Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bill Aucoin: RIP & KISS

Monday, Joey Kinsley, my one and only bass guitar student (he's much better than I'll ever be), sent me an article about Bill Aucoin’s death which occurred in Aventura, Florida. While many may not recognize his name, you will recognize his handiwork: KISS, Billy Idol, and Billy Squire. Although he was the manager of all three, he probably is best known for his work with rock legends KISS.

 Bill Aucoin with one of KISS' gold record awards

According to his official biography, “Combining his directorial background, music sagacity and his shrewd marketing ability, William "Bill" Aucoin discovered, developed and propelled a New York band named KISS, into internationally recognized superstars that generated commercial revenues of $119,000,000 during the 1978 fiscal year alone.”

Black Diamond


From their 1974 debut LP, Paul Stanley’s “Black Diamond” is one of my favorite KISS tunes. Although Stanley sings lead on the songs intro, drummer Peter Criss is the primary vocalist throughout the remainder of the song.

It is said that since there was no money for a tour to support the “KISS” LP, Bill Aucoin personally financed their debut tour by using his American Express card. So impressed with the band, he felt that his investment would exponentially return to him – he was right.



Rock and Roll All Nite


Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley co-wrote “Rock and Roll All Nite,” their 1975 hit single was released twice by Casablanca Records during that year. The first version featured a studio cut from the LP “Dressed to Kill” and immediately tanked at #68. When the LP “Alive” was released later that year, the song was re-released with the live version on the A side and the studio version on the B side. It was KISS’ first top 20 hit and peaked at #12 on Billboard’s Hot 100.



Detroit Rock City


In 1976, KISS released their highest charting single – a double sided hit – with “Detroit Rock City” on the Plug side, while the ballad, “Beth” graced the flip. A flip they did, DJs all across the US who had moderate success with “Detroit Rock City” began playing the B side. The ballad captured the hearts of Americans everywhere and it became the best known song for the band. Here’s the lesser of the two hits that charted at #7.



Forever


Although KISS and Aucoin parted ways in 1982, he set the stage for their successes throughout their career including their second most popular single. “Forever,” originally released on 1990s “Hot in the Shade” LP topped the Hot 100 at #8. The following recording with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is from the “KISS Sympony: Alive IV” CD & DVD. The orchestra and conductor join the KISS army by wearing KISS makeup for the performance.




Thanks Bill Aucoin for bringing KISS as well as Billy Idol and Billy Squire to the forefront. May you rest in peace.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Robert C. Byrd: Come Sundown She'll Be Gone

Yesterday, West Virginia lost its senior statesman Senator Robert C. Byrd when he passed away at a Washington, DC hospital. Senator Byrd was 92. My adopted home state will suffer a great loss as he was able to steer funding for infrastructure and many programs that produced jobs and helped our economy. On several occasions, I had the opportunity to meet Senator Byrd including one time where I was able to join him and others for lunch.

While I never heard him play fiddle, it was one of those talents that nearly everyone in the state was aware. Inspired by West Virginia’s Clark Kessinger, the young Byrd used his talents as a fiddler as a campaign tool to win the hearts of his future constituents as he ran for the state legislature in the late 1940s. In 1952, he ran and won a seat in the US House of Representatives and in 1958 – he was elected to the Senate, where he has served until his death yesterday. He was the longest serving member of the Senate and Congress in general. It is doubtful that this record will ever be broken.

In 1978, Byrd finally had time to record his only album “Mountain Fiddler,” which contained many Appalachian favorites. Today’s Traditional Tuesday selection is “Come Sundown She’ll be Gone,” a song written by Kris Kristofferson and a top 10 country hit for Bobby Bare in 1970.



If Byrd knew you, he would always acknowledge you in the audience while he was speaking. I have a letter he sent me in 1995 that will be part of my collection of memorabilia associated with my career. Even chapter three of my dissertation has a large section that deals with the aid that Byrd had provided for West Virginia higher education as part of the way he helped his home state. My current office is situated in a building (Wiseman Hall) that was constructed through a Byrd appropriation. From 1997 to 2000, I had an office housed in Mountain State University’s first Byrd appropriation – the Robert C. Byrd Learning Resource Center.

The author and Senator Byrd in 1995

Senator Byrd, we’ll miss you.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Paul Young: Tainted Love

I know what you are thinking, "Oh no, not another version of "Tainted Love!" Well I wrestled with this decision all weekend on whether I should give “Tainted Love” a third feature day; however, I found myself singing the song all weekend. It is infectious.

By featuring two versions by Soft Cell on Thursday and three by Gloria Jones on Friday, I could not get this tune out of my head. Therefore, I am going to subject you to yet another rendition of the song. Today’s cover is done by Paul Young in a big band swing genre that is akin to “Old Blue Eyes’” recordings.



From the 2006 US release of “Rock Swings (on the Wild Side of Swing),” Paul Young takes a variety of songs and reshapes them into a swinging jazz feel. This is one of my favorite songs from the CD along with Young’s renditions of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and George Harrison’s “Isn’t it a Pity.” Young, as you may or may not remember, had a number one record in 1985 – “Everytime You Go Away,” which was a cover of a Hall and Oates tune from several years earlier.

It just goes to show that good music can transcend all boundaries.





Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hollies: The Very Last Day

In 1965, The Hollies released their third album, “Hollies” in the UK on Parlophone, and since Capitol Records had passed on the band for the North American market, Imperial Records were given the opportunity to release their recordings on this continent. “Hear! Here!” was the title for the comparable US album, which was the second by the band to be issued in the US.



Featured on this album was a traditionally inspired gospel song written by Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey. Peter, Paul, and Mary recorded the song for their third LP, “In the Wind.” The Hollies version of today’s Spiritual Sunday tune was released as a single only in Sweden where it peaked at #1 on the Swedish music charts. Here’s a lip-synched version recorded for the Swedish TV show “Popside.”



Alan Clarke, as usual, is handling the vocal chores on this one. Lead guitarist Tony Hicks can be seen playing a Gibson ES-355 (the giveaway is the selector switch) and Graham Nash has a late model Fender inspired Vox Clubman. If you look closely, you will notice that Tony Hicks has removed the pickup covers from his guitar - this was quite an innovative move in 1966.  If my memory serves me correctly, Klaus Voorman is substituting on bass for this video performance.

One thing that always bothered me about this tune was the inaccuracy of its lyrical content in the line, "And you can preach about the wisdom of Saul." Actually Solomon was the wise guy, not Saul. King Saul did some very asinine things during his reign.  To be more accurate and to keep the rhyme, the line could be changed to "And you can preach about the teachings of Paul."  Not only is this more accurate from a biblical perspective, it marries Old and New Testament characters while keeping the rhyme intact.

The following live cut was recorded in Croatia and shows the strange humor of the band. It appears that only Clarke, Hicks, and Nash are performing on this version. Hicks is sporting a 6-string banjo that is tuned exactly like a guitar.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Savoy Brown: Blue Matter

Back in 1973, I took advantage of Pittsburgh record store Heads Together’s two-for special and purchased my first Savoy Brown album along with another LP. Interested in getting a Savoy Brown album, I asked my brother Chuck for a recommendation and wisely he suggested their third LP.

The opening track of the LP, “Train to Nowhere,” is probably their best known song from the LP. The song was released as the single from the LP. While it never charted in the US, the LP released in US on Parrot charted at #182.



The lineup of the band included the only member that has stayed with the band from its inception, lead guitarist Kim Simmonds who formed the band with Bob Hall and several others in 1967. The 1968 “Blue Matter” lineup included Simmonds, Hall, lead vocalist Chris Youlden, guitarist Lonesome Dave Preverett, drummer Roger Earle, and bassist Tone Stevens. Preverett, Earle, and Stevens later left the band and formed Foghat.



The LP also included a live recording of “May be Wrong” with Lonesome Dave on vocals.



The song “Louisiana Blues” has a strange resemblance to “Rollin’ and Tumblin’.”



Unfortunately, these are the only three songs available on You Tube. It is one of their better albums and rates with "Boogie Brothers" from 1974 as my two favorites from this classic blues band from England.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Gloria Jones: Tainted Love

Yesterday’s TV Thursday feature was Soft Cell’s 1981/82 hit “Tainted Love”; however, their release was not the original version of the song. Today's Friday First selection is Gloria Jones' 1964 rendition of the song.

Even more surprising is that "Tainted Love" was written by Ed Cobb of The Four Preps. Cobb, who acted as Jones’ producer, discovered the young artist.



Rare LP Version


Released by Champion Records in 1965 as the flipside to “My Bad Boy’s Coming Home,” neither Gloria Jones song charted. A longer version had been recorded and is somewhat a rarity. I don’t believe that it appeared on any of Jones’ albums during the 1960s; however, it could be found on several soul compilations. The song is twice as long as the original single and has a :52 second intro which is terribly long considering that the single’s intro was only :09 seconds.



1976 Remix


After a lackluster solo career, Jones began doing studio sessions and met up with T-Rex’s Marc Bolan with whom she had a child. Jones served as a backing member of T-Rex providing keyboards and backup vocals.

When her original recording of “Tainted Love” became a moderate success in the “Northern Soul” music scene in England, Bolan encouraged her to re-record the song to capitalize on the nightclub popularity of the 1964 recording. Produced by Bolan in 1976 and featured on her solo LP “Vixen,” the updated version of “Tainted Love” produced the same reaction as the original – no chart action. The “Northern Soul” interest in the 1964 prompted Soft Cell to record the song in 1981.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Soft Cell: Tainted Love

The TV Thursday tune is from the hilarious Levi’s Wide Leg Jeans commercial. While the Soft Cell hit version of the song is not used in the commercial, the performance was based on their 1981 recording. Soft Cell was influenced by the genre of “Northern Soul” – a revival of American soul records from the 1960s that were popular in clubs in northern England. See tomorrow’s post for the inspiration tune.

Even if you don’t like the song, you have to scroll down and watch the commercial. It is one of the best.



While the song quickly rose to number one in England during 1981, it was not released in the US until the following year where it took its time climbing to the #8 position. The song was also released as a 12 inch club single that was a medley with “Where did our Love Go.”



Using Soft Cell’s tune as a foundation, producer Spike Jonze created a dark, but memorable TV ad.




Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sequel Songs Part One

What do “Star Wars,” “Alien,” “The Godfather,” “Toy Story,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Rocky,” and “Die Hard” have in common? They were all popular movies that were later followed up by sequels. In most cases, the first movie could stand alone and there would not need to be a sequel. Today’s “Anything Goes” Wednesday looks at three sets of songs that had sequels – thus, today’s selection is called Part One. There will be more to come in the future.

In each case the original song stood alone and the follow-up was due to the success of the first. In most cases, the original artists did the sequel, but not always. I am not including answer songs as these are a separate genre that I’ll address at a later date.

Peggy Sue / Peggy Sue Got Married


The original tune recorded by Buddy Holly and the Crickets was written by Holly, drummer Jerry Allison, and producer Norman Petty. "Peggy Sue" topped the charts at #3 in 1957 and was Holly's second most popular tune. The first being "That'll be the Day."

The song's original working title was Cindy Lou named after Holly’s niece; however, the title was changed to Peggy Sue in deference to Allison’s girlfriend with whom he had a recent break-up. The song was a colossal hit and is listed as #194 on Rolling Stones’ Greatest Songs of All Time. One of the features of the song is the paradiddles played by Allison on the drums.



In December 1958, Buddy Holly had written and recorded a follow-up to his 1957 hit titled “Peggy Sue Got Married.” Recorded only with an acoustic guitar, the demo recording was found after Holly’s untimely death in February 1959.

Three versions of the song were released. Version one featured the demo augmented additional instrumentation and backing vocals by the Ray Charles Singers. This version was released on a single in 1959 and on “The Buddy Holly Story Volume 2.” While the single was a top 15 hit in the UK, it failed to chart in the US. Jack Hansen produced this recording.



A second version of the song was released in 1964 by producer Norman Petty with the Fireballs providing the backing instrumentation to Holly's demo. There are no backing vocals on Petty's production.



Finally in 1979, the original demo version was issued on the six disc collection released by MCA called “The Complete Buddy Holly.”



Taxi / Sequel


In 1972, Harry Chapin released his debut album “Taxi” – the title cut dealing with a cabby named Harry and a rich socialite named Sue. The song is somewhat autobiographical as it is based on a chance meeting of Harry and an old girlfriend while he was a cabby in New York, and not San Francisco as in the song. The song charted at #24 on Billboard’s Hot 100.



In 1980, Chapin recorded his sequel to his hit from eight years earlier and appropriately titled “Sequel.” Ironically, “Sequel” charted slightly higher at #23 than the original release; however, it doesn’t hold up as well as “Taxi.” Both songs featured here are from a live performances; the second occurring 11 months prior Chapin’s death on July 16, 1981.



Your Wildest Dreams / I Know You’re Out There Somewhere


The next two selections written by Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues are not so evident from the lyrics that they are two chapters of the same story. During the MTV age, the videos that accompanied the releases tied the story of love lost and love found – well, sort of found. While Chapin lyrically presented flashbacks, it is the videos that accomplish this visually for these two songs. “Your Wildest Dreams” was the first single from the 1986 LP “The Other Side of Life” and charted in the US at #9 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the Adult Contemporary charts.



“I Know You’re out there Somewhere,” the follow-up to “Your Wildest Dreams,” was issued as the debut single from the album “Sur La Mer” in 1988. This sequel didn’t fare as well as the initial tune charting at #30 on the Hot 100 and at #9 on the AC charts.



More sequel songs will be forthcoming at a later date.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Gráinne Hambly & William Jackson: Eily Gheal Chiun

Today’s traditional Tuesday selection is an instrumental version of “Eily Gheal Chiun.” This Irish love song set in Scotland was written by the legendary 18th century Irish harper Dominick Mongan. Born blind in 1725, Mongan developed an affinity towards the national instrument of Ireland of which he would master.

This rendition was performed by Irish harper Gráinne Hambly and Scottish harper William Jackson who also plays tin whistle. This was recorded by an audience member at the Somerset Harp Festival in July of 2007.



Monday, June 21, 2010

Jackson Browne: Take It Easy

While less of a cover version and more of an alternate release of the Eagles hit of “Take It Easy,” Jackson Browne who co-wrote the tune with Glenn Frey released his version of the song on his second album “For Everyman” in 1973.


While Browne’s album has numerous guest sidemen, notably two members of the Eagles appear: Glenn Frey and Don Henley. The song was started by Browne in 1971 and he gave it Glenn Frey who finished the second verse.

The author and Glenn Frey clowning around backstage in 1985

The Eagles – Hit Version


Released on the debut album by the Eagles, “Take it Easy” was their first hit single. It charted at #12 in 1972. Bernie Leadon plays the banjo on their version of the song.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ollabelle: Soul Of A Man

First of all, allow me to apologize for my absence since last Tuesday. Contracting the computer virus last weekend put a cog in my plans for the blog. By spending a majority of last weekend trying to clear the virus from my machine and trying to save my data, I was not able to pre-write this week’s intended blog entries as I had planned a vacation out of state. While I hastily wrote Monday’s and Tuesday’s posts, I was not able to go beyond this due to limited access to broadband computer access while away.

Now that I am back, I have returned from the depths of the musical abyss to resume the task at hand. Hopefully, the likes of last week’s computer issues will not resurface. So let’s start this week afresh with a Spiritual Sunday tune written by Blind Willie Johnson and recorded in 2004 by Ollabelle – “Soul of a Man.”



Singing lead on this cut is Amy Helm, the daughter of Levon Helm – drummer of The Band. This cut comes from their self-titled debut album that was produced by T-Bone Burnett. Ollabelle was formed in late 2001 at a Sunday night jam session called “Sunday School for Sinners” at New York’s 9C. The song has a unique use of slide bass played by Byron Isaacs. This really makes the tune and the following live video shows his technique.



It's good to be back to zee grooves.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Paul McCartney & Wings: Mull of Kintyre

I always liked this traditional sounding tune by Paul McCartney and Wings about the Kintyre peninsula in Scotland. Paul and Linda McCartney owned a home and a recording studio there. By the time Paul and company released this single, Wings was a three-piece featuring Paul and Linda McCartney and Denny Laine. They are accompanied by the Campbelltown Pipe Band.



Although poorly received in the US (charting at #78), it was a number one hit in the UK, Australia, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. Additionally, “Mull of Kintyre” charted at #2 in Norway and #14 in Sweden. When released, this cut was available only as a 45 rpm single. It was the first single to sell in excess of two million copies in the UK.

 

I've been partial to the bagpipes ever since attending a meeting of the Scottish clans with my cousins at Idlewild Park in Ligonier, PA in 1963. I even owned a set for a number of years. Part of the problem was the pipes, as they were a cheaply made set from Pakistan. I never could get the chanter to sound.

I never had any problems getting the three drones to make sound. Getting them to stay in tune; well, that was another story. I eventually sold them at a yard sale for $80. In advertising the sale in the paper and the local Trading Times, I mentioned the pipes and surprisingly, we had more people ask about the bagpipes than anything else that entire day. Our second customer bought them. Maybe with a better set – I might be a little more attuned to my Scottish roots. Either that or I can scare away small animals and little children.

Live Version


From the Mike Yarwood’s 1977 Christmas Special



Monday, June 14, 2010

Bassboosa: Wicked Game

Sorry this was late, I’ve battled with a computer virus all weekend and I have it finally cleaned off my machine – all I have to do is rebuild the permissions so I can open my files as I have been locked out. This is not a terribly difficult thing to accomplish, but it is time consuming and a real nuisance. My daughter had the same virus in February and I had to completely redo her machine.

Fortunately when the attack came through an Apple Quicktime file, I had the presence of mind to shut down and log in under a second account and begin the tedious process of rebuilding my computer file structure. Virus protection did not catch it until the virus launched its relentless attack and it was too late to stop it from replicating itself what seemed to be a hundred times.

It boggles my mind that someone could be so mean and devious to do this someone else. For other folk, I know it costs money to get this type of a problem fixed; however, having some experience with it before and knowing a small amount concerning computing, I was able to fix it myself. The evil bug was set up to mimic actual program files and had installed three fake recycle bins that served to recycle the virus once you deleted the file. The trick was having a second administrator’s account on my machine saved time and money.

In light of this near disaster, it truly was a wicked game someone played on me - an unsuspecting web visitor. So I am back to near normality or as close as normal as I can get. I was thinking about this weekend and it truly was a “Wicked Game.” Chris Isaak had a smash hit (#6) with this tune in 1989, but since this is covers Monday, here’s Bassboosa’s version of the tune using Dobro® rather than the characteristic twang of James Calvin Wilsey electric guitar.



Tim Clarke and Jasmine Badir are Bassboosa and they met while working in a London record store in 2001. By 2002, they were recording and have had a nominal amount of indy success. While I think they do an excellent job on this tune, it is difficult to surpass Isaak’s original. The open two notes played by Wilsey of this song written in the Dorian mode set the stage for everything that comes next. What a great tune.




Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sister Rosetta Tharpe: Up Above My Head

I first saw this video nearly two years ago when John Sellards sent me a link to this song. I had heard of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, but don’t think I had ever seen any of her videos. I was blown away by her performance. She was between 48 and 52 years of age when she recorded these two videos of the song she and Marie Knight recorded in the late 1940s for Decca Records.



Sister Tharpe is joined by the Olivet Institutional Baptist Church Choir on a TV Special from circa 1963. Note she changed the lyrics for this TV presentation from “I really do believe that there’s a heaven somewhere” to “I really do believe that there’s joy somewhere.”



She is just an amazing guitarist and is playing a rare polar white Gibson Les Paul Custom with gold hardware. Gibson only made this model with the Les Paul name from 1961 to 1963. The Les Paul guitar that was popular in the 1950s was losing market share to Fender’s guitar models such as the Stratocaster. Although the denser Les Paul had dropped in popularity, the Les Paul brand name was still viable and Gibson applied it to a new double cutaway design that they began producing in 1961.



After Les Paul complained about not approving this new model of the guitar, Gibson removed his name in 1963 and marketed the guitar as the SG – or “Solidbody Guitar.” The SGs that were originally branded as “Les Paul” models are highly sought after as collectibles. Recently, I saw a Les Paul Custom like Rosetta Tharpe played for sale for $60,000. That’s quite a mark-up for a guitar that originally cost $395 in 1961; however, in 1961, not many folks could afford $375 for an electric guitar.

1961 Gibson Catalog

Called the “fretless wonder,” you can see the ease of playability as Rosetta flies up and down the fretboard. Recently, Gibson has reissued the Les Paul Custom (with the LP name attached). Although you could probably pick one up for $3800, the list price is $4495.00. Again, the mark up is incredible.



While it’s not seen on this video, the other films from the same session show her amplifier – a Gibson GA-8 Discoverer or GA-8T Discoverer Tremelo. This is a great little amp as I have the sister version produced by Gibson subsidiary Epiphone – the EA-35T Devon Tremelo. Although the wattage of these amps was low (10 watts through a Jensen 12 inch speaker) by comparison to Fender's Twin-12, they scream. I bought mine for $60 alongside Route 30 east of Chester, WV during the summer of 1975.

A guy had a table selling various and sundry items to pay some bills. I went back across the river to East Liverpool, Ohio and borrowed a guitar from Rick Cowles to see if the amp really worked.  The seller had a generator present and the amp worked like a charm. I believe my Epiphone was made in the late fifties and it is identical to the Gibson model with the exception of having gray Toltex instead of white and the obvious Epiphone name plate. I have no idea why the Epiphone model numbers ran higher - but all of the Epiphone amps were listed under higher catalog numbers for some reason or another.



This second solo rendition of the same song has Rosetta playing a Gibson Barney Kessel model – man, did she have great taste in instruments or what. Considered a jazz guitar, it was one of the series of custom models Gibson made via artist endorsement during the 1960s.



The Barney Kessel model joined the likes of other signature models named for Les Paul, the Everly Brothers, Johnny Smith, Tal Farlow, and Trini Lopez. In the 1970s, Gibson produced the Howard Roberts acoustic/electric guitar. She plays the guitar unamplified.
 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Deep Purple Before Smoke On The Water

During the summer of 1973, Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” single and “Machine Head” LP brought the band into mainstream popularity. While they had several hit records, many of their earlier recordings were unknown to mainstream audiences. Some of this music was excellent and gives a picture of the band when the main instrument appears to be Jon Lord’s organ rather than Ritchie Blackmore’s guitar. “Smoke on the Water” adjusted this balance.

Since I typically feature LPs on Saturday, I am doing a pre-“Smoke on the Water” feature with a song from all of the albums and some non album singles from before the release of “Machine Head. ” There is one notable exception; I will not be featuring anything from their fourth LP: “Concerto for Group and Orchestra” with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

My first Purple album was “Fireball” that I purchased at a flea market in 1972. Later, I was able to find the first two US LPs and some early singles on the original Tetragrammaton Records label when they were eventually released from warehouses to the cutout bins in the early 1970s. This was after Tetragrammaton’s bankruptcy proceedings were concluded. At the same time, Warner Brothers reissued the albums as two double album sets. Tetreagrammaton Records was owned by the Campbell, Silver, and Cosby Corporation with comedian Bill Cosby being the third partner in the endeavor.

The Tetragrammaton name came from the term for the Hebrew designation of God’s identity from the Old Testament. Literally, Tetragrammaton in Greek means four letters; and prior to the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew bible when vowels were added, the name of God was represented by four Hebrew consonants יהוה – which in English is represented by YHWH or JHVH,  This name, translated as "I Am" is pronounced as Yahweh or Jehovah. Up to the time of the Masorites, Hebrew writing contained no written vowels as their inclusion was implied by context, but not formally recorded.

Early Deep Purple Tetragrammaton Releases

Albums:

“Shades of Deep Purple” T-102 – charted in the US at #24
“The Book of Taliesyn” T-107 – charted in the US at #54
“Deep Purple” T-119 – charted in the US at #162
“Concerto for Group and Orchestra” T-131 (Later released as WB-1860) – never charted in the US.

Singles:

Hush” / “One More Rainy Day” #1503 – charted in the US at #4
“Kentucky Woman”/”Hard Road” (AKA “Wring that Neck”) #1508 – charted in the US at #38
“River Deep/Mountain High” / “Listen, Read, Learn On” #1514 – charted in the US at #53
“Emmaretta”/”Bird has Flown” #1519 – charted in the US at #128
“Hallelujah (I am the Preacher)”/ “April (Part 1)” #1539 – charted in the US at #108

Early Deep Purple Warner Brothers Releases

Albums

“Concerto for Group and Orchestra” WB-1860 (Originally released as T-131) – never charted in the US.
“In Rock” – WB-1877 charted in the US at #143
“Fireball” – BS-2564 charted in the US at #32

Singles:

“Black Night” / “Speed King” WB7405 – never charted in the US
“Child in Time (Part 1)” / “Child in Time (Part 2)” Promo release only – never charted in the US
“Strange Kind of Woman” / “I’m Alone” WB7493 – never charted in the US
“Fireball” / “Anyone’s Daughter” WB7528 – never charted in the US

Prelude: Happiness / I’m So Glad

Since I’ve already featured the top 5 single “Hush” in a former post, I decided to use my favorite cut from Deep Purple’s debut LP “Shades of Deep Purple.”



Having been familiar with Skip James’ classic “I’m So Glad” from “Goodbye Cream,” I’ve always preferred Deep Purple’s version. The two times I performed with the band “City Chicken,” I sang this tune and played acoustic/electric guitar. It is one of my favorite songs of all time – no matter which version. The original lead vocalist Rod Evans is handling the vocals.




Anthem

The band’s second LP, “Book of Taliesyn” is my least favorite album of their early works - well, second least favorite - "Concerto for Group and Orchestra" would probably rank as my least favorite. One of the first cuts to be recorded for the second LP features a classical interlude showing the influence of Jon Lord’s musical tastes rising to the top.


While the song has been compared to the first King Crimson LP, I beg to differ pointing to similarities with the Nice and the classical workings of Keith Emerson. Ritchie Blackmore has an interesting solo – which is an indication of some of later work in Blackmore's Night.



Emmeratta

Originally available only as a non-LP single, “Emmeratta” was a Purple classic sung in concert for many years. The song was released between the LPs “The Book of Taliesyn” and “Deep Purple.”



Lalena

I debated on whether I should do a feature of the third eponymous LP “Deep Purple,” as it is my favorite early album by the band. I will do the album feature in the future as I really like the idea of featuring some of the early Purple recordings in toto. I couldn't find the American release of this LP in 1973, so I got the UK import on Harvest.  It was a little more expensive, but well worth it.



Lalena, written by Donovan P. Leitch, is my favorite song from the LP as well as my favorite cut by Donovan. The album did poorly in the US partially blamed on the choice of using the third panel of Hieronymus Bosch’s triptych “The Garden of Earthly Delights.” Reportedly, US audiences unfamiliar with Bosch’s style tended view this section of the painting as being Satanic and thus many stores refused to stock the album. Despite this misinterpretation of the meaning and source of the cover, their third album is truly one of their best early recordings.



Hallelujah (I am the Preacher)

Another non-LP single for Deep Purple, “Hallelujah (I am the Preacher)” was released simultaneously with the “Deep Purple” album. Although the full length version of the flip side, “April (Part 1)” appeared on the album, “Hallelujah (I am the Preacher)” was not as fortunate. I have a copy of the original Tetragrammaton release of this single and it has always been a favorite of mine. The video is a pseudo-live recording of the tune.



Black Night

Another single only issue, “Black Night” was slated to be released by Tetragrammaton, but was lost in the shuffle in the label’s bankruptcy proceedings. Warners released the song as their first Deep Purple single nearly a year after the rest of the world. The opening guitar riff reminds me of the Blues Magoos’ “(We ain’t got) Nothing Yet.” Ritchie Blackmore's work is featured on this cut along with Ian Gillan, the band’s new vocalist. The song was the highest charting single for the band in the UK peaking at #2.




Child in Time

Warner Brothers began heavily promoting Deep Purple with the release of "In Rock" and album radio began a love affair with the band that exists to this day.


While this single was commercially released elsewhere, I believe that Warner Brothers only released it as a radio station promo copy only. I cannot seem to find any mention on a US commercial release. It is just as well, as the single chopped the song into two parts. According to the liner notes, the song was "the story of a loser - it could be you."



Strange Kind of Woman

As I mentioned earlier, “Fireball” was my first Deep Purple album. This tune only appeared on the US and Japanese releases of the album – elsewhere “Demon’s Eye” appeared in its place.



On the live LP, “Deep Purple in Concert,” Ian Gillan introduced the song, “It was about a friend of ours who got mixed up with a very evil woman and it was a sad story. They got married in the end. And a few days after they got married, the lady died.” Very strange kind of woman – eh?




Friday, June 11, 2010

Soul Brothers Six: Some Kind of Wonderful

In the mid sixties, John Ellison joined the Rochester, NY based Soul Brothers Five. The addition of a new lead singer prompted the change of the band’s name to Soul Brothers Six – a name that continued until disbanding. Over the course of the next several years, some of the original members dropped out and the band had recorded several singles – but the singles were nothing of note. In 1967, a Philadelphia DJ introduced the band to Atlantic Records A&R (Artist and Repertoire) Director, producer, and corporate partner, Jerry Wexler.

Under his production arm, the Soul Brothers Six recorded their most famous song to date, “Some Kind of Wonderful” written by lead singer John Ellison. Wexler, who reportedly coined the term “Rhythm and Blues,” had been responsible for the chart successes of Ray Charles, Ruth Brown, Aretha Franklin, and Wilson Picket. Based on Dusty Springfield's recommendation, Wexler also signed to Atlantic Records, a little known act from England, Led Zeppelin.



The song never received the chart success it deserved only reaching #91 on Billboard’s Hot 100. Several other sides were recorded but success was not forthcoming and the band was dropped by Wexler and Atlantic. The next year, a cover by the Fantastic Johnny C. (of “Boogaloo down Broadway” fame) was released; however, his version only charted a little higher at #87.



John Ellison would eventually earn the revenue he deserved for penning this classic when Grand Funk Railroad recorded the song for their 1974 “All the Girls in the World Beware!!!” LP. The song was an instant hit and peaked at #3 in February 1975 and even 35 years later remains one of their more popular tunes.



As for Wexler, without whom this song may have never been heard, was reportedly asked in an interview several years before his 2008 death what he wanted on his tombstone. Without hesitation, he replied, “More bass.” Unfortunately this tongue in cheek declaration never came to fruition as his grave marker states simply, “He Changed the World” . . . and he did.




Thursday, June 10, 2010

Goldfish: Fort Knox

I happen to love the new Kia Soul commercials with the hamsters – a very interesting concept to say the least. One of the features of these commercials is the ultra hip music by a South African duo named Goldfish. Goldfish creates music with a combination of real instrumentation and samples. Today's song "Fort Knox" appears, however, to be completely electronically constructed. The piano riffs seem very similar; however, I cannot identify the source from where this sample was lifted. Allen Toussaint? Maybe.



I know people are going to comment – “This song is totally out of character with what you normally like.” Perhaps; however, I was into techno pop in the early 80s and this song is just an extension of that style. It also shows that I am very eclectic in my musical choices and usually listen to just about anything – if it’s good – and this is. It has been a while since I’ve fooled with it, but I have experimented with sequencing with my Alesis MIDI sequencer and drum machine as well as creating entire songs from samples with Sony’s Acid Pro software, so I can appreciate creating something from basically nothing.

KIA Soul Commercial





While the car is a little boxy for my taste, the song makes me want to move beyond the rat race (hamster race?). Goldfish is Domenic Peters who plays keyboards and stand up bass and David Poole who adds tenor and soprano saxophones. Both handle production duties and effects.


Guest vocalist Sakhile Moleshe is also credited with co-writing “Fort Knox” with Peters and Poole.

Live Version





Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Beatles Lawsuit Songs

Considered the greatest rock band of all time, the Beatles ushered in the British Invasion in 1964; however, like some of their contemporaries, their members were guilty of musical plagiarism on least three tunes. One of these was a sin of omission, while two others were sins of commission.

It is possible that even with the two sins of commission, the plagiarism that occurred may have happened unintentionally and subconsciously. Be that as it may, there are at least three tunes that required either legal action or the threat thereof.

Kansas City / Hey, Hey, Hey


This recording from “Beatles for Sale” and “Beatles VI” was the sin of omission, as the original pressings of these albums neglected to credit Richard Penniman (AKA Little Richard) with the song “Hey, Hey, Hey,” as part of this medley with “Kansas City.” Why this occurred is not known because this particular medley of "Kansas City" and "Hey, Hey, Hey" was learned from Little Richard – wooo! (Sorry, I just had to do that).




As it originally appeared, “Kansas City,” was credited to songwriters Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller – and presumably, they received the entire songwriting royalties. When the album was released, attorneys for Little Richard’s publisher Venice Music contacted EMI and later pressings of these albums were corrected and the appropriate mechanical royalties were distributed to both the writer and the publisher.




Come Together / You Can’t Catch Me


The opening cut of the “Abbey Road” album and double sided single (with “Something”) was also embroiled in controversy being similar (but slower) to Chuck Berry’s “You Can’t Catch Me.” The crux of the lawsuit was the opening line of “Here comes old flattop, he come groovin’ up slowly” was admittedly lifted from Berry’s song where he sang, “Here comes a flattop, he was movin’ up with me.”



Five years after its release, Morris Levy of Big Seven Music sued John Lennon for copyright infringement. Lennon settled out of court and as part of the settlement promised to record three songs owned by Levy’s company: “You Can’t Catch Me,” “Ya Ya,” and “Angel Baby.” Although all three were recorded, Lennon released “You Can’t Catch Me” and “Ya Ya” for his “Rock ‘N Roll” LP. When the release of “Angel Baby” was not forthcoming, Levy sued Lennon for breach of contract and collected a judgment of nearly $7,000. “Angel Baby” was later released after Lennon’s death.



My Sweet Lord / He’s So Fine


Written in 1968 for Billy Preston, George Harrison finally got around to recording his own composition for his monumental “All Things Must Pass” triple album set. The single, released in January 1971, was a phenomenal success in both the UK and the US topping charts in both countries. By that spring, allegations began appearing in the press that Harrison had lifted the melody for "My Sweet Lord" from the 1963 Chiffon’s hit “He’s So Fine.” Ronnie Mack was the author of "He's So Fine."  Harrison denied that he plagiarized the former hit stating that it was the Edwin Hawkins’ Singers version of “Oh Happy Day” that inspired him to write the song.



When the allegations surfaced, Harrison’s royalty payments were suspended and Bright Tunes Music sued George Harrison’s publishing concern Harrisongs Music. It was determined that Harrison subconsciously copied the former top five hit and that he owed Bright Tunes Music the lion’s share of the royalties of “My Sweet Lord” as well as the mechanical royalties associated with the song’s appearance on “All Things Must Pass.”



Complications arose when former Beatles' manager Allen Klein purchased Bright Tunes Music, which delayed the trial even further. Ironically, during the first phase of litigation Klein had served as an adviser to Harrison. With Klein now as the plaintiff, the settlement included Harrison's purchasing Bright Tunes Music from Klein for $578,000 and thus securing his rights to “My Sweet Lord.”

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Steeleye Span: Van Diemen's Land

Today’s feature is one of the many versions of the traditional tune “Van Diemen’s Land.” This 19th century song is about poachers who were convicted, sentenced, and deported to the British penal colony on Van Diemen’s Land. When the colony achieved home rule status in 1856, it was officially renamed as Tasmania in honor of the first European to visit the island. In 1642, Dutch explorer Abel Tasman named his discovery after Anthony van Diemen, the Governor General of the Dutch East Indies. Tasmania was one of six British colonies that were federated into Australia in 1901.

Steeleye Span’s Maddy Prior tells this story as the female protagonist Susan Summers; the numerous other versions are usually sung from a male perspective even when performed by female vocalists (for example Shirley Collins). There are English and Irish versions of this song that have some radical differences, but also some lyrical similarities. The 2004 LP “They Called Her Babylon” marked the return of Prior and her husband bassist Rick Kemp to the band.

Steeleye Span's recording of "Van Diemen's Land" should not be confused with the U2 song of the same title. From "Rattle and Hum," U2's song has original lyrics written by The Edge and sung to the tune of "the Water is Wide."



Lyrics


I am a girl from England, Susan Summers is me name
For fourteen years transported was for taking of some game
As for us wretched females, we never see a man
Though there's twenty to one woman on Van Diemen’s Land.

There’s Poor Tom Brown from Nottingham, Jack Williams and Poor Joe
They were all daring poachers as the country well does know
At night they were trappended by the keepers out of hand
For fourteen years transported to Van Diemen’s Land.

When we set sail from England, we landed in the bay
We had rotten straw for bedding, we dare not to say nay
Our cots were fenced with wire, we slumber when we can
To drive away the wolves upon Van Diemen’s Land.

Come all you gallant poachers, give ear unto me song
It is a bit of good advice although it is not long
Lay by your dog and snare, to you I do speak plain
If you knew the hardships, you'd never poach again

The first day we landed upon that fatal shore
The planters they came flocking round, twenty score and more
They dragged the men like horses and sold them out of hand
And yoked 'em to the plough all on Van Diemen’s Land.

Sometimes when I’m sleeping, I have a pleasant dream
With me dear one I’m sitting down by some pearling stream
With me friends telling stories around me they all stand
But I wake up broken hearted on Van Diemen’s Land.

Come all you gallant poachers, give ear unto me song
It is a bit of good advice although it is not long
Lay by your dog and snare, to you I do speak plain
If you knew the hardships, you'd never.

God bless our families, likewise that happy shore
That isle of sweet contentment that we shall see no more
For a planter's bought me freedom, he's married me out of hand
Good usage then I’ll give him on Van Diemen’s Land.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Cat Empire: Sunny Afternoon

I got thinking about this song yesterday as the rain made the entire afternoon very dismal. I was ready for a “Sunny Afternoon.” I began searching for covers of this song originally done by my favorite hillbillies – Muswell Hillbillies that is – The Kinks. I found this version by Cat Empire from Melbourne, Australia. The Cat Empire, who sport an eclectic mix of styles, grew out of a nine piece jazz ensemble called Jazz Cat.

It took me awhile to figure out the rhythm instrument that is vamping chords. I originally thought that it was a chord harmonica and I got out mine and was able to replicate the sound to an extent. As I listened to the song further, there are telltale signs that this is not a harmonica in any shape, form, or fashion.

There are a couple of instances where there are grace notes being played and a couple of chord changes that would require acrobatics to occur on a chord harmonica. The instrument appears to be a melodica – I got mine out and bingo, I could do the grace notes as well as the quick chord changes. I really like this rendition that comes from the various artists compilation – “Like a Version, Volume Two.”



The Kinks Original


I love this video of “Sunny Afternoon” that was obviously shot in the middle of winter. Watch drummer Mick Avory on this video. The song only charted at #14 in the US, but was a number 1 hit in the UK, Canada, and the Netherlands. Ironically, this single was released this week 44 years ago.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Iona: Chi Rho

For our Spiritual Sunday selection we head to the Inner Hebrides to the island of Iona where a strong Christian presence developed during the first millennia A.D. In 563 A.D., a monastic leader Colm Cille, also known as Columba, was exiled from Ireland and he and 12 followers landed on Iona where they would build a monastery. It is thought that the ancient illuminated manuscript known as the Book of Kells was at least partially produced on Iona during the late 8th century.

Chi Rho page from the Book of Kells (click for a larger version)

This version of the Gospel of Christ contains beautiful illustrations that accompany the hand written text. One of the better known of the 340 folios is the page termed Chi Rho after the first two Greek letters in the word “Christ” – Χριστός. Chi, resembling the Latin X, but producing a “ch” sound and Rho, which appears as the Latin/English letter “P,” but is the equivalent to “R” are the focal point of this page. The Lindisfarne Gospel, produced in the same era, has a Chi Rho page as well. The combined form of these two letters or Christogram () has been in use since the time of Constantine who is said to be the first to utilize this symbol that has continued to the present. Actually, both manuscript examples add the third letter of Χριστός - an iota or Greek equivalent of "I."

Chi Rho page from the Lindisfarne Gospel (click for a larger version)

The progressive/Christian Celtic band Iona took their name from the island where three principal members of the band met in the late 1980s. In 1992, Iona released the concept LP: “The Book of Kells.” “Chi Rho” was the featured cut from the LP and quickly became one of their fans’ favorite pieces. The only problem with the song is that lead vocalist Joanne Hogg mispronounces the Greek letters (take it from me – I have a minor in Greek). While she sings “Chee” – Ro, the correct pronunciation of Chi is “Kie”; therefore, the title should sound similar to the capital of Egypt – “Cairo.” Despite the obvious (from a Greek perspective) mispronunciation, the message filters through.

Live Version from Dutch Television




Studio Version




Lyrics


Verse 1
Color of green
Green for the vine
For the leaves and the branches
The tree of life

Color of red
Red for the wounds
That are deeper than I can know
How deep the flow

Chorus
By Him all things, were created
By Him all things, were created
And the fullness, of the Godhead
Is in Him
Chi-Rho

Verse 2
Color of gold
Gold for a throne
For the light that is blazing
From His face
Colorless white
For purity
White as snow, the colors flow
The mystery of Chi-Rho



Saturday, June 5, 2010

Bruce Cockburn: Stealing Fire

Over the last year, I’ve had the opportunity to feature a number of personal firsts on this blog.

There are still a few firsts I have to cover and one of those is today’s feature – my first CD. In 1984, I had just taken over the reins as program director of WOAY-FM. While the station had an excellent format under its previous operations manager, the Album Oriented Rock format never generated that much in advertising dollars despite the fact there were numerous listeners to the station. Charlie Jennings, my predecessor as PD, and the person who hired me to do mornings in 1983 really deserves the credit for his Adult Rock format. In addition, the station had a number of talented announcers that were well liked in the market.

My task was to transform it from and AOR station into a Contemporary Hit Radio or CHR station and go head to head with my former employer WCIR-FM. The spring Arbitron ratings were quite favorable to us and this netted the station Parallel Three (small market) CHR/Top 40 reporting status in Radio & Records, Billboard, and Cashbox. The station had already been reporting to Radio & Records as an AOR station; however, CHR received more notice from the record companies and concert promoters and it was thought that this format change would net more in sales. The formula worked for a while.

Because we were in a transitional phase in 1984, I was receiving product from the record companies that included both AOR and CHR releases. Often the (non dance mix) 12 inch singles were issued to AOR radio to generate initial interest; therefore, we had a slight advantage in this regard. During that summer, A&M (who was distributing Gold Mountain Records) sent me the latest Bruce Cockburn (pronounced – CO-burn) release in three formats: vinyl, high quality cassette, and CD. Additionally, the singles from the LP were issued in 7 inch and 12 inch formats.



Cockburn’s “Stealing Fire” has the distinction of being my first CD. In 1984, the station didn’t have a CD player (and didn’t have one by the time I left in 1987) and neither did I. I got my first CD player a year later when I placed 21st in the Active Industry Research’s fourth “Pick the Hits” contest. I placed in the winners’ circle five times receiving both cash and prizes. Until I received that CD player, I was content to listen to the cassette. Five months after my promotion, I purchased a new 1984 Chevy Cavalier. It was my first car with a cassette player and “Stealing Fire” was the first cassette played.

Lovers in a Dangerous Time

While the first single, “Lovers in a Dangerous Time,” had greater commercial appeal and a more mainstream sound, it failed to chart in the US. It peaked at #24 in Canada, but that success did not translate across the 49th parallel and the St. Lawrence Seaway. If you look closely in the video, you’ll notice that Fergus Marsh of Cockburn’s band is playing a Chapman Stick®. This instrument is used throughout the LP and is responsible for giving the album its signature sound.



Making Contact

I’m not sure if the second single, “Making Contact” was released in the US – if so, it performed as poorly as the first – but it still is an excellent song. Even in his native country, the song failed to break the Top 40 and landed at #80. Here’s a live version from a 1986 concert in Munich.



If I had a Rocket Launcher

The third single was an MTV favorite and “(If I had a) Rocket Launcher” had enough angst that its album radio airplay carried it to 88 while in Canada it just bubbled under the top 40 at 49. Like much of the album, the lyrical content dealt with the horrors and tragedies that Cockburn witnessed firsthand while on humanitarian trips to Central America.



Maybe the Poet

I truly believe that Bruce Cockburn is one of the more introspective songwriters of the last 35 years. It is unfortunate that he is not as well known in the US as he should be. Additionally, there is a dearth of material from this album on YouTube. I had planned to use “Sahara Gold” as one of the cuts, but YouTube removed it this week. Therefore, I will leave you with one final cut: “Maybe the Poet.”


Friday, June 4, 2010

Johnny Winter And: Rock And Roll Hoochie Koo

“Who is 5 foot, 4 inches tall, plays a mean guitar, & whose first group scored a US number 1 hit record in 1965?“

Nils Lofgren (ZZZZTTT) – well, he plays a mean guitar, but he’s only 5’3”, and although he played piano on Neil Young’s “Southern Man” as part Crazy Horse, it was not a hit single. Besides that, Nils next project, the band Grin, never did achieve the popularity it deserved.

OK, I’ll ask again, “Who is 5 foot, 4 inches tall, plays a mean guitar, & whose group scored a US number 1 hit record in 1965?”

Suzi Quatro (ZZZZTTT) – she is 5 foot even and looked similar to our mystery person, but sadly Ms. Leather Tuscadaro played bass most of the time and although “Can the Can” went number one in Australia and throughout Europe – it was largely ignored in the US. Although, Quatro does bear a striking resemblance to our mystery artist, unfortunately it’s not her.

Quatro (left) and Derringer (right) - or is the other way around?

The artist in question was part of the rock band the McCoys who recorded the #1 hit “Hang on Sloopy” Rick Zehringer, who later changed his name to Derringer, because of the derringer pistol used on the Bang Records logo, is the 5’4” guitar virtuoso in question.

Towards the end of 1973, Rick Derringer released his long awaited solo album “All American Boy.” Drawing from his musical experience, he opened the album with a song that he recorded not once but twice in previous groups: Johnny Winter And and Edgar Winter’s White Trash. The two previous versions or “Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo” featured not Derringer on vocals, but rather Johnny Winter. Although not part of Edgar Winter’s White Trash, Johnny appeared as a guest on his younger brother’s live album “Roadwork.”

Johnny Winter And – does it first


Although a studio version of this tune is not available on YouTube, a live 1971 recording showcases a slightly different guitar arrangement and slower tempo than Rick’s later solo hit. The original version appeared on the Johnny Winter And LP in 1970 and featured Rick and Johnny’s brother Edgar. Therefore, Johnny's version qualifies as our Friday Firsts feature.



Edgar Winter’s White Trash – more of Johnny Winter and Edgar and Rick


On White Trash’s second LP, “Roadwork,” Edgar’s older brother and former bandmate in Johnny Winter And is featured on one cut – you guessed it – “Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo.” You can hear how the song had evolved at this point with the influence of Edgar Winter’s keyboard arrangement .



Rick Derringer’s hit version


From “All American Boy,” Rick Derringer’s version of his own composition topped the charts in 1974 at #23 with his first solo record on the Blue Sky label.