Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Chieftains & Ry Cooder: Dunmore Lassies

What happens when you combine two types of roots music? Something magical as did with the pairing of The Chieftains and Ry Cooder on the instrumental “Dunmore Lassies.” The mixing of Celtic instrumentation with an acoustic blues guitar doesn’t sound like it would mix on the surface, but it does and provides a treat that should tantalize the palate of any musical aficionado. Just think of the possibilities of uilleann pipes, bodhran, and slide guitar.

“Dunmore Lassies” appeared on The Chieftains 1995 album “The Long Black Veil” which features guest appearances by Sting, Mick Jagger, Sinéad O’Connor, Van Morrison, Mark Knopfler, The Rolling Stones, Marianne Faithfull, and Tom Jones. Cooder appears on two cuts: our selection and “Coast of Malabar.”

Monday, November 29, 2010

Luke Doucet & The White Falcon: Ophelia

On Mondays, I feature cover songs that give a new perspective on old songs. Originally recorded by The Band, a live version of “Ophelia” is interpreted by Luke Doucet and The White Falcon. The band is named for Doucet’s guitar – a reissue version of the famous Gretsch White Falcon guitar – the same guitar that was notably used by both Neil Young and Stephen Stills.

The White Falcon was Gretsch’s answer to Gibson’s 400 CES – its competitor’s top of the line archtop electric guitar that was improvement to the acoustic Super 400 with a cutaway body and a thicker top to reduce feedback. Gretsch’s White Falcon was an attractive alternative for many rock players and Luke Doucet shows how this monster of an electric guitar purrs and growls on stage.

Live Version from The Band

Here’s an energetic version of “Ophelia” by The Band with Levon Helm on vocals. This recording comes from The Band’s 1976 album and film “The Last Waltz.”

Studio Version from The Band

This version of “Ophelia” came from The Band’s 1975 album of all original material named “Northern Lights – Southern Cross.” While a horn section accompanied The Band on the version from “The Last Waltz,” the brass, woodwinds, and saxophones were played by keyboardist Garth Hudson and the trombone was added by bassist Rick Danko.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Mark Heard: Heart of Hearts

A few weeks ago I featured a Mark Heard song from his final LP prior to his death. Today’s Spiritual Sunday song comes from his 1982 “Victims of the Age” LP.

The unique sound of the guitar on “Heart of Hearts” is an electric 12-string. I tried finding out what kind of 12-string electric Heard used, but was unfruitful in determining what brand instrument he employed on this recording. It’s a great song and I hope you enjoy it.


Tears in the city
But nobody's really surprised, you know
My heart's taking a beating
Existence is bleeding me dry, you know

But way down in my heart of hearts
Way down in my soul of souls
Way down I know that I am a fortunate man
To have known divine love

The world is in shambles
I'm just a young man but it's been getting
a little bit old to me
I'm already aching
The years have been taking
a little bit of a toll on me

But way down in my heart of hearts
Way down in my soul of souls
Way down I know that I am a fortunate man
To have known Divine love

Two in the morning
The siren is a warning that
everything is not quite alright
The city is sleeping
I'm down on my knees in the night

But way down in my heart of hearts
Way down in my soul of souls
Way down I know that I am a fortunate man
To have known Divine love

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Rolling Stones: Let It Bleed

I was looking over my Facebook page this week and found where I prepared a list of my top 15 albums in 15 minutes. I noticed one of several on the list that I had not featured on my typical Saturday album feature – one of these was the classic Rolling Stones LP: “Let it Bleed.”

It doesn’t get much better than this album that was the last to feature Brian Jones (playing autoharp and percussion) on two cuts and the first to feature Mic Taylor as the Stone’s lead guitarist also on two songs. Keith Richards handled the majority of the guitar chores. Most of the cuts have the Stones as a four piece with the addition of some well known session players.

Monkey Man

Now which three songs to feature – that’s going to be the tough part. So much of the charm of this album isn’t just the Stone’s performance – it’s the work of the sidemen, session musicians, and the Stones introducing new instruments into the mix. What I always thought was Nicky Hopkins playing piano on the intro on “Monkey Man” is actually Bill Wyman playing vibraphone. Producer Jimmy Miller guests on tambourine. It’s a great tune all around and you occasionally hear it on TV shows.

Midnight Rambler

One of the two songs featuring Brian Jones is the classic Stones’ blues original “Midnight Rambler.” Jones is playing percussion on this cut. I love Mick Jagger’s amplified harmonica on this number. It goes from simple to complex and the amp gives it that eerie Chicago blues sound. Keith Richards is playing the slide guitar on this one.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Probably the best known tune on “Let It Bleed” is “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” Rolling Stone, magazine not the group, named this song as the 100th most popular song of all time. Strongly influenced by the production on The Beatles' hit “Hey Jude,” Mick Jagger sought out to create an epic recording for the Stones. “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” has been featured in countless films and TV episodes. It strikes a chord with people – how about a C2 then an F then a C2 then an F.

The Mr. Jimmy in the lyrics is not Jimi Hendrix, but rather producer Jimmy Miller. Blood, Sweat, and Tears founder Al Kooper plays piano, organ, and French horn – which reportedly he learned to play for this session. Frankly, the song would not be the same without it and Jack Nitzsche’s arrangement for the London Bach Choir. Rocky Dijon adds the congas to the track which gives it nice feel during the up tempo portion. Charlie Watts was missing from this session and Jimmy Miller played the drums.

The Album in its Entirety

While my above features is limited to side two, the entire album is great and I provide a You Tube playlist that features the album from beginning to end. Enjoy one of my favorites. It kicks off with “Gimme Shelter” – another song that has been of late featured in many films and features the amplified harp of Mick Jagger.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Flogging Molly: Black Friday Rule

Well – it’s Black Friday in America – a term that has become a double entendre. Being the busiest shopping day, it can mean that a retailer that has been in the “red” during the fourth quarter can be in the “black.”

Because so many are flooding the stores and clogging the highways, it has taken on ominous connotations as well. Since this is a day that is loved by some for the deals that occur and hated by so many because of the madness, I have suspended my usual Friday feature for a little Celtic angst.

That angst is represented by the clash [note: this is a pun] of two diverse musical cultures – traditional Celtic music and punk rock. The result is Celtic Punk and has been firmly established by groups such as the Pogues, the Dropkick Murphys, and today’s feature Flogging Molly. From Los Angeles, Flogging Molly was co-founded by Fastway guitarist Dave King in 1993.

Fitting with the spirit of the day, our feature tune is “Black Friday Rule.” It is not a style that everyone will like and with most punk influenced bands, I find the vocals a little less to my liking, but it is music that is full of energy.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Andrew Gold: Thank You For Being A Friend

In keeping our Thanksgiving theme this week, our TV Thursday song is the theme from the popular TV show of the 80s and 90s – the Golden Girls. Although version of “Thank you for being a Friend” used in the show was sung by Cynthia Fee, the original was written, recorded, and performed by Andrew Gold.

Andrew Gold has music in his genes, as his mother is singer Marni Nixon and his father was Ernest Gold who was an Oscar winning film scorer. “Thank you for being a Friend” charted at #25 in 1978 as a single from Gold’s LP “All this and Heaven Too.” Thank you for being a friend and have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Cynthia Fee’s TV version

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

John Hiatt: Thank You Girl

Day three of our Thanksgiving week features another thankful song – John Hiatt’s “Thank You Girl,” which is not to be confused with The Beatles' song of the same name. Released in 1987, Hiatt’s first single from his “Bring the Family” charted at #27. While Hiatt plays acoustic guitar, the slide guitar is by the legendary Ry Cooder. Other well known musicians on this piece include Nick Lowe on bass and Jim Keltner on drums.

I don’t know about you, but when I hear a song I hear influences – some intentional and some coincidental. Parts of Hiatt’s song reminds me of two other tunes. The rhythm reminds me of Don Henley’s “All she wants to do is Dance.” Jim Keltner plays drums on Henley’s LP “Building the Perfect Beast,” but I am unsure if he plays on this cut – perhaps there is a reason the rhythm is similar.

While the style of Ry Cooder’s slide guitar on “Thank You Girl” is unique, the tonality reminds me of another song: Richard Marx’s “Don’t Mean Nothin.’” The cut is from Marx’s 1987 debut LP. The slide on Marx’s recording is courtesy of Joe Walsh, one of Henley’s band mates in the Eagles. In addition, two other Eagles members provide backup vocals bassist Randy Meisner and his replacement in both Poco and the Eagles – Timothy B. Schmidt.

I hadn’t seen this video since the 80s and I find it amusing that the manager/agent in the video is G.W. Bailey who was known as Captain Harris in the “Police Academy” movies in the 80s and in recent times he is seen on TNT’s “The Closer” as the comedic Detective Lieutenant Louie Provenza.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Richard & Linda Thompson: Now Be Thankful

One year ago today I featured the original recording of the Richard Thompson/Dave Swarbrick composition “Now Be Thankful” as part of last year’s Thanksgiving week thematic song set. The original by Fairport Convention was initially released as a single and later cropped up on the double album import “History of Fairport Convention.” The original featured Dave Swarbrick on vocals.

This year’s version is a live 1975 recording by Linda and Richard Thompson. Outside of Linda and Richard, John Kirkpatrick joins in on accordion. I’m not sure who else plays on this cut, but I would gather from the period that his band included Fairport alumni Simon Nicol on guitar, Dave Pegg on bass, and Dave Mattacks on drums. That is just an educated guess on my part. Of course Linda sings lead with Richard joining on the chorus.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Rebel Without Applause: I Thank The Lord For The Night Time

It’s Thanksgiving week, and most of the week we’ll be featuring some thankful songs. Since today is also cover Monday, I’m featuring a cover of Neil Diamond’s “I Thank the Lord for the Night Time” by New Zealand cover band Rebel without Applause. This live recording is rather good. It has a studio quality and makes me wonder if it was really recorded in the studio and the applause was added later. Nah, I’m going to believe it’s an actual live recording.

From their website, Rebel without Applause appears to be the typical cover band that plays weddings, reunions, and bar mitzvahs. While a number of folks abhor cover bands, they serve a purpose and I will have to say this rendition of the Neil Diamond classic is very well done. Perhaps we’ll hear more in the future.

Neil Diamond’s Original

“I Thank the Lord for the Night Time” was Diamond’s fifth charting single and the next to the last to be issued by the Bang record label. The Bang brand was actually an acronym of the partners' first names: Bert Berns, Ahmet Ertegun, Neshui Ertegun, and Gerald Wexlar all of Atlantic Records.

Set up as an independent label distributed originally by Atlantic, Berns was the primary owner of the label. Upon Burn’s death in 1967, his widow took control and Bang would be privately distributed until 1978 when CBS picked up the distribution option. The label was officially purchased by CBS in 1982. Diamond’s original single charted in August 1967 at 13.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Sacred Shakers: I'm Gonna Do My Best

When I featured Eilen Jewell a few weeks back, I discovered that she divides her time between her solo career and with the traditional gospel band “The Sacred Shakers.” This Boston based band emerged from a series of Sunday afternoon gospel jam sessions. Unrelated to the long extinct religious movement the Shakers, The Sacred Shakers is comprised of the following individuals:

Jason Beek - drums, vocals
Daniel Fram - acoustic guitar, vocals
Greg Glassman - acoustic guitar, vocals
Eilen Jewell - acoustic guitar, vocals
Daniel Kellar - violin
Jerry Miller - electric & acoustic guitar
Eric Royer - banjo, vocals
Johnny Sciascia - upright bass

“I’m Gonna Do My Best” is the lead cut from their only solo album and I could listen to this type of music all day long. Our featured video is a live rendition of this tune from March 2009 for River TV.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ian McDonald & Michael Giles: McDonald & Giles

I saw a video this week that had similar colors to the cover of today’s album feature. While the effect on the video was created with a color negative filter, it appears that the album photo was shot with infrared film. This similarity prompted me to consider the album simply titled “McDonald and Giles.”

Back in the mid to late 1970s, I purchased this album due to my familiarity of the work of these two musicians in King Crimson. Ian McDonald and Michael Giles recorded their only album in 1970 and it was subsequently released in 1971. Nearly all of the instruments were played by the duo.

The liner notes credit Ian McDonald as supplying guitar, piano, organ, saxes, flute, clarinet, zither, vocals and sundries. His partner, percussionist Michael Giles, contributed drums, percussion (including milk bottle, handsaw, lip whistle and nutbox), and vocals. Michael Giles’ younger brother Peter was the album's bassist. It begs the question why the album was not released name Giles, Giles, and McDonald – in similar fashion to their first band Giles, Giles, and Fripp, which later included McDonald.

When Peter Giles left the band and was replaced by Greg Lake, Giles, Giles, and Fripp morphed into King Crimson. Only two other musicians appeared on the “McDonald and Giles” LP: Steve Winwood provided keyboard solos on “Turnham Green” and Michael Blakesley who added trombone to “Tomorrow’s People.” Another King Crimson alumnus, Peter Sinfield, provided lyrics to the “Birdman Suite” that constitutes the album’s second side.

Flight of the Ibis

While I am not certain why the title of this piece is “Flight of the Ibis,” it is my favorite song on the LP. The song has an eerie similarity to King Crimson’s “Cadence and Cascade” from the “In the Wake of Poseidon” LP that Michael and Peter Giles played on after McDonald left Crimson.

Tomorrow’s People – The Children of Today

This is the horn heavy song on the album that showcases’ McDonald’s prowess as a saxophonist and flautist. The song was written and sung by Michael Giles. It is also provides an example of Peter Giles bass playing.

Is She Waiting?

The third cut on the album is a nice ballad written by Ian McDonald. It is the shortest track on the LP coming in at 2:36. It reminds me of an early Genesis ballad.

The Album in its Entirety

Here’s a YouTube playlist with the album in its entirety.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ann Peebles: I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down

I actually thought of doing another original version of a Paul Young hit for our Friday First selection; however, I remembered Young’s “I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down.” Young's release was an interpretation of an old Ann Peebles R&B hit from 1973. Her soulful version has the tell-tale markings of a record released on the Hi label in the early 1970s.

The distinctive Memphis sound of the label in those days was created via the many hit recordings of her fellow label mate Al Green. Other artists such as Peebles, O.V. Wright, and Willie Mitchell, As a producer, Mitchell turned Hi Records into a veritable soul mainstay, as Hi was predominantly known to produce rock and rockabilly instrumentals from artists like the Bill Black Combo and Ace Cannon.

While Peebles original never made it to the Hot 100 Charts, it did served to be an R&B hit with the record peaking at 31.

Paul Young Hit

In 1984, Columbia Records released “I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down” as the initial single from Paul Young’s “The Secret of Association” album. While the release was a top ten hit in the UK, it failed to chart in the US. Following the colossal success of Young’s number one “Every Time You Go Away” single, Columbia rereleased “I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down” and the second time around the song peaked at #13. I love the fretless bass on this version.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Beach Boys: 409

A few years ago the product Formula 409 used the Beach Boy’s tune “409” for a limited time as backing track for their TV commercials. Since today is our 409th post, I thought I’d throw out this classic Beach Boy’s hit as our TV Thursday post. While the song was not conceived with the idea of the 409th formula that became the cleaning solvent of renown, it was actually written about Chevy’s big block 409 cubic inch automobile engine.

It is said that coauthor Gary Usher wanted a hot rod equipped with a 409 motor and that was the impetus for the song's creation. Originally promoted by Capitol Records as the “A” side of the Beach Boys’ first single, radio stations began flipping the record and playing “Surfin’ Safari” instead. Although “409” did well in a number of markets, it only charted at #79 nationally; however, “Surfin’ Safari” was a top 15 hit.

Besides Gary Usher, Brian Wilson and Mike Love contributed to the writing of the song. Unfortunately, Love’s name was left off the credits of this and other song contributions. In the 1990s, Love sued his first cousin Brian Wilson for his share of royalties and won a $13 million dollar judgment and recordings pressed after that time included Love as a coauthor on the songs he had helped pen.

“409” was featured on two Beach Boy studio LPs – their first, “Surfin Safari,” from 1962 and their fourth, “Little Deuce Coup,” from 1963. Mike Love sang lead on “409.” It is widely rumored that the revving engine sounds during the song was actually a smaller Chevy V8 engine.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Kraftwerk: Radioactivity

My first personal experience with Kraftwerk was the 1973 purchase of their third LP “Ralf and Florian.” I bought the album solely on the fact that the back cover had an array of instruments that included numerous electronic devices, alto and bass flutes, and an eight string lap steel guitar. Any band with their members’ names in neon couldn’t be bad either. This was the last Kraftwerk LP with only two members.

While this album is a bit esoteric for this blog and for most ears, I decided to go with something a bit more familiar. While Kraftwerk’s most popular recording was their 1974 release of “Autobahn,” a single edit was not available on YouTube, so I opted to go with their second most recognizable tune – “Radioactivity” from 1975.

While it was only a hit in France, I’m sure that it will be familiar nonetheless. Both “Autobahn” and “Radioactivity” feature the expanded lineup of four members. Karl Bartos and Wolfgang Flür joined founding members Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider-Esleben.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Jack The Lad: Sailed The Seven Seas

A few weeks ago, I featured a cut by Lindisfarne as our Traditional Tuesday selection. Today, it’s a Lindisfarne spinoff band “Jack the Lad.” The band was formed in 1972 when Rod Clements, Simon Cowe, and Ray Laidlaw left Lindisfarne and reunited with former Lindisfarne member Billy Mitchell.

“Sailed the Seven Seas” was recorded in September 1975 and features Mark II of the band. The video’s lineup includes Mitchell on the 12-string Rickenbacker Guitar, Cowe on electric mandolin, Laidlaw on drums and new members Ian 'Walter' Fairbairn on fiddle and Phil Murray on bass. Formerly of Hedgehog Pie, Fairbairn and Murray joined the band in 1974 when Rod Clements left Jack the Lad.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Incubus: I Can't Explain

Last night I was looking for a cover of one of The Who’s songs and I stumbled on Incubus’ version of “I Can’t Explain.” This recording was from VH-1’s tribute to The Who and was recorded in July 2008. Other bands that appeared at this tribute show included the Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, and The Flaming Lips. I am skeptical about anyone who covers a Who tune, but will admit that Incubus does a bang up job on this 60s classic.

The Who’s Original

While “I Can’t Explain” was the first single issued under the band’s name The Who, they had previously released the single “Zoot Suit” under the name of the High Numbers. While their version was a top ten hit in the UK, it barely scratched the surface of the Hot 100 in the US where it only charted at #93. Even Pete Townsend who wrote the song confessed that it sounded much like their contemporaries The Kinks. Now that he mentions it, it does.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pentecostal Bouffant: Jesus Said Roll

Pentecostal Bouffant was a onetime gospel music project which released only one album – “Little Light of Mine.” I found this cut about three or four years ago when I discovered Fret Not and their traditional brand of music. Fret Not’s website mentioned Lori Arthur’s contribution to Pentecostal Bouffant and I found “Jesus Said Roll” available for free download on a music sampler site.

That website has since disappeared, but I am proud to bring back “Jesus Said Roll” from Pentecostal Bouffant’s out of print album. I loved this song and three or four years ago Keith Janney and I did it in church with a swamp rock feel. He played his Telecaster and I my Les Paul and it came off pretty well. I’ve also done it solo acoustic style twice and last week Keith and I did and an acoustic duet version of “Jesus Said Roll.”

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Jethro Tull: Aqualung

If there is any Jethro Tull album that I would recommend people to buy, it would be the 1971 LP “Aqualung.” While some view the LP as a concept album, it is not – that would come with the band’s next release “Thick as a Brick.”

In places the album appears to be anti-Christian on some songs; however, if you listen deeply to the lyrics it becomes apparent that Ian Anderson is not anti-God or antichrist in his treatment of these songs. He attacks the ecclesiastical excess of the Anglican Church and other organized religions. Anderson also takes issues with those who profiteer in the name of Christ.

It is the band’s bestselling album with sales in excess of seven million units worldwide. It placed at 337 on Rolling Stone’s top 500 albums of all time. In the US album rock stations embraced three cuts: “Aqualung ,“ “Cross-eyed Mary,” and “Locomotive Breath.” The latter and the title cut received the lion’s share of the airplay. These three cuts are featured below.

The Album in its Entirety

To get a sense of the vinyl release in all of its glory, I have prepared a YouTube playlist with the songs in order as they appeared on the LP.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Isley Brothes: Nobody But Me

One of the great rock songs of 1968 was The Human Beinz’ “Nobody but Me.” The song was covered by every garage band of the era and rightfully so – it is a classic rock tune of the era complete with feedback and driving bass and drums. What most folks don’t’ realize that the song was a cover of an earlier single released by the original lineup of The Isley Brothers in 1962. Well, here is the first recording of “Nobody but Me.”

The Human Beinz Hit Version

Peaking the charts at #8 in January 1968, The Human Beinz’s rendition of the Isley Brothers original is forever etched in the minds of anyone who lived in that era. In Dave Marsh and Dave Bernard’s “The New Book of Rock Lists” (p. 120), the authors claim that “Nobody but Me” is the most negative song of all time with The Human Beinz using the word “no” at least 100 times and the word “nobody” 46 times in a song of 2:16.

Frankly, it is nearly impossible to count the number of times “no” is used in the song. My best estimate was roughly 75 – a little lower than Marsh and Bernard’s count. Still amazing when you consider that there is an intro of 8 seconds and an instrumental break of about 23 seconds in the middle of the song – cutting down the vocal time to about 1:45.

Marsh and Bernard also note that the band uses “Yeah” once during the song. The following is the best recording on YouTube. A nice stereo mix would be nice, but I am too lazy to dig out my original promo copy of the LP and upload it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Toby Keith Twofer Tribute to Veterans

A brief departure from my normal Thursday fare in honor of Veterans Day celebrated today in the US. It was started as holiday that celebrated the Armistice that was signed on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month that ended World War I.

Signed into law a year later, it became a legal holiday in the United States. In 1954, the holiday was amended to become a celebration honoring all of the nation’s veterans and the name was officially changed to Veteran’s Day.

My nephew, Naval Lieutenant Chris Owston, in Iraq
where he served as Medical Officer for a Marine battalion.
He just returned from Afghanistan - his second tour of duty
in the Global War on Terror.

To honor our veterans of all wars, I have selected two songs by Toby Keith: “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” and “An American Soldier.” Thanks Veterans for all you have done and sacrificed for the rest of us.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mark Heard: Freight Train To Nowhere

You might expect anything on a Wednesday and today is no exception. How about a rocker from one of the lesser known artists in the musical universe – the late Mark Heard. Largely ignored by the mainstream music industry, Heard released 16 LPs in his short life and served as producer on albums by better known artists that run the gamut from pop to rock to country to contemporary Christian genres.

In 1992, Heard released his final album “Satellite Sky” and was finally getting noticed by the major record labels. Unfortunately, Heard suffered a heart attack while performing in Chicago on July 4, 1992. He managed to finish his set and then was rushed to a hospital where he was under care for several weeks. Two weeks after his release, Heard went into cardiac arrest and died on August 16, 1992.

All of the tunes on “Satellite Sky” were written by Heard on his steel bodied National Silva electric mandolin. He plays the electric mando on all of the albums cuts including today’s selection “Freight Train to Nowhere.” Rock on!


Miss misfortune sails down the rails
with her brow to the windowpane
The scenery that she sees in her soul
doesn't match with the blur in her brain
She can trace the tricks of the tracks
like the ribs of a rattlesnake
'Til all her pastel chalk lines of fact
are erased like a schoolgirl's slate

She is reading her own tattoos
Her diary is the evening news
She can't give a damn on cue
On a freight train to nowhere

If she were not scorching the rails
with the haste of a bolting ghost
There would be no reason to fear
the death-rattle in the engine's throat
She could call for the minicams
or take up a gun or be politically correct
But that kind of justice still preys
on the ones with the stones hung
around their necks

She is reading her own tattoos
Her diary is the evening news
She can't give a damn on cue
On a freight train to nowhere

She's heard it said by the drone in her head
That the wages of spend is debt
She figures that's better than nothing
to show for the years of tears and sweat
If she could put her hand on the brake of the land
Find the treason in the diesel and the smoke
She would jar the teeth of the dull and the meek
and feed them the truth until they choke

She is reading her own tattoos
Her diary is the evening news
She can't give a damn on cue
On a freight train to nowhere

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Episode 400 - Richard Thompson: Poor Ditching Boy

Well it’s time for another assessment on this blog as I do every 100 posts. Today it’s the 400th post. By the time you read this, we will have reached our 10,000th unique visitor. At midnight, we were 7 shy of that major number. If you are interested in the stats for Reading between the Grooves, go to the bottom of the page. It has been a monumental several months. More on that later.

It’s no secret that there are some artists of which I am partial. Of those are the collected and individual works of the alumni of Fairport Convention. That includes today’s featured artist for Traditional Tuesday, Richard Thompson. In April 1972, Richard released his first solo work – “Henry the Human Fly.” In the US, the LP was originally released on the Reprise label.

I bought my copy in 1973 or 1974 and it has been one of my favorites for many years. I probably will get around to featuring the album as a Saturday Album feature, but until that time, I thought I would tempt you with a tantalizing taste of Thompson.

Had I not known that “The Poor Ditching Boy” was a Thompson original, I would have thought that it was a traditional lament. It just sounds like it was written centuries ago and Richard’s voice lends credence to these thoughts.

I considered using a cover of this song for a Monday; however, I never could find anyone that did the song any justice – although many had recorded the tune. It’s best to stay with an original by the original.

RBTG’s 400th Post Retrospect

Like I had reported with the 100th, 200th, and 300th posts, I took a look backward on how we are doing visitor wise. I began this blog on September 26, 2009, but did not start monitoring the visits until October 16, 2009. Since that time, we have had the following:

Unique Visitors9,993
Times Visited11,949
Number of Pages Viewed19,773
People Visiting 200+ Times423
People Visiting 101-200 Times223
People Visiting 51-100 Times163
People Visiting 26-50 Times104
Number of Visitor Countries Represented104
Percentage of Visitors Referred from Search Engines52.44%
Percentage of Visitors Referred from Other Sites36.66%
Percentage of Visitors via Direct Access10.90%

The Top Ten Charts

As one would find in music trade magazines, I have prepared some Top Ten Charts for "Reading between the Grooves."

The Top Ten Visitor Countries

Since the 300th post on July 27, 2010, the number of visitor countries increased from 88 to 104. The same countries made the Top 10 at both the 200th and 300th anniversary; however, the order changed somewhat with Brazil and Italy moving up and Australia moving down.

1United States6,723
2United Kingdom911
9The Netherlands156

The Top Ten Pages via Direct Access

While most people (1,634) have visited the home page for “Reading Between the Grooves,” others enter distinct pages through page specific links and via search engine returns. Two new pages joined the list and overtook the number one and two slots.

The Top Days by Total Visits

This chart represents the days that encountered the most visits and the content that was featured on those particular days. Only one was on the list at the 300th post – “The Prescription is More Cowbell.”

I have to thank some of my friends from college for some of the success within the last three months. Three of the posts were from violin/fiddle week – a suggestion from Greg Rector. Two additional posts were inspired by Stuart Shepard when he sent me a story about the reunion of Buffalo Springfield.

The Top Days by New Visitors

This chart represents the days that encountered the most visits by first time visitors and the content that was featured on those particular days. All of these posts came within the last 100 posts. I am intrigued that two of the top 10 on both lists were by Elliot Murphy. Who would have thunk it?

RankDayDateAssociated ContentNew Visitors
1THU07 OCT 2010Kansas “Dust in the Wind”79
2TUE05 OCT 2010Fairport Convention “Crazy Man Michael”78
3TUE28 SEP 2010Elliot Murphy “Eva Braun”74
4MON08 NOV 2010Elliot Murphy “Wild Horses”71
5SUN26 SEP 2010Richie Furay “I Am Sure”67
6SAT27 SEP 2010”Buffalo Springfield Again”67
7SUN19 SEP 2010Livingston Taylor “Tell Jesus to Come to my House”66
8SAT31 JUL 2010Marshall Tucker Band64
9MON27 SEP 2010Noa Johannesson: “Roxanne”61
10SAT06 NOV 2010Duran Duran “Rio”61

As always, I want to take this time to thank all of you for your support of this site and the encouragement to keep going forward. Thanks again for Reading between the Grooves.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Elliot Murphy: Wild Horses

As with every Monday, I feature a cover of a well known song by someone else. Today’s cover song is the interpretation of the Rolling Stone’s song “Wild Horses” by Elliot Murphy. Murphy is joined by Olivier Durand on acoustic lead guitar. This performance was simulcast on Spanish radio and television.

Rolling Stones Original

The first version of “Wild Horses” to be recorded was the Rolling Stones’ version from the 1971 LP “Sticky Fingers.” Written primarily by Keith Richards, he and Mick Taylor both play acoustic guitar with Richards’ guitar being high-strung (i.e., Nashville tuning). Along with the LP’s other single “Brown Sugar,” “Wild Horses” showed up simultaneously on the greatest hits package “Hot Rocks” on London Records. This occurred because the Stones’ former manager Allen Klein co-owned the songs’ rights with the band.

Flying Burrito Brothers’ Version

While the Stones initially recorded “Wild Horses” in 1969, their friend Gram Parsons asked the band permission to release it first. His band, The Flying Burrito Brothers, released the song in 1970 on their second LP “Burrito Deluxe.” This early version of the song led some to speculate that Parsons and not Jagger and Richards actually penned the tune.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

k.d. lang: One Day I Walk

"One Day I Walk" was written by Canadian songsmith Bruce Cockburn in 1970 during his Christian period. It is a song that gives a glimpse of heaven to come. Chairing the vocal duties is fellow Canadian k.d. lang. I love her arrangement and the accordion and stand-up bass give this version a unique flavor.

Bruce Cockburn’s Original

Here is Bruce Cockburn’s original 1971 recording from his album “High Winds; White Sky” album.


Oh I have been a beggar
And shall be one again
And few the ones with help to lend
Within the world of men

One day I walk in flowers
One day I walk on stones
Today I walk in hours
One day I shall be home

I have sat on the street corner
And watched the boot heels shine
And cried out glad and cried out sad
With every voice but mine

One day I walk in flowers
One day I walk on stones
Today I walk in hours
One day I shall be home
One day I shall be home

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Duran Duran: Rio

I first heard Duran Duran’s “Rio” LP in May 1982 shortly after its release. The local manager of the Record Bar store, Geoff Gardner, had a copy before it was released to radio. Geoff was also a fan of Patrick Nagle who did the cover art for the album and had several Nagel prints decorating his house. I was impressed by what I heard and still believe it is an excellent example of 80s new wave/synth pop the doesn't solely rely upon electronics to make a statement. 

The album was originally released on the Harvest label and by the next year it was remastered and re-released on the Capitol label. It was during this same period that Capitol was rethinking the packaging of their Harvest releases which included “Rio” and Thomas Dolby’s LP “Golden Age of Wireless.”

The albums and their associated singles were repackaged in a variety of formats (LP, EP, and 7 and 12 inch singles). “Rio” also includes a different version of the single “My Own Way.” While it is often considered the first single from “Rio,” it was properly an non-album single.

Hungry like the Wolf

The first single that was released off of “Rio” was “Hungry like the Wolf.” It’s first release in the US in May 1982 failed miserably. The single was later rereleased at the end of the year and charted at #3 in January 1983. The song idea came from the story of “Little Red Riding Hood” and was simultaneously written by lead vocalist Simon Le Bon and keyboardist Nick Rhodes who was fooling around in the studio with a sequencer and his Roland Jupiter 8 keyboard. The video was recorded in Sri Lanka.

Save a Prayer

Although not originally released as a single in the US, it was highest charting song for the band in their native UK charting at #2. A live version from the “Arena” LP was finally released in single form in January 1985. The release of the single was long overdue as it was extremely popular on MTV. Like “Hungry like the Wolf,” it was filmed in Sri Lanka at the ruins of a Buddhist Temple.

I love the synth lick that Nick Rhodes plays on this cut using the pitch bend on his Roland Jupiter 8. In the accompanying live studio recording from 2005, Rhodes is play a Roland V-Synth.


The third UK and second US single was the title cut “Rio.” The song was loosely inspired by the band’s trip to Brazil. The musical hook was created by Rhodes with a Roland Jupiter 4 in arpeggiator mode of a Cm chord. Andy Hamilton was the guest saxophonist. The video was shot in Antigua. The song charted in late 1982 at 9 in Britain and at 14 in the US in late spring 1983.

I had an opportunity to see the band in concert on March 31, 1985.  They put on an excellent show and afterward I got the chance to briefly meet the band.

Simon LeBon, Roger Taylor, & John Taylor of Duran Duran

The Entire Rio Album

Here’s a YouTube playlist featuring the album in its entirety.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Exciters: Do Wah Diddy Diddy

Popularized by Manfred Mann in 1964, “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” was a minor hit the previous year by the New York vocal group The Exciters. The husband and wife songwriting team Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, part of the Brill Building songwriting factory in New York City, penned this 60s classic in 1963.

It was the fourth single by The Exciters; however, it would never come close to their largest hit from 1963, “Tell Him,” that charted at #4. “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” only made it to #78.

Manfred Mann’s Version

One of my radio buddies from WMUL, WAMX, and WCIR, Ron Hill, had a favorite trivia question that he and I used to argue about the correct answer. The question was, “What was the name of the first album by Manfred Mann?” His answer was “The Five Faces of Manfred Mann.” I argued that it was titled "The Manfred Mann Album." Was he correct? Well, sort of. “The Five Faces of Manfred Mann” was the name of the first album by the band in the UK and internationally, but not in North America.

“Do Wah Diddy Diddy,” the classic anthem of the mid sixties, was a number one record in the UK and US for British Invasion rockers Manfred Mann. Like with a number of UK single releases, Manfred Mann's biggest hit record did not originally appear on their first UK LP “The Five Faces of Manfred Mann.” Yes I did say their. Even though Manfred Mann was a member of the band, his name was also used for the name of the band; hence, “The Five Faces of Manfred Mann.”

My understanding was that British record companies released single-less LPs in order to sell singles in addition to LPs and EPs. British audiences were often prone to buy albums in spite of or in addition to the single release. While not on the UK release, “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” appeared on “The Five Faces of Manfred Mann” elsewhere in the world.

In the US, the labels found that singles sold well, but they also increased album sales. Although labels had experimented with EPs in the 50s and early 60s, they were not as popular in the US and few labels issued them in the mid 60s. Ascot Records, their American record label, did as many of the labels licensed to release British artists in North America – they altered the albums.

The United Artist subsidiary took Manfred Mann’s first album and renamed it “The Manfred Mann Album featuring Do Wah Diddy Diddy.” They also changed the cover design, reduced the number of cuts from 14 to 12, and replaced one of the album cuts with the single “Do Wah Diddy Diddy.” The album number was ALM/ALS 13015.

The US release named “The Five Faces of Manfred Mann” was a completely different album that included two cuts removed from the US version of the first album: “I’m Your Kingpin” and “You’ve got to Take It.” It also contains cuts from the British EPs “Groovin’ with Manfred Mann” and “The One in the Middle” and several non album singles and their flips. The number of this Ascot release was ALM/ALS 13018.

Well Ron, I guess we were both right.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Youngbloods: Get Together

It’s TV Thursday and today’s song was of late featured in a Luvs Diapers commercial and utilized the most popular rendition of the song as recorded by the Youngbloods. The song was written by folksinger Chet Powers and was credited to one of his several pseudonyms: Dino Valenti.

In order to raise money for his defense on a drug arrest, Powers sold the writer’s share of the royalties to Frank Werber, the manager of the Kingston Trio. In 1964, the famous folk ensemble was the first to record the song under its original title of “Let’s Get Together.”

Like a number of hits that failed to chart within the top 40 the first time around, the the Youngbloods' 1967 release of the single only peaked at #62. When the Youngblood’s rendition was used in a public service announcement for the National Conference of Christians and Jews in 1969, “Get Together” generated renewed public interest.

To capitalize on this turn of events, RCA rereleased the single later that year. During the second time around, it went to #5. It has since become one of the quintessential songs of the late 1960s. Shades of Haight-Ashbury.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Eilen Jewell: Where They Never Say Your Name

I am not sure where I first heard this song by Eilen (pronounced EE-lynn) Jewell, but I believe that it was Mountain Stage from West Virginia Pubic Radio. I don’t know what attracted me to this song – it may be her “lazy” or "slurred" style of singing or it might just be the choice of instrumentation. I am not sure, but I like it nonetheless. I am featuring both a live and the studio version of her tune “Where They Never Say Your Name.” I guess that’s the antithesis of Cheers – “where everyone knows your name.”

Live Version

The live version of today’s tune features Eilen and her band performing live at WNRN in Charlottesville, VA on September 17, 2008. The sound balance on this recording is better than most radio station recordings. Jerry Glenn Miller is playing the Gretsch Chet Atkins guitar; Johnny Sciascia is on the double bass, and drummer Jason Beek handles the backbeat.

Studio Version

From the 2007 LP “Letters from Sinners & Strangers,” Daniel Kellar adds fiddle to this recording. I just love Jerry Glenn Miller’s guitar sound – so retro.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Dodge Brothers: Number Nine

This Traditional Tuesday, I am stretching the limit with a genre I have yet to feature on Reading Between the Grooves: skiffle. Related to American jug band music of the 1930s, skiffle became highly popular in Britain in the 1950s with Lonnie Donegan’s recordings. Even The Beatles evolved from John Lennon’s band the Quarrymen -- a skiffle band from Liverpool.

Today’s selection is by The Dodge Brothers from Southampton, England performing “Number Nine” on the BBC’s Culture Show from May 2007. I think this is first time I’d ever seen a double bass player play harmonica in a rack.

Monday, November 1, 2010

John Mayer: Message In A Bottle

One of the more prolific performers to enter the scene in the last couple of decades is guitarist John Mayer. As I normally feature cover songs on Monday, I found this little nugget from his live show in Birmingham, AL of his cover of the Police tune “Message in a Bottle.” Mayer does a nice solo acoustic rendition of this tune.

The Police’s Original

The song was a number 1 record in the UK for The Police; however, this single from 1979’s “Regatta de Blanc” only peaked at 74. Notice the obvious tempo difference from the cover.