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

Chip Taylor - Last Chance

Check out my other comments for background on Chip.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then, it just got missed.

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

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

Tracks (best in italics)

            Side One

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

                        I remember old Elvis when he forgot

                        To remember to forget

                        And when young Johnny Cash

                        Hadn't seen this side of Big River yet

                        And when sun was more than daylight

                        Shinin' on Memphis, Tennessee

                        And old Luther and Lewis and Perkins was pickin

                        And playin' them songs for me

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

      Side Two

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

And …

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

Chart Action

Nothing nowhere


(I Want )The Real Thing

live recently

mp3 attached

Son Of A Rotten Gambler

I Read It In Rolling Stone

(The Coal Fields Of) Shickshinny

I Wasn't Born In Tennessee

live recently

(The Likes Of) Louise

It's Still The Same

101 In Cash Box

Clean Your Own Tables






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

COLOURS – Atmosphere – (Dot) – 1969

Colours - Atmosphere

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Perhaps they were a studio band, initially?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Actually, "Atmosphere" is all over the map.

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

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

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

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

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

Tracks (best in italics)

      Side One

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

      Side Two 

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

And …

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

Chart Action

Nothing no where


God Please Take My Life

I Tried To Make You Love Me Last Night

Grey Day

Smilin' In Toronto

Hyannis Port Soul (Lost You To The Wind)

Run Away From Here    

mp3 attached

It's Time To Tell You






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

JOHNNY RIVERS – Rewind – (Imperial) – 1967


Johnny Rivers is no stranger to this blog.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And he does it beautifully.

All songs by Jimmy Webb unless otherwise indicated.

Tracks (best in italics)

             Side One

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

Side Two

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

And …

Mellow and memorable … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action



1967 Baby I Need Your Lovin' #3

1967 The Tracks of My Tears #10


1967 #14






1967 Baby I Need Your Lovin' #44

1967 The Tracks of My Tears #38



The Tracks of My Tears

Carpet Man


Sidewalk Song / 27th Street

It'll Never Happen Again

Do What You Gotta' Do

Baby I Need Your Lovin'



For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her 

mp3 attached

Rosecrans Boulevard

The Eleventh Song

Sweet Smiling Children




Excellent Glenn A Baker bio on Rivers



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

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

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


RIP: Jerry Lewis 1926 – 2017

Posted in Rock & Pop | Tagged | Leave a comment

SAMMY DAVIS Jr – Now – (MGM) – 1972

Sammy Davis Jr - Now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tracks (best in italics)

             Side One

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

Side Two

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

And …

Thoroughly enjoyable … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action



1972 The Candy Man #1 Pop


unknown position




The Candy Man   


This Is My Life

I Am Over 25 – But You Can Trust Me

Take My Hand

John Shaft

mp3 attached






  • Session Notes:

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

Sammy Davis Jr - Now - Open sleeve

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

Sammy Davis Jr - Now - Open sleeve - inside

Posted in Popular & Crooners | Tagged | Leave a comment

FRANKIE AVALON – Frankie Avalon – (Chancellor) – 1958

Frankie Avalon - 1958

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

Like Fabian he was Italian-American.

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

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

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


like Fabian,

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

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

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

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

And I suspect that gave him an edge.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It certainly wasn't everyday Queensland.

It wasn't familiar Australia.

Well, it wasn’t Anglo Celtic Australia.

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

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

At least that is the way I remember it.

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

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

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

And, there is nothing wrong with that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tracks (best in italics)

             Side One

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

Side Two

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

And …

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

Chart Action



1957 DeDe Dinah #7 Pop

1957 DeDe Dinah #8 R&B





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

mp3 attached

Short Fat Fannie

Young Love

mp3 attached

Young and Beautiful


At The Hop


I'm Walkin'

Little Bitty Pretty One

De De Dinah


The Stroll

My Mom

You're My Girl


sometimes I agree with Patty Duke ..

The Alamo





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

Frankie Avalon - 1958 - back


RIP: Glen Campbell (1936-2017)

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

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

GENE PITNEY - I Must Be Seeing Things

Pitney’s career was still on the way up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tracks (best in italics)

              Side One

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

Side 2

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

And …

Wonderful … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action



1965 I Must Be Seeing Things #31 Pop

1967 Just One Smile #64 Pop


1965 #112



1966 Just One Smile #8


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



1966 Just One Smile #55



I Must Be Seeing Things 



Save Your Love

Down In the Subway

If Mary's There

Don't Take Candy from a Stranger

One Day

She's Still There

Just One Smile 

mp3 attached

There's No Livin' Without Your Lovin'

I Lost Tomorrow (Yesterday)

If I Never Get To Love You






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


RIP: Red West (1936-2017)

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

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

Harpers Bizarre - Feelin' Groovy

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

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

And that, in this case, is this album.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tracks (best in italics)

             Side One

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

Side Two

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

            What a wonderful sight, it just seems to be right

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

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

            At the debutante's ball

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

And …

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

Chart Action



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

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

1967"Come To The Sunshine #37


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



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



Come to the Sunshine


Happy Talk

Come Love

Raspberry Rug

The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)


mp3 attached

The Debutante's Ball

Happy Land

Peter and the Wolf

I Can Hear the Darkness

Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear






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

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

Everly Brothers - Two Yanks in England

I love the Everly Brothers.

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

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

People gravitate to that in rock music.

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

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

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

Their influence is obvious.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

it is a no brainer what you have to do …

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

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

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

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

What does that say about them?

This didn’t chart.

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

Check my other comments for biographical detail.

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

Tracks (best in italics)

             Side One

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

Side Two

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

And …

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

Chart Action

Nothing nowhere


Somebody Help Me

So Lonely

Kiss Your Man Goodbye

mp3 attached

Signs That Will Never Change

Like Every Time Before

Pretty Flamingo

mp3 attached

I've Been Wrong Before

Have You Ever Loved Somebody?

The Collector

Don't Run and Hide

Fifi the Flea

Hard Hard Year







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


Everly Brothers with singer Kelley in Dublin 1966


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WEREWOLVES – Werewolves – (RCA) – 1978

Werewolves - Werewolves

I had not heard of The Werewolves before but picked this up because there is a vaguely New Wave-ish power pop look to this band from 1978.

Something I'm not alone in as they do crop up on power pop and punk sites

Well, the lesson is, appearances are deceiving.

But, in this case, a pleasant one.

The label may have marketed their appearance on the then popular New Wave but the Werewolves are anything but.

The information on-line is sketchy.

Texas always was a fertile ground for dusty, swaggering, and often idiosyncratic rock 'n' roll and The Werewolves were a Dallas (from Oak Cliff), Texas bar band. And they were very popular, almost legendary, on the Dallas scene in the 1970s.

The band formed in 1974 and like many bands of the day, and in their locale, they were a working band.  They played covers and originals and played them tight.

But, their pedigree goes back a lot further.

Guitarist, Seab Meador, had been on lead guitar and vocals as a teenager in Dallas garage band "The Gentlemen" from about 1964 – 1968. He then joined The Bridge, before joining The Werewolves.

Seab Meador, also, did a short tour as a member (along with two future members of ZZ Top) in a fake version of the Zombies in the late-60s. The manager had the legal rights to form a band to tour off of the Zombies great hit songs, as the original band had broken up.

Singer Brian Papageorge had his roots in other Dallas bands also, and formed The Hurricanes in Houston with Seab and Ron Barnett, both later of The Werewolves (this band may have directly morphed into The Werewolves).

Like any other band of the early 1970s The Werewolves were loud and took on board the influences of Jeff Beck, The Animals, The Kinks, Bad Company and the rhythm and blues swagger of the Rolling Stones .  

"We're always being compared to them," says singer Brian Papageorge, whose spry frame makes him closer to Nuryev than Jagger. "It's understandable, and even quite a flattering comparison, but not really that true." "When the Stones first came along I was really influenced by them," says guitarist Meador. "But they influenced me to go back but they influenced me to go back and discover the roots of their music the old blues and r-and-b groups which are the roots of our music, too. That's really the way in which we're like the Stones." (

The Beatles were the English band most emulated in the 60s but the 70s belonged to the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin … well, up till late in the 70s.

This was (white) bluesy flavoured rock and roll similar to what the Flamin’ Groovies had been doing in California, The New York Dolls had done in NYC and (especially) what Grin had done in Washington DC. But like the Vaughan Brothers (other Oak Cliff boys), The Werewolves added some Texas country flavouring and desert grit to the sound.

This, despite the influence of English bands (doing American music), was distinctly Texan American roots music, blues, rock ‘n’ roll and soul.

(Belabouring the point) the band sounded like a Texan version of the Rolling Stones and Bad Company albeit with some glam trappings. Singer Brian Papageorge could wail and was often compared to Paul Rodgers or Mick Jagger though I think he sounds more like Nils Lofren if Lofren in a bluesy rock ‘n’ roll band  (or even a bit like Graeme "Shirley" Strachan from Skyhooks).

Apparently the Werewolves became very popular locally (and were known for their raucous live act).

With the resurgence of progressive country throughout Texas they donned Blue Brothers outfits (prior to the Blue Brothers) and played up-tempo blues as The Texas Kingsnakes (,1346566&hl=en)

But it was time to make a move.

In the mid to late 70s they moved to New York. They played the CBGBs with the punks of the day and were eventually heard by Rolling Stones manager and producer Andrew Loog Oldham.

Oldham, well known and Svengali-like, gave them exposure but it was, perhaps, a double edged sword. Oldham had a tremendous ego so any discussion of the band, inevitably, ended up being a discussion about alchemist Oldham.

He had them signed and produced this, their first album.

In their original unadorned incarnation their sound was ahead of its time and probably pre-empted The Black Crowes and the Georgia Satellites.

This album doesn’t capture that.

Oldham had been quiet in the 70s and the Stones had long since left him.

No doubt he hears some of the Stones in the Werewolves but the times were changing. The Stones rock swagger sound was on the way out and even they would try other things, hence the disco and hard (ish) rock dabblings in the late 70s.

Perhaps that’s why (market considerations) there is a vaguely New Wave-ish makeover for the Werewolves … short (er) hair, nice (albeit country) threads and a smoother sound etc.

But, a band is a creature of habit and the old stylings can still be heard. It has been toned down a little but there is still a lot of 70s rock swagger in the tunes. Even more impressive is their versatility (and quirkiness in a genre not really know for that). This is rock and roll but there are many shadings here that show that The Werewolves had put in a lot of time playing gigs and soaking up their musical ancestry.

The album failed. It was probably lost in the in the rush of “new bands” from the late 70s.

Likewise, their sound was a little too old, though in a few years it would be new again.

There is something here and they could have been great.

One more album followed, “Ship of Fools (Summer Weekends And No More Blues)”, on RCA in late 1978 and then they imploded.

Seab Meador died from brain cancer in 1980.

Tracks (best in italics)

Side On

  • The Flesh Express – (Papageorge-Meador-Ballard) – suitably rocking and themeatically, perhaps, an apt way to kick off the album. Perfectly 70s.
  • Hollywood Millionaire – (Papageorge-Meador-Ballard) – the up-tempo ballad with the "la di dah dah dah" hum a long bits.
  • Too Hard – (Papageorge-Meador) – The slow burn and not unlike some of Grin's ballads.
  • City by The Sea – (Ballard) – the country blues rock exercise and there seems to be some accordion in there.
  • Never Been To Hades – (Meador-Ballard) – a great tune which is rock with country asides and a touch of left of centre style.

Side Two

  • Lisa – (Papageorge-Ballard) – some pop influences (in a Flamin Groovies kind of way) and quite engaging.
  • The Two Fools – (Papageorge-Ballard-Meador) – a country rock ballad in the style of Doug Sahm.
  • Heaven Help Me – (Papageorge-Meador-Brewster) – a good song though the horns are misplaced.
  • Deux Voix – (Papageorge-Ballard) – a mid tempo rocker with some late 70s keyboards diffusing the excitement
  • One Night – (Bartholomew-Steiman-King) – Elvis Presley’s #4 smouldering sexual ballad from 1957. The band do it faithfully … even the echo and backing vocals are included.
  • Silence –  (Papageorge-Ballard) – another melodic up-tempo rocker.

And …

Occasionally derivative but ballsy and a lot of fun … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

Nothing nowhere


Full album

The Flesh Express

mp3 attached

Hollywood Millionaire

Never Been To Hades




A truckload of photos

A Dallas doco



  • Personnel: Seab Meador (gtr) / Bucky Ballard (bass)(gtr) / Bobby Baranowski (drms) / Kirk Brewster (gtr) / Brian Papageorge (vcls) / Ronnie Barnett (drms) / Keith Ferguson (bass)
Posted in Hard Rock, Rock & Pop, Southern and Boogie Rock | Tagged | Leave a comment

PAUL PARRISH – Songs – (Warner Brothers) – 1971

Paul Parrish - Songs

How sensitive to I feel today?

I have fears that Paul Parrish is going to be a singer songwriter of the most maudlin kind. Usually,  the piano player ones, for whatever reason,  lean that way. That, combined with the song titles, anything with "poem" or "time" in the title.

Still, I don't mind maudlin.

It may be contrary to the punk I may listen to (though, admittedly, that is less frequent now) but I like either end of the noise spectrum. It's the squidgy, neither here nor there middle, that usually bores me.

If you are going to be punk, be 100% punk, if you are going to be pop be 100% pop.

And, it's not about the music exclusively it's about attitude.

Paul Parrish on fist listening is 100% singer songwriter and, to some, definitely, 100% maudlin.

But he does like most artists I have time for throw something else into the mix.

The entire allmusic entry on him is: "Paul Parrish is an American singer, songwriter and pianist. His songs have been recorded by Helen Reddy, Kenny Rogers, The Dillards, Robin Dransfield, and others. Jon Pruett of Allmusic called his first album, The Forest of My Mind, "a bright, excellently produced LP filled with remarkable sunshine-dipped folk-pop songs." … Parrish wrote the song A Poem I Wrote for Your Hair for the 1970 film "Fools" starring Jason Robards and Katharine Ross … With Lorenzo Toppano, Parrish was half of the duo Parrish & Toppano. They recorded two albums together".

All other google searches and searched through my paper library indicate very little on him:

  • He was friends with producer Dan Dalton and singer and songwriter John Beland (later of Swampwater and The Flying Burrito Brothers) who he seasoned for.
  • He sang the theme song to "The Brady Bunch" sitcom in 1969. Yes, you read right. You have to eat I suppose. Wikipedia: "The theme song, penned by Schwartz and Frank De Vol, and originally arranged, sung, and performed by Paul Parrish, Lois Fletcher, and John Beland under the name the Peppermint Trolley Company" though hey weren't in that band. The Peppermint Trolley Company is credited with arranging and singing the theme song for the show's pilot. After the band left their label, the vocals were re-recorded and sung by Paul Parish, John Beland and Lois Fletcher leaving the original music intact.
  • Beland says this "Ahhh the Brady Bunch. I was just a teenage new kid on the block when I sang it, along with Paul Parrish and Lois Dalton (Dan Dalton's wife). I was more impressed by the $350.00 check I received for doing it, than the actual show. LOL….."

Most praise heaped on him is in relation to that first album from 1968, "The Forrest of My Mind", which has a cult following and discovered an ever bigger (cult) following after its digital release.

It is, and I have listened to a few snatches on youtube, lush orchestrated pastoral folk pop-psych betraying a heavy influence of Donovan with sunshine pop and baroque pop asides.

And, there is nothing wrong with that.

This album came along in 1971 and on the Warner Brothers label (the first album was on the small though MGM backed label, Music Factory, label). I'm not sure how he got that deal but sensitive singer-songwriters were the flavour and all the majors were rushing out to sign them up, record them, and see what struck gold.

I have no idea how old Parrish is here  but I suspect he is in his mid-to late 20s. On the 1968 album he betrayed (on what I have heard) a wide eyed innocence and optimism that only works when you are young.

Here things are getting darker, though not gloomy.

Lyrically, the album can be (prima facie) a little precious much like Shawn Phillips (who I like) but without the accompanying musical virtuosity. The difference is that Parrish keeps it straightforward. Many of the songs deal "looking back" , "things past" and "passing time" (check out the song titles) but his knack is in keeping everything low key.

It is a very simple album, there is a band behind him but they don't intrude. The piano (played by Parrish) is dominant whilst the classical or "non-rock" instruments (melodica (played by Parrish also), clarinet, harp, cello) make appearances throughout adding to the mood.  What better instrument than the cello for "things past" and melancholy songs?

This album, then, is a nice mix of chamber pop and singer-songwriter though there are elements of soft rock also creeping into the sound (good to some but something I approach with a lot of trepidation).

The music would be a close to early Elton John if his music was more gentle or David Ackles, if Parrish's voice was deeper or gruffer, but it's not. His voice is high and sweet. Very high and sweet. It is akin to Art Garfunkel and perhaps even a little sweeter.

In fact, the album at times is quite Simon and Garfunkel (in their ballads) with Parrish playing both Simon the songwriter, and, Garfunkel the gentle singer.

There was a third album in 1977 (Song For A Young Girl) and then he formed half of Parrish & Toppano in the 1980s who played soft rock. They released two albums and from what I have heard it's not that good unless you like 80s soft rock … soft music against a lot of keyboards and a full orchestra. (It seems the band did well in Europe. "The Royal Falcon" from 1987 album went to #38 in Germany).

This album does have it's soft rock tendencies. It is a slippery slope, and not a good one.

But, for the moment, Parrish is at the top of the slope.

All songs written and arranged by Paul Parrish.

Tracks (best in italics)

            Side One

  • Many Years Ago –   A "Jesus" song and a good one. Parrish (though it should be "parish" here) has given the backing a contemporary medieval feel to fit the reverential though matter of fact lyric. Quite moving.
  • I Once Had A Dog –  is this dog a metaphor for something or is it just another rehash of "Old Shep"? There is a touch of Cat Stevens here.
  • Jaynie –   pretty and up-tempo by this albums standards.
  • Poem I Wrote For Your Hair – a sweeter David Ackles.  Quite melancholy and quite wonderful. The song was written for the film "Fools".
  • Time – another beautiful melancholy song.  

Side Two

  • Numbers –   a big ballad beat and not as effective
  • Cello – The song features, err a cello. Beautiful. Parrish later did this (and released it as a single) when he was in Parrish & Toppano. 
  • Pink Limousine – an interesting song and fun. Quite English. Poppy and a cross between David Ackles, The Monkees and Ray Davies.   
  • Nathan –  moving into bombastic Elton John territory but diverting.
  • When They Return – I'm not sure who the "they" is but the song is quite spiritual and hymn like. Quite good.

And …

Quite beautiful at times, more often than not. It gets under your skin … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

Nothing nowhere


Many Years Ago

Poem I Wrote For Your Hair

mp3 attached  

Pink Limousine






  • Personnel: Bass – Steve LaFever / Cello – Nathan Gershman / Clarinet – Bill Fritz, Jim Snodgrass / Drums – George Bell, Larry Brown / Guitar – Dick Rosminni, John Beland / Harmonica – Danny Cohen, Tom Morgan / Harp – Verlye Mills / Piano, Organ, Melodica – Paul Parrish / Producer – Dan Dalton
  • Apparently Parrish is a Michigan native (from Walled Lake)…unsubstantiated but the first album was recorded in Detroit.
Posted in Baroque Pop, Singer Songwriter | Tagged | Leave a comment