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

Steve Forbert - Streets of This Town

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

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

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

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

Why?

He was the victim of a strange voodoo curse.

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

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

I blinked and the fucker was gone.

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

Hold on, Steve Forbert.

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

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

A pity.

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

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

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

And now ….

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

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

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

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

And I'm happy I still have it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tracks (best in italics)

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

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

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

And …

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

Nothing no where
 
Sounds

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

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

Steve Forbert – I Blinked Once

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

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

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

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

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

Bio

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

Website

http://www.steveforbert.com/

Trivia

 

Steve Forbert - Streets of This Town - back

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

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

Paul Revere - Collage

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

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

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

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

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

They had failed to engage the public.

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

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

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

They were his strengths.

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

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

The album sank.

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

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

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

And it works.

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

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

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

Still it wasn't enough

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

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

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

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

Tracks (best in italics)

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

And …

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

Album
1970 #154

England

nothing
 
Sounds

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

Dr. Fine
mp3 attached

Raiders – Dr Fine

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

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

Review

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

Bio

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

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

Website

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

Trivia

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

PAUL COLLINS’ BEAT – The Kids Are The Same – (Columbia) – 1982

Beat - The Kids Are the Same

I've commented on The Beat's other album, their debut, from 1979.

And the comments there could largely apply to this album.

Which means this is a splendid slice of power pop , which by it's nature is visceral, rarely dull, totally infectious and fun.

See my other comment for biographical details on Paul Collins and the Beat and on power pop generally.

In the two years between the debut and this follow up The Beat had become Paul Collins' Beat. This was not an act of  narcissism but rather a means of distinguishing the band from the English ska act The Beat. Ironically, in the US the English Beat were called, errr "The English Beat".

Follow up albums (or sophomore albums as the Americans refer to them) are always difficult creatures. It goes without saying that most bands put everything good they have into their debut album meaning that material for a follow up is either scarce, of inferior quality, rushed, hasty, or otherwise lacking. Of course when you have a master tunesmith or a band with a deep well of material the second album can work but the pitfalls remain.

With indie bands there is a further difficulty. If the first album received critical or popular acclaim there is a tendency (on behalf of the major label to who they have been or are newly signed to) to slick up the production and make the sound more mainstream, bigger and potentially more marketable to the broader audience.

The danger here is that the band loses what it had and still doesn't reach a wider audience.

Mainstream labels who have signed indie bands from their debut or on the strength of their debut are rarely a nurturing lot and look at the bottom line which is money and a return on investment. It's fair to say that most indie bands who have got the goods musically have those difficulties above and only last two albums.

Paul Collin's Beat fall into that position perfectly.

This album isn't as good as it's debut though it does have many joys. It's sound is bigger, slicker and less immediate though, again, it has it's joys. But, it failed to sell so The Beat were dropped by their label.

Paul Collins went on to a marginal indie career but the shot t the big time had come to an end.

It's a pity because the album has its, as I have said, joys and it's better than a lot of other music circa 1982.

Featuring regular bassist Steve Huff, Alice Cooper (and Elton John)  drummer Dennis Conway and Milk 'N' Cookies guitarist Larry Whitman. The album was produced by Bruce Botnick, (famous for his work with The Doors, Love, Marvin Gaye, Tim Buckley, Buffalo Springfield and The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds album).

Tracks (best in italics)

  • That's What Life Is All About  - A genuinely catchy song in a Buddy Holly (and Dwight Twilley) fashion although I would have liked it a little more up front and sharp.
  • Dreaming  – quite slick
  • On The Highway  – not really power pop but quite a stunning piece of moody Americana rock like a cross between Bruce Springsteen and The Flamin Groovies.
  • Will You Listen  – a thumping power pop ride.
  • Crying Won't Help  – wow, one foot in the early 60s – not so mush in sound but in mood and lyrics this summons up those pre Beatles American teen heartthrobs as well as the very early Beatles themselves.
  • The Kids Are The Same  – another great power pop tune which could be a template for the sound.
  • Trapped  – so so. Collins is a good vocalist (though he is perhaps limited to what he loves) but sometimes they need to bring him up front a little.
  • It's Just A Matter Of Time  – Dull though there is a hint of English new wave power pop in there.
  • Met Her Yesterday  – hmmm
  • I Will Say No  – a return to catchy power pop with the usual power pop boy loves girl theme on display.

And …

Fark … the album is actually half great and it's as if it was sequenced that way. The first half is killer and then it seems to lose steam …. still, it better than most, I'm keeping it.
 
Chart Action
 
Nothing no where
 
Sounds

http://recordlective.com/The_Beat/The_Kids_Are_The_Same/832fd251-790f-314a-a882-d63185822e6c/

That's What Life Is All About 
Live recently
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvJ-6M-g23I
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08ZuDgEM79w

On The Highway 
Live
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uoCs-qDTaog

Will You Listen 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jk-51F2ZQrc

mp3 attached

Beat – Will You Listen

The Kids Are The Same 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDACzpbaLJo

Others
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cEvEUKN4Fw
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WC_gdIRsuA
 
recently
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_qnA4AgvjA

Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/the-kids-are-the-same-mw0000176685
http://negligibleinterest.blogspot.com.au/2012/03/paul-collins-beat-kids-are-same.html
http://digivinyltal.blogspot.com.au/2009/05/paul-collins-beat-1981-kids-are-same.html

Bio

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Beat_(American_band)
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-beat-p14801
http://www.punkglobe.com/paulcollinsinterview0809.html

Website

http://www.thepaulcollinsbeat.com/
http://graphikdesigns.free.fr/paul-collins-beat-pop-rock.html
http://www.myspace.com/paulcollinsbeat

Trivia

  • Wikipedia: "Portions of the album The Kids Are The Same were recorded in 1980 at Twentieth Century Fox Music Scoring Stage during a Musician's Union strike against the motion-picture and television industries. The Beat is quite possibly the only Rock and Roll group to record in this historic studio".
Posted in Power Pop | Tagged | Leave a comment

COUNTRY JOE McDONALD – Love is a Fire – (Fantasy) – 1976

country joe mcdonald - love is a fire

Allmusic: "A native of Washington, D.C., McDonald grew up in El Monte, CA, a suburb of Los Angeles, where his parents, Florence and Worden, had moved to escape political difficulties in the capital city. Music played an important role through McDonald's childhood, and he attended many concerts at El Monte Legion Stadium; after becoming enchanted by Dixieland music, he frequented the Lighthouse Club in Hermosa Beach.

At the age of 17, McDonald enlisted in the U.S. Navy. Following his discharge after three years, he attended City College in Los Angeles for a year. Although he moved to Berkeley to continue his schooling, McDonald was distracted by his love of music and spent most of his time playing in bands like the Berkeley String Quartet and the Instant Action Jug Band, which included future bandmate Barry Melton.

McDonald continued to be active in politics in the mid-'60s, and published a left-wing magazine, Rag Baby. After publishing the first few issues of the magazine, McDonald conceived the idea of recording a special "talking" issue. Released as an EP, the issue featured two songs, "I Feel Like I'm Fixing to Die Rag," a Dixieland-like indictment of the Vietnam War, and "Superbird," a satire aimed at President Lyndon Johnson; both were credited to "Country Joe & the Fish." Following the completion of the project, McDonald and Melton agreed to form a more serious rock band.

With McDonald's political lyrics set to a dynamic rock beat, Country Joe & the Fish became popular in the San Francisco Bay area, performing frequently at the Jabberwocky coffeehouse in Berkeley and the Avalon and Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco".

Country Joe was 34 in 1976.

The Vietnam War had ended, racial integration (on paper) had occurred, women had become liberated (at least white middle class women), the new generation had become (arguably) more self indulgent than the last, those in authority were never going to be held (automatically) in esteem, and the 60s were uncool.

What was left for a political, hippie hipster, radical, folkie who epitomised the militant 1960s and who sang uncompromising songs of rebellion, emancipation and liberation to do?

Make an album of love songs?

Yes, and why not, the music stars of the 60s that had something to say about America were finding the going tough.

Dylan was on the verge of turning to God, Phil Ochs had (seemingly) killed himself, Arlo Guthrie couldn't sell a record, Jefferson Airplane became Jefferson Starship, The Byrds had broken up (for the last time), Lou Reed had been forgotten and was putting out "Metal Machine Music", Iggy Pop was battling drug demons, the MC5 had either scattered on were in jail, Brian Wilson was a virtual recluse.

Yes, but, Country Joe doing love songs?

The concept isn't all that silly. Country Joe could turn directions on a dime and the love song, in the US popular music songbook, is a subject matter as old, no, older, than all other themes.

And if there was one thing that Country Joe understood it was American popular music songbbook.

Country Joe's solo career, as I have commented on before,  seems to get overlooked in relation to his career as lead in Country Joes & The Fish.

And, to make things worse (or perhaps not surprisingly so), Country Joe's later solo career is even more over looked that his earlier solo career,

Try googling a review of this album or any of the late 70s albums and you won't find much out there.

McDonald had dabbled with but formally went solo in the early 70s.

Initially he took up where Country Joe & The Fish left off (though there were exceptions)…. strident, confrontational songs about the world.

After a half dozen albums he wasn't selling. The appeal of a love song album in this context didn't seem a bad idea. It's not as if he hadn't written love songs before and he had a deep knowledge of the great American songbook and the songwriters of the pre rock era.

And what would have been a good idea would have been to put out an album of newly written old timey love songs and bite into the market that Jim Kweskin and Leon Redbone  had (an admittedly small market).,

But Country Joe instead put out this album.

This is, variously, folk, American songbook, MOR, soft rock, and even light disco.

WTF?

It's like Country Joe was trying to reinvent himself and get everyone to forget his past.

He is now a singer of love songs.

The trouble is that, though thematically it's about love, stylistically it's all over the place. There are some contemporary (circa 1976) music styles that just don't suit Country Joe (or his voice).

What keeps it together (just) is the fact that Country Joe's does it straight but you KNOW it's Country Joe.

Joe's love songs never hit the truth or any depth on love in it's many facets but his slightly surreal world view (something that goes back to The Fish days) makes the songs, …. err interesting.

There was no market for this.

No surprises there.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • It Won't Burn – horns, like bad Philly soul, punctuate a generally silly song with nothing to say. "Love is a flame that keeps us warm" …indeed.
  • You're The Song  -  70s backing vocals and bland lyrics in this MOR tune.
  • In Love Naturally  – this works as if references back to country folk.
  • Oh, No    – this is just plain weird and more than a little dull.
  • Baby, Baby  - Country Joe moves into Seals & Croft territory and it's not too bad but you don't expect it.
  • True Love At Last    – more MOR with a slight Poco vibe. Not too bad.
  • Who´s Gonna Fry Your Eggs  – A old school old timey love song. "Who's gonna fry your eggs when your hair is grey". A very relevant question, and a good song.
  • Colortone  – I'm not sure what this is.
  • I Need You (This And That)   – some of the cheesiest lyrics this side of John Sebastian but it is so silly it is thoroughly engaging.
  • Love Is A Fire – Country Joe goes 70s funky …. wtf.

And …

This is not a success but it won't take up much space on the shelf between the other Country Joe albums. …. I'm keeping it.
 
Chart Action
 
Nothing no where
 
Sounds

Who´s Gonna Fry Your Eggs   
mp3 attached

Country Joe McDonald – Who's Gonna Fry Your Eggs

Love Is A Fire
Live
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J93R7R-U-cI

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARZMY35TH4c
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41q4p0UyZAA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hs4s7LrAuMo
 
Review

 
Bio

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/country-joe-mcdonald-p103837
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Country_Joe

Country Joe & The Fish

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/country-joe–the-fish-p25282
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Country_Joe_and_the_Fish

Website

http://www.countryjoe.com/

Trivia

 

Posted in Singer Songwriter, Soft Rock | Tagged | Leave a comment

KARLA DEVITO – Is this a Cool World or What? – (Epic) – 1981

Karla DeVito - Is This a Cool World or What

What do you do if you have been slogging it out for many years as a backing vocalist for all sorts of acts and then you finally get your big break yo record an album but the sounds you have been singing are "old hat"?

You take a good look around, listen to what's going on and proceed full steam ahead making sure to hedge your bets.

Will this work?

Of course it will that's what hedging your bets is about. But the return is usually a little less than normal.

And that is Karla's album.

Karla was born in 1953 in Mokena, Illinois and "attended Lincoln-Way High School in New Lenox, Illinois. In her senior year, Karla appeared in the high school's production of "Brigadoon" and "The Odd Couple". She was also runner-up to the Homecoming Queen.

At Loyola University Chicago, she majored in theatre. During her freshman year, she joined the Chicago cast of "Godspell." In 1971-72 Karla studied with Jo Forsberg at Second City Company in Chicago and was part of the Second City Children's Theatre group, with Bill Murray and many other improvisational actors. In 1973, she was in the cast of the popular play Hair.

She subsequently sang with Meat Loaf, on the Bat out of Hell tour (and also performed lip sync to Ellen Foley's vocals in the music videos). Karla then contributed background vocals for such groups as Blue Öyster Cult and the Sorrows. Later she became a solo performer in her own right and opened for such prominent artists as Hall & Oates and Rick Springfield, as well as headlining solo concerts at New York's The Bottom Line". (wikipedia)

She was also one of the vocalists in the rock n roll, come Broadway, come theatrical band "Orchestra Luna" in the mid 1970s.

She finally got a chance to record her first album, this one, in 1981 and the music world around her had changed.

She (or her producer or label) did what they always do and forged ahead… 

Throw in a few of songs with the new sound, a few in the old sound, a few covers and we should be muster a hit.

Not such luck – this album tanked.

But this is unfair as the album is (in part) quite good, and occasionally great.

Karla can sing.

Think Cyndi Lauper but with less pop and more rock or Olivia Newton-John with more grit.

There is also some Lesley Gore, Go-Gos, Ann Wilson, Pat Benetar  and Ellen Foley in there

Karla's voice is powerful and quite distinctive and ballsy. Her strength surely comes from singing her lungs out on stage in musicals.

Fuck, I will say it again …. this chick can sing ….

But … the material is variable.

Oh, and she is quite "foxy" – is that the correct 1981 expression for a girl who is a babe? She comes across on the sleeve as if Kate Bush if she was invaded by Cyndi Lauper …. I would like to be there for that.

I love the hooker aerobics instructor outfit …

It's a pity Karla never really caught on – I believe marriage and lack of subsequent label push stalled her career.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Cool World - (D Lawson, G Mundt, Karla DeVito) – Trying to be very "new wave" with keyboards, doubling echo and "edgy" lyrics this is naff but it actually grows on you. It's one of those songs you could hear as a "new wave" song on a Hollywood teen film from the 80s.
  • I Can't Stand To Reminisce – (P. Glenister) – standard pop trying to be power pop. Writer Glennister was a member of London power pop new wave band "The Hitmen": in the early 80s. he went on to session for everyone. http://www.discogs.com/artist/112093-Pete-Glenister
  • Heaven Can Wait – (J Steinman) -  This is a throwback to the 70s – naturally enough written by Jim Steinman…and recorded by Meatloaf for his monster selling " Bat Out of Hell" in 1977. It is melodramatic and overwrought as you thought it would be
  • Midnight Confession - (L Josie) -  a #5 hit for The Grass Roots in 1968. Karla has updated the song from it's psych pop roots but it still works …this is big new wave pop for the mainstream.
  • Big Idea – (D Lawson) -  Danny Lawson is Karla's song writing partner. The sound is big and it's a fair approximation of what the mainstream thought the new wave was about. That doesnt mean it's bad
  • Almost Saturday Night - (J.C. Fogerty) -  from John Fogerty's self title album of 1978 (the song was released as a single and went to #78 in the US). WTF? Why would Karla record this.? I don't care I love this song and Karla sings the hell out of it. There is no danger in Karla's Saturday night as there was in Fogarty's but you know this girl is going to party regardless. Excellent.
  • Boy Talk - (D Lawson) -  Pop rock with a hint of the new wave.
  • Just One Smile – (R Newman) -  Randy Newman wrote this song, and Gene Pitney recorded it in 1966 (#8). It was recorded later by Dusty Springfield, Scott Walker, Blood, Sweat & Tears and others. Not too bad …
  • I'm Just Using You – (M Briley) -  Englishman, Martin Briley played with Mandrake and Greenslade in the 60s and 70s before moving to New York and doing session work (and obviously writing)
  • Work – (D Lawson, Karla DeVito, P Jacobs) -  an inordinate number of new wave songs were about "work" or rather the disenchantment with it.
  • Bloody Bess – (Karla DeVito) -  a song about a female pirate which is clearly, lyrically and musically, trying to be a Jime Steinman song. This is ridiculous…but it almost works.
  • Just Like You – (Karla DeVito) – the obligatory chick ballad. Not too bad.

And …

This is not to bad …. I don't really have enough rock chicks in my collection or even pop rock chicks …..hmmm, decisions, decisions.
 
Chart Action
 
Nothing no where

Sounds

Cool World
Videoclip
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeQEEA-Mg-8
Live
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1iiRAJAMkc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOYiQNXju18

Almost Saturday Night
Mp3 attached

Karla DeVito – Cool World

Most of the songs can be found done live for her MTV Rockin New Years 1982 concert:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnEgT8XVFBA&list=PLCw7LMDIR8_xIkenrsrrGCcenhbwjrH6I

Others
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsH8K_4nfmE

with Robby Benson
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTLH2lyL8zY

with Meatloaf
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NTDHjVKQyo
 
The Breakfast Club sequence featuring "We Are Not Alone"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KL4t1DuhjP4

Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/is-this-a-cool-world-or-what-mw0000615735
http://clicksandpops.blogspot.com.au/2009/04/just-like-moses-malone.html
 
Bio

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

Website

http://karlaDeVito.homestead.com/
http://www.karlaDeVito.com/

Trivia

  • Another album, to be called "Karla DeVito – Incognito" for which Karla had recorded several new demo songs, was shelved, and those still unreleased recordings were thought to be lost for twenty years (wikipedia). Karla's second (and last) album, "Wake 'Em Up in Tokyo" included songs written by Robby and Karla was released by A&M in 1986.
  • She has been married (and has kids to) actor Robby Benson since 1982.  In 1981 Benson accepted an offer to take over the romantic lead in the Broadway hit "The Pirates of Penzance" opposite Karla DeVito and the rest is ….err history.
  • Karla has written music with Benson (for her second album) and also co-starred with him the 1990 film "Modern Love".
  • She subsequently (1989) formed a band called "Desolation Angels". The Desolation Angels were : Karla DeVito, Suzzy, Margaret and Terre Roche (The Roches), Deborah Berg and Kit Hain (The Blister Sisters) and Jane Kelly Williams.

Karla DeVito - Is This a Cool World or What - back sleeve

Karla DeVito - creemKarla DeVito - 1981

Posted in Pop Rock, Punk and New Wave, Rock & Pop | Tagged | Leave a comment

SHAWN PHILLIPS – Bright White – (A&M) – 1973

Shawn Phillips - Bright White

I'm tired.

I've just spent the day painting – house painting.

Painting is probably the easiest of the trades…

Err, wait, I know a few house painters so I probably should qualify that.

It's the easiest of the trades in that if you fuck it up it will still be, more or less, OK. You can't say that about carpentry, plumbing electrical, bricklaying, welding, etc.

But, painting has it's own special punishment …. it is extremely dull, back breaking, neck aching work.

I don't think I could do it day in, day out.

Right now I need to unwind and let the body get back to it's normal state.

A glass of red and Shawn Phillips will do the trick.

Sometimes a glass of red helps with the listening of Shawn.

Don't get me wrong, as I have said I'm a convert to his music .

Read my other comments on him on this blog.

I have said this though:

Phillips tended to be associated with "hippie music" and I tended to avoid hippie music in my youth. And even now I cringe at the term and the thought.  The trouble is that to label Phillips as purely "hippie" would be unfair.

Sure, this album may be more "hippie" than some of the others but what Phillips was really was a cosmic psychedelic singer songwriter.

"Progressive folk" is another label you could throw at him …

I have also said this:

I should say most of Phillips albums are "gentle" with voice and instrumentation creating a otherworldly vibe ….

And this album is also "otherworldly" with jazz touches and some extreme vocal gymnastics. Phillips loves his vocals but they can be a little naff (in that 70s "prog rock" way) at times. There are also regular references to kings, castles, prophetic events, fantasy, folklore, pastoralism, and other worlds, amongst the instrumental wizardry, classical music references and lack of choruses.

In fact it's a slippery slope from the joys of Shawn Phillips to the ridiculous pretentiousness of Prog rock.

But Shawn keeps it on the good side of the equation …. though, only just on this album.

I always find it surprising that he is Texan born but then again so are Devendra Banhart and Roky Erikson who at various times are not dissimilar to Phillips.

This has been described as one of his most accessible albums. If that is the case then it does not surprise me that the average punter doesn't know who he is.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Bright White - a catchy tune with perceptive lyrics, meaty horns and orchestrations. Think early 70s Ray Davies and The Kinks covered by 70s era Vegas Elvis.
  • Salty Tears - I have no idea what this song is about but it's catchy with a little funk thrown in.

 Salty tears from a lady with electric knees
 Seven years I've been smoking that anti-freeze
 Silly fears and I never even held the keys
 Won't you please take another look
 Are you going to the marketplace
 Read another book
 Learn the rules of the human race
 Try to learn to cook
 'Cause there isn't time to see the face
 Wrapped in silk and lace

  • All The Kings And Castles – If Tenacious D did an unplgged it may sound a little like this.
  • Victoria Emmanuele – bouncy but again in Tenacious D territory.
  • Planned "O" - this song is so quiet and gentle it almost doesn't exist. But there is a real delight in Phillips view of human history as a form of planned obsolescence.
  • Lasting Peace Of Mind – Hmmmm …
  • Technotronic Lad – some squeaky guitars on this don't really help
  • Dream Queen – Some deja vu here – I think late 70s era Pink Floyd may have dipped into the Phillips songbook.
  • It's A Beautiful Morning – Phillips sounds like he is having fu here with the false start and the jaunt
  • Lady Of The Blue Rose – very, very gentle.

And …

There are not enough catchy songs but Phillips can make anything listenable …. I'm keeping it.
 
Chart Action
 
USA

Album
1974 #72

England

 
Sounds

http://recordlective.com/Shawn_Phillips/Bright_White/eb7eb3b1-f321-3922-a021-67bd1b291b65/

Bright White
mp3 attached

Shawn Phillips – Bright White

Lady Of The Blue Rose
Live
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71I5TDw_XCs


Others
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sbbf57EMkA4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykPBUqo1GuQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-VB9opKzgY

Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/bright-white-mw0000600823

Bio

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shawn_Phillips
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/shawn-phillips-mn0000016617
 
Website

http://www.shawnphillips.com/
http://shawnphillips.wordpress.com/
 
Trivia

  • Again Phillips has surrounded himself with session talent – Shawn Phillips – Vocals, Acoustic Guitars, Electric Guitars, Synthesizers / Lee Sklar – Bass / Chuck Rainey – Bass/ Russell Kunkel – Drums / Barrington York DeSouza – Drums / Danny Kortchmar – Guitar / Tony Walmsley – Electric Guitar / Sneaky” Pete Kleinow – Steel Guitar / Larry Carlton – Acoustic Guitar / Craig Doerge – Clavinet / William Smith – Organ / Peter Robinson – Keyboards / Chuck Findley – Brass / Jim Horn – Horns, Recorder / Jim Price – Horns / Bobby Keyes – Horns / Pastrami Bros. – Percussion
  • Produced by Jonathon Weston with the help of Robert Appere and recorded in Hollywood, with orchestral arrangements by Peter Robinson and Paul Buckmaster.

 

 

 

Posted in Folk Rock, Prog Rock and Art Rock, Psychedelic, Singer Songwriter | Tagged | Leave a comment

MELANIE – The Good Book – (Buddah)- 1971

Melanie - The Good Book

OK I only did Melanie a month ago.

But, she's in arms reach and I'm in a rush and I need something to sooth the little edges of my brain.

Watching the news I keep thinking how apt Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction" is (and wondering why someone hasn't done a recent cover of it) but I want to turn away from cynicism to hope.

Hence Melanie.

But was the world ever like that depicted by Melanie?

Sure it was, but you have to look for it, and so does Melanie.

Here, Melanie, on her 4th studio album is noticing that some of her flowers have wilted and the world around her can be oppressive and can disillusion even the most sunny of optimists

Melanie is still quite agrarian and rootsy (in an upstate New York kind o way – small towns, coffee shops, and hamlets as opposed to wide open places and being lost in nature) in her music and in her outlook, but there is some dark clouds hanging over the songs.

Melanie's solution is to both fight for optimism and to retreat from the source of the darkness, which seems to be modern living, the music business and the city.

Hardcore punk and agit-pop types may frown on the retreat-ism but ultimately one has to live and live as well as one can. Should change come from confrontation or should it come from showing those against you there in retreating and living well there are alternatives. I'm cynical about the latter but it would be nice and I've been wrong before.

I t may seem more than a little silly to be even remotely philosophical about contemporary pop music but ultimately pop music, can and often does, reflect the times.

In 1971 Melanie may have been lumped with sunshine music hippies whilst the MC5, The Stooges and others were whaming on about the decline of western civilisation but both forms have merit.

Melanie, though, could see the other sides point of view. There is darkness and melancholy in her gentle and personal songs.

There is also a wide world view which is something missing from a lot of singer songwriters who tend to internalise everything so that heartbreak is rarely put in perspective with what is going on around them.

Melanie hits gold often. How much gold is there depends on your tolerance of this type of music and of how many prejudices you hold.

Seriously, half the wounded indie femmes and alt country cowgirls owe a truck load to this chick.

See my other comments for biographical details.

All songs written by Melanie Safka, except where noted.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Good Book - These lyrics may not work on everyone but there is a certain innocent charm to them that is undeniable
  • Babe Rainbow – advice to women who have been smacked down and trampled on in the form of , you're better than that and him, pick yourself up and carry on. Melanie sings it emotively and powerfully …. she has convinced me.
  • Sign on the Window -  (Bob Dylan) – A cover of Dylan's ode to family (?) tune from his "New Morning" LP from 1970.
  • The Saddest Thing - and a very sad song
  • Nickel Song - a hit for Melanie and she return to her familiar child like voice. Innocent lyrics with a double meaning. Here she takes a swipe at the music industry. Fitting perhaps, given she was having trouble with her record label, Buddah, l and left after this album.
  • Isn't It a Pity – Four lines and a giggle. Strangely erotic.
  • My Father -  (Judy Collins) – very personal and effective as good as Collins' original.
  • Chords of Fame -  (Phil Ochs) – Phil Ochs beautiful, and cyncial song about the music industry, fame and taking the easy way out in life.
  • You Can Go Fishin' – I haven't been fishing in years. I used to go all the times as a kid with my uncles.This song is really about fishing. But rather a "fuck off" to a boyfriend.
  • Birthday of the Sun – a vocal tour de force.
  • The Prize -  another vocal tour de force. Both power and innocence. Melanie has this down pat.
  • Babe Rainbow (Reprise) – see above.

And …

Another winner …. I'm keeping it. I love this chick.
 
Chart Action
 
US
Singles

1972  The Nickel Song  The Billboard Hot 100  #35 

Album
1971 #80

England
Singles

 
Album

1971 #9
 
Sounds

http://recordlective.com/Melanie/The_Good_Book/a6e02149-c213-378c-8c12-73544ad1d6a1/

Sign on the Window
Mp3 attached
(sorry about the scratchiness)

Melanie – Sign in the Window

Nickel Song
Live
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAa-VzzCGyc

Chords of Fame
Live
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzECo5YnMDM

Others
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sKN6lYU5bZ4
 
Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/the-good-book-mw0000843865
http://raeblog.blogspot.com.au/2009/12/good-book-melanie.html

Bio

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/melanie-mn0000409670
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melanie_Safka

Website

http://www.melaniesafka.com/home.cfm
http://freespace.virgin.net/robert_ian.smith/Melanie.htm
http://melaniemusicsociety.tripod.com/Mercurio/Mercurio.html
http://www.melanie-music.org/

Trivia

Posted in Singer Songwriter | Tagged | Leave a comment

THE CRETONES – Snap! Snap! – (Planet) – 1981

Cretones - Snap Snap

This is another record that has been hanging around for about twenty-five years and I think I haven't listened to it in about that time. I recall thinking it was good enough to keep but then subsequently it had a fall from grace and went into my record purgatory section.

Way back then I knew very little about this band and in those pre-internet days I could find out very little, Now, however, some detail has been revealed – see who said the internet was just shopping and porn?

Wikipedia's entry on the band says: "The Cretones were a United States, Los Angeles-based new wave rock and power pop group in the early 1980s. Led by singer/guitarist and former Eddie Boy Band member Mark Goldenberg (who also wrote the bulk of The Cretones' material), the group had a strong sense of melody and a lyrical wit that placed them a cut above most of their new wave peers. Other members were Peter Bernstein (bass, vocals), Steve Beers (percussion) and Steve Leonard (keyboards, vocals).

Both their albums were released on Richard Perry's Planet Records label. They had one single that charted on the Billboard Magazine Hot 100: Real Love, in the spring of 1980, which was from their first album, Thin Red Line. The song Empty Heart, from their second album Snap Snap, was their only other song to receive significant airplay on album rock stations, but it did not chart as a single".

The Cretones were part of the onslaught of new wave and power pop (who were identified with the new wave) bands that emerged in the late 1970s and 1980s. The power pop scene had been small but resilient throughout the 70s. It faced commercial apathy as soft rock, country rock, glam rock, prog rock, disco and singer songwriter ruled the airwaves.

With the chart breakthroughs of The Romantics, The Knack, Shoes, Cheap Trick and Tommy Tutone in the US the market for power pop became viable.  Along with any number rock bands who had been plying their power pop trade came a wave of 20 or 30-somethings who got hair cuts, shaved off their beards, put on some colourful clothing and learnt to write two minute power pop rock songs.

Check out my other power pop comments for more detail on the genre.

Power Pop was largely the "older" young mans version of punk …it's not really punk with one foot in the 60s and early 70s rock n roll but it has enough disdain for the commercial mainstream of the late 70s and early 80s that it could ride on the coat tails of the new wave and be badged accordingly.

I know there are exceptions to the rule but the more power pop I listen to the more that this seems to be the pattern.

Is there anything wrong with that?

No.  But, whilst their music is  stylistically similar to that of their younger brothers it doesn't have the same urgency or immediacy.

They don't sound as "new".

And by "new" I don't mean something that is unheard of but I do mean something unexpected and, possibly , out of step with the times, something uncommercial as new sounds always are when they start out.

What these bands do have is playing ability and some broad sounds that encompass more influences from the past.

The Cretones seem to it into this category of a new wave-ish power pop band made up of musicians who have been around the block a couple of times. Writer-singer Mark dates back to the early 70s (he was singer and guitarist in Chicago's "Eddie Boy Band" in the mid 70s … "The Eddie Boy Band" were mainstream, with 'soulful' vocals, funk-lite rhythm guitar and a smidgin of boogie rock).

A lot of these bands – especially those from the West Coast tend to be overproduced, more than a little slick and quite soft at heart. It's as if the labels were hedging their bets and making the sound palatable to those who were into the ever popular soft rock. .

The Cretones fit this though they are a little under-produced.

The songs should have a little more punch.

Mind you they were on Richard Perry's "Planet" records – hardly the forefront of new wave.

But, underneath it all are some undeniably good tunes and a sound that transports you back to, well 1981.

This is their second album and I haven't heard their first which is generally considered to be superior. Three songs of that album were covered by Linda Ronstadt on her platinum-selling 1980 album, "Mad Love" on which Goldenberg also played. Err, so much for new wave.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Empty Heart – a big rocker
  • Hanging On To No One – power pop without the punch and some Fischer Price keyboards. It's  a pity the song is quite catchy.
  • Swinging Divorcee – pumping piano that are actually keyboards. Against this is a bit of a dull beat song with sax and guitar solos thrown in.
  • Lonely Street - a early late 50s, early 60s styled beat song
  • I Can't Get Over You – a mid tempo power pop song
  • One Kiss – so so
  • Love is Turning – pleasant but not distinctive
  • Girls! Girls! Girls! – the tinkly Casio keyboards work here. Very catchy, though I prefer the Elvis song of the same name.
  • Snap! Snap! - an instrumental. Ha, I like that the title track is an instrumental.
  • Mood Vertigo – a mish mash of a power pop song with a appealing jittery performance.

And …

Patchy …. I may tape a couple of songs and flog it off. Well at least, either way, it will get out of purgatory.
 
Chart Action
 
Nothing no where

Sounds

Empty Heart
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-OIMJtn8LGw

Lonely Street
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7qyLxyYPYM

Girls! Girls! Girls!
mp3 attached

Cretones – Girls Girls Girls

Others

 
Review

http://thriftstoremusic.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/the-cretones-snap-snap.html
http://lostbands.blogspot.com.au/2005/02/cretones.html
http://www.popredux80.com/2012/11/real-love-by-cretones.html
 
Bio

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/cretones-mn0001178445
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cretones

Photos
http://www.photofeatures.com/cretones/index.html

Website

http://www.markgoldenberg.com

Trivia

  • Goldenberg went on to solo work and to perform (and or record with as a session musician) with Jackson Browne, Peter Frampton, Chris Isaak, Ringo Starr, Roy Orbison, Lyle Lovett, Elton John, Glenn Frey, Feargal Sharkey, Travis Tritt, Randy Newman, Neil Diamond, Jesse Colin Young, Brian Wilson, Randy Newman, Willie Nelson, and Waylon Jennings. 
  • He also went on to write songs for other artists. Among the hits he wrote or co-wrote are "Automatic" by the Pointer Sisters, "Along Comes a Woman" by Chicago, "Soul Kiss" by Olivia Newton-John, "Novocaine For the Soul" by Eels as well as songs for Karla Bonoff, Cher, Judy Collins, Jane Wiedlin, Kim Carnes and others. http://www.allmusic.com/artist/mark-goldenberg-mn0000827477/credits
  • He is currently in Hugh Lauries touring band.
  • Cretones members Steve Beers and Peter Bernstein went into film and TV scores, together an individually including "21 Jump Street".

Cretones - Snap Snap - Back Sleeve

 

 

Posted in Power Pop, Punk and New Wave | Tagged | Leave a comment

ROAD – Road- (Rare Earth) – 1972

Road - Road

Was I ever "really" into 70s hard rock?

I was  a kid in the 70s and perhaps too young to appreciate hard rock though it was there on the radio. The first hard rock album I bought was AC/DCs "Back in Black" in 1980 (unless you count Suzi Quatro as hard rock) but that was an anomaly. I probably really discovered hard rock in the mid 80s in my late teens.

The reasons for that were numerous…

  1. New Wave had gone it's distance;
  2. New Wave's fascination with music from the 60s had moved to the 70s and bands had changed, accordingly, with the times. Think "The Cult", amongst others;
  3. There was a "Detroit" explosion going on and everything was The Stooges and MC5 (OK, they were 60s bands, but 60s bands that anticipated the 70s),
  4. There was a desire to re-discover or discover for the first time those sounds you heard on the radio in the 70s, and that was even more acute when you were in your late pre-teens in the 70s;
  5. Bands I liked from the 60s, like The Kinks, especially, and the Rolling Stones, had added hard rock trappings to their sound in the hope of being as noisy as their punk counterparts;
  6. There were a lot of 70s hard rock records languishing in op-shops and second hand stores.

This last point was perhaps the most influential factor on my 70s hard rock listening.

I picked up albums by Led Zeppelin (and discovered their undisputable greatness), Deep Purple (I played "Machine Head" over and over), Bon Scott era AC/DC (this is Australia and their old LPs were everywhere for a couple of bucks),  Free (I grooved to "Fire and Water"), Lynyrd Skynyrd (who didn't have a beer whilst listening to "Second Helping"?), Steppenwolf (not knowing they had some crunching albums after their 60s hits), Status Quo (we all got neck aches headbanging, under the influence, to their "12 Gold Bars" LP) as well as albums by Grand Funk Railroad, Mountain, Aerosmith, Jeff Beck, Black Oak Arkansas, Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath and any of the bands Carmine Appice was in.

Op-shops were good and the music was easy to access and, well, at it's best it was great music which, when turned to, errrr, "11", numbed you with its power and noise.

So, yes, I played a lot of "hard rock", albeit for a short time. It didn't rule my life but it did populate the shelves next to my turntable.

Today, I don't really search out hard rock but I do have 20 or so hard rock albums from the 70s which are amongst my favourite LPs.

And just when you think you know what's what in hard rock along come this band "Road".

I had no idea who this was when my mate (thanks Mitchell) gave me this album though I knew Noel Redding was Hendrix's bass player. When you have such a persuasive front man you sometimes forget that the sidemen have careers also.

Road were and Anglo-American super group (Redding and Samson are English) albeit, arguably, a second tier supergroup as none of the players were "big stars".

Wikipedia: "Road was an American hard rock band that formed in Los Angeles, California in 1970. Comprising bassist/vocalist Noel Redding (previously of The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Fat Mattress…), guitarist/vocalist Rod Richards (formerly of Rare Earth) and drummer/vocalist Leslie Sampson, the band released one album, Road, in 1972".

Road play hard rock.

Wikipedia: "Hard rock (or heavy rock) is a loosely defined subgenre of rock music which has its earliest roots in mid-1960s garage rock, blues rock and psychedelic rock. It is typified by a heavy use of aggressive vocals, distorted electric guitars, bass guitar, drums, and often accompanied with pianos and keyboards"

Road being fairly early in the 70s and with a late 60s psychedelic pedigree lean to the "Heavy Psych" hard rock sound :  loud, fuzzed-out and trippy psychedelic sounds of the late 60s turned up for the 70s.

Road utilise very little of hard rocks other available stylistic motifs:  blues boogie, metal or proto punk noise.

And, why should they when they are happy with using a base they are familiar with, psychedelica.

Wikipedia (wtf again!) define psychedelic rock as a music that "attempted to replicate the effects of and enhance the mind-altering experiences of hallucinogenic drugs, incorporating new electronic and recording effects, extended solos and improvisation and was particularly influenced by eastern mysticism, reflected in use of exotic instrumentation, particularly from Indian music or the incorporation of elements of eastern music".

This is true though the American variation on the same also included music that was neither whimsical or surrealistic but hard and heavy. Road travel down this road (sic) and lean heavily on the acid rock which had come from California in the wake of Jefferson Airplane, Iron Butterfly, The Grateful Dead and others.

This is where Road lies…

Wah-wah guitar, trippy vocals, spacey sounds, long songs … 

It's not new and even when they do asides with some country flavoured slower songs (maybe that's why they are superimposed over Monument Valley on the sleeve)  they aren't taking the music anywhere it hasn't been before.

But, they nail it, with one hell of a big farking nail.

Noel Redding and Leslie Sampson are good but the real standout is Rod Richards on guitar with his wah-wah wizardry. Richards had played with American R&B come light psych Detroit band "Rare Earth" (yes the band have the same name as the record label. The label, which was the "rock" subsidiary of black soul Motown records, was named after the band who were one of their early all white signings) on their first three albums. I have heard  only one of those, "Get Ready" from 1969, and he isn't up front. Here, he is all over the music, writing, playing and singing.

I have no idea who sings lead (most sound like they are probably Noel) but it all works… this is a power-rock trio with a lot of style and substance who manage to avoid the pitfalls of this type of music (pretentiousness, long pointless soloing etc).

It's a pity they only recorded this one album.
 
Tracks (best in italics)

  • I'm Trying – (Rod Richards) – trippy, with perfect late 60s psych  sounds updated to the early 70s
  • I'm Going Down to the Country – (Noel Redding) – this steps back into Led Zepp territory with a mix of hard rock and country … with some post-hippie psychedelic folk thrown in;
  • Mushroom Man  – (Rod Richards, Leslie Sampson) – a psych record with a "mushroom" in the tile ….what are the chances, eh?
  • Man Dressed in Red   – (Noel Redding) – a total space trip with some seriously whacked out fuzz guitar.
  • Spaceship Earth  – (Rod Richards) – "spaceship earth" – of course. Did I mention the psychedelic influences?
  • My Friends   – (Noel Redding) – a instrumental with occasional vocals. It's a showcase for the musicians. Lots of wah-wah, bass runs, and drum solos.
  • Road  – (Rod Richards) – lysergic blasts of stoned early seventies rock. It pumps and drives.

And …

There a couple of ordinary cuts, but generally this record is killer and it has great period flavour …. I'm keeping it.
 
Chart Action
 
Nothing nowhere.

Sounds

http://recordlective.com/Road/Road/c0a91ab7-562a-3f0a-8c25-577a9411cf5b/

Man Dressed in Red
Mp3 attached

Road – Man Dressed in Red

Others

 
Review

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Road_(album)
http://www.allmusic.com/album/road-mw0000454363
 
Bio

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

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noel_Redding
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/noel-redding-mn0000450700/biography
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/les-sampson-mn0001497385

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Wilson_(producer)

Website

Trivia

  • Redding had performed with The Loving Kind" before joining Hendrix. He also played in "The Noel Redding Band", "British Invasion All-Stars", "305 AM and Keith Dion", "Noel Redding and Friends", "Yardbirds Experience", "Phish" and Shut Up Frank" with Dave Clarke, Mick Avory of The Kinks and Dave Rowberry of The Animals.
  • Richards went on to a solo career…unsuccessful.
  • Sampson joined Redding in "The Noel Redding Band" before joining "Eggs Over Easy", "Stray Dog", "Ramatam", "The Gas"in the 80s and "Sally Barker And The Rhythm and The Pirates" in the 90s.
  • The front sleeve with the band superimposed over the majestic Monument Valley has the words "Save our Open Spaces" across the bottom ….  and it should.

 

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

TRINI LOPEZ– Now! – (Reprise) – 1967

Trini Lopez - Now

Is it wrong to love the music of Trini Lopez?

To answer that you would have to ask yourself what you get out of the music.

The important word in that sentence is "you".

If "you" love the music, for whatever reason, then so be it.

That's enough to make it as good as The Beatles or Elvis to "you".

I'm not suggesting that Trini Lopez is on the same level as Elvis, Lennon or McCartney when it comes to historical and cultural significance.

That would be ridiculous.

What I am saying is that Trini is on the same level of historical and cultural significance as is George Michael, Eddie Vedder and Kanye West.

And Trini is infinitely more entertaining than any of them  ….

….well, to me at least.

Music is an individual thing and what strikes a chord (sic) in one person may not do the same in another.

Of course there are those artists who strike many chords and transcend music but we are talking about Elvis, The Beatles, Dylan, Sinatra, Hank Williams, Chuck Berry and perhaps another dozen or so artists.

The rest are artists whose music we like or don't like.

They may change your life but they don't change many lives.

It is just music after all.

But sometimes inadvertently musicians come to find themselves as signpost to change.

Trini, because of his widespread popularity in the 1960s (especially on the US Adult Contemporary  charts as well as on television) must have had a hand in breaking down the doors of exclusion to Mexican American musicians. If he didn't break it down his non-threatening MOR rock (or at least that's what it became) gave middle American acceptance of his cultural antecedents in a way Richie Valens (and his miscegenation) or Sam the Sham and his eccentricities didn't.

Trini has had a historical cultural influence … can Eddie Vedder say the same?

Of course I'm being sarcastic.

Aren't I?

I do love the music of Trini Lopez

What do I get from the music -  I get beats, I get rhythm, I get straight ahead music where the delivery and good times are more important that the message which does slide through unnoticed on occasions.

The line notes to this album tell you what Trini is and isn't:

"Trini Lopez has the knack of making every song he sings sound like FUN. He's not "hippie" or "avant-garde" or "socioconscious". He's just a helluva lot of fun to listen to"

"Some people think there's something wrong with a guy who smiles all the time. If that's true, then there's probably something wrong with Trini Lopez – because he smiles a lot. Not only that, he goes around singing all the time! And he makes other people smile and sing! As a matter of fact, this new Trini Lopez album will more than likely make YOU smile and sing a lot. Take it home and play it a few times. Then see if anybody's looking at you strangely"

I guarantee you they will be.

But fuck 'em.

This is fun music.

Though the fun has been a little retrained on this album. Trini's Mex-American go-go guitar sound has been turned down a little here. There are "Hollywood style" horns accompanying him on the songs, something that is reinforced by fact that five of the songs are movie themes.

The other songs are made up of familiar hits of the day.

I suspect there was a desire to change Trini into a Dean Martin type of variety star (with rock and pop leanings) – that's great for Dean but doesn't necessarily work for Trini.

Check out my other comments for biographical detail.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • There's A Kind Of Hush (All Over The World) – (Reed-Stephens) – not with Trini around there isn't. Trini plays with this one and gives it the "Lopez treatment". What was a catchy MOR tune now becomes a go-go song with repetitive rhythmic guitar and short bursts of Alpert-esque horns. The song was a hit in 1967 for Herman's Hermits (#4US). It was originally done by co-writer by Geoff Stephens with his New Vaudeville Band group. A single by Gary and the Hornets from Ohio had significant regional success with the song in 1966.
  • Theme From The Sand Pebbles (And We Were Lovers) – (Bricusse-Goldsmith) – There was nothing upbeat in this film ("The Sand Pebbles") of historical cynicism and social alienation as embodied by Steve McQueen. Here it comes as a McKuen-esque tale with a "Theme for a Summer Place" type of intro. Trini takes it down a notch and creates something ethereal, albeit MOR ethereal.
  • Sunny – (Bobby Hebb) – up-tempo – Trini captures the magic of Bobby Hebbs original (#2 US 1966). Hebbs song about the choice of optimism over pessimism is quite powerful. The song has been done by everyone but Trini's bounce to the song is positively joyous. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunny_(song)
  • Hold Me Now And Forever - (Zeller-Costa) – from the Dean Martin western film "Rough Night in Jericho" – a interesting film and the song has been stripped of any authentic country though it does have a certain 60s lackadaisical Hollywood county lope to it.
  • Guanatanamera (Lady Of Guantanamo) – (José Martí-Pete Seeger-Héctor Angulo) – no one can fuck up this song – a great song and Latino types add that extra zing to it that only an authentic Latinos can do. Although associated with Pete Seeger the Sandpipers had a hit with it (#9US) in 1966.
  • You Talk Too Much – (Jones-Hall) – A hit for Joe Jones (#3US) in 1960. This version has a gentle acoustic bounce  – straight pop with some nice tinky guitar in the bridge which could have come from a Elvis movie of the same era. In act the whole song could have been written for an Elvis film.
  • I Wanna Be Free – (Boyce-Hart) – a very Boyce and Hart song whose airy pop you wouldn't think works with Trini – but it does. Originally done by The Monkees on their debut 1966 album.
  • Once I Wondered – (Adamson-Fain) – mush. A song from the stage version of "Around the World in Eighty Days" by Harold Adamson and Sammy Fain.
  • Where's The Love – (Legrand-Weinstein) – from "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg") – more mush but then so the premise of the film (the delivery of the premise in the film was outstanding). The song has been done by everyone http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Will_Wait_For_You
  • In The Land Of Plenty - (Cymbal-Costa) – The only song "original" on the album? Written by ex-singer Johnny Cymbal and arranger Don Costa. This is as close as you'll get to a protest song from Trini – and quite effective lyrically. There are no call to arms or thoughts for strident militancy at it's core but there is a question made of American society. It's not unpatriotic its just saying why is there poverty in the "land of plenty"?
  • The Eyes Of Love – (Russell-Jones) – from the film "Banning" – not really all that good. Bob Rusell and Quincy Jones wrote it and it was nominated for an Oscar. Jack Jones did the most well known version at the time.
  • Born Free – (Barry-Black) -  from the film "Born Free – for a slab of MOR this song always was and is such a good song but it works because we know the film and the e motional environmentalism it advocates. Though associated with Matt Monro and Andy Williams, Roger Williams had a instrumental hit with it in 1966 (#7US).

And …

Perfect for parties …. I'm keeping it.

Chart Action
 
US
Singles

Album
1967 #162

England
Singles
Album

 
Sounds

Guanatanamera (Lady Of Guantanamo)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40VYtcZAiaM

I Wanna Be Free
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGs1ZdTc3Os

In The Land Of Plenty
Mp3 attached

Trini Lopez – In The Land Of Plenty

Others
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ya_vUAF94gM
with The Ventures doing The Doors (and Hawaii Five-O) …this smokes …
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbpcrtzVMK8

Review

Bio

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trini_Lopez
 
http://www.pennydreadfulvintage.com/1960s-go-go-dancing-pictures-and-videos/

Website

http://www.trinilopez.com/
 
Trivia
– 

Posted in Rock & Pop | Tagged | Leave a comment