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
Posted in Popular & Crooners | Tagged | Leave a comment

BOBBY VEE – Sings Hits of the Rockin’ ’50’s – (Liberty) – 1961

Bobby Vee - Sings Hits of the Rockin 50s

Bobby Vee does a covers album.

An odd statement perhaps given that a lot of Bobby Vee's material is made up of covers.

I have commented on quite a few Bobby Vee albums on this blog and touched on his background, but , just to refresh,

Bobby Vee aka  Robert Thomas Velline was, (wikipedia) "Born in Fargo, North Dakota, he had his first single with "Suzie Baby," an original song penned by Vee that nodded towards Buddy Holly's "Peggy Sue" for the Minneapolis-based Soma Records in 1959; it drew enough attention and chart action to be purchased by Liberty Records, which signed him to their label later that year. His follow-up single, a cover of Adam Faith's UK number 1 "What Do You Want?" charted in the lower reaches of Billboard in early 1960; however, it was his fourth release, a revival of The Clovers' doo-wop ballad "Devil or Angel", that brought him into the big time with U.S. buyers. His next single, "Rubber Ball", was the record that made him an international star".

Bobby here, though revives the great hits of the 1950s …which had ended only two years earlier!

If this isn't one of the first "let's relive the 50s" covers albums I don't know what it.

There is tendency to look down on singers like Bobby Vee especially when doing music like this. Vee though had his roots in the 50s and was a good stylist. He doesn't do the covers faithfully. They are saturated with his musical personality as well as the clean-er sounds of 1961.

The sounds in 1961 were, generally, smoother, cleaner and poppier. The album's title is "Sings Hits of the Rockin' 50s" not "Sings Rock hits of the 50s" and that says a lot.

There certainly was a market for this well into the 60s but a lot of the music is now overlooked.

When John Lennon did an album of 50s covers ("Rock 'n' Roll" in 1975) or when Robert Plant, Bryan Ferry or Dave Edmunds revive 50s tunes the high brow critics wet their pants.

Vee doesn't get the same break and that's a pity because this album is better on the ears than Lennon's similar effort though not as highly individualistic as Lennon's (and producer Phil Spector's) album.  Should an individualistic failure be more highly regarded than a less individualistic success?

Well, the answer is in the listening. And to my ears at least this album holds together better.

The first side tends to the rockier side of the 50s whilst side two has the ballads. I prefer the first side. Vee (though he subsequently did a Buddy Holly covers album) with the exception of Chuck Berry and Eddie Cochran, Vee stays away from the "pillars" of the 50s music scene: Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, The Everly Brothers, Bobby Darin, Ricky Nelson, Gene Vincent, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Little Richard are not covered.

In any event, the trouble with doing well known "hits" is you are at a disadvantage because those songs are, errr "hits".

I said this in commenting on Bobby Vee's Buddy Holly tribute album "I Remember Buddy Holly" from 1963 and the same applies to this hits of the 50's album, "The trouble with “tribute cover albums” is that, whether it is 1963 or 1983 you are always going to be compared to the original singers versions. The trouble with that, of course, is that because the artist is deemed to warrant a whole album of covers suggests that the artist must have been significant. If he was significant that means he must have put out a body of work that was exceptional. Accordingly, you are really putting yourself by the eight ball by doing an album of covers by an exceptional artist".

Still, Vee nails some of the songs and it's interesting to hear what the songs sound like with 1961 tastes and attitudes.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Do You Want to Dance? - a great song. Just about every version is good, as is this, with some Buddy Holly mannerisms. The dancing here is more innocent rather than raunchy but there is room for that in contemporary society.
  • Lollipop – a poppy doo-wop. A novelty song – quite catchy but it works better with vocal groups, though it seems that Bobby's voice is double tracked here?
  • School Days - The guitar doesn't match Chuck Berry but Vee's vocal is spot on
  • Little Star – OK.
  • Come Go with Me –  a great song and a good version. Extremely catchy
  • Summertime Blues - not as nasty as Eddie's version but a great song and Vee's  vocal again is good.
  • Happy, Happy Birthday Baby – sounds like a ballad from a 50s Elvis film.
  • Lavender Blue – Gentle, perhaps too gentle.
  • Donna – Valen's ballad had balls. Vee gets the longing right but there isnt enough Mexican-American angst.
  • Earth Angel - a great song but quite clean, or cleaner still.
  • Wisdom of a Fool – some great vocals with some Elvis like mannerisms thrown in.
  • Sixteen Candles - very catchy and quite romantic, though you'd end up in jail nowadays if the age gap was substantial between you and the sixteen year old.

Tracks (their origins)

  • Do You Want to Dance? – (Bobby Freeman) – A #5 hit for Bobby Freeman in 1958 in the US. Of course the song was done by everyone including The Beach Boys (#8, 1965), Cliff Richard and the Shadows (#2 England, 1962), Bette Midler (#17 1972), The Four Seasons (1964), Del Shannon, (1964), The Mamas & the Papas (1966), Johnny Rivers (1966), We Five (1966), John Lennon (1975),  Kim Carnes (1971), T. Rex (1975), The Ramones (1977),  Dave Edmunds (1985),  David Lindley and El Rayo-X (1988). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Do_You_Wanna_Dance%3F
  • Lollipop – (Julius Edward Dixon / Beverly "Ruby" Ross) – Lollipop was first recorded by the duo Ronald & Ruby (co-writer Ross herself was "Ruby") and then covered more successfully by The Chordettes.  The Chordettes went to #2 in the US and #6 in the UK where there was also a cover version by The Mudlarks which made #2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lollipop_(1958_song)
  • School Days – (Chuck Berry) – Chuck Berry had a #3 US hit  in 1957 and has been covered by everyone including AC/DC (1975), Gary Glitter (1972), Jan and Dean (1964), New Riders of The Purple Sage (1974), The Beach Boys, not to mention live versions by Eddie Cochran, Elvis Presley and Led Zeppelin. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_Days_(song)
  • Little Star – (Vito Picone / Arthur Venosa) – A #1 hit for Italo-American doo wop group The Elegants in 1958. Other artists to record this song include Dion (1961) and Johnny Worth (1958)  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Star_(The_Elegants_song)
  • Come Go with Me – (Clarence E. Quick) – A #4 hit for doo-wop group The Del-Vikings in 1957. It has been covered by The Beach Boys, The Fleetwoods, Sha Na Na and many others. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Come_Go_with_Me
  • Summertime Blues – (Jerry Capehart / Eddie Cochran) – A #8 hit for Eddie Cochran in 1958. It has been covered by many artists including versions by The Beach Boys (19621), The Who (1970), Blue Cheer (1968), Alan Jackson (#1 country, 1980), Dick Dale And His Del-Tones (1965),  T-Rex (1970), Olivia Newton-John (1975), The Flying Lizards (1978), Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band (LIVE 1978),  The Flaming Lips (1986),  Brian Setzer (1987), Joan Jett (1980),  The Gants (1966), Alex Chilton (1977), The Black Keys (2004), The Dandy Warhols (LIVE 2012), James Taylor (2008), Guitar Wolf (1999), The Ugly’s (2004), Levon Helm (1981). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summertime_Blues
  • Happy, Happy Birthday Baby – (Gilbert Lopez / Margo Sylvia) – A #5 hit for The Tune Weavers in 1957. It has also been covered by Dolly Parton (1966), Sandy Posey (it #36 country 1971), Ronnie Milsap (#1 country 1986),  Wanda Jackson (1958). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happy,_Happy_Birthday_Baby
  • Lavender Blue – (Traditional) – "Lavender Blue" is an old English folk song that Burl Ives did for the film "So Dear to My Heart" (1948) and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. Sammy Turner released it in 1959 and it hit # 14 on the US. Other versions include those by The Browns (1960), Gene Vincent (1964), Bobby Vinton (1964), The Merseybeats (1964), Solomon Burke, Leon & Mary Russell (1975), Marillion (1985), and The Wiggles (1991). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lavender_Blue
  • Donna – (Ritchie Valens) –  A #2 hit in 1958 for Mexican-American rocker Ritchie Valens. Other versions include Los Lobos (1987), Johnny Crawford (1962), Clem Snide (2000), Cliff Richard (1958), Donny Osmond (1972), Misfits (2003), Gary Glitter (1972), Shakin Stevens (1982), Johnny Tillotson (1963). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donna_(Ritchie_Valens_song)
  • Earth Angel – (Jesse Belvin / Gaynel Hodge / Curtis "Fitz" Williams) – A #8 hit for Afro-American doo-wop group The Penguins in 1955. The white vocal group The crew Cuts had a #8 with it in the same year.  Other versions include Gloria Mann (#18, 1955),  Barry Frank and the Four Bells (1955),  Johnny Tillotson (#57, 1960), Bobby Vinton (1963), The Vogues (1969), New Edition (#21, 1986),  Aaron Neville (2003),  Death Cab for Cutie (2005), and live versions from Blink-182,  The Fleetwoods, The Four Seasons, Green Day and Elvis Presley. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_Angel
  • Wisdom of a Fool – (Roy Alfred / Abner Silver) – A #35 hit for Afro-American R&B group The Five Keys in 1957. Other versions include Frank Ifield (1963), Norman Wisdom (!)(1957), and B.J. Thomas (1967).
  • Sixteen Candles – (Luther Dixon / Allyson R. Khent) – A  #2 hit for Afro-American doo-wop group The Crests in 1958. Other versions include The Four Seasons (1964), The Jackson 5 (1971), Sha na na (1973), Stray Cats (1984), Jerry Lee Lewis (#  61 country 1986), The Passions (#146, 1963). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/16_Candles_(song)

And …

Fun for parties …. I'm keeping it.
 
Chart Action
 
US
Singles

Album
1961 #85 (his first charting album in the US)

England
Singles

Album
1962 #20
 
Sounds

http://recordlective.com/Bobby_Vee/With_Strings_and_Things___Sings_Hits_of_the_Rockin'_'50's/bccf85b5-c1ab-4a42-8387-be20ba54e9dc/

Do You Want to Dance? 
Mp3 attached

Bobby Vee – Do You Wanna Dance?

Others
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUqMNIsYI4w
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GQAmTznY2o
 
Review
 
http://www.allmusic.com/album/sings-hits-of-the-rockin-50s-mw0000842454
http://www.allmusic.com/album/bobby-vee-with-strings-and-things-sings-hits-of-the-rockin-50s-mw0000049462
 
Bio

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_Vee
http://danhornback.com/bobbyvee/Page2History.htm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVJYiGhW99g
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_GbimQ729o

Website

http://www.bobbyvee.com/home.html


Trivia

 

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

BREWER AND SHIPLEY – Shake Off The Demon – (Kama Sutra) – 1971

Brewer and Shipley - Shake off the Demon

Google "hippie" and "Brewer & Shipley" and you will find a lot of references to this act as a "hippie duo".

When I was young and when I first got this record (at the great University of Queensland Student Union Record Club sell-off of 1988) I assumed they were, indeed, a hippie act. It doesn't help that their big hit "One Toke over the Line" about smoking pot is something instantly identifiable with the hippie movement of the late 60s and early 70s.

Like wise, Hippie music by it's nature has to be rustic or at least pastoral. The "proper" San Francisco hippies are urban but pastoral in their outlook but then there were a lot of hippies that were rural and commune based and their music reflects that. This type of hippie music is usually rustic country rock or folk rock  but with lyrics that are invested with the hippie escapist, retreatist (?) or perhaps non-confrontationalist "peace and love" themes.

"I never considered myself a hippie," commented Michael. "I was a young, married man paying taxes, working, pursuing a career. I wore the clothes of the time and had long hair — back when I had hair — but I never lived in a commune. I actually bathed and shaved."  

Tom, however, had no problem with the label. "Back in the days when we were officially card-carrying hippies travelling cross-country and living out of our Volkswagen," he says, "I spent some time on a Hopi reservation out in the middle of Arizona. But I did not take acid and go running naked through any of their pueblos. And I bathed."
 http://www.brewerandshipley.com/bios&liners/bio_b&s.htm

Well, maybe they were and maybe they weren't.

Worse still allmusic has tagged them as "Contemporary Christian / Folk-Pop / Jesus Rock / AM Pop /  Contemporary Pop/Rock".  Someone there must have been taking one toke over the line. Sure, Jesus makes an appearance in a song here and there, as do wells, cleansing water, messages on high, angels, demons and crucifixion references but this is (despite all that!) hardly "Christian music". Some of the back to the earth, get away from the city themes do overlap with the simple life and a faith in God songs so perhaps that's why they occasionally earn the "Christian rock" tag. Well, that and the fact they mention "sweet Jesus" in "One Toke over the Line".  Likewise, there certainly are pop elements to the music but it is still no where as slick as The Eagles. http://www.allmusic.com/artist/brewer-shipley-mn0000935990

This is folk rock with country influences of country rock with folk influences. They are in the same camp as Crosby Stills Nash and Young, or at least Crosby Stills and Nash but with a dash of Arlo Guthire. On some of their other records they do, as their contemporaries did, experiment with sounds and grooves but generally on what I have heard thus far, including this album, they stick to the folk country rock.

Brewer and Shipley were products of the folk boom and then the same folk-rock scene that nurtured bands such as The Byrds and Buffalo Springfield. What  they had that some of their contemporaries did not have were the country influences of their Midwest upbringings.

Michael Brewer (born 1944, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) and Tom Shipley (born 1941, Mineral Ridge, Ohio)were two Midwestern folkies who met Blind Owl Coffee House in Kent, Ohio in 1964. They were friendly and crossed paths over the next few years on the folk circuit until Shipley drifted in to LA in 1967 and bumped into Brewer (who had just been in folk rock act "Mastin & Brewer) and ended living around the corner from him. They teamed up as songwriters and wrote songs that were recorded by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band,  H.P. Lovecraft,  Noel Harrison, Glenn Yarbrough, The Poor, and Bobby Rydell. Their demo tapes sounded so good that they eventually hooked up a s a duo releasing their first album in 1968. They left California during 1969, returning to Kansas City, Missouri, where they made a living playing college towns. 

allmusic: "In 1971, they scored a surprise Top Ten hit with "One Toke Over the Line," in spite of radio bans owing to the song's marijuana-oriented lyrics. Following this success, Brewer and Shipley moved to rural Missouri, but their appeal dwindled, and the partnership was dissolved in 1979". (actually 1980)

All songs Brewer & Shipley except where marked

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Shake Off The Demon - a good start. There is quite a groove going here in a song about turning your back on war and violence. John Cipollina (of Quicksilver Messenger Service) provides electric and slide electric guitars.
  • Merciful Love - quasi spiritual love song which is sounds like Tim Hardin if he was a
  • Message From The Mission (Hold On) – now this is positive stuff and can be called hippy music though it can also be called country rock. Today this could sit well with any of the alt country groups.
  • One By One –  "we pick up the pieces and carry on".
  • When Everybody Comes Home – a familiar theme
  • Working On The Well – a country blues of sort. So so.
  • Rock Me On The Water – (Jackson Browne) – A cover of the Jackson Browne song though Browne had not yet released it. It was on his 1972 debut album and a single also (#48, 1972). Apparently Browne was performing the song as early as autumn 1970 but it didn’t receive a single or album release until 1972. It was also covered by Johnny Rivers (1971), Linda Ronstadt (1972 – her single release predated Jackson Browne's single release by five months – her version reached #85).
  • Natural Child - a song with some no psychedelic cajun thrown in.
  • Back To The Farm - an ode to a return to the country and the simple life away from "heroin heroes" and "cocaine disciples"
  • Sweet Love – "everybody should share the power of love". And the love I suspect isn't visceral.

And …

This is a solid album. The best tunes are well crafted and catchy in the best of the country rock vocal harmony groups and the others are nothing short of listenable …. I'm keeping it.
 
Chart Action
 
US
Singles

1972 Shake Off The Demon #98

Album

1972 #164


England
Singles
Album

 
Sounds

Shake Off The Demon

Brewer & Shipley – Shake off the Demon

Merciful Love
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxpURSe0BBk

When Everybody Comes Home
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxpURSe0BBk

Rock Me On The Water
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63FCGjnAgKc

Others
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNKL9onYB_8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FT_sB_kM_hY
 
Review

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shake_Off_the_Demon
http://savagesaints.blogspot.com.au/2011/06/brewer-shipley-shake-off-demon-1971.html
 
Bio

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/brewer-shipley-mn0000935990
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brewer_%26_Shipley
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Brewer_(musician)

http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com.au/2011/08/brewer-shipley-interview-with-tom.html

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

Website

http://brewerandshipley.com/

Trivia

  • Wikipedia: "One Toke Over The Line" was performed on The Lawrence Welk Show, a television program known for its conservative, family-oriented format, by a duo known as "Gail and Dale." At the conclusion of the performance of the song, Welk remarked, without any hint of irony, "There you've heard a modern spiritual by Gail and Dale." This caused Michael Brewer to comment:  "The Vice President of the United States, Spiro Agnew, named us personally as a subversive to American youth, but at exactly the same time Lawrence Welk performed the crazy thing and introduced it as a gospel song. That shows how absurd it really is. Of course, we got more publicity than we could have paid for". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brewer_%26_Shipley
Posted in Country Rock, Folk Rock | Tagged | Leave a comment

CILLA BLACK – Cilla – (Parlophone) – 1965

cilla black - cilla - Australia sleeve

Cilla swings?

Swinging Cilla?

There is a time, perhaps, in everyone's life where they are "hip", "now", "with it", "mod", "happening" and every other trans-generational word for someone who typifies the moment.

1965 was Cilla's year.

Swinging London was in full swing and even this girl from Liverpool could cash in. She was riding on a high with a number of hit singles ("Anyone Who Had a Heart" and "You're My World" both 1964 and both #1 in England), had an association with the hip Beatles, both as friends (from Liverpool days), and professionally (they shared the same label, producer, George Martin and manager, Brian Epstein) , wore great 60s skirts, and mixed with all the pop celebrities of the time, totally unexpected for a hat check girl from Liverpool.

From here there was a steady decline (?) whilst her husband manager made her the all round entertainer: movies, television, situational comedy, cabarets, variety specials and support for Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative Party.

Wikipedia: "Priscilla White was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England, on 27 May 1943 and grew up in the Scotland Road area of the city. Her parents were John Patrick White and Priscilla Blythen. Her grandfather, Joseph Henry Blythen, was from Wales but most of her family were from a Liverpool Irish background.

She attended St. Anthony's School, which was behind St. Anthony's Church in Scotland Road, and Anfield Commercial College.

Determined to become an entertainer, she got a part-time job as a cloakroom attendant at Liverpool's Cavern Club, best known for its association with the Beatles. Her impromptu performances impressed the Beatles and others. She was encouraged to start singing by a Liverpool promoter, Sam Leach, who gave her her first gig at the Casanova Club, where she appeared as "Swinging Cilla". She became a guest singer with the Merseybeat bands Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, Kingsize Taylor and the Dominoes and, later, with the Big Three. She was also, in the meantime, a waitress at The Zodiac coffee lounge, where she was to meet her future husband Bobby Willis. She was featured in an article in the first edition of the local music newspaper Mersey Beat; the paper's publisher, Bill Harry, mistakenly referred to her as Cilla Black, rather than White, and she decided she liked the name, and took it as a stage name".

She then hooked up with Brian Epstein and George Martin.

Following those successful singles there was a lot riding on this, Cilla's first album. She had proven she could sing and could interpret a lyric and make it her own but, the mid 60s were awash with equally capable English female singers: Petula Clark, Dusty Springfield, Sandie Shaw, Lulu, and Helen Shapiro.

Cilla needed to show she could sell albums and distinguish herself vocally … she fell somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between Dusty's soulfulness on one side and Petula's pop balladry on the other.

All of those girls relied on (to varying degrees) interpretations of contemporary pop song hits, mainly on songs from the US (in those earlier days of international communications you could rush out your version of a US hit in your market before the US record got over there). They would throw in a few "oldies", usually oldies that had already been recently revived by someone else, and then, maybe throw in a few songs written for them.

Petula was perhaps the exception to this, having written some of her own material but otherwise they all followed similar patters.

Cilla's ace in the hole though is George Martin.

Martin was a record producer, arranger, composer, conductor, audio engineer and musician who never looked down on any form of music and was adept at classical, pop, novelty, jazz, stage and rock n roll.

And on this album, knowing that Martin could do all that, Cilla hedges her bets and picks songs in a variety if styles. You could rephrase that to,  on this album Cilla's diverse vocal range is highlighted through an array of jazz, power ballads, pop, and soul standards.

She sings well and Martin keeps all the seemingly disparate styles under the general banner of pop. How much of this you can listen to depends on you tolerance for English mid-60s female vocalists.
 
Tracks (best in italics)

  • Goin' Out of My Head - (Teddy Randazzo, Robert Weinstein) – Covered by everyone but originally recorded Little Anthony & the Imperials in 1964 (#6 US)whom performer Randazzo wrote it for. (   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goin%27_Out_of_My_Head. This is a really good version by Cilla.
  • Every Little Bit Hurts – (Ed Cobb) – "Every Little Bit Hurts" was originally a 1964 hit single for Motown soul singer Brenda Holloway (#13 US). Again, a well covered tune. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Every_Little_Bit_Hurts
  • Baby It's You - (Burt Bacharach, Mack David, Barney Williams) – It was recorded by the Shirelles (#3, 1961) and many others. The highest-charting version of "Baby It's You" was by the band Smith, who took the song to #5 on the US charts in 1969. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_It's_You. Another good version.
  • Dancing in the Street - (Ivy Jo Hunter, William Stevenson, Marvin Gaye) – Originally done by Martha and the Vandellas (#2US, 1964) and then covered everywhere from the lame to the good. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dancing_in_the_street. This is a big sound, no longer soul, from Cilla and George and it works.
  • Come to Me – (George Martin, Bobby Willis) – an original written by producer Martin and Cilla’s husband, Willis. A nice power ballad that sounds like something out of a film from the same time.
  • Ol' Man River – (Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II) – Done by everyone- immortalised by Paul Robeson (1936), but Judy Garland, one of the few female singers to attempt the song, sang a powerful rendition on her television show in 1963, followed by a studio recording. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ol'_Man_River. Nope, it doesnt work
  • One Little Voice – (Uno Di Voi) –  (Coppola, Isola, Shaper) – First version was in Italian by by Gigliola Cinquetti (1964) . The first English version was this by Cilla. Very dramatic and quite good.
  • I'm Not Alone Anymore – (Clive Westlake, Kenny Lynch) – first recorded by Cilla written by a pair of English writers.
  • Whatcha Gonna Do 'Bout It – (Doris Troy, Gregory Carroll) – What'cha Gonna Do About It is a 1964 song by American Doris Troy. It made #37 on the UK Singles Chart in 1964. The Hollies did a British Invasion cover version of this for their debut album Stay with The Hollies from early 1964 (recorded in 1963).  Cilla is covering the Hollies here.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What'cha_Gonna_Do_About_It
  • Love Letters - (Edward Heyman, Victor Young) – Love Letters" is a 1945 popular song with music by Victor Young and lyrics by Edward Heyman. The song appeared, without lyrics, in the movie of the same name, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song for 1945. The song has been performed many times, but the best-known versions were made by: Dick Haymes (in 1945, US #11) needed and Elvis Presley (in 1966, US #19, UK #6). cilla inspiration 0 anyone The Marvelettes (1962), Shelley Fabares (1962), Ketty Lester (#5, 1962), Patti Page (1963), Cliff Richard with The Norrie Paramor Orchestra (1963), Ike & Tina Turner (1963), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_Letters_(song). A great ballad.
  • This Empty Place - (Hal David, Burt Bacharach) – First release by Dionne Warwick (#84 Pop, #26 R&B1963). The Searchers did it in  April 1964. Frantic and captures youthful yearning quite well.
  • You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To – (Cole Porter) – covered by everyone. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You'd_Be_So_Nice_to_Come_Home_To. Cilla does a jazz standard and belts it out but then the music behind her is belting also.

And …

A few great tracks, some filler and a few that don't work …. I'm taping a couple and selling.
 
Chart Action
 
US
Singles
Album

England
Singles

Surprisingly there where no hit singles.
 
Album
1965 #5
 
Sounds

http://recordlective.com/Cilla_Black/Cilla/2a2a4e19-c835-426d-be61-89075d6fc657/

Baby It's You
Mp3 attached

Cilla Black – Baby It's You

This Empty Place
You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To

Others
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDF_taQnoXk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aiKP49yWeQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbMDmIfvoXA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsGTPXx0zmw
 
Review
 
http://www.allmusic.com/album/cilla-mw0000844686
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cilla_album
 
Bio

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cilla_Black
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Martin

Website

http://www.cillablack.com/
https://www.facebook.com/OfficialCillaBlack

Trivia

English sleeve below (Australian sleeve at start)

cilla black - cilla - UK sleeve

Posted in Pop Rock | Tagged | Leave a comment

BOBBY BLOOM – The Bobby Bloom Album – (L&R Records) – 1970

Bobby Bloom - The Bobby Bloom Album

The only thing I knew about Bloom was the song "Montego Bay". And, that was mainly because it had been covered by Australian ska band The Allniters in 1983 and that version was very popular when I was at university.

The internet won't offer you much on Bobby.

Well, it can't because he was dead from gunshot wounds at age 28.

Wikipedia: Robert "Bobby" Bloom (January 15, 1946 – February 28, 1974) was an American singer-songwriter. He is known best for being a one-hit wonder with the 1970 song, "Montego Bay", which was co-written with and produced by Jeff Barry.

In the early 1960s, Bloom had been a member of the doo-wop group, The Imaginations, and sang lead on "Wait A Little Longer, Son." Bloom received a big break in 1969 when he was awarded a contract to write and record a jingle for Pepsi, paving the way for his later success with "Montego Bay." Bloom also played a role as a songwriter connected to the Kama Sutra/Buddah group of labels. He also co-wrote the song "Mony Mony" and with Jeff Barry he co-wrote "Sunshine" by The Archies, their fifth hit single in 1970.

Bloom worked as a sound engineer for musicians such as Louis Jordan and Shuggie Otis. Bloom often recorded demos of his songs at the recording studio of MAP City Records, owned by friends Peter Anders and Vincent Poncia Jr., with chief engineer Peter H. Rosen at the controls. Early solo projects included "Love Don't Let Me Down" and "Count on Me."

The recordings that followed his success with "Montego Bay" in 1970, "Heavy Makes You Happy", which became a hit for the Staple Singers in 1971, "Where Are We Going" and The Bobby Bloom Album all used the same combination of pop, calypso, and rock.

Bloom suffered from depression towards the end of his life. Bloom died on February 28, 1974, at the age of 28. He apparently shot himself while cleaning his gun. Jeff Barry was surprised to find out afterwards that he was the sole beneficiary of Bloom's life insurance policy.

That's it …. and everyone else seems to crib from the wikipedia entry.

It's time to go back to the books.

Well, that was fruitless.

The Rolling Stone Record Guides, History of Rock and various other histories don't help either.

Yep, Luka Bloom and Mike Bloomfield are well covered.

It's google time.

Most of the wikipedia article details seems to come from a bubblegum website where they interview Jeff Barry (see trivia at the end)

Bits and pieces reveal that Bloom:

  • Was in white doo wop band The Imaginations who formed in Long Island, New York in 1961 and recorded five singles and were quite popular regionally;
  • Was in another white doo wop band (1962) when the Imaginations folded called The Ebonaires for one single;
  • Was in yet another white doo wop group (1962), The Expressions who cut one single in 1963 (for the Parkway label) and backed Tommy Boyce in the studio;
  • Did engineering work for a number of artists, including Louis Jordan and Shuggie Otis;
  • Arranged, conducted or produced things for The  #1, Bobby Mann, The Tymes, Jerry and Jeff, Jamie Lyons Group, Bo Gentry &  Ritchie Cordell, 1910 Fruitgum Co., Zebra;
  • Cut his first solo single in 1967;
  • Was one of the singers in a (probable studio group) Captain Groovy and his Bubblegum Army who released one single in 1969;
  • Worked on one of the later Monkees albums;
  • Wrote songs that were recorded by the Bazooka Company, Tommy James and the Shondells, The Archies, Freddie Scott, Jamie Lyons Group, Jerry and Jeff, 1910 Fruitgum Co., Bo Gentry &  Ritchie Cordell, Frankie Smith, Zebra;
  • Was covered by the The Bar-Kays, The Staple Singers, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Jon Stevens and others;
  • Died of a gunshot wound whilst either cleaning his gun, by an assailant (who was never found) in a fight over a girl, by an accidental shooting (after mentioning that he suffered depression), or by taking his own life.

He squeezed in a lot of the music business in his 28 years.

It would make a great film.

It's assumed, because of all the bubblegum acts he worked with that Bloom is bubblegum.

But he isn't.

Well not only bubblegum.

Wikipedia define bubblegum pop music as: "The chief characteristics of the genre are that it is pop music contrived and marketed to appeal to pre-teens and teenagers, is produced in an assembly-line process, driven by producers, often using unknown singers and has an upbeat sound. The songs typically have singalong choruses, seemingly childlike themes and a contrived innocence, occasionally combined with an undercurrent of sexual double entendre. Bubblegum songs are also defined as having a catchy melody, simple chords, simple harmonies, dancy (but not necessarily danceable) beats, repetitive riffs or "hooks" and a vocally-multiplied refrain. The song lyrics often concern romantic love, but many times are about just feeling good or being happy, with references to sunshine, loving one another, toys, colors, nonsense words, etc. They are also notable for their frequent reference to sugary food, including sugar, honey, butterscotch, jelly and marmalade".

Bloom's music has elements of this but more. His music is a "mature bubblegum" if that doesn't sound like a contradiction. This is music that does have some bubblegum motifs: the catchy choruses, the faux psychedelia, the chorused backing vocals, the melody with an emphasis on the beat …

but …

this music is quite adventurous and very individual.

There is some blue eyed soul in there and some clever themes. The music is good time music but it is quite subversive. It's not dissimilar to Joe South in some ways.

Allmusic describe Bloom as "American singer/songwriter, producer and engineer, born May 22, 1946 and died February 28, 1974 (accidental shooting)".

And that probably is the best way to describe him except I would add "multi-instrumentalist". The guy did everything. I gather at these small labels, churning out songs looking for a hit or respectable sales, you have to do everything.

Bloom has skills. This album is a little erratic (and occasionally a little thin) but it is clear that he knows what he is looking for (and Jeff Barry his producer is at one mind with him)…they also play all of the instruments on the album with the exception of the guitar on Montego Bay which Jimmy Calvert of The Tradewinds provides.

All songs by Jeff Barry and Bobby Bloom except "Heidi" by Barry, Bloom, J. Levine, K. Resnick.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Careful Not to Break the Spell – a big mid tempo ballad with some funky touches
  • Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom-Boom) - He sounds like Bowie here a little or rather (later) Bowie sounds like Bloom! Think Bowie singing The Archies covering Neil Diamond. I like it. A great track ….quite catchy.
  • Try a Little Harder – trying for a little of the southern white soul here.
  • Oh, I Wish You Knew – a beautiful ballad and reminiscent in it's sadness of David Ackles.
  • Fanta - The chord progression at the start sounds like Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" (a year before them) before the song moves into Eric Burdon and War territory. This one grooves and works well.
  • Heidi – More southern type soul …
  • This Thing I've Gotten Into – a sort of Neil Diamond groove here with some "risqué" lyrics.
  • A Little on the Heavy Side – more southern soul this time with some shades of 70s Blood Sweat and Tears.
  • Brighten Your Flame – southern gospel soul and in Delaney and Bonnie territory.
  • Give 'Em a Hand - quite a cynical song about a band in the music industry.
  • Montego Bay - the hit… it's catchy and quite an interesting song. Perhaps the first time calypso was used in a mainstream pop rock song. Belafonte and Johnny Nash had used  the beats in their music but not in this pop rock setting. And think about it – the tuba is used as a bass and one of the hooks is whistled. The song ends with a couple of lines from Oh What a Beautiful Morning"  from Oklahoma! Specifically the "everything is going my way" line. It certainly was at that stage. Odd but endearing.

And …

A total surprise and a not a great album but a greatly underrated album …. I'm keeping it.
 
Chart Action
 
US
Singles
1970  Montego Bay  The Billboard Hot 100  #8 
Album
1970  The Bobby Bloom Album  The Billboard 200  #126 

England
Singles
1970  Montego Bay  #3
1970  Montego Bay  #42  (re-entry)
1974 Heavy Makes You Happy #31
1970  Montego Bay  #47  (2nd re-entry)

Album

 
Sounds

http://recordlective.com/Bobby_Bloom/Montego_Bay/89dca87b-b1ff-47b7-8946-196669abb18c/

Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom-Boom)
Mp3 attached-

Bobby Bloom – Heavy Makes You Happy

Montego Bay -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXjVd0TeOX0

Others
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=witM4_Dxnf8

Review
 
Of the single
http://70spop.wordpress.com/2012/03/03/montego-bay-by-bobby-bloom-lr-1970/

Bio

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_Bloom
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/bobby-bloom-mn0000763492

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

The Imaginations
http://www.blogg.org/blog-65325-themes-_imaginations__2_-218654.html

The Expressions
http://doo-wop.blogg.org/themes-_expressions__3_-467777.html

Website

Trivia

  • An interview between Jeff Barry and Don Charles of bubblegum-music.com :

 Don Charles: Then, later on in the ‘60s, you collaborated with Ron Dante, Andy Kim,  and Bobby Bloom. Bobby Bloom is one of the most underrated artists of that period.  What do you remember about working with him?

 Jeff Barry: Bobby and I were really great friends. As a matter of fact, when Bobby  died, I got a call from AFTRA, the musician’s union. I never knew it, but I was his life  insurance beneficiary. Bobby was a real character! Just a great guy, really, really  bright, and really, really talented. He loved to write, he loved to sing, and he loved  being in the studio, but he really didn’t love performing. Not that he disliked it, but he’d  just as soon not. It wasn’t like he had to perform. He wasn’t coming from that place, \ which was really unfortunate. He was a great-looking guy, and the girls just loved  him.

 Don Charles: And what a singing voice he had! The album you did with him (The  Bobby Bloom Album, L & R 1035) is fantastic. What instrument did he play?

 Jeff Barry: He played guitar. He could play keyboards, too, somewhat, and was good  on percussion as well, but mainly guitar. Bobby was the kind of a guy . . . he had this  house in the Hollywood hills, he had a motorcycle, and a Porsche, and a car called  Excalibur. Sometimes, he got really crazy! He once drove his motorcycle into his  pool. But the Bobby Bloomness of it was, he left it there. He never took it out. It was  like The Titanic – you could swim down to the wreck!

 Don Charles: How did he die?

 Jeff Barry: Unfortunately, he died of a gunshot wound. Somebody shot him, in a fight  over a girl. It was crazy! He kicked down a door, and ran into the room, and the guy  reached for a gun. I don’t think they ever found the guy.
 http://www.bubblegum-music.com/tags/bobby-bloom

 

 

Posted in Bubblegum Pop, Pop Rock, Rock & Pop, Sunshine Pop and Baroque | Tagged | Leave a comment

LEN BARRY – 1-2-3 – (Decca) – 1965

Len Barry - 1-2-3

I've talked about Len Barry and his former vocal band The Dovells both on this blog before.

I love vocal bands and vocalists.

At some time around 1962 the musical world changed forever and the age of the musician as, foremost, a writer, was ushered in regardless of the quality of the voice. This is despite the fact that those singer songwriter types themselves loved vocalists.

Sure there had been expressive (read gravel-like, growl-like, nasal-like, guttural) singers before but they were normally limited to folk, country and blues and not to pop and rock.

Music had to go somewhere and I have no problem with that though in pop and rock the rush towards the songwriter and increasing amplification meant the vocalist (and arrangements of vocalists) became less important and an important interpretative musical instrument (the voice) was denigrated .

Black soul, white blue eyed soul, and pure pop resisted this trend whilst, in a way, some of the new vanguard like the early Beatles and Beach Boys were a throw back to an earlier era where vocals and harmonies were just as important as the lyric. But, The Beatles discovered Dylan and perhaps abandoned that whilst The Beach Boys under Brian Wilson continued to explore vocal arrangements and became increasingly marginalised after 1966.

Eventually the vocalist returned in white pop rock though ultimately much of it was ruined by the sameness of the vocalists, by mass exposure on middlebrow mainstream television followed by, logically enough, vapid real life television like "The X Factor", "The Voice", "So you think you can Sing" etc.

Len Barry stands out amongst the blue eyed soul vocalists. He is a singer with a good voice and one who doesn't play any instrument (normally) but who co-writes a lot of his songs. (I'm not sure how or what portion of the songs he wrote – song writing was a messy business in those days with all sorts of credits going everywhere).

Barry may have loved the music but it was also his job and a means of escape from a potential life of digging ditches. The art in his music may have been important but the money it brought in was equally important…OK I natter on about this every now and then but music was a job not just a calling. I also note that it must have been hard playing this music to black audiences (he toured with James Brown apparently).

Wikipedia: "Len Barry (born Leonard Borisoff, June 12, 1942, West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States) is a retired American vocalist, songwriter and record producer … Born and raised in Philadelphia, Barry had little thought of a show business career while still in school. Instead, he aspired to become a professional baseball player upon his graduation. It was not until he entered military service and had occasion to sing with the U.S. Coast Guard band at Cape May, NJ, and was so encouraged by the response of his military audiences, that he decided to make music a career.

Upon his discharge from military service, Barry returned home to Philadelphia and joined the Dovells as their lead singer. His is the lead voice on their best selling records "Bristol Stomp", "Hully Gully Baby" and "You Can't Sit Down", among others. "Bristol Stomp" sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. Barry also made film appearances with the Dovells in films such as Don't Knock the Twist, as well as guest appearances on US television on The Dick Clark Show, Shindig, and Hullabaloo. Soon after leaving the group, Barry recorded his first solo single "Lip Sync".

As a predominately blue-eyed soul singer, he recorded two hits in 1965 for Decca Records in the US and released by Brunswick Records in the UK: "1-2-3", and "Like a Baby", both of which made the Top Ten of the UK Singles Chart".

Search for blue eyed soul definitions amongst my other listings but it's fair to say it is a much maligned genre of music. It's often referred to as a white version of Motown soul which is a little unfair. Motown soul was quite sweet and sugary.  Blue Eyed soul may have lifted elements of black soul but it's white, quite rockin at times, and generally a lot more grittier.

It is also prone to bad imitation.

To this day.

Len Barry has a deeply expressive voice for this material. I don't know how far he could go into other styles but, here at least, he is a king.

On this, his first solo album he surrounds himself with some great collaborators. The album was producer (an largely co-written) by John Madara and David White. John Madara and David White had both worked with or had been in white 50s vocal group "Danny and the Juniors" (think the song "At the Hop"). And the album was arranged by Jimmy Wisner who was a pianist, arranger, songwriter, and producer of great ability.

Amongst the grit of blue eyed soul there is some rock, pop, black soul and throwbacks to the Bobby Vee/Rydell/Darin era of  pop rock. It all hangs to well and shows that music isn't nurtured in a vacuum.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • 1-2-3 - (David White, John Madara, Leonard Borisoff) – a magnificent song. One of the best blue eyed soul songs and one of the best singles of the 1960s. Barry sings the song perfectly. Motown sued over the songs similarity to "Ask any Girl" by The Supremes. They were suing everyone ion those days …though they did get some money. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1-2-3_(Len_Barry_song)
  • Will You Love Me Tomorrow - (Carole King-Gerry Goffin) – The Shirelles magnificent Goffin and King song and #1 (US) hit from 1960. The fact that The Shirelles were an all girl vocal group doesn't effect this version of the song in the least.
  • Treat Her Right - (Roy Head)- Roy Head was a crazed rockabilly and blue eyed soul singer from Texas who had a #2  (US) hit with this in 1965. Barry tones it down a little but the song is still magical. It has been covered many times.
  • I.O.U – (David White, John Madara, Len Barry)- a good song and a re-write of "1-2-3".
  • Would I Love You – (William Robinson)- The Smokey Robinson and the Miracles song from 1964 or thereabouts.
  • Lip Sync (To the Tongue Twisters) – (David White, John Madara, Leonard Borisoff)- a novelty song but one with it's own independent dance groove.
  • You Baby – (Barry Mann-Cynthia Weil, Phil Spector)-  The Ronettes 1964 song and another girls group cover. The Lovin Spoonful also covered it in 1965.
  • Like A Baby - (David White, John Madara, Len Barry)- another great song and not dissimilar to "1-2-3", again.
  • Bullseye – (David White, John Madara, Leon Huff, Leonard Borisoff) – a variation on the Motown theme….and a co-write with Leon Huff, Philadelphia soul legend.
  • At The Hop '65 – (Arthur Singer, David White, John Madara)-  An updating of Danny and the Juniors #1 hit from 1958….a pure dance song.
  • Don't Throw Your Love Away – (Billy Jackson, Jim Wisner)- A cover of a B-side by R&B group The Orlons from 1963.
  • Happiness (Is A Girl Like You) - (David White, John Madara, Leonard Borisoff)- Catchy but it sounds like an outtake from an Elvis film. Is that a bad thing? No!

And …

A good album and one to get you dancing in a 1965 kind of way …. I'm keeping it.
 
Chart Action
 
US

Singles

1965  Lip Sync (To The Tongue Twisters)  The Billboard Hot 100  #84 
1965  1-2-3  The Billboard Hot 100  #2 
1965  1-2-3  R&B Singles  #11 
1966  Like A Baby  The Billboard Hot 100 #27

Album
1965 #90

England

Singles

1965  1-2-3 #3 
1966  Like A Baby  #10

Album

 
Sounds

http://recordlective.com/Len_Barry/1-2-3/8125ca61-4a51-4841-b95f-773f0a946765/

1-2-3
live
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhxFKwUyGsA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=An1-ntyBcz8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qE1J-n33Aw0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMpG4HNDtWE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skI8rPCGVbA
and mp3 attached

?Len Barry – 1-2-3

Others
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCOB5-E4P6Y

Review

 
Bio

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Len_Barry
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajTFPh45Voc

The Dovells
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dovells
http://www.rocky-52.net/chanteursd/dovells.htm
http://www.rockabilly.nl/references/messages/dovells.htm

Johnny Madara
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Medora
http://spectropop.com/JohnMadara/index.htm
http://www.forgottenhits.com/john_madara_remembers_

David White
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_White_(musician)

Jimmy Wisner
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Wisner
http://www.jazzwax.com/2012/05/jimmy-wisner-time-and-space.html

Website

http://www.lenbarry.com/
http://www.thedovells.com/

Trivia

  • "In an interview with Forgotten Hits, Madara explained: "In 1965, with '1-2-3' being the #1 record in the country, we were sued by Motown during the period when Berry Gordy was suing anyone whose records sounded like a Motown record. We were sued, saying that '1-2-3' was taken from a B-Side of a Supremes record called 'Ask Any Girl.' The only similarity between the two songs are the first three notes where the Supremes sang 'Ask Any Girl' and Lenny sang '1-2-3.' After that, there were no similarities, but their lawsuit said that our goal was to copy the Motown sound. Well, needless to say, Motown kept us in court, tying up all of our writers' royalties, production royalties and publishing royalties, and threatened to sue us on the follow-up to '1-2-3,' which was 'Like A Baby.' So after battling with them for two years and having a ton of legal bills, we made a settlement with Motown, giving them 15% of the writers' and publishers' share. … We never heard 'Ask Any Girl.' The only influence for making '1-2-3' was to make a ballad with a beat. And the sound of '1-2-3' was definitely the sound of the era. Listen to 'The In-Crowd' – that's not the Motown Sound, that's the sound of the era – and '1-2-3' definitely had a beat! Motown was suing a lot of people at the time." http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=4937
  • "In 1969 Len, along with brilliant arranger-musician Tommy Sellers, created the Philadelphia disco sound with the first disco hit record, “Keem-O-Sabe,” by a studio group Len named The Electric Indian. Most of the musicians who played on that session went on to become the Gamble-Huff studio players who eventually became known as MFSB, AKA, The Philadelphia Funk Brothers, (a play on the famous Motown studio players of an earlier era). By the mid 1970’s Len had tired of the road and turned his attention to writing and producing for others. Artists such as Lola Falana, Blue Magic, Major Harris, Bobby Rydell, Sylvester and Impact, (new group from Damon Harris), all benefited from the Len Barry touch….. Considered absolute classics in Europe, Slick’s “Space Bass” and “Zoom” by Fat Larry’s Band were both written and produced by Len Barry". http://www.lenbarry.com/
  • He has also written a novel …. http://www.amazon.com/BLACK-LIKE-ME-Len-Barry/dp/1904408346/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1212474864&sr=8-1
  • The album was released through Festival in Australia

 

Posted in Blue Eyed Soul | Tagged | Leave a comment

STEVE FORBERT – Streets of This Town – (Geffen) – 1988

Steve Forbert - Streets of This Town

You might ask "Steve Forbert, what happened?".

You're more likely to ask, "Who the fuck is Steve Forbert?".

These are valid things to ask but it's worth looking for an answer to either or both questions.

At the end of the 1970s Stevie Forbert was destined to become the next big thing but within five years his career was de-railed and never to be back on track.

Why?

He was the victim of a strange voodoo curse.

Well, my fourth glass of Bacardi  premixed "Classic Cocktails Pina Colada infused with Coconut Water" leads me to believe it is a voodoo curse. It may be the alcohol but I think not 'cause it's healthy 'cause it's got a lot of fruit in it. "From the rum which inspired the creation of the original Pina Colada. Experience the classic creamy Pina Colada cocktail prepared with Bacardi Superior Rum, pineapple and coconut flavours."

And it's only 15% … though the fruit really does let you knock over a bottle really quickly.

I blinked and the fucker was gone.

Shit, this is easier to drink than Flor de Caña and lemonade.

Hold on, Steve Forbert.

The guy was called "the new Dylan" on his first couple of albums  and the second did well with a top 40 in "Romeo's Tune" but that "new Dylan" tag is a weight that is hard to carry. It may not be a Bacardi fuelled voodoo curse but it is the kiss of death or perhaps, more charitably, a albatross around the neck. Of the many labelled "new Dylan" only Bruce Springsteen survived the tag and it took him till his third album to do it.

Forbert has put out a lot of good music but the, err, curse has doomed him.

A pity.

Maybe if he had an Al Kooper, Band or was 20 years earlier it would be a different story but, cest la vie.

I was a kid but I loved his "Romeo's Tune" when it came out in the late 70s. A few years later after high school his music was a staple to my lazy Australian sunny suburban beer garden days in the inner west of Brisbane as  much as Rodriguez or Jim Croce was …. thanks Buch and Luba.

Is it a coincidence that Keith Urban was playing  those suburban pubs around Brisbane's west at the same time and has also covered "Romeo's Tune" ?  (youtube it)

And now ….

Steve Forbert is not even remotely Caribbean in his outlook but his tales of loser, contenders, dreamers is good (or bad?) drinking music to a pre mixed Bacardi..

Read my other entries on this blog in relation to his other albums for background bio and the Dylan curse

Forbert had stalled  (slightly) creatively  on his third album. After his fourth album he ended up in a argument with his record label which stopped him from releasing another album for six years which is this one.

I've got a feeling I got this album at uni when I was reviewing records and I must have  dismissed it (in part at least) as I tried selling it at record fairs (and I know that because I just took the $5 sticker off it). As I got older I realised that, rather than limiting my vinyl collection I should just get a bigger room …hence this albums reappearance.

And I'm happy I still have it.

Forbert here is in good form though any "new Dylan" tag should be replaced with a "new Springsteen" tag. He is too much of a folkie to rock out like Springsteen but on his ballads and mid-tempo songs he taps into the same US heartland music that Springsteen did at the time. Lyrically his tales are quite similar to Springsteen but Springsteen's beautiful uber passionate, romantic, optimistically, fatalistic (?) attitude is not reflected in Forbert. Forbert takes things at face value. What, perhaps, is most Springsteen-like is the chord progressions and production. This is a big sound – and not a big Springsteen sound 1988 but a big Springsteen sound circa "Born to Run" 1975 – bearing in mind that Forbert doesn't rock out like Springsteen.

Clearly that sound is the result of his producer Garry Tallent who is Springsteen's bass player in  the Springsteen's E Street band.

The fact that Springsteen backing men Nils Lofgren and Ernest Carter play on a song each only confirms that.

There is no stylistic drama with that because Forbert and Springsteen both work on the same construction site and swing their picks only slightly differently.,

Bruce, though, reminds me of something specifically American. Forbert, not as good, but equally as interesting, is  more melancholy and perhaps more universal.

Maybe it's the Bacardi but Steve Forbert reminds me of a simpler time.

Bacardi I drank as a youth, and still do, though in moderation. One of my uncles I was close to was a Bacardi drinker and , without fail, whenever I drink the same I think of him ( now passed) and simpler times. Forbert, also, I listened to all those years ago and now putting it on, it too, reminds me of those simpler times.

But that assumption is a little unfair to Forbert because his music is beyond that. Forbert's songs, whatever the production, are about people on the margins … they aren't winners but they are survivors. And it's hard not top be moved by them.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Running on Love – a big love song which is widely optimistic and quite catchy.
  • Don't Tell Me (I Know) – a "our troubles are the same" song….
  • I Blinked Once – a beautiful song about the passing of time.

 Childhood often seemed a pain to me
 So hard waiting to be grown
 Childhood climbed up in a white oak tree
 I blinked once and it was gone

  • Mexico – Mexico still exerts an influence on Americans wanting to escape to times past.
  • As We Live and Breathe – a good example of Springsteen instrumentation coupled with Forbert's sensibility. It works.
  • On the Streets of This Town – More Springsteen type sentiment and gently reflective
  • Hope, Faith and Love – a beautiful song about the need of the title words
  • Perfect Stranger – another love song …he must have met someone
  • Wait a Little Longer – Forbert's most rock song on this album
  • Search Your Heart – a gentle reflective ballad.

And …

Strip this down and this would be Americana of the highest order. As it is this is still a good album …. I'm keeping it.
 
Chart Action

Nothing no where
 
Sounds

Running on Love
Live on Letterman
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30ynzbRIebU

I Blinked Once
Live
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ok8TjUU1ml8
mp3 attached

Steve Forbert – I Blinked Once

Mexico
Live recently
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nS5TfONTd94

As We Live and Breathe
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsrdxUeuAxI

On the Streets of This Town
Videoclip
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fo9xOuaLYE4

Others
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yE79UxDu7Xc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eu_oTh04u3c
http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/House-of-Cards-lyrics-Steve-Forbert/8C27F352425C8E0348256DA300077F3F or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Db80VRiD5l0
again
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3rZIXIMvXQ

Review
 
http://www.allmusic.com/album/streets-of-this-town-mw0000196340
http://www.1000daysofvinyl.com/2011/02/day-190httpwwwbloggercompost.html

Bio

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/steve-forbert-mn0000752673
http://beingtheremag.com/archives/content/0502/forbert.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Forbert
http://mswritersandmusicians.com/musicians/steve-forbert.html
http://thishardland.org/2011/04/06/steve-forbert-what-kinda-guy/

Website

http://www.steveforbert.com/

Trivia

 

Steve Forbert - Streets of This Town - back

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

(PAUL REVERE & THE) RAIDERS – Collage – (Columbia) – 1970

Paul Revere - Collage

The Raiders had been struggling for the previous  two years to distance themselves from their earlier incarnation, Paul Revere and the Raiders.

There was nothing wrong with that, and they were a hell of a band, but they felt that the times had changed and they, accordingly, needed to sound "mature".

And that meant, albums not just singles, a heavier sound, a ditching of costumes, facial hair less Paul Revere slapstick, a pitch to FM radio, and new members.

Those new members were (future country star) Freddy Weller, Joe Correro Jr, and Keith Allison who had been with the band since the "new  direction" in 1967.

They were tight, slick and as good as any band I the land but none of the subsequent four albums through to 1969 made the Top 40. Likewise none of the singles had made the Top 10.

They had failed to engage the public.

Some of their old fans liked them (there was much to like), some of their old fans couldn't disassociate them from their old gimmickry (even though the same fans gave the Beatles a break when they stopped with the Beatle suits and boots) but new fans were forthcoming.
 
Paul Revere also, I suspect, was a businessman (as well as a musician)  and had a family to support. He liked the shtick  and the AM sounds because they brought in the money in the past. There is nothing wrong with that. Do you have to suffer, dirt poor, for your art or craft?

Still, Paul Revere always new there was money in keeping up with the times so he would give new things a go.

Lindsay, however, wanted to expand, and had kept himself aware of the new emerging sounds. He wanted to be harder and heavier …or so the story goes. His solo albums of the late 60s and early 70s weren't any harder or heavier. The truth is Lindsay did want to expand but his background was always old fashioned rock and pop. And there was nothing wrong with that.

They were his strengths.

With a 1970 and a new decade Paul Revere and the Raiders gave the change of image one more shot. Their music became heavier still and they changed their name to the "Raiders".

This was the first name under that moniker and the change of name or direction didn't help their decreasing fortunes.

The album sank.

It's a pity as what we have here is a "Collage" of all the 1970s sounds. It's a nice slab of hard (but not heavy) rock with slabs of fuzzy guitar and psychedelica, horns, soul, funk, country vibes played with determination and a distinctly in your face struttin' grooviness without missing any of the AM radio pop aspects of the music.

Written in are lyrics that refer to a new found cynicism with an immediacy that you would expect from early 70s rock.

Think Blood, Sweat & Tears, Chicago, Grand Funk Railroad, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Buffalo Springfield but playing a a high school dance.

And it works.

It would be tempting to suggest they were just jumping on the bandwagon of whatever music was around at the time. Sure this is the collage mentioned but as I have said before, about this band, and I feel compelled to say yet again:

The key to their success was their commitment to upbeat rock 'n' roll whilst acknowledging change, and they weren't precious about it as evidenced by the fact that sometimes they were "influenced" by bands that post dated them. They did, as I have said, keep their original sound, unlike a slavish imitator or someone just jumping the bandwagon. Also they did this even through line-up changes though Paul Revere (the keyboardist) and Mark Lindsay (the vocalist) were the nucleus of the group which was lucky as Revere knew where to take the group and Lindsay could sing anything.

It's also fair to say that they probably influences a few of the groups they were now taking inspiration from.

Still it wasn't enough

Ironically the following year their "Indian Reservation" album made the Top 20 (#19) and they had their only US #1, " Indian Reservation (The Lament Of The Cherokee Reservation Indian)"

That album was safe with a very AM radio friendly sound.

Paul Revere and the Raiders always had a Jekyll and Hyde persona – once side dirty rock the other side pop.

It's tempting to think that Paul Revere gave Lindsay command on this album (Lindsay also produced as well as writing most of the songs including redoing some old tunes of his) but when that didn't work the heavier aspects were excised and the band went to pop, albeit, big bossy pop and hit gold again.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Save the Country - (Laura Nyro) –  Laura Nyro's spiritual song (from her 1969 album "New York Tendaberry") about faith and action is given a funky horn treatment.
  • Think Twice – (Keith Allison / Mark Lindsay) – a warning to potential rock n rollers. Thick twice! It's a hard road and Lindsay's band have all the competition they need.
  • Interlude (To Be Forgotten) - (Keith Allison / Mark Lindsay) – a gentle lullaby of a song
  • Dr. Fine - (Mark Lindsay) – Mark Lindsay takes on Mick Jagger and why shouldn't he as I'm sure Jagger was watching mid-60s Lindsay. This song is like a left over from "Beggars Banquet" with a touch of "Satanic Majesties Request" thrown in (and some Vanilla Fudge).
  • Just Seventeen - (Mark Lindsay) – the dangers of underage sex (underage being 17).
  • The Boys in the Band – (Mark Lindsay) – Lindsay's thumpin', pumpin' song about the boys in a rock band. Clearly Lindsay wasn't into theatre and hadn't heard of Mart Crowley's hit 1968 play (which was made into a film in 1970) …
  • Tighter – (Mark Lindsay / Terry Melcher) – a total revamp of a song from their 1967 album "Revolution". A great song but not as good as the original.
  • Gone – Movin' On - (Mark Lindsay / Terry Melcher) – another total revamp of a song from their 1967 album "Revolution".
  • Wednesday's Child - (Keith Allison / Mark Lindsay) – Quite  gently trippin, country style.
  • Sorceress with Blue Eyes – (Keith Allison / Mark Lindsay) – Led Zeppelin or Cream have been on the turntable. Paul Revere and the Raiders never got much heavier than this.
  • We Gotta All Get Together - (Freddy Weller)- a remake (?) of their #50 song from 1969. Not too bad. It's followed by a snip of what sounds like Hal from that most overrated of "head" films "2001: A Space Odyssey"

And …

Excellent (though it's a bit  all over the place like a, errr collage) and underrated …. I'm keeping it.
 
Chart Action
 
US
Singles
1970 Just Seventeen #82

Album
1970 #154

England

nothing
 
Sounds

http://recordlective.com/Paul_Revere_and_The_Raiders/Collage/e57c98c7-9a7b-4368-9a46-8d52920eb470/

Dr. Fine
mp3 attached

Raiders – Dr Fine

Others
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jECgI7PZL2U&list=PLA93CE82240A40710
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVkW80ysj0A
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5C-DXhBsrE

15 top 40s and …
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFN0oXVHhK0
who the fuck is Kanye West?

Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/collage-mw0000845946
http://www.allmusic.com/album/indian-reservation-collage-mw0000820896

Bio

http://www.musoscribe.com/features/paul_revere_and_the_raiders.shtml
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chips_Moman

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/freddy-weller-p21369/biography

Website

http://www.paulrevereandtheraiders.com/
http://www.marklindsay.com/

Trivia

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