PAUL REVERE & THE RAIDERS – Alias Pink Puzz – (Columbia) – 1969

Paul Revere & The Raiders - Alias Pink Puzz

There is plenty of biographical information on this blog about Paul Revere & The Raiders so have  a look at all that for background.

Also, by now there are quite a few of their albums commented on also, so you will have some idea of their musical history if that interests you.

Having said that I like this bio from mainstream music download and streaming site, Rhapsody:

Three decades before grunge broke, Paul Revere and the Raiders charted out of the Northwest with music that rocked as hard as Nirvana ever would. Keyboardist Revere was actually from Nebraska, but by 1958 he was in the Downbeats with Oregon singer Mark Lindsay. Their name changed, and in 1961 — three years before The Beatles — they had their first Top 40 hit, which was already called "Like Long Hair," and based on Rachmaninoff to boot. In 1963 Columbia signed the band for its cover of "Louie Louie"; tragically, the Kingsmen's version hit instead. But the Raiders played frat houses, armories, teen clubs and (according to one 1964 song) Crisco parties, and in 1965 they wound up regulars on Dick Clark's TV show Where the Action Is, dressed up in British Invasion-spurning Revolutionary War outfits. They became, for a couple of years, the biggest American band in America, scoring with R&B-based greaser punkers like "Just Like Me" and the anti-drug classic "Kicks." Big hits lasted into 1967, and smaller hits for another half-decade. But their highest charter — the Native-American-history novelty "Indian Reservation" — came in 1971, by which time they were simply called the Raiders. http://www.rhapsody.com/artist/paul-revere-and-the-raiders

Paul Revere & The Raiders like a lot of bands was always adapting itself to the hit sounds of the day.  And, as I have said somewhere before there is nothing wrong with that. If you want to use the holy cow that is The Beatles, who certainly were innovative, you can see that they were doing that (adapting and incorporating their music to and with trends). Their early 60s music is pop rock not dissimilar (though infinitely better ) than any other number of bands from Liverpool and England generally (who were aping any number of Phil Spector acts from the US). Then, the success of Dylan certainly influenced their song writing, whilst the musicality of Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys meant the Beatles were playing catch up with them. Later on the back to the earth sound of The Band caused The Beatles to retreat from the overblown theatrics of Sgt Peppers and the rise of the singer songwriter movement affected many of their later LPs.  It's easy to assume that The Beatles were starting the trends because they had the lions share of market sales (success breeds success) but in each case they were incorporating sounds they liked into their sound (and by doing that creating something new). This is not meant to be a put down of The Beatles but it is meant to say that even genius doesn't exist in a vacuum.

So, if you are going to accept that it's OK for The Beatles to incorporate new emerging sounds of the day into their music they why can't Paul Revere & The Raiders get away with a few stylistic shifts in their sound?

I make this point because more than a few musical commentators have commented on The Raiders stylistic shifts in a pejorative manner.

And, frankly, that isn't fair.

Much like The Beatles, and any other number of good bands, Paul Revere & The Raiders don't leave their past behind to jump on another sound but, rather, they incorporate those sounds into their musical sensibility.

And that's what they have done here.

Sandwiched between the "Hard 'N' Heavy (with Marshmallow)" (1969) and "Collage" (1970) LPs, "Alias Pink Puzz" has Paul Revere & The Raiders playing around with psychedelica, funky soul, country and swampy rock though still retaining their proto power pop, garage and pure pop sensibilities.

Searching for current sounds for commercial viability is a nice argument but maybe the explanation is a lot simpler… with the exception of Lindsay and Revere there were a lot of line-up changes and those new members, perhaps, were bringing in their musical personalities to the mix.

Paul Revere & the Raiders though faced another hurdle. Their Top 40 hit making past, gimmicky colonial outfits and teeny bopper status were held against them. (yes, The Beatles managed to shed their teeny bopper image). They wanted to write more "relevant" and personal songs (the lyrics are in the gatefold – always a giveaway for those trying to be serious) but found acceptance here difficult.

When the tastemakers who review records and the DJs who spin records aren't on board it becomes harder to escape your past … and that effects your (commercial) future.

Those things proved fatal to Paul Revere & The Raiders but from the here and now I don't have to be concerned by such things.

All that remains is the songs themselves. Mark Lindsay wrote most of the tunes and he seems to be writing autobiographical material about life as a pop star (much as Ray Davies would do later in the Kinks wonderful "Everybody's in Show-biz" album from 1972). But, if the songs aren't catchy, memorable or have some other special hook then no amount of musical trend knowledge or confessional writing is going to save you.

All songs are by Mark Lindsay unless otherwise indicated. He also arranged and produced.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Let Me! – a funky dirty greasy soul shouter. Some nice dirty guitar compliment the suggestive (though inane) lyrics. Great fun.
  • Thank You – A love lament that alternatively is gentle and rocking. Not dissimilar to what Simon & Garfunkel were doing. Quite the winner with a number of girls name checked.

                  In a Little square of time

                  I made love with Caroline

                  And she crept into my mind

                  And she eased the pain away

                  But in the morning came the sun

                  And I knew I'd better run.

                  'Cause i rather stay just one

                  Than two or three

  • Frankfort Side Street – hookers on German side streets … everyone should have a song about them. Come to think of it Elvis' "Frankfort Special" (1960) could be about the same subject!
  • Hey Babro – oom pah pah bubble gum with a censored bleep (intentional or subsequent I do not know).
  • Louisiana Redbone – (Keith Allison, Mark Lindsay) – country rock with swampy edges. Not dissimilar to Ricky Nelsons "Louisiana Man" ….the melody and outlook not just the title.
  • Here Comes The Pain – (Keith Allison, Mark Lindsay) – a gentle psych baroque ballad. Quite melancholy as you would expect from the tile.
  • The Original Handy Man – country rock Vegas style – I could see Elvis doing this.
  • I Need You – (Keith Allison, Mark Lindsay) – a trippy mid tempo ballad.
  • Down In Amsterdam – (Keith Allison, Mark Lindsay) – a good "Faces" or "Jeff beck Group"  type of song though without the grunt. Very funny though.
  • I Don't Know – another ballad with psych and Rolling Stones overtones. Lindsay does a good Mick Jagger impersonation. Though, arguably, Mick did a good Mark Lindsay impersonation.
  • Freeborn Man – (Keith Allison, Mark Lindsay) – more country rock and quite catchy. Originally released as a single by bassist Allison in 1967 (he joined the band in 1968).

And …

Very underrated and quite great  …. I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1969  Let Me  The Billboard Hot 100  #20 

Album

1969 #48

England

Sounds

http://recordlective.com/Paul_Revere_and_The_Raiders/Alias_Pink_Puzz/84f9b3e3-3069-4e52-a5c2-159c821e5dc7/

Let Me!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5C-DXhBsrE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REj9ctsLRKc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7u8gYFcgwL4

Frankfort Side Street

mp3 attached

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84L7wRSg2Vk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioufyn6j3cU

Review

ttp://www.allmusic.com/album/alias-pink-puzz-mw0000604487

Bio

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Revere_%26_the_Raiders

http://www.musoscribe.com/features/paul_revere_and_the_raiders.shtml

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

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

Website

http://www.paulrevereandtheraiders.com/

http://www.marklindsay.com/

Trivia

  • The line-up here : Mark Lindsay – Vocals / Freddy Weller – Lead Guitar / Joe Correro, Jr. – Drums / Keith Allison – Bass / Paul Revere – Organ
  • "As bassist Keith Allison explains in his new liner notes, the title of Alias Pink Puzz refers to the fact that the Raiders submitted an advance pressing of a new song to a Los Angeles FM rock station under the pseudonym "Pink Puzz" in an effort to sidestep the band's Top 40 pop image. The station's management liked the song, but was livid when they learned the truth" http://www.sundazed.com/shop/product_info.php?products_id=2312#sthash.xUXbWm19.dpuf
  • Paul Revere and the Raiders toured Europe with the Beach Boys in the spring of 1969. I don know if these songs were written before tat tour or after though there are a number of European references.
  • Paul Revere died Saturday, 4 October 2014, at the age of 76. The cause was cancer.
Posted in Garage, Surf and Frat, Rock & Pop | Tagged | Leave a comment

ARLO GUTHRIE – Running Down the Road – (Reprise) – 1969

Arlo Guthrie - Running Down The Road 01

I recall having this album a long time ago but it was so hacked up it was barely listenable. I can put up with a fair bit of crackle and pop but sometimes it gets too distracting and I didn't appreciate the record.

I, also and differently, recall having this album a long time ago and it was pretty scratchy. That and the fact I didn't know where Arlo was coming form didn't allow me to give the record a fair go.

Who knows what was the position but once I got on board  I was hooked. So, I'm happy to have come across this, again.

Check out my other comments for Arlo biographical detail but suffice it for me say that Arlo was the son of folk legend Woody Guthrie. Arlo was inspired by his father, Bob Dylan  and American music in all it's forms: folk, country, rhythm and blues, gospel trad pop, tin pan alley, ragtime, rock n roll. More often than not the is referred to as a folkie and I suppose, in some ways, he is but his folk is of the post Dylan not pre Dylan traditional variety. None of his folk sounds like The Kingston Trio if you know what I mean.

Guthrie is better labelled Americana.

Like most Americana artists some albums will lean more to folk, others to country, others to ragtime or blues.

Likewise, like most Americana artists there is relatively little commercial success regardless of which way you lean..

What there is, though, is an audience who is always willing to see you regardless how small they are.

Allmusic allude to this themselves: "Is it possible to be a one-hit wonder three times? The question is provoked by the recording career of Arlo Guthrie, which is best remembered for three songs in three different contexts. There is "The City of New Orleans," Guthrie's only Top 40 hit, which earns him an entry in Wayne Jancik's The Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders. There is also "Coming into Los Angeles," which Guthrie sang at the legendary Woodstock music festival, and which featured prominently in both the Woodstock movie and multi-platinum soundtrack album. And there is "Alice's Restaurant Massacree," the comic-monologue-in-song that gave him his initial fame and took up the first side of his debut LP, the million-selling Alice's Restaurant. Whether these successful tracks make him a one-, two-, or three-hit wonder, they were arguably both flukes in a performing career that was still going strong a full 40 years after Guthrie first gained national recognition and facilitators of that career. With their help, he spent 15 years signed to a major record label, charting 11 LPs, after which he was able to set up his own label and go on issuing albums. More significant, he maintained a steady following as a live performer, touring worldwide year after year to play before audiences delighted by his humorous persona and his musical mixture of folk, rock, country, blues, and gospel styles in songs almost equally divided between his own originals and well-chosen cover tunes".

This album has Guthrie at his most identifiable but I think just before the height of his powers. At that place in time lasting commercial success was still a real possibility. Music was open and the audience was large and receptive. One could sing anything.

Glam, disco and 70s excess put an end to that and to Arlo's musical commercial success.

But, here you can hear a young man, already well versed in the Americana song book, whether they be covers or originals that sound like they came back from the past, singing as if music transcends time.

Arlo leans towards country on this album. Not the country of lap steel, twang and barrooms but the urban country of isolation, loneliness and uncertain futures in a hostile environment. It's the music of escaping to the past and moving to the country and hopefully finding happiness  and peace.

Country rock. 

The musicians backing him (see trivia end note) are legends at their craft and all crack musicians at country rock stylings. The album was recorded in California I assume … where else could you get a smattering of Elvis' touring band (Burton, Scheff), a couple of Byrds (Parsons, White) and other assorted legends (Cooder, Gordon) all playing on the one record?

That was meant to be a rhetorical question but I suppose I can answer it with … maybe Nashville.

Arlo's country rock isn't cosmic like Parsons, eccentric like Michel Nesmith or as melodic as the Byrds. He is much too traditional for that but what he does have is good taste and a strong sense of musical history and at the age of 22 that is admirable.

The album isn't perfect but it sure is pleasant while it's on.

Lenny Waronker (fresh from producing the Beau Brummels, Randy Newman, The Everly Brothers (their roots album called "Roots") , Harpers Bizarre and Van Dyke Parks) and Van Dyke Parks (fresh fro recording Randy Newman but before going on to record and work with all sorts of American musicians) produced this.

All tracks composed by Arlo Guthrie except where noted:

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Oklahoma Hills – (Woody Guthrie, Jack Guthrie) – a great tune written by Woody with some new lyrics added by his cousin later. The big version is by hank Thompson from 1961 (#10 Country). A great song and an ode to "home" and "place". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oklahoma_Hills
  • Every Hand in the Land – not especially memorable but quite enjoyable when it's on
  • Creole Belle – (Mississippi John Hurt) – a gentle folk blues tune originally by Afro-American Mississippi John Hurt. Arlo does the sing well.
  • Wheel of Fortune – filler perhaps but bouncy enough.
  • Oh, in the Morning – a Dylan like confessional tune. Quite beautiful.
  • Coming into Los Angeles – can you name a better song about importing drugs into LA? Seriously, this is a great tune with some great playing.
  • Stealin' – (Gus Cannon) – an old jug band folk song of unknown authorship though Gus Cannon gets credited a lot. The Memphis Jug Band's version post dates his career peak (1928) but is the most identifiable early version pf the song. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stealin'
  • My Front Pages – a response or dig at Bob Dylan's "My Back Pages"(1964)? Or, perhaps, a reference to The Byrds version (1967) of the Dylan song. This is folk rock and very well done.
  • Living in the Country – (Pete Seeger) – Seeger's beautifully evocative instrumental which Arlo has updated.
  • Running Down the Road – a real treat and not like anything else on the album with jagged and distorted psychedelic guitar. It's not in your face but it is up front. Nice.

And …

Yessum, a treat …. I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

Album

1969 #54

England

nothing

Sounds

http://recordlective.com/Arlo_Guthrie/Running_Down_the_Road/5cc83634-b26c-3cc6-b027-8eb5ff12636b/

Oklahoma Hills

With Johnny Cash

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

Coming into Los Angeles

at Woodstock

ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRpj9mCl0qg

My Front Pages

mp3 attached

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvLtNBm1yyA

Review

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

http://www.allmusic.com/album/running-down-the-road-mw0000120748

Bio

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

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/arlo-guthrie-mn0000927736

Website

http://www.arlo.net/

Trivia

  • Personnel: Arlo Guthrie – vocals, guitar, piano / Clarence White – guitar / Ry Cooder – guitar, mandolin / Gene Parsons – guitar, harmonica / James Burton – guitar / Chris Ethridge – bass / Milt Holland – percussion / Jerry Scheff – bass / John Pilla – guitar / Jim Gordon – drums
  • Guthrie's version of "Stealin'" was featured in the Monte Hellman's counter culture film Two-Lane Blacktop (1971).
  • The cover (and gatefold) shows Arlo on a Triumph TR6 Trophy motorcycle.
  • "Oh, in the Morning" was later (1972) covered by McKendree Spring.
  • Prior to the release of this album, Guthrie appeared at the Woodstock festival (on August 15, 1969), where, as part of his set, he performed the then-unreleased "Coming into Los Angeles." After that performance turned up in the Woodstock movie and soundtrack album in May 1970, the tune became one of his signature songs.

Arlo Guthrie - Running Down The Road - Back Sleeve     Arlo Guthrie - Running Down The Road - Gatefold

 

RIP: Kim Fowley (1939-2015)

 

 

Posted in Americana, Country Rock, Folk Rock | Tagged | 2 Comments

MELANIE – Madrugada – (Neighborhood Records)- 1974

Melanie - Madrugada

Melanie, again.

I've written at length over Melanie so check out the other comments.

This is an interesting album in the evolution of Melanie in that it lays (with the album previous, "Stoneground Words" from 1972) the direction of Melanie's musical future.

The album(s) is more "mature", less twee, less "hippie". I like the urban and pastoral wide eyed innocence of  Melanie's earlier work but as she grew older her music became even more personal. 

It also became slicker.

There were less of the rustic tones , the shaggy edges which made Melanie's early music so appealing.

This matters not as long as the song's are up to scratch.

On first glance the amount of covers would indicate Melanie was running out of ideas but the truth was this was her 13th album in six years. OK, there were a couple of soundtrack albums and live albums in there but still that's a lot of work. Melanie, also, wasn't adverse to a cover if it fit it into the album. And this all here hangs together quite well.

This album is slicker than her earlier work but the emotional content and Melanie's point of view as narrator hasn't changed that much.

And that is a joy.

This was the last Melanie album to chart in the US (and it barely charted). I'm not sure why here commercial popularity came to an end. There were many other vocalists who weren't as good as this who were having successful careers.

The only explanation, and one the pundits raise often, may be, ultimately, right and that is her audience identified her as the  flower child vocalist (whether she was one or not) and when she outgrew that they refused to go along for the ride.

A pity there is much too  like here.

Once again the album was produced by Melanie's husband, Peter Schekeryk.

All songs written by Melanie Safka, except where noted.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Love To Lose Again – quite the "world" song with vaguely Caribbean and Latin beats and a chorus that wouldn't be out of place on one of Paul Simon's later efforts. The song is quite catchy
  • Lover's Cross – (Jim Croce) – A cover taken from Jim Croce's fifth and final album, "I Got a Name", from 1973. Croce's broken heart worked because the thought of a big, burly bloke exposing his emotions was jarring and effective. Melanie's version is good though not as good as the original ( and perhaps a little too long).
  • Pretty Boy Floyd – (Woody Guthrie) – The song has been well covered by folkies but it will forever be identified with Woody Guthrie who recorded in 1939 (five years after the outlaw Floyd's death). His song was a romanticised Robin Hood song for the people which was particularly effective in the depression years  where the banks and big business were ripping everyone off blind. Melanie doesn't have Woody's matter of fact Midwestern common touch though, no doubt, she saw something in the lyric which related to the corporate greed in mid – 70s America. She was right and the song is still relevant.
  • Wild Horses – (Mick Jagger, Keith Richards) – "Wild Horses" is the Rolling Stones song from their 1971 album "Sticky Fingers". Melanie has always done well with the Stones (her "Ruby Tuesday" is magnificent and her "Jig Saw Puzzle" wasn't bad). It's interesting to note that most singer-songwriters in covering songs leant to Lennon-McCartney whereas Melanie saw something sensitive in Jagger-Richards. Here she orchestrates "Wild Horses" and adds a jazzy spin to it. The horses are no longer the ragged wild horses of the Stones but they aren't tame either. This is a good version that grows on you. (for information on the Stones song http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_Horses_(The_Rolling_Stones_song))
  • I Think It's Going To Rain Today – (Randy Newman) – Randy Newman (most famous?) song, from his 1968 debut album "Randy Newman". The song has been covered by everyone including Judy Collins (1966), Eric Burdon and The Animals (1967), Bobby Darin (1967), Rick Nelson (1968), Peggy Lee (1969), Leonard Nimoy (1969), Nina Simone (1969), Neil Diamond (1971), Dave Van Ronk (1971), Joe Cocker (1975), Jools Holland and David Gray (2003), Val Kilmer (2009), Barbra Streisand (2012). (for more on the song http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Think_It's_Going_to_Rain_Today). This is a great song …it always works
  • Will You Love Me Tomorrow – (Gerry Goffin, Carole King) – The great Goffin and King song that was a #1 for The Shirelles in 1960. The song has been well covered even by chick singer songwriters. Jackie DeShannon (1966), Cher (1966), The Four Seasons (1968), Linda Ronstadt (1970) and Carole King herself in 1971. (more on the song http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_You_Love_Me_Tomorrow). This is one of those magnificent songs that is good regardless. Melanie's version is good. She doesn't have the NYC urban teen opera beat but she has made it a NYC urban folkie query without sacrificing the melody of the song. A winner.
  • Maybe Not For A Lifetime – this is big and well produced by Melanie standards…but not to bad.
  • Holding Out – a piano driven song (with piano supplied by legendary session musician Ron Frangipane)…. it grows on you.
  • The Actress – partly autobiographical it seems …and quite effective.
  • Pine and Feather – strings and all, though sparse and not orchestrated, this is meant to be gentle and delicate ..and it works.

And …

I have the others …. I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1973  Will You Love Me Tomorrow?  The Billboard Hot 100  82 

Album

1974 #192

England

Singles

1974 Will You Love Me Tomorrow # 37

Album

Australia

Singles

"Will You Love Me Tomorrow" #93

Sounds

http://recordlective.com/Melanie/Madrugada/ab314e9c-e85a-3ab7-8245-c2358f722afb/

Pretty Boy Floyd

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1zuXg9jniI

Will You Love Me Tomorrow

Mp3 attached

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6DGMnCZVVg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ca0l5KMdX0

Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/madrugada-mw0000841516

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madrugada_(Melanie_album)

Bio

http://www.melaniesafka.com/

http://freespace.virgin.net/robert_ian.smith/Melanie.htm

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/melanie-mn0000409670

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

Website

http://melaniemusicsociety.tripod.com/Mercurio/Mercurio.html

http://www.melanie-music.org/

Trivia

  • This album is the English version of this album which has the Goof-King song replacing a Melanie original, "I Am Being Guided", which is on the US release. ." In November 1973, Melanie had a hit in the UK with her cover of " Will You Love Me Tomorrow" so  I assume to make the album more commercial it was added to the album (it didn't work).
  • "Madrugada" is the Portuguese word the early hours of the morning, before dawn.
Posted in Singer Songwriter | Tagged | Leave a comment

THE A’s – A Woman’s Got The Power – (Arista) – 1981

The As - A Woman's Got The Power

I've had the The A's self titled debut album (not this one) from 1979 for many years. I'm pretty sure I found it in an op shop in the mid-80s for $1.

I tried selling it a number of record fairs for $3 without any luck.

I then realised it's probably better in my collection as there are a good half dozen songs on it.

From cut out bin, to op shop to record fair bargain.

Fame is fleeting that's for sure but The A's were hardly famous.

Allmusic's biography : "Philadelphia's the A's were a rock & roll band whose music combined the edgy energy of new wave with the muscle and attitude of East Coast rock. Formed in 1978, the A's featured Richard Bush on lead vocals, Rick DiFonzo on guitar, Rocco Notte on keyboards, Terry Bortman on bass, and Michael Snyder on drums. The band's powerful live show and hooky but aggressive tunes quickly earned them a loyal following in Philly, and they scored a contract with Arista Records. the A's self-titled debut album, produced by Rick Chertoff, was released in 1979, and it received enthusiastic reviews as well as plenty of local airplay. However, the album didn't sell well outside of Philadelphia and a few other strongholds on the East Coast. In 1981, the A's issued their second album, A Woman's Got the Power; with Chertoff again producing, the album polished off the sharper edges of the group's approach and embraced more of a heartland rock approach, as well as a stronger R&B influence, especially on the title track. Despite its more accessible sound, A Woman's Got the Power didn't sell appreciably better than the debut, and Arista dropped the band. In 1982, the A's self-released an EP, Four Dances, but it didn't do much to boost the band's fortunes, and once the A's paid off the recording bills, they split up".

The often perceptive dude from Badcat records had this to say about their debut album: "Formed in 1978, Philadelphia's The A's featured the talents of bassist Terry Bortman, singer Richard Bush, lead guitarist Rick DiFonzo, keyboardist Rocco Notte, and drummer Mikey Snyder.  The band's live shows quickly garnered them a loyal local following (you can still find a slew of fawning on-line reviews from folks who saw the band's early shows).  That in turn captured the attention of Clive Davis' Arista label which was on the lookout for new wave talent.  While The A's weren't really a new wave act, they were close enough for Arista management which quickly signed them to a recording contract.   They were quickly teamed with producer Rick Chertoff  going into New York's The Record Plant Studios to record 1979's cleverly-titled "The A's".   So leave it to a city like Philadelphia to spawn a bunch of guys who thought they were punks, but had a repertoire full of songs that were creative, lyrically intriguing, funny, and highly commercial.  Judging by the leather jacket drenched album cover, Bush (the only one member not wearing Ramones-styled leather) and company seemingly thought they were channeling English new-wave bands like The Boomtown Rats, or The Undertones (I know they were Irish), but the fact of the matter is The A's were really a first rate power-pop band.  Yeah, there wasn't a great deal of originality spread across these ten original numbers, but propelled by Bush's tawny, raw voice tracks like 'After Last Night', 'Teenage Jerk Off' and 'Grounded' had far more energy and enthusiasm than virtually all of the competition – imagine The Hooters with a new-wave edge, or a more urbane, jittery version of The Dwight Twilley Band, or a tougher version of The Cars and you'd have some idea of what to expect" http://badcatrecords.com/BadCat/As.htm

Now that a fair chunk of quoting. I know I could re-write that in my own words but why bother?

Both of those quotes describe the debut album (and band) accurately… energetic, enthusiastic power pop. But, I recall them being quite quirky  with a fair bit of humour.

And just to be sure I have listened to it again … yup, and it still works (albeit over 5-6 songs).

Not knowing anything about this second album I approach it with some trepidation. Commentators have alluded to the record label smelling a dollar and their encouragement for the band to move to broader commercial acceptance with the sound of the day.

It's hard enough to keep the momentum going on a second album without changing direction.

It doesn't bode well but …. I have to give it a listen.

Produced by Rick Chertoff  (Englishman Nick Garvey of pub rockers The Motors handling three tracks 1, 4, and 5), the album goes for more of a heartland rock sound (as if sung by an Englishman, at least on the Nick Garvey produced tracks)  with a fair chunk of new wave pop added to the mix … covering the bases.

The sound is big and the edginess, immediacy and having fun on the streets sound of the first album has gone.

This album sounds like it is purely the product of the studio. Of course I know it as recorded in the studio (as are most albums, derr) but some albums sound like they were born on the streets and then brought in for recording. This sounds like it was actually conceived in the studio.

This is slick US new wave – think The Hooters (also from Philadelphia and also produced by Chertoff), The Call, The Nails and others.

Having said that I don't mind a this sound in medium sized doses.

I have no idea about the cover art – a album called "A Woman's Got the Power"  with a "spunky" chick (80s style) , in leotards, drinking a glass of milk.  Perhaps it has something to do with the lyric to the title song "A woman's got the strength, A woman's got the power, Keep a man up, never let him down… yeah" … leotards equals exercise, milk equals strength? Perhaps I'm reading too much into the cover art. In any event the current PC police would ban the cover art on the basis that it must be offensive even if no one knows what it means.

All songs are by band members Richard Bush and Rocco Notte except where noted.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • A Woman's Got the Power –  a bit naff but actually quite catchy
  • Electricity –  lyrics about the "electricity" of passion would be better suited to a blue eyed soul song.
  • Heart of America –  horns!  (overdubbed?) banjo!!. This is heartland rock …With a title like "Heart of America" this could only be a heartland rock song, right? Think John Cougar Mellencamp.
  • How Do You Live –  big sounding new wave pop. Hooting with The Hooters.
  • When the Rebel Comes Home –  (Tom Jans) –  Folk singer/songwriter Tom Jans is most famous for writing and recording ‘Loving Arms’ in 1974 which was originally done by Kris Kristofferson & Rita Coolidge (1973), before becoming a hit cover for Dobie Gray (#61US, #81US R&B, #7US Adult Contemporary 1973). It was also recorded by Elvis Presley (1974) and subsequently by some 30 other people. Watch those royalties come in …well until he died in 1984. This song is from his 1982 album Champion (which was recorded in 1978). How The A's got hold of it I don't know. It does sound like another Hooters reject though.
  • Johnny Silent –  This one is power pop harkening back to their debut though quite produced. It's catchy though.
  • Little Mistakes –  yes, here, on this song – too much Clarence Clemons / Bruce Springsteen type horns.
  • Working Man –  This is a little naff but quite catchy ..and it would fit nicely in one of those Hollywood teen films from the 80s trying to be "punky"
  • I Pretend She's You –  Quite Elvis Costello like though bigger
  • Insomnia  –  power pop like The Plimsouls though with quirky, slightly bizarre, keyboards over the top. This is a treat.

And …

Not as good as the debut but with this I have their entire catalogue.

The sound is big but it is a testament to the band that their quirky power pop come new wave  personalities still come through the gloss and (80s style) bombast …. I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1981  A Woman's Got The Power  Mainstream Rock  #18   

Album

1981 #146

England

Zip

Australia

Nothing – though this album (and the debut) were pressed and released locally.

Sounds

http://recordlective.com/The_A's/A_Woman's_Got_the_Power/b3b3422e-3828-3ad2-afcf-a89c221a4654/

A Woman's Got the Power

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

Johnny Silent

mp3 attached

Insomnia  

Mp3 attached

Others

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84gZXGdtz1o

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IBirFXX2Y8

2007 reunion

ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yXEWkeydx8

2013 reunion

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40Nbz6JSx1Y

2014

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otrYlRrj83U

Review

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

http://www.pajiba.com/music/the-as.php

http://citysound.bohemian.com/2010/02/22/on-the-stereo-devon-rumrill/

http://chairshotrecords.blogspot.com.au/2008/08/as-womans-got-power-lp-arista-1981.html

Bio

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-as-mn0000037539/biography

Website

Trivia

  • After the bands break-up Bush and Notte briefly played together in The Candles. Guitarist Rick DiFonzo went on to a career as a sideman and session musician, working with Bob Dylan, Cyndi Lauper, Roger Waters (he was a member of The Bleeding Hearts band (he's on "The Wall" video)), and Joan Osborne, and also leading his own band the Rick DoFonzo Band. Singer, Richard Bush, remained a fixture in the Philadelphia music scene with his band The Peace Creeps.
  • apparently Bruce Springsteen recorded "A Woman's Got the Power " live on tour in 1984 and 2011! http://www.brucespringsteen.it/DB/sd3.aspx?sid=11
  • Personnel: Richard Bush, Richard Bush (vocals); Rick DiFonzo (guitar); Rocco Notte (keyboards); Terry Bortman (bass instrument); Mike Snyder , Michael Snyder (drums).
  • The band had a reunion where they opened for the Hooters on two dates (11/21/07 & 11/23/07) and more recently in 2013. The followed with anew EP…http://articles.philly.com/2014-07-05/entertainment/51078396_1_rocco-notte-richard-bush-band
  • Their entire catalogue is 2 LPs,  2 EPs  and a few singles
Posted in Power Pop, Punk and New Wave | Tagged | Leave a comment

JOHNNY RIVERS – at the Whiskey a Go Go – (Imperial) – 1964

Johnny Rivers - at the Whisky a Go Go

This is Johnny River's influential first album.

Influential in that it set the style for him over his next five or six albums and also influential, musically, because a whole little subgenre of rock n roll was created …. the west coast up-tempo beat based, dance rock … which became very popular for about three years.

It's also a forerunner for all blue eyed soul (rhythm and blues and soul music performed by white artists ..with an emphasis on rhythm and soul)

I call it "go-go" music partially because of it's origins at the Whiskey a Go Go night club, partially because of the short skirted dancing go go girls you would see on west coast television or partially because the music seems to say "go-go" with every beat …

I was exposed to this music as a kid in the 70s in it's watered down format (not that it wasn't watered down to start off with) through Hollywood movies and TV shows …you know the ones where the characters inevitably ended up on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles with some band pumping out up tempo pop rock to a dance floor full of tens cavorting and go go-ing.

The beat is King and ultimately each song is designed to make sure that the dancers don't need to change their moves too much from song to song.

It was, perhaps, a pop version, or more accessible version of frat and garage rock or perhaps it was a rock beat aimed at an older crown (as evidenced by the stars quoted on the back of this LPs sleeve: Steve Allen, Tony Bennett, Johnny Carson, Sammy Davis Jr, George Hamilton, Gina Lollobrigida, Dorothy Provine and others are hardly the voice of emerging youth culture)

It always seems like (if you believe the backs of record sleeves and recollections of those at the time) that these venues (at this time) were playing to hip, older audiences made up of movie stars, celebrities and the upper middle class ….

It was in West Hollywood and Hollywood elite in the 30s and 40s had traditionally frequented clubs and restaurants in the area like Ciro's, The Mocambo and The Trocadero. But the area had become depressed and run down and the lower rent youth clubs moved in catering for live rock n roll music..

The Whiskey a Go Go opened in 1964 and was a success (Pandora's Box, The London Fog, The Troubadour, PJs all opened or found new audiences as a result).

In 1964 Sunset Strip in Hollywood was the hip place to be.

By 1966 it was done… a new crowd had moved in on the coattails of  emerging youth bands like The Doors, the Byrds. Love, The Turtles

The popularity of the areas with the youth led to curfews and the Sunset Strip curfew riots of 1966.

From there the Strip accommodated the cynicism and drugs of the emerging youth counter culture.

But for a short time I would like to think it was a hip, swinging crowd getting plastered on alcohol (perhaps there was a bit of speed in there).

Having never seen Johnny Rivers, (or Trini Lopez or others) in their heyday on the Sunset Strip I don't know what the answer is but I would like to think it was were the young (post drinking age of 21) at the older types would mix freely and get off on this rock n roll beat.

Either way the beat is the raison d'etre for this album.

This was the first album in that go-go style – Elvis Presley (in his early 60s film music), Chuck Berry,  Bobby Fuller and others had been hinting at the go-go beat across various individual songs but Rivers was one of the first to put out a whole album in the style (the similar "Trini Lopez at P.J.'s" by Trini Lopez came out a few months earlier in 1963).

Johnny devised a formula: "Trini Lopez had been playing over at PJ's, doin' this slap rhythm thing. I said, 'I can do that kind of stuff.' I didn't have a band so I called Eddie Rubin, a jazz drummer. He wasn't gigging at the time, so he and Eddie went into Gazzari's together‹just guitar and drums‹and played what we thought was going to be a three- or four-day gig." To everyone's surprise, huge crowds gathered to hear Johnny and Rubin play rock and R&B hits. Gazzari's profits soared, and when Rivers was ready to leave, Gazzari offered him more money and let him hire a bassist. Joe Osborn, just starting to become an L.A. studio legend, joined Rivers and Rubin. http://johnnyrivers.com/jr/biography.html

Surely the intention was for the album to be played all the way through at parties. There are audience sounds, claps and shrieks that add to that intention (and excitement). And on that level it works…and that's the only level it's aiming at. (Despite that, the album's title and front cover statement "Recorded Live, Very Live!" there is some doubt at to whether the album was actually recorded live at the Whiskey ..it was probably recorded in a studio with live audience noise dubbed on).

Johnny Rivers was 22 years old at the time (For bio information on him check out my other posts) but he was seasoned as a player and performer. He wasn't adverse to writing a song but all this music called for was for him to cover other familiar tunes adding his go-go beat and nasal twang over the top.

His band is a three piece : him on guitar and vocals, bass (Joe Osborne) and drums (Eddie Rubin) (or perhaps a four piece if you want to count the audience as a member) and they are tight and play well.

The music didn't travel well outside of the US but it should have because the music is fun music and you can hear that popping off the record.

This LP tells my ears that the most perfect place to be in the entire world was on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles in 1964 … now if I could only find a group of people, throw alcohol at them, put this record on to see if I can recreate that moment in time.

Original Versions

  • Memphis – (Chuck Berry) –  One of Chuck's greatest songs from 1963. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memphis,_Tennessee_(song)
  • It Wouldn't Happen With Me – (Raymond Evans) –  Professional songwriter Ray Evans wrote truckloads of songs including Nat King Cole's "Mona Lisa" in 1950 and Doris Day's "Que Sera Sera" in 1956. I assume this is an original for Rivers.
  • Oh Lonesome Me – (Don Gibson) –  Don's country hit (#8, #73 pop) from 1958
  • Lawdy Miss Clawdy – (Lloyd Price) –  Originally by New Orleans singer/songwriter Lloyd Price from 1952 (#1 US R&B charts)….but done, notably, by Elvis in 1956. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawdy_Miss_Clawdy
  • Whiskey a Go Go – (Johnny Rivers) –  an original.
  • Walking the Dog – (Rufus Thomas) –  Rufus Thomas had a #10US hit with it in 1963.
  • Brown Eyed Handsome Man – (Chuck Berry) –  another magnificent Chuck Berry tune, from 1956. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_Eyed_Handsome_Man
  • You Can Have Her – (I Don't Want Her) –  – (Bill Cook) –  This was the great Roy Hamilton's last hit record (#6 R&B, #12 pop) from 1961.
  • Multiplication – (Bobby Darin) –  Darin's #30 hit from 1961.
  • Medley: La Bamba – (Traditional; arranged by Johnny Rivers) –  / Twist and Shout – (Phil Medley, Bert Russell) – La Bamba was Richie Valens #22US hit from 1958 but it was also on Trini Lopez' #2US hit folk go-go album "Trini Lopez at P.J.'s" from 1963. "Twist and Shout" was recorded by the Top Notes in 1961, then covered by The Isley Brothers in 1962 (#17 US pop), and then covered by The Beatles in 1963. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Bamba_(song)  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twist_and_Shout

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Memphis – (Chuck Berry) –  This is magnificent and put Rivers on the map. The song has some controversy attached though in relation to whether Rivers lifted it from his friend Elvis' version which he had heard and which hadn't been released yet. Rivers' "Memphis" is closer to Elvis than to Chuck but who cares. Elvis had had many hits and Johnny was his freind …. http://www.elvis-history-blog.com/elvis-johnny-rivers.html
  • It Wouldn't Happen With Me – (Raymond Evans) –  a song that name checks both Elvis and The Beatles can't be all bad. In fact it's quite good …it's a bit novelty but it's infectious.
  • Oh Lonesome Me – (Don Gibson) –  a country lament given the up tempo treatment.
  • Lawdy Miss Clawdy – (Lloyd Price) –  this works …but it always does.
  • Whiskey a Go Go – (Johnny Rivers) –  an original though River's name checks John Lee Hooker and the beat is Hooker-ish.
  • Walking the Dog – (Rufus Thomas) –  Rivers doesn't speed this up much but the beat is up front …as is the audience. His version is raucous like the Rufus original (or The Rolling Stones cover) but it is slyly seductive
  • Brown Eyed Handsome Man – (Chuck Berry) –  excellent …
  • You Can Have Her – (I Don't Want Her) –  – (Bill Cook) –  a great song but it doesn't really work in this setting.
  • Multiplication – (Bobby Darin) –  I love this song in the original version so this works for me.
  • Medley: La Bamba – (Traditional; arranged by Johnny Rivers) –  / Twist and Shout – (Phil Medley, Bert Russell) – a good medley of two great songs – no one could stuff this up and Johnny really gives them a good performance.

And …

Excellent …. perfect for parties …  I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1964  Memphis  The Billboard Hot 100  #2 

Album

1964  The Billboard 200  #12 

England

nothing

Sounds

http://recordlective.com/Johnny_Rivers/At_the_Whisky_%C3%A0_Go_Go/b3a1d55b-9b3f-4355-99de-c7180cc89612/

Memphis

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAc0FKyBgks

It Wouldn't Happen With Me

Mp3 attached

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6iaR3WO71j4

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

Review

Not easy to find wanything on-line (not hip enough to be reviewed?)

Bio

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

http://johnnyrivers.com/jr/biography.html

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/johnny-rivers-mn0000203639/biography

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/posts/la-et-ms-johnny-rivers-whisky-20140114-story.html#page=1

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

http://www.chickenonaunicycle.com/Whisky-A-Go-Go%20History.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Go-go_dancing

Website

http://www.johnnyrivers.com/jr/

Trivia

Posted in Blue Eyed Soul, Rock & Pop, Rockabilly and Rock n Roll | Tagged | Leave a comment

BACK STREET CRAWLER – The Band Plays On – (Atlantic) – 1975

BACK STREET CRAWLER –  The Band Plays On

It's probably fair to say that this band existed because of Paul Kossoff, the former guitarist of Free.

Allmusic have a rather short entry on them. Well, they were around for only one album but Paul Kossoff was a reasonably big name at the time.

Former Free guitarist Paul Kossoff called his 1973 solo album Back Street Crawler, then formed a group of the same name in 1975. It featured singer Terry Wilson-Slessor, keyboard player Mike Montgomery, bassist Terry Wilson, and drummer Tony Braunagel. This lineup made The Band Plays On, but Kossoff died of an apparent heart attack (March19, 1976).

Free were big in England and had done OK in the US (their signature song "All Right Now" went to #4 in the US in 1970).

They were another blues based hard rock band that were everywhere in the early to mid 70s. You can thank the success of Led Zeppelin for that probably though they took the music off in all sorts of other directions. Free weren't as adventurous but they were probably a cut above other bands in the genre.

Free folded in 1973 but blues rock was still the rage….think, Montrose, Mountain, Cactus, Humble Pie, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Faces, Savoy Brown , ZZ Top , Spooky Tooth, Canned Heat, Foghat, Johnny Winter And, The Allman Brothers Band, Black Oak Arkansas, Skid Row, Taste, (some of) Mott the Hoople, Ten Years After, Edgar Winter, Frankie Miller, Bon Scott era AC/DC, anything with Eric Clapton

When you are onto a good thing or otherwise need to pay the bills then …. why take a chance.

Free singer, Paul Rodgers, and drummer, Simon Kirke, went on to form the successful errrr blue rock  Bad Company while Kossoff released a solo blues rock album, Back Street Crawler. He had some critical support but no sales. He also had a substantial heroin drug habit.

It was thought that a band would give Kossoff stability so rather than recruiting new musicians he asked most of the Houston (though New York based) blues rock band Bloontz (drummer Tony Braunagel, keyboardist Mike Montgomery, bassist Terry Wilson) to become his band. They did. He then had English singer Terry Wilson-Slesser, who had recorded an album with the blues rock band Beckett to front them and he did (yes, there were two Terry Wilson's in the same band).

Have I mentioned that back Street Crawler were a blues rock band?

If you don't like blues rock you should stop reading. Actually if you don't like blues rock I suspect you have already checked out.

The band took their name from Kosoffs solo album and they were signed almost immediately (I suspect the deal had already been done).

Product was needed …this album was pumped out. It included the Mike Montgomery songs, "Jason Blue" and "The Band Plays On", which had been on the earlier Bloontz album

Look, I don't mind some blues rock (as a style of music in the 70s) but a little of this music goes a long way. Blues in itself was a very structured (and perhaps rigid genre). Blues rock is going to have those same limitations.

People like blues rock because of the guitar, showmanship and familiarity win every tune even if they haven't heard it before.

There is nothing wrong with that and if that gets you off then familiar beats and breaks are like a tonic to the brain.

The real tragedy is that blues rock inspired countless talentless, witless hacks to the genre. And that is something we are still suffering from in suburban pubs, small town halls, and any mainstream fete or festival where gormlessness is a requirement.

The logic is, I suspect, "I can do that". And the genre isn't hard so that is true but the question remains, "Can you do it well?"

If I use suburban Australia as a yardstick then the answer is a big fucking "no!".

Part of that "no" is the lack of originality.

And this is the problem with Back Street Crawler (on this album at least). The can play and are more than competent (though the sound is distinctly lo-fi and not in a good way) but they aren't really pushing the boundaries and are content to go with the flow. There aren't a lot of new ideas. Some of this sounds like Free (or even Bad Company – though Rodgers is the better vocalist) but a lot sounds like Mott The Hoople as well.

Would Kossoff have taken this somewhere else? It's hard to say.

He died just after this album from a heart attack (drug related) whilst on a flight between LA and New York.

He was 25.

Guitars, heroin, rock n roll … the usual story.

Maybe if he played the zither he would be alive now.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Hoo Doo Woman – (Paul Kossoff / Mike Montgomery / Terry Slesser/ Terry Wilson) – There is a nice repeated "Hoo Doo" backing vocal behind the lyric akin to the structure of The Rolling Stones "Sympathy for the Devil " (the "who whos" in the background) but the aforementioned bad production sinks this.
  • New York, New York – (John Kander / Mike Montgomery) – this works better with a catchy melody – again, similar in structure to the opening track with the "New York", New York" is repeated behind the lyric.
  • Stealing My Way – (Paul Kossoff / Mike Montgomery / Terry Slesser) –  Free / Bad Company stuff …
  • Survivor – (Mike Montgomery) – Sung by Montgomery rather than Wilson-Slesser…and sounding a little like Mott the Hoople.
  • It's a Long Way Down to the Top – (Mike Montgomery) – the slow blues rock bore me more than the fast blues rock. Great song title though.
  • All the Girls Are Crazy – (Mike Montgomery) – a good hook with some nice creeching 70s guitar.
  • Jason Blue – (Mike Montgomery) – lyrically this is a, sort of, white blue rock version of Robert Johnson's "Crossroads" …. naff but fun.
  • Train Song – (Tony Braunagel / Terry Wilson) – blues and trains …of course there has to be at least one train song (sic).
  • Rock and Roll Junkie – (Mike Montgomery) – Sung by Montgomery rather than Wilson-Slesser. Again Mott the Hoople type stuff (and not unlike Australia's Skyhooks). This rocks though I thought the subject matter would have been close to the bone …
  • The Band Plays On –  (Terry Wilson) – more bad Company styling. This one is a mid tempo rocker with the blues minimised a little.

And …

Tape a few and then sell …

Chart Action

Zip, everywhere

Sounds

Full album

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8a8cutYP7foKSkR3MXMLNFu9CyTcj6eh

New York, New York

Mp3 attached

Others

Free

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mg2Nc178JIo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydItRbb0b1E

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOr1stg9lds

Crawler

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLQ5qHZAabM

Review

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

http://www.allmusic.com/album/the-band-plays-on-mw0000339120

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

http://rockland70.blogspot.com.au/2011/09/back-street-crawler-band-plays-on-1975.html

Bio

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

http://www.rabbitwho.com/blog/the-history-of-crawler-in-pictures-all-pics-johnbundrick-crawler-2013/

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

Kossoff video biography

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

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

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

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

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

Website

http://www.paulkossoffofficial.com/biography.htm

http://www.freetheband.co.uk/the-band/paul-kossoff/

Trivia

  • Following on from this album keyboardist Montgomery left and was replaced by John "Rabbit" Bundrick. They toured and then went to work on a second album. Kossoff was too far gone (he even broke his fingers at some stage) so session musician W.G. 'Snuffy' Walden played most of the guitar at the recording dates (apparently Kossoff later playing lead over the mostly completed tracks). Waldemn also played live when Kossoff couldn't. The album "2nd Street" was released in 1976.
  • After Kossoff died guitarist Geoff Whiteborn (ex "If") was added, and the band changed their name to Crawler. They released a third self-titled album in 1977 and a final LP, Snake, Rattle and Roll, in 1978.
  • Wikipedia: "Following Kossoff's death, his father, actor David Kossoff, established the Paul Kossoff Foundation which aimed to present the realities of drug addiction to children. Kossoff's father spent the remainder of his life campaigning against drugs, touring a one-man stage performance about the death of Paul and its effect on the family"
  • BACK STREET CRAWLER –  The Band Plays On - back sleeve

 

Posted in Blues Rock | Tagged | Leave a comment

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

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