DANNY O’KEEFE – O’Keefe – (Signpost) – 1972

Danny O'Keefe - O'Keefe

Okay, this isn’t actually a new find as I have had it awhile and had already graduated to the “keep” side of the ledger but I’m an O’Keefe kick … and, this is a cleaner copy than the one I had.

Check out other posts on this blog for detail on Danny O’Keefe. The guy is underappreciated bordering on criminality.

Well, when I say underappreciated, not quite. Musicians and those willing to do some digging appreciate him.

As is stated on his website, “Danny's songs have been recorded by a Who's Who of artists over the last thirty plus years: Elvis Presley, Cab Calloway, Charlie Rich, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Earl Klugh, Chris Hillman, Conway Twitty, Leon Russell, Dwight Yoakam, Jerry Lee Lewis and Milt Hinton. But that's just who recorded "Good Time Charlie." Other credits include Alison Krauss ("Never Got Off The Ground"), Jimmy Buffett ("Souvenirs"), Nickel Creek ("When You Come Back Down"), Judy Collins ("Angel Spread Your Wings"), Donny Hathaway ("Magdalena"), John Denver ("Along for the Ride"), Gary Stewart ("Quits"), Sheena Easton ("Next to You"), Jesse Colin Young ("Night School"), Chris Smither ("Steel Guitar "), Ute Lemper ("You Look Just Like A Girl Again") and Alan Jackson ("Anywhere on Earth You Are"). "Well, Well, Well," which Danny wrote with Bob Dylan, has been recorded by Ben Harper, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Bonnie Raitt and David Lindley”. http://www.dannyokeefe.com/

There is no big noting going on here just an example of the high regard his songs are held in.

I can wax lyrical over Danny O’Keefe but the joy is in the music.

And he was a round at the right time.

Despite having the majority of his work in the 1970s he is a product of the 1960s, that golden decade in rock music when all musical styles collided and anything was possible.

Folky singer-songwriter Americana with country, blues, jazz, and blue eyed soul overtones O’Keefe crosses over many American traditions, and, not for posturing reasons, but because they suit his music best. He can best express his ideas and stories in those forms of American music. At his best these narratives are complemented by music which evokes the emotions of his protagonists as well as the environment that surrounds them. (that sounds a little academic but I mean, the music, creates the mood).

This is not an easy, especially when you are trying to wrap everything up in a catchy tune.

O'Keefe in his observational Americana is the (upper) west coast spiritual cousin to Kris Kristofferson (the south), Jim Croce (the north), Paul Simon (the east) and many other troubadours of the road.

This was O’Keefe’s breakthrough album riding on the back of the hit single “Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues”. The chart breakthrough was never followed up. The album and the single, were his only dents on the charts but the royalties from covers (especial of “Charlie”) and a small devoted following have kept him in the music business.

Here he has the backing of magnificent session musicians made up of southerners (mainly Memphis American Sound Studio's House Band) supplemented by some New Yorkers (which look to be Atlantic records alumni … Signpost records was a subsidiary of Atlantic) slumming it on background vocals.

The music is evocative and sums up a place and time beautifully. It is personal music but it, also, anticipates the 70s with all its troubles, change and political “isms”. It's tales are still relevant today.

Tracks (best in italics)

              Side One

  • Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues – the song first appeared on O’Keefe’s 1971 self-titled debut album, and then he recorded another version for this album. There are many great versions of this song but I’ve always been partial to Elvis’ version from 1974 (which is, actually, the first version I ever heard). This is, perhaps, one of the greatest of all singer-songwriter songs. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_Time_Charlie%27s_Got_the_Blues http://www.songfacts.com/blog/playingmysong/danny_o_keefe_-_good_time_charlie_s_got_the_blues_/
  • Shooting Star – pure observation with some great lines, "the morning is waiting for electra but electra is mourning for the night".
  • The Question (Obviously) – A bouncy jaunt and a country-ish brag. As if Jim Croce had gone rural. And, not dissimilar from The Kinks on their magnificent, "Muswell Hillbillies". Great fun.
  • Honky Tonkin'  – (Hank Williams) – Hank’s #14 country hit from 1948 and as bona fide classic. The version here doesn't match the original (I mean how could it) but it is a good , suitably twangy version. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honky_Tonkin%27
  • The Road – Jackson Browne would later cover on his best-selling album “Running on Empty” (1977). Quite a beautiful song, and quite haunting.
  • Grease It – another country rock blues stomper, though a gentle stomper with a touch of Jerry Lee Lewis vocals.

Side Two

  • An American Dream – a electric and quite heavy singer-songwriter song with psych overtones about the war and "an American dream".
  • Louie The Hook Vs. The Preacher –   a less exuberant variation on a Jerry Reed song. Fun.
  • The Valentine Pieces – a art piece as if 70s era Tom Waits was crossed with soft rock. 
  • I'm Sober Now –   According to the liner notes, the song was "inspired by Clarence (Pinetop) Smith" who was an American boogie-woogie style blues pianist who died in 1929, aged 24. Quite good and catchy.
  • Roseland Taxi Dancer – a song about a "granny" who was a taxi dancer in times past. A taxi dancer is a paid dance partner in a partner dance. Something Redbone or Jim Kweskin would do though here, the "old" sounds ar not front and centre.  
  • I Know You Really Love Me –  a short ragtime-ish tune. Excellent

And …

Wonderful … a minor masterpiece. I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1972 Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues #9 Hot 100

1972 Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues #5 Adult Contemporary

1972 Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues #63 Country

Album

1972 #87

England

nothing

Sounds

Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkuB40qF1PI

live recently

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FALsYK6ONTs

mp3 attached

Shooting Star

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5ZMYLJOflA

The Question (Obviously) 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2UxfqqYS6k

Honky Tonkin' 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0r651OMVUw

The Road

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CuwvMyPaUe0

live recently

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

An American Dream 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugj9vkTOoM4

Louie The Hook Vs. The Preacher 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcKNJexq5LQ

The Valentine Pieces 

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

I'm Sober Now

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gwomy_Xz1S4

Others

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDSX0alNMCc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaHw0pZNIHk

 Review

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O%27Keefe_(album)

http://www.allmusic.com/album/okeefe-mw0000402613

https://www.robertchristgau.com/get_artist.php?name=Danny+O%27Keefe

Bio

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

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/danny-okeefe-mn0000955484/biography

http://nodepression.com/article/danny-okeefe-jeff-beck-bob-dylan-and-nra

Website

http://www.dannyokeefe.com/

Trivia

  • Personnel : Danny O'Keefe – vocals, guitar / Hayword Bishop – drums, percussion / David Brigati (The Rascals) – background vocals / Eddie Brigati (The Young Rascals) – background vocals / Gene Chrisman – drums / Johnny Christopher (He co-wrote "Always on My Mind" with Mark James) – guitar / Bobby Emmons – organ / Shane Keister – piano / Bobby Wood – piano, electric piano / Reggie Young – guitar (legend https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reggie_Young) / Leo LeBlanc – steel guitar / Mike Leech – bass / Irwin "Marky" Markowitz – trumpet / Howard McNatt – violin / Phil Olivella – clarinet / Ahmet Ertegün – producer.
  • The liner notes note, "All guitar solos are by Danny O'Keefe except on "Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues", The Question(Obviously), and the middle section of An American Dream which are by Reggie Young".
  • The album was recorded at American Sound Studios in Memphis with additional recording at Atlantic Recording Studios in New York City.

Back sleeve picture:

 

Danny O'Keefe - O'Keefe - back picture

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

HELEN MERRILL – American Country Songs – (Atco) – 1959

Helen Merrill - American Country Songs

Helen Merrill is a great vocalist.

She could sing anything.

And she has proved it time and again …  over 60+ years of professional recording.

She does country tunes here but she has done smooth jazz, swing, pop, trad pop, an album of Beatles tunes, Broadway numbers, film songs, Tin Pan Alley and even Croatian folk songs.

That’s not to say she doesn’t have her style.

She does.

This I find infinitely more interesting and superior to a vocalist who hops from style to style without taking their musical personality along with them.

She is an effortless note bender who emphasises a lyric to extract complete meaning and emotion from it whilst singing in harmony with her accompaniment.

Her voice is so evocative that even if she wasn’t using words the mood and the meaning of the song would be clear.

I’m not sure of the logic of this “country” album apart from Helen proving she can do country but I welcome it nevertheless.

There may have been commercial considerations. This was Helen’s seventh album and she hadn’t achieved the crossover mainstream popularity of Peggy Lee of Julie London in her previous albums, as good as they were (and they were / are good). So, perhaps, it was time for a change. Country music was on an upswing at the time, there were many country musicians with jazz leanings incorporating some of the same in their music, jazz legend Sonny Rollins released his “Way Out West” album to critical acclaim in 1957, so, perhaps, it seemed a good idea.

And it was.

But, at the time, it may have alienated her traditional listeners. Certainly today, jazz vocalist aficionados, when commenting on this album, usually mention they “have no time for country music”, so, I suspect, that prejudice is the same one that affected the albums potential sales in 1959.

But, a good vocalist should be able to tackle all material and a great vocalist should be able to do it successfully.

And here I am full circle … Helen Merrill is a great vocalist.

She sticks within the jazz vocalist medium but isn’t afraid of introducing any other sound into the mix and if that isn't jazz, what is?

Some songs make work better than others but everything she records is worthy.

Despite the big city in her, Helen has a beautiful, slightly smoky voice that is ideally suited to country songs (as well as urban songs).

Country music is about hard times, love, lost love, getting drunk, your wife leaving you, your husband leaving you, infidelity, chasteness, sex. Basically, the lives of everyday people.

The liner notes refer to the same, "Many country songs are considered "earthy", inasmuch as their lyrics deal with life's realities. This is a true appraisal; however, a listener to this record will surely note another quality of the great county song – the liberal use of poetic language and imagery".

Helen’s voice captures the various emotions of those in love and her phrasing and tone is both sexual and full of understanding. This may not be a pure country record but she nails these songs.

There are five Hank Williams tunes, three Eddy Arnold songs, some standards and, interestingly (but not inappropriately), a couple of Everly Brothers songs.

An interesting aside is that Helen, with this album, was both part of a trend and ahead of the curve.

Trad pop singer Patti Page had successfully incorporated country sounds into her music in the 50s (as had Frankie Laine and Guy Mitchell) and jazz pop vocalists like Bing Crosby, and Hoagy Carmichael had done the same going back to the 30s whilst Tony Bennett had done the same in the early 50s but it was unusual for a pure jazz vocalist like Helen to do a whole album of the same.

This is referred to in the liner notes (by Paul Ackerman of Billboard), where he says: "The recording art has its adventurous moments. This album is one of them, for it strikes out in new directions. it does this by presenting a dozen of the greatest country songs in arrangements which are quite new to the genre … It is known that several record producers have been grappling with the same idea – that is, to invest the country song with a new dimension through sophisticated arrangements and scoring. This is the first album to come to our attention which has actually done the trick – and it points the way towards future treatment of this music, much of which derives from the heartland of America."

Later, in the 1960s, Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Julie London dipped their toes in the country pool whilst Kay Starr (and trad pop singers like Dean Martin and soul singer like Ray Charles) would record whole albums of country songs.

The world was all about, and comfortable with, fusion but here it was novel.

It's tempting to say the music here is not country, not jazz, but trad pop with country and jazz overtones, but, "Nashville sound" countrypolitan country music star Jim Reeves was riding the same range (sic) though with less (jazz) quirkiness. And, perhaps, that's the market Helen was aiming for.

I don’t have jazz chart details but even with a major label release (Atlantic records) the album did not sell well enough to crossover to the mainstream charts.

Check out my other comments for biographical detail on Ms Merrill.

Tracks (best in italics)

            Side One

  • Maybe Tomorrow – (Don & Phil Everly) – originally by the Everly Brothers from their 1958 debut album. Gentle and dreamy.
  • I'm so Lonesome I Could Cry – (Hank Williams) – recorded by Hank in 1949. Covered by everyone else (I love the Elvis version from 1973). Very quirky with a snappy back beat at odds with the traditional interpreted tempo, but it works. Helen nails the song. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%27m_So_Lonesome_I_Could_Cry
  • You Don't Know Me – (Cindy Walker-Eddy Arnold) – the liner notes refer to Eddy who had a #10 country hit with this in 1956 but trad pop singer Jerry Vale had a #14 in 1956 also. This is quite beautiful with a jazz guitar gently punctuating the proceedings. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_Don%27t_Know_Me_(Eddy_Arnold_song)
  • Condemned Without Trial – (Hal Blair-Don Robertson) – an Eddy Arnold song from 1952. Lots of strings and things and well sung.
  • You Win Again – (Hank Williams) – a Hank Williams song from 1952. Sweet strings are added. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_Win_Again_(Hank_Williams_song)
  • I'm Here to Get My Baby out of Jail – (Karl Davis – Harty Taylor) – Originally by Davis & Taylor in 1934 but recorded by the Everly Brothers for their 1958 album “Songs Our Daddy Taught Us”. A wonderful song though with a great country whistling accompaniment. The song is quite existential and haunting.

Side Two

And …

An individual quirky joy. Everything Helen does is a pleasant revelation. This album is no different. This is wonderful … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

Nothing nowhere.

Sounds

Maybe Tomorrow

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gIcUAkam124

I'm so Lonesome I Could Cry

mp3 attached

Condemned Without Trial

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mf5Aonytff0

Cold, Cold Heart

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pbl-BCh7z3s

Devoted to You

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHI4GmpQbH4

Half as Much

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

Others

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

Review

http://frankstyles.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/lilac-wine-helen-merrill-part-one.html

Bio

http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=23366

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

Website

http://www.helenmerrill.com/

http://www.myspace.com/helenmerrill

Trivia

  • Personnel: Bernie Leighton (piano) / Mundell Lowe (guitar) / Bill Suyker (guitar), Milt Hinton (bass), Bobby Rosengarden (drums). Arranged and conducted by Chuck Sagle. Recorded in New York, May 25, 1959
  • "The Nashville sound originated during the mid 1950s as a subgenre of American country music, replacing the chart dominance of the rough honky tonk music which was most popular in the 1940s and 1950s with "smooth strings and choruses", "sophisticated background vocals" and "smooth tempos"". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nashville_sound also see http://www.allmusic.com/subgenre/nashville-sound-countrypolitan-ma0000002739

 

 

Helen Merrill - American Country Songs - back sleeve

 

RIP: Harry Dean Stanton (1926-2017)

Posted in Country, Jazz, Popular & Crooners | Tagged | Leave a comment

CHIP TAYLOR – Chip Taylor’s Last Chance – (Warner Brothers) – 1973

Chip Taylor - Last Chance

Check out my other comments for background on Chip.

He has his roots, schizophrenic style, in both 60s Brill building pop and country music.

You could assume that a native New Yorker from Yonkers could understandably be a Brill building alumni but the country music was something he picked up on himself from left field at an early age.

“I remember the night I heard “My Wild Irish Rose.” I remember thinking at the time—I was just seven or eight years old—that music was going to be my life. It was like the first time you fall in love, or the first time you hold a girl close. And then when I first heard country music—on a radio station in Wheeling, West Virginia—I had the same kind of feeling. Suddenly the direction was set for me. In high school I had a country band, one of the only country bands in the New York area. And during that time I was also exposed to the “race records” from down south, with the Alan Freed show. The combination between that and country music really guided my path in the music business”.

http://www.gibson.com/News-Lifestyle/Features/en-us/He-Wrote-Hit-Songs-for-Hendrix.asp

It is both of these genres that have affected his music without his music being either.

From country he took the ruminations, confessions and matter of fact looks at life, and from the Brill building (and its Tin Pan Alley traditions) he took the pop sense of using a catchy melody. The result are singer-songwriter songs, which occasionally rock, but are more often than not, slow or mid-tempo stream of consciousness songs with a catchy melody attached.

This was Chip’s second album and he is influenced (perhaps) even more than on the first by what is happening around him, though, “what is around” him he had been into for years.

What was happening musically in 1972, amongst other things: The country rock and singer-songwriter styles were breaking into the mainstream. It was around the time that Gram Parsons released his influential solo album (“GP”), the Eagles had their first big hit in the US (they had two Top 20 singles and their debut album went to #22 in 1972) and singer-songwriters were everywhere on the charts… fellow easterners and country influenced James Taylor and Arlo Guthrie, Jackson Browne, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell to name a few.

But, Chip’s music isn’t quite country rock because it doesn’t often “rock” and it isn’t quite inwardly solemn enough to be traditional singer-songwriter. It hops across both and seems to be mostly influenced by the observations and ruminations of Kristofferson and John Prine who had both just recently released their debut self-titled albums, Kris Kristofferson (1970) and John Prine (1971). Not surprisingly Chip refers to those albums as influential on his psyche (http://www.goldminemag.com/articles/10-albums-changed-chip-taylors-life)

Chip has adopted the same matter of fact-ness and autobiographical narratives and wedded them to an almost stream-of-consciousness style superimposed over catchy melodies with country flavourings (the record is full of lush harmonies (supplied by Elvis’ Jordanaires) with pedal steel licks in the background). Thematically, he has put himself into the familiar singer-songwriter’s shoes dwelling on sadness and failure, but importantly, he doesn’t wound easily like others in the genre. He comes across as a bloke just telling you his story with all the sadness, happiness, laughter and melancholy in any extended conversation.

And, it's all sung in the laid back naturally cool style of Kris Kristofferson or, especially, Willie Nelson.

Today, of course, this would fit perfectly into the alternative country, or the Americana movements.

Then, it just got missed.

Whether it be the whim of the public, music business mistakes, historical distractions or something else the album did not sell despite ticking all the right boxes.

Written by (unless indicated otherwise), produced by, arranged by Chip.

Tracks (best in italics)

            Side One

  • (I Want )The Real Thing – which puts down the insipid ‘cover’ versions of R&B songs by such pop singers as Pat Boone (poor Pat gets sledged a lot though, admittedly, his forte wasn't R&B covers). The song praises Elvis, Johnny Cash et al and is a good rollicking thing and a statement on musical taste. Perhaps that's why (Elvis' backing vocalists) The Jordanaires appear on the record.

                        I remember old Elvis when he forgot

                        To remember to forget

                        And when young Johnny Cash

                        Hadn't seen this side of Big River yet

                        And when sun was more than daylight

                        Shinin' on Memphis, Tennessee

                        And old Luther and Lewis and Perkins was pickin

                        And playin' them songs for me

  • Son Of A Rotten Gambler – dedicated to his son and Chip’s own pastime of being a gambler. Another good song. Quite perceptive with a well placed emotional crescendo. Covered often including versions by Anne Murray and Melanie.
  • I Read It In Rolling Stone – a country song with a gentle bounce like a lope on a sunny winter day. Probably the spiritual cousin to Dr Hook's "Cover of Rolling Stone"
  • (The Coal Fields Of) Shickshinny – a song about Chip’s coal-mining grandfather. Nicely biographical.
  • I Wasn't Born In Tennessee – There are (big) nods to and name checking of Merle Haggard and even some yodelling. A hoot of a song. Chip said on his facebook site, "So sad to here about Merle Haggard’s passing. He was always a big influence on my writing and singing. Back in 1973 I needed his permission to use an excerpt of his song ("Today I Started Loving You Again") for “I Wasn’t Born In Tennessee”. I had forgotten to ask him. If I didn’t get permission within a week I would have had to pull the song from the Last Chance album. I sent it special delivery to his attorney and within 3 days got a response, “Merle heard it .. Merle likes it… use it with his blessing!” https://www.facebook.com/40438231724/videos/10153701264806725/

      Side Two

  • (The Likes Of) Louise – another gentle stroll (whistling included) of a country song.
  • It's Still The Same – singer-songwriter
  • 101 In Cash Box – a spoken intro, which is very funny (and very country), to a song about songs and the music business.
  • Family Of One – gentle., low key and personal.
  • Clean Your Own Tables – country themes, sounds and a great country song title.
  • Last Chance – pedal steel and country sounds and a sing a long nature. Too low key to be rollicking fun but an apt last song.

And …

Wonderful country singer-songwriter … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

Nothing nowhere

Sounds

(I Want )The Real Thing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d04WwRSI6G4

live recently

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=doSaLUHvG7o

mp3 attached

Son Of A Rotten Gambler

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICP1Y9FUPpY

I Read It In Rolling Stone

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvi-TEkbxqk

(The Coal Fields Of) Shickshinny

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

I Wasn't Born In Tennessee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCQB_f43lrs

live recently

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylmjpJ2_is4

(The Likes Of) Louise

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8W_Eio39hM

It's Still The Same

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsjJq7xlVG0

101 In Cash Box

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGUKCFku1ZM

Clean Your Own Tables

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

Others

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-V-oqGfZT6U

Review

http://nodepression.com/album-review/chip-taylor-chip-taylors-last-chance

http://louderthanwar.com/chip-taylor-last-chancesome-of-us-reissues-album-review/

http://www.gadflyrecords.com/products/237.htm

https://www.robertchristgau.com/get_artist.php?name=Chip+Taylor

Bio

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

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

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

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

http://spectropop.com/ChipTaylor/index.htm

Website

https://myspace.com/chiptaylorsolo

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

http://www.david-mansfield.com

Trivia

  • Backing Vocals – The Jordanaires / Bass – Dave Kapell / Drums – Rick Nelson (not the famous one)  / Electric Guitar [Lead], Acoustic Guitar – John Platania (Van Morrison regular guitarist) / Guitar [Lead Rhythm] – George Kiriakis / Keyboards – Joe Renda / Mandoguitar, Engineer – John Nagy  (ex Earth Opera) / Mandolin – Dave Grisman  (ex Earth Opera, Old & in the Way and any number of bluegrass bands) / Steel Guitar [Pedal] – Pete Drake (sessionman for Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Tammy Wynette, Joan Baez, Lynn Anderson and many others) / Recorded at Aengus Rec. Studios, Fayville, Mass.
  • Rolling Stone acclaimed (apparently) Chip Taylor’s Last Chance as one of the best country albums of 1973.
  • As a professional gambler, he was one of the foremost thoroughbred horse race handicappers on the East Coast. When Taylor turned his sights on the gaming tables, he quickly gained notoriety with his black jack prowess; finishing third in the World Black Jack Championship in Las Vegas. Taylor became one of the most feared card counters in the land and was ultimately banned from every casino in Atlantic City. In the late 80s, along with friend, partner, and renowned handicapper, Ernest Dahlman, he garnered enormous winnings through his horse racing exploits, specifically in the form of massive pick six scores (wagers where often times you get paid enormous sums for picking six winners in a row). These windfalls are known throughout the gambling world and well documented by the I.R.S. https://www.biography.com/people/chip-taylor-9542340
Posted in Alt Country, Country, Singer Songwriter | Tagged | Leave a comment

COLOURS – Atmosphere – (Dot) – 1969

Colours - Atmosphere

This one has been banging around my “maybe” pile for quite some time.

I listened to it some time ago and I quite liked it but thought I might need the shelving space for something else.

The first album with its (apparently) psych and Beatles overtones is the album the pundits like but a fair amount of Pavlov’s dog applies to music enthusiasts so it’s always better to do the leg, errr, ear work yourself.

I do have that debut album but I’ll do this one first as I’ve had it the longest and it was a part of my collection.

The Colours was formed around the central partnership of Jack Dalton and Gary Montgomery.

They were former (white) Motown Records songwriters who also penned songs for The Turtles, Nino Tempo & April Stevens, The Committee, The Peppermint Trolley Company, Aorta, The Moon and others.

As the Dalton Boys they released a Motown pop meets The Beatles single in 1965. (Claimed to be the first white group signed by Motown (albeit to their VIP label) The Dalton Boys began as a folk group formed by brothers Dan, Jack and Wally Dalton. In Detroit they teamed with Gary Montgomery before releasing that first 45).

Whether it is musical influence or commercial assumptions (or both) that chose that mix of sounds (Motown pop and Beatles) I don’t know but it was something they tapped into, again, as the Colours.

Jack Dalton (guitarist/song writer) was raised in Erieau, in the Chatham-Kent municipality of Canada, just across the lake from the US and about 100km from Detroit (which explains how he ended up at Tamla Motown, perhaps).

The Dalton family is well known in Erieau, as Mr. Dalton was known for years as Detroit’s Irish Tenor (and had his own radio show). The whole family are very musical and have entertained there (sic) neighbours with playing, singing and dancing. Jack was a member of the Dalton Boys, with his brothers Wally & Dan. The trio was booked to open Randy Sparks’ new club, Ledbetter’s, in October of 1963”. https://demokidblog.wordpress.com/tag/60s/

I don’t have a lot of detail on Gary Montgomery apart from the fact he was another Canadian (apparently) living and working in the US and passed away in 2005.

Dalton and Montgomery went to the west-coast (as everyone did). The Colours came together in 1967 at the request (on one version) of Dalton and Montgomery, though producer Daniel Moore (who produced both Colour albums) says, “I put the band together and brought the project to Richard Delvy, who secured the deal with Dot. Richard was the executive producer, and I wrote out all of the time/chord charts and did all of the "in studio" production for both albums” http://dougandrhonda.blogspot.com.au/2010/12/colours-is-good-love-heals-boulder.html

Perhaps they were a studio band, initially?

The group in 1967 included Jack Dalton (guitar), Gary Montgomery (vocals/piano), Chuck Blackwell (drums), Rob Edwards (lead guitar) and Carl Radle (bass). Despite the Canadians, the band's rhythm section roots can be traced to Oklahoma where drummer Chuck Blackwell and bassist Carl Radle were friends with Leon Russell whilst guitarist Rob Edwards had previously been a member of Californian surf band, Eddie and the Showmen.

They signed to Dot Records and released their first 45 later that year, “Brother Lou’s Love Colony”.

In 1968, they issued their debut self-titled LP.

In 1969, they issued this follow up LP but only Dalton and Montgomery are credited on the record.

In 1968 a large part of the music world was awash with the fall out of the Beatles Sgt Peppers album and the Colours were, apparently, Anglophiles. (As has been said) they even spelled their name in an English fashion, but this could be due to the fact that Dalton (and perhaps Montgomery) was Canadian.

Their debut album was certainly (apparently, from the bits I have heard) awash with Beatles sounds as well as pop and touches of psych. It is, perhaps, unashamedly Pepper-esque in its use of heavily layered, lavish arrangements, lush orchestration and studio wizardry (they even, in Beatles fashion recorded with an orchestra, here the 36-piece LA Philharmonic) … though, admittedly, there are hints of US garage grunt.

By contrast, “Atmosphere” is darker and less genre specific.

In fact the album tends to move from soul to jazz to straight rock but all with the mischievousness expected from late 60s recordings where less was not more. All, with a thick, sometimes orchestrated and always heavily arranged sound.

Actually, "Atmosphere" is all over the map.

The concentration is on a single vocalist and with jazz rock fusion sounds replacing the psych overtones of the earlier album. (Dissonant) horns and thick orchestrated production (naturally) dominate.

The songs aren't always catchy but are always interesting, the playing is great and the production is out there. Imagine the Beatles crossed over with Blood Sweat and Tears and hanging out with Frank Zappa because the Moody Blues and the Left Banke weren't around.

The album features former Beach Boy David Marks on lead guitar around the same time he was a member of The Moon another band with many connections to Colours (band member Matthew Moore’s brother Dan Moore was producing Colours and they also did a couple of Montgomery-Dalton songs including a cover of “Brother Lou's Love Colony”).

The band reflected their times and listening to this now, you realise their times were, perhaps more adventurous than other times since, especially when you realise these were mainstream releases.

All songs by Jack Dalton and Gary Montgomery. Produced by Dan Moore.

Tracks (best in italics)

      Side One

  • Angie – like a direr version of the Moody Blues and then the horns kick in. Quite weird but quite catchy
  • God Please Take My Life – similar to Blood Sweat and Tears in their more contemplative moments.
  • When Will You Be Coming Home? –  McCartney-esque and very good.
  • I Tried To Make You Love Me Last Night –  an interesting out there melodic dirge.
  • Grey Day – another song which has McCartney vocal influences with music that seems to come from a totally different song. I like it
  • Smilin' In Toronto – autobiographical perhaps with a nod, again, to the Moody Blues.

      Side Two 

  • Hyannis Port Soul (Lost You To The Wind)  –  very much of its time with some heavy psych influences.
  • Run Away From Here – very Beatles (McCartney) at times with a touch of the Left Banke. Quite beautiful.
  • It's Time To Tell You – More heavy psych influences with a touch of Cream. 
  • Announcement – and now for some MOR – hand claps and all. I don't know how this fits in but I love it.
  • I'll Be Your Friend –  a statement on friendship is there ever was one done do a country carnival beat much like what the Beatles were doing when they tries to replicate country sounds.
  • You're High – very catchy and it should have been an anthem of the times. A great tune.

And …

Strangely catchy and quite delightful. Its obscurity adds to its appeal … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

Nothing no where

Sounds

God Please Take My Life    

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ov-AgA5fY8

I Tried To Make You Love Me Last Night  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gDB4e3tAa0

Grey Day    

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_4qU3bQguc

Smilin' In Toronto   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOTSmGYNR8g

Hyannis Port Soul (Lost You To The Wind)   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k45s2cGxbAg

Run Away From Here    

mp3 attached

It's Time To Tell You    

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yloS0dikvsM

Others

Review

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

https://popintotheblue.blogspot.com.au/2017/03/colours-love-heals-complete-recordings.html

Bio

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/colours-mn0000110091/biography

http://dougandrhonda.blogspot.com.au/2010/12/colours-is-good-love-heals-boulder.html

http://psychedelicized.com/playlist/c/colours/

https://demokidblog.wordpress.com/tag/colours/

http://www.craigmorrison.com/spip.php?article105

https://www.annamontgomerystudio.com/biography

Website

Trivia

  • David Marks left The Beach Boys in 1963 and took over the band The Jaguards which became David Marks and The Marksmen until about 1966. In 1966 he played with Casey Kasem’s Band Without A Name before joining psych pop band The Moon. He then played lead guitar on this album. He was 21 at the time.
  • Jack Dalton’s brother, Dan Dalton, also had a great time in the music scene as a member of the Back Porch Majority, playing banjo and 12-string guitar. https://demokidblog.wordpress.com/tag/dan-dalton/
  • Original band member bassist Carl Radle went ton to play with Derek & The Dominos. Delaney & Bonnie and, shortly afterward, Derek & the Dominoes, as well as with J.J. Cale and Eric Clapton. Chuck Blackwell also achieved some renown in the early 70s by playing with Leon Russell, Joe Cocker, Taj Mahal, Freddie King, and other artists. http://psychedelicized.com/playlist/c/colours/
  • The sleeve opens through the top …unusual.
  • Clearly this band are not to be confused with the very fine Brisbane indie band of the same name from the 1980s (who released the single “Blue Shirt”) who, coincidentally, have Beatles, Motown and pop influences.
Posted in Jazz Rock Fusion, Psychedelic | Tagged | Leave a comment

JOHNNY RIVERS – Rewind – (Imperial) – 1967

JOHNNY RIVERS - Rewind

Johnny Rivers is no stranger to this blog.

A much underappreciated (here in Australia) contributor to rock ‘n’ pop, Rivers had many hits but has eluded the critical acclaim thrown on many of his contemporaries.

That’s not to say he hasn’t his supporters, or his fans. He has both, but the critics who love to (ie: people like me) unearth music of bygone years haven’t lionised him.

I suspect, as I have said elsewhere in this blog, it’s because he did too many covers.

He may not have been as forceful an interpreter or as individually a distinctive stylist as those other well-known coverists* Elvis Presley or Jerry Lee Lewis, or frequent coverists Johnny Cash or Gene Pitney, but he did have an individual voice, great rhythm, a catchy sound, and importantly, he had great taste in music.

Where Elvis differed from Jerry Lee and other exclusive coverists is that Elvis had songwriters he identified with writing for him. They would compose in his vocal style with themes that appealed to him. They became an extension of what he would have written if he could have bothered to. Of course, even then, his own musical personality was too eclectic to be perfectly captured by a third party and that is where the musical magic lies.

Singers identifying with writer-composers (and them sometimes pitching all their new material to the singer) was nothing new in music. Frank Sinatra had often covered Cole Porter, Elvis had often done Leiber and Stoller and Pomus and Shuman, Bing Crosby had done Johnny Mercer, Bobby Darin had done Ray Charles and just about everyone had done an album of Rod McKuen songs (okay, not everyone but Sinatra, Glenn Yarbrough, Rock Hudson etc).

Likewise it’s not unusual for established artists to find an up and coming composer and monopolise his (or her) songs like Bryan Hyland doing Peter Udell and Gary Geld, Gary Lewis doing Leon Russell or Glen Hardin, The Righteous Brothers doing Barry Mann and Cynthia Weill.

At this point (1967) in his career, Rivers was (still) trying to establish himself as a serious artist, possibly to reflect the serious times. The go-go music and rock ‘n’ roll was a thing of the past (though something he would return to) and perhaps that’s why his covers are black Motown or singer-songwriter … and for his originals he turned to someone young and hip with something to say, Jimmy Webb.

Webb (born in 1946) was an up and coming songwriter who Rivers saw something in, “The first commercial recording of a Jimmy Webb song was "My Christmas Tree" by The Supremes, which appeared on their 1965 Merry Christmas album. The following year, Webb met singer and producer Johnny Rivers, who signed him to a publishing deal and recorded his song "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" on his 1966 album Changes. In 1967, Rivers released Rewind, an album featuring seven Jimmy Webb songs, including "Do What You Gotta Do" and "Tunesmith", a song also recorded that year by Vikki Carr for her album It Must Be Him. That same year, Rivers turned to Webb for material for a new group Rivers was producing called The 5th Dimension. Webb contributed five songs to their debut album, Up, Up and Away, including the title track "Up, Up and Away", which was released as a single in May 1967 and reached the Top Ten” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Webb

Of course Webb would become a legend and record his own music as well as becoming crucial to the careers of Glen Campbell, The Fifth Dimension, Richard Harris, Art Garfunkel and even The Supremes (who all did albums of Webb songs)

Here he is young and ambitious (he even arranges the material) and Rivers (rightly) sees something in him. His songs are sharp pop with a bit of substance.

It’s not all one way traffic though as Webb would have studied Rivers and written and arranged songs to suit his musical personality.

But, ultimately, Rivers is the interpreter of the material. The buck stops with him.

And he does it beautifully.

All songs by Jimmy Webb unless otherwise indicated.

Tracks (best in italics)

             Side One

  • The Tracks Of My Tears – (Warren Pete Moore, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Tarplin) – a hit for Smokey Robinson and the Miracles (#16  pop, #2 R&B) in 1965. Often covered throughout pop and rock history. This is good.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tracks_of_My_Tears
  • Carpet Man – very catchy and a bit Neil Diamond like though less frantic. His definition of "carpet man" is different to mine.
  • Tunesmith – a nice melodic Jimmy Webb type number that is quite catchy.
  • Sidewalk Song / 27th Street – Another Webb but without the trademark emotional highs.
  • It'll Never Happen Again – (Tim Hardin) – from folk singer-songwriter Tim Hardin's debut album "Tim Hardin 1" (1966) this has been often covered.
  • Do What You Gotta' Do – lots of strings and things, well more than normal. Tastefully done. Very pleasant on the ears.

Side Two

  • Baby I Need Your Lovin' – (Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Eddie Holland) – The Four Tops #1US hit from 1964. Rivers slows it down and does it as a smooth soul song. Nothing can top the original but this good and different. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_I_Need_Your_Loving
  • For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her – (Paul Simon) – a album track from Simon & Garfunkel's "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme" (1966) album it was issued in a live form by them in 1972 (to promote the release of Simon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits) and went to #53US. quite MOR psych-y. Quite memorable https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/For_Emily,_Whenever_I_May_Find_Her
  • Rosecrans Boulevard – very Jimmy Webb and a little out there if you listen to the lyrics. Actally, quite a bit out there. Also released by The Fifth Dimension in 1967.
  • The Eleventh Song – No Rivers just his backing vocalists which sounds like the chicks from The Fifth Dimension …"what a groovy day" indeed.
  • Sweet Smiling Children – another questioning youth song popular at the time.

And …

Mellow and memorable … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1967 Baby I Need Your Lovin' #3

1967 The Tracks of My Tears #10

Album

1967 #14

England

Singles

Album

Australia

Singles

1967 Baby I Need Your Lovin' #44

1967 The Tracks of My Tears #38

Album

Sounds

The Tracks of My Tears

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArCNJeFuO6o

Carpet Man

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aREcfXLdv5k

Tunesmith

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T920wmz_iDU

Sidewalk Song / 27th Street

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3IO3GKUbKg

It'll Never Happen Again

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ix2NkQUQwE

Do What You Gotta' Do

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NSjT27M3M0

Baby I Need Your Lovin'

Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWM_mItKYK4

recently

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7aQkQ961T8w

For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her 

mp3 attached

Rosecrans Boulevard

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

The Eleventh Song

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzz3DrynJMo

Sweet Smiling Children

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJtZ725ykjY

Others

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TXfcsFhc7A

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

Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/rewind-mw0000851429

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rewind_(Johnny_Rivers_album)

Bio

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

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

Excellent Glenn A Baker bio on Rivers

https://www.whiskyagogo.com/articles/609999.html

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

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/jimmy-webb-mn0000129761/biography

Website

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

http://www.frankkinsel.com/

https://www.facebook.com/frank.kinsel.7

Trivia

  • Personnel : Johnny Rivers – vocals / Larry Knechtel – piano / Mike Deasy Sr. – guitar / Joe Osborn – bass guitar / Mike Deasy Jr. – vocals / Lou Adler – producer /  Jimmy Webb – arranger, conductor / Marty Paich – horns and strings arranger/conductor

JOHNNY RIVERS - Rewind - back     JOHNNY RIVERS - Rewind - gatefold- close 01     JOHNNY RIVERS - Rewind - gatefold- close 02

*No one invents anything new but I choose to use the word “coverist” which I haven’t heard before in the context of a word for singers who cover other people’s work. Granted, everyone is to some extent a “coverist” and some are more than others but the word is not meant to be pejorative. “Coverists” can be song interpreters (at the “original” end of the spectrum) or cover artists (at the other end). Like I said, I haven’t heard the word used in this context before (or any context) and google reveals nothing, but I think it fits, so I’m using it.

 

RIP: Jerry Lewis 1926 – 2017

Posted in Rock & Pop | Tagged | Leave a comment

SAMMY DAVIS Jr – Now – (MGM) – 1972

Sammy Davis Jr - Now

Sammy Davis Jr is part of my musical memory. He was always there.

“Samuel George Davis Jr. (December 8, 1925 – May 16, 1990) was an American singer, dancer, actor and comedian. He was noted for his impressions of actors, musicians and other celebrities. At the age of three, Davis began his career in vaudeville with his father and Will Mastin as the Will Mastin Trio, which toured nationally. After military service, Davis returned to the trio. Davis became an overnight sensation following a nightclub performance at Ciro's (in West Hollywood) after the 1951 Academy Awards. With the trio, he became a recording artist. In 1954, he lost his left eye in a car accident, and several years later, he converted to Judaism … Davis's film career began as a child in 1933. In 1960, he appeared in the Rat Pack film Ocean's 11. After a starring role on Broadway in Mr Wonderful (1956), he returned to the stage in 1964's Golden Boy. In 1966 he had his own TV variety show, titled The Sammy Davis Jr. Show. Davis's career slowed in the late 1960s, but he had a hit record with "The Candy Man" in 1972 and became a star in Las Vegas, earning him the nickname "Mister Show Business." … Davis was a victim of racism throughout his life, particularly during the pre-Civil Rights era, and was a large financial supporter of the Civil Rights Movement. Davis had a complex relationship with the black community, and drew criticism after publicly supporting President Richard Nixon in 1972 (although he later returned to being a Democrat). One day on a golf course with Jack Benny, he was asked what his handicap was. "Handicap?" he asked. "Talk about handicap. I'm a one-eyed Negro Jew." This was to become a signature comment, recounted in his autobiography, and in countless articles … After reuniting with Sinatra and Dean Martin in 1987, Davis toured with them and Liza Minnelli internationally, before he died of throat cancer in 1990”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sammy_Davis_Jr.

There has been a lot written about Sammy Davis Jr and his career (more links at the end), but, ultimately, of the central “rat packers”, he pegs just under Sinatra and Martin in terms of respectability.  No cult surrounding his voice has developed around him like it has around Sinatra, and likewise, no cult of cool has developed around him like it has around Martin.

But, in many ways he was the Rat Pack ideal … the talented all-round entertainer that rode across the disparate styles (or rather musical personas) of Sinatra and Martin.

In an era when an entertainer had to be able to do a bit of everything Sammy gave 100% in everything he did, regardless.

Musically, like Sinatra, he tackled everything and unlike Martin, he probably shouldn’t have.

Frank knew he could, and Dean knew he couldn’t, but was happy in the space he created. Sammy, was the all-round singer, who gave everything a go, whether he knew it would work or not, and sometimes it wouldn’t. But, also, there were times when it shouldn’t have worked but by sheer force of personality it did, and he would surprise himself and everybody else.

Yes, Sammy could do it all.  Sure Frank and Dean could sing, act and dance but Sammy did that and more.

That’s not to say he was as good as Frank and Dean (he wasn’t) but it’s like comparing Gods, and he dwelt amongst them comfortably.

Sammy was always “on” and that is a good and bad thing. Where Sinatra intellectualised his music and drew acclaim and Dean made lazy music a persona (and art form) and drew legions of fans, Sammy’s full throated voice (and accompanying bombast), hasn’t carried over to new generations.

In many ways he is the precursor to Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey, Whitney Houston or half the acts on “American Idol” and there is nothing wrong with that (perhaps) but contemporary audiences seem to like their trad pop singers with some shading.

Perhaps, that’s why he isn’t lionized …

“There may be no figure in American popular culture more maligned in death than Sammy Davis, Jr. The image of the diminutive entertainer, clad in open shirts and bell-bottoms, wearing beads and gold chains, and with an ever-present cigarette dangling from his mouth has superseded that of the incendiary talent, a triple-threat actor, singer and dancer who could hold his own opposite Frank Sinatra (and best him in the dancing department, natch). Davis was also a best-selling author, an impressionist par excellence, a civil rights crusader who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and not a bad drummer, either.”. https://theseconddisc.com/2011/01/reissue-theory-sammy-davis-jr-compiled-sammy-in-the-seventies/

So, when approaching Sammy you have to take the good with the bad and in a musical career spanning some fifty albums there will be gold and there will be tin. But, because he hasn’t been resurrected and analysed (musically) to any great extent half the fun is the search.

The other half is knowing that he is giving it 100%.

And, I’m sure there will be more gold than tin.

This album was rushed out to cash-in on Sammy’s big hit, “The Candy Man”.

Sammy’s career was in a slump circa 1970. He had signed to Motown (in April of 1970) and had been working on material (Marvin Gaye apparently wrote an album for him) though what was released (not the Marvin stuff) bombed badly. Meanwhile, composer and record company owner, Mike Curb had sold / merged his label “Sidewalk Records” with MGM, and in 1969, at the age of 25, had become president of MGM (and Verve) Records. Curb a fixture on the Hollywood film scene must have been happy to have a movie star on his roster. So, Sammy went to MGM. There he recorded “The Candy Man” (with Curb’s own musical group, The Mike Curb Congregation backing him) which, when released in 1972, became a big hit (Sammy’s only #1). His recent MGM sessions were raided as well as studio recordings MGM had bought from Motown, and this album was the result. (see trivia at end for session notes)

It all hangs together quite well and is a product of its time when trad pop singers were adding funk and up-tempo pop rock elements to their sound. And, they haven't copped out – everything has been contemporised. The album's track listing, typically, is aimed for broad appeal with, mainly, recent hits, and popular film songs … and I like it when trad pop singers tackle that material.

Arranger/conductor duties are in the capable hands of Don Costa who had replaced Nelson Riddle, Gordon Jenkins and Billy May as Sinatra's go-to-man in the late 1960s.

Gold.

Tracks (best in italics)

             Side One

  • The Candy Man – (Leslie Bricusse / Anthony Newley) – (covered from the film “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory”). Sammy takes this song and gives it everything. Apparently, Sammy didn’t like the song (allegedly, he did it at a time when he thought it might help him land the title role in the "Willy Wonka" film for which the song was written) and thought it too saccharine (well it is a song about "Candy" (sic)). However, he had recorded equally saccharine stuff before, had recorded quite a bit of Leslie Bricusse, and was friends with Anthony Newley, so perhaps that’s not the reason. Mike Curb’s fingerprints are all over this song (Curb’s own musical group, The Mike Curb Congregation is backing him and his ultra MOR outlook at the time buys into this. Perhaps that’s what Sammy had a problem with. It’s horrible mush, but it’s well done horrible mush, catchy, and a deserving #1 hit. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Candy_Man
  • This Is My Life – (Bruno Canfora) – This song was originally written by Italian Bruno Canfora. In 1968 Shirley Bassey performed the song ("La Vita") at the San Remo Music Festival in Italy with the songs’ Italian lyrics (by Antonio Amurri) partially rewritten in English by Norman Newell. It was released as a single the same year by her with an album of the same title. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_Is_My_Life_(La_vita)
  • I Am Over 25–But You Can Trust Me – (Mike Curb / Mack David) – I believe this was first done by Sammy. Curb was 28 and Hollywood songwriter Mack David (the older brother of Burt Bacharach co-writer Hal) was 60. A lot of people won't like this song but there is some wisdom in it with the narrator basically saying, I've been through what you are going through so trust me.
  • Have a Little Talk With Myself – (Ray Stevens) – recorded by the author, country singer Stevens, in 1970. Quite funky with some Stax like horns. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Have_a_Little_Talk_with_Myself
  • Willoughby Grove – (Danny Meehan / Bobby Scott) – Later covered by country singer Larry Jon Wilson in 1976. One of those introspective MOR songs. Quite good.
  • Take My Hand – (B. James) – a faux gospel number. Sammy belts it out with a forceful backing chorus. Nice.

Side Two

  • I'll Begin Again – (Leslie Bricusse) – a cover from the Scrooge (1970) soundtrack. One of those "I will …" songs so familiar to Broadway musicals.
  • I Want to Be Happy – (Irving Caesar / Vincent Youmans) – written for the 1925 musical “No, No, Nanette” this has been recorded by everyone including Doris Day with Gordon MacRae (in the movie "Tea for Two", 1950) and Bing Crosby (1954). It has been given a funky treatment here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Want_to_Be_Happy
  • MacArthur Park – (Jimmy Webb) – Richard Harris’ big hit (#2) from 1968. This magnificent piece of MOR kitsch demands to be sung in full entertainment mode as only a traditional singer can do it without any irony, post modernism or wounded insecurity. Magnificent. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MacArthur_Park_(song)
  • Time to Ride – (Charles / Mack David) – A note on this song,  “sometimes referred to by its alternate title “The Wild Rover” – was credited to the writing team of legendary lyricist Mack David and a mysterious ‘Charles’. ‘Charles’ was a pseudonym for Mike Curb himself, who had arranged Donny Osmond to record the song for Osmond’s debut solo album, The Donny Osmond Album (1971)” MOR funk and quite pleasnat though not especially memorable. http://sammydavisjr.info/time-to-ride/.
  • John Shaft – (Bettye Crutcher / Isaac Hayes) – Isaac Hayes worked with Sammy on his classic #1 hit from 1971. Sammy's version has extended lyrics. This is wonderful. It is not "street" but then again Hayes' original wasn't exactly "street" unless it was a upmarket Hollywood street. Sammy goes off. As an aside, maybe this is where Elvis got the phrase “Taking care of business”, a phrase he loved, used and immortalised in the 70s, though the phrase had been used elsewhere. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theme_from_Shaft

And …

Thoroughly enjoyable … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1972 The Candy Man #1 Pop

Album

unknown position

England

nothing

Sounds

The Candy Man   

Live

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRf1Ad_Txsg

This Is My Life   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzNInu72KWo

I Am Over 25 – But You Can Trust Me  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mHgz41g8oQ

Take My Hand

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yz2NgnlA_p8

John Shaft

mp3 attached

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe6JTHAWDT4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoEX6g8itTw

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

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Jg7wFHWXT4

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbLlCxK0pHY

Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/sammy-davis-jr-now-mw0000893027

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sammy_Davis_Jr._Now

Bio

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

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/sammy-davis-jr-mn0000294376/biography

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2946546/Sammy-Davis-Jr-brought-love-child-adopted-son-tried-steal-girlfriends-told-truth-death-bed-left-son-penniless-works-Costco.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAQWvE7IwWc

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

Website

http://sammydavisjr.info/

Trivia

  • Session Notes:

    • 25 November 1970 at Los Angeles: Sammy Davis, Jr. (ldr), Perry Botkin, Jr. (arr), Jimmy Bowen (pdr), Sammy Davis, Jr. (v) (a Motown session) – I Want To Be / Have A Little Talk With Myself / Willoughby Grove
    • 18 January 1971: Sammy Davis, Jr. (ldr), Perry Botkin, Jr., Ernie Freeman (arr), Jimmy Bowen (pdr), Sammy Davis, Jr. (v) (a Motown session) – I'll Begin Again
    • 19 August 1971 at Los Angeles: Sammy Davis, Jr. (ldr), Don Costa (arr), Sammy Davis, Jr. (v), The Mike Curb Congregation (bkv) – I Am Over 25 (But You Can Trust Me) / The Candy Man / Time To Ride
    • 23 October 1971 at Los Angeles: Sammy Davis, Jr. (ldr), Don Costa (arr), Sammy Davis, Jr. (v) – MacArthur Park / This Is My Life
    • 16 January 1972 at Los Angeles: Sammy Davis, Jr. (ldr), Isaac Hayes, Onzie Horne (arr), Sammy Davis, Jr. (v) – John Shaft (Theme From "Shaft")
    • 18 February 1972 at Los Angeles: Sammy Davis, Jr. (ldr), Perry Botkin, Jr. (arr, con), Sammy Davis, Jr. (v) – Take My Hand

http://members.ozemail.com.au/~lindenbrae/sdj/sessions.html

Sammy Davis Jr - Now - Open sleeve

The open sleeve inner. Sammy with entertainment friends. Play spot the star ….

Sammy Davis Jr - Now - Open sleeve - inside

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FRANKIE AVALON – Frankie Avalon – (Chancellor) – 1958

Frankie Avalon - 1958

Of all the pure pop stars of the late 1950s and early 1960s Frankie Avalon is perhaps the most derided. Well, it’s either him or Fabian.

Like Fabian he was Italian-American.

Like Fabian he was a product of un-hip Philadelphia.

Like Fabian he quickly supplemented his music career with a film career.

Like Fabian his music doesn’t give rise to revisionism, retrospectives, or cult-dom.

But,

like Fabian,

there is inherently pleasing pop in the best of his music.

Wikipedia:  Avalon was born in Philadelphia, the son of Mary and Nicholas Avallone … In December 1952, he made his American network television debut playing the trumpet in the Honeymooners "Christmas Party" sketch on The Jackie Gleason Show. Two singles showcasing Avalon's trumpet playing were issued on RCA Victor's "X" sublabel in 1954.[4] His trumpet playing was also featured on some of his LP songs as well. As a teenager he played with Bobby Rydell in Rocco and the Saints … In 1959, "Venus" (5 weeks #1) and "Why" went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100. "Why" was the last #1 of the 1950s … Avalon had 31 charted U.S. Billboard singles from 1958 to late 1962, including "Just Ask Your Heart" (U.S. #7), "I'll Wait for You" (U.S. #15), "Bobby Sox to Stockings" (U.S. #8), and "A Boy Without a Girl" (U.S. #10). Most of his hits were written and/or produced by Bob Marcucci, head of Chancellor Records” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankie_Avalon

The great Cub Koda writing in Allmusic places Frankie in his musical context: “Discussing Frankie Avalon's career as a mover and shaker in 1950s rock & roll with anyone who takes their rock & roll even halfway seriously is to court derision. Avalon was the first of the manufactured teen idols, before Fabian and Bobby Rydell and the myriad of other pretenders to the throne who worked the turf with tight black pants and red, red sweaters to the fore while Elvis cooled his heels in Germany. In the late '50s and early '60s, post-Twist and pre-Beatles, these generally untalented pretty boys were the cardboard no-threat remnants of a post-Elvis age. But Avalon had a real musical background to go with the pretty boy looks, and was no drugstore teenager waiting to be discovered”.

“Generally untalented” is a bit rough (and just lazy stereotyping) especially when compared to what followed but Cub Koda is astute enough to point out Avalon’s usually unwritten difference, and that is, his musicality. Avalon was a child prodigy trumpet player, with a good ear for music.

And I suspect that gave him an edge.

He may not have extended himself but he knew what he was doing.

His active musical recording career was over by 1962 but he had proved himself a fair actor, and continued making films till the end of the decade. He still tours and has a popularity which is testament to just how popular he was in the early to mid-1960s …

I grew up watching the Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello beach movies on weekends which alternated with Martin & Lewis films, Abbott & Costello films, Francis films and, of course, Elvis films. Despite the fact that Frankie and Annette were too Italian, and too urban, it never struck me that they weren’t authentic sun, surf and sandy beach types.  But, then again, as an inner-Brisbane suburban (not a contradiction but a Brisbane thing) child, the son of southern European migrants to Australia, Avalon and Funicello certainly reminded me of people who would flock to Margate beach at nearby Redcliffe, on weekends, when I was a kid.

And in the days before digital entertainment, air conditioning and planned distractions the summer trips to Redcliffe, when we weren’t going fishing, were a must. All the uncles, aunts and cousins would congregate for a few hours of good quality extended family time.

And it wasn’t our family that invented this festivity.

The beach was not a surf beach and the sand, by Australian standards, was fairly narrow (even at low tide) between water’s edge and the concrete steps that dropped from the grass verge to the sand.

On summer weekends, the dirt road that ran along the grass verge was awash, on either side, with Italians, Croatians, Greeks, Hungarians and Poles all set up with their tents, tables, chairs, blankets and their version of barbecuing – which was much more elaborated than the Australian sausage and bun.

The smells of all the international cuisines, the multitude of languages and dialects made the place a "little Europe" amongst the gumtrees and lantana.

It certainly wasn't everyday Queensland.

It wasn't familiar Australia.

Well, it wasn’t Anglo Celtic Australia.

It certainly wasn’t an Australia that was or is portrayed in popular culture.

With upward mobility and the improvement of inter-town roads the (mainly southern) Europeans eventually gravitated away from weekends at Redcliffe to the infinitely sexier Gold Coast or the posh Sunshine Coast and Redcliffe beach has become home to newer waves of migrants.

At least that is the way I remember it.

It seems to me that the music of Frankie Avalon would fit in with that environment.

I can now hear Frankie Avalon’s music (or something like it) coming from any of those tents in the 1970s, some 15 years after he had recorded it.

This was as rock "n" roll as that specific cultural generation got, well this and Elvis of course, "who must have been a southern European with his dark complexion and hair".

And, there is nothing wrong with that.

It seems Frankie's music is perfect manufactured pop and faux beach music and … prefect for a migrant’s faux Australiana beach going.

The Italians especially knew he had done good … he was one of them, he was a singer, he was a movie star, he was clean cut and he hooked up with the perfect Italian girl next door, Annette Funicello, in every other film.

Where he fits into American culture I leave for the Americans to analyse.

To me he is pure pop of an era I have fond memories of, despite the fact the era was over before I was born.

Would I put him on the turntable above Dion, Bobby Darin, Bobby Vee?

No, but I sure enjoy his music and look forward to discovering his albums.

This album was probably rushed in 1958 to capitalise on his late 1957 hit “DeDe Dinah” (#7US).

Not surprisingly the album is made up of hits of the day with a few songs from Frankie's musical memory, the odd contemporary track that took his fancy and some old trad pop songs for the "grown ups".

Avalon was never a rock ‘n’ roller but in true pop fashion Frankie’s pop veers to cleaner versions of the rock ‘n’ roll that was still consuming the youth. The stereotype, and lazy history is, that this made him palatable with the adults. There is a truth in that but his chart success indicates the kids bought his music as well.

Pop, by its nature, is designed to reach as many people as possible and everyone dabbles in it. Elvis had as much pop as rock 'n' roll, even in the 50s and Beatles probably had more pop than outright rock.

Avalon, decided that is where his talents best lie and never deviated but, eventually, followed the Bobby Darin route from rock “n” pop to all around entertainer.

This album is arranged by and conducted by Italian-American guitarist Al Caiola (at least one his albums is in every op shop) and produced by fellow Philadelphian Peter DeAngelis.

Peter DeAngelis and Robert Marcucci founded Chancellor Records and became one of Philadelphia's most successful writing as well as manager/producer teams in the late fifties and early sixties.

Tracks (best in italics)

             Side One

  • Oooh! Look-A There, Ain't She Pretty? – (Todd, Lombardo) – an old tin pan alley standard done by everyone that dates back to Fats Waller in 1936. There is some magnificent guitar work (not quite rock 'n' roll but hyper) that I assume is supplied by Al Caiola. It is complimented by some wailing saxophone.
  • Short Fat Fannie – (Williams) – Larry Williams’ #5Pop, #1 R&B US from 1957. More hyper pop. Frankie is trying to pitch this in Bobby Darin rock 'n' roll territory. It is cute and it works. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Short_Fat_Fannie
  • Young Love – (Joyner, Cartey) – country singer Sonny James had a crossover hit with this in 1957 #2Pop, #1 Country but Tab Hunter did a version which was released in the same months (January) as James’ version. Hunter’s version went to #1 Pop US. I love this song. It's a great tune (especially in its two hit versions). Frankie's version works also and he sings it with the right amount of youthful emotion. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Love_(1956_song)
  • Young and Beautiful – (Schroeder, Silver) – first recorded by Elvis for his 1957 hit film “Jailhouse Rock” … this was an album track (or rather an EP track as the film did not have a soundtrack album just an EP) and had Avalon and his producers thinking beyond just recent chart hits for song selection which I applaud (though Elvis' EP went to #1 in the short lived EP charts). Frankie copies the Elvis arrangement (well, no arrangement) and sings in lonely and sparse and it sounds great. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_and_Beautiful_(Elvis_Presley_song)
  • Diana – (Anka) – Paul Anka’s N2Pop, #1 R&B US hit from 1957. Pure up-tempo pop that suits Frankie. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diana_(Paul_Anka_song)
  • At The Hop – (Singer, Medora, White) – Danny & the Juniors #1Pop, #1R&B smash from 1957. Quite a good version but not distinctive.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At_the_Hop
  • Honey – (Simons, Gillespie, Whiting) – an old Tin Pan Alley dong dating back to 1929 and a hit for Rudy Valee. A definite throwback but not too bad. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honey_(Rudy_Vall%C3%A9e_song)

Side Two

  • I'm Walkin' – (Domino, Bartholomew) – Fats Domino’s #4Pop, #1R&B hit from 1957. A good version of the great tune. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%27m_Walkin%27
  • Little Bitty Pretty One – (Byrd) – originally recorded by Bobby Day, and popularized by Thurston Harris in 1957 (#6 Pop, #2 R&B). Others have had subsequent hits with it : Frankie Lymon (#58 Pop US 1960), Clyde McPhatter (#25 1962), The Jacksons (#13 US 1972).  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Bitty_Pretty_One
  • De De Dinah – (Marcucci, DeAngelis) – the hit written for Avalon by his management team. Quite catchy though quite ridiculous. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DeDe_Dinah
  • The Stroll – (Otis, Lee) – The Diamonds #4Pop, #5 R&B US hit from 1957. Filler here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Stroll
  • My Mom – (Donaldson) – The standard was written and composed by Walter Donaldson in 1932 and done by a few trad pop-sters (Bing Crosby, Tony Bennett) including Rudy Valee in 1932. Very safe and very traditional sounding.
  • You're My Girl – (Cahn, Styne) – Written for the Broadway musical, "High Button Shoes”. Its first performance was by Mark Dawson and Lois Lee (1947) though actor Jack Webb does a spoken word version (Jack “talks” the lyrics of the song over easy-listening background music) in 1958. Trad …

And …

Quite a good pop "n" roll album. It is trying to cover all generational bases but, when it moves, it is thoroughly enjoyable. I'd be happy to drink to this in the sunshine … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1957 DeDe Dinah #7 Pop

1957 DeDe Dinah #8 R&B

Album

England

nothing

Sounds

Oooh! Look-A There, Ain't She Pretty?

mp3 attached

Short Fat Fannie

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X86_APTLJMI

Young Love

mp3 attached

Young and Beautiful

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpZjrQi7jrA

Diana

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfL0yiETR_8

At The Hop

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACoifexsf20

Honey

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7R9ntq90VcY

I'm Walkin'

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xM8QdYcPlTQ

Little Bitty Pretty One

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIAdliIl-RA

De De Dinah

Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSQ388vnGec

The Stroll

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUrdlFfM8AI

My Mom

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCO2MU5hWto

You're My Girl

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaJ0KyIyVqA

Others

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

sometimes I agree with Patty Duke ..

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

The Alamo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xs4QOwzPI4Y

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

Review

https://yesterdaysoundstoday.wordpress.com/2017/02/28/frankie-avalon-%e2%80%8e-frankie-avalon-lp-1958/

Bio

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

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/frankie-avalon-mn0000165855/biography

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

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

http://www.philadelphiamusicalliance.org/honoree.php?id=35

Website

https://frankieavalon.com/

Trivia

  • Frankie Avalon, Fabian and Bobby Rydell still tour together as The “Golden Boys”.

Frankie Avalon - 1958 - back

 

RIP: Glen Campbell (1936-2017)

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

GENE PITNEY – I Must Be Seeing Things – (Musicor) – 1965

GENE PITNEY - I Must Be Seeing Things

Pitney’s career was still on the way up.

His career hadn’t been derailed by The Beatles or by changes in taste as had happened to so many other white male solo vocalists of the early 1960s.

Ultimately, it was the excessive noise and experimentation later in the decade as well as age that eventually ended his chart making status.

Pitney, though, was always more than the others of his ilk. He was the yard stick by which they all measured up to. He was never outright rock ‘n’ roll but there was a fair bit of rock attitude in his up-tempo pop but there was also soul, country, folk and trad pop balladry when he wanted it.

But, it is his ballads where the rock ‘n’ roll (attitude) is most noticeable.

The up-tempo pop rock song (as well as the rock ballad) is a style Elvis invented (whatever that word means). The arguments will always exist (especially amongst the slack jawed yokels) as to who (or what) invented rock ‘n’ roll when referring to the up-tempo rock we associate with the 50s, but, when it comes to the up-tempo pop rock song, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Little Richard, Fats Domino, Bill Haley never even attempted the same. Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers and Charlie Rich did but they were a fraction later.

Pitney took those pop rock songs and added his musical personality to the mix just like Roy Orbison was doing in the (post-Sun records) MGM phase of his career.

Pitney was the natural successor to late 50s era Roy Orbison who was having concurrent hits but their personas were different. Orbison was thoughtful, mournful, and emotional but, perhaps, resigned to the difficulties that life throws up whereas Pitney was edgy, hyper emotional and not accepting.

Between them they created some of the best big ballads and pop of the 1960s.

Gene was no slouch when it came to writing songs but (much like Johnny Cash) he never felt compelled to write all his material and would always draw on other people’s songs if he saw something in the lyric. And, like Cash, or any great singer, he interprets the song and adapts it to his musical personality and world view.

Here, Gene writes a few tunes, records some songs by established songwriters like Bacharach-David, Udell-Geld, and Pomus-Shuman, and also records songs by new talents which would become influential in music like Al Kooper and Randy Newman. There are relatively fewer covers than you would expect for an album of this type.

The songs are linked thematically by love in all its phases: new love, lost love, love gone bad, bad love, lustful love, rejected love, re-found love but, then again, there are precious few Pitney song that aren’t about love.

The beauty is of course if doesn’t matter if Gene writes the song or someone else does because they all end up sounding like Gene Pitney songs.

I have never shied away from an album populated by covers (if it comes from the right era) but Gene’s choice of new material is what gives him the edge over other male vocalists. Of course the beauty is that with him being a hit maker meant he got, potentially, first choice on newly written songs.

Tracks (best in italics)

              Side One

  • I Must Be Seeing Things – (Bob Brass, Al Kooper, Irwin Levine) – first released by Gene. A magnificent ode to a potential broken love. Hyper emotional which captures the anguish of the narrator.
  • Marianne – (Gene Pitney) – could this possibly be a song for Marianne Faithfull, with whom Gene had a brief fling in the mid-'60s? The song both flatters the title character and is also quite realistic about the vicissitudes of life.
  • Save Your Love – (Pitney) – a plea to keep love pure till the narrator returns.
  • Down in the Subway – (Peter Udell, Gary Geld) – talented US composers Udell and Geld composed the immortal “Sealed with a Kiss”. I prefer being "Down in the Subway" than "Down in the Tubestation at Midnight"
  • If Mary's There – (Udell, Geld) – first recorded by Brian Hyland in 1963.
  • Don't Take Candy From A Stranger – (Bob Brass, Al Kooper, Irwin Levine) – it seems this was first released by Gene. Sage advice though there is more than on meaning here.

Side 2

  • One Day – (Doc Pomus, Mort Shuman) – it seems this was first released by Gene. A warning with certainty about what the girl will miss.
  • She's Still There – (Kooper, Levine) – Patient love. First released by Gene.
  • Just One Smile – (Randy Newman) – first done by The Tokens in 1965 then covered by Blood sweat & Tears in 1968. A hyper emotional mid-tempo ballad. The narrators position is immediately palatable. A great song. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_One_Smile
  • There's No Livin's Without Your Lovin' – (Jerry Harris, Paul Kaufman) – first released by Gene. But covered by Manfred Mann later in 1965 and Peter & Gordon in 1966. (and then Mink DeVille in 1985). I can see why the British Beat groups took a shine to this.
  • I Lost Tomorrow (Yesterday) – (Jay Darrow) – it seems this was first released by Gene.
  • If I Never Get To Love You –  (Hal David, Burt Bacharach) –first recorded by Lou Johnson in 1962 but Marianne Faithful did a version in 1965 (just before Gene?). A beautiful song with tasteful strings.

And …

Wonderful … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1965 I Must Be Seeing Things #31 Pop

1967 Just One Smile #64 Pop

Album

1965 #112

England

Singles

1966 Just One Smile #8

Album

1965 #15 (as "Looking through the Eyes of Love" – see note at end)

Australia 

Singles

1966 Just One Smile #55

Album

Sounds

I Must Be Seeing Things 

Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPanG9d5YW8

Marianne 

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

Save Your Love 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R47U0PRGRn8

Down In the Subway 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6n8Nirh6CA

If Mary's There 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xL0K7X3Uhpg

Don't Take Candy from a Stranger 

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

One Day 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oe6u4oBIzzk

She's Still There 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIMc0WThAdY

Just One Smile 

mp3 attached

There's No Livin' Without Your Lovin'

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

I Lost Tomorrow (Yesterday) 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVySsK5iJUI

If I Never Get To Love You

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tie275lIzS8

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBCa9o-eLt8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4AAxxN2Z98

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

Review

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

http://www.allmusic.com/album/i-must-be-seeing-things-mw0000860758

Bio

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

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/gene-pitney-mn0000200882

http://www.classicbands.com/pitney.html

Website

Trivia

  • This album (in its American and Australian pressings) has the song "If I Never Get to Love You" whilst UK copies have "Looking Through the Eyes of Love". I believe it was normal for US and Australian copies, to have the former track. The UK release of the album featured "Looking through the Eyes of Love" which was a Top 10 hit in the US, UK as well as Canada. The album was released as "Looking through the Eyes of Love" on the Stateside label in the United Kingdom. The American album "Looking through the Eyes of Love" also released in 1965 had a totally different track listing apart from the title track.

 

RIP: Red West (1936-2017)

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

HARPERS BIZARRE – Feelin’ Groovy – (Warner Brothers) – 1967

Harpers Bizarre - Feelin' Groovy

Harpers Bizarre (formed 1963, disbanded 1970) are another one of those specifically American bands  that hit it reasonably big there but never had a big overseas presence …think Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Happenings, Jay and the Americans etc etc.

They do crop up in op shops occasionally and usually, not surprisingly, it is their hit album.

And that, in this case, is this album.

Wikipedia: “Harpers Bizarre was formed out of the Tikis, a band from Santa Cruz, California, that had some local successes with Beatlesque songs in the mid 1960s. The Tikis had been signed to Tom Donahue's Autumn Records from 1965 to 1966 and had released two singles on that label. In 1967, record producer Lenny Waronker got hold of the Simon & Garfunkel song "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)," determined to make it into a hit single. The Tikis recorded it using an arrangement created by Leon Russell, featuring extended harmonies reminiscent of the work of Brian Wilson or even the Swingle Singers. The song was released under a new band name, "Harpers Bizarre" (a play on the magazine Harper's Bizarre), so as not to alienate the Tikis' fanbase. The Harpers Bizarre version of the song reached No. 13 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in April 1967,far exceeding any success that the Tikis thus far had. The track reached No. 34 in the UK Singles Chart … The success of the single prompted Harpers Bizarre to record their debut album … Most of Harpers Bizarre's recordings are cheerful and airy, both in subject matter and musical accompaniment, often with string and woodwind arrangements. Their music is most closely associated with the sunshine pop and baroque pop genres”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harpers_Bizarre

The allmusic entry is perhaps more to the point, “One of the bands that came to Warner Bros. in their buyout of Autumn Records were the Tikis. They had only recorded a handful of singles, and in terms of musical direction and group identity, they definitely had potential. Enter producer Lenny Waronker and session musician/arranger/songwriter/general musical architect Van Dyke Parks. The two of them brought then-drummer Ted Templeman up to the front as co-lead vocalist, along with Dick Scoppettone, and created a soft-rock identity for the group, renaming them Harpers Bizarre”.

http://www.allmusic.com/album/feelin-groovy-mw0000017104

Perhaps, tellingly, they had most of their success in the Adult Contemporary (aka "Easy Listening") chart which gives an indication of their audience. They had five singles in the Top 40 of that chart including a #1 (“Chattanooga Choo Choo")

The band (or some of them) could write songs when pushed but they mainly relied on songs written by others:

  • recent songs released by others though, usually, album tracks they thought had potential. A wise move: get a catchy album track from an established act and release it as a single;
  • songs by upcoming songwriters (especially those with a hit making track record), or;
  • (familiar) songs from the tin pan alley / trad pop era contemporised to their musical world view.

And, this seems to be the case across all their albums.

The bottom line was sales but they did do this in accordance with their world view musical style.

They started off as AM Pop (much like The Association, The Sunshine Company, The Sandpipers) and then incorporated more eclectic sounds into the mix including baroque pop, sunshine pop and 1920s and 1930s era tin pan alley pop which enjoyed only a brief vogue, roughly from late 1966 to 1968, probably on the back of the mammoth success of the film “Bonnie & Clyde”(which in itself was a A-Grade culmination of a series of B-Grade gangster films of the proceeding ten years as well as the success of prohibition era TV shows like “The Untouchables”).

This album is a mix of AM pop and a vocal group playing jazzy pop music with dribs and drabs of the aforementioned sunshine pop and baroque pop.

Any album that lists amongst its writers Randy Newman, Van Dyke Parks, Paul Simon, Leon Russell, Rodgers and Hammerstein and Sergei Prokofiev an is played by Glen Campbell, Hal Blaine, Joe Osborn, Carol Kaye and Lyle Ritz, Mike Deasy, Al Casey, Leon Russell and Tommy Tedesco (ie: the Los Angeles Wrecking Crew) deserves a listening.

Harpers had a sound which experimented with heavy vocal layering, like an AM non-rock Beach Boys. But, what is most enjoyable is the committed world view. The recordings are light, cheerful and airy, in subject matter, arrangement and musical accompaniment, and this,  perhaps, cloying to some people, gay to others.

Perhaps it was perfect 1967 music as it captures some of the optimism of the time. There were dark clouds on the horizon but Harpers either studiously avoid them or don’t see them. Today, it is perfect sub-tropical coffee shop music and that is not pejorative as many acts aren’t even that.

Such single minded, well-crafted pop is to be admired.

Tracks (best in italics)

             Side One

  • Come to the Sunshine – (Van Dyke Parks) –  Light, so light it almost floats. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Come_to_the_Sunshine
  • Happy Talk – (Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II) – from the Broadway musical and film “South Pacific”. This is often covered. So so. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happy_Talk_(song)
  • Come Love – (Alan Bergman, Marilyn Keith, Larry Markes) –  perhaps recorded first by Harpers Bizarre though written by established husband and wife team Alan and Marilyn with assistance from Larry Markes
  • Raspberry Rug – (Leon Russell, Donna Washburn) – recorded (and released as a single) by Joey Cooper in 1967 I think Harpers did it first.
  • The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) –  (Paul Simon) –  Unlike the gentle beautiful folk pop of Simon and Garfunkel's original this features a harmonic choral a cappella section and a woodwind quartet with a flute, oboe, clarinet and a bassoon. The original song was on Simon and Garfunkel's “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme” album (#4 US 1966) and the B-side to the hit single “At the Zoo" (#16 US 1967) but Harpers saw the siungle potential in it. And they were right. This reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_59th_Street_Bridge_Song_(Feelin%27_Groovy)

Side Two

  • The Debutante's Ball – (Randy Newman) – first done by Harpers (Randy plays piano on it). A waltz pop song with some sharp lyrics (though you have to listen hard) …

            What a wonderful sight, it just seems to be right

            That there's something to do for the rich people too

            So light up the hall, there's dancing for all

            At the debutante's ball

  • Happy Land – (Randy Newman) –  first done by Harpers but covered by the Alan Price Set and Liza Minelli in 1968. It sounds like a throw back to Disney animated musicals which probably would have made Randy Newman happy.
  • Peter and the Wolf – (Ron Elliott, Sergei Prokofiev, Robert Durand) –  Russian composer Prokofiev re-written with lyrics added by Beau Brummels guitarist Ron Elliott with frequent collaborator Bob Durand. Like The Tikis (the pre Harpers Bizarre), The Beau Brummels came to Warner via the label’s acquisition of the San Francisco based Autumn Records, and Tikis member John Petersen was himself an ex-Brummel.
  • I Can Hear the Darkness – (Leon Russell, Donna Washburn) – first done by Harpers. Thematically quite "of its time" but very catchy.
  • Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear – (Randy Newman) – The song was popularized in the UK by the Alan Price Set under the title "Simon Smith and His Amazing Dancing Bear", where it reached #4 in 1967 but Harpers Bizarre did it earlier though not first. Tommy Boyce released it in 1966. The song has been often covered (most memorably by Harry nilsson on his 1969 album "Harry"). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_Smith_and_the_Amazing_Dancing_Bear

And …

Coffee shop music, as long as you are sitting on the sidewalk in the mid-morning sun. Not too bad … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1967 The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) #13 Pop

1967 The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) #4 AC (Adult Contemporary)

1967"Come To The Sunshine #37

Album

The album doesnt seem to have charted which is a little odd given the success of the singles. 1967 was a competitive year for all generations of music lovers.

England

Singles

1967 The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) #34

Album

Sounds

Come to the Sunshine

live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLmPvLnXCE8

Happy Talk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQjGp1A7Cak

Come Love

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9Y9LNzfUaU

Raspberry Rug

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

The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)

Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCA2hLHwEy4

mp3 attached

The Debutante's Ball

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idC6HsDSHjo

Happy Land

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0PqC7FQQ3Y

Peter and the Wolf

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TKJ8Ad5ElM

I Can Hear the Darkness

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akJWuW97ly0

Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZsmb6Keetc

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3vK9iG26sk

Review

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feelin%27_Groovy

http://www.allmusic.com/album/feelin-groovy-mw0000017104

https://theseconddisc.com/2011/12/come-to-the-sunshine-now-sounds-expands-remasters-harpers-bizarres-feelin-groovy/

Bio

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

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/harpers-bizarre-mn0000562663/biography

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/ted-templeman-mn0000029458/biography

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Petersen_(musician)

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

Website

Trivia

Posted in Sunshine Pop and Baroque | Tagged | Leave a comment

THE EVERLY BROTHERS – Two Yanks in England – (Warner Brothers) – 1966

Everly Brothers - Two Yanks in England

I love the Everly Brothers.

Many people do, though generally, they aren’t as revered as the hell raisers and out and out rock ‘n’ rollers from the 1950s.

Elvis will forever reign supreme as he straddled or created a number of styles of rock ‘n’ roll in those years 1954 -1958 where he reinvented himself regularly. But despite his rock ballads, country-ish rock, pop, faux jazzy rock, trad pop stylings, rhythm and blues, gospel, seasonal rock it is his out and out rockers he is lauded for.

People gravitate to that in rock music.

Buddy Holly aside, 50s enthusiasts generally like their rock and roll, loud, aggressive and with beat. And these are the songs we remember by Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Carl Perkins, Billy Lee Riley, Link Wray et al.

Their twin harmonies of the Everly Brothers were just too pop despite the fact they could rock out and had the right pedigree for first generation white rockers: they were of Southern heritage and grew up listening to (a lot of) country, gospel and R&B

But it is these harmonies that took (along with Buddy Holly) US rock in a different direction and influenced the British Invasion bands as well as The Beach Boys, The Byrds, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Gram Parsons, The Eagles, Simon & Garfunkel, and any other number of duos.

Their influence is obvious.

But by the mid-1960s, like many of their 50s peers, their career was on the wane.

Of the first generation only Elvis had a career, though he was in Hollywood making movies and not extending himself (yet).

Many of the first generation black guys had retreated into rehashing the same rock ‘n’ roll rhythms over and over again whilst many of the white guys had moved to country music.

All, though, had a career, playing live, in England.

Say what you will of the English public and music, and I have said a bit, they do love their dinosaurs.

And, I’m not using dinosaur here in a pejorative way (not this time), I just mean the English love to hang on to things. Perhaps it’s because, in this case, they missed out on much of this early on but I suspect it has more to do with the fact that their smaller population (and smaller market) means that new things aren’t being continually invented so there is room for “oldies” in the charts even a lot later on.

The Americans also love to hang on to things (if gigs are any indication of anything) but their musical dinosaurs rarely invade the charts after their initial burst of popularity is over.

So,

  • if you have influenced English music;
  • you are popular over there;
  • and things aren’t going all that well in your home country,

it is a no brainer what you have to do …

And, that is, go to England and record an album of English tunes, with some English musicians.

This music kicks with rhythm and beat and the Everlys nail a number of the covers and perhaps do some even better than the originals. And … I’m happy to say, the music is eclectic, and even quirky as the Everlys play around with their familiar harmonies (which must have alienated their traditional fans looking for more of the same) whilst some of the songs are just weird, well weird by Top 40 standards.

The Hollies, apparently (and perhaps not surprisingly) played on most of the album as did James Burton, but it has also been rumoured that Jimmy Page contributed some guitar as a session musician and, John Paul Jones and Reggie Dwight (a.k.a. Elton John) also played on the album.

Clearly a no brainer album, though, doesn’t mean success with the music public.

What does that say about them?

This didn’t chart.

The Everly Brothers went the way of the other 1950s white rock ‘n’ rollers into safer country pop …. though there were many little masterpieces there also.

Check my other comments for biographical detail.

Note, the author “L. Ransford” (who wrote eight of the twelve songs on the album) is, actually, Allan Clarke, Tony Hicks & Graham Nash of The Hollies who were asked (wisely by someone) to supply songs for this album.

Tracks (best in italics)

             Side One

  • Somebody Help Me – (Jackie Edwards) – a UK #1 in early to mid-1966 for the Spencer Davis group. A good version of the song. It doesn't add anything to the original (even if I prefer it a little).
  • So Lonely – (L. Ransford) -Graham Nash) – originally done by The Hollies as a B-side in 1965 and, here, not dissimilar to Peter & Gordon. Excellent with the yearning the Everlys made famous in the late 50s.
  • Kiss Your Man Goodbye – (Don Everly, Phil Everly) – a great tune with some great guitar. The Everlys sound is contemporised to mid-60s London.
  • Signs That Will Never Change – (L. Ransford) – recorded by the Hollies though not released until 1967 as a B-side. A pretty song and very a wistful mid-60s mid-tempo ballad.
  • Like Every Time Before – (L. Ransford) – the Hollies released this as a B-side in 1968. A cross between the Beatles "And I Love Her" and Unit 4 Plus 2's 1966 hit "Concrete And Clay" all done to a Latin beat.
  • Pretty Flamingo – (Mark Barkan) – a UK #1 in early to mid-1966 for Manfred Mann. A magnificent song. Not as good as the original but the song is so good it doesn't matter too much.

Side Two

  • I've Been Wrong Before – (L. Ransford) – had been issued under the title “I've Been Wrong" in 1965 on the US ‘Hear! Here!” and the UK “Hollies” LPs. A good up-tempo number.
  • Have You Ever Loved Somebody? – (L. Ransford) – also recorded by the Hollies , released on their 1967 album “Evolution” though The Searchers had a minor hit with it in the UK in 1966 (#48Uk, #94 US). Another up-tempo number which is quite good.
  • The Collector – (Sonny Curtis, Don Everly, Phil Everly) – based on the 1963 British novel of the same name by John Fowles (which was made into a successful film by William Wyler in 1965). Apparently song authors Don Everly and Sonny Curtis (a former Cricket with Buddy Holly) had read the book though Curtis, has said that it really is Don Everly's song, despite what the songwriting credits say). Suitably tortured and quite beautiful.
  • Don't Run and Hide – (L. Ransford) – originally done by The Hollies as a B-side in 1966. Very Hollies (not surprisingly).
  • Fifi the Flea – (L. Ransford) – originally done by The Hollies on their US “Beat Group!” album and UK “Would You Believe” album (1966). Like a downbeat version of the Beatles' "Michelle" … a tale of a doomed love affair between circus performers … and one of the best songs in the "doomed love affair between circus performers" song genre.
  • Hard Hard Year – (L. Ransford) – originally done by The Hollies on their US “Beat Group!” album and UK “Would You Believe” album (1966). Some nice organ and a good vocal though a downbeat ending to a "swinging London" album.

And …

The Everlys are out of their comfort zone but not out of their depth. There are many treasures here. A underrated album … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

Nothing nowhere

Sounds

Somebody Help Me

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

So Lonely

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=487CLDRsA7U

Kiss Your Man Goodbye

mp3 attached

Signs That Will Never Change

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEp88P6CpFU

Like Every Time Before

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5Oha-XnzxU

Pretty Flamingo

mp3 attached

I've Been Wrong Before

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nAHxDL0Wr8

Have You Ever Loved Somebody?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QSo-gdHRwY

The Collector

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=487CLDRsA7U

Don't Run and Hide

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=everly+don%27t+run

Fifi the Flea

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8pg0MwZDoI

Hard Hard Year

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8p-JHNy9his

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80l8HEZ5zFw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7hudBNsSw_4

Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/two-yanks-in-england-mw0000307996

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

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

Bio

http://www.waybackattack.com/everlybrothers.html

http://www.rocknrollspotlight.com/?p=883

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

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-everly-brothers-mn0000046699/biography

Website

http://www.everly.net/

Trivia

 

The Everly Brothers with singer Kelley in Dublin, Ireland 1966. Kelley was in the Irish "Nevada Showband". Okay it's not England but the threads are influenced by English fashions (though, apparently, all bought in Dublin).

 

Everly Brothers with singer Kelley in Dublin 1966

 

Posted in Rock & Pop | Tagged | Leave a comment