JOE SOUTH – A Look Inside – (Capitol) – 1972

joe south - a look inside

South should be regarded as a legend.

Popular music is filled with has beens, also rans, marginals and others who couldn't juggle music, fame and business.

South, had his hits (he won a Grammy) but then burnt out as quickly as he rose. There would be no phoenix-like return.

His moment at the top, because of personal demons and external circumstances, was untenable.

He is not alone but few were as interesting as South.

Joe South was born Joseph Alfred Souter on February 28, 1940 in Atlanta, Georgia. By the mid 1950s he was involved in music and went on to an impressive credit before striking out on his own.

Allmusic: "Joe South began his career as a country musician, performing on an Atlanta radio station and joining Pete Drake's band in 1957. The following year, he recorded a novelty single, "The Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor," and became a session musician in Nashville and at Muscle Shoals. South appeared on records by Marty Robbins, Eddy Arnold, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Bob Dylan (Blonde on Blonde), and Simon & Garfunkel ("The Sounds of Silence"). During the '60s, South began working on his songwriting, crafting hits for Deep Purple ("Hush") and several for Billy Joe Royal, including "Down in the Boondocks." South began recording his own material in 1968, scoring a hit with the Grammy-winning "Games People Play" (Song of the Year) the following year. While South produced hits like "Don't It Make You Want to Go Home" and "Walk a Mile in My Shoes," Lynn Anderson had a smash country and pop hit in 1971 with South's "(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden."

Well, that does not tell us much about South the person and South the person is important here as his music is clearly is an expression of where he was at, at the time.

There is very little detail out there on Joe South the person.

By the time of this album he had difficulties with drugs. In a interview with music journalist Robert Hilburn, South admitted that he had been addicted to (in typical Southern fashion) to amphetamines and tranquilizers which he thought would help keep his deep-rooted insecurities and shyness in check.

“Nobody could get in touch with me … I had a problem with talking on the phone… Shyness, I dreaded to talk to anybody about anything… Don’t know why. I guess it was just part of my sickness with the drugs and shyness.”

Unfortunately, South's personal world was colliding, inevitably, with the worlds of those he loved. His brother, Tommy, was a drummer in Joe's recording and touring band and had spent several years battling his own drug problem. He committed suicide in 1971. Tommy's death sent Joe into a deep depression.

This is the world in which this album was recorded. Produced by Jefferson Lee, the album gathered up material recorded before and shortly after Tommy's death.

When you listen to the album you can here the pain.  I don't know which songs were recorded before or after his brother's death but they are seamless and equally confrontational in their honesty.

South, even when writing upbeat pop, had a cynical edge to his music. He observed others, much like Ray Davies, but without any fondness for them. On this album he looks at others, perhaps he is singing to his brother, but he also looks within. The front cover art and album title are a giveaway: "A Look Inside" and "Joe South" written about a window placed over his forehead. ie: a look inside the mind of Joe South.

This is Joe South's album on "fame" …every song, just about, references the effects of fame and too much ready cash. Drugs, loneliness, false friends, betrayals, dashed hopes, paranoid distrust, memories that haunt, lost innocence.

On earlier albums he experimented a lot more within the musical frame work but here it sounds as if he  has decided to concentrated on his lyrics. South, though, is no fraud, and could not depart from the music of his youth and the south (sic). This is beautiful southern blue eyed rock and soul (gospel chorus and horns included) which by its nature is going to have dollops of country, gospel, and folk woven into it's sound.

And, the music and lyrics almost pulling in opposite directions make this record fascinating.

It's like South is pouring his heart out with downbeat lyrics but perversely wrapping them in funky upbeat sounds. I mean you can dance to these laments, of sad, lonely, wounded and destructive people. What the fuck?. He is screwing with my mind.

South, as unhappy as he is, hasn't given up though. Personal singer-songwriters singing about the dark side of life have musical touchstones which are always sourced. They are supposed to be "wounded", aren't they?  (well, a lot of them seem to be)

The music here is upbeat, defiant and angry and has South kicking those touchstones flipping everyone the bird and in the process creating music which is distinctive and original.

Following this album South relocated to Maui, Hawaii where he effectively dropped out of sight for the next two years.

He returned to record an album in 1975 and then basically retired though everything is even more sketchy post 1975. He died in 2012.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Coming Down All Alone – The song starts with what I suspect is an intentional referencing of  South's "Games People Play". This song refers to drug abuse and is a distinctly melancholy and perhaps despondent way to start an album though it's quite funky.
  • Imitation of Living – Despite the clean vocal, upbeat instrumentation and sing-a-long-ability of the song this song is strident its self criticism.
  • It Hurts Me Too - Catchy and again lyrics with bite.
  • Real Thing – This starts out like a southern field song before morphing into a white funk with some great Elvis-like vocal mannerisms.
  • One Man Band – a good song with a good melody and some swampiness to it ….quite mainstream compared to the rest though.
  • Misunderstanding – eat you heart out Rufus Thomas … Stax like soul with a white vocalist. It works quite a groove.
  • Misfit – A playful South with a hint of Jerry Reed. It's also a statement of "who I am".
  • Save Your Best - Gentle Joe South giving advice from a informed position.
  • I'm a Star – In Glen Campbell mode but clearly a song about himself  South even name checks his hit "Games People Play".
  • All Night Lover – a soulful workout.

And …

A forgotten mini masterpiece …. I'm keeping it.
 
Chart Action
 
nup
 
Sounds
 
Coming Down All Alone
Mp3 attached

Joe South – Coming Down All Alone

Real Thing
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KFCDPDy32c

Save Your Best
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNOmiDUGjts

Others
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvzGAW4BB34
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5znh58WITU8

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

interview (and some clues to Joe South here)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHfmrQ2epw0
 
Review
http://www.allmusic.com/album/a-look-inside-mw0000845110
http://record-fiend.blogspot.com.au/2011/04/joe-south-look-inside-capitol-1972.html
http://likethedew.com/2012/11/07/joe-souths-confessional/
http://byjeffburger.com/1973/11/01/joe-south-a-look-inside/

Bio
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/joe-south-mn0000171994
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_South
 
Website
http://www.joesouth.com/
 
Trivia

Posted in Blue Eyed Soul, Rock & Pop, Singer Songwriter, Southern and Boogie Rock | Tagged | Leave a comment

MELANIE – As I See it Now – (Neighborhood Records) – 1975

Melanie - As I See It ow

Another Melanie album?

Actually there hasn't been one for a while.

Where is the rock n roll I can hear some one say. Where is the garage? Where is the in your face music? Fuck it, at the very least where is the hard edged pop?

Behind me in a box.

The truth is I get into these Melanie moods which is good 'cause, short on time today , I need to pump out a comment pretty quickly.

And I've done some Melanie comments before so I don't have to dwell on backgraound.

After a day mowing, pruning, digging and generally getting dirty Melanie's rustic folk singer songwriter tunes are just what are needed to unwind. Well, her and a glass of red (a "Montepulciano" from Abruzzo, Italy – good work Lorenzo). This rustic red really lends itself to Melanie's music.

Melanie and a glass of red …I like that idea.

This music is sipping music and I quite like that – I don't think you can do shots to Melanie though I know some punters who would try.

Melanie here sticks to the same sounds she had been putting out for the previous five or more years … the semi urban hippie chick, guitar in hand, observing and singing about the world. The problem is that, despite some master strokes, the world was changing and she was not getting the same returns (chart wise or audience wise).

She would broaden her sound over her next two albums, "Photograph" (1976) and "Phonogenic – Not Just Another Pretty Face" (1978) which are great (see comments on this blog) but commercial success would not return.

This album then, is the last of "old Melanie", and it's not without it's joys (those songs that point towards the "new Melanie") but it's getting a little tired.

All songs written by Melanie Safka, except where noted.

Again it was Produced and Directed (Directed?) by Peter Schekeryk (Melanie's husband).

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Yankee Man – (Jesse Winchester) – Yankee Man" by Melanie is a cover of Jesse Winchester's "Yankee Lady" from 1970 and the gender switch does not effect the song. Winchester was still a US exile in Canada (having avoided the Vietnam draft in 1967)but was quite popular with his country-ish, sensitive singer songwriter songs. He gained amnesty in the U.S. in 1977 (along with many others) and returned there in 2002. As it turns out he died on the morning of April 11, 2014, at his home in Charlottesville, Virginia.
  • You're Not a Bad Ghost, Just an Old Song – standard Melanie – never bad actually quite good but it has something missing.
  • Record Machine – Melanie always recognised her position in the record business as this song demonstrates. It's quite melancholy and though short on words quite perceptive.
  • Eyes of Man – all Melanie's stylistic preferences are here.
  • Stars up There - the child like, wide eyed innocence persona here …and it is persuasive.
  • Don't Think Twice, It's All Right - (Bob Dylan) – The magnificent Bob Dylan song which has been done by everyone. I prefer it as a "I don't give a fuck" jaunt but the purity of Melanie's voice and precise diction lends emphasis to Dylan's perceptive words.
  • Sweet Misery – nice but hardly distinctive.
  • Monongahela River – ditto
  • Yes Sir, That's My Baby – (Gus Kahn) – Melanie like covers out of left field but Walter Donaldson and  Gus Kahn song from  1925 which was a hit from Eddie Cantor is certainly unusual in this company. Perhaps she was taking a page out of the Jim Kweskin or Leon Redbone songbook.
  • Autumn Lady -Any song with "Autumn" in the title is going to be melancholy and this one is. But it works.
  • Chart Song – Beautiful …well sung and quite moving. Recorded live (apparently – you can't tell) at the Theatre Royale in London, England.
  • As I See It Now - Ethereal romance with a choir of backing vocalists almost trips into silliness but is redeemed by Melanie's perceptive lyrics.

And …

It's not atrocious but it's not great. Still, any Melanie is better than no Melanie. I'm keeping it.
 
Chart Action

Nothing no where

Sounds

http://recordlective.com/Melanie/As_I_See_It_Now/9ec120ed-12e0-3793-8f7c-1b7e1d652abc/

You're Not a Bad Ghost, Just an Old Song
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ix5D9aLP6fA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8ptKv8Yi98

Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
Mp3 attached

Melanie – Don't Think Twice It's All Right

Others
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cqg3kcwAgso
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIFknAdVvNM

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

a crazy interview (the interviewer is actually a Dutch actress pretending to be Japanese). Melanie is in the dark but at least she goes along with it in good humour.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dknTbJr8RDg

Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/as-i-see-it-now-mw0000837227
 
Bio

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

Website

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

Trivia

  • Backing musicians Mike Heron and Robin Williamson were members of The Incredible String Band.

 

 

RIP: Jesse Winchester

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

THE J. GEILS BAND – Love Stinks – (EMI) – 1980

J Geils Band - Love Stinks

And so does this album.

Boom Boom !

That's a cheap shot.

In a very early posting (#4 from 2009 in fact …. don't read it as those early postings are part of an email group, The Quads, and were more conversational and short and stinky) I did say this though:

"The J.Geils band had been around since the late 60s and had always played straight ahead rock … like a more mainstream Flamin Groovies …."

And, that remains accurate … the J. Geils Band circa 1980 are the Famin Groovies if they sold out or compromised.

Allmusic: "Guitarist J. Geils, bassist Danny Klein, and harpist Magic Dick (born Richard Salwitz) began performing as an acoustic blues trio sometime in the mid-'60s. In 1967, drummer Stephen Jo Bladd and vocalist Peter Wolf joined the group, and the band went electric. Before joining The J. Geils Band, Bladd and Wolf played together in the Boston-based rock revivalist band the Hallucinations. Both musicians shared a love of arcane doo wop, blues, R&B, and rock & roll, and Wolf had become well-known by spinning such obscure singles as a jive-talking WBCN DJ called Woofuh Goofuh. Wolf and Bladd's specialized tastes became a central force in the newly revamped J. Geils Band, whose members positioned themselves as tough '50s greasers in opposition to the colorful psychedelic rockers who dominated the East Coast in the late '60s. Soon, the band had earned a sizable local following, including Seth Justman, an organist who was studying at Boston University. Justman joined the band in 1968, and the band continued to tour for the next few years, landing a record contract with Atlantic in 1970"

I have not heard any of that early music and maybe I will one day as I love the (more) raw and stripped down rock  sound of the late 60s and early 70s. It is clear the band can play (and play really well) and Peter Wolf can sing so I'm hoping that the temperament (and recording techniques) of the late 60s and early 70s suited them better.

Why?

Because here they errr, stink.

Not a big "I've just stepped in dog shit stink" but more like a "little fart stink".

Okay so "classic rock" fans would disagree but this music (to my ears) is about compromises. There is a bit of new wave (including synth) thrown in, some funk, some stadium era Kinks and some Springsteen (without the vision or the politics).

They should have stuck to their guns (from what I have read) and charted a course through white R&B or did what the Flamin Groovies were doing circa 1980 and that was going backwards into the musical past.

And they had it in them by all accounts ….they were very popular in Detroit who love their white rock loud, simple and in your face and they had quite a good a musical palette

Allmusic: "The J. Geils Band was one of the most popular touring rock & roll bands in America during the '70s. Where their contemporaries were influenced by the heavy boogie of British blues-rock and the ear-splitting sonic adventures of psychedelia, The J. Geils Band was a bar band pure and simple, churning out greasy covers of obscure R&B, doo wop, and soul tunes, cutting them with a healthy dose of Stonesy swagger".

Of course they would not have had any commercial success if they followed my advice but the Flamin Groovies' Byrds – Beatles rock of 1980 has aged better than this (or REO Speedwagon, Kansas, Styx and Boston).

Having said that there are some good tracks here (and they do remind me of early 80s Kinks – who I love) but there is a lot of padding in the "old farts jumping on the new wave band wagon and trying to sound contemporary" vein.
 
All songs written by Peter Wolf and Seth Justman, except where noted

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Just Can't Wait – some new wave stylings in this. Frivolous and more than a bit copycat especially from a band that has been around since the 1960s but it's a toe tapper – very poppy
  • Come Back – hard rock stylings with a little funk thrown in …lame (and they "steal" the phrase "don't be cruel" from the Elvis song)
  • Takin' You Down – MOR rocker
  • Night Time – (Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein, Richard Gottehrer) – This is more like it …the band nails this cover of The Strangeloves stomper from 1965 (#30).
  • No Anchovies, Please – I have no idea what this is…..maybe in means something to people from the name checked Portland, Maine. I'm sure this spoken piece is all innuendo or allegory but I have no idea what's going on. At least the band are thinking outside the box here.
  • Love Stinks – Misogynist or an accurate statement? This is a great song and I do wonder if Everclear ripped them off.
  • Trying Not to Think About It – like an extended Springsteen workout from "Born to Run" but without the passion.
  • Desire (Please Don't Turn Away) – The obligatory ballad and 80s mainstream rock ballads (even this early in the decade) were crap.
  • Till the Walls Come Tumblin' Down – more Springsteen …circa 1974. This is no mere sound-alike. Clearly the band are into the same sounds. A hoot.

And …

This is not horrible. In fact some of it is great but overall it is a bit too "mainstream" or "classic rock" for me …. I'll tape a few and sell.
 
Chart Action
 
US
Singles

1980  Come Back  Dance Music/Club Play Singles  #69 
1980  Come Back  The Billboard Hot 100  #32 
1980  Just Can't Wait  The Billboard Hot 100  #78 
1980  Love Stinks  The Billboard Hot 100  #38 

Album
1980  Love Stinks  The Billboard 200  #18 

England
Singles
Album

Nothing
 
Sounds

http://recordlective.com/The_J._Geils_Band/Love_Stinks/fc309086-1689-3a2d-b563-8a67bc305f04/

Love Stinks
Video clip
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0LAs7X5ybE
live
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8vHjgViAeQ

Night Time
mp3 attached

J. Geils Band – Night Time

Others

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

early J Geils Band from 1972 (this rocks)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EX6qXwtIaU

Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/love-stinks-mw0000654155
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_Stinks

Bio

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J_Geils_Band
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/j-geils-band-mn0000776994/biography

Website

http://jgeilsband.net/

Trivia

  • In case you couldn't be bothered looking up the band – J Geils is the guitarist. Most of the songs are written by vocalist Peter Wolf and keyboardist Seth Justman
Posted in Rock & Pop | Tagged | Leave a comment

JOHN HARTFORD – Annual Waltz – (Dot) – 1987

John Hartford - Annual Waltz

I'm frequently criticised for all the "old" records I comment on. I point out that this blog is a vinyl  music blog and vinyl died in the early to mid 90s in Australia. Accordingly, vinyl product after that is hard to find.

That statement usually elicits a response that I could comment on more records from the 80s and I suppose I could.

So, here is a John Hartford album from 1987.

And it's one, in keeping with Hartford's style, that could have been recorded in 1925.

So, I assume this is a "fuck you" to all who ask me to comment on more 80s music.

OK, perhaps it's only a "fuck off".

Either way I remind everyone that if you haven't heard the music before it's "new" music to you regardless of when it was recorded.

If you are out there looking for the "new revolution" in music then you are only wasting time … the high-water mark has been hit and subsequently everything new is old. It's, otherwise, all just repackaging and marketing.

So why can't Hartford do an album of (largely) newly written old-timey music in 1987.

There are quite a few Hartford album comments on this blog so search those out for background and detail but here I will take this from one of my other comments:

"He has also been referred to as literary folk music and "MOR romantic nostalgia told from the perspective of a homeless man remembering days of perfect love"…. I like that …. He has also been called Americana/Appalachian Folk/Country-Rock/Old-Timey/Progressive Bluegrass/Progressive Country/Progressive Folk/String Bands/Traditional Country … take you pick …but I like all those also.

I also said in relation to his "Aereo Plain" album in "What Frank is Listening to #154" :  This album is his old timey album with bluegrass and Appalachian sounds thrown in. Hartford however is no mere traditionalist as themes are updated to suit the modern world. Its as if the music of times past was never marginalized but remained the dominant mainstream music and current concerns were incorporated into the sound, just like in rock music.

Hartford's style is both simple and perceptive, mainstream and left of centre, populist and eccentric. His songs sing of simple joys and at times it seems that even with his regrets he doesn't have many harsh words to say and seems to accept everyone with all their quirks. That's not to say he isn't critical – he can be – but it never comes from a mean spirited place".

Hartford is an archivist and a librarian of music. The sounds he knows and loves are in his memory so he can channel those sounds into new music effortlessly. And, he does that here. The songs are beautiful, simple, old-time and bluegrass songs with a hint of Appalachian and trad jazz.

This is, then, a new volume to the old, rural "Great American Songbook".

Jack Clement produces (and also plays some of the guitar) and he keeps the sound clean and crisp. Perhaps a little to clean and crisp though that may not be a Clement thing but a result of recording for a mainstream label in the 80s – everything had to sound clean in the 80s. That, perhaps, detracts a little from the ambience of the old timey sounds but it does show the mastery of the musicians on their instruments.

Hartford's songs, here, are not as quirky as his earlier work and there is a clear theme of growing old and looking back which makes the music beautifully melancholy (which was something Hartford had in him from the start).

Maybe Hartford would have rather been out their piloting his Mississippi steamboat (how many musicians can say they are steamboat captains?) but the music he creates is sublime and as joyously gentle as a paddle steamer on the Mississippi river at night (I imagine).

All songs by John Hartford unless otherwise noted

Tracks (best in italics)

  • All in My Love for You – Graceful and heartfelt without being overly sentimental.
  • Ohio River Rag – A nice instrumental piece.
  • Annual Waltz – a beautifully melancholy song.
  • Gone, Gone, Gone (Harlan Howard) – The great Harlan Howard wrote this and Lefty Frizzell had a #12 with it in 1965.
  • Love Wrote This Song (Hartford, Charles Cochran) – Love brought feelings back from "long, long ago"
  • Learning to Smile All Over Again – Love gone wrong and beautifully done.
  • Pennington Bend – another good instrumental.
  • Here's to Your Dreams – another beautifully melancholy tune with nice, sad fiddle.
  • Short Life of Trouble – (arranged: John Hartford) – An old fiddle and banjo standard done by many including G. B. Grayson and Buell Kazee.
  • Living in the Mississippi Valley – a fun, upbeat statement of where Hartford wants to be (in mind and body)

And …

Yes, 1987 was a good year for new music because of this album …. I'm keeping it.
 
Chart Action
 
Not likely
 
Sounds

All in My Love for You
MP3attached

John Hartford – All In My Love For You

Annual Waltz
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzS3K8Nv2OQ
live
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0v5ZSNroUQ

Learning to Smile All Over Again
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BI1N08FEo0

Pennington Bend
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQY7g7GRnGo

Short Life of Trouble
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=laUBC5BMfpM


Others
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELEJbhO4_og
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TW7OFAir3OQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svI0X19AFfQ

 

John and The Dillards


Review

Bio

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/john-hartford-mn0000221603
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Hartford

Website

http://www.johnhartford.com/
http://www.johnhartford.org/

Trivia

  • Muscians: John Hartford: Fiddle, Banjo, and Vocals / John Yudkin: Fiddle, Mandolin / Mark Howard: Mandolin, Guitar / Jack Clement: Guitar /  Roy Huskey, Jr.: Bass / Kenny Malone: Percussion /  Gary Janney: Harmony Vocals
  • From the liner notes: "Jack Clement made all this possible. He shared his vast knowledge and believed in us. When we were on a roll, he stayed out of our way; and when we were done, he would give our cart a good shove to see whether it would turn over or not. He always told us to stay with it until it "disappeared". Just that one concept has changed the way we make records".

 

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

JIM KWESKIN – Jump For Joy – (Vanguard) – 1967

Jim Kweskin - Jump For Joy
In commenting of Kweskin’s “America” LP from 1971 I said this:

The beauty of Kweskin and his band though is they were not traditionalists. There was a good dose of humour and more than a passing lip service to the music of the 1960s. They were in love with pre-rock country, folk, ragtime, trad jazz, and pop but they didn’t despise rock and roll either.
 
As the jug band “boom” faded many of its practitioners took those influences into rock and what became roots rock whilst others like Kweskin went solo and dug deeper into Americana, folk and pre-war music.
 
There are very few originals compositions but Kweskin digs up obscure (and not so obscure) songs and puts his mark on the same. What songs he chooses and how he styles his albums (and I suspect he has a lot of creative freedom as there aren’t major marketing considerations) give him as personal and singular voice as any singer songwriter.
 
This is personal music but I suspect people like Kweskin and Leon Redbone are happy to keep traditions alive and also keep the music relevant by drawing analogies between the past and the present.
 
The result I love listening to even if there is little broad appeal.

Clearly, Kweskin’s raison d’etre dates back to this album in 1967 and I suspect even further back to his earliest days. I can’t say that with any certainty as I haven’t heard a lot of his early music but I suspect that is the case.

For whatever reason I discovered Leon Redbone first (I I found his “No Regrets” LP from 1988 in an op-shop in 1990…clearly someone was not impressed) and I got off on his distinct love of and enthusiasm for pre-rock music.

Kweskin is the same.

Here, with his “neo-passe jazz band” he indulges himself in a myriad of styles (especially Dixieland jazz) which are stylistically linked by the fact they are all pre rock and ultimately all styles that had very little bearing on rock n roll.

Perhaps it is a little stupid talking about rock when discussing Kweskin because he doesn’t seem to have indulged much in rock but he came of age in the rock era and at a time when rock was at its most inventive.

He was no less inventive but he looked to the past to distinguish himself from his contemporaries.

After all, everything that is new can be found in the past.

And Kweskin is testament to that notion.

Likewise his instrumentation is raw and low-fi, and at odds, generally, with the 30s groups he loves who had (or tried to have) a richer and fuller style. Kweskin is either channelling the regional sounds of small combos that dotted the landscape of American Friday and Saturday nights pre-World War Two or he is introducing the gritty ambiance you would expect from a small rock combo or perhaps he is doing a bit of both.

Either way, he or his sound, can be heard as influences in rock bands like Country Joe & the Fish, The Grateful Dead, The Band, The Fugs and The Lovin' Spoonful.

I acknowledge that this music isn’t for everyone but if you haven’t watched a lot of old B&W film on late night television then think of it as a soundtrack to a Woody Allen movie especially if the movie is set in the mid-west or backwoods USA.

And, importantly, if you haven’t heard these sounds before then it is new music isn’t it?

So, open your mind, take a seat, pour a drink and enjoy the idea of someone in 2014 listening to someone in 1967 playing something from 1933.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Moving Day - (Jim Kweskin) – Kweskin clearly knows his music. This is authentic but with 60s observational attitude.
  • Memphis Blues - (W.C. Handy / George Norton) – Handy would only have complimentary things to say about this version. The song is oft recorded. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Memphis_Blues
  • Kickin' the Gong Around – (Harold Arlen / Ted Koehler) – First, and most famously done by Cab Calloway & His Orchestra in 1931. “Kickin' the gong around” was (apparently) a slang term for smoking opium
  • You're Not the Only Oyster in the Stew - (Johnny Burke / Harold Spina) – Great fun though quite suggestive or maybe that's my dirty mind. A hit for Fats Waller in 1934.
  • He's in the Jailhouse Now – (Pink Anderson) – a hoot and a cover of Black bluesman Anderson’s 1950 song. 1950 – a contemporary song by Kweskin standards.
  • Melancholy Baby - (Ernie Burnett / George Norton) – the old standard done well and quite,  errr melancholy. Bing Crosby’s 1941 version is perhaps the most famous version. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Melancholy_Baby
  • There'll Be Some Changes Made – (Billy Higgins / W. Benton Overstreet) – with the false start this seems a take off on Elvis' "Milkcow Blues". Kweskin here dips heavily into the trad jazz book
  • Medley: O Miss Hannah/That's My Weakness Now  – (Buddy Deppenschmidt) – I’m not sure about this – it’s credited to jazz drummer Deppenschmidt  (b;936) but it seems to be older.
  • Jazzbo Brown  – (George Gershwin / Ira Gershwin / DuBose Heyward) – nice and flavourful. Wikipedia: “Jazbo Brown was, according to legend, a black delta blues musician from around the turn of the 20th century …He also appears in the opening scene of George Gershwin's opera, Porgy and Bess, with the spelling 'Jasbo Brown'. He takes no part in the plot, but plays "a low-down blues" on the piano while couples dance. This goes on for several minutes, expanding as the chorus and orchestra join in, before transitioning into the song "Summertime"”.
  • Staggerlee  – the old familiar tale – done by everyone
  • I Can't Give You Anything But Love  - (Dorothy Fields / Jimmy McHugh) – Pretty, very pretty. Associated with Lena Horne (1941) or Marlene Dietrich from her 1940 film with John Wayne "Seven Sinners". It has however been done by a lot of people. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Can't_Give_You_Anything_but_Love,_Baby
  • Louisiana  – (J.C. Johnson / Andy Razaf / Bob Schafer ) – done by Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire and others.

And …

Another winner…. I'm keeping it.
 
Chart Action
US
England

Are you kidding,  Kweskin defines “the fringe” in popular music …. No chart action

Sounds

Moving Day

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmypaSeox3E

You're Not the Only Oyster in the Stew

mp3 attached

Jim Kweskin – You Are Not The Only Oyster In The Stew

There'll Be Some Changes Made

live

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ao8QTkxAEKk

Others
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQvClKK0HRo

Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/jump-for-joy-mw0000228200


Bio

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/jim-kweskin-mn0000345596/biography
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_kweskin

Website

http://jimkweskin.com/ 

Trivia

 

Posted in Americana, Folk, Jazz | Tagged | Leave a comment

PAUL REVERE & THE RAIDERS – Hard ‘n’ Heavy (with marshmallow) – (Columbia) – 1969

Paul Revere & The Raiders - Hard "n" Heavy

Paul Revere & the Raiders are a joy and should be in the pantheon of rock groups.

Perhaps The Raiders are closer to that status in the United States but here, in Australia, they are relatively unknown. I suspect we spent too much time listening to British invasion music to the exclusion of a lot of worthwhile American music.

Maybe that's why we are not a Republic?

Likewise, The Raiders do not have a large following in England. They never made the Top 40 there in either the album or singles charts.  The argument is, I suspect, that there was enough (English) home grown music so there was no need for this. The truth is that The Raiders, like a number of other American acts, can attribute quite a bit of their success to US television which, obviously, wasn't shown in England. Also, the English with their MOR pop sensibility never embraced any of the American frat rock, garage or 60s rock n roll groups at the time.

Their loss.

And' it's a substantial loss given that The Raiders could, and did, transcend their frat rock n roll roots and were more than capable of some sublime pop mixed in with some finely crafted raucous rock "n" roll.

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

And this is also important because by the time The Raiders recorded this album late in 1968, Mark Lindsay and Paul Revere were the only remaining original members of the band.

The "new" band do well and they are assisted by Glen D. Hardin, James Burton and Ry Cooder!

The music on this album has one ear on what's going on in 1968 but the other ear is still on the dance floor. The Raiders were, as I have said ad nauseam, a working band and they never lost track of their dance floor roots.

Accordingly, the music is meant to be hummed to, toe tapped to and danced to.

OK, the Americans took heed of this Paul Revere (the bad was successful) but they still allowed the English to invade and eventually The Raiders were relegated to paragraphs slightly larger than footnotes in the music history books.  Time, however, has a way of bringing clarity. After the English (music) invasion dissipated, this music certainly comes out sounding a lot better than it's across the Atlantic contemporaries.

And if you don't believe me then just listen up …..

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Mr. Sun, Mr. Moon - (M. Lindsay) – Pure pop rock which lifts a little from the bubblegum bands of the time. But, what a joy it is.
  • Money Can't Buy Me – (M. Lindsay) – a convincing mid paced thumper.
  • Time After Time – (K. Allison, M. Lindsay) – more than a hint of the Rolling Stones (albeit 1966 Stones)
  • Ride on My Shoulder - (M. Lindsay) – a touch of Jagger here (though not the Stones) with some stinging bottleneck guitar by Cooder
  • Without You - (K. Allison, M. Lindsay) – more Stones but building to an orgasmic finale with Lindsay's voice down and dirty.
  • Trishalana – (M. Lindsay) – In complete contrast to the last song …spacey late 60 counter culture pop.
  • Out on the Road - (K. Allison, M. Lindsay) – Chuck Berry as if he was a product of the 60s
  • Hard and Heavy 5-String Soul Banjo – (F. Weller) – a country rock hoedown. The Raiders have ventured into this territory and it is always pleasant though not particularly convincing. You can't fault the musicianship though … which I suspect included James Burton and Glen D Hardin from the sessions.
  • Where You Goin' Girl – (F. Weller) – How many "Where you Goin …." type of songs were there in the late 60s?
  • Cinderella Sunshine - (M. Lindsay) – a big pop song in the sunshine pop mould and undeniably catchy.
  • Call on Me – (J. Correro, M. Lindsay) – another big pop rock number which has a good hook and perhaps anticipates a lot of 70s pop rock.

And …

Excellent and underrated …. I'm keeping it.
 
Chart Action

US
Singles
1968  Cinderella Sunshine  The Billboard Hot 100  #58 
1969  Mr. Sun, Mr. Moon  The Billboard Hot 100  #18 

Album
1969 #51

England

nothing
 
Sounds

Mr. Sun, Mr. Moon
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piHhujQPwgs

Time After Time
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXRDGGSZUcc

Trishalana
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdWO_B8hFgE

Out on the Road
mp3 attached

Paul Revere & The Raiders – Out On That Road

Cinderella Sunshine
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUcKyHWzdKY

Others
"Song for Swingy" record found on the Mattel "Swingy" doll box from 1968. It is "Mr. Sun, Mr. Moon" with different lyrics.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFhPO1TST0E
 
Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/hard-n-heavy-with-marshmallow-mw0000604485
http://waddywachtelinfo.com/keithallisonraiders.html
 
Bio

http://www.musoscribe.com/features/paul_revere_and_the_raiders.shtml
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chips_Moman
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/freddy-weller-p21369/biography

interview

http://www.sundazed.com/shop/news/?p=936

Website

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

Trivia

  • Personnel:

Paul Revere – piano, organ
Mark Lindsay – sax, vocals
Freddy Weller – guitars (Freddy went on to become a fairly major country singer in the 70s)
Keith Allison – bass, acoustic guitar
Joe Correro Jr. – drums, percussion, flute
and
James Burton – banjo, dobro
Glen D. Hardin – cymbalom, electric keyboard, banjo, electric celeste, Vox, electric piano
Ryland Cooder – bottleneck guitar

Narration by Don Steele – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Steele

Produced by Mark Lindsay and Terry Melcher.

  • There was an alternative sleeve which was actually the back sleeve picture – see below.

 

Paul Revere & The Raiders - Hard "n" Heavy - alternative sleeve

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

DR HOOK – Sometimes You Win … – (Capitol) – 1979

Dr Hook - Sometimes You Win ...

"Sometimes you win …." is a dangerous album title if you half smart critics (myself included) skulking on the sidelines

because

"Sometimes you lose" is bound to follow.

But Dr Hook did in fact "win" with this album as it sold well.

But there are also losers …… the contemporary listener

Harsh?

Perhaps, but, I cut Dr Hook a lot of slack because I was quite fond of them and on their best tracks (as heard through a well chosen compilation) they are fun, with some genuine toe tapping and catchy songs.

Sure a lot of the music is pop with country overtones or just MOR soft rock (like here) but the music has a strident gentleness (if that makes sense) even when it is rocking out or ribald and accordingly it does work well as background to beer drinking.

And that is enough.

Would you rather "One Direction" or any of the screechers from any of the lame "Who wants to be pop star " television shows?

So cut Dr Hook some slack and reach for a beer.

Having said that this album has Dr Hook moving outside their usual styles and incorporating some white disco and perhaps a little Caribbean beat.

They come across as bearded lounge lizards. Bearded dragons (an Australian reference) perhaps?

This is not a good turn.

But, hell, what do I know, because like I have said, the album sold okay and there were three Top 10 tracks in the US.

Check out my other comments for bio and musings not unlike the above.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Better Love Next Time -  (Steve Pippen / Larry Keith / Johnny Slate) – Start with a hit. A good idea. Very slight but catchy.
  • In Over My Head – (Eddie Rabbitt / Even Stevens / Dan Tyler) – Very slight asnd not very catchy. Some female deep breathing
  • Sexy Eyes - (R.J. Mather / Keith Stegall / Chris Waters) -  Another hit.
  • Oh! Jesse – (Sam Weedman) -  Followed by crap
  • Years from Now  - (Charles Cochran / Roger Cook / Alonzo Tucker) – this was a minor hit in Australia,  I think. Romantic dramatic MOR mush but memorable in a leech on the leg kind of way. " Years from Now" was previously recorded by Bobbi Humphrey in 1977 and Don Williams covered it in 1981.
  • I Don't Feel Much Like Smilin' – (Dennis Locorriere / Ray Sawyer) - 
  • When You're in Love with a Beautiful Woman - (Even Stevens) -  A big hit. This was also on their 1978 album "Pleasure & Pain". I have no idea why it is here again.
  • What Do You Want? – (Eddie Rabbitt / Even Stevens) – dumb white disco.
  • Love Monster – (Sam Weedman) -
  • Mountain Mary – (Ray Sawyer / Shel Silverstein) – a old Dr Hook type of country hoedown which is a little out of place here.
  • Help Me Mama - (Ray Sawyer / Shel Silverstein ) – likewise …a light country blues which with the last tune seems to have come off another album

And …

Tape a couple for that perfect Dr Hook compilation tape and then …. sell.
 
Chart Action
 
US
Singles
1979  When You're In Love With A Beautiful Woman  Adult Contemporary  #5 
1979  When You're In Love With A Beautiful Woman  Country Singles  #68 
1979  When You're In Love With A Beautiful Woman  The Billboard Hot 100  #6 
1979  Sharing The Night Together  The Billboard Hot 100  #6 
1979  Better Love Next Time  Adult Contemporary  #3 
1979  Better Love Next Time  Country Singles  #91 
1980  Years From Now  The Billboard Hot 100  #51 
1980  Sexy Eyes  Adult Contemporary  #6 
1980  Sexy Eyes  R&B Singles  #67 
1980  Sexy Eyes  The Billboard Hot 100  #5 
1980  I Don't Feel Much Like Smilin'  Country Singles  #80 
1980  Better Love Next Time  The Billboard Hot 100  #12 

Album
1971 #71

England
Singles
1979 Better Love Next Time #8
1980 Sexy Eyes #4
1980 Years From Now #47

Album
1979 #14

Australia
Singles
1979 Better Love Next Time #24
1980 Sexy Eyes #41
1980 Years From Now #72

 
Sounds

http://recordlective.com/Dr._Hook/Sometimes_You_Win/e97f943e-abf3-3243-b206-63a2cc22e190/

Better Love Next Time
mp3 attached

Dr Hook – Better Love Next Time

Others
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7iYpboTjtoQ
 
Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/sometimes-you-win-mw0000656917
 
Bio

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/dr-hook-mn0000806645
http://www.allmusic.com/artist/dr-hook-the-medicine-show-mn0000205575
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr_Hook

Website

http://www.doctorhook.com/
http://www.dennislocorriere.com/
http://www.sylviasmother.com/

Trivia

Posted in Country Rock, Soft Rock | Tagged | Leave a comment

DAVID & JONATHAN – Michelle – (Capitol) – 1966

David & Jonathan - Michelle

I love 60s music.

It was a pretty amazing decade musically and I’m not just talking about the obvious mainstream recollections of it: Merseybeat, surf music, soul, psychedelia, folk rock.

I love all the in-betweens and forgotten sounds: the frat rock, garage rock, country stylings, teen pop, Brill building pop, blue eyed soul, white R&B, beatnik experimentalism, avant-garde, dance craze music, cabaret pop and easy listening.

That doesn’t mean it’s all good though.

And, also sometimes a "sound" you find appealing will make something sound better than it is.

And that leads me to David & Jonathan (and many of their ilk).

I don't love English Merseybeat but I like it enough so that a band like David & Jonathan sound a bit better than they are.

They have, however, taken English beat and removed it’s rough edges, made it slick and available to all markets.

Producer George Martin's classical and trad pop background are all over this record with a full band sound with strings, horns etc which still "rocks" albeit very gently. Clearly he played a large part in the Beatles "orchestrated" pomp of the mid to late 60s.

The music is pleasant on the ears and quite appealing but there is very little substance. You find you are being seduced by the sound and the gentle cleaned up beat.

What they have created is sickly sweet pop for the masses which is cavity inducing given that Merseybeat was, pretty much, sweetened rock pop for the masses itself.

But, there is no denying that while the music is on the turntable it is pleasant.

Allmusic: With typical show-biz logic, David & Jonathan was the stage name for a duo comprised of two guys named Roger — Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway. Boasting smooth harmonies and lush melodies that suggested a less adventurous variation on the Walker Brothers, David & Jonathan were solidly in the more polished and studio-bound camp of the 1960s British pop scene, and were protégés of George Martin, who lent his production expertise to their recordings.

The beauty of David & Jonathan is that Cook and Greenaway were no mere puppets for George Martin. They had song writing skill and vocal talent (no matter how sickly sweet it is).

Wikipedia: “Both Roger Greenaway and Roger Cook were members of the close harmony group the Kestrels, and while on tour they decided to begin writing songs together. Their first was "You've Got Your Troubles", a No. 2 UK hit single for the Fortunes (1965), which also made No. 7 on the US Billboard Hot 100. It was the first of several successes they enjoyed during the next few years. Later that year they began recording together as David and Jonathan. Their first single "Laughing Fit To Cry" did not chart, but they scored hits in 1966 with their cover version of the Beatles' "Michelle" and their own "Lovers of the World Unite". Their final single, "Softly Whispering I Love You", in 1967, was not a success at the time, but became a No. 4 UK hit in 1971 for the Congregation. In 1968 Cook and Greenaway announced that they would no longer be recording as a duo but would continue as songwriters.
 
Their hits as writers for other acts, sometimes with other collaborators, include: "Home Lovin' Man" (Andy Williams); "Blame it on the Pony Express" (Johnny Johnson and the Bandwagon); "Hallejuah" (Deep Purple); "Doctor's Orders" (Sunny (UK) and Carol Douglas (US)); "It Makes No Difference" (Joe Dolan); "Something Tells Me (Something Is Gonna Happen Tonight)" (Cilla Black); "I've Got You On My Mind", "When You Are a King", "My Baby Loves Lovin'" (White Plains); "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress", "Gasoline Alley Bred", (The Hollies); "You've Got Your Troubles", "Freedom Come, Freedom Go" (The Fortunes); "Banner Man", "Melting Pot", "Good Morning Freedom" (Blue Mink); "Green Grass" (Gary Lewis & the Playboys); "New Orleans" (Harley Quinne); "A Way of Life" (The Family Dogg) and "Something's Gotten Hold of My Heart" (Gene Pitney)…. They also wrote "High and Dry" (Cliff Richard), which was the runner-up for the UK Eurovision Song Contest entry in 1968”.

They aren’t up there with the (more adventurous) Walker Brothers but they do sit comfortably alongside Peter & Gordon, and, Chad & Jeremy.

And, perhaps, because of their MOR stylings and George Martin's trad pop chops the music doesn't date as much as the other Merseybeat music

Perhaps.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Michelle – (Lennon – McCartney) – Hey, they nail it. A facsimile of the Beatles original it may be but ….a great song. And a #18 in the US – not an easy thing to do (in the 60s)
  • Laughing Fit to Cry - (Greenaway – Cook) – pleasant and very much in the Beatles style (circa 1964), though with strings.
  • I Know - (Greenaway – Cook) – very ctachy
  • Bye Bye Brown Eyes – (Herbert Kretzmer – George Martin) – pleasant
  • A Must to Avoid – (P.F. Sloan – F. Barri) – very mid 60s US – sounds like something from a "hip" TV show.
  • Every Now and Then – (Greenaway – Cook) – blah
  • Let's Hang On - (Crewe – Randell – Linzer) – The Four Seasons #3 hit from 1965. (Jan & Dean covered it in 1966). A great song but very MOR here.
  • Yesterday – (Lennon – McCartney) – They nail Lennon and McCartney again (well McCartney actually).
  • 'Bye Now – (Greenaway – Cook) – hmmm
  • This Golden Ring – (Greenaway – Cook) – pleasant
  • You've Got Your Troubles – (Greenaway – Cook) – Written by David & Jonathan it was a #2 two hit for the Fortunes in the UK and a #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States in 1965.
  • The End is Beginning – (Greenaway – Cook – Martin) – blah.

And …

Hmmm …. I’m undecided as to whether I will keep this or not.
 
Chart Action
 
US
Singles

1966  Michelle  Adult Contemporary  #3 
1966  Michelle  The Billboard Hot 100  #18 

Album

England
Singles
1966 #11

Album

Surprisingly, despite the strong single and the general hoop-la with the British Invasion the album failed to chart.

Sounds

Full album
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaP6syuswEE

Michelle
MP3 attached

David & Jonathan – Michelle

Others
Live
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnJzWjtw6vw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4ZkyL0HHps
 
Review
 
http://www.allmusic.com/album/michelle-mw0000889400
 
Bio

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/david-jonathan-mn0000939456/biography
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_and_Jonathan_(band)

Website

Trivia

  • The band were from Bristol not Liverpool. (forget about "Michelle" there should be a "Judy", no?)
  • Maybe they should have called themselves "The Two Rogers" or "The Jolly Rogers". Maybe not.

 

Posted in British Invasion, Pop Rock | Tagged | Leave a comment

GENE PITNEY – Golden Greats – (CBS) – 1967

Gene Pitney - Golden Greats
I have commented on a few other Gene Pitney albums in the past so check those out for biographical details.

I have said this in the past before: “Gene was a consummate (if occasionally melodramatic) vocalist. What he did do was take any song and not always make it his but certainly imprint it so you can’t mistake it for someone else. His operatic pop ballads are "classics" of the genre and define a lot of 60s pop. Having said that, operatic pop up-tempo ballads weren't novel (think Elvis' "It’s Now or Never" from 1960 or "Surrender" from 1961) but Gene made a career out of it. The emotion is worn on his sleeve and he created some of the most divine pop tunes of the 1960s. And as I have said before (elsewhere)  if you are going to do pop you can’t look for a better era than the 60s”.

By the late 1960s the 50s rockers and early 60s pop stars were finding the going hard. Many turned to more contemporary sounds and/or started writing their own confessional material to find their place in the music world.

It is perhaps surprising that Pitney (from the records I heard) didn’t really move into the singer songwriter style because he was quite adept at writing songs and started his career as a songwriter. He wrote “Hello Mary Lou” (for Ricky Nelson), “He’s a Rebel” (for The Crystals), "Today's Teardrops" (for Roy Orbison) and “Rubber Ball” (for Bobby Vee) to name a few.

What held him back, I suspect, was his voice.

And, by that I mean his voice was too good.

The guy could sing like a bird.

My wife (who studied opera singing at the conservatorium) thinks Pitney strains his voice on some of the sub-operatic songs and maybe he does but I think that is just his "style" and that is given credence by the fact that his voice held up till the end.

Perhaps we are so used to non-singers or cookie cutter singers in rock and pop that he does sound strained in comparison?

One thing for certain is that Pitney never claimed to be a opera singer.

He is a pop singer, albeit one that draws some of the drama and hyper emotion that you see in opera.

The magnificence is in that excess placed into pop.

And, it's not easy to do – have you ever heard a opera star successfully doing pop?

Pitney could never do a quiet, introspective ballad but then he didn't need to (and probably didn't want to). Within the world he creates fro himself, one of sleeve worn heightened emotions,  there is no room for introspective ballads – everything is up front, and plainly spoken.

And there is genius in this.

It's a form of musical honesty

I wish I had 1/10th of the voice Pitney had.

I've also said in relation to Gene that despite his writing ability that "when you can sing that well there is little impetus to concentrate on song writing"

And that is the case here.

Despite the "Golden Greats" title this is not a compilation but, rather Gene  doing other peoples "golden greats".

Most of the songs are of recent vintage so Gene really has to try to stamp the songs in his own style.

And, largely, he does that. Some of the songs don't work but, at least, they sound like Gene.

He has moved closer to blue eyed soul territory – though he mixes it up a little.

The only fault is, perhaps, the overuse of background singers but that's the sound Gene was looking for given he produced the album with George Tobin.

Clearly, he is having fun with the "golden greats".

He must be 'cause his next album had him covering The Platters – commercial suicide in 1967, perhaps, but fascinating today.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Bus Stop - (Graham Gouldman) – a good version of the great Hollies song from 1966. Interestingly there is a na na na ne na, na na ne ne nah at the end of the song which is lifted from ….fark, I can't remember. Brain freeze. Mitch Ryder?
  • Stop! In the Name of Love – (Lamont Dozier / Brian Holland / Eddie Holland) – well sung but it misses the earthiness of the original Supremes Motown version from 1965.
  • Cara Mia - (Lee Lange / Tulio Trapani) – fark, Gene nails the Jay and the Americans hit (1965) here and comes close to outdoing the original. This is teen angst taken to it's logical operatic extremes. Perhaps the opera excesses are meant to tie in with the Italianate title but the music and especially the voice transcend the meaning. And he sings, not screeches.
  • Baby I Need Your Loving – (Lamont Dozier / Brian Holland / Eddie Holland) – not too bad but not as good as the Four Tops (1964)
  • A Groovy Kind of Love – (Carole Bayer Sager / Toni Wine) -good but adds nothing to the American song covered by the English group The Mindbenders who had a hit with it in 1965.
  • Green, Green Grass of Home - (Curly Putman) – country Gene – not so unusual as he had recorded country pop duets with George Jones…. this is quite effective. This has been done by everyone but Tom Jones had been riding high on the charts with it in 1965 (#11)
  • Count Me In - (Glen D. Hardin) – this Gary Lewis and the Playboys song (1965) suits Gene perfectly
  • You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' – (Barry Mann / Phil Spector / Cynthia Weill) – a good version of the Righteous Brothers hit (#1 1964) and a valiant attempt but the great original and Elvis' subsequent immortalisation make all other versions redundant
  • Time Won't Let Me - (Tom King) – a good pop song which is quite deceptive. Originally the garage band The Outsiders had a hit with it in 1966  (#5). Gene has turned it into a cute ditty about as tough as a Banana Splits tune. But, underneath, there is a lot going on. It is a bit of a novelty but an affecting one.
  • Crying – (Joe Melson / Roy Orbison) – it doesn't reach the ethereal emotional cataclysm that is Roy Orbison's version (1961) but still not too bad.
  • Mission Bell – (William Michael ) – fluffy, even by fluffy standards. This was a hit for British based American, PJ Proby, in Australia only (#3, 1965).

And …

Flawed but great fun, and great fun for parties…. I'm keeping it.
 
Chart Action
 
Nothing in the major markets

Sounds

Bus Stop   
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLEH7HDy5KY
  
Stop! In The Name Of Love  
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BVAv_kR2QaY
   
Cara Mia      
Mp3 attached

Gene Pitney – Cara Mia

(You've Lost That) Lovin' Feelin'      
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knoXlnK7Z9I

Mission Bell      
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Op0A5gm1ZeI

Others
1960s
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Cxhl8AwOf0
00s
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZj4bWURkfk
 
Review

 
Bio

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

Website

http://geocities.com/genepitney/
http://www.genepitney.com/
http://genepitney.webs.com/
http://genepitney1.blogspot.com.au/

Trivia

 

 

Posted in Blue Eyed Soul, Pop Rock | Tagged | Leave a comment

THE JIM CARROLL BAND – I Write Your Name – (Atlantic) – 1983

Jim Carroll Band - I Write Your Name

I have commented on Jim Carroll before.

He was a fascinating character from New York’s New Wave scene.

His music is both perceptive and attitude filled though sometimes it does not make for comfortable listening.

Read my other comment for some background on Carroll but suffice it to say he wore his heart on his sleeve.

Lyrics aside his music was punk by nature rather than punk by design. In my other comment I said:

It certainly is punk but not the visceral punk of California, or the aggressive "no future" punk of Detroit and Cleveland, or the garage punk of the Midwest (or Brisbane). It is the intellectual punk of New York which is "very New York" and of the time (The Ramones and The Dictators excepted).
 
New York punk defined the New Wave style as well as laid back punk intellectualism. Even the aggressive and confrontational "No Wave" NYC punk sounds positively high-brow when compared to some kid from the mid-west who can’t string two words together whose only expression is bashing his instrument into oblivion. Accordingly there is as much "beat poetry" and art in NYC punk as there is angst and rage. Think Television, Blondie, Richard Hell, James Chance, Patti Smith, Talking Heads, Lou Reed, Suicide etc. There is nothing wrong with that and indeed I have named some of my favourite punk acts but it certainly is something specifically New York. If you weren't from New York and you had those punk stylings in you then you gravitated to New York anyway: Richard Hell, The Nails etc.
 
Unfortunately, today this is what makes the music less "punk" to the kids. Most of the modern punk bands take their musical cues from California hardcore or English first generation punk and then just "pop" the songs up. Very few popular acts look back to the "art" and "beat" punk coming out of New York. (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sonic Youth excepted)

This was Carroll’s third and last studio album.

The next 20 or so years were devoted to his first love, poetry, spoken word and various live recordings.

Perhaps, this being his last studio album is understandable. Maybe, he felt he could not use the music medium to express himself any further.

Certainly this album suggests that his material may be drying up. The same themes of the first two albums are explored and even a cover has crept in (albeit a good and apt one).

With Carroll it is, perhaps, the lyrics you remember most, but the music gives weight and emphasis to his words. And that was certainly the position on his first two albums.

Here, though, there have been concessions made to 70s classic rock screeching guitars. Perhaps this was an attempt at making the album a little more commercial but unfortunately it just dates it (a little).

The immediacy and rawness of his first two records (who both had their slick moments) is largely missing here.

That’s not to say this is a bad album, it’s not, but it does sound like something from the mainstream trying to sound new wave which is not what Carroll was about.

The usual Lou Reed (well clearly because he covers “Sweet Jane” here), Patti Smith and Bob Dylan sounds can be heard but also there is some Pretenders, Tom Waits and Bruce Springsteen in the mix.

None of that is bad.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Love Crimes - (Jim Carroll / Lenny Kaye) – Punchy and unmistakeably New York punk
  • (No More) Luxuries – (Jim Carroll / Paul Sanchez) – more straightforward NYC punk.
  • Voices - (Jim Carroll) – some synth creeping in. Effective. The song was also used in the teen film "Tuff Turf" (1985) which Carroll also appeared in.

 Jill breathes carbon trailing from the bus, it's like
 Staring in the eyes of lazarus
 The voices
 She hears the voices

 Like a starving whisper no one ever heard
 Like an epileptic hummingbird
 The voices
 She hears the voices

 Coming from the traffic,
 Coming from the cube
 Like the cry of babies
 Passing through a tube
 Voices run inside you 

  • Sweet Jane – (Lou Reed) – The Lou Reed / Velvet Underground classic is given a full rock interpretation. A magnificent song and a good interpretation by Carroll who understands Lou Reed better than most.
  • Hold Back the Dream – (Jim Carroll / Brian Marnell) – Brooding but a little dull.
  • Freddy's Store – (Jim Carroll / Paul Sanchez) – This is more like it. Sharp lyrics and a punchy instrumentation – though quite slick with a few 70s classic rock intrusions.
  • Black Romance  – (Jim Carroll) – so so
  • I Write Your Name  – (Jim Carroll / Wayne Woods) – all the Carroll stylistic touches, vocally and lyrically, are here.
  • Low Rider – (Jim Carroll / Steve Linsley) – could have been better.
  • Dance the Night Away – (Jim Carroll / Allen Lanier) – a touch of Tom Waits entering and it works.

And …

Not as good as his other two earlier albums but still worthwhile …. I'm keeping it.
 
Chart Action
 
Nothing no where.
 
Sounds

http://recordlective.com/The_Jim_Carroll_Band/I_Write_Your_Name/f4bb71bf-dca4-330c-92e7-6a04d4465579/

Voices
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJ5e_TVeziY
from "Tuff Turf" where, naturally enough,  the turf is tough
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Otr6U2bsqmw

mp3 attached

Jim Carroll – Voices

Sweet Jane
Promo video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yerFIRnP_FE

Others
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAKoU_W_mf8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdftnLhRCuQ

Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/i-write-your-name-mw0000674660
http://the-auditory-senses.blogspot.com.au/2011/06/jim-carroll-band-i-write-your-name.html
 
Bio

http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:wifrxqw5ldfe~T1
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Carroll
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/14/books/14carroll.html

Website

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

Trivia

  • You can hear John Carroll on The Velvet Underground's "Live at Max's Kansas City" (1972) (the first legit rock bootleg LP in history) ordering double Pernods and asking about the availability of Tuinal between songs.

 

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