FIVE DOLLAR SHOES – Five Dollar Shoes – (Neighborhood Records) – 1972

Five Dollar Shoes - Five Dollar Shoes

The only thing I knew about this group was the producer, Peter Schekeryk, who was married to and produced Melanie.

Which also explains why Five Dollar Shoes were on Melanie's independent label, "Neighborhood Records".

Accordingly, I expected them to sound a little folky.

Melanie's wide eyed (urban) folk is nowhere to be found. This is all (mainly) straight ahead rock. I have no problem with that, of course, but you know what it's like when you expect something and have the exact opposite dropped on you.

There is very little information on-line about them and none of my reference books revealed anything of note.

Five dollar Shoes was: Mike Millius (harmonica, vocals), Gregg Diamond (drums, percussion, vocals), Tom Graves (keyboards, vocals), Jim Gregory (bass, vocals), and Scott Woody (guitar, vocals).

Singer Mike Milius started as a singer songwriter writing topical songs for Folkways Broadside Magazine and records. One of his topical songs "The Ballad of Martin Luther King" did quite well in folk circles which may have been the impetus for his being signed. He recorded a solo album in 1969 "Desperado" (Uni) which is in hard rock, singer songwriter, folk and oddball styles. It, and the Martin Luther King song may have been the impetus for the signing to Neighborhood records though the album here is quite different in style again.

The music is of its time. It is heavy post psych East Coast rock … like The Illusion, Vanilla Fudge, and Mountain with an emphasis on the beat. There are heavy glam rock tendencies but there are also some hedged bets with some rustic blues boogie country notes. Think the New York Dolls meet Cactus or The Allman Brothers Band… though there are hints of 1970-72 era Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones and The Kinks.

The music is unpretentious and straight ahead with enough thump to make it interesting. The singer Millius has a rasp in his voice … perhaps one of the raspiest voices I have heard. Some of the vocals sound positively strangled. And that is perhaps one of the problems (even though that type of vocal was not uncommon at the time). Millius wrote or co-wrote all of the tunes so he knows what he is doing (and looking for) but his voice (to my ears) only seems to fit the more "rustic" numbers, not the glam rock numbers. Those songs have to succeed on the strength of the song itself and they don't always. The production, also, is a little muddy.

Lyrically, the album dwells, despite the rustic numbers on the "mean" streets of New York. Every song is about the seediness of the big city (specifically NYC) or escaping it. The boy shining shoes on the front sleeve and the city backdrop in the inner sleeve reinforce "life in the city". Dion, Brill Building poppers and others had already shown the potential of such themes, and Bruce Springsteen would make those themes into an artistic song craft a couple of years down the track. Here the framework is up but the songs are a little unfinished … some of the songs sound like they need another verse to finish off the narrative.

This is fun music but a little of this goes a long way and the success of the song, especially when turned up to "11", depends on how catchy the song is.

There is more than meets the eye here even if, ultimately, the album falls short.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Love Song – (Diamond/Millius) – a thumper of a song and quite unsubtle. Fitting given it's an ode to a groupie and her skills. "Love song"… ha ha …excellent
  • Can't Do That Anymore – (Diamond/Millius) – more of the same. And, this one, again, may be about a groupie or a "loose" chick picked up somewhere.
  • Bare Mattress – (Graves/Millius/Woody) – shades of "Mott the Hoople" here.
  • Rain Train – (Graves/Woody) – the first ballad, a rustic one, and a excellent song. Life is variously a train ride or a card gam. The melody , chorus and instrumentation make it a winner.
  • Chemical Lover – (Diamond/Millius) – This one has a touch of the glam Bowie…and it works because its urban grit
  • Bad Dream – (Graves/Millius/Woody) – squealin' guitars and obscure lyrics
  • G.T.A. – (Elfassy/Millius) – a Stones "Let it Bleed" era power ballad. Very well done. One of the best songs the Rolling Stones never wrote!
  • Mitzi – (Fraves/Millius/Wiley/Woody) – a mid tempo song about a prostitute. It's non judgemental.
  • Louise – (Millus/Elfassy) – quite early 70s Kinks, loud guitar and even spoken verses done tongue in cheek and quite reminiscent of Ray Davies.
  • Let's Leave Town – (Millius) – Very Dylan and quite effective though without a Dylan hook

And …

A hard one. There are  a couple of great tracks here. I think this album may grow on me even more. It's hard to say. I'll keep it …. for now..

Chart Action

nothing

Sounds

Love Song

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50B1HoGASYg

Chemical Lover

mp3 attached

G.T.A. 

mp3 attached

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pO8VEcXOkO4

Mike Millius

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LWQf9O_4fU

Review

Bio

http://translate.google.com.au/translate?hl=en&sl=de&u=http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregg_Diamond&prev=search

Website

https://www.facebook.com/mike.millius

Trivia

  • Apparently Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of KISS, (then in Wicked Lester), were the backing vocalists on the Five Dollar Shoes' studio sessions, but this has not been substantiated.
  • Singer Mike Millius went on to work in the music industry in a variety of roles. He also "brought" karaoke to North America apparently! http://spudtootight.com/celebrity-interviews/blog/mike-millius-interview
  • Beck sampled the vocals from Millius' song "Lookout for Lucy" from his solo album for his (Beck's) "Odelay" album. http://www.whosampled.com/sample/20536/Beck-Lord-Only-Knows-Mike-Millius-Lookout-for-Lucy/
  • "Come out, come out (wherever you are)", composed by Don Thomas & Mike Millius was due to be recorded by Elvis in 1969. A backing track was recorded but Elvis never added his vocals (he was distracted by a passing fire truck).
  • Gregg Diamond and Jim Gregory were members of Jobriath's backing band, The Creatures.
  • Gregg Diamond then went on to form disco electronic band Bionic Boogie before releasing a number of disco electronic solo albums. http://www.discogs.com/artist/104914-Gregg-Diamond
  • Guitarist Scott Woody ended up playing and writing with German, singer Klaus Nomi.
  • Tom Graves had been in the "The Wild Ones" in the  1960s and then was in later Bullseye and Electra 5  and a band called Steetnoise.
  • This album was nominated for a Grammy … for best packaging (in it's American packaging)
  • The powers that be thought there was a market for this in Australia as this did get an Australian release.
  • Apart from this album Five Dollar Shoes released two singles:

                  Love Song/ Rain Train (Neighborhood) 1972

                  Your Rock 'N' Roll Band b/w Antediluvian Movie Theme (Neighborhood) 1973

Five Dollar Shoes - Five Dollar Shoes - Inner Sleeve

 

Posted in Glam, Hard Rock, Southern and Boogie Rock | Tagged | 1 Comment

DANNY O’KEEFE – So Long Harry Truman – (Atlantic) – 1975

Danny O'Keefe - So Long Harry Truman

Danny O'Keefe is not a stranger to this blog.

And, this record isn't exactly a new listen.

This was, perhaps, the first Danny O'Keefe album I got back in the 80s … read the other entries to find out why I bought it. The copy of the record  was hacked and listening to it didn't do the music a service. And, believe me, I have a high tolerance for hiss, scratch and pop.

I thought the music was interesting but the record was slung in the bin. I think I kept the evocative sleeve.

$4 and twenty years later I revisit this album.

In the intervening years Ii have listened to a lot more Danny O'Keefe and I know where he is coming from.

I'm convinced that O'Keefe cannot make an uninteresting album. Everything he does has some worth. His albums are a little uneven but the good moments in them outweigh the bad, and importantly, his songs stick in the memory.

They aren't there right away but return to you later.

This, his fourth solo album (he had been in a band called "Calliope"), highlights his strengths though it hints at some of his weaknesses.

I have mentioned in some of my other comments about O'Keefe's tendency to some Eagles-like material (which I do not think is a great thing) but here he actually uses The Eagles as his backing band on a couple of tracks!

This was just before the Eagles major breakthrough with "Hotel California" in 1976 and they play well. They alway did but that's not the problem. Luckily, O'Keefe's writing and sensibility is sufficiently rustic and ragged to avoid any of The Eagles smooth pitfalls.

No doubt this is helped by the inclusion of other great musicians like Larry Knechtel, Sneaky Pete Kleinow and David Lindley … check the personnel at the end of this blog entry …it is quite stellar.

Linda Ronstadt also contributes backing vocals on the first two tracks.

The beauty of this record is, like a lot of O'Keefe I have heard, its eclectic-ness …. trad pop, country rock, singer songwriter, soft rock, rock n roll, country, ragtime, old timey, avant garde … all wrapped in lyrics that lean towards poetry.

It doesn't always work but it is always interesting and eclectic and occasionally brilliant.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • So Long, Harry Truman – a great bounce of a song. US Democratic President Harry Truman (1945-1953) was known for his honesty and plain speaking. Obviously this is meant to be a statement on the deterioration of American politics in the wake of the Watergate scandal (1972) and the resignation of President Nixon (1974).
  • Quits – a beautiful song about a relationship at an end. And quite final, "I'll just call it quits"
  • Rainbow Girl – a love song where the music sounds more ominous than the upbeat lyrics, I love it.
  • The Delta Queen – a gentle old trad pop come ragtime type tune. This is something you would expect to hear Jim Kweskin (or more recently Pokey LaFarge) singing and it works.
  • The Kid/The Last Days – The intro and fade out contain Spanish spoken bits taken from Federico Garcia Lorca's poem "Malaguena", Manuel Machado's poem "Lirio" and an old Spanish proverb. Both poets are associated with work before and during the Spanish Civil War. I'm not sure what the song is about as the narrative doesn't seem to flow with the extracts. I think it's a stream of consciousness
  • Covered Wagon – country rock …with more rock than country. Not too bad but familiar.
  • It's Been a Good Day – a gentle bounce of a song …almost Jimmy Buffet in nature.
  • Fiddler's Jamboree – another pre-war throwback ..this time an old-timey country type tune. Engaging
  • Steel Guitar – a 1950s honky tonk country throwback song (with some early rock n roll …  perhaps a little vocal melody from Jackie Brenston's "Rocket 88"?) about a steel guitarist in the 1950s. Endearing and played well. David Lindley plays the steel guitar. The song originally appeared on his self titled album from 1971.
  • Hard Times – a grim singer songwriter tune with religious overtones about "end of times" perhaps? Well, it was the mid-70s …..

And …

Wonderfully, errr eclectic and occasionally, err brilliant  …. I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

Nothing no where

Sounds

So Long, Harry Truman

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVaWC4Lii6s

Quits

Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r73uy4hALrU

The Delta Queen

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOKhvd5D-o0

Fiddler's Jamboree

Mp3 attached

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwdIjObuZ0U

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9P6D61L9b6Y

Review

Bio

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danny_O%27Keefe

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ragogna/scotty-mccreerys-christma_b_2255016.html

http://www.pauseandplay.com/a-special-wthat-where-the-heck-are-they-danny-okeefe/

Website

http://www.dannyokeefe.com/

Trivia

  • Danny O’Keefe – guitar, vocals /  Personnel: John Guerin – drums / Larry Knechtel – piano, bass /  Don Henley – drums, background vocals /  Bernie Leadon, Linda Ronstadt, Joyce Everson – background vocals /  Andrew Gold – piano /  Jim Fielder, Chuck Domanico – bass /  Gary Mallaber – drums /  Sneaky Pete Kleinow – pedal steel guitar /  John Boylan – mellotron /  Roger Kellaway – piano /  Tom Scott – woodwinds /  Richard Greene – violin /  David Grisman – mandolin /  Jimmy Bond – bass /  Larry Vanover – jug /  Glenn Frey – guitar /  Randy Meisner – bass /  David Lindley – lap steel guitar / John Boylan – producer
Posted in Americana, Country Rock, Singer Songwriter | Tagged | Leave a comment

JOE SOUTH – Don’t It Make You Want to Go Home? – (Capitol) – 1970

Joe South - Dont It Make You Want To Go Home

I'm excited.

Check my other comments in relation to Joe South's career and musical pedigree but I will say here that Joe's music fits into a genre that emerged in the late 1960s and which subsequently was called "white southern soul" or "country soul".

This genre was popularised (mainly) by Elvis Presley, Joe South and Tony Joe White but it can be found in contemporaneous recordings by Glen Campbell, Jerry Lee Lewis, John Hartford, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bobbie Gentry, Jerry Reed, Billy Joe Royal, Charlie Rich, Jeannie C Riley, Delaney & Bonnie, Bob Dylan and others.

The music was pop, country and rock but also soulful. Occasionally (perhaps because of the times) it was slightly trippy (and gently psychedelic). Lyrically the music leaned to introspection whilst also displaying some cynicism to social mores.

Joe South was the pinnacle of that writing style within the genre. On this, his second album, the liner notes (written by an unknown person) refer to that postion: "Joe believes that today, popular music is much more than entertainment. More, even, than a mirror of our times. It has become steadily more important, until now it is probably the most profound and significant means of communication between people. The ideas it contains and communicates are the dominant force in the development of tomorrow. In fact, popular music is making history. Literally. This is his viewpoint"

Musically, Joe South was more to the pop side of the country soul equation though his music is singularly distinctive. He (perhaps as a result of being a producer and session musician) liked to try new things in the studio. Accordingly, his music is quirky and occasionally jarring especially when a country pop song is followed by a psych trip out song. It was, perhaps, a reflection of the times but I'm sure it must have thrown off some people who bought his LPs.

People want a consistency of style in what they listen to. More often than not they want the album to sound like the hit single.

Joe South was never so obliging.

And, that is part of his genius. He has his sound but he likes mixing things up so that every time, you (or rather I) hear a new Joe South album I'm not sure what I will get.

His albums capture the stew that was mid 60s pop craft and gospel, late 60s rootsy country and psychedelia. The result is a perfect blend of tuneful melodies, reflective lyrics, funky guitars, regional accents, and soulful vocal performances.

It will be frequently great, sometimes magnificent but always, even at it's worst, consistently interesting.

Without a doubt, Joe South is the most important lost artist of the late 1960s, early 1970s.

Produced, arranged and written by Joe South.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Clock Up On The Wall - A good tune with some good lyrics reflecting on a love ended. There is a (little of) the sound of the late 60s Beach Boys here. In fact if you could picture Elvis singing for the Beach Boys it wouldn't be much different to this. There are some interesting studio tricks in here also. Excellent.
  • Bittersweet – a good pop tune with a melancholy (though not downbeat) point of view.
  • Shelter - another good pop song with a gospel chorus backing.
  • What Makes Lovers Hurt One Another? – a nice bass line with another gospel chorus. South's voice is almost drowned out as the song progresses which I think is intentional, as if, his voice and the chorus are the lovers fighting with each other.
  • Before It's Too Late – very late 60s in theme, "come on everybody let's get together" is the chorus …before "before it's too late" repeats and the song gets trippier.
  • Children  – some good lyrics about children and the modern age. Children being both kids and adults and adults who were kids …sharp.
  • Walk A Mile In My Shoes –  This is the song that introduced me to Joe South. I loved the Elvis Presley version (recorded by Elvis on 19 February 1970 and released on the "On Stage" (1970) album) and decided to tack down the original. Elvis is version was Vegas (and great) so this is a little more low key but the song is catchy with some very sharp (and pointed) lyrics.
  • Be A Believer –  a mid tempo lush ballad with gospel overtures.
  • A Million Miles Away – a funky swamp blues instrumental. This is just South and the band having fun. Picture Jerry Reed on acid and it may sound a little like this.
  • Don't It Make You Want To Go Home – A magnificent song with great lyrics. The narrator of the song wants to go home (home being as much his youth as a place) and yearns for it but finds that things have changed when he does return …

                        But there's a six-lane highway down by the creek

                        Where I went skinny-dippin' as a child

                        And a drive-in show where the meadows used to grow

                        And the strawberries used to grow wild

                       

                       There's a drag strip down by the riverside

                        Where my grandma's cow used to graze

                        Now the grass don't grow and the river don't flow

                        Like it did in my childhood days

                       

                        Don't it make you wanna go home?

                        Don't it make you wanna go home?

                        All God's children get weary when they roam

                        Don't it make you wanna, wanna go home?

And …

Excellent …. I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1970  Walk A Mile In My Shoes  The Billboard Hot 100  #12 

1970  Walk A Mile In My Shoes  Country Singles  #56 

1970  Walk A Mile In My Shoes  Adult Contemporary  #3 

1970  Why Does a Man Do What He Has to Do #118

Album

1970  Don't It Make You Want To Go Home?  Country Albums  #39 

1970  Don't It Make You Want To Go Home?  The Billboard 200  #60 

England

nothing

Sounds

Clock Up On The Wall

mp3 attached

Bittersweet

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RN21Fv7f9XQ

Shelter

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

Before It's Too Late

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

Children  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PClS1JrY4c0

Walk A Mile In My Shoes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=th-epsY-7mA

A Million Miles Away

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

Don't It Make You Want To Go Home

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBPBWLmF-W8

mp3 attached

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5znh58WITU8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvzGAW4BB34

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

sobering

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2xev6_uZ-Y

Covers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ov9fjaRZT4E

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcmnS_2buGA

Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/dont-it-make-you-want-to-go-home-mw0001879175

Bio

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/joe-south-mn0000171994

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

http://redkelly.blogspot.com.au/2012/09/joe-south-and-believers-shelter-capitol.html

http://doclawrencenews.blogspot.com.au/2012/09/joe-souths-georgia.html

Website

http://www.joesouth.com/

Trivia

  • Musicians: Backing Vocals  – Pee Wee Parks / Backing Vocals, Piano, Keyboards and Other Keyboard Instruments  – Barbara South / Bass, Backing Vocals – Eddie Farrell / Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals – Tommy South / Engineer, Mixed By – Bob "Tub" Langford
  • Strangely, the LP was credited to Joe South alone, whereas the single showed Joe South and The Believers.
  • There is an Australia compilation from 1984 (EMI Capitol SCA 260318) which has the same front and back sleeves and album title but is, actually, a compilation made up of all the tracks from the original album (minus "Shelter" and "A Million Miles Away" ) and adding another 12 songs.
  • Elvis trivia: Elvis recorded four lines of the song "Don't It Make You Wanna Go Home" live in concert, on Wednesday, 29 July 1970 following a "Little Sister/Get Back" medley.

 

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

BLUE ANGEL – Blue Angel – (Polydor) – 1980

Blue Angel - Sleeve

For my readers who say I don't comment on enough "recent" records, recent being the 1980s, I give you Cyndi Lauper. Well, Cyndi Lauper's first band.

And it's a rockabilly band!

Well, perhaps "rock revival" rather than the rockabilly they are often described as.

Now, anyone who was around in the 1980s, like myself, knows who Cyndi Lauper is, but I wasn't into her music so I'm sketchy on her musical pedigree and career.

Not surprisingly, the rockabilly revelation took me by surprise.

Wikipedia: "Blue Angel was a retro-rockabilly band that featured Cyndi Lauper before her rise to fame as a solo singer. The lineup also included John Turi on keyboard instrument and saxophone, Arthur "Rockin' A" Neilson (guitar), Lee Brovitz (bass guitar) and Johnny Morelli (drums). Lauper and Turi wrote the bulk of their material, and the group also covered pop standards, such as Mann/Weil's "I'm Gonna Be Strong" (which Lauper covered again in a 1994 album). Blue Angel was briefly popular on the New York club scene … The band reformed without Lauper in 1987 under the name "Boppin' the Blues." Lauper joined them on stage for a one-time performance at New York's Lone Star Cafe, singing a Big Mama Thornton song and That's Alright Mama. The band has since disbanded". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Angel_(band)

According to wikipedia's Cyndi Lauper entry: "In 1978, Lauper met saxophone player John Turi through her manager Ted Rosenblatt. Turi and Lauper formed a band named Blue Angel and recorded a demo tape of original music. Steve Massarsky, manager of The Allman Brothers Band,heard the tape and liked Lauper's voice. He bought Blue Angel's contract for $5,000 and became their manager …  Lauper received recording offers as a solo artist, but held out, wanting the band to be included in any deal she made. Blue Angel was eventually signed by Polydor Records and released a self-titled album on the label in 1980. Lauper hated the album cover, saying that it made her look like Big Bird, but Rolling Stone magazine later included it as one of the 100 best new wave album covers (2003). Despite critical acclaim, the album sold poorly (or " It went lead", as Lauper later joked.) and the band broke up. The members of Blue Angel had a falling out with Massarsky and fired him as their manager. He later filed an $80,000 suit against them, which forced Lauper into bankruptcy … After Blue Angel broke up and due to her financial problems, Lauper spent time working in retail stores, waitressing at IHOP (which she quit after being demoted to hostess when the manager made a pass at her), and singing in local clubs. Her most frequent gigs were at El Sombrero. Music critics who saw Lauper perform with Blue Angel believed she had star potential due to her four-octave singing range, and a unique vocal style. In 1981, while singing in a local New York bar, Lauper met David Wolff, who took over as her manager and had her sign a recording contract with Portrait Records, a subsidiary of Epic Records". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyndi_Lauper

And the rest is history

But, in 1980, Cyndi Lauper was struggling to make ends meet.

New York was going through a rock "n" roll and rockabilly revival which had hitched itself to the back of the musical New Wave. Robert Gordon and The Stray Cats (who had moved to England) were the highlights, though in other parts of the US, punk and new wave influenced rockabilly acts like The Cramps, Tav Falco's Panther Burns, The Blasters, and The Kingbees were also getting attention.

The scene had been bubbling away through the 70s but it really became commercially viable with the New Wave in the late 1970s.

Cyndi Lauper was in the right time and place with the right pedigree. Half Swiss German, half Italian Catholic and born in 1953 in Queens, New York she was perfectly suited to take advantage of the trend, and, more importantly, she could sing.

Her range is amazing.

However, without a feel for the music range doesn't mean much.

Cyndi has feel.

I suspect, much like fellow New Yorker David Johansen (born 1950), in her youth she soaked up the many musical sounds of New York which included rock n roll, Brill Building pop and doo wop, and channeled it into her music.

The sound here is more to the pop end of the rockabilly spectrum, with a big dose of early 60s Brill Building girl pop, but the music has energy (as it should have because it's of that era), catchy rhythms and a touch of quirkiness.

It's hard to listen to it without thinking about Cyndi, because here voice is so distinctive, but if you get past that (if that is a problem) then the album is worthwhile.

Some of the production is slick rather than retro and I think most Cyndi fans will think the sound recording is sub par. It certainly doesn't sound like here subsequent bop pop hits but that's what I like about it.

The album was produced by New Yorker Roy Halee , most associated with Simon & Garfunkel.

All songs written by Cyndi Lauper and John Turi except where noted.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Maybe He'll Know – Cyndi rerecorded the song for her "True Colors"(1987) album. Here it is a cross between Brill Building pop and contemporary (1980) pop. It works well and is sufficiently retro to appeal to me.
  • I Had a Love – more 60s pop
  • Fade – well sung and distinctly retro with nice 60s keyboards
  • Anna Blue – a slow saxy (and trying to be sexy) song.
  • Can't Blame Me – a mid tempo bouncy tune that's catchy.
  • Late - (Lauper, Turi, Brovitz) – the first straight rockabilly song which sounds a little like Fabian's "Tiger" (1959) at times and Johnny O'Keefe's "Wild One" (1958). It is very catchy and very 50s.
  • Cut Out – (Fowler, King, Mack) – Originally by Johnny and the Hurricanes from 1959 this is a faithful and well done quasi-instrumental.
  • Take a Chance – very much a 50s type of Elvis tune and not dissimilar to "(You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care" (1957)
  • Just the Other Day – an OK Brill Building type of New York street song that reminds one The Shirelles or The Ronnettes.
  • I'm Gonna Be Strong – (Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil) – Gene Pitney's #9 from 1964. There is only one Gene Pitney but Cyndi does the song well. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%27m_Gonna_Be_Strong
  • Lorraine – OK, but filler.
  • Everybody's Got an Angel – (Blue Angel, Gross) – Quite a contemporary tune and Cyndi really belts it out in her fashion.

And …

It's not a rockabilly revival masterpiece but it is perfect for my next, errr sock hop. And it's a good talking point  (if i could only find someone interested enough to talk about it) … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

Nothing (in the big markets)

Sounds

http://recordlective.com/Blue_Angel/Blue_Angel/aebb4b58-a154-36f1-ae3c-246481969f66/

Late

mp3 attached

I'm Gonna Be Strong (Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil)

Clip

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

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIb6AZdTr-A

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFq4E9XTueY

live bop

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qb7zoDD3CSI

Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/blue-angel-mw0000770882 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Angel_(Blue_Angel_album)

http://www.dustbury.com/music/bluangel.html

Bio

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Angel_(band)

http://lostbands.blogspot.com.au/2005/03/blue-angel-cyndi-lauper.html

http://www.last.fm/music/Blue+Angel/+images/5002195

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

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

Website

http://cyndilauper.com/

Trivia

  • Bass player Brovitz was briefly ion Chicago garage rockers The Shadows of Knight in the early 70s.

Blue Angel - Back Sleeve          Blue Angel - Australian Sleeve          Blue Angel - Sleeve post Lauper success

Blue Angel - Promo 01          Blue Angel - Promo 02          Blue Angel - Promo 03

Posted in Rockabilly and Rock n Roll | Tagged | Leave a comment

JIM KWESKIN – Side by Side – (Mountain Railroad Records) – 1979

Jim Kweskin - Side by Side

The beauty of listening to old school Americana, folk, Tin Pan Alley or the Great American songbook music is you don't have to worry about authorship.

Whether the artist wrote or didn't write the songs is second to the message and mood being conveyed.

A lot of the music comes from a time when music was a form of, err communication. Well, I suppose, it still is but way back when it was literally a form of communication … a way of telling people what was going on in the world (folk), expressing emotions (trad pop), showing a feeling (ragtime), or capturing a past (cowboy songs).

As a result, up till World War Two, song writing was more than a beat and a few snappy lines. The inherent communicative aspect of the songs made them especially evocative of their times and much more central to that community as a form of communication and entertainment.  There have been many pop songs since that can be dusted off and sung aging and that is a benefit, perhaps. But these pre-war tunes, despite being revived (especially in the late 50s and early 60s by rock and pop singers) are more locked in the times when they were written.

That's not to say these songs are dated. They aren't. The music is not any less worthwhile because, despite technology, the problems and emotions people sing about then still relate to now.

Right?

Well, if that isn't right we wouldn't be reading (or rather watching) Shakespeare or Tennessee Williams.

So what does it mean when a guy in 1979 (or even now) puts out an album like this where most of the songs are from  (or sound like they are from) another era?

It means the music is alive

Marginalised perhaps.

But alive.

And it is literally alive here, or rather live. This was recorded live at McCabe's, Santa Monica, California. And judging from the audience (and the thought to the song selection) the subjects of the pre-war songs was still relevant in 1979 and I would think they still are now.

You can listen to these tunes and they will still move you as any more recent music. Sure, if you haven't turned your ear to the music itself, you may have to try an little harder to acclimatise yourself to the music, but the emotional payoffs should be the same.

Also, to me, brought up on watching old black & white movies on Saturdays and Sundays on TV in the 70s and 80s, this music is a link to that past. I suppose, it is also a link further back to a past which I never knew (pre World War 2) which I understand through the prism of Hollywood films I watched.

Kweskin is an aficionado of all this music. Check my other comments for biographical details.

This is all second nature to him and he was in the right place and time.

The early to mid 70s saw a resurgence in this old-timey Americana from the 20s and 30s. Kweskin was active, as was Redbone and The Manhattan Transfer (slick vocal pop). "The Great Gatsby" (1974), "The Sting" (1973), "Nikelodeon" (1976), "Julia" (1977),  "Bound for Glory" about Wody Guthrie, and any number of gangster pics all looked back to that era with suitable music in place. "Ragtime" (1975) by E. L. Doctorow, "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight"  (1970) by Jimmy Breslin, "The Other" (1971) by Thomas Tryon, and other books were set in that era.

Kweskin just kept doing what he was doing.

He has made some concessions though. Kweskin was always quirky though not adverse to doing a song straight no matter how sentimental or sticky it may be. Here, his set is more straight than quirky, and he does not really explore his quirky side (with the exception of the song choices themselves).

He is in good voice and the small band behind him know exactly where his coming from , and going.

As an aside I note that Kweskin was, pretty much, always moustached. And it is fitting, here, that he is moustached given the hairy lip was in fashion in the 1970s as well as the 1920s and 1930s. Having said that Kweskin doesn't look like Burt Reynolds, Robert Redford, Errol Flynn or Clark Gable but rather like a migrant off a boat, Ellis Island circa 1929.

Perfect.

With the recent resurgence in Americana and old-timey music I hope that Kweskin has more bums on seats at his concerts. He is playing out there somewhere. Pokey La Farge and others are carrying the banner but I hope there is room for Kweskin.

Tracks (best in italics)

A lot of  discographies have the sides the wrong way around. Kweskin labels his record "left side" and "right side" rather than "side one" and "side two". But he is clearly being introduced at the start of "Goody Goody" which is the first song on the "Left side" which is also sometimes listed as "side one". The back sleeve has no discernable order to the songs.

  • Goody Goody  – (Matty Malneck / Johnny Mercer) – another trad pop classic, from 1936, covered by everyone and with a hit pop rock version by Frankie Lymon (1957). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goody_Goody
  • Side by Side  – (Harry Woods) – from 1927 this has become a standard with many covers. Kay Starr (1953), Dean Martin (1966), Trini Lopez (1965), Bruce Willis and Danny Aiello (for the Hudson Hawk movie soundtrack in 1991), Guy Mitchell (1952). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Side_by_Side_(1927_song)
  • It's a Sin to Tell a Lie  – (Billy Mayhew) – from 1936 this (beautiful song) was originally by Fats Waller (or maybe Freddy Ellis) and then done everywhere including a informal version by Elvis in 1966 which is based the Ink Spots version (1956 I think). Kweskin does it beautifully and gets the audience to participate.. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It%27s_a_Sin_to_Tell_a_Lie
  • Cieleto Lindo  – (Public Domain / Carlos Fernandez / Traditional) – an old Mexican song dating back to the 19th century but forever being revived. Kweskin doesn't sound remotely Latin (despite singing in Spanish) but I have always loved this song (even the Croatian version (!) I heard as a kid) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cielito_Lindo
  • Tumbling Tumbleweeds  – (Bob Nolan) – Done by everyone, always associated with the authors Sons of the Pioneers (1946), it was also done by Gene Autry (1935),  Bing Crosby (1940), Slim Whitman (1956), Michael Nesmith (1970),  Don Everly (1970) and the Meat Puppets (1982). Every version of this song is good and this one is no exception. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tumbling_Tumbleweeds
  • The Preacher and the Bear – (Joe Arzonia / Jim Kweskin) – Rustic and rural ("Grizzly Adams" was popular at the time) but obviously allegorical. A traditional done by everybody including Golden Gate Quartet (1937),  New Christy Minstrels (1962), and Jerry Reed (1971)
  • Papa's on the Housetop  – (Leroy Carr) – a blues dating back to 1930. This is a gentle stomp.
  • On the Sunny Side of the Street  – (Dorothy Fields / Jimmy McHugh) – done by everyone (I mean everyone) this is a beautifully optimistic song (which is also often used as irony) with some of the most sublime lyric written. And who doesn't know that melody? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Sunny_Side_of_the_Street
  • Ain't Misbehavin'  – (Harry Brooks / Andy Razaf / Fats Waller) – the legendary old school, trad jazz song, originally from 1929. Kweskin does the long instrumental intro like on the pre-war versions of the song. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ain%27t_Misbehavin%27_(song)
  • Sweet Sue, Just You  – (Will J. Harris / Victor Young) – Originally from 1928. Kweskin is unabashedly romantic here. Gritty, but romantic. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_Sue,_Just_You

And …

Beautiful and it may work at dinner parties, if you are serving boiled potatoes and cabbage …. I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

none

Sounds

It's a Sin to Tell a Lie

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

Tumbling Tumbleweeds

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-VnSOYZa9w

Papa's on the Housetop

Recent live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZsK2KRenmQ

On the Sunny Side of the Street

mp3 attached

Sweet Sue, Just You 

mp3 attached

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9LGruqQcUc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUeuj41dXF4

Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/side-by-side-mw0000654284

Bio

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/jim-kweskin-mn0000345596/biography

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

http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/music/2013/08/22/the-jim-kweskin-jug-band-celebrates-its-anniversary/Oqomz2ClmAWLuRR7hEhoSO/story.html

Website

http://jimkweskin.com/  

Trivia

  • The angsty rock kid in me has to take a back seat here because there is some merit to this position from youtuber Austin Casey, talking about authorship of The Ink Spots song "It's a Sin To Tell a Lie", "The Ink Spots did NOT write their own music Lol. Hardly anyone back then wrote their own music… the music industry was totally different then. Up until about the 60's most songs were written by songwriters and the artists would choose which they liked best. THAT is why music was so much better then… because music was only written by people who knew music… not just some teenagers who only know 3 chords on the Guitar. This whole idea of "writing your own music" is only good when you can actually write good music. Most artists cant."
  • The back sleeve is a humorous dress up to each of the songs.
  • The venue for this live record was McCabe's Guitar store which is still going and putting on shows. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCabe's_Guitar_Shop
  • The band was: Jim Kweskin (guitar, banjo, vocal) with Richard Guerin (mandolin, guitar, fiddle, vocal), Terry Bernhard (piano, harmony vocal), Etta Russell(cello, guitarone)

Jim Kweskin - Side by Side - back

Posted in Americana, Folk, Popular & Crooners | Tagged | 1 Comment

HAWKS – 30 Seconds Over Otho – (Columbia) – 1982

Hawks - 30 Seconds Over Otho

I have spoken about power pop before in this blog. I have commented on it's history, on it's pedigree, on it's popularity. But, what really becomes noticeable when discussing power pop LPs is it's universal regionality, if that phrase makes any sense.

Bands across the US (and England and Australia) away from the hip scenes of New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco (or London and Sydney) regularly picked up their instruments and pounded out tunes that were new but not so new that rock fans would be thrown off. The songs had to trigger something in the collective historical rock n roll memory and be danced to, not thought about.

Sure there were power pop bands from Los Angeles and New York like The Knack, The Plimsouls and Dirty Looks but that was nothing compared to the bands from the "regions" …

Cheap Trick from Rockford, Illinois , Dwight Twilley Band from Tulsa Oklahoma, The Cars from Boston, The Romantics from Detroit, Pezband from Oak Park, Illinois, 20/20 from Tulsa, Oklahoma, The As fron Philadelphia, Clocks from Wichita, Kansas, D.L. Byron  from New Jersey etc etc

Power pop is  the music of the nowhere, and everywhere.

I suspect power pop in some form was always out there in the suburbs or in the backwaters, in the mid sized towns that dot the landscape between the capitols. Bands in the backwaters didn't have access to fantastic recording facilities, walls of horns and strings, magnificent venues or access to promotion facilities.

And, importantly they had to pay the bills.

I'm sure their rock n roll was the rock n roll of survival. It was about earning a wage, getting a girl (or girls), and having a good time.

It is the music of dances, drinks, live concerts, Friday and Saturday nights and doing as much as you can before everything (life) explodes on you.

The music was new but old. Check out my other comments but you can trace the music back to the 60s and perhaps back to the late 50s.  The music was always there biting at the heels of self importance that seems to take over rock like a reoccurring flu. Before the resurgence in the late 70s there had been Big Star(from Memphis), The Raspberries (from ), The Flaming Groovies (from San Francisco) and many bands in-between.

And like many other musicians from the regions who had been plugging away for years, the new wave gave them that second chance in the form of power pop.

I had said this before

I have always had a soft spot for powerpop (though with reservations) mainly because any music that is short, sharp and jagged is worth a listen. And in the 70s awash with disco funk excess, prog rock excess , saccharine Eagles pseudo country rock excess, bloated glam rock excess and nauseating world music excess, powerpop filled the rock void until the rise of punk.

Punk it isn't but rock in a youthful, jubilant way it is, and that's enough. It's easy to see how it was incorporated into punk and the New Wave.

The 20 something Hawks from Fort Dodge, Iowa fit the definition.

wikipedia: "Frank Wiewel and Kirk Kaufman met in junior high school in Fort Dodge, Iowa, during the 1960s. This eventually led to the formation of the group West Minist’r, a popular group during the late 1960s to early 1970s … until its demise in 1974. Kaufman, Wiewel, Keith Brown and Arnie Bode opened West Minist’r Sound in 1972. Housed in a brick chicken coop that the band had used for practice, this Tom Hidley- designed space was located on Kaufman’s parent’s farm outside of Otho, Iowa … Both Wiewel and Kaufman continued writing and recording during the 1970s. By 1979 Wiewel had recorded several tracks that his wife encouraged him to send out to various record labels … they sealed the deal with Columbia. The only immediate stipulation made by Columbia was that the group’s name be changed. Wiewel had sent the demos out using the name Nighthawks. Using the first letters of their last names, it was decided to just shorten the name to Hawks".

A lot of power pop enthusiasts love the Hawks debut LP. I haven't heard it so I can't say. The general criticism is that this sophomore album is not as enthralling or power pop as their debut. They made compromises to commerciality ant AOR (album oriented rock).

But, if the songs and music is good then , perhaps, it doesn't matter.

Their first album, didn't sell and, like many bands signed by the major labels at the time you only had a couple of albums to prove (read – make big  sales) yourself.

The Hawks are slick (this album was recorded in LA), and their music can be quite anthemic but their power pop sensibility is there in every song. The songs are well crafted (four of the five band members write) and hit all the genre motifs. Their sound recalls  Cheap Trick, Dwight Twilley, Badfinger, Rick Springfield and Todd Rundgren.

The music is a little familiar (power pop by it's nature tends to be a limited genre regardless of how joyous and exhilarating it is) but the songs are well crafted and well played.

The album still didn't sell … what is regional success doesn't always translate into national success. There are too many factors working against a band ….

"It's a long way to the top it you want to rock n roll"

Columbia let the band go after this second album and they split up. (there was a "Two Album Deal" curse in the '80s …)

I'm not sure if they are referencing Jefferson Airplanes 1973 live album "Thirty Seconds Over Winterland" or the Spencer Tracy 1944 war film "30 Seconds over Tokyo" in the title which also refers to their recording origins.

Check my other entires for definitions of power pop

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Tonight You Are Mine – (Steen/Kaufman) – a big sound but a good balance between classic power pop and AOR.
  • Somewhere in the Night - (Hearn) – A big song and very catchy. Even the synths (and Meatloaf references) don't ruin it. It's a slippery slope from here to REO Speedwagon though.
  • (If We Just) Stick Together – (Steen) – a great Springsteen-ish song .. not surprisingly there is (distinctive) saxophone by Clarence Clemons of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band.
  • Nobody Loses Tonight – (Steen) – a fitting anthem to be played at any dance. It sounds a little Dwight Twilley-esque to me. And, there is nothing wrong with that.
  • Angel – (Kaufman) – a touch of The Beatles and Badfinger here.
  • The Great Divide – (Hearn) – Great fun
  • Don’t Walk Away – (Hearn) – a little more sedate but catchy.
  • Black and White – (Wiewel/Steen) – catchy and quite busy.
  • Listen to Her Sing – (Steen) – the obligatory love ballad though this is a mid-tempo one with beautiful chorused backing vocals
  • Call On Me – (Harders/Kopp) – a cover. Originally released in 1977 by German pop band "Sunrise". Pure pop .. and extremely catchy.

And …

A minor masterpiece of the genre … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

Nothing no where

Sounds

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUbs1PVCEtM

Tonight You Are Mine

mp3 attached

(If We Just) Stick Together

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7iMtUOX9ny8

Nobody Loses Tonight

mp3 attached

Black and White

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGudtD7t7FU

Call On Me – (Harders/Kopp) -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGyHDez_NJ4

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nY0X7Wdx6UQ

Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/30-seconds-over-otho-mw0000922357

Bio

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

https://www.iowarocknroll.com/inductees/174/the-hawks/

http://www.myfortdodge.com/profiles/blogs/the-hawks

Website

Trivia

  • Produced by John Ryan … (Badfinger, Styx, Allman Brothers Band etc)  http://chicagokidrecords.com/discography/
  • A third album, " Perfect World Radio", came out in 2003 which was compiled with the assistance of the band, and features various demos and unreleased tracks including material they were putting together for a new album in 1983 .
Posted in Power Pop | Tagged | 1 Comment

JOHNNY RIVERS – Slim Slo Rider – (Imperial) – 1970

Johnny Rivers - Slim Slo Rider - (Imperial) - 1970

I like Johnny Rivers but, to be fair, he always seemed to have an eye on what was happening around him. Most musicians do I suspect, well at least those who want some commercial success do.

It would be reasonable for a cynical voice to say that River's style hopping was more calculated than sincere. I choose not to believe this but say that even if this was true, who cares, the  guy has got great taste.

This album is of its time.

1970

Rivers embraces country rock, Jesus rock, Van Morrison, a beard and introspection. But, always the rock n roller at heart, he recruits most of Elvis Presley's' TCB band (that Elvis had put together in mid 1969) to play session for him … as well as most of "The Wrecking Crew" musicians.

Rivers could write a tune but was happier relying on other peoples songs. His skilled lied in interpretation and in subsuming the song into his musical personality without losing whatever made them distinctive or appealing in the first place. And, the songs are, I assume, carefully chosen and by and large he stays away from singles and goes for album tracks.

Here, clearly, he has become obsessed with quiet introspection and rural vibes as channelled through Van Morrison and Gram Parsons. Morrison's "Slim Slow Rider" from his "Astral Weeks" (1968) album is recorded twice and gives the album it's name (albeit as "Slim Slo Rider"). Rivers also covers his "Into the Mystic" which was on Morrison's "Moondance" (1970) album. He also covers two Gram Parsons songs (interestingly Gram Parsons, an Elvisophile  himself, was to use the line up Rivers has here for his "GP" (1973) and "Grievous Angel" (1974) albums.

He also covers a couple of James Kendricks songs who had worked with Rivers before (and would again). Kendricks isn't as well known as Morrison or Parsons but was known and was a friend of Rivers. On his "Realization" (1968) album comment I said "Rivers co-songwriter, rhythm guitarist and, no doubt, kindred sprit (given they were friends) on this album was James Hendricks. Hendricks had a folk background having been in The Big Three with Tim Rose and a pre-Mamas and the Papas Cass Elliot. In between a stop start solo career he was also in The Mugwumps with Mama Cass, Zal Yanovsky and Denny Doherty before Mama Cass and Doherty went to The Mamas and the Papas and Yanovsky went to The Lovin Spoonful"

Rivers is quiet and thoughtful on this set and like a lot of people on the west coast he started to embrace different philosophies whilst thinking about the "bigger picture".

“I started becoming introspective and searching for God around ’67 or ’68,” Rivers recalled. “I had joined some yoga groups and was studying a lot of Eastern teachings. I was caught up in that whole movement and I guess it came out in my music". http://www.todayschristianmusic.com/artists/johnny-rivers/features/on-the-road-of-life/

What he has done is make all the songs pop and soul. Strings and horns are added, and not is a cloying or obvious way. This, in his hands is no longer rural, ragged (Gram), spectral, jazzy (Van). It is radio friendly MOR but good MOR.

The sounds are lush and the playing as you would expect is beautiful. Rivers nasal delivery works well and at times on occasion he sounds a little like Gene Clark

Lou Adler produced with Rivers.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Slim Slow Slider – (Van Morrison) – another song about a drug pusher. Originally done by Van Morrison on his "Astral Weeks" (1968) album. This is acoustic intro to the song which is then done again at the end of the album.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slim_Slow_Slider
  • Wrote a Song for Everyone – (John Fogerty) – From the Creedence Clearwater Revival  "Green River " (1969) album. It's good hearing the CCR song in a big production setting.
  • Muddy River – (James Hendricks) – Hendricks wrote "Summer Rain," which had been a hit single (#14) for Rivers (who produced his debut "Songs Of James Hendricks" 1968 LP).  This song subsequently came out on Hendricks self titled 1971 LP.
  • Rainy Night in Georgia – (Tony Joe White) – written by Tony Joe White in 1962 and popularized by R&B vocalist Brook Benton in 1970 (#4). Rivers gives a big cover and it comes off really well. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainy_Night_in_Georgia
  • Brass Buttons – (Gram Parsons) –  "Brass Buttons" dated from Parsons' brief stint as a Harvard-based folksinger in the mid-1960s. It subsequently came out on Gram's 1974 LP, "Grievous Angel". This is a beautiful song with great, delicate lyrics. This is the first cover of "Brass Buttons" which went ton to become a favourite.
  • Glory Train – (James Hendricks) –  Another song from Hendricks that came out on Hendricks self titled 1971 LP. This one has obvious religious references.
  • Jesus Is a Soul Man – (Jack Cardwell / Lawrence Reynolds) –  The original single by Lawrence Reynolds came out in 1969 (#28). This is a mid tempo rocker celebrating Jesus. Some great guitar by James Burton. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Is_a_Soul_Man
  • Apple Tree – (Gram Parsons) –  Rivers cut this unrecorded Parsons song . I'm not sure how he got hold of it . It is a wistful tune.
  • Into the Mystic – (Van Morrison) – from Van's "Moondance" (1970) LP.   More great guitar from Burton and a good performance by Rivers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Into_the_Mystic
  • Resurrection – (Bob Ray) – Los Angeles psych-folkie Bob Ray was signed to Johnny Rivers' Soul City label and this song first appeared on  his 1968 release "Initiation of a Mystic"
  • Enemies and Friends – (Scott McKenzie) –  from Mackenzie's "Stained Glass Morning" (1970) album. More religious overtones. A good song.
  • Slim Slow Slider – (Van Morrison) –  a reprise of the title track with the full band … and a great performance.

And …

Slick and groovy …. I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1969  Muddy River  The Billboard Hot 100  #41 

1970  Into The Mystic  The Billboard Hot 100  #51

Album

1970 #100

England

Sounds

http://recordlective.com/Johnny_Rivers/Slim_Slo_Slider/2985e7d1-76fe-3718-b0bf-1d579aece12d/

Rainy Night in Georgia

mp3 attached

Apple Tree

mp3 attached

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xCIDwC3CwI

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

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

Review

Bio

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

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

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

Website

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

http://www.james-burton.net/

Trivia

 

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

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

Trini Lopez - More Trini Lopez at PJs

I'm in a rush.

Trini, Johnny, Melanie?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still, your feet will tap.

Produced by Don Costa.

Tracks (best in italics)

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

And …

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

Chart Action

US

Singles

1964  Kansas City  The Billboard Hot 100  #23 

Album

1964 #11

England

Singles

Album

1963 #35

Sounds

Oh, Lonesome Me

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

Never On Sundays

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

Corazon De Melón (Watermelon Heart)

Live

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

Lonesome Traveller

Live

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

Yeah

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

Kansas City

mp3 attached

                                           

Others

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

Review

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

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

Bio

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

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

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

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

Website

http://www.trinilopez.com/

Trivia

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

LONE JUSTICE – Shelter – (Geffen) – 1986

lone justice - shelter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It has sat there till now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tracks (best in italics)

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

And …

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

Chart Action

US

Singles

1986 Shelter – Mainstream Rock Tracks #26

1987 Shelter –  The Billboard Hot 100 #47

Album

1987 #65

England

Singles

1987 I Found Love #45

Album

1986  #84

Sounds

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

I Found Love

Clip

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

Shelter 

Clip

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

Inspiration

Mp3 attached

Dixie Storms

Mp3 attached

Others

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

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

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

doing Creedence Clearwater

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

with John Cougar

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bio

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

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

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

a visual bio

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

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

Website

http://mariamckee.org/default.htm

Trivia

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

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

Posted in Alt Country | Tagged | Leave a comment

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

Sue Saad and the Next - Self Titled

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good for them.

Sue Saad and the Next are one of those.

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

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

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

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

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

To music execs it all sounded the same.

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

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

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

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

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

Tracks (best in italics)

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

And …

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

Chart Action

US

Singles

1980 Won't Give it Up # 107 

Album

1980 #131

England

Others

1980 "Young Girl" # 20 (Netherlands)

Album

Sounds

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

Young Girl

live

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

mp3 attached

I I Me Me

Mp3 attached

Others

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

Review

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

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

Bio

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

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

Website

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

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

Trivia

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