ROD McKUEN – McKuen Country – (Warner Brothers) – 1976

Rod McKuen - McKuen Country

McKuen goes country!

And why not, when this album was released in 1976 country music was all over the pop charts.

Country singers were regularly cracking the pop charts, country rock acts were in abundance, original rock n rollers were returning to their country roots, and trad popular artists were incorporating country sounds or at least putting out the odd country flavoured album.

Guy Mitchell and Dean Martin had already flirted with country sounds in the 60s and early 70s. Bing had a crack even earlier than that. Even Frank Sinatra flirted with some country sounds in the late 1960s. But by the 70s it was normal to pack up and record in Nashville (or bring Nashville to you?) as albums by  Andy Williams ("You Lay So Easy On My Mind", 1974), Al Martino ("Country Style", 1973) and Perry Como  ("Perry Como In Nashville",  1975) suggest.

And importantly Rod's temperament if not his style was distinctly "country".

As the liner notes to this album say:

Rod McKuen and country music – the two are rarely connected in the minds of those who appreciate the work of the world’s best loved poet. But Rod’s love of and affinity for country & western flavored songs is a long standing one. His collection of c&w records must be one of the largest in or out of Nashville and his own music and lyrics frequently echo his love of the country style. And McKuen songs are no strangers to the world of country music… witness some of the leading artists in the field who have performed them: Glen Campbell, Chet Atkins, Eddy Arnold, Bobby Goldsboro, Tom T. Hall, Tommy Roe, Waylon Jennings, Lynda K. Lance, Roy Clark, Johnny Cash, Bobby Wright, Don Cherry, Skeeter Davis, The Nashville Brass, Floyd Cramer, Hoyt Axton, The Anita Kerr Singers, Jimmie Rodgers, Leroy Van Dyke, Hank Williams, Jr. – just to name a few (can Loretta Haggers be far behind?)

It is noteworthy that nearly all these performers listed also write themselves, so they really have to like another writer’s work to perform it.

 Rod McKuen and country? Right at home! He’s exactly where he should be. Exactly where you should be too. Join him there… in McKuen Country.

Rod's songs are perfectly suited to country singer … lost love, times past, home, regrets, loneliness, fear of loneliness, general melancholia but that doesn't mean country music suits Rod.

You would think that Rod's growl of a voice would be perfectly suited for country but it's not. He is to urban and in any event country singers aren't grizzled in the voice usually, just in appearance, occasionally.

When Rod tries to sing to the style he moves out of his range and the song doesn't work. The melodies and pace don't always match the vocals, as if his voice was trying to catch up to the music.

But when he nails it, usually on songs which hint at country, his songs are beautifully evocative in the typically Rod way.

And, luckily, most songs are done in Rod's normal voice, tempo and persona with country sounds to provide atmosphere, and even then some of that is very low key. And that is saying something – check out (in the trivia section at the end) the powerhouse musicians playing session for Rod. A weird group. The album was recorded in few places .. a pity it would have been (surreally) great to see all these people in the same studio at the same time.

The "country" in this album comes from the themes that Rod loves using and those themes are what made the songs attractive to country singers in the first place, as noted in the liner notes above.

Full circle.

The covers generally fit in with the originals whilst the originals are, mainly, updated songs Rod had previously done but has now given a county feel. And, I'm not sure the "brand new" compositions aren't actually dusted off old songs either but it doesn't matter in the least.

Central to Rod's music is the message and his telling of the message.

Check out my other entries for biographical details.

Tracks (best in italics)

      Side One

  • Silver Threads And Golden Needles – (Dick Reynolds, Jack Rhodes) –  The song was first recorded by Wanda Jackson in 1956 but English pop group The Springfields (with Dusty Springfield) had a #20 with it in 1962 (the first single by a British group to reach the American Billboard top 20). Recorded by everyone, Linda Ronstadt also had a country Top 20 (#20, #67 pop US ) with it in 1974. This is just plain weird with chirpy female backing vocals over Rod's  gruff grizzle. The standout is some very quirky guitar work. It isn't a total success but it it tickles me.
  • Hello Heartaches – (Rod McKuen) –   originally from the 1968 film "Joanna" but sung by Barbara Kay. "Heartaches" is a typically country motif and works here.
  • My Old Man – (Rod McKuen) –  Originally recorded for RCA in the 60s, here updated. Quite a bouncy song given that McKuen's father had deserted his mother before he was born. Undeniably catchy though.
  • My Friend – (Hans Hammerschmid, Hildegard Knef, Rod McKuen) –   around this period McKuen wrote a few songs with Hans and actress Hildegard … "We Live On Islands" on his "Sleep Warm" album from 1975. Strings added to the instruments. This is unusual as it comes across as a European ballad with country overtones, which is what it is, I suppose. It also has a downbeat twist … also very European, perhaps.
  • Sunshine – (Rod McKuen) –  A beautiful song with some great lyrics.
  • Long, Long Time – (Gary White) –  Linda Ronstadt had a #25 pop hit with this in 1970. Another beautiful song done beautifully by Rod.
  • I'm Coming Home – (Rod McKuen) – originally done for the film " Lisa, Bright And Dark" from 1973. Rod is perfectly happy here and it works.

      Side Two 

  • Guess I'd Rather Be In Colorado – (Bill Danoff, Taffy Nivert) –   The writers are husband and wife and members of the Starlight Vocal Band. They were friends from the folk scene with John Denver and co-wrote with him " Take Me Home, Country Roads". That and this song are taken from Denver's 1971 album " Poems, Prayers & Promises". This with it's gentle country folk lop works.
  • Chester County – (Anita Kerr, Rod McKuen) –   co-written with regular co-writer arranger and singer Kerr. Another winner. Gentle, though not quite country despite the themes.
  • Rose – (Rod McKuen) –  More country themes about a working family with mother, Rose, at its center. Quite jarring given the bounce and light hearted feel but tragic subject matter.
  • The Story Of My Life – (Burt Bacharach, Hal David) –   A early song by the hit writing pair which was a 1957 hit for US country singer Marty Robbins (#1 country, #15 pop US). A great song done respectably by Rod.
  • The Summer's Long – (Rod McKuen) –  Originally recorded in the late 1960s and then the song was given to (and recorded, perhaps, by) Summer's Children (a duo of Curt Boettcher and Victoria Winston). Quite beautiful. Recorded live in Denver, Colorado at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
  • Help Me Make It Through The Night – (Kris Kristofferson) – The great Kristofferson song released on his debut self titled album from 1970. Sammi Smith had the hit with it in 1971 (#1 country, #8 pop US) but it was covered extensively including, by, Elvis Presley (1971), Joan Baez (1971), Willie Nelson (#4 country 1980 US). A good reading. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help_Me_Make_It_Through_the_Night
  • The World I Used To Know – (Rod McKuen) – Originally done by Rod on his "Seasons In The Sun" album from 1964. A great McKuen song whichever way he does it.

And …

As if I wouldn't … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

Nothing no where.

Sounds

My Old Man

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXrT51vyCJw

Sunshine – (Rod McKuen) –

mp3 attached

Long, Long Time

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1huDQv13gng

The Summer's Long

live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjUuM5Zmnho

Help Me Make It Through The Night

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bx9yckYYOYU

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDhYuuCe8LM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9hgelVS-0I

Review

Bio

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

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/rod-mckuen-mn0000243803

a video biography

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxsR9X0_iRI

obituary

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/feb/01/rod-mckuen

Website

http://www.rodmckuen.org/

https://www.facebook.com/rodmckuen

Trivia

  • Musicians: Banjo – Pete Seeger, Roy Clark / Bass – Clyde Hoggan / Guitar – Barry McGuire, Big Jim Sullivan, Billy Strange, Dave Koonse, Don Costa, Glen Campbell, John Morrell, Rod McKuen, Roy Clark, Sneaky Pete / Harmonica – Tommy Morgan / Oboe – David Sherr / Piano – Leslie Pearson, Lincoln Mayorga, Paul Smith, Pete Jolly / Chorus Master – Evangeline Carmichael, Mike Sams / Producer – Rod McKuen, Wade Alexander
  • Recorded In Nashville, Chattanooga, and Memphis, Tennessee; Los Angeles & Bakersfield, California; and London. Side 2 Song 5 was recorded live in Denver, Colorado at the Red Rocks Amphitheater

 

Rod McKuen - McKuen Country - back

Posted in Popular & Crooners | Tagged | Leave a comment

THE SKYLINERS – Once Upon A Time …. – (Kama Sutra) – 1971

Skyliners - Once Upon a Time

The Skyliners were a white American doo-wop group from Pittsburgh. The original line-up was: Jimmy Beaumont (lead), Janet Vogel (soprano), Wally Lester (tenor), Jackie Taylor (bass voice, guitarist), Joe Verscharen (baritone).

In 1956 Joe Rock (aged 20), an ABC promotion man, was visiting an Italian social club at Mount Washington in Pittsburgh, A capella vocal groups with a black sound were big. That night Rock saw a young teen group called The Montereys that included Jimmy Beaumont (aged 16, almost) . Rock was impressed by Beaumont's vocals  and lured him to another group he managed called The Crescents and with the addition of a couple of people from another group, The Eirios, they became The Skyliners who went on to have hits in the late 50s including "Since I Don't Have You"  (1959, #2) and 1960  "Pennies From Heaven" (1960, #24).

They released two albums (though the later was a rehash of the earlier one). That group broke up in the 1964.

Original member Jack Taylor, with Joe Rock’s permission, re-launched The Skyliners in 1965 with a new group of singers released a song and broke up.

In 1970, Jimmy Beaumont, Janet Vogel Rapp, Lester, and VerScharen reformed to tour and record.  They recorded this album and promoted themselves. They appeared on the oldies revival and doo-wop revival circuit for several years before breaking up in 1976.

But that's not the end, Jimmy Beaumont formed Jimmy Beaumont and the Skyliners in the 1990s with Nick Pociask, Dick Muse, and Donna Groom to appear on doo-wop tours and television specials.

And they are still out there somewhere.

The Skyliners were among the more dramatic, theatrical white doo-wop groups and, oddly, weren't made up of (predominantly) either Italians or Jewish types. Their one enduring moment is "Since I Don't Have You"  but this album, late in the piece (and which I did not know about), intrigued me, so I forked out $4.

The band have cast off any doo-wop stylings.

This is pure vocal group MOR sunshine pop (google this blog for "sunshine pop" definitions).

The album was recorded in 1970 but sounds 1969.  You could here this music on any number of inoffensive TV specials of the time but in it's own way it is quite beautiful. Of course, I'm partial to vocals and vocal groups.

Having said that there is a lot going on within the grooves. There are shared lead vocals between the male and female leads. There are tempo changes on some tracks suggesting jazz rock influences of Blood Sweat and Tears or Chicago Transit Authority. There is also a slight dreamy psych vibe over a few songs and an autumnal melancholy air over other tracks.

Well, it is on the Kama Sutra label (Brewer & Shipley, Lovin' Spoonful, Sopwith Camel).

Okay all those inflections are weighted down by middle of the road inoffensiveness but they do poke out enough to make the album quite distinctive, and lovely.

They sound like a a more white version of The Fifth Dimension, and there is nothing wrong with that.

You can see a chick in a mini skirt and an umbrella tiptoeing through Manhattan Park with the New York City skyline in the background …err, the cover art is alluding to that.

You are literally transported to that time and place.

I'm not sure where you would play it now … dinner party, nightclub, coffee shop … but I would like to give it a whirl and see what happens

Tracks (best in italics)

      Side One

  • Once Upon A Time (Yesterday)  – (Joe Rock / Jimmy Beaumont) – an excellent example of MOR sunshine pop.
  • Maybe I Could Have Loved You Better – (Joe Rock / Jimmy Beaumont) – dreamy and slightly trippy.
  • That's My World – (Joe Rock / Thom Davies) – a ballad.
  • Put A Little Love In Your Heart – (Randy Myers / Jackie DeShannon / Jimmy Holiday) –  an interesting take on this song. It doesn't sound like the original at all but has it's own vibe with a black soul feel.
  • What's Your Plan – (Janet Vogel Rapp) – a ballad with horns and strings.

      Side Two

  • The Thought Of Yesterday – (Jimmy Beaumont / Janet Vogel Rapp) – a groovy sunshine pop number with busy background.
  • Dry Your Eyes – (Joe Rock / Jimmy Beaumont) – lead vocals by Janet and it is quite catchy. Apparently originally done in 1967 but unreleased till here.
  • Make Mine As Good As Yours – (Jimmy Beaumont / Janet Vogel Rapp) – a group effort.
  • Always Something There To Remind Me – (Burt Bacharach / Hal David) – The great Bacharach and David song done by Dionne Warwick, Sandie Shaw and others. It works here also and is a little quirky.
  • And So It Goes – (Jimmy Beaumont / Janet Vogel Rapp / Joe Verscharen) – a busy song with enough layers to make Brian Wilson happy.
  • Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow – (Joe Rock / Jimmy Beaumont) –  a dramatic ballad softened by strings. Well sung.

And …

I need this in the collection … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

Nothing nowhere

Sounds

Once Upon A Time (Yesterday) 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwHh8P6n5ZU

What's Your Plan

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgdcV_kfJ9A

Dry Your Eyes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcP91bJR9bA

Always Something There To Remind Me

mp3 attached

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qU9Mx8R72co

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0L9uGQ2dVak

Review

Bio

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

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/the-skyliners-mn0000423095/biography

https://sites.google.com/site/pittsburghmusichistory/pittsburgh-music-story/doo-wop/the-skyliners

Website

Trivia

  • Produced by Jag Gerz (not an individual but Pittsburg locals, pop group and label mates The Jaggerz). The album was recorded at Don Elliott's Studio, N.Y. Oct.1970
Posted in Pop Rock, Sunshine Pop and Baroque | Tagged | Leave a comment

LORI LIEBERMAN – Becoming – (Capitol) – 1973

Lori Lieberman - Becoming

I had not heard of Lori Lieberman before I googled her but she had a profile and has one again …

wikipedia: "Lori Lieberman (born November 15, 1951) is an American singer-songwriter who accompanies herself on guitar and piano. She first came to public attention in the early 1970s with a series of albums on Capitol Records, one of which featured the first recording of "Killing Me Softly With His Song". After a long hiatus, she resumed her recording career in the mid-1990s … Of Jewish background, Lieberman, the middle sibling of three sisters, spent her childhood and adolescence travelling between California and Switzerland consequent to her father's career in chemical engineering. Though she has acknowledged the positive aspects of having an international upbringing, it is the drawbacks – a sense of alienation and not fitting in – that subsequently became a recurring motif on her albums, first apparent in "House Full of Women" (from Becoming) and "Straw Colored Girl" (from Straw Colored Girl) and most recently on the title track of her eleventh album, Bend Like Steel … Lieberman began singing and composing at a young age, simultaneously acquiring a taste for French singers and songwriters as well as American rock and pop music. The latter passion was fed by an older sister who would return from trips to the U.S. with albums by Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, Leonard Cohen and Jefferson Airplane … Shortly after she returned to America to study in her late teens, Lieberman was signed to a production, recording and publishing deal struck between Capitol Records and songwriters Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel".

She released her first album in 1972. "Becoming" was her second release. She went on to release another three albums (and a Greatest Hits – without having a hit, aaahhh only the major labels would do that) before retiring from recording in 1978. She then sang on an animated cartoon series and wrote and recorded songs for the TV series "Fame" in the early 1980s.

She subsequently returned to music and has released eight albums since 1995.

Not bad, but her great claim to fame is she was the first to record "Killing Me Softly with His Song", on her first album, which was written by Gimbel & Fox. The song of course went to #1 with Roberta Flack in 1973 and then again to #1 with The Fugees in 1996. There was some minor controversy in where did the inspiration for the song come from. Lieberman said it comes from a poem she wrote after she saw Don McLean perform "Empty Chairs" live and that seems to have been the case.

Lieberman was a songwriter and, clearly, wanted to be in the singer songwriter mould. Gimbel (born 1927) & Fox (born 1940) were songwriters and had been around for years. Both, originally from New York had hooked up on the west coast and had been doing music in film and television.

I suspect they could read the market and saw there was money to be made from the new, young breed of singer-songwriters who were well represented by young females. 

The album "Blue" Joni Mitchell had gone to #15 in the US, "Tapestry" for Carole King had gone to #1, and Judy Collins, Laura Nyro, Janis Ian, Jackie DeShannon, Linda Ronstadt, and Melanie had all had hits or near misses in the genre.

The trouble was Gimbel and Fox were neither young nor female.

In comes Lori.

Despite her songwriting ability Lori only managed to squeeze out the occasional song as Gimbel and Fox ran the show … writing, producing (and playing) on her first four albums.

There is nothing wrong with this depending on the arrangement and it was probably their contacts that got an unrecorded and untested 21 year old a contract with Capitol records.

They were benevolent svengalis. The music industry is full of them, amongst the autocratic dictators.

I've also read that Norman Gimbel was dating Lori (24 years his junior) at the time.

Well, that's svengali-like as well, if that is correct.

Without sales, and jaded perhaps, it is easy to see why Lori left the music industry the first time around.

But here, on "Becoming" we have a 22 year old in beautiful voice. Okay she didn't write the words but Gimbel and Fox writing for her must have drawn inspiration from her, and wrote songs to suit her and her temperament (and used any ideas she may have thrown up and clearly she has contributed). This would be second nature to guys who wrote for film and television … where a theme song, or jingle had to reflect the character or personality in the show. It's not a puppet / puppet master situation because one could not exist without the other, so close is the nexus between writer and performer.

The beauty of this is, like any group, the specific parts can concentrate on what they do best, and even though Lori has proven, subsequently, that she can write a song, her voice and emotive communicative skills are what is central.

The only problem is that there is, clearly, an attempt to tap into a market and Lori, accordingly, doesn't always sounds all that distinctive from others females in the same genre.

All songs by Gimbel (lyrics) and Fox (music).

Tracks (best in italics)

      Side One

  • I Go Along – not the strongest song to lead off.
  • Becoming – one of those "I'm woman, I have been put down, but I'm becoming stronger". A pretty good one at that even if it was written by blokes. Actually it's very good.
  • A House Full Of Women – a interesting song with a couple of tempo changes and mood changes. Both funky and singer-songwriter with some sharp lyrics about the men that hang off "a house full of women".
  • It Didn’t Come Easy – Shades of "Killing Me Softly" but not as distinctive.
  • No Way Of Knowing – well …so so.

      Side Two

  • Someone Come And Take It – the first really bouncy tune but it's only so so.
  • Sweet Morning After – hmmmm, maybe Loris should have been allowed to include some of her own songs.
  • Eleazar – the religious epic …popular in the wake of "Jesus Christ Superstar". Not too bad.
  • The Seed First – some precious lyrics.
  • Song Of The Seventies – this is a nice jaunty piece done in the style of early 70s Jackie DeShannon. The lyrics are a bit obscure but the song isn't too bad.

And …

This chick is a real find but on this album, at least, everything's a little too calculated. Still, there are some great moments. Record a few and sell.

Chart Action

US

Singles

Album

1973 #182

England

nothing

Sounds

Becoming

mp3 attached

A House Full Of Women

https://soundcloud.com/lori-lieberman/03-a-house-full-of-women

Others

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QtbwvEzz18

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VW8GLlTED8I

https://vimeo.com/69437801

Review

Bio

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

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/lori-lieberman-mn0000829890

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Fox_(composer)

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

Website

http://www.lorilieberman.com/wordpress/

Trivia

  • "Born in Los Angeles and raised in Switzerland, Lieberman says her father was a chemical engineer and her mother was a homemaker. She notes that her father, Kenneth Lieberman, invented “cottage cheese ceilings” (“the kind everyone hates now and wants to remove,” she jokes and relocated the family in Switzerland to take his business to an international level". http://www.princetoninfo.com/index.php/component/us1more/?key=09-22-2010Lieberman
  • Personnel: Lori Lieberman – vocals, acoustic guitar / John Guerin – drums /  Dean Parks – guitar /  Charles Fox – piano, keyboards, producer /  Larry Carlton, Dennis Budimir, Ben Benay – guitar /  Tom Scott, Bud Shank – saxophone /  Max Bennett – bass /  John Boyd – vocals /  John Wilson – drums
Posted in Singer Songwriter | Tagged | Leave a comment

TRINI LOPEZ – The Whole Enchilada – (Reprise) – 1969

Trini Lopez - The Whole Enchilada

I'm sure they like Trini in Nicaragua.

I'm sure they like Trini throughout Latin America.

I know I like Trini.

A regular find in op shops crates he has become a firm favourite.

This Dallas born Hispanic American had his moment in the sun, his moment being ten or so years from about 1963 to 1973, but he is still popular today with audiences.

What is their not to like?

Most of his record oooze middle of the road go go hip sixties attitude. It wasn't cutting edge but it wasn't square. It was groovy music for squares.

Sixties production, sixties beat, sixties songs, covers of sixties songs, if you put this on you have people tapping their feet. Of course, there will be the difficult wanker asking you to play the original by Blind Melon Chitlin, more because they like to let everyone know they know who sang the original rather than a desire to actually hear it. But, that defeats the purpose because this music is tor toe tapping and dancing. The album is made to be played in toto as if you wre having a session (or romantic interlude) at a cabaret club . When you aren't dancing, you can sit back and tap your toe to a gentle beat, and conspire with friends or gaze into your chicks eyes.

Aahhhhh.

Trini was sliding by 1969. He was still well known, and still popular in clubs, with a TV special due to come out and a supporting role in a film, "The Dirty Dozen" (1967) behind him but with no recent chart success.

Someone thought it was time for a change and came up with the idea of teaming him up with Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart.

Boyce & Hart were on a roll. They had a #8 in 1968 with " I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight" and had written and produced a number of hit songs for The Monkees, and had a knack for writing AM pop friendly tunes going back to the early 60s.

The trouble was, despite all attempts, even with Trini's acquiescence, to make Trini into an all round MOR pop entertainer, he was, at heart, a rock n roller from Texas. He loved the beat, he loved the 50s rock n roll rowdiness and he always seemed happiest belting out a tune to the point where it was almost going to topple over into a party jam session . On the slower songs he was best when channelling the emotion of the Hispanic music of his youth and wearing his heart on his sleeve when singing. These are the two Trini's at their happiest.

But, for a long time the rough edges were smoothed out and the emotion was toned down. Trini was compensated by a driving, groovy go go beat for the up-tempo numbers, a large selection of slow songs he could convincingly croon, and chart success..

Boyce & Hart with their ear for AM pop and bubblegum were wrong for Trini. But Boyce & Hart were no fools and neither was Trini. When you put genuine talent together, even when they may not quite fit they work out a way to make the other part conform or you come up with something a little, different.

And this is different. There is a lot of mainstream experimentation going on here. There is a fuzz bass, keyboards, crazed handclaps, tinkly guitars and all sorts of musical grunts and squeaks. This is Trini's acid pscyh album with experimentation on every other song. Okay, it's mainstream experimentation but it is pretty out there by today's standards. Even in 1969 it would have been quite a quirky departure for a mainstream artist. And, the mainstream doesn't like experimentation or quirkiness.

The album failed to chart.

But what a noble failure this is.

I'm not sure if you are getting the "whole enchilada" here but you are getting enough of it to keep you happy.

Probably because someone has slipped some peyote into it.

And you followed it with a glass of mezcal.

Check my other comments for biographical detail on Trini.

Tracks (best in italics)

           Side One

  • Don't Let the Sun Catch You Cryin' – (Gerry Marsden) – Gerry and The Pacemakers US#4 from 1964. Trini introduces the album and the song with "Hi everybody, this is Trini Lopez. We'd like to start this album off with one of our favourite tunes. I hope you can dig it … ".  I can see why he is asking, pleading. An interesting fuzzed bass keeps the beat but it is odd, especially by Trini standards. This grows on you but I'm not sure why.
  • Sunshine Superman (Donovan)/Cry Like a Baby (Penn-Oldham) – A medley containing Donovan's US#1 (1966) and The Box Tops US #2 (1968). More fuzz which is still weird given the Donovan portion is supposed to be breezy before the medlet turns to a bouncy "Cry like a Baby. A weird combination.
  • Sunshine of Your Love – (Pete Brown / Jack Bruce / Eric Clapton) – Cream's US#5 (1968). It's not going to rival Cream but in its own way it's probably more "out there" and it is great.
  • Sunshine Park – (Tommy Boyce / Bobby Hart) – an original. Nicely bouncy and catchy and surprisingly free of effects.
  • Laleña – (Donovan- Spanish lyrics Trini Lopez) – Donovan's US #33 (1968). Beautiful with English and Spanish lyrics. Heartfelt. Trini should have recorded more material like this.
  • Pata Cum Cum – (Jan Arlen) – no information on this writer but there was a female singer around in the early singers by the name of Jan Arlen that's all I know. In any event this is the "La Bamba" riff with associated whistles and whatnot that Trini would use in songs like "America", "If I had a Hammer " etc. Energetic and fun.

           Side Two

  • I Heard It Through the Grapevine – (Barrett Strong / Norman Whitfield) – The great Creedence Clearwater Revival song. Ha. Just kidding, well I'm not but that version didn't come out till 1970. Marvin Gaye had a US #1 with this in 1968. This is a great soulful version. Perhaps the second best version.
  • I Wonder What She's Doing Tonite – (Tommy Boyce / Bobby Hart) – Boyce & Hart's US#7 of the previous year. Very poppy Monkees like, err pop.
  • What You Don't Know Won't Hurt You – (Larson-J.Marcellino-G.Marcellino) – Later done by Jackson 5 (1974). Strange, but again it grows on you. It seems that Trini may have been the first to record this?
  • Come a Little Bit Closer – (Tommy Boyce / Wes Farrell / Bobby Hart) – A US #3 for Jay and the Americans (1964). A great tune and Trini does it well with some great Spanish ad libs. It could have be an outtake from "West Side Story".
  • My Baby Loves Sad Songs – (Tommy Boyce / Bobby Hart) – A song Boyce & Hart also did on their 1969 album, " It's All Happening On The Inside". Another strange one with a strange bass horn of some sorts keeping the beat (courtesy of arranger Jimmy Haskell). Catchy, and Trini drops Reprise records founder, Frank Sinatra's name in ….
  • Without You – (Roy Durkee) – written by Durkee of Fire and Ice Ltd, a Hollywood soundtrack group. Quite haunting in that "Walk Away Renee" type of way.

The songs, the details:

And …

Any Trini is good Trini and this one would be perfect for parties, especially after a few drinks … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

nothing

Sounds

Do not Let the Sun Catch You Cryin

mp3 attached

Sunshine Superman / Cry like a Baby

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6aGubDB_U4

Sunshine of your Love

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57W66QngYAg

Sunshine Park

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMllOBJ3fDo

Lalena

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vco53FkIqqo

Pata Cum Cum

mp3 attached

I heard it Through the Grapevine

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07BQIQ5oQQo

I Wonder what she's Doing Tonight

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Npmmk8Xzn1g

What you do not Know

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MNeZEN8ig8

Come a little bit closer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4FRFjsHPy0

My Baby Loves Sad Songs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNL21yVzmDM

Without You

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDEVWCRP1RU

Others

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

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

Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/the-whole-enchilada-mw0000480517

Bio

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

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

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

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

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/boyce-hart-mn0000095455/biography

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/tommy-boyce-mn0000613275/biography

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/bobby-hart-mn0000076168

Website

http://www.trinilopez.com/

Trivia

 

Trini Lopez - The Whole Enchilada - back

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

THE QUINAIMES BAND – The Quinaimes Band – (Elektra) – 1971

The Quinaimes Band

I got this album recently and I knew absolutely nothing about the band and I only bought the record because the band were on the Elektra label from the early 70s.

And, like I have said, I will give anything a go on Elektra … well, anything up to about the mid-70s.

As it turns out it seems I have struck "gold" on paper, vinyl, paper, err on first impressions.

The band has a cult following, thought not from people at the time, but from record collectors subsequently or from people into early 70s prog country rock.

Cult or not there is little information out there on the band but there is a bit of detail on their pedigree …

Members, Danny Mansolino, Mike Rosa and Dave Palmer were from New Jersey garage band (and another cult favourite) The Myddle Class. Dave Palmer went on to some success as an early vocalist with Steely Dan. Kenny Pine was in The Fugs and  Jerry Burnham had worked with acts like, The Strangers, James Taylor and The Flying Machine, Jake and the Family Jewels, and The Fifth Avenue Band.

They were probably formed in New York City though New Jersey is home ground and Martha's Vineyard, in Massachusetts comes up as a possible formation point.

The sound is country rock as was popular at the time though it is of a East Coast nature. We (or at least I) tend to associate country rock with California and the south-west and I think that is fair but there is a whole branch of country rock that came up through the sounds of the South, the Appalachian mountain country and up into the north-east of the United States. The Band, southern by nature (despite the overwhelming number of Canadians in the band) set up shop in upstate New York and there is something of the Catskill Mountains in their sound, at least there is when they are playing with Bob Dylan.

The country rock of the East is country rock but without all the familiar country rock stylings … it's older (and more old sounding like The Band), or, more urban with jazz, psych or funk sounds introduced, or, quirkier with more traditional or folk elements in the music, or, more humorous.

It's a bit of a hodgepodge as you would expect form any music overflowing into the country surrounds from the melting pots that are New York City or Boston.  What is important is the "feel" of the country … the sense that there was an escape (real or imagined) from the cities in which most of the bands, no doubt, resided and gigged in.

Arlo Guthrie, James Taylor, Rowan Brothers,  later Seatrain, early Dr Hook also play in this "rural rock" paddock.

The Quinaimes Band (a naff name) are a good example of this. There are country stylings, with psych and rock elements or are they rock with psych and country elements?.

Either way they come across as a cross between The Band, The Byrds, The Statler Brothers, Al Kooper, and maybe Steppenwolf.

There is a multitude of styles in here but they are all merged which is good and bad. I hate the band that plays each song in a different style … that's just a covers band. The Quinaimes are not that. They have their style and their sound with each song merging elements of all of their core sounds … there is a lot going on … maybe too much. For me, it's fun but for the casual listener it may be too much. Hey, I'm not better than anyone else, I'm just saying this is a potpourri of influences played in virtuoso style and part of the fun is in deciphering it.

Recorded in New York City, this was their only album.

It is of its time but as I have said before, if you like that time and you like that sound then so what?

And whatever goes around …

The sound has come back. Not mainstream but certainly, around the edges of music. Quirky alt country, as I write is everywhere , at least it in Brisbane (and Australia generally … we are following the American lead)

The album included collaborations of some great session musicians such as Danny Kortchmar, Richard Greene among others.

All tracks by Danny Mansolino, David Palmer unless noted.

Tracks (best in italics)

      Side One

  • Try Me One More Time – (David Bromberg) – written by singer-songwriter Bromberg though he didn't release a version till 2007. A gently humorous song as you would expect from Bromberg with some chicken scratching guitar you would expect from Dr Hook.
  • Look To Yourself – quite different to the last tune. Slight funky psych elements introduced. A good tune but fark there is a lot going on here.
  • Green Rolling Hills Of West Virginia – (Bruce Phillips) – Written by political folksinger Utah Phillips The Quinaimes may have been the first to record it but the song is forever identified with the Phillips or Emmylou Harris who recorded it, and made it famous, in 1978 for her album "Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town". This is an about face to the last track, a laid back ballad done in a laid back way with shades of The Byrds without their ethereal voices,
  • Visions Of Johanna – (Bob Dylan) – from Dylan's "Blonde on Blonde" (1966) album. A great song and a beautiful cover.
  • Don't Take No – much The Band like from The Band circa 1971 not surprisingly. And, it's quite good. Actually, really good. I think the song may be about the band

      Side Two

  • Love Brings The Best Out In A Man – (Gus Andrews) – I don't have any detail on who Gus Andrews is. A Grams Parsons like country rock song. Very well done.
  • Don't Knock – (Roebuck "Pops" Staples, Wesley Westbrook) – a gospel done by the Staples Singers in 1960. Interesting.
  • Tell Me What You See From There – A gentle Blood Sweat and Tears vibe going on hear without he big sound.
  • Queequeg (Roll Them Bones) – A good old country thumper, piano and keyboards up front with 50s influences.
  • Falling Star – A country rock ballad. Perfect for late nights.

And …

A minor gem … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

Nothing nowhere.

Sounds

Look To Yourself

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItdZO4CzNNQ

Green Rolling Hills Of West Virginia

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmW4EffSTt8

Visions Of Johanna

mp3 attached

Love Brings The Best Out In A Man

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f47GGVDRing

Queequeg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wayfqraq7To

Others

The Myddle Class

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k70EwLfAjp8

Review

http://rockasteria.blogspot.com.au/2015/06/the-quinaimes-band-quinaimes-band-1971.html

Bio

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Palmer_(vocalist)

http://jeremiahburnham.webs.com/

The Myddle Class

http://www.garagehangover.com/myddleclass/

Website

http://www.davidpalmerimages.com/

Trivia

  • Recording:Electric Lady Studios,New York,NY The Record Plant
  • Produced by Zachary. Production supervisor Jac Holzman.
  • The Quinaimes Band: David Palmer – Vocals  / Jerry Burnham – Bass, Fiddle, Vocals  / Danny Mansolino – Keyboards, Organ, Piano, Vocals  / Kenny Pine – Guitar, Vocals  / Mike Rosa – Drums
  • Guest Musicians: Richard Greene – Fiddle, Violin  / Richard Grando – Saxophone  / Allan "Jake" Jacobs – Guitar  / Danny Kortchmar – Guitar  / Daniel Ben Zebulon – Drums, Congas  / Bill Keith – Pedal Steel Guitar
  • David Palmer went on to be the vocalist for the Big WhaKoo in the late 70s https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wha-Koo

                                        The Quinaimes Band - back sleeve          The Quinaimes Band - inner

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

DION – Sanctuary – (Warner Brothers) – 1971

Dion - Sanctuary

Dion is amazing.

Of all the rock n rollers of the 50s he has probably come out the best …

He is alive, he found internal peace and, musically, he hasn't been trapped by the music that made him famous.

Check out my other comments for biography but Dion (at first with the Belmonts and then solo) burst onto the scene out of New York City in the late 50s and early 60s with a series of rock n roll doo wop anthems. They are era defining songs: "I Wonder Why,"  "A Teenager in Love", "Runaround Sue", "The Wanderer", "Lovers Who Wander"  "Ruby Baby".

In 1968 he put personal demons behind him and changed his music altogether and had a hit with a pop folk ballad "Abraham, Martin and John" (#4US). This began his singer-songwriter and "introspective" period.

"Sanctuary" comes from that period.

Dion never abandoned his rock n roll roots (live) but the singer-songwriter albums were just that. Dion wrote a few songs that meant something to him and sang them. He, also, given his pedigree wasn't adverse to a cover and covered a few songs or picked songs from aspiring songwriters. And, the albums are of their time in many ways.

Laid back, "meaningful", thoughtful, and, obviously, personal. But, Dion as a singer-songwriter stood out from the pack, not because of his songwriting, but as a singer he had an amazing emotive voice. A kid brought up on doo wop and pop and rock with an incredibly soulful (and if he wanted bluesy) voice he could outsing anyone else in the genre (one where they tended to devote their time to words, err lyrics).

And, as such despite his (limited) success in the area I suspect he wasn't totally embraced. He sang too well and he had been a teen idol.

Still he persisted for the better part of ten years and the demands for material must have been great.

Since "Abraham, Martin and John" appeared in 1968 there had been three albums of introspection, "Dion" (1968), "Sit Down Old Friend" (1970), "You're Not Alone" (1971). He may have felt some of that pressure to write and find material for "Sanctuary". The album has a re-recording of his magnificent rock era track "The Wanderer" and three live songs recorded at The Bitter End in New York in 1971, "Abraham Martin & John", "Almond Joy" and "Ruby Baby".

But that doesn't diminish the album. They all work to remind you that Dion had a life before and was looking too the future.

The studio tracks are very laid back but with David Bromberg on lead guitar and dobro and a tight rhythm section everything is beautifully smooth (perhaps too smooth) with a gentle upstate New York country vibe like James Taylor, Jesse Colin Young,  or Gordon Lightfoot (yes, I know he's Canadian).

It certainly is soothing though and quite optimistic by 1971 standards.

Another album of introspection in the singer-songwriter genre came with "Suite For Late Summer" (1972) before Dion moved on. He never actually moved away from introspection just away from the strictly singer-songwriter stylings. Streetwise pop, Christian music, rock n roll and urban blues would follow whilst his recent albums seem to incorporate everything into a seamless whole.

All songs by Dion unless otherwise noted.

Tracks (best in italics)

      Side One

  • Sunshine Lady – a gentle joyful bounce on this song serves it well.
  • Sanctuary – (Don Burnham / Dick Holler ) – another optimistic song which is all sunshine but undeniably soothing.
  • Willigo – some Paul Simon sounds starting to creep in. Well Simon was another New York native.
  • Harmony Sound – a beautiful gentle ballad.
  • Gotta Get Up – the song is slight but well sung.
  • Medley: Please Be My Friend – (Ian Matthews) /Take a Little Time – (Dion DiMucci / Susan Dimucci / Ian Matthews) – songs written or co-written with English folkie alt country singer Ian Matthews

      Side Two

  • The Wanderer – (Ernie Maresca) –  if anyone can "play" with this song it's Dion. The original is a piece of brilliance. Here, done as a gentle folk blues it's cool and a good showcase for Dion's voice but it won't ever replace the original.
  • Abraham, Martin and John – (Dick Holler) – (live) – The first of three live songs. Wonderful and if you didn't know Dion was from NYC the spoken intro will leave you in no doubt. A joy.
  • Almond Joy – (Eric Von Schmidt) – (live) –  Eric Von Schmidt was an American folk music singer-songwriter influential on the East Coast folk boom. This song was most notably done by Richard and Mimi Farina and released (after Ricards's death) in 1968. A humorous folk song
  • Ruby Baby – (Jerry Leiber / Mike Stoller) – (live) – back in the groove he does an old classic in a contemporary fashion though faithfully. The crowd claps along. And rightly they should.
  • Brand New Morning – a beautiful and optimistic song. It may be hippie in sentiment but it also, equallu, point towards Dion's future Christian music.

And …

Quite beautiful in part … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

Album

1972 #200

England

zip

Sounds

Sunshine Lady

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXMS3AfQou4

Medley: Please Be My Friend /Take a Little Time

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

The Wanderer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvp1qswxZ1I

Brand New Morning

mp3 attached

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4NUZJMCJ20

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuqI7yid3ew

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

Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/sanctuary-mw0000841332

Bio

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

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/artists/dion

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/dion-mn0000265456/biography

http://www.chnetwork.org/story/dion-dimucci-the-wanderer/

Website

http://diondimucci.com/wp1/

Trivia

Posted in Singer Songwriter | Tagged | Leave a comment

THE SONS OF CHAMPLIN – A Circle Filled With Love – (Ariola) – 1976

Sons of Champlin - A Circle Filled With Love

I commented on another Sons of Champlin album quite some time ago, "The Sons – Follow Your Heart – (Capitol) – 1971". As was my habit then the background was sketchy. I've gone for more padding since then…

The Sons of Champlin are one of those US bands that never had an international presence but were quite popular nationally and very popular regionally. They recorded for majors, had a number of minor hits and managed to last a while in the music industry.

Allmusic has this to say, "The Sons of Champlin did not rank in the first tier of the San Francisco psychedelic rock bands of the '60s with the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, but they did qualify for the second tier along with Moby Grape and Quicksilver Messenger Service, playing a more soul- and R&B-influenced style of music than their peers. Despite a somewhat lackadaisical attitude toward the demands of a professional career, they managed to chart a handful of albums in the late '60s and ‘70s".

They started out in that great melting pot of music that was California in the 1960s.

Wikipedia, "Champlin started his musical career in high school (Tamalpais in Mill Valley) as a member of a popular local band, The Opposite Six. One of his teachers encouraged Champlin to drop out of school and pursue music full-time. In 1965 the draft claimed the drummer and bass player of the Opposite Six, and Champlin joined forces with guitarist Terry Haggerty, sax player Tim Cain, bassist John Prosser and drummer Jim Meyers in the band that became the Sons of Champlin. By late 1967 the lineup had changed to include keyboardist/saxman Geoff Palmer, trumpeter Jim Beem, bassist Al Strong, and drummer Bill Bowen, creating a funky Hammond B3-and-horns sound that was distinctive from the rest of the Bay Area’s psychedelic guitar bands (one bandsman[who?] referred to the music as "acid jazz") … The Sons recorded their first album in 1967 for Trident Records, owned by Kingston Trio manager Frank Werber".

They spent the rest of the decade and into the early 70s recording their psych come jazz rock, In 1972 they added a full time horn section to the band (as was the rage back then – even The Kinks had a horn section for a while).

Their sound remained the same, they had toyed with horns (sic) before, but now the sound was more fuller and more commercial. The horns punched up the rhythms and gave everyone the chance to groove. The band moved more into the Chicago, Blood Sweat and Tears territory.

This was a calculated move on their part  as those bands were doing well and the sons of Champlin wanted to increase their audience.

This album was the direct result of that.

"A Circle Filled With Love" was a slight change indirection a cleaner, smoother more danceable sound. It has a slick and "radio-friendly" sound with the horns following the music a lot more. The jazz rock elements are there but buried under AOR sounds and a good dose of 70s era R&B disco, with vocals that are more soulful and sound a  lot like Boz Scaggs, who was also big at the time. Think Average White Band, Bee Gees and Pablo Cruise with more virtuosity.

And, you can't fault the playing or Champlin's vocals … they were both on the money.

The album was produced by Keith Olsen, just off producing Fleetwood Mac's big-selling self-titled album.

But, the album only did reasonably well but well enough for a follow up. The album that followed, sunk, and the band broke up in 1977.

Just when you think everything is working …

Bill Champlin went solo and then joined Chicago in 1981.

There was a one of reformation in 1985 and then a series of successful reunion gigs in 1997 followed by a live CD in 1998. Champlin was (and is) still in Chicago but managed to find time for Sons of Champlin releasing a new album, “Hip Li’l Dreams",  in 2005 (their first studio album in twenty eight years).

They still tour and are out there playing somewhere.

Tracks (best in italics)

      Side 1

  • Hold On – (Bill Champlin) – look this is slick AOR but superior slick AOR with a funky beat and gentle horns.
  • Here Is Where Your Love Belongs – (Bill Champlin) – quite dull
  • Follow Your Heart – (B.B. Heavy) –  A song writing pseudonym credited to the group and a song they had done on their 1971 album of the same name. A nice groove.
  • Knickaknack – (James Preston – David Schallock – Jeffrey Palmer – Bill Champlin) – An instrumental, and a slightly jazzy and trippy one. Quite nice though perhaps a little out of place.
  • Imagination's Sake – (Rob Moitoza) – Written by sometime member, guitarist Moitoza. Very slick and Chicago like.
  • Still In Love with You – (Terry Haggerty) – written by the guitarist. More AOR, MOR slickness.

      Side 2

  • Circle Filled with Love – (Bill Champlin – Pat Craig) – More slickness but this is catchy and exudes good times and optimism.
  • To the Sea – (Bill Champlin) – a slight country feel creeps in and does this song no harm. It becomes a middle of the day dream with some thoughtful lyrics. Excellent.
  • You – (Bill Champlin) – a mid tempo R&B disco number.
  • For a While – (Bill Champlin) – More Chicago style AOR.
  • Slippery When It's Wet – (T. McClary) – a 1975 single by Commodores (#1 Soul, #19 Pop) though titled "Slippery When Wet". Let's get funky. Like a white O'Jays at their rockiest. Normally I don't like white bands doing this. They don't cut it but here they give it a good shot.
  • Helping Hand – (Bill Champlin) – whoa … slick and very mid 70s. There is a touch of the Eagles in there.

And …

I was expecting a lot worse but half of this is quite good and some of it is better than it's contemporary rivals on the scene … but, it's not my thing. Tape a couple (perfect for a Sunday drive) and get rid of the vinyl.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1976  Hold On  The Billboard Hot 100  #47 

1976  Hold On  R&B Singles  #88  

1977  Here Is Where Your Love Belongs  The Billboard Hot 100  #80

Album

1976 #117

England

Nuttin'

Sounds

Hold On

mp3 attached

Circle Filled with Love  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CV1WXTVtYVE

You

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_w-xn2-Og88

For a While

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

Slippery When It's Wet

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

Others

http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2011/11/the-sons-of-champlin-turn-on-your-lovelight-drum-solo-gold-mine2.html

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

recently

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNSQFqel4hc

Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/a-circle-filled-with-love-mw0000848981

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

http://perplexio76.blogspot.com.au/2007/10/sons-of-champlin-circle-filled-with.html

Bio

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

http://www.sanfranciscoherald.net/spring2014/almost_famous.html

Website

http://www.sonsofchamplin.com/

https://www.facebook.com/sonsofchamplin/

Trivia

  • Trivia for Brisbanites – my copy of this vinyl is an ex 4ZZZ copy. "Bought at the 4ZZZ no choice radiothon" is stamped onto the sleeve. Radio tastes have changed at 4ZZZ but 4ZZZ, is and was, an alternative FM station which gives you some idea, perhaps of where "Sons of Champlin" sat in 1976 in Australia.
Posted in Jazz Rock Fusion, Rock & Pop | Tagged | Leave a comment

DELANEY & BONNIE – To Bonnie from Delaney – (Atco) – 1970

Delaney & Bonnie -  To Bonnie From Delaney

I have a couple of Delaney & Bonnie albums.

If you like southern blue eyed soul and rock you will have them in your collection.

And I like southern blue eyed soul and rock …

There are worries though …

But first, allmusic says this, "The husband-and-wife duo of Delaney & Bonnie Bramlett created some of the most distinctive and unique music of the early '70s, but their alchemical sound — equal parts blue-eyed soul, blues, country, and gospel — was often marginalized by the attention instead paid to the contributions of their famous "friends," including rock icons like Eric Clapton, Duane Allman and George Harrison".

And that is important.

Their sound is distinctive, some of their songs are instantly identifiable but they themselves are not instantly recognisable. Perhaps they were overshadowed by their contributors, as suggested, or perhaps, they never played up the married singers angle like Sonny and Cher but for whatever reason the casual musical listener would be hard pressed to pick Delaney & Bonnie out of a musical line-up.

Yet at the time, in the early 70s they were turning out some truly wonderful and trendsetting music. Their blend of white country soul rock gospel and funk became the template for many an act and can still be seen in acts today.

And that is the worry.

Delaney contribution was equal, or actually greater, than that of Bonnie but Bonnie's blues voice, like Janis Joplin's, captured the spirit of the times and a sound which was evoked over and over. Their sound seemed to suggest that white chicks could get down and dirty, and bluesy and be free, and be the musical equal of their man. Helen of Troy face may have launched a thousand ships but those voices launched a lot of idol contestants.

When you sing with as much, err soul, as Bonnie that's fine but sadly many that came after her are just technique. Likewise Delaney, a authentic boy of the south, no doubt encouraged many a boy, north, south, east and west to sing of shacks, troubles, and grits but Delaney, born in Mississippi, knew the music of the south intimately. He lived and breathed it and applied it with taste.

Biography, Allmusic again, " Delaney Bramlett was born July 1, 1939 in Pontotoc County, Mississippi, later befriending fellow aspiring musicians Leon Russell and J.J. Cale. On their recommendation he relocated to Los Angeles, briefly landing with the Champs before he was hired to play guitar with the Shindogs, the house band on the popular ABC television variety series Shindig. Bonnie Lynn O'Farrell, meanwhile, was born November 8, 1944 in Alton, Illinois and raised in nearby East St. Louis; as a teen she backed blues acts including Albert King and Little Milton, before signing on as the first-ever white Ikette behind Ike & Tina Turner. She eventually migrated to Los Angeles as well, and met Delaney while the Shindogs were moonlighting at a local bowling alley. Within a week, the couple were married"

They recorded for Stax and then Elektra and were popular with other musicians, especially Eric Clapton and George Harrison  (who were both going through American roots phases after psychedelic or experimental excesses) who recorded and or played with them and this led them signing to Atco (Atlantic) and a live album, then this album and a breakthrough.

There were other albums but they eventually broke up as a couple and a s musical duo. There were solo albums but never the success of the early 70s.

The playing as you would expect is superb. Look at the musicians: Duane Allman, Jim Dickinson, some of Elvis's band, Sam Clayton of Little Feat, Memphis session men, guest spots from Sneeky Pete, King Curtis and Little Richard.

The vibe is both contemporary (1970) and old (1870). The spirit of the counter culture is evoked but the time could be 100 years earlier as the hardships, loss and tales of lover transcend time thought not place. The record oozes the South in sound and attitude. And as such, it was, in  some ways, a funky gospel rock and soul flipside to the darker tales told by The Band.

Co-produced by Delaney it is his show. That's not to say it doesn't have it's flaws. It's not perfect. The pitch isn't sustained all the way through and some of the screeching has become ruined by subsequent impersonators but as a soundtrack to the South it will do fine.

Tracks (best in italics)

      Side One

  • Hard Luck and Troubles – (Delaney Bramlett) – A funky way to start and quite rousing with Delaney in fine voice.
  • God Knows I Love You – (Delaney Bramlett, Mac Davis) – Co-written by Mac Davis (of "In the Ghetto" fame) this is a good soulful country ballad.
  • Lay Down My Burden – (Steve Bogard, Michael Utley) – First appearance here I think. A gospel flavoured screecher  done by Bonnie and very well done.
  • Medley:- Come On In My Kitchen – (Robert Johnson)/ -Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean – (Herbert Lance, Charles Singleton, John Wallace)/ – Goin' Down the Road Feelin' Bad – (Traditional, arr. Delaney Bramlett) – A short blues medley with both Delaney and Bonnie vocalising , separately and together. A old Robert Johnson blues merges into a Ruth Brown blues ("Mama he treats your daughter mean – great title, get it ?) before moving onto a trad blues bone by everyone (including Woody Guthrie). The guitar is wonderful.
  • The Love of My Man – (Ed Townsend) – Theola Kilgore's #21 pop hit and #3 R&B hit from 1963. White chicks can sing da blues. Rarely, yes, But they can.
  • They Call It Rock and Roll Music – (Delaney Bramlett) – Delaney and his involvement in rock 'n' roll in a  song. A hoot. King Curtis plays sax.

      Side Two

  • Soul Shake – (Margaret Lewis, Myrna Smith) – originally done by Peggy Scott & Jo Jo Benson in 1969 (#37 pop). A good horn driven soul song.
  • Miss Ann – (Richard Penniman, Enotris Johnson) – Recorded by Little Richard in 1957 (it was the B-side to his hit "Jenny Jenny"). Little Richard guests on piano and tears it up..
  • Alone Together – (Delaney Bramlett, Bonnie Bramlett, Bobby Whitlock) – a gentle blues rock with shared vocals.
  • Living on the Open Road – (Delaney Bramlett) – a straight ahead rocker with great guitar work.
  • Let Me Be Your Man – (George Soulé, Terry Woodford) – I assume this was done first by George Soule. It's a slow 60's Percy Sledge type blues.
  • Free the People – (Barbara Keith) – a cover of the Barbara Keith song and a great song which is done beautifully here. A secular song done as a gospel song and, perhaps, one of the defining songs of the era.

And …

Excellent … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1970  Free The People  The Billboard Hot 100  #75 

Album

1970 #58

England

nothing

Sounds

full album

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

They Call It Rock and Roll Music

mp3 attached

Free the People

mp3 attached

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNC1jlQX9nA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aazChqk4U-c

Review

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

http://www.allmusic.com/album/to-bonnie-from-delaney-mw0000454464

http://www.robertchristgau.com/get_artist.php?name=Delaney+%26+Bonnie+%26+Friends

http://www.rhino.com/article/mono-mondays-delaney-bonnie-to-bonnie-from-delaney

http://stuckinthepast08.blogspot.com.au/2011/04/delaney-bonnie-and-friends-to-bonnie.html

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

Bio

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/delaney-bonnie-mn0000195237/biography

http://swampland.com/articles/view/title:delaney__bonnie__friends_six_degrees_of_swampland

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

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

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

Website

http://www.bonniebramlett.com/

Trivia

  • "Bonnie Bramlett was an accomplished singer at an early age, performing with blues guitarist Albert King at age 14 and in the Ike & Tina Turner Revue at 15 – the first white Ikette, "for three days in a black wig and Man Tan skin darkener." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonnie_Bramlett
  • The album is actually credited to "Delaney & Bonnie and Friends"

Delaney & Bonnie -  To Bonnie From Delaney - back     Delaney & Bonnie -  To Bonnie From Delaney - center

 

RIP  Frank Sinatra Jr (January 10, 1944 – March 16, 2016)

Posted in Country Soul, Southern and Boogie Rock | Tagged | Leave a comment

JACKIE DeSHANNON – New Arrangement – (CBS) – 1975

Jackie DeShannon - New Arrangement

This one was a good earner for Jackie.

Well, not immediately but in 1981.

Kim Carnes recorded Jackie's "Bette Davis Eyes" and took it to #1 across the world. So the co-writers royalties would have been nice.

Jackie had gone from Liberty Records in the 1960s with such era-defining hits as "Put A Little Love In Your Heart" and "When You Walk in the Room" to Capitol records for a one off, then to Atlantic Records in 1972 with famed producer and DeShannon fan Jerry Wexler.

The trouble was she hadn't hit it big since the 60s, the last hit was 1969 thought they had tried everything and Jackie had shown she could do everything but luck wasn't on her side, or more likely, the radio stations were to busy fawning over other "new" stars rather than former pop stars who had "reinvented" themselves.

Pop music programmers likes boxes and doesn't want to be challenged.

Jackie had put out some fine albums and some stellar singles and some even better album tracks but nothing was clicking.

Columbia (CBS) picked her up and decided to update her sound and make her the more mature 70s female vocalist. Less pop, less earthy, more slick, more commercial. They teamed her with ex "We Five" guitarist, producer Michael Stewart (who had produced Billy Joel's "Piano Man" (1973)) album and surrounded her with legendary sessionmen Waddy Wachtel, Jesse Ed Davis, Larry Knechtel, Ron Tutt, Mike Deasy, and Leland Sklar.

The result.

This is mid 70s MOR slick singer songwriter pop rock … there is keyboard, synth and strings. But, for 1975 and this record could have been a lot slicker and glossier so I can assume it could have been a lot worse. There are enough "earthy" elements and individual sounds to each of the songs that gives it an cross genre edge over its glossy competition.

Jackie can do anything well.

She could do up-tempo pop and she could do country soul and singer songwriter.

But I can't help feeling with some more thumping arrangements this could have sounded a lot better.

The songs themselves are strong. Jackie largely eschews confessional or introspection in favour of witty observation. Her voice, as it matured, became increasingly smoky and attractive in that older woman way (she was only 34) and her melodies were as catchy as ever but they had become vehicles for the lyrics … and the lyrics were (gently) sharp.

There is a lot going on here. More than meets the eye.

But who will listen to it today unless 70s MOR production makes a comeback …

Perhaps I'm being a bit too hard. Some of the songs do break free and transcend the production and some fit in well with the production I just wish that they had the benefit of hindsight.

But then again … if every musician had that the world would be full of hits …

For biographical details on Jackie see my other comments.

Tracks (best in italics)

      Side One

  • Let the Sailors Dance – (Randy Edelman – Jackie DeShannon) –  slick but no worse than anything similar coming out in 1975 and probably a little better especially with those lyrics
  • Boat to Sail – (Jackie DeShannon) –  Brian Wilson with his then-wife Marilyn provide backing vocals … and the in joke is that Brian is name checked on this song (and it even sounds a little like a Brian Wilson song). The song itself is great, a nice piece of dreamy, drifting along in a Caribbean boat, island pop. The song was covered by The Carpenters for their 1976 album "A Kind of Hush".
  • Sweet Baby Gene – (Jackie DeShannon – Donna Terry Weiss) –  a nie jazzy number
  • A New Arrangement – (Glen Ballentyne – Jackie DeShannon) –  The song needs a new "arrangement" (sic).  The arrangements are too slick … strings and tinkly keyboards really date it. A pity because the lyrics are interesting – refering to a sexually ambivalent artist.
  • Over My Head Again – (John Bettis – Jackie DeShannon) –  James Brown is name checked in this horn driven pop rocker.

      Side Two

  • Bette Davis Eyes – (Donna Terry Weiss – Jackie DeShannon) – This is a great song. But you won't recognise it here. DeShannon's original is an old school funky dance hall song as opposed to Kim Carnes toal revamping of it as a torture faux new wave melodrama. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bette_Davis_Eyes
  • Queen of the Rodeo – (Donna Terry Weiss – Jackie DeShannon) –  Jackie goes country and this is convincing and quite beautiful
  • I Wanted It All – (John Bettis – Jackie DeShannon) –  Another country-ih song. Covered by Rita Coolidge on her "It's Only Love" (1975) album.
  • Murphy – (Glen Ballentyne – Jackie DeShannon) –  A strange song. Like a tune from a Broadway show.
  • Barefoot Boys and Barefoot Girls – (Jackie DeShannon – Donna Terry Weiss) –  so so pop song.
  • Dreamin' as One – (David Palmer – William Smith) –  I'm not sure if this is a cover or not. I can't find any early recordings of it though it was recorded by Jorge Calderón  on his "City Music" (1976) album, Blood, Sweat, & Tears on their "Brand New Day" (1977) album and by the co-author and sometimes BS&T sideman, William. D. Smith himself, on his solo album, "Smitty" (1978). A tender ballad with the emphasis on "tender".

And …

There is some gold here and I do love Jackie … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

Nothing no where

Sounds

Boat to Sail

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77LfceN7ltc

Sweet Baby Gene

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIsIjcDJ7qg

A New Arrangement

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1JdZvJ4LRw

Bette Davis Eyes

Murphy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsS2TwV0aQE

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVCBSIn_1j0

Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/new-arrangement-mw0000769197

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

Bio

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

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/jackie-deshannon-mn0000127451/biography

http://jackiedeshannon.tripod.com/jdsas7.html

http://jackiedeshannon.tripod.com/jdsas7a.html

http://jackiedeshannon.tripod.com/jdsas7b.html

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

http://www.elvis.com.au/presley/interview_jackie_deshannon.shtml

Website

http://www.jackiedeshannon.com/index.html

Trivia

 

RIP – PF Sloan September 18, 1945 – November 15, 2015

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

JOHNNY CASH – Happiness is You – (Columbia) – 1966

Johnny Cash - Happiness Is You

Johnny Cash was quite happy before he was "the man in black". Actually, he was quite upbeat even when he was the man in black

This is Johnny's Love Album.

Well, the "New Love" Album.

Thematically the songs deal with breaking up, moving on, and starting afresh.

"Happiness is You" found Cash beginning divorce proceedings with his wife (Vivian), and singing of happiness he had found in someone else (June Carter).

Johnny was 34 in 1966. He'd met Vivian in 1951 when he was 19. They married in St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church in San Antonio in 1954 when Cash (who was Southern Baptist) was 22 and had four daughters. His wife divorced him in 1966. He married June Carter, who he'd met backstage in 1955 (introduced by Elvis),  in 1968.

It's all very clinical, simple and  straightforward when put down on paper and maybe it should be left at that but records give an indication to the headspace the performer was in at any given time. The more unconscious this is (ie: not pointed) the more interesting it is.

Johnny may have been "freed" by his wife through divorce but he had not sought the divorce himself. She had said that  Johnny's drug and alcohol abuse, constant touring, affairs with other women, and his close relationship with June Carter led her to file for divorce in 1966 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Cash).  Johnny's behaviours must have been extremely bad for Vivian, a Roman Catholic, to ask for a divorce, where her religion did not allow divorce and divorce was otherwise uncommon amongst Catholics in the 1960s. Perhaps Johnny had his cake and wanted to eat it too or perhaps he was suffering guilt which drove him to extremes. I mean, what came first, the drug and alcohol abuse, constant touring, affairs with other women, or the close relationship with June Carter. It does make a difference. I suspect Johnny knew right from wrong but didn't always do right and so (over) indulged in substances as punishment.

June Carter, born in 1929, and three years older than Cash, had been married twice and had two children to each husband. She was married first to honky-tonk singer Carl Smith from 1952 until their divorce in 1956 and then to Edwin "Rip" Nix, a former football player, police officer, and race car driver from 1957 to 1966.

A cynic would say that 1966 seems like it was the year for divorce.

June Carter, though, was active in music and must have known of Johnny's excesses and indulgences, or heard of them (sorry, I have the recent Cash biography (ies) behind me but I haven't read them yet) and she would  have been wary but she must have seen good in him. And the self avowed "biggest sinner of them all", Johnny Cash, must have seen redemption in June Carter.

And this is where this album comes from.

As the liner notes say … "there will always be  lovers and there will always be losers, and this time Johnny turns his hand to a program of songs that deal with both".

Some will say it's just a bunch of country love songs, don't read too much into it. But, I've never bought into arguments like that. Sure, if this was a manufactured pop band, then maybe. Otherwise, if there are historical events occurring all around you or life changing personal events then those things are going to affect the music you make even if your music is subconscious, or even if you didn't write most of the songs (Cash only wrote two here – the two "happy" titled songs – with June) through your song choices and how you interpret them.

And of course Johnny isn't a subconscious artist, so it is fair to read "Happiness is You" as a ode to his girlfriend, June Carter as well as a goodbye to his wife, Vivian..

Musically there are some concessions made to the mid 60s sounds with organs and what not (which I don't mind) but otherwise it is classic boom-chicka-boom Cash.

While many of Johnny's sixties albums are now regarded as classics, and are easily identifiable or iconic, this album appears to have been overlooked for whatever reason. Perhaps the blah artwork, perhaps the lack of  a really killer single or perhaps people don't like Johnny too happy?

Whatever the reason it is a shame … all Johnny Cash is worth a listen.

Tracks (best in italics)

      Side One

  • Happiness Is You – (Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash) – Happiness is found ina new love, but to my ears it is a restrained happiness, as if there is an acknowledgement that others have suffered for the lovers to get to this point. Or, perhaps a reading too much into this song. Still, its got a nice easy going vibe to it.
  • Guess Things Happen That Way – (Jack Clement) – Johnny recorded this whilst he was at Sun records and had a #1 Country hit with it (#11 pop). This version isn't as good but it is still catchy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guess_Things_Happen_That_Way
  • Ancient History – (Wayne P. Walker, Irene Stanton) – Not sure who did this first but I'm pretty sure it was Hank Snow who released it as a B-Side in 1962. "You're ancient history to this heart of mine" … a typical country line if there ever was one.
  • You Comb Her Hair – (Harlan Howard, Hank Cochran) – a #5 for George Jones in 1963. This country light compared to Jones' original. Pity, it's a good song.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_Comb_Her_Hair
  • She Came from the Mountains – (Peter La Farge) – Cash had an affinity for folk singer La Farge who died in 1965. This song he never released (officially) by La Farge. A beautiful, melancholy song of a mountain woman who can’t settle down in the city with her man.

      Side Two

  • For Lovin' Me – (Gordon Lightfoot) – the Gordon Lightfoot song covered by everyone including Elvis Presley, Ian and Sylvia, and Peter Paul and Mary. It's a great song and Cash sings it well.
  • No One Will Ever Know – (Fred Rose, Mel Foree) – The first release was by Roy Acuff and His Smoky Mountain Boys in 1946 but it was also released (post death) by Hank Williams (1957), Sons of the Pioneers (1957), Jack Scott (1958), Don Gibson (1961), Ferlin Husky (1959), Roy Orbison (1963) and many others. So so.
  • Is This My Destiny? – (Helen Carter) – written by June's older sister Helen. A song of lost love done as a funeral hymn. Good though the backing vocals don't fit.
  • A Wound Time Can't Erase – (Bill D. Johnson) – first done by Stonewall Jackson in 1962 and a #3 country hit. Classic 60s country sounds.
  • Happy to Be with You – (Merle Kilgore, June Carter, Johnny Cash) – A crazy hybrid of sounds with country and pop instrumentation colliding but  Johnny's steady vocals holding it all together. Strangely endearing.
  • Wabash Cannonball – (A.P. Carter) – An American standard and a favourite of the Carter Family who made one of the first recordings of the song in 1929. Johnny's version isn't raucous but it is faithful. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wabash_Cannonball

And …

Any Johnny Cash album is worth listening to …. I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1966  Happy To Be With You  Country Singles  #9 

Album

1967 #10

England

nothing

Sounds

Happiness Is You

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4q1HkrNongA

Guess Things Happen That Way

Live in the 50s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=if1wKVfLe2M

Ancient History

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEa6EvwnOPQ

You Comb Her Hair

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3bVjYPFt7k

She Came from the Mountains

mp3 attached

For Lovin' Me

Live with Gordon Lightfoot

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fl_rkPb4LD4

No One Will Ever Know

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tubj0IIxiSk

Is This My Destiny?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Feh3PDQ6x0Q

A Wound Time Can't Erase

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wD64oeldBO4

Happy to Be with You

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

Wabash Cannonball

Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otUK0AdBmiM

Others

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

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vt1Pwfnh5pc

Review

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

https://raisemyglasstothebside.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/album-review-happiness-is-you-johnny-cash/

Bio

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

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/artists/johnny-cash/biography

http://www.elvis.com.au/presley/elvis_presley_introducedmeto_johnnycash.shtml

Website

http://www.johnnycash.com/

http://www.thejohnnycashproject.com/

https://www.facebook.com/johnnycash

Trivia

  • Johnny and June had a son, John Carter Cash (born 1970), and remained married till the end of their lives (June died May 15, 2003 (aged 73) and Johnny September 12, 2003 (aged 71) ) though, I'm sure there were trying times … for June.
Posted in Country | Tagged | Leave a comment