of given that a lot of live albums from the early days of rock  aren't really live but studio jobs with applause between tracks.

Here, I will give them the benefit of a doubt (even though no songs from the first hit album are played live here).

In any event this is more of the same – frenzied hits surfed up. This is killer stuff and the Astronauts know how to rock out. The seeds of their frat rock and garage rock excursions can be heard in these sides but generally this is music for dancing by a band who know what the audience wants.

Much like their other albums The Astronauts do hits of the day, a original (or two) and a few covers from the 50s rock era (not surprisingly given the band can trace it's roots back to 1956).

Sure, if this was a contemporary band and they were doing an original, a few Pearl Jam and U2 covers, a few Mumford and Sons, Radiohead and Coldplay covers I would have nothing good to say about them.

But, I  love the sound of the early 1960s … the music is still fresh, raw and vital. There is no pretensions. The good times are tonight and tonight starts when this record is put on the turntable. This is the soundtrack to a million dances in the midwest 1964 and to a million living rooms(or so I believe). 

To my ears it us glorious …and I still think it would be perfect for parties.

Tracks – Origins

  • Bo Diddley – (Bo Diddley / Ellas McDaniel) – The Bo Diddley song by Bo Diddley from 1955
  • If I Had a Hammer – (Lee Hays / Pete Seeger) – Originally popularised by Pete Seeger, Trini Lopez had a go go version that went to #3 in the US in 1963 which The Astronauts have covered.
  • It's So Easy – (Buddy Holly / Norman Petty) – The original is by Buddy Holly and the Crickets from 1958. As much as the song is identified with him it failed to chart in the US.
  • Dream Lover – (Bobby Darin) – Darin's magnificent 1959 hit
  • Wine, Wine, Wine – (The Astronauts) – an original
  • Money (That's What I Want) – (Janie Bradford / Berry Gordy, Jr.) – Barrett Strong's #2 R&B Hit from 1960 and a staple of second generation rock bands. The song  was later recorded by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kingsmen, Richard Wylie and His Band, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Searchers, The Flying Lizards, The Sonics, Buddy Guy and many others
  • Big Boss Man – (Luther Dixon / Al Smith) – Jimmy Reed's great blues tune. Well covered: The Pretty Things (1964), Charlie Rich (1965) Jerry Lee Lewis (1966),Elvis Presley (1967 – a #38US hit), Bill Cosby (1967), Bobbie Gentry (1968), Grateful Dead (1971), B.B. King (1985), Steve Miller Band (1986), Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers 1995), Junior Reid (1999), and The Kentucky Headhunters (2005) and others
  • Stormy Monday – (T-Bone Walker) – Possibly T-Bone walkers most famous song from 1947
  • Shortnin' Bread – (Traditional) – said to be  a traditional though  the song by James Whitcomb Riley from 1900. It has been done by everyone in most genres: old timey, country, rock folk. The Astronauts were probably trying to  draw from the fol explosion at te time.
  • I Need You – (Rick Nelson) – Rick's song from 1963 (#83US).
  • What'd I Say – (Ray Charles) – Ray Charles' song from 1959. It was a hit (#6US, #1 R&B) and became successful , well covered and very influential. The Astronauts would have been well versed with Ray's song but it is worth mentioning that Elvis Presley had a #21US hit with it in 1964 (it was in his film "Viva Las Vegas") and this has more than a passing resemblance to his version. (They were also on the same label as him and in Hollywood (filming songs for a beach film) at the same time as him)

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Bo Diddley – (Bo Diddley / Ellas McDaniel) – Excellent. The band almost beat out Bo. It's not as mean but the emphasis on the beat is irresistible,
  • If I Had a Hammer – (Lee Hays / Pete Seeger) – Lopez's version is definitive but this one really rock and takes the song further into frat rock territory
  • It's So Easy – (Buddy Holly / Norman Petty) – A good version. It's more rockier than Holly's but it's not as good.
  • Dream Lover – (Bobby Darin) – Darin's version was locked in 1959 but The Astronauts have managed to bring it up to 1964. The beat is a little faster and there are some nice musical asides.
  • Wine, Wine, Wine - (The Astronauts) – an original and one with a great sentiment (or sediment, ha …lame).  This one really moves.
  • Money (That's What I Want) – (Janie Bradford / Berry Gordy, Jr.) – another great updating and perhaps one of the best versions of "money". This is nasty with some tuff guitar.
  • Big Boss Man – (Luther Dixon / Al Smith) – A thumping version.
  • Stormy Monday – (T-Bone Walker) – The Astronauts here haven't played with the blues of the song. The sentiment in the song certainly applies to the audiences they were playing to I suspect.
  • Shortnin' Bread – (Traditional) – despite it's up-tempo beat it seems a little out of place here.
  • I Need You – (Rick Nelson) – likewise this is pure pop rock. Clearly the Astronauts were giving their "live" audience all the hits of the day regardless of genre.
  • What'd I Say – (Ray Charles) – a great version, though more guitar based and similar to Elvis's cover of the song also 1964.

And …

Perfect for parties … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

Album

1964 #100

England

Sounds

Bo Diddley

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alojE_f9bcY

Dream Lover

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VroTKc6fAiQ

Wine, Wine, Wine

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

Money (That's What I Want)

Mp3 attached

Shortnin' Bread

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZfA-1tTR44

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EO_pOYfsJk4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGH-VJarH8A

Review

Bio

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Astronauts_(band)

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-astronauts-mn0000753852#discography

a typical Astronauts gig:

http://www.coloradomagazineonline.com/Music/The_Astronauts_Tulagi%27s/The_Astronauts_Tulagi%27s.htm

Website

Trivia

  • Wikipedia: "Associated acts: For a while, the same band – Fifield, Patterson, McLerran, Bretz and Jenkins – performed in the US under the name SunshineWard, who released one single, "Sally Go Around The Roses", in 1967. Patterson then left the band and music business, and Fifield and McLerran formed a new band, Hardwater, with Tony Murillo and Peter M. Wyant. In 1968, the band released two singles and an album, Hardwater, on Capitol Records, produced by David Axelrod. Fifield also had a role in assisting Axelrod and record engineer David Hassinger, who owned the rights to the group name of The Electric Prunes, to find a new group of musicians to take on that group's name for their record, Mass in F Minor. Fifield contacted fellow Colorado musicians, Richard Whetstone, John Herron and Mark Kincaid, who then agreed to form one of the final line-ups of The Electric Prunes."

ASTRONAUTS - Everything is AOK rear

Posted in Garage, Surf and Frat, Rock & Pop | Tagged | Leave a comment

JOHN HARTFORD – Iron Mountain Depot – (RCA) – 1970

John Hartford - Iron Mountain Dept

Country, bluegrass and especially newgrass lovers love John Hartford, and there is much to love.

Generally, though, despite his fame being built on (covers of his songs on) his RCA albums from 1967 – 1970, the country music enthusiasts prefer his post 1970s work with the Warner Brothers or Flying Fish labels.

John Hartford, himself apparently, was slightly embarrassed by his RCA output  because it was generally more produced, filled out , mainstream and well, poppy.

As albums stand his later work is better but I don't have a problem with his earlier work because unlike the country music people I discovered John Hartford by tracking him down from rock and pop sources.

"Iron Mountain Depot" is John Hartford's sixth and final album issued by RCA.

The RCA albums really try to fit Hartford's music in with what was happening at the time. Light pop overtones when pop was in, light psych overtones when psych was in. Here, there are country rock and up-tempo overtones.

They never overpower the songs but there are clear commercial decisions made. By all accounts Hartford didn't have much say in this but he needn't be embarrassed though you can hear that Hartford is perhaps a little tired (or bored) with RCA and was perhaps looking for a change.

And if there was ever any indication that a dramatic change was about to come compare the clean cut Hartford on this LP sleeve with the Hartford on his next album, for Warner Brothers, "Aereo-Plain" from 1971. (see end).

This is a final album and a transitional album in that it hints at some of the sit down and play sessions or country porch music that John embark on in the 70s.

John may have wanted a change but his music, even when he may be tired or bored, is still magnificent. This is well crafted country music with pop and rock influences which is always interesting and occasionally inspired.

Richie Unterberger in allmusic said in relation to this album, "it's still among the goofiest, normal-save-constant-sly-winking country-pop ever made. The singer/songwriter remained seemingly unable to resist coating his attractive, easygoing tunes with dry humor that almost leaves the impression he was trying to self-sabotage any chance he had of selling a lot of records to the mainstream"

When people compare this to his later work it may be lacking because he was a singular talent, always inquisitive and very smart but it should be compared to other albums by other acts of the era.

This album sits well next to any of the country rock of the time. It's less poppy that any of the Kenny Rogers and the First Edition of the time. It's as quirky as Lee Hazlewood. Think, perhaps, The Byrds if they played bluegrass.

Perhaps.

Ultimately, the beauty in Hartford's music (to me at least) is that, regardless if the song is an original or a cover, it expresses the nature of Hartford himself. That doesn't always happen in music and a lot of the times when it does happen it's less than inspiring. Not everyone is sufficiently interesting as a musician or a person.

Hartford is.

Or he seems to be, given I've never met him.

He comes across as a guy you would love to meet and have a drink with whilst listening to his stories. His songs are uninhibited expressions of joy, melancholy, occasional regret and sadness all laced with a dry humour at every corner.  So much that there seems to be as much Marx Brothers in his albums as there is Bill Monroe.

So why wouldn't you want to have a drink with him?

Check my other comments from biographical details.

All songs written by John Hartford, except where noted.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Like Unto a Mockingbird – a big production number (with shades of "Hey Jude" that relate to the last track on the album – the fiddles become strings. The banjo is irresistible. Hartford did this in a more stripped down version on his first album "Looks at Life" (1967).
  • Meanwhile You Sit by My Banjo –  a beautiful song
  • I Won't Know Why I Went Till After I Get Back – a sly humorous song
  • Maybe – a long groove
  • Go Home Girl – Sublime ..many of the usual country motifs are here. A great song.
  • Natural to Be Gone – Another up-tempo country song which has bee given the big band Billy Vaughn treatment. Hartford did this in a more stripped down version on his first album "The Love Album" (1968).
  • Before They Tow My Car Away – ha, what a great title
  • To Say – a glorious song with some magnificent lines.
  • Frustrated Bird – minor but glorious.
  • Hey Jude – (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) – ha, a hilarious instrumental cover. The Marx Brothers annihilate The Beatles tune. Pure anarchy. This is all Hartford …very little Lennon and McCartney.

And …

It isn't one of Hartford's best but it's still miles ahead of other albums…. I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

Sounds

I Won't Know Why I Went Till After I Get Back

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c70rld0iqyc

Go Home Girl

Mp3 attached

 

Natural to Be Gone

Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCqRO9ri1Aw

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQPpTXBGi7A

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_pdzFaGg-4M

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rN0iOkMNZqQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbT03UDmmWM

Review

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

http://www.allmusic.com/album/iron-mountain-depot-mw0000860203

http://www.allmusic.com/album/john-hartford-iron-mountain-depot-radio-john-mw0000738802

Bio

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/john-hartford-mn0000221603

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

Website

http://www.johnhartford.com/

http://www.johnhartford.org/

Trivia

John : album sleeves – this and the next.

John Hartford- Comparison look

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

THE RASCALS – Search and Nearness – (Atlantic) – 1971

 

Rascals - Search And Nearness

Where would we be without the internet?

Surely richer, maybe wiser, arguably happier but certainly without "obscure-ish" records like this Rascals one.

I, like many people outside the US (and probably many within the US), know and love The Young Rascals for their blue eyed soul rock and pop hits of the mid to late 1960s. The music was fun, well performed, inspired, and without any pretensions.

In two years (1966-1968) they had nine Top 20 hits in the US including three #1s.

They were big.

wikipedia: "Eddie Brigati (vocals), Felix Cavaliere (keyboard, vocals), Gene Cornish (guitar) and Dino Danelli (drums) started the band in Brigati and Danelli's hometown of Garfield, New Jersey. Brigati, Cavaliere and Cornish had previously been members of Joey Dee and the Starliters. Eddie's brother, David Brigati, an original Starliter, helped arrange the vocal harmonies and sang backgrounds on many of the group's recordings (informally earning the designation as the "fifth Rascal"). When Atlantic Records signed them, they discovered that another group, Borrah Minnevitch's and Johnny Puleo's 'Harmonica Rascals', objected to their release of records under the name 'The Rascals'. To avoid conflict, manager Sid Bernstein decided to rename the group 'The Young Rascals'… The Young Rascals' first television performance was on the program Hullabaloo on February 27, 1965, where they performed their debut single, "I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore". The track reached #23 in Canada, and touched the lower reaches of the U.S. charts. This modest success was followed by the U.S./Canada #1 single "Good Lovin'". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rascals

Like Vanilla Fudge, Mountain, The Illusion (and the Four Seasons and Dion and the Belmonts before them, and Bon Jovi after them and many others in-between) the nucleus of The Young Rascals were working class Italian-Americans from the greater New York / New Jersey area who were trying to escape their surrounds (economic if not physical).

Their musical background was in the working dance hall bands of the time. These bands made good time music that had to be danced to. People may scoff and the "disposability" of such music but one can't deny the musicianship that goes along with playing halls and venues night after night.

The Young Rascals like any act worth there salt though were not content in just rehashing the same sounds. They eventually dropped the "Young" from their name, wrote more original songs, observed the wider world, and looked beyond their good time rock and soul music.

They incorporated psychedelic rock, funk, gospel, jazz and some Latin and country into their sounds

The hits stopped and the music wasn't as infectious but it was more challenging and ultimately, despite the lack of hits, I'm happy they did this because it keeps their music interesting and ripe for rediscovery.

This album, their seventh, is the last with the original line up (Brigati had left before the album was finished and Cornish left shortly after) is from the "challenging music" period. Two more Rascals albums followed in the same vein.

What I find most interesting on albums like these is the "sound of the streets" feel on the albums. Not in the recording techniques but in the mix of styles : Latin, funk, gospel, rock all intermingle. This album oozes the US urban north-east so much that it could be a soundtrack for any gritty domestic drama about good guys, bad guys and cops and robbers of the time. That's not to say the music is all "mean streets" the Rascals, despite melancholy moments, have always been an upbeat band.

Their glass is always half full.

The early 70s were trouble times ecological issues had become big news, inflation, unemployment, urban crime, inner city decay were everywhere so it's good that they managed to keep their glass half full.

The band relies on a gentle good time funk as well as (the positiveness of) gospel more often than not to punctuate the songs. Cissy Houston (Whitney's mum) and The Sweet Inspirations (who were on the Atlantic label with The Rascals) provide the backing vocal magic which gives the album it's spiritual punch.

As an aside: The Sweet Inspirations were riding on a high. In mid-1969 the group (Cissy had been with the Sweet Inspirations until late 1969 before going out on her own) began recording and touring with Elvis Presley as both background singers and his warm-up act. The association with Elvis was well-publicized as he routinely introduced them on record, film and televised concerts.

It all works though there are no stellar tracks. It is an album of it's time but there is nothing wrong with that especially if  you love the time.
 
Their lack of  visibility as a great band from the 60s perhaps says something about rock music snobbery. At some stage to be a great rock act you had to be a great albums act. A series of great 45s was not enough. The Rascals like many other acts were never really an album oriented band despite putting out some very ambitious albums. That's not to say they didn't put out good (and occasionally great albums) but their format was the single

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Right On – (Felix Cavaliere) – A nice slab of funk and gospel.
  • I Believe – (Felix Cavaliere) – Pure gospel (with Cissy Houston and Tosha (Tasha?) Thomas on backing vocals) in attitude and music and Felix shows why he was a great white soul singer.
  • Thank You Baby – (Felix Cavaliere) – more gospel soul.
  • You Don't Know - (Gene Cornish) – a straight ahead semi rocker with country overtones.
  • Nama - (Dino Danelli) – a instrumental number that moves into Blood Sweat and Tears territory. Nice, real nice. Danelli (as is often noted) is a great drummer. I'm not sure what "nama" means, though in Croatian it means "us". (how's that for trivia?) know
  • Almost Home - (Felix Cavaliere) – a good ballad (with pastoral overtones) which is quite evocative.
  • The Letter - (Wayne Carson Thompson) – The Box Tops #1 (US) deep soul hit from 1967 is given a deeper soul treatment …in a Vanilla Fudge style. This is how covers should be done – as an individual interpretation that doesn't miss the point of the song. You have to love those keyboards.
  • Ready for Love - (Felix Cavaliere) –   Very breezy and happy. I think this is a great track. There is a great flute solo in there. How many times have you ever said that?
  • Fortunes – (Dino Danelli) – slightly trippy mid tempo song which is quite catchy in its own way.
  • Glory, Glory - (Felix Cavaliere) – a big, big showbiz gospel number with the Sweet Inspirations and Cissy Houston at their best.

And …

Of it's time but endearing and extremely undervalued…. I'm keeping it.
 
Chart Action
 
US
Singles
1970  Glory Glory  The Billboard Hot 100  #58 

Album
1971  The Billboard 200  #198 

England

 
Sounds

Right On
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=169Jb9gHG_M

I Believe
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kg6EBzxTVCA

You Don't Know
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ch0lNpsMqd8

Ready for Love
Mp3 attached

Rascals – Ready For Love

Others
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsWTnWtszCI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xA7CPmNqjek
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKYVOubhqJY
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrpLpbqBYsw
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0fErmzmfqo

with Tom Jones
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1v6gxXcnX9c

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

a history
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80kGv-rZbRE
 
Review
 
http://www.allmusic.com/album/search-and-nearness-mw0000487422
http://www.richieunterberger.com/rascals7.html
http://badcatrecords.com/BadCat/RASCALS.htm
http://somediurnalauralawe.blogspot.com.au/2011/07/just-rascal.html
 
Bio

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rascals
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-rascals-mn0000493122/biography

 

Website

http://www.therascalsarchives.com/
http://www.young-rascals.com/main_rascals.htm
http://www.drummerworld.com/drummers/Dino_Danelli.html

Trivia

  • I have noi idea what the front and back cover paintings are about. but they are by Wolfgang Huitter, an Austrian painter of the fantastical. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolfgang_Hutter
  • wikipedia: Regarding the inner cover photo, "The photo shows Dino Danelli, Gene Cornish, and Felix Cavaliere sitting on a rooftop. There is an empty space with a pair of unoccupied shoes between Danelli and Cornish.[1] Cornish’s right arm is sticking out as if he has his arm around one’s shoulder. In the background, Eddie Brigati is standing in one of the neighboring apartment windows. However, this was an insert photo condensed to fit in the window; Brigati himself is not in the photo, having left the group before the photo shoot (with Cornish's departure shortly thereafter)"...see below.
  • Cavaliere went on to put out solo albums, Cornish and Danelli (also a visual artist) formed the group Bulldog in 1972 (and pout out two albums) before disbanding in 1975. Danelli then joined the Leslie West Band for a short time. In 1978 he and Cornish joined the powerpop group Fotomaker (initially with ex-Raspberries member Wally Bryson). In 1980, Danelli joined Steven Van Zandt as a member of Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul.
  • The Racals reformed in their original line-up for a series of concerts in 2012-2013.

Inner gatefold

The Rascals - Search and Nearness - Inner Gatefold

Posted in Blue Eyed Soul, Jazz Rock Fusion, Rock & Pop | Tagged | 1 Comment

TONY BENNETT – Love Story – (Columbia) – 1971

Tony Bennett - Love Story

"Bennett, born 1926, is the last of the great male trad pop singers".

I said that in another comment on Tony Bennett and that is a great way to start any comment.

That, followed by "and he is still recording and touring and is a living legend".

Read my other comments for musical background and impact.

He never entered into the public consciousness as perhaps, Sinatra, Crosby or Martin because he never worked in film extensively but his vocal, phrasing, control and emotion was admired by all trad pop singers.

The guy is truly amazing.

Not every song Bennett does works but he makes a song sound, at the very least, pleasant. He could sing the phone book and it would be good. He is the master craftsman.

But, when he hits on a song that is perfectly in tune with what he wants and believes there is magic and he transcends the music.

His voice is distinctive and familiar. The role he takes on in a song is totally convincing. The broken hearted lover, the friend giving advice, the young man who has found love, the older man who has found love, the parent looking at his child, the beloved relative giving fatherly advice. They are not just arbitrary roles for each song but rather an extension of his personality, at different times in his life. He never wrote a song, but through the selection and his approach to them they become autobiographical.

With that in mind I have never had a problem approaching a Tony Bennett album and I especially like his late 60s and early 70s material though it's not his most well regarded period.

This album is a strange though. Clearly it has been designed to cash in on the big hit film "Love Story"  with Ryan 'Neal and Ali McGraw from 1970 (look at the sleeve – a bad Photoshop before Photoshop was invented), and I assume Andy Williams big hit of the theme song from 1971 but the album could be called "Bennett does Broadway and the Movies".

The 70s tracks are all from recent films or stage productions whilst the rest are lifted from Bennett albums and singles from the 60s.

The recording date breakdown:

12/03/1970  Love Story (Where Do I Begin?)  
01/25/1971 Tea For Two  
01/25/1971  I Want To Be Happy  
01/25/1971  Individual Thing
09/30/1970  I Do Not Know A Day I Did Not Love You 
10/16/1967  They Can't Take That Away From Me 
09/17/1963  When Joanna Loved Me    
11/26/1966  Country Girl
12/28/1965  The Gentle Rain  
03/16/1962  Soon It's Gonna Rain
09/11/1963  A Taste Of Honey
09/30/1970  I'll Begin Again

The album hangs together because the new songs are well done and the older songs are chosen because they were strong but it would have been more successful (as an album) if a few other recent songs had been done at the sessions.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Love Story – (Where Do I Begin?) - (Carl Sigman, Francis Lai) – from the film "Love Story" – the film was a monster hit. A cover of the theme song (which has been covered many times), by Andy Williams which was a hit in 1971 (#9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the easy listening chart for four weeks, in addition to #4 on the UK Singles Chart). I'm not sure if Williams actually recorded (as opposed to released) his version before Bennett but Bennett's version is better. His vocal is control with just the right crack around the edge to give the song emotional power. Sure, everyone can sing, but not everyone is a singer. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_Story_(1970_film)
  • Tea For Two – (Vincent Youmans, Irving Caesar) –   from the often revived musical production and Broadway show "No No Nanette" which dates back to the 1920s. Tony controls the song nicely. It has been often heard and is a bit coy but it works. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_for_Two_(song)
  • I Want To Be Happy   - (Otto Harbach, Vincent Youmans, Irving Caesar) – another song from "No No Nanette"  ….there was a big Broadway revival of the sho released later in 1971 . Perhaps this is the reason for recording the song. It still it works.
  • Individual Thing  - (Jule Styne, Bob Merrill) –   from the musical production "Prettybell" which was also released in 1971. The musical is very contemporary – its central character is a Southern woman who, after her abusive law officer husband has died, turns to alcohol and sex, allowing herself to be raped and becoming a nymphomaniac prostitute, before becoming institutionalized. A romantic musical comedy it's not. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prettybelle
  • I Do Not Know A Day I Did Not Love You  – (Richard Rodgers, Martin Charnin) –   from the Broadway Musical "Two by Two" released in 1970 with Danny Kaye in the lead. Another contemporary musical about Noah and the great flood but with refences to ecology, the bomb and the generation gap. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two_by_Two_(musical)
  • They Can't Take That Away From Me  - (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin) –  The song was first done by Fred Astaire in the 1937 film "Shall We Dance". A beautiful song, more jazzy than the Astaire version.
  • When Joanna Loved Me   - (Robert Wells, Jack Segal) –  This is Bennett's song from 1964. Though not a big, big hit Bennett loved the song so much he named his daughter after it. Scott Walker did  a beautifully Baroque version in 1967. Vocally lush.
  • Country Girl – (Robert Farnon) – Canadian Fardon wrote the song as  a potential for the 1966 Eurovision (for England). Bennett's version comes from the 1967 album "Tony Makes It Happen!"
  • The Gentle Rain  - (Luiz Bonfa, Matt Dubey) –   from mthe (now) obscure film from 1966 starring Christopher George and Lynda Day George about lovers in Rio. Naturally enough the great Brazilian guitarist Bonfa did the music (with Eumir Deodato). This song was originally from Bennett's 1966 album, "The Movie Song Album". Great guitar by Bonfa, very gentle as is the song just like, errrr gentle rain.
  • Soon It's Gonna Rain – (Tom Jones, Harvey Schmidt) – from the 1960 musical comedy "The Fantasticks". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fantasticks
  • A Taste Of Honey   - (Ric Marlow, Bobby Scott) –  A minor hit when released in 1964 the song was originally released on Bennett's 1964 album "The Many Moods of Tony". The song was written for the 1960 Broadway version of the 1958 British play "A Taste of Honey" The song both in vocal and instrumental modes has been covered many times (Including by The Beatles in 1963. Tony's version is sublime. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Taste_of_Honey_(song)
  • I'll Begin Again - (Leslie Bricusse) –   from the film 1970 film "Scrooge" which was a musical film adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic 1843 story, "A Christmas Carol". Another great cover which is powerful in that Broadway way without being strictly Broadway. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrooge_(1970_film)

And …

By it's nature this is patchy but when it's right it's magnificent …. I'm keeping it.
 
Chart Action
 
US
Singles
1964  A Taste Of Honey  The Billboard Hot 100  #94 
1964  When Joanna Loved Me  The Billboard Hot 100  #94 

Album
1971  Love Story  The Billboard 200  #67 

England
Singles

Album

 
Sounds

Love Story (Where Do I Begin?)  
Mp3 attached

Tony Bennett – Love Story

Tea For Two  
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OT84utta5F8

I Want To Be Happy 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUe-LcFGbsw
 
They Can't Take That Away From Me
Live (with Elvis Costello)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6uDp5lYPzs
When Joanna Loved Me   
Live
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NicgV-k2MNI
Country Girl
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uk8IlgqOx5E

The Gentle Rain  
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jdv7PMibKog

A Taste Of Honey
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGc4DcgAxcc&list=PLA4BA88A1DADF8E33

I'll Begin Again
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6F5TapKAOg
 
Others
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Orqgv9LCsvE (with Frank Sinatra)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZMsqdD7FpM (with Dean Martin)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTPpe64jlWQ (with Dean Martin)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoV0q_q6VCk (with Andy Williams)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NosKQSkzh54 (and Willie Nelson)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OFMkCeP6ok (with Amy Winehouse)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPAmDULCVrU (with Lady Gaga))

Review

 
Bio

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Bennett_discography
 
Website

https://tonybennett.com/

Trivia

  • Credits : Arranged By – Dick Hyman (tracks: B4, B5), Marion Evans (tracks: B2), Marty Manning (tracks: A1, B1), Ralph Burns (tracks: A2, A3, A4), Torrie Zito (tracks: A5, A6, B6) , Conductor – Dick Hyman (tracks: B4, B5), Marion Evans (tracks: B2), Marty Manning (tracks: A1, B1), Ralph Burns (tracks: A2, A3, A4), Torrie Zito (tracks: A5, A6, B6) , Guitar – Luis Bonfa* (tracks: B3) , Producer – Ernie Altschuler (tracks: B1, B5), Howard A. Roberts (tracks: A6, B2), Teo Macero
  • Full sessions:  Tony Bennett (ldr), Ralph Burns, Marion Evans, Marty Manning, Peter Matz, Ralph Sharon, Torrie Zito (con, a), Dick Hyman (con, a, or), Johnny Mandel (con), Luiz Bonfa (a, g), Ralph Sharon Trio (acc), Phil Bodner, Pete Fanelli, Romeo Penque, Sol Schlinger, William J. Slapin, Stanley Webb (r), Joe Soldo (r, f), Bobby Tricarico (r, ts), Bert Collins, Mel Davis, Al De Risi, Joe Ferrante, Johnny Frosk, Bernie Glow, Bob Hamilton, Joe Newman, Ernie Royal, Joe Wilder (t), Robert Alexander, Sy Berger, Warren Covington, William Elton, Paul Faulise, John Gale, Urbie Green, Dick Hixson, John Messner, Jack Rains, Fred Zito (tb), Jim Buffington, Donald Corrado, Joseph De Angelis, Larry Wechler (frh), Vinnie Bell, Gene Bertoncini, Al Caiola, Barry Galbraith (g), George Duvivier, Milt Hinton (b), John Bunch (p), Gloria Agostini, Corky Hale, Margaret Ross (hrp), Jess Levy, Charles McCraken, George Ricci, Lucien Schmidt, Harvey Shapiro, Alan Shulman, Tony Sophos (vc), Joe Cocuzzo, Sol Gubin, Ronnie Zito (d), Phil Kraus, Phil Kraus (per), Lamar Alsop, Julius Brand, Fred Buldrini, Peter Buonconsiglio, Max Cahn, Bernie Eichen, Paul Gershman, Harry Glickman, Larry Goldman, Mannie Green, Harry Katzman, Harold Kohon, Leo Kruczek, Ray Kunicki, Joe Malin, Marvin Morgenstern, David Nadian, Dave Novales, George Ockner, Gene Orloff, John Pintavalle, Matthew Raimondi, John Rublowsky, Tosha Samoroff, Julius Schachter, Gerald Tarack, Paul Winter (vn), Julien Barber, Al Brown, Selwart Clarke, Harold Colletta, Leon Frengut, Theodore Israel, Emanuel Vardi (vl), Tony Bennett (v) Sessionography: http://www.jazzdiscography.com/Artists/Bennett/Bennett70.php
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