MICKEY NEWBURY – After All These Years – (Mercury) – 1981

Mickey Newbury - After All These Years

The magnificent Mickey Newbury.

One of the greatest of all country singer songwriters.

Check out my other comments for biographical detail on him as well as other ramblings.

The guy on the cover art could be a salesman or perhaps a university professor. He certainly doesn't look like a country music star.

And, that is, perhaps, appropriate.

Newbury was always more about content than image.

He was thoughtful and insightful emotionally.

His songs often deal with relationships, things lost and memories.

No wonder he is a country musician and a country styled singer songwriter.

He is, I think, perhaps too straight looking and sounding for country music and too country sounding for the singer songwriter movement. He is somewhere in-between though he is undeniably both.

In that in-between place he has made himself one of the greatest exponents of the style.

It's his smarts, his skill to get a melody to amplify the lyrics, and his considered vocals that all work together to create music that is emotionally powerful.

I may sound portentous but his music has the ability to impact.

Sure you have to be in the right musical headspace to approach his music (as you do when you are approaching anything more than straight pop) but, just a sit, and a listen, should reveal Newbury's skill.

The tales are both heartbreaking and life affirming with a strong spray of melancholia.

Newbury (a Texan by birth) was 41 years old when he recorded this album but he could have been 70. He is not the first guy to "think old" (or feel old?) but he does it with style.  And perhaps in 1980 when this was recorded 41 was older. Or, perhaps, in today's world of eternal youth where 50 is the new 40 and 60 is the new 50 he just sounds a lot older than his 41.

The album differs to its predecessor. "The Sailor" from 1979 which was a glossy, late night country lounge album (take that Lambchop). But it does return to the his early to mid 70s work with song suites, lush orchestrated melodies and a general deceptive MOR slickness.

It's like a country opera playing at an avant-garde dinner theatre.

I think he was always out of touch a little (his record sales suggest he was) because his music is too thoughtful, emotional and often looking back.

It is, perhaps, a reflection on (by what is unsaid), of the state of the world circa 1981. By looking back he is escaping or some would say retreating but I would say the answers for the future lie in the past.

This was his last album for seven years.

He died in 2002.

All songs written by Mickey Newbury (unless otherwise indicated). The album is produced by musician extraordinaire and Elvis offsider Norbert Putnam.

Tracks (best in italics)

           Side One

  • The Sailor – the title of his last album though the song didn't appear on it. The song has less to do with saining and more to do with mortality. It is powerful. This and the next two songs mesh into each other creating a 12 minute 3 song sequence.
  • Song of Sorrow – very melancholy
  • Let's Say Goodbye One More Time – very familiar country themes lyrically. The stings and whistling interlude work … it may be mush to some but I love it.
  • That Was the Way It Was Then – a beautiful looking back song … here looking back to the 1950s.
  • Country Boy Saturday Night – This has to the gentlest "Saturday night" song written The cowboy narrator is all cashed up and ready to go out but he isn't a hollering… wonderful.

    Side Two

  • Truly Blue – MOR country rock pop which is quite unusual by Newbury standards. Not too bad …and it would have been perfect for Elvis.
  • Just as Long as That Someone Is You – a standard country love song though Mickey's voice is special.
  • Over the Mountain –  (Newbury, Joe Henry) – beautiful. Romantic love given expressed in real terms. Interesting, thematically, this resembles the start of Joan Didion's essay "John Wayne: A Love Song" written in 1965 and  from her "Slouching Towards Bethlehem" (1968) collection of essays where she quotes John Wayne from his film "War of the Wildcats", where he talks about taking his woman away and building a house "at the bend in the river where the cottonwoods grow".

                        Over the mountain I will build us a cabin

                        Over the mountain I will build us a home

  • Catchers in the Rye – a great bouncy "rural" type of song.
  • I Still Love You (After All These Years) – a tribute to a wife. Another one Elvis could have done. Sorry for the Elvis references but mid to late 70s Elvis would have covered these tunes in a heartbeat…. as it is Elvis only did one Newbury song, "An American trilogy")

And …

Beautiful … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

Nothing anywhere

Sounds

That Was the Way It Was Then

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8qU31lVJ9o

Country Boy Saturday Night

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

Just as Long as That Someone Is You

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Id1AlWYbgW8

Over the Mountain

mp3 attached

Catchers in the Rye

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWdB13M68_Y

I Still Love You (After All These Years) –

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5WjGN6Vj1s

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RiTjElq5Xjs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRtGie68GgE

Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/after-all-these-years-mw0000870636

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/After_All_These_Years_(Mickey_Newbury_album)

Bio

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

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/mickey-newbury-mn0000525789

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

Website

http://www.mickeynewbury.com/

Trivia

  • The album was recorded at producer Norbert Putnam's 1875 mansion, the Bennett House in Franklin, Tennessee. with crack personnel including Mickey Newbury on guitar and vocals, Norbet on guitar, Dave Loggins on guitar and vocals, Buddy Spicer on fiddle, David Hungate on bass, Shane Keister on piano  and Steve Brantley – vocals, Bruce Dees – vocals, Steve Gibson – guitar, Jon Goin – guitar, Sheldon Kurland – strings, Mike Manna – piano, Terry McMillan – harmonica, Weldon Myrick – steel guitar, Bobby Ogdin – piano, Cindy Reynolds – harp, Buddy Spicher – fiddle, James Stroud – drums, Jack Williams – bass
  • An example of the regard other musicians held for Newbury came in 1977 when Waylon Jennings released the #1 country smash "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)," (written by Bobby Emmons and Chips Moman) which contains the lines "Between Hank Williams' pain songs, Newbury's train songs…"

 

 

RIP: Chris Cornell 1964-2017

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

BADFINGER – No Dice – (Apple) – 1970

Badfinger - No Dice

Badfinger where on the way up at the time of release of this album.

This is their first proper album.

Their actual first album, the soundtrack album, "Magic Christian Music", was actually a hodgepodge of tracks. Five songs were recorded specifically for the film "The Magic Christian" and the other seven songs were tracks previously released, in the late 1960s, when the group was known as “The Iveys”.

Badfinger knew where they were going and in had it all. They good all sing and they could all write songs and they were undoubtedly good musicians … and I mean all four of them.

They were like a supergroup without anyone having anyone having been in a band of repute. With Pete Ham they had a focused and sometimes inspired songwriter, and Tom Evans and Mike Gibbins were no slackers either. The recent addition of Joey Molland would provide a songwriter and vocalist perhaps the equal of Hams.

But, they, despite some hits, never really made it.

They should have been much, much bigger.

Such is rock 'n' roll, such is life.

Career missteps, intruding wives and girlfriends, friction between band members, and a suicide were probably to blame.

But, there are many acts who have overcome obstacles to reach the top level.

With Badfinger it was inevitably, possibly all these things, as well as being in the wrong place and the wrong time.

If they were American and, perhaps, ten years later they would have had a successful career in the skinny tie movement and the talent to outlive it. Quite tellingly, despite what patriotic revisionist English rock historians would have you believe, the band have been generally more popular and had more of a post career influence and following in the USA. The charts support that (they placed 4 singles and no albums in the UK charts, whereas in the US they placed 8 singles and 8 albums … albeit most were quite low in the charts) as does the flood of power pop bands indebted to them in the late 70s. It wasn't until, perhaps the Britpop bands of the 90s that Badfinger got some respectability at home (outside of the hardcore Beatles nuts).

Maybe it because they weren't from London? The original band (Gibbins and Ham) were from Swansea in Wales while newer members Evans and Molland were from Liverpool. Outsiders?

They did reform in the early 80s and try their hand at the same but they weren't as young as they once were.

They are usually lumped into the powerpop category along with The Raspberries but like The Raspberries I always found them to be precursors to power pop (and I don't mean in chronological time)

This album, like their others of the time (that I have heard) is a 70s rock 'n' roll album but with an emphasis on catchy melodies, ie: pop. There are songs with swagger, others that rock, ballads, and acoustic numbers. There is a lot of Beatles here but there is also, quite a bit, of The Rolling Stones as well as, perhaps, a little (Ian) Matthews' Southern Comfort.

They are often compared to the Raspberries though a better comparison is Washington DC band Grin (with Nils Lofren) and perhaps Big Star (though its unlikely that anyone would have heard of them at the time).

Either way there are stellar moments here and the best they did with an album (in the charts). After their next album it was all downhill but there were small treasures on the way down.

See my other comments for biographical detail on the band. Check out the links for bios on the band.

Tracks (best in italics)

Side One

  • I Can't Take It – (Pete Ham) – vocals : Ham with Evans – Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock N Roll" as if it was done by The Beatles
  • I Don't Mind – (Tom Evans/Joey Molland) – vocals : Evans with Molland – a gentle ballad.
  • Love Me Do – (Molland) – vocals : Molland – ha harr, for a band with such obvious Beatles influences to write a song called "Love me Do" must have been a statement. The songs have nothing but the title in common. This is a straight ahead "old fashioned" rocker.
  • Midnight Caller – (Ham) – vocals : Ham with Evans – a ballad.
  • No Matter What – (Ham) – vocals : Ham – a great song and perfect Paul McCartney and perhaps, even, a little better than McCartney at the time. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Matter_What_(Badfinger_song)
  • Without You – (Ham/Evans) – vocals : Ham with Evans and Molland – a magnificent melancholy classic of a song. I like the little snatch from "A Whiter Shade of Pale" at the end. Badfinger do it beautifully, and then Harry Nilsson (with his own beatles connections) covered it and had a #1 US hit with it in 1972. His version is beyond spectacular. A great example of the paucity of supremacy of authorship arguments. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Without_You_(Badfinger_song)

Side Two

  • Blodwyn – (Ham) – vocals : Ham with Evans and Molland – a country flavoured mid tempo song. Catchy.
  • Better Days – (Evans/Molland) – vocals : Molland – another catchy ballad type song.
  • It Had to Be – (Mike Gibbins) – vocals : Ham with Gibbins – a mid tempo ballad with Beatles harmonies.
  • Watford John – (Evans/Gibbins/Ham/Molland) – vocals : Ham and Evans – A mid tempo rocker and very of its time.
  • Believe Me – (Evans) – vocals : Evans with Ham – very similar to The Beatles "Oh Darling" but still good.
  • We're for the Dark – (Ham) – vocals : Ham – a pretty acoustic mid tempo ballad.

And …

Excellent … the best of their albums I have heard thus far. I'm sorry to say I hadn't listened to it earlier (Mitchell was right). I'm keeping it … well actually I'm not as I'm giving it to a mate. Now I have to find another copy.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1970 No Matter What #8

Album

1970 #28

England

Singles

1970 No Matter What #5

Album

Sounds

Full album

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwrJR4X-iec

 

No Matter What

Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xoke1wUwEXY

mp 3 attached

Without You

Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPco24LS31A

Believe Me

Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akTMC_jtGh8

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C53QAuOoSgc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XonFZjuyc6E

Review

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

http://www.classicrockreview.com/2015/05/1970-badfinger-albums/

http://www.allmusic.com/album/no-dice-mw0000270661

http://robertchristgau.com/get_artist.php?name=Badfinger

http://www.superseventies.com/badfinger.html

https://badfinge.ipower.com/Badfinger/Badfinger_albums/NoDice.html

Bio

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/badfinger-mn0000064303/biography

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

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

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Evans_(musician)

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

http://www.walesartsreview.org/no-matter-what-the-music-of-peter-ham-and-badfinger/

Website

http://badfingerlinks.bravepages.com/index.html

http://peteham.net/

http://www.badfingersite.com/

https://www.facebook.com/OriginalBadfinger

http://www.badfinger-iveys.com/

http://www.badfingerlibrary.com/

http://www.tomevans.info/

Trivia

  • The album emerged difficultly. A version produced by the band with Geoff Emerick and rejected by Apple, then George Harrison produced but didn't finish the album.  It was "overhauled", apparently, by Todd Rundgren. What belongs to who I don't know. The final producers credit goes to Geoff Emerick with the "No Matter What" and "Believe Me" being credited to Mal Evans.

                    Badfinger - No Dice - full          Badfinger - No Dice - gatefold

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

BOBBY RYDELL – Wild (Wood) Days – (Cameo) – 1963

Bobby Rydell - Wildwood Days

Music critics and enthusiasts often refer to the early 60s of rock and pop as the “Bobby era” due to the amount of singers named Bobby: Bobby Darin, Bobby Rydell, Bobby Vinton, Bobby Vee.

The reference is pejorative.

The inference is that the Bobby’s were interchangeable and indistinguishable.

Accordingly the music has not been explored or researched as much as other genres of 60s rock n pop.

And this is a shame.

To be fair the Bobby’s here to have a few things in common. They were:

  • from ethnic migrant families: Italian (Darin and Rydell), Polish (Vinton), Norwegian (Vee);
  • of (largely) working class backgrounds;
  • pop rock singers who also dabbled in trad pop  to varying degrees;
  • singers primarily who did not (largely, though not exclusively) write their own material;
  • of a common squeaky clean image;
  • very successful in the charts.

But, there is nothing bad with any of these things.

Do deny them their place (or not applaud them) in music is more than a little unfair.

If you can listen to Billy Joel, Elton John and any other number of rock n pop singers from the 70s then you can listen to Bobby Rydell from the early 60s.

Granted the early 60s aren’t as hip as the 70s and that may be part of the problem in selling Rydell and his compatriots.

People need cynicism in their music for it to be taken seriously and the early 60s in pop was too bouncy and optimistic (though there are dark undertones that are often overlooked)

That optimism combined with a generally held and assumed belief that nothing existed in music between Elvis going into the army and the Beatles international arrival in 1964 means little discourse on the music of time.

But, as regular readers of this blog may now it is an era of rock (‘n’ pop) I love … I like the optimism and the innocence, and I like the (occasionally) hidden dark undertones that something is not quite right. They resonate more when they are hidden in an upbeat song or amongst upbeat sunny numbers.

I note for completeness sake that those darker tunes were fully manifested in the “teenage death songs” of the era.

Rydell wasn’t likely to sneak in cynicism into his songs. His music is buoyant, sunny pop and it is infectious.

Rydell’s career was in full swing in 1963.

He had three top twenty hits in the preceding year and in April of 1963 the movie version of the stage production “Bye Bye Birdie” featuring Bobby Rydell was released.  The original stage production had no real speaking role for Rydell’s character, but the movie script was rewritten specifically to expand his role.  The film went on to become the 13th highest grossing film of the year (in the US).

In those day you rewarded success with more work. You churned out the product to capitalise, and to ride the wave.

This album, was Rydell’s eighth album in four years and it doesn’t depart from his earlier ones (from what I have heard) … it is poppy rock with a good dose of trad pop … rhythm with a beat but with trad instruments and arrangements.

It is sunny happy, summer holiday pop, all beach balls, water holes, and walks along piers ice cream in hand.

Its charm lies in the music and vocals perfectly putting across despite what was happening in the world.

The Cuban missile crisis of October 1962 was a distant memory, Berlin remains divided, tensions in Vietnam escalate, students riot in Venezuela, members of Ku Klux Klan dynamite a Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama killing 4 young girls, earthquakes in Yugoslavia and Libya, a hurricane in Haiti and a tsunami in Bangladesh kill tens of thousands, Pope John XXIII dies, and President Kennedy is assassinated (in November) …it is hard to remain buoyant in the face of that.

But people were buoyant.

The concerns of the world seem remote and distant and summer is here and everyone can holiday. And, everyone does, this is not exclusively, as you would assume, west coast but makes references to (well I see references to) those summer days on the east coast, in the north, and in the south.

This is a holiday album for the whole of the United States where no one is excluded.

It may not be real but you don’t really need to look in the mirror all the time.

Tracks (best in italics)

Side One

  • Wildwood Days – (Appell, Mann) – The Dovells featured the song on the flip side of their “Bristol Stomp” hit single released in the spring of 1963.?The Wildwoods is used as a collective term for the four communities that have "Wildwood" as part of the municipality name in New Jersey. A great bouncy pop tune that evokes the holidays and carefree youth beautifully.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wildwood_Days also, http://www.atlanticcityweekly.com/news_and_views/the-story-behind-rydell-s-wildwood-days/article_5cbffa33-067b-5d5a-8e50-86a791a64a40.html
  • Summertime Blues – (Cochran, Capehart) – Eddie Cochran had a (magnificent) #8 with it in 1958. This is weird, replacing Cochran's insistent thumping guitar and surly attitude with horns and Bobby's rounded vocals. He doesnt sound like he has the summertime blues.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summertime_Blues
  • Moon Over Miami – (Leslie, Burke) – an old tin pan alley song done by everyone though Bill Haley and His Comets released a rock ‘n’ roll version in 1957. (Ray Charles did it in 1960 and the Platters did it in 1963 just before Bobby). This is full voiced but quite evocative. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_Over_Miami_(song)
  • Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days Of Summer – (Tobias, Carste) – the title to Nat King Cole’s album from 1963 (#14) and a song identified with Nat. The tempo on this popped up a bit but it still works though it not as lazy or hazy.
  • Kissin' Time – (Lowe, Mann) – Bobby’s #11 hit from 1959 … I’m not sure if this is re-recorded or just filler. Later recorded by KISS (1974) (!). A excellent pop rock tune with a hint of Chuck Berry (and his "Sweet Little Sixteen") https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kissin'_Time_(song)
  • Steel Pier – (Appell, Mann) – This was also released as a one sided promo single which was tied in with a concert Bobby gave at the Steel Pier in Atlantic City on August 14, 1963. Very Bobby Darin and there is nothing wrong with that.

Side Two

  • Sea Cruise – (Smith, Vincent) – Frankie Ford (Vincent Francis Guzzo) #14 (#11R&B) New Orleans rocker from1959. Not a flavourful as the Ford song but not too bad. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_Cruise
  • Surfin' U.S.A. – (Brian Wilson) – The Beach Boys had a #3 in 1963. Nothing suggests California summer sun like the beach Boys in their early period. You wouldn't think that Rydell would cover The Beach Boys as they seem to be from other musical times with different impulses but they did co-exist at the same. This is pure cheese with keyboards and trad pop stylings, but quite enjoyable. Of course Chuck Berry got a co-write of this later (it was based on his "Sweet Little Sixteen" from 1958). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surfin'_U.S.A._(song)
  • Old Cape Cod – (Rothrock, Yakus) – A Patti Page #7 from 1957. It fits in thematically with the album but it is of another era and not really updated (tyoo much). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Cape_Cod
  • Down By The River Side – (Dazz Jordan) – An old traditional spiritual which was given some new secular lyrics by John Bernie Toorish (Dazz Jordan was a pseudonym). Everyone had done the trad version and the new version was often covered also, most notably by the The Four Lads in 1953 and Sal Mineo in 1958. Very catchy
  • Lovin' Doll – (Lowe, Mann) – a album track from Rydell’s first album "We Got Love " (1959). I don’t know if it is a re-record (it sounds like the original). I'm not sure where the "lovin" comes from as Bobby seems to sing "livin".
  • See You In September – (Edwards, Wayne) –  the Tempos had a #23 1959 (but the biggest hit was for The Happenings #3 1966). Catchy with some chintzy, cheesy keyboard work. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/See_You_in_September

And …

Give me a coffee shop, with a table on the sidewalk, serve me with a coffee, drench me in afternoon sun and put this on. Let the world pass me by … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1963 Wildwood Days #17

Album

Failed to chart

England

nothing

Sounds

Wildwood Days

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

live 1980s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2AOt-g7z5A

mp3 attached

Summertime Blues

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-1xIAcsVGw

Moon Over Miami

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

Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days Of Summer

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

Kissin' Time

Live 1959

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVb1Qk4hWJ0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQ89Cf3q8Do

Steel Pier

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-X56rvbzk34

Sea Cruise

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-81qrTAg0k

Surfin' U.S.A.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNb-e4fwfY0

Old Cape Cod

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xbq8A4msWrA

Down By The River-Side

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZECcYRP7nc

Lovin' Doll

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80krve0d8RA

See You In September

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGXtv80sxSc

Others

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hRulR1zPD0

Review

Bio

http://dailydoowop.com/bobby-rydell-autobiography/

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

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

http://www.thedailyjournal.com/story/news/history/2015/05/23/local-history-cameo-parkway-records-backs-bobby-rydells-wildwood-days/27835521/

Website

http://www.bobbyrydell.com/

Trivia

 

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

DR HOOK – Sloppy Seconds – (CBS) – 1972

Dr Hook - Sloppy Seconds

1972.

"Sloppy Seconds"

All songs written by satirist Shel Silverstein.

I know where this album is going, and, I'm pretty sure it would not be released on a major label today.

Well, not without a lot of controversy.

So, if you are politically correct or easily offended do not read on.

I would like to say that I'm reviewing an album not commenting on the right to free speech as it exists in this day and age but any number of law changes can make both irrevocably intertwined.

In a world where criticising fashion can be discriminatory where fashion is an extension of a person's gender identity. In a world where the use of casual sexual vernacular can lead to harm to a listener eavesdropping is a world where "Sloppy Seconds" won't fit in comfortably.

Of course, the reality is that your tolerance of views, attitudes and persons who think differently to you is the barometer of your belief in free speech.

What was a major raison d'etre of the old left has become a truncheon of the new left.

It is a form of new puritanism dressed up as social justice. And one which is particularly problematic because the test of offensiveness lies with the person who receives the information not community standards.

And "Sloppy Seconds" isn't going to pass many tests.

Where I sit on this doesn't matter but it will affect this album because of all the egg shells out there.

Some people will find offence in this album and the follow on logic is that, well, it is offensive and it should be banned.

Well yes maybe it is offensive to some people but we are talking "Sloppy Seconds" here not "Mein Kamf".

And neither should be banned anyway …just criticised and ridiculed if need be.

Dr Hook are, or rather, Shel Silverstein who wrote all the songs, is someone who likes to take the piss. He see, observes and comments. It is occasionally crude, sometimes funny but always satirical.

It isn't mean spirited and the excesses are balanced by some sensitive and perceptive ballads.

Check out my other comments for bio on the band but as I write in another comment, "Shel Silverstein, was a man of many talents as a satirist, (Playboy) cartoonist, writer of children’s books and as a songwriter. He was a sharp Brill building staff songwriter with an eye for small details which gave his songs lives that people could relate to. Like a more acerbic Ray Stevens his music is humorous but without losing touch of the melody or musical hook (sic) … Dr Hook and Shel Silverstein were a perfect match. The band with their jokey, devil may care, anything goes humour where quite anarchic by mainstream standards which fit in perfectly with Silverstein's sharp humorous satire … This isn't underground  New York avant-garde but mainstream music. But it is quite twisted by mainstream standards. The band, having been a bar band, are tight but they look scrappy, and they exude chaos and down home on the porch, with a jug of whisky (or a joint or two), sing-along sessions. This fits in perfectly with the freewheeling early seventies. There was just enough country sounds in there to have them pick up on some of that market, and just enough soft rock for the mainstream market".

Shel Silverstein wrote most of the first album and it met with some success (a top 10 single, "Sylvia's Mother" with the album reaching #45 in the US, the single went to #1 in Australia and #2 in the UK). It is a no brainer, so accordingly, this second album takes off from where the first left off and amps up the satire. Sure, the majority of the songs are the love songs and ballads, but, double entendres coming out like a hippie counter culture Benny Hill are what will bring notice to this album.

The proof is you would be hard pressed trying to find a review that doesn't mention the lyrical content of the more raucous songs … as I have.

It may be funny to look sat this now as some relic of the past and assume that this music slid through because this was the "dark ages", 1972 (apparently every epoch thinks they are more enlightened than that that preceded them). But, that is unfair. 1972 would not have been a safe space for this album either. The feminist movement was loud and strong, as were the traditionalists against a permissive society as where the intelligentsia pushing for music as art full of meaning with something relevant, and serious, to say.

Shel Silverstein, through Dr Hook, has something serious to say but he can't say it with a straight face and he has surrounded it with a loose, good ol boy drunken country and rock party atmosphere.

And, perhaps, that is why the band get some flack …they put it across so convincingly, and there is some ambiguity in the lyrics, so that you can't tell what is satire and what is a homage to common behaviour.

That's where puritanism or righteousness kicks in.

And this existed in 1972.

My Australian copy of this album from 1972 doesn't include the last song on the album, "Looking for Pussy". The Australian censor, unlike that in the US, was not hampered by constitutional requirements of free speech and, accordingly, had a much broader ability to read the double entendres in a song. Though, what looking for a lost cat has to do with anything I don't know.

As a sidenote, the great Australian band , Skyhooks, found the full force of the Australian censor when they had six tracks on their first album, "Living in The 70s" (1974) banned from radio airplay (and it still went to number one and demolished the former attitudes to censorship). 

Lead Vocals: Dennis : Freakin’ At The Freaker’s Ball / Carry Me, Carrie / The Things I Didn’t Say / Last Mornin’ / I Can’t Touch The Sun / Queen Of The Silver Dollar

Lead Vocals: Ray : If I’d Only Come And Gone / Turn On The World / Cover Of The Rolling Stone

Lead Vocals: Billy / George : Get My Rocks Off

Lead Vocals: Dennis / Ray : Stayin’ Song

All songs by Shel Silverstin, produced by Ron Haffkine (who, apparently, hooked (sic) the band up with Shel Silverstein).

Tracks (best in italics)

           Side One

  • Freaker's Ball – originally released by Shel Silverstein on his album, " Freakin' at the Freakers Ball", in 1972. This is a magnificent song with a touch of ragtime (the revival was popular at the time) or tin pan alley though not for the sensitive.

            Blow your whistle, and bang your gong

            Roll up something to take along

            It feels so good, it must be wrong

            We're freakin' at the freaker's ball

            Well all the fags and the dykes they're boogie-in' together

            The leather freaks are dressed in all kinds of leather

            The greatest of the sadists and the masochists too

            Screaming please hit me and I'll hit you

  • If I'd Only Come And Gone – like a drunker and more belligerent Kenny Rogers. Another winner.
  • Carry Me, Carrie – a country rock power ballad
  • The Things I Didn't Say – a sweet ballad with familiar country themes.
  • Get My Rocks Off – total sleaze and not far removed from Frank Zappa.
  • Last Mornin' – a good first person narrative ballad about the music industry

    Side Two

  • I Can't Touch The Sun – a country-ish power ballad.
  • Queen Of The Silver Dollar – a big sound but quite gentle and perceptive
  • Turn On The World – a ballad
  • Stayin' Song – catchy
  • The Cover Of "Rolling Stone" – one of the wittiest and acerbic statements on the music industry ever … and Dr Hook had a few "Everybody's making it Big But Me". "last Mornin (above), and parts of "Millionaire". Excellent. Listen to the lyrics. Stoopid Rolling Stone rag. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cover_of_Rolling_Stone

And …

Wonderful, would be perfect with a six pack … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1972 Carry Me Carrie #71

1972 The Cover of Rolling Stone #6

Album

1972 #41

England

nothing

Australia

Singles

1972 The Cover of Rolling Stone #32

Album

1972 #17

Sounds

Freaker's Ball 

Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33DaHQJVkzk

If I'd Only Come And Gone

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33DaHQJVkzk

Carry Me, Carrie 

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

Get My Rocks Off 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aY6PFccu-k

Queen Of The Silver Dollar

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TV5ztdWx56I

The Cover Of "Rolling Stone" 

Live 1974

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gi4ntOkCNYo

Live 1974

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCTRxAkX4aY

Live 1980

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

mp3 attached

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TmJw8j2Eos

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kv_TA2S2z34

Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/sloppy-seconds-mw0000200613

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sloppy_Seconds_(album)

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

http://www.robertchristgau.com/xg/music/drhook-78.php

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

Website

https://myspace.com/drhooksmedicineshow/music/songs

https://www.facebook.com/Dr-Hook-and-the-Medicine-Show-55588104361/timeline?ref=page_internal

http://www.raysawyer.com/

http://www.dennislocorriere.com/

http://www.sylviasmother.com/

https://www.facebook.com/DrHookAndTheMedicineShow/

Trivia

  • The album is credited to Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show

 

Dr Hook - Sloppy Seconds - Picture from Back Sleeve

 

 

And remember "breaking news is a bit like breaking wind … sometimes you need to wait to see what the fallout is before announcing anything"  FEN

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

JESSE COLIN YOUNG – The Highway is for Heroes – (Cypress) – 1987

Jesse Colin Young - The Highway is for Heroes

Jesse Colin Young is always welcome on this blog but you have to approach anything released in the mainstream, in the 80s, with trepidation.

Yes, yes, I know I whinge about the 80s mainstream but it was, largely, awful. Everything was smooth and bland (please note that the 80s I'm referring to started in about 1983 and lasted till about 1991). Worse still; older acts from the 50s, 60s, and 70s had to adopt the "new sounds" if they wanted to get their music released on a major. There were a few who stuck to their guns but the vast majority fell into place. The result: instant rubbish. This may be music you loved  but really, put on, today, any mainstream song from the 80s (by an "oldie") and it will be met with a nervous smile, a wince, or a groan. Any jubilation that comes from the music is ironic.

I know there are exceptions, but …

This album was released in 1987 (and recorded at about the same time).

1987 gave us these mainstream 80s hits from "oldies" (a term I hate) reviving their careers: "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" (Starship), "Here I Go Again" (Whitesnake), "Big Time" (Peter Gabriel), "Is This Love" (Survivor), "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight" and "In Too Deep" (Genesis), "The Next Time I Fall" (Peter Cetera and Amy Grant), "Midnight Blue" (Lou Gramm), "Will You Still Love Me?" (Chicago).

And this is what Jesse Colin Young was faced with.

But, he tries …

There is a lot of bad 80s in here …

… Sure the production is squeaky clean but you cant escape that …

… Sure a few of the songs (mainly the ones with sexy sax-o-mo-phones or squeal-y electric guitars) are cringe worthy …

… Sure the definition of acoustic in the mainstream 80s means singer, guitar and erra an electric band playing gently …

but there are moments here when Jesse Colin Young is kicking against it all.

His only other album in the 80s was "Perfect Stranger" from 1982. I haven't listened to that so I can't comment on where he was going, but, perhaps he knew the 80s, musically, was not for him.

This album is, largely, out of step with what is going on in the charts. Perhaps that's why it only got a release on a minor label (no offence Cypress  Records … though I note they were distributed by heavyweight Polygram).

The "largely" I use above is intentional. Bruce Springsteen's "Tunnel of Love" album from 1987  mined a very similar low key acoustic-y path to this album and it was #1 in the US, UK and other parts of the world (#6 here in Australia). The cover art here, also, recalls Springsteen as do some of the thematic concerns of the songs … "The Highway is for Heroes".

And that is not a bad thing.

Young may predate Springsteen recording wise but he is like a laid back, less angst-y, less rock n roll more folk, hippie version of Springsteen. They were both from the US north-east, Springsteen (New Jersey), Young (New York), and both enamoured with the "road" and "America". They also both played the "No Nukes" series of concerts in September 1979.

The album is not all new work. Three songs were new versions of songs he had released before on albums. "Do It Slow," was on "Love On The Wing" (1977), "Before You Came" was on "Songbird" (1975), and T-Bone Walker's "T-Bone Shuffle he had done on "Song For Juli" (1973). One ("When You Dance") was a cover of The Turbans 1955 doo-wop hit (#3 US R&B, #33 Pop) which was also done by Jay and the Americans in 1969 (#70 US pop). Further, two were co-writes, the title track, which Young wrote with (occasional collaborator) Los Angeles singer-songwriter Wendy Waldman, and "The Master," with keyboardist (and member of Bonaroo) Bill Cuomo.

The album was produced by Jesse Colin Young so he was calling the shots … though he had to also "sell" the record to a label.

Check out my other blog comments for biographical detail on Jesse Colin Young and his great band The Youngbloods,

Tracks (best in italics)

            Side One

  • The Highway Is for Heroes – (Wendy Waldman / Jesse Colin Young) – the production does this in.  It would work as acoustic singer songwriter song from the 70s but here it is like a song from a 80s movie where the hero, jilted, is sitting on Venice beach watching the sunrise.
  • Erica – slick but very engaging and quite good.
  • Young Girls – a breathy vocal. Maybe it's the subject matter?
  • When You Dance – (Andrew Jones / Jesse Colin Young) – As I said above this was a doo-wop by the Turbans which was popped up in the late 60s by Jay and the Americans. Jesse Colin Young, who could sing the delicate high notes here does some falsetto, ragged but well. Not as good as either earlier version mentioned.
  • The Master – (Bill Cuomo / Jesse Colin Young) – too slick. A song about power relationships.

    Side Two

  • Dreams Take Flight – it's a little dreamy but quite sticky
  • Do It Slow – old school, and I don't mean 1977 when Jesse Colin Young recorded it earlier but with ragtime influences.
  • T-Bone Shuffle – (Aaron Walker) – the great T-Bone Walker song. Gentle and playful.
  • Before You Came – again, over produced but okay.

And …

It's too slick for me but for the sake of completeness )of my Jesse Colin Young collection)… I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

Nothing no where

Sounds

The Highway Is for Heroes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9QTeRHLZIQ

Erica

mp3 attached

T-Bone Shuffle

Live 1989

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iM2JWFkt_P0

Others

Live recently

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faGP7Hex17I

The Youngbloods

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jnsrpbIvz8

Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/the-highway-is-for-heroes-mw0000663672

http://people.com/archive/picks-and-pans-review-the-highway-is-for-heroes-vol-28-no-12/

Bio

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

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/jesse-colin-young-mn0000331846/biography

http://www.westcoast.dk/artists/y/jesse-colin-young/

http://thegreatrockbible.com/portfolio-item/jesse-colin-young-biography/

Website

http://www.jessecolinyoung.com/

Trivia

 

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

TOM T. HALL – Song in a Seashell – (Mercury) – 1985

Tom T Hall - Song in a Seashell

I love Tom T. Hall but I approach this album with some trepidation.

1985 was not a good aural year for the mainstream country music industry.

And, Tom T. Hall was a big seller and definitely mainstream.

Between 1969 and 1985 he had 7 country #1s, another 13 country top 10s, and another 17 Top 40s.

That's mainstream

Like many others in country music (Willie Nelson, Billy Swan etc) Hall became a performer through the DJ-ing and song writing route

Hall(born May 25, 1936 in Olive Hill, Kentucky) is the son of a bricklaying minister, who gave his child a guitar at the age of eight. He had already begun to write poetry, so it was a natural progression for him to begin writing songs. Hall began learning music and performing techniques from a local musician, Clayton Delaney. At the age of 11, his mother died. Four years later, his father was shot in a hunting accident, which prevented him from working. In order to support himself and his father, Hall quit school and took a job in a local garment factory. While he was working in the factory, he formed his first band, the Kentucky Travelers. The group played bluegrass and gigged at local schools as well as a radio station in Morehead, Kentucky. The station was sponsored by the Polar Bear Flour Company; Hall wrote a jingle for the company. After the Kentucky Travelers broke up, Hall became a DJ at the radio station … In 1957, Hall enlisted in the Army and was stationed in Germany. While in Germany, he performed at local NCO clubs on the Armed Forces Radio Network, where he sang mostly original material, which usually had a comic bent to it. After four years of service, he was discharged in 1961. Once he returned to the States, he enrolled in Roanoke College as a journalism student; he supported himself by DJ'ing at a radio station in Salem, Virginia … One day a Nashville songwriter was visiting the Salem radio station and he heard Hall's songs. Impressed, the songwriter sent the songs to a publisher named Jimmy Key, who ran New Key Publishing. Key signed Hall as a songwriter, bringing the songs to a variety of recording artists. The first singer to have a hit with one of Hall's songs was Jimmy Newman, who brought "DJ for a Day" to number one on the country charts in 1963. In early 1964, Dave Dudley took "Mad" to the Top Ten. The back-to-back success convinced Hall to move to Nashville, where he planned to continue his career as a professional songwriter. http://www.allmusic.com/artist/tom-t-hall-mn0000515628/biography

With some song writing success he was encouraged to record and released a single (1967). And then he wrote "Harper Valley PTA" which was recorded by Jeannie C. Riley and went to #1 is the US Country and Pop charts.  Hall's recording career took off after that and within a year he had one Top 10 Country single (Ballad of Forty Dollars #4, 1968) and a #1 "A Week in the Country Jail, 1969).

His golden period was the 1970s.

His songs were matter of fact, honest and filled with everyday detail. This conversational and casual emotional tone suited country music which loved musical hooks and succinct, complete narratives. And, that is what I loved about his music. The fact it sounds like you are in a pub down the road with some old (er) guy telling you about his day and his woes.

There are no grand statements or universal complaints but often there is some biting satire and observations that hold up a mirror.

By 1985 though still a chart presence Hall's prominence had dissipated.

Worse still mainstream country music had gone decidedly pop and bland.

The 80s were bad for mainstream rock and country was equally affected by the advancements in technologies (and possibly tastes) that required slick, well rounded sounds.

Country has a sense of history so the "old-timers" had a look-in  but the sounds that had made their names were pretty clean. The 70s outlaw edges had been dissipated or worse adopted and formularised and the pop and the rock sounds of the city had been fully integrated. Everyone had a twang but authentic regional accents were dead. The Oak Ridge Boys, The Bellamy Brothers, Alabama, Eddie Rabbit  Ronnie Milsap, Kenny Rogers were all over the charts.

The need to integrate external mainstream sounds into country has always been there from the days of Jim Reeves and the "countrypolitan" singers. But the trad pop brought in by Reeves and co fit. 80s pop didn't. Well, didn't, to my ears.

Worse was to come but the sawdust, old beer smells and BO of more familiar country music surely missed.

Hall didn't adopt the pop but did embrace the clean sounds aesthetic so dominant in the 80s. But,

Hall marched to the beat of his own drum lyric wise but he didn't seem to care much about the instrumentation … whatever was popular at the time worked well. It was the lyric he seemed more interested in, and, that worked well in the 70s when country music still had some sass.

Here, in 1985, it is tinkly fisher price music for backing … well fisher price music with a pedal steel guitar.

The collection is a strange mix of Hall country originals and old non-country trad pop songs … just like the type of thing Jim Reeves did.

Whether it was a shortage of material, a conscious decision or a bit of both but I suspect Hall was trying to emulate the success of Willie Nelson's trad pop albums (and singles), "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" (1981, #1 Country #31 Pop) and "Without a Song " (1983, #3 Country, #54 Pop).

It didn't work.

Tracks (best in italics)

            Side One

  • That Lucky Old Sun – (Haven Gillespie/Beasley Smith) – a trad pop song done by everyone including country (Willie nelson, Johnny Cash),  rock (Brian Wilson), and soul (Aretha Franklin) artists. Made popular with a #1 in 1949 by Frankie Laine. This is a great song and Hall's voice is good for it but nothing is added. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/That_Lucky_Old_Sun
  • A Bar with No Beer – (Tom T. Hall) – This is not dissimilar (and not only in melody) to "A Pub With No Beer" by Australian country singer Slim Dusty (the song was a big hit, a #1 in Australia and a #3 in England in the pop charts). The song here is credited to Hall though it has lifted portions of  a "Bar with no Beer" by Texas country singer Benny Barnes (writers credit to Don Williams) which was released in 1960. Barnes' song was the Americanized version of  "A Pub With No Beer". Hall has changed the lyrics considerably but it is essentially the same song. And it's quite good. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Pub_with_No_Beer
  • I Have Friends – (Tom T. Hall) – so-so though familiar country themes are covered
  • A Song in a Seashell – (Tom T. Hall) – fluff but quite nice with nod to Jimmy Buffet and the lazy Florida keys
  • Red Sails in the Sunset – (Jimmy Kennedy/Hugh Williams) – a trad pop song from the 1930s done by everyone though Nat King Cole had a #24 with it in 1951 and Tab Hunter had a #57 in 1957. Another great song and a decent version though the pitter patter of the drums and tinkly back make this sound like a cabaret act. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Sails_in_the_Sunset_(song)

      Side Two

  • Down in the Florida Keys – (Tom T. Hall) – Another (big) nod to Jimmy Buffet who was popular at the time (Florida keys, margarita, sleepy, lazy days, escapism all feature in the song). Perhaps this is a song about Jimmy Buffet. Very catchy
  • Love Letters in the Sand – (Fred Coots/Charles Kenny/Nick Kenny) – another trad pop dating back to the 30s though Pat Boone had a #1 with it in 1957. Done in by the backing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_Letters_in_the_Sand
  • This Ain’t Exactly What I Had in Mind – (Tom T. Hall) – not too bad.
  • Gone Fishin’ – (Nick Kenny/Charles Kenny) – a trad pop from the early 50s which didn't have much chart action but was popularised by Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong #19 US 1951). So-so though with some good updated lyrics.. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gone_Fishin%27_(song)
  • We’re All Through Dancing – (Tom T. Hall) –  a very familiar country themes summed up in the title. Very Good!

And …

Not one of Hall's best but for completeness … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1985 A Bar with No Beer #40 Country

1985 Down in the Florida Keys #42 Country

1986 Love Letters in the Sand #79 Country

Album

1985 #63 Country

England

nothing

Sounds

That Lucky Old Sun

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHfu6Lcpxlo

A Bar with No Beer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdcQfkWMj6g

A Song in a Seashell

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ocw2OCKbLKU

Down in the Florida Keys

mp3 attached

Gone Fishin’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8N-xtB5LQCA

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wr4y2_BqHYg

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mG5gWk-1m10

Review

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

Bio

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_T._Hall

https://www.namm.org/library/oral-history/tom-t-hall

Website

http://www.tomthall.net/

Trivia

  • Arranged by Bergen White (tracks: Strings). Produced by Jerry Kennedy.
Posted in Country | Tagged | Leave a comment

CHER – All I Really Want To Do – (Imperial) – 1965

Cher - All I Really Want to Do

This is Cher’s debut solo album

Whilst Sonny & Cher were hitting it big with the "I Got You Babe" single, Sonny arranged a solo deal for Cher.

Sonny, having worked for Phil Spector was well used to both the artistic and business sides of music. He was producing, playing, arranging and cutting deals in Los Angeles, one of the two capitals of pop music in the USA (the other being New York of course).

And I greet this album some fifty years after the event with some excitement. Yes, I know the chick on the cover and back sleeve, that I lusted (dreamt) over in the 70s, has aged (aged well though), but in my mind all things exist on separate planes.

Cher is forever young, optimistic and happy and successful at the start of a career.

For her first solo album something safe was needed but not something that was a cash in.

Her husband / mentor / producer, Sonny Bono was smart enough to navigate between the two and Cher had the talent.

The sole originals written for Cher are "Cry Myself to Sleep"  by Mike Gordon and “Dream Baby” written by Sonny and which had been released in 1964 by Cher under the pseudonym of Cherilyn. 

Otherwise, the album is top heavy on covers. There are three Bob Dylan songs, "All I Really Want to Do" (also done by The Byrds) , "Blowin' in the Wind" and "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right", one Searchers song (albeit written by Sonny Bono, Needles and Pins" (#13US 1964)), one song by Ray Davies of The Kinks, "I Go to Sleep", which was not released by them at the time but was released in England by The Applejacks in 1965, one Pete Seeger song, "The Bells of Rhymney", (popularised by the Byrds on their 1965 album "Mr. Tambourine Man"),  one Jackie DeShannon song, "Come and Stay With Me" (which she recorded later) which was a hit for Marianne Faithfull (#26US, #4UK 1965), one Connie Francis song, "He Thinks I Still Care" (#57 1962 … George Jones had a country #1 with in 1962 in its original form “She Thinks I Still Care”), one Sandie Shaw song "Girl Don't Come" (#42 1965 US), and one traditional "See See Rider", arranged by Sonny Bono, Charles Greene and Robert Stone which was done by everyone in the 60s.

Of all the covers mentioned "The Bells of Rhymney" as done by The Byrds is the most significant.

The Byrds were big in LA and across the US (with two US #!s in 1965) and Sonny and Cher are the products of LA.

"All I Really Want to Do" and “Bells of Rhymney” were both released on the Byrds debut album “Turn Turn Turn” in June 1965 (this album was released in October 1965).

The other songs reek of Byrds-like stylings.

And this is a joy if you like mid-60s folk rock or in this case folk-pop rock, and I do.

Think The Byrds backing a female diva in a California cabaret club.

What's not to like?

Cher was never shy or understated as a vocalist but here there is a vulnerability (a hint) that isn't often tapped into on other albums.

Don't get me wrong I love her sassiness but this is another side of Cher.

She is perfectly in tune with the songs and the optimism of the times in the music here. And, like the best music it doesn't date. It is evocative, engaging and endearing,

The pop in the music enables the music to transcend time. Pop, because of its innate design for mass consumption, usually dates better than the genre specific musical motifs.

The other big factor here is Cher's husband, Sony Bono. Bono was no slouch and had a good ear. Apart from writing he uses his production skills (he learnt under Phil Spector) to create rich, fully detailed music which is a joy to listen to.

Some may say, well, it's just a covers album but when you can take covers, interpret them differently, add your own musical personality, all done to sympathetic accompaniment, then, you really have a new batch of songs.

"Covering" music is something that is not highly regarded in rock and pop but just ask any jazz or classical musician if you want confirmation of the fluid nature of "authorship.

Tracks (best in italics)

             Side One

  • All I Really Want to Do –  (Bob Dylan) – a great song by Dylan and beautifully covered by The Byrds (where Sonny may have lifted his arrangement from – see end trivia notes). It matters not Cher puts female balls (?) on the song. bhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_I_Really_Want_to_Do
  • I Go to Sleep – (Ray Davies) – A great Ray Davies song though one The Kinks never released in the 60s. The big version is by the Pretenders in 1981 (#7UK). Cher does it with a hint of eroticism which works on me. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Go_to_Sleep
  • Needles and Pins – (Sonny Bono, Jack Nitzsche) – the song was a big hit for The Searchers (#13US, 1964)  but Cher taps into the song was first recorded by Jackie DeShannon in 1963 which only went to #84). If there is one white chick who could be as sassy as Cher in the mid 60s it was Jackie. A great song done well. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Needles_and_Pins_(song)
  • Don't Think Twice – (Bob Dylan) – done by everyone (I'm partial to the original and Elvis' re-imagination fro m  1971). Still, perhaps her best Dylan cover. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don%27t_Think_Twice,_It%27s_All_Right
  • He Thinks I Still Care – (Dickey Lee Lipscomb) – A gender switch on the song and Cher is more ambivalent about whether she "cares". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/She_Thinks_I_Still_Care
  • Dream Baby – (Sonny Bono) – First release by Cherilyn (1964) who was actually Cher. I can’t say if this is a re-record or a new version. It is very Phil Spector Wall of Sound and quite quirky.

Side Two

And …

A much loved (check out all the websites on her below) but still underrated singer and a great debut … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1965  All I Really Want to Do #15

Album

1965 #16

England

Singles

1965  All I Really Want to Do #9

Album

1965 #7

Australia

Singles

1965  All I Really Want to Do #68

Album

Sounds

All I Really Want to Do

Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Te6gDAEoF8o

Live 70s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ybEVq4vkWc

I Go to Sleep

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

Needles and Pins

mp3 attached

Don't Think Twice

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9o458CpIDRE

He Thinks I Still Care

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeh7GRDsAj0

Dream Baby

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6kAwh7abN4

Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhN_-I1fZbc

The Bells of Rhymney

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uzu7tAlza_A

Girl Don't Come

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

See See Rider

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bekZF72vVkY

Come and Stay with Me

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XBmBX9WEiQ

Cry Myself to Sleep

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7-aUCimkCg

Blowin' in the Wind

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_ezSKAqiY0

Others

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUzU0PycpEY

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qfz6-3fWaBU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6E98ZRaU1s

interesting

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

Review

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_I_Really_Want_to_Do_(album)

http://www.allmusic.com/album/all-i-really-want-to-do-mw0000457386

Bio

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

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/cher-mn0000107090/biography

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

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonny_%26_Cher_discography

Website

https://www.cher.com/#/

http://wb.cher.com/?frontpage=true

http://www.cherworld.com/

https://www.facebook.com/cher/

https://twitter.com/cher

http://www.cherlove.net/

http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/cher

http://chernews.blogspot.com.au/p/links.html

http://cher.yuku.com/reply/188832/New-Website#.WPK6D6NJmM8

http://www.cherscholar.com/

Trivia

  • Bass – Cliff Hils, Lyle Ritz, Mel Pollan, Rene Hall / Drums – Frank Capp, Jesse Sailes, Sharkey Hall / Guitar – Barney Kessel, Don Peake, Jeff Kaplan, Mike Post, Monte Dunn, Randy Steirling, Steve Mann / Harpsichord – Bill Marx, Mike Rubini / Percussion – Brian Stone, Frank DeVito, Gene Estes, Julius Wechter / Piano – Harold Battiste  / Producer, Arranged By – Sonny Bono
  • "The initial idea to cover "All I Really Want to Do" came when Cher heard the Los Angeles folk rock band, The Byrds, perform it during their pre-fame residency at Ciro's nightclub on the Sunset Strip in March 1965. A minor controversy between Cher and The Byrds ensued when it was alleged by Columbia Records (The Byrds' record label) that Cher and Sonny Bono had taped one of The Byrds' appearances at Ciro's without permission, in order to use some of the band's repertoire ("All I Really Want to Do" and "The Bells of Rhymney") on Cher's own album. Although The Byrds planned to issue "All I Really Want to Do" as a single themselves, they were largely unconcerned with the imminent release of Cher's recording, feeling that there was enough room in the charts for both versions. In a retaliatory attempt to bury Cher's version, Columbia rush-released The Byrds' "All I Really Want to Do" single and both versions entered the Billboard Hot 100 during the same week. A chart battle ensued, largely instigated by Columbia Records and the music press, but ultimately The Byrds' version stalled at #40 on the U.S. charts, while Cher's cover reached #15. In the UK, however, both versions reached the top 10, The Byrds' version reached #4 and Cher's recording peaked at #9". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_I_Really_Want_to_Do_(album)
Posted in Folk Rock, Pop Rock | Tagged | Leave a comment

DENNIS LINDE – Linde Manor – (Intrepid) – 1970

Dennis Linde - Linde Manor

Dennis Linde (March 18, 1943 – December 22, 2006) … "Songwriter Dennis Linde remained a fixture of the country charts for decades, penning blockbusters for everyone from Elvis Presley to the Dixie Chicks. Born March 18, 1943, in Abilene, TX, Linde spent much of his adolescence in St. Louis, first picking up the guitar at the age of 15. During the late '60s, he played in the St. Louis band the Starlighters, driving a dry-cleaning delivery truck by day. When speeding tickets cost him his license and his day job, Linde turned to songwriting, relocating to Nashville in 1969 to join the Combine Music staff (which also included Kris Kristofferson, Mickey Newbury, and Wanda Jackson). Linde scored his first major hit a year later when Roy Drusky cut his "Long Long Texas Road." He also signed a solo deal with Mercury's Intrepid imprint, issuing his debut effort, Linde Manor … In 1972, Elvis scored his final number one hit with "Burning Love," (actually it was a #2) launching Linde to the forefront of Nashville songwriters. The attention earned him a deal with Elektra, which released his self-titled sophomore record in 1973". http://www.allmusic.com/artist/dennis-linde-mn0000202466/biography

Anyone for covers?

In this current (post-Beatles) world of "writing and performing your own material" I'm sure Dennis Linde would have said …

God Bless Elvis Presley.

Elvis barely wrote a song (yes, he actually has a couple of co-writing credits where he actually did contribute to the writing of the song … having said that his take on music renders a lot of songs covered totally different to the originals but that is something off topic here) but he knew what he liked.

An album track on an Elvis album (given their volume of sales) is good eating money, but a Top 10 in the US that is the gift that keeps giving.

An Elvis had a #2 in the US (and a Top 10 in the UKL and elsewhere) with Dennis Linde's "Burning Love" in 1972 and he also recorded two more Linde compositions – 'For The Heart' and 'I Got A Feelin' In My Body' as album tracks (and B sides) in the 70s.

And, then, the songs are covered by others because Elvis did them … over 90 for "Burning Love" … the gift that keeps giving.

I'm sure a struggling country singer-songwriter would be happy with that.

Check out my other comment on this blog about Linde and how he fits into the country music scene.

The "fits into" is in italics because he is country but he was certainly quirky and incorporated many non-country sounds much like Billy Swan (who co-produces this album) and Mickey Newbury (who contributes some of the liner notes on this album).

This was Linde's first album.

And, despite the subject matter, there is very little 1970s about him. Being a Nashville resident he couldn't do the long hair thing (well not in 1970)  and he isn't wearing flares or beads.

Rather, he comes across as college folk singer circa 1962.

But, don't judge a book by its cover.

This is orchestrated with late 60s  excesses. This is quite experimental. This is peculiar. This is jarring if you are expecting a country or even country rock album.

This is rural psych folk singer-songwriter country rock.

Despite outward appearances it is still is country rock but it stretches the relationship between the two. It is as if country rock had incorporated the countrypolitan sounds of  Nashville into it's nature rather than old time country.

Perhaps, it is mainstream rock music done by country musicians rather than country done by rock musicians like the majority of country rock. This may be splitting hairs but,  because these guys are country, I suspect they don't need to or have to show they are faithful to the tradition of country.

Weird country?

Apart from Billy Swan and Mickey Newbury, Dan Penn, Levon Helm, Steve Young, Fred Neil, Jerry Jeff Walker, Lee Hazelwood, David Axelrod, John Hartford. Kris Kristofferson, Jimmy Webb, The Fifth Dimension  can all be heard.

What a brew.

And the backing is great …Nashville studio men and women at their best including Bergen White, a great vocalist and arranger who doesn't supply any vocals here but does arrange (here, appropriately called the "floral arranger") and provide the "horn" .

All songs are written by Linde.

Tracks (best in italics)

           Side One

  • Linde Manor –  Baroque Pop goes country. Wonderful. DJ Shadow sampled the title track on his 1996 trip-hop classic "Endtroducing".
  • On The Run –  a psych rocker
  • I Don't Want Nobody 'Ceptin' You –  a big sounding mid-tempo ballad much like the Hollies were doing around this time.
  • Call Me Honey –  good, at first it seems to lack distinction but the chug a lug beat (much like Creedence Clearwater) wins you over.
  • Horned Toad – a hoot with shades of Tony Jow White. White southern funky soul..
  • Rockin' Days –  a homage to old time rock n roll (which was less than twenty years old) and not unlike similar material by producer Billy Swan in his solo work.

    Side Two

  • The Fat Of The Land –  the narrator has wanderlust
  • Kitty Starr –  a beautiful singer-songwriter song with shades of Val Stecklein, Bob Lind and Tim Hardin. Wonderful.
  • Mornin', Mornin' –  a hoot of a song. Both gentle and lively.
  • Preacher Jones –  we are in Tony Joe White territory now though without the swamp funk overtones and more Bobbie Gentry or Jeannie C. Riley.
  • Stormy Weather Girl –  more of a traditional country song, or as traditional as Linde can get on this album with fiddle and country lyrics.
  • Linde Manor Reprise – just like the title says … a reprise of the title song.

And …

A joy. A unrecognised classic … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

Nothing nowhere

Sounds

Linde Manor  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-25_5QzidE

On the Run

mp3 attached

I Don't Want Nobody 'Ceptin' You  

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

Horned Toad  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBtwXb82uvM

Kitty Starr  

mp3 attached

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-x-LP4ZasY

Review

Bio

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

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/dennis-linde-mn0000202466/biography

Obituaries

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/dennis-linde-429897.html

http://www.spectropop.com/remembers/DennisLinde.htm

http://www.nucountry.com.au/articles/diary/december2006/301206_dennislinde_obit.htm

Website

Trivia

  • Arranged By – Bergen White / Bass, Written-By – Dennis Linde  / Cello – Buddy Spicher  / Drums – Doodles Lancaster  / Fiddle – Buddy Spicher / Guitar – Dennis Linde,  Wayne Moss / Percussion – Farrell Morris / Piano, Organ – Jerry Smith / Producer – Billy Swan, Jerry Kennedy / Viola – Buddy Spicher / Vocals – Dennis Linde, The Swanettes
  • The album was recorded at Wayne Moss’s Cinderella Sound studios in nashville which was, basically, Wayne Moss's garage. http://www.soundonsound.com/people/wayne-moss-cinderella-sound-nashville
  • The album has all sorts of shenanigans in the liner notes but Mickey Newbury's praise is best, "Dennis Linde, born in Abilene, Texas, loves Southern Missouri. Music, his life. Looks like Omar Sharif without a mustache. Sense of humour, sits quietly by and does his thing, and it's great. Plays bass, guitar, piano, harmonica and sings what he writes. G.I. haircut and army boots, not because it's in, just because he happens to dig it. Humility, a rare thing in this "do your thing" world. Honesty, it sometimes hurts. God Bless Dennis Linde, he's real"
  • Linde joined Bob Kuban and the In-Men, a group that enjoyed a 1966 pop hit, "The Cheater". He also was bass player for country rock band Jubal (check this blog out for them).
Posted in Alt Country, Country, Country Rock, Psychedelic | Tagged | Leave a comment

LOS INDIOS TABAJARAS – Maria Elena – (RCA) – 1963

Los Indios Tabajaras - Maria Elena

This is the big one from 1963. The one that propelled Los Indios Tabajaras to the world stage and kick started "Indios Tabajaras Mania".

Well not quite.

I have commented on this duo of Brazilian Indian exotica guitarists before. Check out the other comments for background on them … but I will give a little detail here which leads up to this album.

RCA and their concert promoters have always drawn a veil of mystery around Los Indios Tabajaras, so it's tough to trace their early years accurately. Likewise, despite appearances of later night and variety shows little was revealed about them, perhaps due to the "superficial" nature of the shows in the 60s or perhaps because their command of English wasn't that great.

Either way they smiled, played, bowed.

Their story is "they discovered a guitar in the jungle near Ceara, Brazil, and, after making sure it wasn't going to explode like other firearms their tribesmen had found, began to examine it. Eventually, they both mastered the instrument and came to the attention of townspeople, one of whom took them to Rio de Janeiro to play … " http://www.spaceagepop.com/indios.htm

Certainly it seems they were touring by the early 1940s and were signed to RCA's Latin American arm in 1943. Singles followed though it wasn't until the 1957 they released their first album on the RCA subsidiary Vox label, "Popular And Folk Songs Of Latin America" (There appears to have been a South American album released in 1953, "Ternura" though that may have been a later compilation of singles from the early 50s)

They were around at the right time and, the back of the exotica trend in "adult" music, they released an album, "Sweet And Savage" in 1958 on RCA

One of their singles (from that album), "Maria Elena," became a steady seller, and by early 1962, its success caught the eye of RCA tastemakers. They issued the tune, and the song bolted up the charts. The "Sweet and Savage" album was dusted off, given a new name to cash in on the single and a new sleeve and released.

It did well.

The only other charting record, the single "Always in My Heart:" went to #82 in 1964.

Their mainstream widespread popularity was a fluke for them or, the novelty had worn off.

They took 20 years a long time to get to there and a year to plummet.

More singles and albums followed and they were popular live and on television until rock n roll achieving mainstream acceptance in the mid 1960s eventually did them in.

But for a moment in time these Indians from Brazil were gold.

As I said in another comment, "What I like about them is that the music is gentle, velvety, and evocative, without being syrupy".

This album has quite a few vocal tunes that perfectly match the strummed and gently plucked guitars. It's almost trance like.

It's not unusual for them to do vocals but they did lean towards evocative instrumentals. This album comes awfully close to leaving exotica and becoming a ethnic folk record, not that there is anything wrong with that.

But it is not folk music, given the versions of American songs and the number of songs written by one of the Indios, Natalicio Lima . It is music of time and place and it soaks up the influences of mid-century South America … look at the covers chosen.

This is a relaxing evocative and a perfect accompaniment to a cocktail in the early evening dark.

Tracks (best in italics)

           Side One

  • Maria Elena  – (Lorenzo Barcelata / Bob Russell) – A Mexican song going back to 1932. The song has life as a vocal song and as an instrumental. The song was used as a theme in the Bette Davis and Paul Muni film Bordertown (1935), Jimmy Dorsey recorded a version of it in 1941 (Bob Eberly, vocal) which went to #1. Los Indios Tabajaras released it in 1958 as a single before having a hit with it in 1963. As beautiful a acoustic guitar instrumental as you are going to get and evocative of lazy and slightly melancholic sunny holidays of the past. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Elena
  • Maran Cariua – (Natalicio Moreyra Lima) – with vocals and quite native folksy. The voices intermingle with each other in trancelike fashion..
  • Los Indios Danzan – (Natalicio Moreyra Lima) – a instrumental and another beautiful one.
  • La Orilla del Lago – (Natalicio Moreyra Lima) – an instrumental and more European in fasjion.
  • Moonlight Serenade – (Glenn Miller / Mitchell Parish) – an instrumental.  It is a joy hearing this famous Glenn Miller tune stripped down to the basics and given just a hint of exotica. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moonlight_Serenade
  • Baion Bon – (Natalicio Moreyra Lima) – with vocals. This is a gentle bounce with a Mexican country lilt.

    Side Two

  • Pajaro Campana – (Felix Cardozo) – a instrumental and a song that was on their (possible)1953 album. I don't know if it was re-recorded or not. Quite exhilarating in its on way. Félix Pérez Cardozo is a legendary Paraguayan musician and composer who mainly worked in Argentina.
  • Stardust (Polvo de Estrellas) – (Hoagy Carmichael / Mitchell Parish) – a instrumental. This is one of the greatest of all Tin Pan Alley songs. It is often (always) done stripped as wa sintended by the writers. Beautiful. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stardust_(song)
  • Ternura – (Natalicio Moreyra Lima) – an instrumental. Another song that was on their (possible)1953 album. I don't know if it was re-recorded or not.
  • Ay Maria – (Pinto) – with vocals. This is a Mexican type of song (as was popular t the time) and sung in Spanish rather than Portuguese.
  • Vals Criollo – (Antonio Lauro) – a  instrumental with bounce. Antonio Lauro was a Venezuelan musician, and legendary composer for the guitar.
  • Jungle Dream – (Natalicio Moreyra Lima) – a instrumental with touches of Martin Denny. Slow, moody and quite, as the title refers to, dreamlike.

And …

Beautiful from start to finish … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1963 Maria Elena #6 pop

1963 Maria Elena #3 Easy Listening

Album

1967 #7

England

Singles

1963 Maria Elena #5

Album

Sounds

Maria Elena

mp3 attached

Maran Cariua

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWN8TZqcFew

A La Orilla del Lago

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNujr3tMbUs

Moonlight Serenade

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJA-v-T1IWg

Ay Maria

mp3 attached

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vh2XYXZ3eLk

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5_tLfq9Pxg

Review

http://www.allmusic.com/album/maria-elena-always-in-my-heart-mw0000597088

Bio

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

http://www.spaceagepop.com/indios.htm

Website

https://www.facebook.com/groups/20228084434/?ref=br_rs

https://myspace.com/natolimafoundation

Trivia

  • The linersnotes on the back sleeve give a history of the duo: "It's a long way from the jungles of northern Brazil to Hoagy Carmichael, but that's just part of the path followed by the guitar duo known as the Tabajaras Indians in what must surely be one of the greatest off-trail adventure stories in the whole history of music … The story began in the jungle of the State of Ceara, up in the northeastern shoulder of Brazil. Here an Indian tribe called the Tabajaras lives well isolated from the world of the white man. While peaceful enough, the Tabajaras have been generally unfriendly to the white man's civilization, which they have considered inferior to their own … One of the leaders of the Tabajaras was a tribesman by the name of Mitanga who was the father of thirty children. One day, twenty-odd years ago, Musaperi, his No. 3 son, and Herundy, the next oldest boy, found a guitar lying in a path in the woods along which a party of white men had passed. Not knowing what it was, they carried it home and kept it hidden for a couple of weeks … When it failed to explode as had firearms found by some of their fellow tribesmen, the two young boys took it out and examined it more closely. The sound that the strings made as they were touched by their exploring hands excited the boys' curiosity, and in some unexplained manner the brothers learned to play the instrument. They loved it enough to want to follow it into the white man's world from which it had come … Rio de Janeiro was their first important stop, and here they scored a hit with their primitive yet effective handling of the guitar as an accompaniment to their tribal folk songs.  A theatrical agent spotted them and booked them for a series of tours throughout South America that lasted six years. Then they headed north for Mexico for a long engagement. Somewhere along the line they changed their Indian names to Natalicio and Antenor Moreyra Lima, although they were known everywhere they played as just "Los Indios Tabajaras." … About this time they decided to stop their concerts in order to take formal instruction in the guitar. Each worked with a different teacher, Antenor specializing in accompaniment and Natalicio working on melody. They studied the classics, and soon augmented their Indian folk lore and Brazilian repertoire with the works of Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Rimsky-Korsakoff, Falla and Albéniz … Then, after two years of study, came a new debut and a tour of the opera houses of the South American capitals. This was followed by a long European tour which took them before concert audiences in Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Athens and Lisbon. They learned to sing and speak in Italian, German and Greek, in addition to their native Tupi, their adopted Portuguese, and the Spanish they had learned while touring Latin America … These two young Indians are true virtuosos. Their unique personal and musical background is reflected in the numbers they play on these two sides. In addition to the tribal folk songs they learned first, they present Brazilian regional music and international favorites of Latin America. Star Dust and Moonlight Serenade, though, show how far they've wandered, both musically and geographically, since they first saw something strange lying on the matted floor of their native jungle … RICHARD JOSEPH Travel Editor, Esquire"

 

Los Indios Tabajaras - Sweet and Savage

Posted in Ethnic, Lounge & Exotica, World Music | Tagged | Leave a comment

DELANEY & BONNIE – D & B Together – (CBS) – 1972

Delaney & Bonnie - Together

See my earlier comment for biographical detail on the joy that is Delaney & Bonnie.

Inconsistent they may be but there are tangible benefits from their music.

This album comes at the dawn of Southern white soul and the rise of Southern rock as dominant styles in the South.

And, accordingly, it has elements of both styles though to be fair, Delaney & Bonnie always had both those styles of southern music in their style.

Soul, blues, funk, strings, rock, gospel, guitars all blend seamlessly into a style of music that was incredibly popular in the early 1970s (and is not unpopular today) and there were many acts  practicing the same. Derek & the Dominos, The Allman Brothers Band, Big Brother & the Holding Company, Canned Heat, Jackie DeShannon, The Band, Dr John, Leon Russell, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Wayne Cochran, Jesse Ed Davis, Tony Joe White, Little Feat, Black Oak Arkansas, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blackfoot, Elvis Presley and many others all played variations on the theme.

To Southern acts the music was a statement of identity. The music was an amalgamation of musical styles that had made the South what it was. They were loud, proud and happy to display their melting pop of roots music. This here, then, was the result, a roots music where the roots were allowed to become entangled.

And here, the Southern sound is unmistakeable. Perhaps, they were putting it all out there and turning up the Southern ambience to eleven on the dial as a dare. The music is defiant and strident as if they are saying, “You took rock n roll, jazz, blues, and country from us but you can’t take this from us”. Ironically, Northerners like Al Kooper, were drawn to the music as were Englishmen like Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Joe Cocker and others.

There have been many attempts at replicating this and the techniques sometimes comes close but nothing quite sounds like the originals. 

This music may have become clichéd through overuse in film (and on television by television studio bands) and its powered diminished by too many slick soulless reproductions but you have to dismiss those from your mind.

“D&B Together” is the sixth album by Delaney & Bonnie and their most ironic title. It was their last album. The group and their marriage fell apart shortly after, or rather, their marriage and the group.

There was nothing new here that D&B hadn’t already done but the joy in the music is in the joy of the performances. The music is meant to be danced to or to be sung along to. Often, there are deeper themes that you can think about but everything is subsumed to the “feel” in / of the music.

And that feel is created by a remarkable collection of largely Southern musicians. See trivia at end but amongst the legendary Southern session men we have solo stars like Duane Allman, Tina Turner, Merry Clayton, Leon Russell, John Hartford, Steve Cropper, Billy Preston, Rita Coolidge, Eddie Kendricks, as well as Englishmen Eric Clapton and Dave Mason.

Sometimes they shine through individually but o this type of music the whole is more important than the individual components.

Oddly, their last label, Atco, had no faith in the album, “Country Life, Delaney & Bonnie's sixth album, was anticipated by the artist's label Atco (Atlantic) Records following the success of their previous three albums and of "Never Ending Song of Love," a single from their last album Motel Shot; moreover, Atlantic executive Jerry Wexler had developed a personal friendship with the artists. The album was delivered to Atlantic behind schedule, and was rushed into distribution upon delivery in early 1972. However, Wexler found the album's quality unsatisfactory and quickly withdrew it from the market. Wexler discovered that Delaney and Bonnie's marriage was under strain, and responded by selling their contract and this album's master tapes to CBS. CBS reordered the running sequence of the album as shown below, and re-released it in March 1972, using different cover art, as D&B Together” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%26B_Together

From a commercial POV it was a sound decision (perhaps … albums were pressed) as the album didn’t sell well but from a music perspective the album sounds great.

This may be the last original Delaney and Bonnie album but they went out on a bang rather than a whimper.

Tracks (best in italics)

          Side One

  • Only You Know and I Know – (Dave Mason) – Originally by former Traffic member Dave Mason on his debut solo album, "Alone Together" (1970). Eric Clapton and  Dave Mason are on guitar.
  • Wade in the River of Jordan – (Traditional, arr. Delaney Bramlett) – They performed it in the magnificent film Vanishing Point (1971). A gospel shouter.
  • Sound of the City – (Delaney Bramlett, Joe Hicks) – Bonnie and Delaney sing with Tina Turner, as the song was recorded in Ike Turner's studio. The battle of blues pipes and Bonnie holds her own against Tina though everyone is a little (just a little) restrained.
  • Well, Well – (Delaney Bramlett) – funky fuzzy guitar by Delaney.
  • I Know How It Feels to Be Lonely – (Bonnie Bramlett, Leon Ware) – a slow smouldering burn
  • Comin' Home –  (Bonnie Bramlett, Eric Clapton) – originally Delaney & Bonnie did this on their live album, “On Tour with Eric Clapton” (1970 ) Eric Clapton and  Dave Mason on guitar though I've also read it as Duane Allman on guitar. A great southern rock funk tune. Perfect for driving to, in an American muscle car, with the roof down (do you hear me James?)

           Side Two

  • Move 'Em Out – (Steve Cropper, Bettye Crutcher) – this seems to have been done by Delaney & Bonnie first. Recorded as a favour to their friend Cropper (of the MGs). Less screech and more vocalising and this comes across almost hippie-esque. Well, hippie-esque by Southern boogie standards.
  • Big Change Comin' – (Delaney Bramlett) – another funky workout though the guitar is mixed too far back.
  • A Good Thing (I'm on Fire) – (Delaney Bramlett, Gordon DeWitty) – Duane Allman plays on this but because of contractual problems he is very low in the mix. A funky passionate heat song.
  • Groupie (Superstar) – (Delaney Bramlett, Leon Russell) – this song had, originally, been a B-side by Delaney & Bonnie in 1969 to the “Comin Home” single. It has been covered many times … Cher (1970), Bette Midler (1970), Vicki Carr (1971), Gayle McCormick (1971) and most famously by The Carpenters who had a #2 with it in 1971 which perhaps prompted its resurrection here. A great tune. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superstar_(Delaney_and_Bonnie_song)
  • I Know Something Good About You – (Delaney Bramlett, Joe Hicks) – Delaney plays the guitar, King Curtis the sax,  Billy Preston the piano, Bobby Womack the bass. Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett are among the chorus. I assume it is Delaney on lead and he has a good voice for this.
  • Country Life – (Delaney Bramlett, Bobby Whitlock) – a great country rock tune. Totally different to the rest of the album. Laid back and relaxed but with the Southern charm coming through. Excellent.

And …

Great fun. Pass the grits (nothing quite like stereotyped humour, eh?) … I'm keeping it.

Chart Action

US

Singles

1971 Only You Know and I Know  #20

1972 Move Em Out #59

Album

1972 #133

England

No charts..

Why would it chart? England had their own true children of the South, Eric Clapton, Dave Mason, Ian Matthews, Albert Lee, George Harrison and others.

Interestingly the only record by Delaney & Bonnie that ever charted in England was their album "Delaney & Bonnie On Tour with Eric Clapton" (#39, 1970). Parochialism at its best even when the source is some 4000 miles away.

Sounds

Full album

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

Only You Know and I Know

Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tf7fwxJPtbA

Comin' Home

Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPadGC5eZ44

mp3 attached

A Good Thing (I'm on Fire)

Live

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ofFxe03BVc

Groupie (Superstar)

mp3 attached

Others

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ir2eAEhtXvE

Bonnie

Live recently

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvEgiZ1lS7Q

Review

http://www.popmatters.com/review/delaneyandbonnie-dandb/

http://stuckinthepast08.blogspot.com.au/2011/10/delaney-bonnie-and-friends-d-together.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%26B_Together

http://www.allmusic.com/album/d-b-together-mw0000018473

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

http://www.uncut.co.uk/reviews/album/delaney-bonnie-and-friends-db-together#G00mBqSOymA3UmC7.99

Bio

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

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

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

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

Website

http://www.bonniebramlett.com/

Trivia

  • Arranged By, Producer – Delaney Bramlett. (Producer: David Anderle/Doug Gilmore/Delaney Bramlett
  • Delaney Bramlett – guitar, vocals / Bonnie Bramlett – vocals / Eric Clapton – guitar, vocals / Leon Russell – piano, keyboards, vocals / Duane Allman – guitar, vocals / Dave Mason – guitar, vocals / Carl Radle – bass, vocals / John Hartford – banjo, vocals / Steve Cropper – guitar, vocals / Jim Gordon – drums, vocals / Red Rhodes – steel guitar, vocals / Jaimoe – drums, vocals / Billy Preston – keyboards, piano, vocals / Charlie Freeman – guitar, vocals / Kenny Gradney – bass, vocals / Bobby Whitlock – keyboards, vocals / Bobby Keys – saxophone, vocals / James Jamerson – bass, vocals / Jerry Jumonville – saxophone, vocals / King Curtis – saxophone, vocals / Larry Knechtel – bass, vocals / Darrell Leonard – trumpet, vocals / Jim Price – horns, vocals / Chuck Rainey – bass, vocals / Larry Savoie – trombone, vocals / Rita Coolidge – vocals / Tina Turner – vocals / Venetta Fields – vocals / Merry Clayton – vocals / Eddie Kendricks – vocals / Sam Clayton – vocals / Joe Hicks – vocals / Patrice Holloway – vocals / Tex Johnson – vocals / Clydie King – vocals / Sherlie Matthews – vocals / Gordon De Witty – vocals / Jay York – vocals (and, perhaps Bobby Womack)
  • Rita Coolidge was discovered by Delaney & Bonnie and she sang backing for them before supplying backing vocals for many acts recording in LA … before going solo.
Posted in Country Soul, Southern and Boogie Rock | Tagged | Leave a comment