TOM T. HALL – Song in a Seashell – (Mercury) – 1985

Tom T Hall - Song in a Seashell

I love Tom T. Hall but I approach this album with some trepidation.

1985 was not a good aural year for the mainstream country music industry.

And, Tom T. Hall was a big seller and definitely mainstream.

Between 1969 and 1985 he had 7 country #1s, another 13 country top 10s, and another 17 Top 40s.

That's mainstream

Like many others in country music (Willie Nelson, Billy Swan etc) Hall became a performer through the DJ-ing and song writing route

Hall(born May 25, 1936 in Olive Hill, Kentucky) is the son of a bricklaying minister, who gave his child a guitar at the age of eight. He had already begun to write poetry, so it was a natural progression for him to begin writing songs. Hall began learning music and performing techniques from a local musician, Clayton Delaney. At the age of 11, his mother died. Four years later, his father was shot in a hunting accident, which prevented him from working. In order to support himself and his father, Hall quit school and took a job in a local garment factory. While he was working in the factory, he formed his first band, the Kentucky Travelers. The group played bluegrass and gigged at local schools as well as a radio station in Morehead, Kentucky. The station was sponsored by the Polar Bear Flour Company; Hall wrote a jingle for the company. After the Kentucky Travelers broke up, Hall became a DJ at the radio station … In 1957, Hall enlisted in the Army and was stationed in Germany. While in Germany, he performed at local NCO clubs on the Armed Forces Radio Network, where he sang mostly original material, which usually had a comic bent to it. After four years of service, he was discharged in 1961. Once he returned to the States, he enrolled in Roanoke College as a journalism student; he supported himself by DJ'ing at a radio station in Salem, Virginia … One day a Nashville songwriter was visiting the Salem radio station and he heard Hall's songs. Impressed, the songwriter sent the songs to a publisher named Jimmy Key, who ran New Key Publishing. Key signed Hall as a songwriter, bringing the songs to a variety of recording artists. The first singer to have a hit with one of Hall's songs was Jimmy Newman, who brought "DJ for a Day" to number one on the country charts in 1963. In early 1964, Dave Dudley took "Mad" to the Top Ten. The back-to-back success convinced Hall to move to Nashville, where he planned to continue his career as a professional songwriter. http://www.allmusic.com/artist/tom-t-hall-mn0000515628/biography

With some song writing success he was encouraged to record and released a single (1967). And then he wrote "Harper Valley PTA" which was recorded by Jeannie C. Riley and went to #1 is the US Country and Pop charts.  Hall's recording career took off after that and within a year he had one Top 10 Country single (Ballad of Forty Dollars #4, 1968) and a #1 "A Week in the Country Jail, 1969).

His golden period was the 1970s.

His songs were matter of fact, honest and filled with everyday detail. This conversational and casual emotional tone suited country music which loved musical hooks and succinct, complete narratives. And, that is what I loved about his music. The fact it sounds like you are in a pub down the road with some old (er) guy telling you about his day and his woes.

There are no grand statements or universal complaints but often there is some biting satire and observations that hold up a mirror.

By 1985 though still a chart presence Hall's prominence had dissipated.

Worse still mainstream country music had gone decidedly pop and bland.

The 80s were bad for mainstream rock and country was equally affected by the advancements in technologies (and possibly tastes) that required slick, well rounded sounds.

Country has a sense of history so the "old-timers" had a look-in  but the sounds that had made their names were pretty clean. The 70s outlaw edges had been dissipated or worse adopted and formularised and the pop and the rock sounds of the city had been fully integrated. Everyone had a twang but authentic regional accents were dead. The Oak Ridge Boys, The Bellamy Brothers, Alabama, Eddie Rabbit  Ronnie Milsap, Kenny Rogers were all over the charts.

The need to integrate external mainstream sounds into country has always been there from the days of Jim Reeves and the "countrypolitan" singers. But the trad pop brought in by Reeves and co fit. 80s pop didn't. Well, didn't, to my ears.

Worse was to come but the sawdust, old beer smells and BO of more familiar country music surely missed.

Hall didn't adopt the pop but did embrace the clean sounds aesthetic so dominant in the 80s. But,

Hall marched to the beat of his own drum lyric wise but he didn't seem to care much about the instrumentation … whatever was popular at the time worked well. It was the lyric he seemed more interested in, and, that worked well in the 70s when country music still had some sass.

Here, in 1985, it is tinkly fisher price music for backing … well fisher price music with a pedal steel guitar.

The collection is a strange mix of Hall country originals and old non-country trad pop songs … just like the type of thing Jim Reeves did.

Whether it was a shortage of material, a conscious decision or a bit of both but I suspect Hall was trying to emulate the success of Willie Nelson's trad pop albums (and singles), "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" (1981, #1 Country #31 Pop) and "Without a Song " (1983, #3 Country, #54 Pop).

It didn't work.

Tracks (best in italics)

            Side One

  • That Lucky Old Sun – (Haven Gillespie/Beasley Smith) – a trad pop song done by everyone including country (Willie nelson, Johnny Cash),  rock (Brian Wilson), and soul (Aretha Franklin) artists. Made popular with a #1 in 1949 by Frankie Laine. This is a great song and Hall's voice is good for it but nothing is added. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/That_Lucky_Old_Sun
  • A Bar with No Beer – (Tom T. Hall) – This is not dissimilar (and not only in melody) to "A Pub With No Beer" by Australian country singer Slim Dusty (the song was a big hit, a #1 in Australia and a #3 in England in the pop charts). The song here is credited to Hall though it has lifted portions of  a "Bar with no Beer" by Texas country singer Benny Barnes (writers credit to Don Williams) which was released in 1960. Barnes' song was the Americanized version of  "A Pub With No Beer". Hall has changed the lyrics considerably but it is essentially the same song. And it's quite good. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Pub_with_No_Beer
  • I Have Friends – (Tom T. Hall) – so-so though familiar country themes are covered
  • A Song in a Seashell – (Tom T. Hall) – fluff but quite nice with nod to Jimmy Buffet and the lazy Florida keys
  • Red Sails in the Sunset – (Jimmy Kennedy/Hugh Williams) – a trad pop song from the 1930s done by everyone though Nat King Cole had a #24 with it in 1951 and Tab Hunter had a #57 in 1957. Another great song and a decent version though the pitter patter of the drums and tinkly back make this sound like a cabaret act. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Sails_in_the_Sunset_(song)

      Side Two

  • Down in the Florida Keys – (Tom T. Hall) – Another (big) nod to Jimmy Buffet who was popular at the time (Florida keys, margarita, sleepy, lazy days, escapism all feature in the song). Perhaps this is a song about Jimmy Buffet. Very catchy
  • Love Letters in the Sand – (Fred Coots/Charles Kenny/Nick Kenny) – another trad pop dating back to the 30s though Pat Boone had a #1 with it in 1957. Done in by the backing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_Letters_in_the_Sand
  • This Ain’t Exactly What I Had in Mind – (Tom T. Hall) – not too bad.
  • Gone Fishin’ – (Nick Kenny/Charles Kenny) – a trad pop from the early 50s which didn't have much chart action but was popularised by Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong #19 US 1951). So-so though with some good updated lyrics.. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gone_Fishin%27_(song)
  • We’re All Through Dancing – (Tom T. Hall) –  a very familiar country themes summed up in the title. Very Good!

And …

Not one of Hall's best but for completeness … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1985 A Bar with No Beer #40 Country

1985 Down in the Florida Keys #42 Country

1986 Love Letters in the Sand #79 Country

Album

1985 #63 Country

England

nothing

Sounds

That Lucky Old Sun

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHfu6Lcpxlo

A Bar with No Beer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdcQfkWMj6g

A Song in a Seashell

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ocw2OCKbLKU

Down in the Florida Keys

mp3 attached

Gone Fishin’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8N-xtB5LQCA

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wr4y2_BqHYg

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mG5gWk-1m10

Review

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

Bio

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_T._Hall

https://www.namm.org/library/oral-history/tom-t-hall

Website

http://www.tomthall.net/

Trivia

  • Arranged by Bergen White (tracks: Strings). Produced by Jerry Kennedy.
Posted in Country | Tagged | Leave a comment

CHER – All I Really Want To Do – (Imperial) – 1965

Cher - All I Really Want to Do

This is Cher’s debut solo album

Whilst Sonny & Cher were hitting it big with the "I Got You Babe" single, Sonny arranged a solo deal for Cher.

Sonny, having worked for Phil Spector was well used to both the artistic and business sides of music. He was producing, playing, arranging and cutting deals in Los Angeles, one of the two capitals of pop music in the USA (the other being New York of course).

And I greet this album some fifty years after the event with some excitement. Yes, I know the chick on the cover and back sleeve, that I lusted (dreamt) over in the 70s, has aged (aged well though), but in my mind all things exist on separate planes.

Cher is forever young, optimistic and happy and successful at the start of a career.

For her first solo album something safe was needed but not something that was a cash in.

Her husband / mentor / producer, Sonny Bono was smart enough to navigate between the two and Cher had the talent.

The sole originals written for Cher are "Cry Myself to Sleep"  by Mike Gordon and “Dream Baby” written by Sonny and which had been released in 1964 by Cher under the pseudonym of Cherilyn. 

Otherwise, the album is top heavy on covers. There are three Bob Dylan songs, "All I Really Want to Do" (also done by The Byrds) , "Blowin' in the Wind" and "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right", one Searchers song (albeit written by Sonny Bono, Needles and Pins" (#13US 1964)), one song by Ray Davies of The Kinks, "I Go to Sleep", which was not released by them at the time but was released in England by The Applejacks in 1965, one Pete Seeger song, "The Bells of Rhymney", (popularised by the Byrds on their 1965 album "Mr. Tambourine Man"),  one Jackie DeShannon song, "Come and Stay With Me" (which she recorded later) which was a hit for Marianne Faithfull (#26US, #4UK 1965), one Connie Francis song, "He Thinks I Still Care" (#57 1962 … George Jones had a country #1 with in 1962 in its original form “She Thinks I Still Care”), one Sandie Shaw song "Girl Don't Come" (#42 1965 US), and one traditional "See See Rider", arranged by Sonny Bono, Charles Greene and Robert Stone which was done by everyone in the 60s.

Of all the covers mentioned "The Bells of Rhymney" as done by The Byrds is the most significant.

The Byrds were big in LA and across the US (with two US #!s in 1965) and Sonny and Cher are the products of LA.

"All I Really Want to Do" and “Bells of Rhymney” were both released on the Byrds debut album “Turn Turn Turn” in June 1965 (this album was released in October 1965).

The other songs reek of Byrds-like stylings.

And this is a joy if you like mid-60s folk rock or in this case folk-pop rock, and I do.

Think The Byrds backing a female diva in a California cabaret club.

What's not to like?

Cher was never shy or understated as a vocalist but here there is a vulnerability (a hint) that isn't often tapped into on other albums.

Don't get me wrong I love her sassiness but this is another side of Cher.

She is perfectly in tune with the songs and the optimism of the times in the music here. And, like the best music it doesn't date. It is evocative, engaging and endearing,

The pop in the music enables the music to transcend time. Pop, because of its innate design for mass consumption, usually dates better than the genre specific musical motifs.

The other big factor here is Cher's husband, Sony Bono. Bono was no slouch and had a good ear. Apart from writing he uses his production skills (he learnt under Phil Spector) to create rich, fully detailed music which is a joy to listen to.

Some may say, well, it's just a covers album but when you can take covers, interpret them differently, add your own musical personality, all done to sympathetic accompaniment, then, you really have a new batch of songs.

"Covering" music is something that is not highly regarded in rock and pop but just ask any jazz or classical musician if you want confirmation of the fluid nature of "authorship.

Tracks (best in italics)

             Side One

  • All I Really Want to Do –  (Bob Dylan) – a great song by Dylan and beautifully covered by The Byrds (where Sonny may have lifted his arrangement from – see end trivia notes). It matters not Cher puts female balls (?) on the song. bhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_I_Really_Want_to_Do
  • I Go to Sleep – (Ray Davies) – A great Ray Davies song though one The Kinks never released in the 60s. The big version is by the Pretenders in 1981 (#7UK). Cher does it with a hint of eroticism which works on me. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Go_to_Sleep
  • Needles and Pins – (Sonny Bono, Jack Nitzsche) – the song was a big hit for The Searchers (#13US, 1964)  but Cher taps into the song was first recorded by Jackie DeShannon in 1963 which only went to #84). If there is one white chick who could be as sassy as Cher in the mid 60s it was Jackie. A great song done well. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Needles_and_Pins_(song)
  • Don't Think Twice – (Bob Dylan) – done by everyone (I'm partial to the original and Elvis' re-imagination fro m  1971). Still, perhaps her best Dylan cover. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don%27t_Think_Twice,_It%27s_All_Right
  • He Thinks I Still Care – (Dickey Lee Lipscomb) – A gender switch on the song and Cher is more ambivalent about whether she "cares". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/She_Thinks_I_Still_Care
  • Dream Baby – (Sonny Bono) – First release by Cherilyn (1964) who was actually Cher. I can’t say if this is a re-record or a new version. It is very Phil Spector Wall of Sound and quite quirky.

Side Two

And …

A much loved (check out all the websites on her below) but still underrated singer and a great debut … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1965  All I Really Want to Do #15

Album

1965 #16

England

Singles

1965  All I Really Want to Do #9

Album

1965 #7

Australia

Singles

1965  All I Really Want to Do #68

Album

Sounds

All I Really Want to Do

Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Te6gDAEoF8o

Live 70s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ybEVq4vkWc

I Go to Sleep

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

Needles and Pins

mp3 attached

Don't Think Twice

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9o458CpIDRE

He Thinks I Still Care

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeh7GRDsAj0

Dream Baby

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6kAwh7abN4

Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhN_-I1fZbc

The Bells of Rhymney

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uzu7tAlza_A

Girl Don't Come

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

See See Rider

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bekZF72vVkY

Come and Stay with Me

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XBmBX9WEiQ

Cry Myself to Sleep

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7-aUCimkCg

Blowin' in the Wind

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_ezSKAqiY0

Others

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUzU0PycpEY

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qfz6-3fWaBU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6E98ZRaU1s

interesting

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

Review

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_I_Really_Want_to_Do_(album)

http://www.allmusic.com/album/all-i-really-want-to-do-mw0000457386

Bio

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

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

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

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonny_%26_Cher_discography

Website

https://www.cher.com/#/

http://wb.cher.com/?frontpage=true

http://www.cherworld.com/

https://www.facebook.com/cher/

https://twitter.com/cher

http://www.cherlove.net/

http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/cher

http://chernews.blogspot.com.au/p/links.html

http://cher.yuku.com/reply/188832/New-Website#.WPK6D6NJmM8

http://www.cherscholar.com/

Trivia

  • Bass – Cliff Hils, Lyle Ritz, Mel Pollan, Rene Hall / Drums – Frank Capp, Jesse Sailes, Sharkey Hall / Guitar – Barney Kessel, Don Peake, Jeff Kaplan, Mike Post, Monte Dunn, Randy Steirling, Steve Mann / Harpsichord – Bill Marx, Mike Rubini / Percussion – Brian Stone, Frank DeVito, Gene Estes, Julius Wechter / Piano – Harold Battiste  / Producer, Arranged By – Sonny Bono
  • "The initial idea to cover "All I Really Want to Do" came when Cher heard the Los Angeles folk rock band, The Byrds, perform it during their pre-fame residency at Ciro's nightclub on the Sunset Strip in March 1965. A minor controversy between Cher and The Byrds ensued when it was alleged by Columbia Records (The Byrds' record label) that Cher and Sonny Bono had taped one of The Byrds' appearances at Ciro's without permission, in order to use some of the band's repertoire ("All I Really Want to Do" and "The Bells of Rhymney") on Cher's own album. Although The Byrds planned to issue "All I Really Want to Do" as a single themselves, they were largely unconcerned with the imminent release of Cher's recording, feeling that there was enough room in the charts for both versions. In a retaliatory attempt to bury Cher's version, Columbia rush-released The Byrds' "All I Really Want to Do" single and both versions entered the Billboard Hot 100 during the same week. A chart battle ensued, largely instigated by Columbia Records and the music press, but ultimately The Byrds' version stalled at #40 on the U.S. charts, while Cher's cover reached #15. In the UK, however, both versions reached the top 10, The Byrds' version reached #4 and Cher's recording peaked at #9". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_I_Really_Want_to_Do_(album)
Posted in Folk Rock, Pop Rock | Tagged | Leave a comment

DENNIS LINDE – Linde Manor – (Intrepid) – 1970

Dennis Linde - Linde Manor

Dennis Linde (March 18, 1943 – December 22, 2006) … "Songwriter Dennis Linde remained a fixture of the country charts for decades, penning blockbusters for everyone from Elvis Presley to the Dixie Chicks. Born March 18, 1943, in Abilene, TX, Linde spent much of his adolescence in St. Louis, first picking up the guitar at the age of 15. During the late '60s, he played in the St. Louis band the Starlighters, driving a dry-cleaning delivery truck by day. When speeding tickets cost him his license and his day job, Linde turned to songwriting, relocating to Nashville in 1969 to join the Combine Music staff (which also included Kris Kristofferson, Mickey Newbury, and Wanda Jackson). Linde scored his first major hit a year later when Roy Drusky cut his "Long Long Texas Road." He also signed a solo deal with Mercury's Intrepid imprint, issuing his debut effort, Linde Manor … In 1972, Elvis scored his final number one hit with "Burning Love," (actually it was a #2) launching Linde to the forefront of Nashville songwriters. The attention earned him a deal with Elektra, which released his self-titled sophomore record in 1973". http://www.allmusic.com/artist/dennis-linde-mn0000202466/biography

Anyone for covers?

In this current (post-Beatles) world of "writing and performing your own material" I'm sure Dennis Linde would have said …

God Bless Elvis Presley.

Elvis barely wrote a song (yes, he actually has a couple of co-writing credits where he actually did contribute to the writing of the song … having said that his take on music renders a lot of songs covered totally different to the originals but that is something off topic here) but he knew what he liked.

An album track on an Elvis album (given their volume of sales) is good eating money, but a Top 10 in the US that is the gift that keeps giving.

An Elvis had a #2 in the US (and a Top 10 in the UKL and elsewhere) with Dennis Linde's "Burning Love" in 1972 and he also recorded two more Linde compositions – 'For The Heart' and 'I Got A Feelin' In My Body' as album tracks (and B sides) in the 70s.

And, then, the songs are covered by others because Elvis did them … over 90 for "Burning Love" … the gift that keeps giving.

I'm sure a struggling country singer-songwriter would be happy with that.

Check out my other comment on this blog about Linde and how he fits into the country music scene.

The "fits into" is in italics because he is country but he was certainly quirky and incorporated many non-country sounds much like Billy Swan (who co-produces this album) and Mickey Newbury (who contributes some of the liner notes on this album).

This was Linde's first album.

And, despite the subject matter, there is very little 1970s about him. Being a Nashville resident he couldn't do the long hair thing (well not in 1970)  and he isn't wearing flares or beads.

Rather, he comes across as college folk singer circa 1962.

But, don't judge a book by its cover.

This is orchestrated with late 60s  excesses. This is quite experimental. This is peculiar. This is jarring if you are expecting a country or even country rock album.

This is rural psych folk singer-songwriter country rock.

Despite outward appearances it is still is country rock but it stretches the relationship between the two. It is as if country rock had incorporated the countrypolitan sounds of  Nashville into it's nature rather than old time country.

Perhaps, it is mainstream rock music done by country musicians rather than country done by rock musicians like the majority of country rock. This may be splitting hairs but,  because these guys are country, I suspect they don't need to or have to show they are faithful to the tradition of country.

Weird country?

Apart from Billy Swan and Mickey Newbury, Dan Penn, Levon Helm, Steve Young, Fred Neil, Jerry Jeff Walker, Lee Hazelwood, David Axelrod, John Hartford. Kris Kristofferson, Jimmy Webb, The Fifth Dimension  can all be heard.

What a brew.

And the backing is great …Nashville studio men and women at their best including Bergen White, a great vocalist and arranger who doesn't supply any vocals here but does arrange (here, appropriately called the "floral arranger") and provide the "horn" .

All songs are written by Linde.

Tracks (best in italics)

           Side One

  • Linde Manor –  Baroque Pop goes country. Wonderful. DJ Shadow sampled the title track on his 1996 trip-hop classic "Endtroducing".
  • On The Run –  a psych rocker
  • I Don't Want Nobody 'Ceptin' You –  a big sounding mid-tempo ballad much like the Hollies were doing around this time.
  • Call Me Honey –  good, at first it seems to lack distinction but the chug a lug beat (much like Creedence Clearwater) wins you over.
  • Horned Toad – a hoot with shades of Tony Jow White. White southern funky soul..
  • Rockin' Days –  a homage to old time rock n roll (which was less than twenty years old) and not unlike similar material by producer Billy Swan in his solo work.

    Side Two

  • The Fat Of The Land –  the narrator has wanderlust
  • Kitty Starr –  a beautiful singer-songwriter song with shades of Val Stecklein, Bob Lind and Tim Hardin. Wonderful.
  • Mornin', Mornin' –  a hoot of a song. Both gentle and lively.
  • Preacher Jones –  we are in Tony Joe White territory now though without the swamp funk overtones and more Bobbie Gentry or Jeannie C. Riley.
  • Stormy Weather Girl –  more of a traditional country song, or as traditional as Linde can get on this album with fiddle and country lyrics.
  • Linde Manor Reprise – just like the title says … a reprise of the title song.

And …

A joy. A unrecognised classic … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

Nothing nowhere

Sounds

Linde Manor  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-25_5QzidE

On the Run

mp3 attached

I Don't Want Nobody 'Ceptin' You  

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

Horned Toad  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBtwXb82uvM

Kitty Starr  

mp3 attached

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-x-LP4ZasY

Review

Bio

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

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/dennis-linde-mn0000202466/biography

Obituaries

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/dennis-linde-429897.html

http://www.spectropop.com/remembers/DennisLinde.htm

http://www.nucountry.com.au/articles/diary/december2006/301206_dennislinde_obit.htm

Website

Trivia

  • Arranged By – Bergen White / Bass, Written-By – Dennis Linde  / Cello – Buddy Spicher  / Drums – Doodles Lancaster  / Fiddle – Buddy Spicher / Guitar – Dennis Linde,  Wayne Moss / Percussion – Farrell Morris / Piano, Organ – Jerry Smith / Producer – Billy Swan, Jerry Kennedy / Viola – Buddy Spicher / Vocals – Dennis Linde, The Swanettes
  • The album was recorded at Wayne Moss’s Cinderella Sound studios in nashville which was, basically, Wayne Moss's garage. http://www.soundonsound.com/people/wayne-moss-cinderella-sound-nashville
  • The album has all sorts of shenanigans in the liner notes but Mickey Newbury's praise is best, "Dennis Linde, born in Abilene, Texas, loves Southern Missouri. Music, his life. Looks like Omar Sharif without a mustache. Sense of humour, sits quietly by and does his thing, and it's great. Plays bass, guitar, piano, harmonica and sings what he writes. G.I. haircut and army boots, not because it's in, just because he happens to dig it. Humility, a rare thing in this "do your thing" world. Honesty, it sometimes hurts. God Bless Dennis Linde, he's real"
  • Linde joined Bob Kuban and the In-Men, a group that enjoyed a 1966 pop hit, "The Cheater". He also was bass player for country rock band Jubal (check this blog out for them).
Posted in Alt Country, Country, Country Rock, Psychedelic | Tagged | Leave a comment

LOS INDIOS TABAJARAS – Maria Elena – (RCA) – 1963

Los Indios Tabajaras - Maria Elena

This is the big one from 1963. The one that propelled Los Indios Tabajaras to the world stage and kick started "Indios Tabajaras Mania".

Well not quite.

I have commented on this duo of Brazilian Indian exotica guitarists before. Check out the other comments for background on them … but I will give a little detail here which leads up to this album.

RCA and their concert promoters have always drawn a veil of mystery around Los Indios Tabajaras, so it's tough to trace their early years accurately. Likewise, despite appearances of later night and variety shows little was revealed about them, perhaps due to the "superficial" nature of the shows in the 60s or perhaps because their command of English wasn't that great.

Either way they smiled, played, bowed.

Their story is "they discovered a guitar in the jungle near Ceara, Brazil, and, after making sure it wasn't going to explode like other firearms their tribesmen had found, began to examine it. Eventually, they both mastered the instrument and came to the attention of townspeople, one of whom took them to Rio de Janeiro to play … " http://www.spaceagepop.com/indios.htm

Certainly it seems they were touring by the early 1940s and were signed to RCA's Latin American arm in 1943. Singles followed though it wasn't until the 1957 they released their first album on the RCA subsidiary Vox label, "Popular And Folk Songs Of Latin America" (There appears to have been a South American album released in 1953, "Ternura" though that may have been a later compilation of singles from the early 50s)

They were around at the right time and, the back of the exotica trend in "adult" music, they released an album, "Sweet And Savage" in 1958 on RCA

One of their singles (from that album), "Maria Elena," became a steady seller, and by early 1962, its success caught the eye of RCA tastemakers. They issued the tune, and the song bolted up the charts. The "Sweet and Savage" album was dusted off, given a new name to cash in on the single and a new sleeve and released.

It did well.

The only other charting record, the single "Always in My Heart:" went to #82 in 1964.

Their mainstream widespread popularity was a fluke for them or, the novelty had worn off.

They took 20 years a long time to get to there and a year to plummet.

More singles and albums followed and they were popular live and on television until rock n roll achieving mainstream acceptance in the mid 1960s eventually did them in.

But for a moment in time these Indians from Brazil were gold.

As I said in another comment, "What I like about them is that the music is gentle, velvety, and evocative, without being syrupy".

This album has quite a few vocal tunes that perfectly match the strummed and gently plucked guitars. It's almost trance like.

It's not unusual for them to do vocals but they did lean towards evocative instrumentals. This album comes awfully close to leaving exotica and becoming a ethnic folk record, not that there is anything wrong with that.

But it is not folk music, given the versions of American songs and the number of songs written by one of the Indios, Natalicio Lima . It is music of time and place and it soaks up the influences of mid-century South America … look at the covers chosen.

This is a relaxing evocative and a perfect accompaniment to a cocktail in the early evening dark.

Tracks (best in italics)

           Side One

  • Maria Elena  – (Lorenzo Barcelata / Bob Russell) – A Mexican song going back to 1932. The song has life as a vocal song and as an instrumental. The song was used as a theme in the Bette Davis and Paul Muni film Bordertown (1935), Jimmy Dorsey recorded a version of it in 1941 (Bob Eberly, vocal) which went to #1. Los Indios Tabajaras released it in 1958 as a single before having a hit with it in 1963. As beautiful a acoustic guitar instrumental as you are going to get and evocative of lazy and slightly melancholic sunny holidays of the past. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Elena
  • Maran Cariua – (Natalicio Moreyra Lima) – with vocals and quite native folksy. The voices intermingle with each other in trancelike fashion..
  • Los Indios Danzan – (Natalicio Moreyra Lima) – a instrumental and another beautiful one.
  • La Orilla del Lago – (Natalicio Moreyra Lima) – an instrumental and more European in fasjion.
  • Moonlight Serenade – (Glenn Miller / Mitchell Parish) – an instrumental.  It is a joy hearing this famous Glenn Miller tune stripped down to the basics and given just a hint of exotica. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moonlight_Serenade
  • Baion Bon – (Natalicio Moreyra Lima) – with vocals. This is a gentle bounce with a Mexican country lilt.

    Side Two

  • Pajaro Campana – (Felix Cardozo) – a instrumental and a song that was on their (possible)1953 album. I don't know if it was re-recorded or not. Quite exhilarating in its on way. Félix Pérez Cardozo is a legendary Paraguayan musician and composer who mainly worked in Argentina.
  • Stardust (Polvo de Estrellas) – (Hoagy Carmichael / Mitchell Parish) – a instrumental. This is one of the greatest of all Tin Pan Alley songs. It is often (always) done stripped as wa sintended by the writers. Beautiful. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stardust_(song)
  • Ternura – (Natalicio Moreyra Lima) – an instrumental. Another song that was on their (possible)1953 album. I don't know if it was re-recorded or not.
  • Ay Maria – (Pinto) – with vocals. This is a Mexican type of song (as was popular t the time) and sung in Spanish rather than Portuguese.
  • Vals Criollo – (Antonio Lauro) – a  instrumental with bounce. Antonio Lauro was a Venezuelan musician, and legendary composer for the guitar.
  • Jungle Dream – (Natalicio Moreyra Lima) – a instrumental with touches of Martin Denny. Slow, moody and quite, as the title refers to, dreamlike.

And …

Beautiful from start to finish … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1963 Maria Elena #6 pop

1963 Maria Elena #3 Easy Listening

Album

1967 #7

England

Singles

1963 Maria Elena #5

Album

Sounds

Maria Elena

mp3 attached

Maran Cariua

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWN8TZqcFew

A La Orilla del Lago

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNujr3tMbUs

Moonlight Serenade

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJA-v-T1IWg

Ay Maria

mp3 attached

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vh2XYXZ3eLk

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5_tLfq9Pxg

Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/maria-elena-always-in-my-heart-mw0000597088

Bio

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

http://www.spaceagepop.com/indios.htm

Website

https://www.facebook.com/groups/20228084434/?ref=br_rs

https://myspace.com/natolimafoundation

Trivia

  • The linersnotes on the back sleeve give a history of the duo: "It's a long way from the jungles of northern Brazil to Hoagy Carmichael, but that's just part of the path followed by the guitar duo known as the Tabajaras Indians in what must surely be one of the greatest off-trail adventure stories in the whole history of music … The story began in the jungle of the State of Ceara, up in the northeastern shoulder of Brazil. Here an Indian tribe called the Tabajaras lives well isolated from the world of the white man. While peaceful enough, the Tabajaras have been generally unfriendly to the white man's civilization, which they have considered inferior to their own … One of the leaders of the Tabajaras was a tribesman by the name of Mitanga who was the father of thirty children. One day, twenty-odd years ago, Musaperi, his No. 3 son, and Herundy, the next oldest boy, found a guitar lying in a path in the woods along which a party of white men had passed. Not knowing what it was, they carried it home and kept it hidden for a couple of weeks … When it failed to explode as had firearms found by some of their fellow tribesmen, the two young boys took it out and examined it more closely. The sound that the strings made as they were touched by their exploring hands excited the boys' curiosity, and in some unexplained manner the brothers learned to play the instrument. They loved it enough to want to follow it into the white man's world from which it had come … Rio de Janeiro was their first important stop, and here they scored a hit with their primitive yet effective handling of the guitar as an accompaniment to their tribal folk songs.  A theatrical agent spotted them and booked them for a series of tours throughout South America that lasted six years. Then they headed north for Mexico for a long engagement. Somewhere along the line they changed their Indian names to Natalicio and Antenor Moreyra Lima, although they were known everywhere they played as just "Los Indios Tabajaras." … About this time they decided to stop their concerts in order to take formal instruction in the guitar. Each worked with a different teacher, Antenor specializing in accompaniment and Natalicio working on melody. They studied the classics, and soon augmented their Indian folk lore and Brazilian repertoire with the works of Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Rimsky-Korsakoff, Falla and Albéniz … Then, after two years of study, came a new debut and a tour of the opera houses of the South American capitals. This was followed by a long European tour which took them before concert audiences in Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Athens and Lisbon. They learned to sing and speak in Italian, German and Greek, in addition to their native Tupi, their adopted Portuguese, and the Spanish they had learned while touring Latin America … These two young Indians are true virtuosos. Their unique personal and musical background is reflected in the numbers they play on these two sides. In addition to the tribal folk songs they learned first, they present Brazilian regional music and international favorites of Latin America. Star Dust and Moonlight Serenade, though, show how far they've wandered, both musically and geographically, since they first saw something strange lying on the matted floor of their native jungle … RICHARD JOSEPH Travel Editor, Esquire"

 

Los Indios Tabajaras - Sweet and Savage

Posted in Ethnic, Lounge & Exotica, World Music | Tagged | Leave a comment

DELANEY & BONNIE – D & B Together – (CBS) – 1972

Delaney & Bonnie - Together

See my earlier comment for biographical detail on the joy that is Delaney & Bonnie.

Inconsistent they may be but there are tangible benefits from their music.

This album comes at the dawn of Southern white soul and the rise of Southern rock as dominant styles in the South.

And, accordingly, it has elements of both styles though to be fair, Delaney & Bonnie always had both those styles of southern music in their style.

Soul, blues, funk, strings, rock, gospel, guitars all blend seamlessly into a style of music that was incredibly popular in the early 1970s (and is not unpopular today) and there were many acts  practicing the same. Derek & the Dominos, The Allman Brothers Band, Big Brother & the Holding Company, Canned Heat, Jackie DeShannon, The Band, Dr John, Leon Russell, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Wayne Cochran, Jesse Ed Davis, Tony Joe White, Little Feat, Black Oak Arkansas, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blackfoot, Elvis Presley and many others all played variations on the theme.

To Southern acts the music was a statement of identity. The music was an amalgamation of musical styles that had made the South what it was. They were loud, proud and happy to display their melting pop of roots music. This here, then, was the result, a roots music where the roots were allowed to become entangled.

And here, the Southern sound is unmistakeable. Perhaps, they were putting it all out there and turning up the Southern ambience to eleven on the dial as a dare. The music is defiant and strident as if they are saying, “You took rock n roll, jazz, blues, and country from us but you can’t take this from us”. Ironically, Northerners like Al Kooper, were drawn to the music as were Englishmen like Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Joe Cocker and others.

There have been many attempts at replicating this and the techniques sometimes comes close but nothing quite sounds like the originals. 

This music may have become clichéd through overuse in film (and on television by television studio bands) and its powered diminished by too many slick soulless reproductions but you have to dismiss those from your mind.

“D&B Together” is the sixth album by Delaney & Bonnie and their most ironic title. It was their last album. The group and their marriage fell apart shortly after, or rather, their marriage and the group.

There was nothing new here that D&B hadn’t already done but the joy in the music is in the joy of the performances. The music is meant to be danced to or to be sung along to. Often, there are deeper themes that you can think about but everything is subsumed to the “feel” in / of the music.

And that feel is created by a remarkable collection of largely Southern musicians. See trivia at end but amongst the legendary Southern session men we have solo stars like Duane Allman, Tina Turner, Merry Clayton, Leon Russell, John Hartford, Steve Cropper, Billy Preston, Rita Coolidge, Eddie Kendricks, as well as Englishmen Eric Clapton and Dave Mason.

Sometimes they shine through individually but o this type of music the whole is more important than the individual components.

Oddly, their last label, Atco, had no faith in the album, “Country Life, Delaney & Bonnie's sixth album, was anticipated by the artist's label Atco (Atlantic) Records following the success of their previous three albums and of "Never Ending Song of Love," a single from their last album Motel Shot; moreover, Atlantic executive Jerry Wexler had developed a personal friendship with the artists. The album was delivered to Atlantic behind schedule, and was rushed into distribution upon delivery in early 1972. However, Wexler found the album's quality unsatisfactory and quickly withdrew it from the market. Wexler discovered that Delaney and Bonnie's marriage was under strain, and responded by selling their contract and this album's master tapes to CBS. CBS reordered the running sequence of the album as shown below, and re-released it in March 1972, using different cover art, as D&B Together” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%26B_Together

From a commercial POV it was a sound decision (perhaps … albums were pressed) as the album didn’t sell well but from a music perspective the album sounds great.

This may be the last original Delaney and Bonnie album but they went out on a bang rather than a whimper.

Tracks (best in italics)

          Side One

  • Only You Know and I Know – (Dave Mason) – Originally by former Traffic member Dave Mason on his debut solo album, "Alone Together" (1970). Eric Clapton and  Dave Mason are on guitar.
  • Wade in the River of Jordan – (Traditional, arr. Delaney Bramlett) – They performed it in the magnificent film Vanishing Point (1971). A gospel shouter.
  • Sound of the City – (Delaney Bramlett, Joe Hicks) – Bonnie and Delaney sing with Tina Turner, as the song was recorded in Ike Turner's studio. The battle of blues pipes and Bonnie holds her own against Tina though everyone is a little (just a little) restrained.
  • Well, Well – (Delaney Bramlett) – funky fuzzy guitar by Delaney.
  • I Know How It Feels to Be Lonely – (Bonnie Bramlett, Leon Ware) – a slow smouldering burn
  • Comin' Home –  (Bonnie Bramlett, Eric Clapton) – originally Delaney & Bonnie did this on their live album, “On Tour with Eric Clapton” (1970 ) Eric Clapton and  Dave Mason on guitar though I've also read it as Duane Allman on guitar. A great southern rock funk tune. Perfect for driving to, in an American muscle car, with the roof down (do you hear me James?)

           Side Two

  • Move 'Em Out – (Steve Cropper, Bettye Crutcher) – this seems to have been done by Delaney & Bonnie first. Recorded as a favour to their friend Cropper (of the MGs). Less screech and more vocalising and this comes across almost hippie-esque. Well, hippie-esque by Southern boogie standards.
  • Big Change Comin' – (Delaney Bramlett) – another funky workout though the guitar is mixed too far back.
  • A Good Thing (I'm on Fire) – (Delaney Bramlett, Gordon DeWitty) – Duane Allman plays on this but because of contractual problems he is very low in the mix. A funky passionate heat song.
  • Groupie (Superstar) – (Delaney Bramlett, Leon Russell) – this song had, originally, been a B-side by Delaney & Bonnie in 1969 to the “Comin Home” single. It has been covered many times … Cher (1970), Bette Midler (1970), Vicki Carr (1971), Gayle McCormick (1971) and most famously by The Carpenters who had a #2 with it in 1971 which perhaps prompted its resurrection here. A great tune. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superstar_(Delaney_and_Bonnie_song)
  • I Know Something Good About You – (Delaney Bramlett, Joe Hicks) – Delaney plays the guitar, King Curtis the sax,  Billy Preston the piano, Bobby Womack the bass. Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett are among the chorus. I assume it is Delaney on lead and he has a good voice for this.
  • Country Life – (Delaney Bramlett, Bobby Whitlock) – a great country rock tune. Totally different to the rest of the album. Laid back and relaxed but with the Southern charm coming through. Excellent.

And …

Great fun. Pass the grits (nothing quite like stereotyped humour, eh?) … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1971 Only You Know and I Know  #20

1972 Move Em Out #59

Album

1972 #133

England

No charts..

Why would it chart? England had their own true children of the South, Eric Clapton, Dave Mason, Ian Matthews, Albert Lee, George Harrison and others.

Interestingly the only record by Delaney & Bonnie that ever charted in England was their album "Delaney & Bonnie On Tour with Eric Clapton" (#39, 1970). Parochialism at its best even when the source is some 4000 miles away.

Sounds

Full album

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

Only You Know and I Know

Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tf7fwxJPtbA

Comin' Home

Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPadGC5eZ44

mp3 attached

A Good Thing (I'm on Fire)

Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ofFxe03BVc

Groupie (Superstar)

mp3 attached

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ir2eAEhtXvE

Bonnie

Live recently

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvEgiZ1lS7Q

Review

http://www.popmatters.com/review/delaneyandbonnie-dandb/

http://stuckinthepast08.blogspot.com.au/2011/10/delaney-bonnie-and-friends-d-together.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%26B_Together

http://www.allmusic.com/album/d-b-together-mw0000018473

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

http://www.uncut.co.uk/reviews/album/delaney-bonnie-and-friends-db-together#G00mBqSOymA3UmC7.99

Bio

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delaney_%26_Bonnie

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

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

Website

http://www.bonniebramlett.com/

Trivia

  • Arranged By, Producer – Delaney Bramlett. (Producer: David Anderle/Doug Gilmore/Delaney Bramlett
  • Delaney Bramlett – guitar, vocals / Bonnie Bramlett – vocals / Eric Clapton – guitar, vocals / Leon Russell – piano, keyboards, vocals / Duane Allman – guitar, vocals / Dave Mason – guitar, vocals / Carl Radle – bass, vocals / John Hartford – banjo, vocals / Steve Cropper – guitar, vocals / Jim Gordon – drums, vocals / Red Rhodes – steel guitar, vocals / Jaimoe – drums, vocals / Billy Preston – keyboards, piano, vocals / Charlie Freeman – guitar, vocals / Kenny Gradney – bass, vocals / Bobby Whitlock – keyboards, vocals / Bobby Keys – saxophone, vocals / James Jamerson – bass, vocals / Jerry Jumonville – saxophone, vocals / King Curtis – saxophone, vocals / Larry Knechtel – bass, vocals / Darrell Leonard – trumpet, vocals / Jim Price – horns, vocals / Chuck Rainey – bass, vocals / Larry Savoie – trombone, vocals / Rita Coolidge – vocals / Tina Turner – vocals / Venetta Fields – vocals / Merry Clayton – vocals / Eddie Kendricks – vocals / Sam Clayton – vocals / Joe Hicks – vocals / Patrice Holloway – vocals / Tex Johnson – vocals / Clydie King – vocals / Sherlie Matthews – vocals / Gordon De Witty – vocals / Jay York – vocals (and, perhaps Bobby Womack)
  • Rita Coolidge was discovered by Delaney & Bonnie and she sang backing for them before supplying backing vocals for many acts recording in LA … before going solo.
Posted in Country Soul, Southern and Boogie Rock | Tagged | Leave a comment

CHIP TAYLOR – This Side Of The Big River – (Warner Brothers) – 1975

Chip Taylor - This Side of The Big River

Chip Taylor is one of the weirdest of all country singers.

He isn’t quite country though country musicians and audiences have warmed up to him.

He was at the forefront of the country meets Americana meets alt country.

A native of Yonkers, New York, Taylor was in love with country music, and the early rock n country of Elvis, but he’d made his name as a (hit making) pop and rock songwriter and a wannabe folkie.

The country, pop, rock and folk all come through on his solo albums though they are all subsumed into the singer-songwriter style.

As the genre requires, these songs are pensive, expressive and revealing. Not that you can’t be with other styles of music but the singer- songwriter stuff (even when not written by you) comes across as confessional statements, little bits of the soul offered up to anyone who will listen.

Taylor’s love of country just means those confessions happen in a bar rather than in a coffee shop or on the psychiatrists couch.

There is a lot of Willie Nelson, Mickey Newbury here and some Guy Clarke and John Prine though run through with some New York sensibility and quirkiness.

Quirkiness qv: For a personal mellow album its title comes from its only cover, the rowdy Johnny Cash tune “Big River”.

Three of the tracks—"Big River," "John Tucker," and "You're Alright, Charlie"—were taken from a live radio show broadcast though they were overdubbed and remixed.

Backing him was his usual band though with overdubs by fiddler Buddy Spiker, famed pedal steel player Pete Drake, and Elvis’ 50s backup vocalists the Jordanaires, and the amazing and quirky jazzy, folk, world music instrumentalist Sandy Bull who added oud to a couple songs.

This is gentle, mellow, laid-back stuff, very laid back like totally horizontal, but the melodies are great, the lyrics catchy (nothing quite like that pop sensibility), and with good vocals.

Chip has had a little of a career revival over the last ten years but his output is much more worthy than a lot of others who are being re-evaluated and rediscovered.

I encourage you to check out my other comments for biographical detail and to find out what he wrote.

Tracks (best in italics)

          Side One

  • Same Ol' Story – unusual political territory for country music with its references to the (then-winding-down) Vietnam War and a lot of cynicism. Wonderful with great backing vocals by the Jordanaires.
  • Holding Me Together – a country wheepie
  • Gettin' Older, Lookin' Back – a mid tempo song about regrets. Familiar country material but catchy
  • John Tucker's On The Wagon Again – great lyrics in a slow moving song about an audience member who likes to sit and drink
  • Big River – (Johnny Cash) – not as BIG as Johnny Cash's legendary #4 country hit from 1958 (US). This version still works because the song has it's own internal dramatic and Chip gives it his all. I love it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_River_(Johnny_Cash_song)

    Side Two

  • May God Be With Me – lead acoustic guitarist George Kiriakis and reminiscent, in mood, of "Help Me Make it Through The Night" and "Why Me Lord" in tempo. Maybe Chip was aiming for a song for Elvis to cover. He did a lot of this type of stuff in the mid-70s.
  • Circle Of Tears – a bouncy country song about lost (or, rather, losing) love.
  • Sleepy Eyes – similar to "May God be with Me"  above. Quite big in drama but not over the top.
  • I've Been Tied – a 70s thumping country song
  • You're Alright, Charlie – another song about someone else. Chip loves the observations almost as much as Ray Davies.

And …

Relaxed but with many joys … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1975 Big River #61Country

1975 Circle of Tears #92 Country

Album

1975 #36 County

England

Nothing

Other

1975 Same Ol’ Story – #2 Holland

Sounds

Same Ol' Story

Live recently

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DeQU2u4_bJA

mp3 attached

Holding Me Together

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-4labfivaY

Gettin' Older, Lookin' Back

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

John Tucker's On the Wagon Again

Live recently

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ep09p6MhKlo

Big River

Live recently

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dorw7sLUQQg

May God Be With Me

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9kDLxduYyQ

Circle Of Tears

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpT4Z-hHTTo

Sleepy Eyes

Live recently

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

I've Been Tied

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VX0PVlmlhw0

You're Alright, Charlie

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucAK2dOVTco

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dt9GBafFzjE

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

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

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

Review

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

http://www.allmusic.com/album/this-side-of-the-big-river-mw0000449421

Bio

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

http://www.rockabilly.nl/references/messages/wes_voight_chip_taylor.htm

http://www.trainwreckrecords.com/assets/i/press_kits/Chip_Taylor_Fact_File.pdf

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/chip-taylor-mn0000773849/biograph

Website

https://myspace.com/chiptaylorsolo

http://www.trainwreckrecords.com/artists/chip_taylor.html

http://www.david-mansfield.com/

Trivia

  • "John Tucker", "Big River", "You're Alright, Charlie" taken from a concert for WHNW-FM radio. recorded live and then later overdubbed … that's why you get the applause. There is no post modern meaning there, or maybe there is.

 

RIP CHUCK BERRY (1926-2017)

a bona fide legend

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

LEON REDBONE – On the Track – (Warner Brothers) – 1975

Leon Redbone - On the Track

Leon Redbone is a mystery, perhaps not as much as The Residents or writer B. Traven but he is indulging in the same quest for anonymity.

But, he isn’t obscure and he doesn’t avoid exposure.

He tends, rather, to hide in plain sight.

Unlike Rodriguez (“Searching for Sugarman”) who was unknown in his home country, the US, (but, as an aside, very well-known and popular in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa – the documentary was quite disingenuous), Leon Redbone has never been unpopular, he just wants to avoid any digging into his past.

And, he has done it well.

Wikipedia reveals that he was born August 26, 1949 in either Ontario, Canada, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, or Cyprus.

Allmusic reveals: “Because Redbone first emerged as a performer in Toronto during the 1970s, he was believed to be Canadian, though some sources have cited his birthplace as the Greek island of Cyprus or Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A Canadian magazine profile in the '80s reported that his birth name was Dickran Gobalian, though Redbone has never confirmed or denied that. Redbone's musical style was a revival of pre-World War II ragtime, jazz, and blues sounds, recalling the work of performers ranging from Jelly Roll Morton and Bing Crosby to blackface star Emmett Miller”. http://www.allmusic.com/artist/leon-redbone-mn0000240503/biography

His website reveals nothing.

What we do know is that he emerged in the 1970s singing American music from the 1920s and 1930s

Redbone’s first exposure came with the 1974 Mariposa Folk Festival in Ontario. Several months later, Dylan spoke about him in a Rolling Stone interview, "Leon interests me," Dylan said. "I've heard he's anywhere from 25 to 60, I've been [a foot and a half from him] and I can't tell, but you gotta see him. He does old Jimmie Rodgers, then turns around and does a Robert Johnson." http://www.allmusic.com/artist/leon-redbone-mn0000240503/biography

He subsequently appeared on Saturday Night Live (in 1976) and became a favourite of Johnny Carson (1987-1992).

The beauty is in eras defined by of arena rock, hard rock, punk, indie alternative, underground, synth, and new wave, Redbone has decided to play music from a time past, a long time past.

He has (from what I’ve heard) obstinately refused to update. His music varies between various levels of sheen and gloss but the music makes little concessions to modernity.

I found his album “ No Regrets” in an op shop in the early 90s and I was hooked … the version of “Are Your Lonesome Tonight” hooked me, straddling Elvis’ well known version and the Al Jolson original from 1928.

Redbone has been doing this all along … bringing songs from the past and offering up them to us as new but without new instrumentation.

There is nothing new here, unless, and this is a big unless, you have never heard it before.

Then, it is all new.

(like I have always say) … if you haven’t heard the music before it is new music, right?

I don’t know how Redbone was exposed to this music and how it became his cause but, like everything, he wasn’t created in a vacuum.

The 1970s was prone to revivals, from the 50s revival at the start of the decade (bands like Sha Na Na, Flash Cadillac & the Continental Kids, Showaddywaddy (in the UK), the chart re-entry of Ricky Nelson, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry and Elvis (though Elvis had never really left), films like “American Graffiti” and TV shows like “Happy Days) to the 60s revival at the end of the decade (the re-discovery of the Doors, The Velvet Underground and the popularity of power pop skinny tie bands).

In between there was a revival of 1920s and 1930s music.

This was promoted through film primarily, on soundtracks, using sound-alikes, songs in the style of, or original recordings … The Sting (1973) was a box office smash in 1973–74 (as was the Marvin Hamlisch version of Scott Joplin's, 1903 tune "The Entertainer", from the film reached #3 US 1974), Bugsy Malone (1976), The Godfather (1972), Paper Moon (1973), Lucky Lady (1975), Nickelodeon (1976), Bound for Glory (1976), At long last Love (1975) song and dance documentaries That's Entertainment! (1974),   That's Entertainment, Part II (1976) 

This “nostalgia” was combined, I suspect, with the knowledge that the original singing stars were getting older, retiring or dying off. Some were still performing so it was the last chance to see the originals artists. Concurrently, a new group of entertainers (with varying degrees of success and compromises to contemporary sounds) emerged …

American a cappella, jazz fusion/pop music group The Manhattan Transfer were founded in 1969 in New York City and increased in popularity throughout the 1970s, Joshua Rifkin released the "Scott Joplin: Piano Rags" album in 1970 which sold 100,000 copies in its first year and went to #5 (in 1974) and the follow-up "Volume 2" went to #4 (1974), Marvin Hamlisch version of Scott Joplin's 1903 tune "The Entertainer", for the film, The Sting, reached #3 US 1974, and (then) contemporary artists like Jim Kweskin, Merle Haggard, Ringo Starr, Willie Nelson, John Hartford, Harry Nilsson dug into the era and released individual albums (or numerous albums) of long forgotten or old songs.

How much of this is pure nostalgia and how much is a reaction to the (then) present music  I don’t know and don’t want to think about it here but I suspect there is probably a bit of both.

The tradition has continued through to today (in varying degrees) with Pokey LaFarge, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, The Cactus Blossoms, The Hackensaw Boys, The Old Crow Medicine Show and others.

This is Leon Redbone’s first album and sets the template for his music … anything from pre-World War 2. He doesn’t just stick to the Tin Pan Alley and the Great American Songbook … he tackles old blues, old jazz, old country, old folk …

And, they are all done in an intimate, low-key way surrounded with instrumentation deliberately recorded to reflect the original era … not so much “lo-fi” as “old-fi”.

Regardless of production, the music is the important thing. A good song is a good song and in the days when songwriters reigned supreme, the quality of the songs was substantial. That’s not to say they didn’t have hacks and cash-ins then but the music was built to stand out. Also, the lyrics took a back seat to the music … the melody sold the song and the lyrics had to ride off and accentuate that. A vocalist (and the vocalists that emerged) had to be able to add their own style or persona to a song (after the songwriter has already dictated how the song will appear), and this is not an easy thing to do.

Redbone, makes it even harder (arguably) for himself when he is covering well known tunes … he has to impart himself and be heard as something separate to the well known original. In the more obscure tracks that is, of course, less of an issue.

Leon Redbone on guitar, harmonica and with a drowsy, lazy, matter of fact vocal gets it right more often than not. And, just like the original vocalists, he, the music and the arrangements should, together, create a mood across the aural time and space connecting different generations.

He also plays the "throat tromnet" which I assume is his voice made to sound like instruments. Much like scat singing in vocal jazz, where they use wordless vocables to sing improvised melodies and rhythms using the voice as an instrument rather than a speaking medium.

This music was the perfect tonic for the hustle and bustle of 1975 and I don't think the hustle and bustle of 2017 is any different … so bring it on.

Tracks (best in italics)

           Side One

  • Sweet Mama Hurry Home or I'll Be Gone – (Jack Neville, Jimmie Rodgers) – First release by Jimmie Rodgers (1933). A joy of a start
  • Ain't Misbehavin' – (Harry Brooks, Andy Razaf, Fats Waller) – a Fats Waller song from 1929. Burt Reynolds sang the song in the 1975 comedy film “Lucky Lady” and the following year, Leon Redbone performed the song on Saturday Night Live.  A magnificent song which needs to be sung a little ragged as if someone is sitting next to you in a bar. Leon nails it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ain%27t_Misbehavin%27_(song)
  • My Walking Stick – (Irving Berlin) – First performance by Ethel Merman & Chorus (1938) or by Ray Noble and His Orchestra  (1938). Another good one … I'm sure there is a double meaning in there somewhere.
  • Lazybones – (Hoagy Carmichael, Johnny Mercer) – This tin pan alley pop song was written by the great Johnny Mercer and the equally great Hoagy Carmichael and was first recorded by Paul Robeson in 1933 (or perhaps by Glen Gray and The Casa Loma Orchestra with vocals by Walter Hunt also in 1933) but the Jonathan King version from 1971 was a big hit (#34 US Pop, #23 UK). It has been done by everyone. There are few better, if any, lie back and watch the world roll by songs. Wonderful.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lazybones_(song)
  • Marie – (Irving Berlin) – First recording by The Troubadours (1928). It has been done by everyone including Jim Reeves (1958), Bill Haley & His Comets (1959), and Ray Charles (1961). Another winner featuring the "throat tromnet"

    Side Two

  • Desert Blues (Big Chief Buffalo Nickel) – (Jimmie Rodgers) – First recording by Jimmie Rodgers (1929). Nice, very nice.
  • Lulu's Back in Town – (Al Dubin, Harry Warren) – First recording by Ted FioRito & His Orchestra or Dick Powell or Fats Waller (all 1935). Leon sounds older than his age here, err, whatever age that may be. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lulu's_Back_In_Town
  • Some of These Days – (Shelton Brooks) – First release by Sophie Tucker (1911). Its been done by everyone including The Mills Brothers (1934), Bobby Darin (1959), Brenda Lee (1959), Rosemary Clooney (1960),  Bobby Vinton (1963), Elkie Brooks (1984), Helen Merrill (1992), Dave van Ronk (2001).  A zippy with some fine violin, by Joe Venuti I assume. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Some_of_These_Days
  • Big Time Woman – (Wilton Crawley) – First release by Wilton Crawley and His Orchestra (1931) with Jelly Roll Morton on piano. This is a jazz, in the tin pan alley tradition.
  • Haunted House – (Lonnie Johnson) – a recent song! Written and recorded by Lonnie Johnson for his 1960 blues album "Blues & Ballads". Nice and suitably growl-ie.
  • Polly Wolly Doodle – (Traditional) – Dating back to the 1880s the first release was by Gid Tanner and His Skillet-Lickers with Riley Puckett and Clayton McMichen (1927). The children’s song has been done (or variations on it have been done) by The Carter Family (1939), Alvin and the Chipmunks (1962), and Burl Ives (1964) though Shirley Temple's version from 1935 film "The Littlest Rebel" may be the most well known version. Fun. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polly_Wolly_Doodle

And …

What a joy … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

Are you kidding

Sounds

Sweet Mama Hurry Home or I'll Be Gone

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkc_xxetYY4

Ain't Misbehavin'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6d1-k2p1Ck

My Walking Stick

Live 1973

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxNw1WAEvTE

Lazybones

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSdSn9J2J8U

Marie

Live recently

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPafmYz9fCE

mp3 attached

Desert Blues (Big Chief Buffalo Nickel)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9y4DdfXa6U0

Lulu's Back in Town

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMbinVAa8qI

Some of These Days

Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ajf9LvOKFu4

Big Time Woman

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngOTjDyg8HU

Haunted House

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1_F6ywlsz4

Polly Wolly Doodle

Live recently

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_HdV8V17E8

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGUW0uAwDyw&list=PLxvBI4CNRtMCfv7e3uZGgOT7aIfNu-kOY

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxvMGe8bK7o

with Dr John

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAtZBE5XXFo

The original versions can be heard here:

https://secondhandsongs.com/release/55326

Review

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

http://www.allmusic.com/album/on-the-track-mw0000197294

http://robertchristgau.com/get_artist.php?name=leon+redbone

Bio

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

Website

https://www.leonredbone.com/

Trivia

  • Jazz producer Joel Dorn produces with session musicians, jazz heavies and guests assisting. Here, Redbone is aided by fine session men including legendary “old-timers” Milt Hinton (bass), Seldon Powell (sax), and Joe Venuti (violin). Singer Songwriter Don McLean (“American Pie”) also appears on banjo.
  • Full musician list: Leon Redbone – vocals, guitar, harmonica / Phil Bodner – saxophone / Patti Bown – piano / Garnett Brown – trombone / Jonathan Dorn – tuba / Steve Gadd – drums / Emanuel Green – violin / Milt Hinton – bass guitar / Leo Kahn – violin / Ralph MacDonald – percussion, castanets / Charles Macey – guitar / Don McLean – banjo / Gene Orloff – violin / Seldon Powell – saxophone / Billy Slapin – clarinet / Joe Venuti – violin / Joe Wilder – trumpet, cornet
  • The back sleeve indicates, "A very special thanks to the late Jelly Roll Morton and the late Jimmie Rodgers for their music".
  • It also notes "Leon Redbone is not to be confused or associated with the Epic recording artists "Redbone"" …. which is the Native American rock band. Of course audiences today wouldn't know either let alone getting them "confused". Shame on them.

 

Leon Redbone - On the Track - back

Posted in Americana, Popular & Crooners | Tagged | Leave a comment

JOHNNY CASH & JUNE CARTER CASH – Johnny Cash and His Woman – (CBS) – 1973

JOHNNY CASH & JUNE CARTER CASH - Johnny Cash and His Woman

Yes, of course, the title to this album would nowadays be denounced as misogynist or sexist.

“… and His Woman”

Perhaps, even in 1973 the title was a little old fashioned, but then again Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash were a little old fashioned.

Did June Carter Cash care?

I don't know but I do know that they don’t make female singers like her anymore.

She may have been a little old fashioned but that doesn’t mean she was a wallflower.

As a companion and a musical collaborator June Carter was able to hold her own against Johnny Cash.

Her position in country music was assured and there has been precious little coming to replace her. The wounded female singer-songwriters in country are everywhere as are the bombastic pop country singers who have nothing to say or tell.

June Carter straddled both those styles and turned them around. Her voice was big, bombastic and forceful but she had something to say and tell about life and the human condition.

She is up front and brassy and a perfect companion to Johnny Cash who can, often, be contemplative or laid back.

The comparator for this album would be the 1967 collaboration between Johnny and his (then) new wife June Carter, “Carryin’ On” which is an ode to fresh love and the excitement of a relationship in its infancy.

By 1973 things with Johnny and June had changed, but, not for the worse. They had progressed.  They had a family together (they had a son born in 1970). June Carter was still a forceful musical voice and Johnny still had demons but the music is laid back, comfortable and calming. This may reflect the security of their familial situation but it also reflects the emerging (1973) amalgamation of country rock and soft rock sounds which were aimed at people who wanted to recline and forget about the world.

That’s not to say this is The Eagles or something. It is still a Johnny Cash album (Johnny's vocal is lead on most of the songs) and there are ragged edges which gives the album an off the cuff conversational sound, as if you were catching up with an Aunt or an Uncle over a coffee, where they pass on advice (and wisdom) about life, love, hopes, dreams and things spiritual.

Johnny writes a couple of tunes, has some written for him and picks a few covers. But, as always, Johnny (and June) make a song their own. They don’t always usurp the original or more well-known version but they do make their version sit alongside the original so much so you can’t tell (and don't care) who wrote it. And that, as I repeat so often, is what a good interpreter of songs does.

This was the final album from long time Cash producer Don Law.

Tracks (best in italics)

          Side One

  • The Color of Love – (Billy Edd Wheeler) – Country folk singer songwriter Wheeler was a favourite of John and June’s having written "Jackson" which was recorded by them in 1967 and went to #2 (Country). Quite a witty song with the same to and fro between Johnny and June as "Jackson". In fact, thematically, the song is a kind of sequel to "Jackson".
  • Saturday Night in Hickman County – (Johnny Cash) – not perfectly realised but undeniably intriguing with sharp observations and lyrics of small town country America. Sung solo by Johnny..
  • Allegheny – (Chris Gantry) – Country singer Chris Gantry released this on his "Motor Mouth" album from 1970 and recorded this on the Johnny Cash TV Show in 1971. June is perfectly old school country.
  • Life Has Its Little Ups and Downs – (Margaret Ann Rich) – written by Charlie Rich’s wife, he had a #41 country hit with this in 1969 and the song has since become often identified as a Charlie Rich statement of faith (well Greil Marcus in his book “Mystery Train” identifies it as one). This version is not close to Rich's version but it is still quite good. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life's_Little_Ups_and_Downs
  • Matthew 24 (Is Knocking at the Door) – (Johnny Cash) – I always bang on about the strife of the early 70s in the US (civil unrest, increase in pollution, widespread drugs, urban decay, the Vietnam war, the ongoing Cold War) and how it effects music. Well, this is Johnny's response to the times. Matthew 24 is the twenty-fourth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. In it Jesus foretells the doom of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple and the great calamities that will precede his Second Coming.

    Side Two

  • The City of New Orleans – (Steve Goodman) – Folkie Goodman’s evocative tune (first released by him in 1971) was a hit for Arlo Guthrie in1972 (#18). A beautiful version of a beautiful song. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_of_New_Orleans_(song)
  • Tony – (D. C. Powers) – I have little knowledge of D.C Powers but this could have been written by Cash because it is SO in his style. This is a contemporary cowboy song.
  • The Pine Tree – (Billy Edd Wheeler) – another original by Billy Edd Wheeler. Reminiscent of Tim Hardin's "If I Were a Carpenter"
  • We're for Love – (Reba Hancock, M. S. Tubb) – Reba Cash Hancock was Johnny's younger sister. I’m not sure who M. S. Tubb is (though they are probably a relation of family friend and country singer Ernest Tubb).  Together they wrote a couple of tunes recorded by Johnny. Reba, also, produced, "Gospel Road: A Story of Jesus” (1973) which Johnny narrated and June Carter appeared in. This is a little goofy like a mid 60s Elvis movie tune (in fact in bears just a smidge (in structure) of "Who Needs Money" from Clambake (1967)).
  • Godshine – (D. C. Powers) – There is no denying John and June's faith. This is a catchy country song rather than a Christian song though the subject is Jesus. Very catchy.

And …

A forgotten and greatly undervalued album … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1973 Allegheny #69 Country

Album

1973 #32 Country

England

nothing

Sounds

The whole album

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7eM2usOhUU

The Color of Love

live

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

Saturday Night in Hickman County

clip (Johnny solo)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D24MHd6shSg

The City of New Orleans

clip (Johnny solo)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZe0R5aVDoM

mp 3 attached

Godshine

mp3 attached

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3NJC18Oi04

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2R2NrV4ve1o

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hciiR0qzSYA

Review

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

https://raisemyglasstothebside.wordpress.com/2015/02/19/album-review-johnny-cash-johnny-cash-and-his-woman/

Bio

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

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/johnny-cash-mn0000816890/biography

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

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/june-carter-cash-mn0000838300/biography

http://www.spectropop.com/BillyEddWheeler/

Website

http://www.johnnycash.com/

http://www.thejohnnycashproject.com/

https://www.facebook.com/johnnycash

Trivia

  • Personnel: Johnny Cash – vocals, guitar / June Carter Cash – vocals / Bob Wootton, Carl Perkins, David Jones – guitar / Marshall Grant – bass / WS Holland – drums / Bill Walker, Jerry Whitehurst – piano, keyboards.

 johnny and june 03  johnny and june 04  johnny and june 02  johnny and june 01   

Posted in Country | Tagged | Leave a comment

THE RADIATORS – Scream of the Real – (EMI) – 1983

RADIATORS - Scream of the Real

Between 1980 – 1981 The Radiators had established themselves as one of Australia’s best pub rock bands.

They had released the magnificent mini album (and favourite of every high school boy) “You Have The Right To Remain Silent” (1980) and the long players “Feel The Heat“ (1980) and “Up for Grabs” (1981).

1983 saw the release of their next album, “Scream of the Real”

The straight ahead rock of Cold Chisel, The Angels and Rose Tattoo was alive and well and the soft rock of the Little River Band and Air Supply was (still) successful as was the mainstream pop rock of Mondo Rock, Moving Pictures and others, but, clearly, there was something else going on …

Australia was immersed in new wave stylings …

Icehouse's "Primitive Man" album had gone to #3 (1982), The Models "Local &/or General" went to #30 (1981) whilst "The Pleasure of Your Company" went to #12 (1983), INXS's Shabooh Shoobah went to #5 (1982) and Hunters & Collectors self-titled album went to #21 (1982). New Wave or quirky acts Mi-Sex, The Reels, Mental as Anything and James Freud were popular. Nick Cave was about to embark on a solo career.

With that as a background The Radiators made some concessions to modernity.

A pity.

There are horses for courses.

And this track does not suit The Radiators.

Enough with the lame metaphors.

The new wave intrusions, here, are minor but it is a slippery slope. Later, the band would adopt more new wave trappings with diminishing returns.

The visual new wave stylings looked inane. These BLOKES do not lend themselves to the gender bending or gender neutral fashions … especially when they hastate to get the mullet or semi mullet cut.

The music on "Scream of the Real", with its new wave nods, also sounded forced and was never wholly convincing. It’s as if someone had session musicians add new wave flourishes to pre-recorded tracks. The production should have been a little more up front and made the sound a little more jagged.

But, despite all of this The Radiators always tried to rock hard and they were always sharper than people gave them credit for.

Of course, bratty and slightly obnoxious they could be but there were some equally sharp observations on Australian cultural mores of the time and a perceptiveness and sensitivity (in understanding if not music) of real people in real situations.

They would probably cringe a little at this statement but the insight is there in their music.

The music and the beat get in the way of what they have to say but the money is in the music and the beat so like Australia’s other great rock n roll social commentators, Skyhooks, you have to listen intently to realise they are sharper than a lot of more heralded musical social commentators.

That they said it at all with a pub rock sound is a testament to their “thinking outside the box”

That it resonated and has the ring of truth is a testament to their smarts, though no one would ever guess.

Tracks (best in italics)

           Side One

  • How Does It Feel – (B.Nichol) – some new wave influences creeping in but not enough to dilute the old school Radiators stylings. Quite good though a fraction too long.
  • Sitting In My Armchair  – (B.Nichol) –  good lyrics done in by some tinkly synth.
  • Gravitational Pull  – (B. Callinan-F.Parker) – a good pumping beat which would work well live.
  • Living On A Razor's Edge – (G. Turner-B. Nichol) –  old school Radiators could have used a little more oomph in the production and a little less echo.
  • You  – (B.Nichol) –  quite melodic, by Radiators standards. It's also a little naff but it is catchy.

    Side Two

  • No Tragedy – (G. Turner) –  the Top 40 hit. A enjoyable song with a Midnight Oil feel and it holds its own.
  • Comin' Back For More – (G. Turner) –   more melodious Radiators and very catchy, but the synth needs to be replaced.
  • Right Before My Eyes – (F. Parker-B.Nichol) –  perhaps one gentle melodious song too far though there are elements of early 80s Kinks (and I love them) and the lyrics are enjoyable.
  • Don't Call Us – (G. Turner) –  a tad to long, or it feels that way.
  • Getting Closer – (C. Taglioli) – risible lyrics but good natured.
  • Too Much Too Soon – (G. Turner) –  I'm sure a lot of people could relate to the lyrics about quick rush relationships … catchy.

And …

Not perfect but there are a couple of gems and a couple of songs that linger  …. I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

Australia

Singles

1983  No Tragedy #27

1983 You #82

Album

1983 #15

Elsewhere – nothing

Sounds

How Does It Feel

Live recently

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=juICYU2NcFA

Sitting In My Armchair 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQYj7ERj7jM

Gravitational Pull 

Live recently

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8TR4vnpz8A

You 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMN0dDG53qA

No Tragedy 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzW9BQ9ldVI

Right Before My Eyes 

mp 3 attached

Others

Live recently

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

Review

Bio

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Radiators_(Australian_band)

http://recknroll.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/radiation-alert.html

Website

http://www.theradiators.com/index.php

http://www.myspace.com/theradiatorsau

Trivia

Posted in Australian Artists, Pub Rock | Tagged | Leave a comment

CONNIE FRANCIS – Connie Francis Sings “Never on Sunday” – (MGM) – 1961

CONNIE FRANCIS - Connie Francis Sings Never on Sunday

The full title of this album (as on the cover) is “Connie Francis sings "Never on Sunday" and Other Title Songs from Motion Pictures”.

Now, this is a treat for me because, as you may know, I love my film theme albums.

They are, perhaps, a thing of the past but for a while, especially in the 1960s, they were quite popular.

As I have said elsewhere on this blog, about the logic of covering film songs, “after all they were songs people had in their collective and individual memory from the films … “

For a competent vocalist to pump out an album of film songs (usually, it seems, without a single because the album was aimed at a different market) was a no-brainer.

Bobby Darin did "Hello Dolly To Goodbye Charlie" (1964), Bobby Vinton did "Drive-In Movie Time: Bobby Vinton Sings Great Motion Picture Themes" (1965), Pat Boone did “Days of Wine and Roses” (1963), Dionne Warwick did "Greatest Motion Picture Hits" (1969), Gene McDaniels did “Sings Movie Memories” (1962), James Darren did “Gidget Goes Hawaiian – James Darren Sings The Movies”  (1961), and Frankie Avalon did “Muscle Beach Party And Other Motion Picture Songs” (1962) …

The trad pop acts weighed in heavily as Frank Sinatra did "Sinatra Sings Days of Wine and Roses, Moon River, and Other Academy Award Winners" (1964), Tony Bennett  did "The Movie Song Album" (1966), Matt Monro did "From Hollywood With Love" (1964) and "Born Free (Invitation To The Movies)" (1967), Joni James  did "100 Strings & Joni In Hollywood" (1961), Helen Merrill did "Sings Screen Favorites" (1968), Eddie Fisher did "Academy Award Winners" (1955), Andy Williams did "Moon River and Other Great Movie Themes" (1962) and "The Academy Award-Winning "Call Me Irresponsible" and Other Hit Songs from the Movies" (1964), The Four Aces did “Hits from Hollywood” (1958), Sammy Davis Jr did "Sammy Awards” (1959), Ed Ames  ‎did “Sings The Hits Of Broadway And Hollywood” (1968), Nat King Cole  ‎did “Sings His Songs From Cat Ballou And Other Motion Pictures” (1965) …

Country act Tex Ritter did "Songs from the Western Screen" (1958) and country instrumentalist Chet Atkins did “Chet Atkins in Hollywood” (1961) …

And, then there were the instrumental albums by Los Indios Tabajaras , Henry Mancini, Heal Heft, Nelson Riddle, Frank Pourcel and just about every instrumental act or band leader of the 1960s …

You get the idea.

Albums of film songs were popular.

The great joy on this album is Connie Francis.

I’m a late convert to Connie. I have had her “Greatest Hits” album (or one of them) for a long time but I kept coming across her individual albums in op-shops and second hand stores. I bought them because of individual tracks or covers that appealed to me. But, once I started playing the albums, I realised there was a lot going on, and, the they stood tall alone. Sure, some have more filler than others but what makes them good is Connie.

She can sing.

Perhaps she isn’t as highly regarded as some of the other female stylists of the 60s … probably because she didn’t write her own music and covered a lot of genres (and didn’t sing black soul) but that is what I like about her.

Her recordings show she was talented enough to tackle a lot of music genres: pop, trad pop, rock, country, tin pan alley, pop soul, folk, twist, light jazz, foreign language.

She is a great interpretative singer and also a personal one. She makes any song fit her style but never loses sight of what the song is trying to get across.

All this from (yet another) Italian-American singer …

Wikipedia: "Connie Francis (born Concetta Rosa Maria Franconero, December 12, 1938) … was born in the Italian Down Neck, or Ironbound, neighborhood of Newark, New Jersey, the first child of George Franconero, Sr., and Ida Franconero (née Ferrari-di Vito), spending her first years in a Brooklyn neighborhood on Utica Avenue/St. Marks Avenue before the family moved to New Jersey" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connie_Francis

Allmusic: "Francis started her music career at three, playing an accordion bought for her by her contractor father, George. Her father's dream was not for his daughter to become a star, but for Francis to become independent of men as an adult with her own accordion school of music. At age ten, she was accepted on Startime, a New York City television show that featured talented child singers and performers. The show had no one else who played an accordion. Its host, legendary TV talent scout Arthur Godfrey, had difficulty pronouncing her name and suggested something "easy and Irish," which turned into Francis. After three weeks on Startime, the show's producer and Francis' would-be manager advised her to dump the accordion and concentrate on singing. Francis performed weekly on Startime for four years … After being turned down by almost every record label she approached, 16-year-old Francis signed a record contract with MGM, only because one of the songs on her demo, "Freddy," also happened to be the name of the president's son. "Freddy" was released in June 1955 as the singer's first single. After a series of flop singles, on October 2, 1957 she undertook what was to be her last session for MGM. Francis had recently accepted a pre-med scholarship to New York University and was contemplating the end of her career as a singer. Having recorded two songs, she thanked the technicians and musicians, hoping not to have to record the third song her father had in mind, an old tune from 1923. After a false start, she sang it in one take. When Dick Clark played "Who's Sorry Now?" on American Bandstand, he told the show's eight million viewers that Connie Francis was "a new girl singer that is heading straight for the number one spot." … "Who's Sorry Now?" was the first of Francis' long string of worldwide hits". http://www.allmusic.com/artist/connie-francis-mn0000117064/biography

By 1967, she had sold 35 million worldwide, with 35 U.S. Top 40 hits including 3 #1s and 13 Top 10s.

As Allmusic says, unequivocally, “Connie Francis is the prototype for the female pop singer of today. At the height of her chart popularity in the late '50s and early '60s, Francis was unique as a female recording artist, amassing record sales equal to or surpassing those of many of her male contemporaries. Ultimately, she branched into other styles of music — big band, country, ethnic, and more. She still challenges Madonna as the biggest-selling female recording artist of all time”.

Connie was riding high in 1961 (with a #1 in 1960, “My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own “and a featured roll in a (successful) film released in December “Where the Boys Are”) when she was asked to sing at The 33rd Annual Academy Awards (on 17 April 1961) and she chose the underdog tune "Never On Sunday" from the Greek/American film of the same name. The song won the Oscar. As an aside the song was up against one of my favourite tunes “The Green Leaves of Summer” from the film, “The Alamo”, as sung by The Brothers Four). For whatever reason Connie did not release the single but this album soon followed.

The album was, apparently, recorded over two days in August 1961 at Owen Bradley studio in Nashville. It was arranged and conducted by Cliff Parman. The backing vocals are by the Jordanaires.

Connie's voice is at its peak and she takes the lyrics to heart. She plays with the songs also making them suit her musical temperament. Granted, this leans to (heavily) mainstream trad pop but people who dismiss Connie Francis as a fluffy pop singer should still listen to her here. She sings with gusto.

From music its she branched into films, light and frothy perhaps but, which perfectly capture their era … and they were successful. Madonna can’t say the same.

Where are the tributes?

Okay, she is still well know, well known to anyone with a small knowledge of music history, but the details of her musical career are largely unknown and have not been subject to any re-evaluation.

Perhaps it was the era she came to fame in. The early 1960s (pre the rise of the Beatles and after Elvis’ 50s peak) are, still, generally ignored by music enthusiasts, but, as I have said before, it is an era of music that I love. It was, perhaps, the last truly romantic, un-cynical era of music where innocence and optimism were commonplace.

Of course the world wasn’t necessarily like that, but if you close your eyes and listen to this music, it could have been.

And if music isn’t there to send you to another place then what is the use of it?

Tracks (best in Italics)

      Side One

  • Never on Sunday – (Manos Hadjidakis, Billy Towne) – Connie extends here foreign linguistics here by doing a few lines in Greek. A great song though, admittedly, it is more than a little Latin in nature (as was popular at the time).
  • Young at Heart – (Johnny Richards, Carolyn Leigh) – Well sung, though I think it, perhaps, suits a male singer more.
  • Around the World – (Harold Adamson, Victor Young) – Nice but a song that has never really grabbed me.
  • High Noon – (Dimitri Tiomkin, Ned Washington) – She takes a schmaltzy (and very masculine)  "High Noon" and turns it into believable drama at its best with a spoken intro.
  • April Love – (Sammy Fain, Paul Francis Webster) – exceptionally well sung and a little ethereal … and, she hasn't changed the gender. She is singing / giving advice to a male.
  • Where Is Your Heart (Song from Moulin Rouge) – (Georges Auric, William Engvick) – a pretty song

      Side Two

  • Three Coins in the Fountain – (Jule Styne, Sammy Cahn) – ultra romantic and other worldly.
  • Tammy – (Jay Livingston, Ray Evans) – A girls song if there ever was one though Debbie Reynolds version remains difinitive.  
  • Anna – (Roman Vatro, William Engvick) – a Spanish vocal on this (as on the original) which is a wonderful. The music defines international tastes circa 1961.
  • Moonglow and  Picnic – (Harry Warren, Jack Brooks) – nice, but straight.
  • Love Me Tender – (George R. Poulton, Ken Darby, Elvis Presley) – not as good as Elvis but one of the best female versions I've heard.
  • Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing – (Sammy Fain, Paul Francis Webster) – another otherworldly song and exceptionally well done.

From the films:

And …

Perfect for dinner parties and for relaxing … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

Album

1961 #11

England

nothing

Sounds

Never on Sunday

Mp3 attached (sorry about the scratchiness)

Young at Heart

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yf–rOJcODM

Around the World

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSlsQa5lFso

High Noon

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsfbKYXAZ9s

April Love

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcZUMcMnUa0

Where Is Your Heart (Song from Moulin Rouge)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=soc91prLdcY

Three Coins in the Fountain

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gNH2hKgci4

Tammy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZS0IfGLji8

Anna

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5KfXkTmoKM

Moonglow and  Picnic

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbM1n_jNGTs

Love Me Tender

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7gsBsydlQo

Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing

Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wbs8EfgE4EI

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8x5cUFoDnU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7E5onCKNlcE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWyV2f2N1lo

Review

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connie_Francis_Sings_%22Never_on_Sunday%22

Bio

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/connie-francis-mn0000117064/biography

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

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

Website

http://www.conniefrancis.com/

Trivia

  • The concept worked so well Connie released other albums of film songs, "Connie Francis Sings Award Winning Motion Picture Hits" (1963) and "Movie Greats Of The 60s" (1966)

 

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