Sunday, February 27, 2011

ArkAngel: Warrior

About a month and a half before I left Eastern Kentucky for the coalfields of Southern West Virginia, I received an album in the mail at WEMM where I was program director. The band was ArkAngel (not to be confused with the metal band of the same name) and the album was “Warrior.” Since WEMM didn’t play contemporary Christian music, I thought it better suited to travel home with me rather than be tossed into the dumpster.

I will have to say that this particular album was one of my favorite LPs for the longest time. The sound was fresh and since it mixed contemporary and traditional instrumentation, it was right up my alley. I nearly wore this album out in 1981. ArKAngel was led by Kemper Crabb who is now an ordained Episcopal priest.

“Warrior” is my favorite cut on the album. I think it may be the unique use of bagpipes along with distorted electric guitar. In fact, I credit this tune for inspiring me to buy a set of Highland bagpipes ten years later. One word of advice if you are going to get a set of pipes, don’t buy a set made in Pakistan. The quality was horrible and the thing began falling apart within a week. I never could get the chanter to play when plugged into the bag; however the three drones worked most of the time.

If you have the desire, save your money and get a good set. I eventually sold mine at a loss at a garage sale. We advertised it among about five other key items in the local paper for our sale and it was sold to the second visitor. People asked about the pipes all day long.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Traffic: The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys

Saturdays are reserved for songs that as singles did not chart on Billboard’s top 40 portion of the Hot 100 or were album cuts that received airplay, but did not have a corresponding single release. For today, it is the latter category. Our feature songs comes from Traffic, a group I was introduced to me by Jim Roach of WDVE in Pittsburgh, as he featured three hours of one artist every Saturday night.

Today’s cut was from one of the two odd shaped albums by the group that had the bottom left and top right corners chopped off to give the illusion that the album was a cube. It is the title cut from the first of these successive cubic LPs named “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys.” The unusual title was the creation of American actor Michael Pollard.

Jim Capaldi and Pollard had been vacationing in Morocco had been discussing fantastic movie plots and at some time before they left the country, Pollard had taken one of Capaldi’s books and scrawled the words – and thus the beginning of the song co-written by Capaldi and Steve Winwood had its genesis.

The song is a unique arrangement between Dm in the verse and D in the chorus. Recorded by band in a jam style, it is the longest cut on the album running eleven and half minutes and starts and ends with a fade. It was the first album to be released after the third departure of Dave Mason from the band. Do we sense a little passive-aggressive behavior with Mr. Mason?

Any who, Traffic’s line up had greatly increased with the release of their previous album “Welcome to the Canteen.” Its three principle members of Winwood (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Capaldi (vocals & percussion), and Chris Wood (woodwinds) had been joined by a number of others. Ric Grech, who played with Winwood in Blind Faith, relieved Winwood from bass duties. Grech is also featured on violin.

In addition, Capaldi was brought into a more prominent position out from behind the drum kit and he focused on percussion and vocals, while Gordon who had been with Delaney and Bonnie with Dave Mason took over the drums. Ghanaian percussionist Reebop Kwaku Baah added a level of sophistication to already sophisticated band. It just clicks.

This song has a little bit of everything – the primary piano motif that is joined by growling tenor and baritone saxes by Chris Wood, congas, vibraslap, handclaps, an alto flute, and probably more that I missed. I think this tune was what introduced me to music that was on the fringe of jazz and led me to expand my music horizons into that genre. As I listen to this song that was recorded forty years ago, it sounds as fresh today as it did then.

I haven’t seen anything official about the keyboard solo, so I’ll add my two cents into what I believe it is. Some have considered it a Ondioline – but it’s a polyphonic instrument. Others said it was a Farfisa organ; however, I believe that it was Hammond B-3 organ in overdrive and run through a Lesile and perhaps a fuzz tone or octave guitar effect.

I got on Steve Winwood’s web site and was going to ask the question on his forum; however, it requires a subscription at the cost of $49.95. I think I’ll be satisfied with guessing at this point. Ultimately, the answer is still up in the air.

Friday, February 25, 2011

America: Sandman

Today’s Friday Flipside comes from America’s first album that was originally released in the UK and the Netherlands without the band’s first single and a number one hit: “A Horse with No Name.” After the single was released and began climbing the charts, Warner Brothers reissued the album with the single.

Because Warners slapped a sticker on the shrink wrap that read something to the effect of “Featuring the hit A Horse with no Name,” people often referred to the album as the “Horse with No Name” album – although its actual title was the name of the band. This also fit the naming convention that the band officially used on the seven following albums that all began with the letter “H.”

Those LPs were “Homecoming,” “Hat Trick,” “Holiday,” “Hearts,” “History: America’s Greatest Hits,” “Hideaway,” and “Harbour.” Once Dan Peek left the band so did this specific album naming convention; however, they named five albums starting in 1994 also with an “H.” They were “Hourglass,” “Human Nature,” “Highway: Thirty Years of America,” “Holiday Harmony,” and “Here and Now.”

The title of their first studio LP without Peek released in 1979, “Silent Letter,” was thought to be a play on the British clipped usage of letter “H” (as in ‘ello). Being sons of American airmen, all three members of the band grew up in England and had attended school in suburban London.

I said all of that to say that today’s flip is their first as the “B” side to the American release of “A Horse with no Name.” While the “A” received a huge amount of airplay worldwide, it’s flip “Sandman” did quite well as an album radio hit. Although it is not recorded as charting in the Hot 100, it did get some airplay on Top 40 radio as well.

Like a number of their songs, the vocal stylings of “Sandman” are reminiscent of two Canadians: Neil Young and Ian Thomas. Well, on with the show this is it.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Episode 500 - Howie Day: Collide

Well today is my 500th post on Reading Between the Grooves and while it takes a commitment to do this nearly every day, I am reassured that it is worth it when I see the stats every 100 posts. In the last two weeks, three people mentioned to me that they had discovered the blog and have learned a bit from it. I’ve had an interest in music since childhood and began to take notes on recordings even as a teenager. Twenty years of work in the radio industry has prepared me to be loquacious about great music.

Today’s TV Thursday Hit was featured in the pilot for the TV show Bones. TNT ran this very first episode about two weeks ago and Howie Day’s “Collide” was featured in the last 15 minutes of the show. It has also been featured in several other shows such as Scrubs and Grey’s Anatomy. “Collide” is Day’s only certified gold single and it charted in the US at #20 on the Hot 100.

Howie Day is from Brewer, Maine – which is about 40 miles from where my grandmother was born. Incidentally, her maiden name was also Day. I often wondered if we were related as the Days of southern Maine tended to come from one colonial family. I know my ancestors go back to 18th century Maine. So there is a possibility that there is a distant relationship.

RBTG’s 500th Post Retrospect

Like I had reported with the 100th, 200th, 300th and 400th 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. Currently, we have 18 declared followers of the blog; however, there are many more who have followed without declaring themselves as followers. The statistics are listed below:

Unique Visitors16,543
Times Visited19,186
Number of Pages Viewed30,179
People Visiting 200+ Times611
People Visiting 101-200 Times247
People Visiting 51-100 Times217
People Visiting 26-50 Times121
Number of Visitor Countries Represented120
Percentage of Visitors Referred from Search Engines53.12%
Percentage of Visitors Referred from Other Sites35.95%
Percentage of Visitors via Direct Access10.93%

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 400th post on November 9, 2010, the number of visitor countries increased from 104 to 120. The same countries made the Top 10 since the 200th anniversary; however, Brazil and Italy switched slots since the 400th.

Since picking up 16 new countries, we are shy 3 from having all of South America – we are missing the Guianas – French Guiana, Surinam, and Guyana. Central America is represented by every country with the exception of Nicaragua and Panama. The biggest hole in the Americas is the Caribbean. Europe is nearly covered with the exception of Svalbard and Jan Mayen, Moldova, and Montenegro. Africa remains the continent (excluding Antarctica) that has most countries that have not visited Reading Between the Grooves.

1United States10,257
2United Kingdom1,524
9The Netherlands285

The Top Ten Pages via Direct Access

While most people (2,093) have visited the home page for “Reading Between the Grooves,” others enter distinct pages through page specific links and via search engine returns. No new pages joined the list and the only significant change was Fairport Convention’s “Matty Groves” move from 7 to 4. This particular chart is slow moving as it is cumulative – newer features on this site will have to be really popular to catch up to the total direct accesses of these ten songs.

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 three were on the list at the 400th post – ”Buffalo Springfield Again,” Elliot Murphy’s “Wild Horses,” and “The Prescription is More Cowbell.” Yesterday’s decision to include “Something in the Air” was a wise choice as it placed second on the top total visits chart.

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 but one of these posts came within the last 100 posts. The only one remaining from the previous list is Kansas’ “Dust In The Wind” which moved from the number 1 slot to the number 10 slot. Three of the top ten came from the previous two weeks including the number 1 song which is by Laurie Lee C. – a virtual unknown, but a fantastic instrumentalist and vocalist in her own right. By the way her song was found completely by accident – ah, serendipity.

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.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Thunderclap Newman: Something In The Air

In the wake of uprisings in the Arab world of late, I thought it might be interesting to feature one of the quintessential protest tunes from the late ‘60s as our Wednesday one hit wonder. Today’s selection is from a band named for its keyboardist Andy “Thunderclap” Newman.

The group was created by Pete Townshend and Who producer Kit Lambert to provide a vehicle for The Who’s chauffeur John “Speedy” Keen. Keen sang lead and played drums and guitar. The trio was rounded out by Jimmy McCullough who later was with Paul McCartney and Wings. McCullough was the bands primary guitarist.

Townshend played bass on the recordings under the pseudonym of Bijou Drains and does an excellent job on “Something in the Air” as the guitar and bass lines are in my opinion what make this song. Townshend also arranged the strings. For live dates, Jim Pitman-Avery was brought into play bass and Jimmy McCullough’s older brother handled the drumming so that Keen could concentrate on vocals.

Keen wrote “Something in the Air” for the film “The Magic Christian,” but it also appeared in “Easy Rider,” “The Strawberry Statement,” “Kingpin,” “Almost Famous,” “The Dish,” and “The Girl Next Door.” While the tune was a number one hit in the UK, it only peaked at #25 in the US in 1969. With its extensive use in movies, TV episodes, and commercials, “Something in the Air” has made up for its lack of performance on the Billboard charts. The single appears on the band’s LP “Hollywood Dream.”

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Kathy Mattea: The L&N Don't Stop Here Anymore

While my favorite rendition of this coal mining classic was by Michelle Shocked, her version is not available on YouTube. So, I turned to my second favorite interpretation which was by Kathy Mattea from Cross Lanes, WV. Today’s Traditional Tuesday tune was written and originally recorded by the queen of the Appalachian dulcimer Jean Ritchie.

A song about Hazard, KY, the L&N referred to is the Louisville and Nashville Rail Road. While the line was quite successful in its heyday, it was purchased by the Seaboard Coast Line in 1971. Amtrak took over the passenger service in 1979 and Seaboard eventually discontinued the L&N brand in 1982. I’m not sure when Jean wrote “The L&N Don’t Stop Here Anymore,” but it seems to me that it was in the 1960s.

Live Version


When I was a curly-headed baby
My daddy set me down on his knee
Saying ''Son you go to school, you learn your letters
Don't you be no dusty miner, boy like me''
I was born and raised at the mouth of the Hazard Holler
Where the coal cars rolled and rumbled past my door
But now they stand in a rusty row of all empties
Because the L & N don't stop here anymore

I used to think my father was a black man
With scrip enough to buy the company store
But now he goes to town with empty pockets
And his face is as white as the February snow
I was born and raised at the mouth of the Hazard Holler
Where the coal cars rolled and rumbled past my door
But now they stand in a rusty road of all empties
Because the L & N don't stop here anymore

Never thought I'd live to learn to love the coaldust
Never thought I'd pray to hear those temples roar
But God I wish the grass would turn to money
And then them greenbacks would fill my pockets once more
I was born and raised at the mouth of the Hazard Holler
Where the coal cars rolled and rumbled past my door
But now they stand in a rusty road of all empties
Because the L & N don't stop here anymore

Last night I dreamed I went down to the office
To get my payday like I done before
But them old kudzu vines was covering the doorway
And there was leaves and grass growing up through the floor
I was born and raised at the mouth of the Hazard Holler
Where the coal cars rolled and rumbled past my door
But now they stand in a rusty road of all empties
Because the L & N don't stop here anymore

Monday, February 21, 2011

Greg Hawkes: Eleanor Rigby

The timing of this recording’s feature on Reading Between the Grooves has no connection to yesterday’s baritone uke feature. I had been planning on using Greg Hawkes’ ukulele cover of The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” and had promised a co-worker that I would feature it during the near future. She is a personal friend of Hawkes and had not heard this 2008 recording from his CD “Beatles Uke.”

Hawkes was the former keyboardist of The Cars and may be the shortest male rock n’ roller. He stands 5’ 2” tall which is one inch shorter than guitarist Nils Lofgren. In this video featuring four incarnations of Greg Hawkes wearing a Chairman Mao type outfit, Greg plays all four sizes of ukulele. Three of which are made by the C.F. Martin Company of Nazareth, PA. They include the soprano, tenor, and baritone models. The pineapple shaped concert model is made from an unknown (to me) manufacturer. I tried finding the brand on this one, but several companies make pineapple shaped ukes.

The difference between the various ukes is not that great and for the most part sopranos, concerts, and tenors are only differenced in size and are all tuned G C E A with the G sting an octave higher. This tuning is the infamous “My dog has fleas” tuning. This is a fourth higher than the guitar. Some variations include a tuning fifth higher than guitar for the soprano version (A D F# B) and some prefer to use a lower G string on the larger tenor uke.

The size differences are 13” for sopranos, 15” for concerts, and 17” for tenors. The much larger (19”) baritone ukulele is tune like the four high guitar strings as D G B E. The baritone uke does not employ an octave sting.

The Beatles Original

A departure from previous recordings, Eleanor Rigby features Paul McCartney on lead and harmony vocals and John Lennon and George Harrison singing harmony. Ringo Starr does not perform on the cut; however, he did provide some of the song’s lyrical content as did Beatle friend Pete Shotton.

The instrumentation is a string octet that included four violins, two violas, and two ‘cellos. The single was a double sided number one hit with “Yellow Submarine” in most countries. In the US, “Yellow Submarine” charted at #2 and “Eleanor Rigby” placed at #11.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Laurie Lee C.: Amazing Grace / You Gotta Move

Today’s Spiritual Sunday tune is one I found by accident last night. I was searching for something by Rod Stewart and this popped up in the suggestions and I saw “Baritone Ukulele Medley on a 40s Harmony UKE Lap Slide” and I had to listen to it. While I remember seeing Martin Mull playing a soprano ukulele with a baby bottle as a slide on TV in the early 70s, I never heard anyone play slide on a baritone uke.

The baritone uke is usually tuned like the four high strings on a guitar as D G B E only with nylon strings. Obviously Laurie Lee C. has detuned it to a chord – specifically to a G chord as D G B D; however, it appears that she has detuned it an octave lower than normal – really it has become a slack key bari uke.

Arthur Godfrey is the father of 
the baritone uke as it was his idea

While I am featuring the first two songs this morning “Amazing Grace” and Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “You Gotta Move,” Laurie Lee also continues with Rod Stewart’s “Gasoline Alley” and “Michael Row Your Boat Ashore.” A refreshing take on all four of these songs with the excellent voice and slide uke work by Laurie Lee C.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Eagles: Doolin' Dalton / Outlaw Man

I will have to apologize for being missing in action this week. This was an extremely busy week at work and home and some things, like this blog, got put on hold. I hope that I am able to dedicate some more time in the forthcoming week as my 500th post is coming up in a few days. This is an extremely late post for a Saturday, but I am trying to get it in before the blog turns into a pumpkin at midnight.

Today’s bubbling under hit is from The Eagles’ second album “Desperado.” It is the album version of the single “Outlaw Man” and is introduced by an instrumental version of “Doolin’ Dalton” – a song that is found in three different versions on the LP – as it is a concept album about the Dalton Gang.

The album featured two single releases – neither of which charted in the top 40 and the album charted at #41 on the Billboard Top 200 LP charts. While its success at the time of release was limited, “Desperado” sold enough copies to be certified as double platinum. “Outlaw Man” only made it two #59 on the singles charts and hence qualifies as our bubbling under hit.

“Doolin’ Dalton” features banjo work by Bernie Leadon and “Outlaw Man” is sung by Glen Frey who also plays the Wurlitzer Electric piano parts. “Outlaw Man” was written by folk musician David Blue who also recorded for Asylum Records at the time. The first band I saw in concert was Poco and opening up the show was David Blue who was accompanied by future Eagle Don Felder.

Felder, who was not part of the band when “Desperado” was recorded, would later sue the band and Don Henley and Glen Frey individually for a host of infringements. Henley and Frey counter sued over the publication of his tell all autobiography: Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974–2001). The two suits were consolidated and settled out of court.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Baskery: On A Day Like This

I discovered Baskery about a year and a half ago when I was looking for some punkabilly music. While the initial song I featured in 2009 was of that genre, I was soon to find that the three Bondesson sisters were difficult to categorize. The can rock with the best and they are a home with American sounding folk ballads. They are what they are and that is unique.

Today’s Traditional Tuesday song features the three sisters on one of their own compositions “On a Day Like This.” It starts off with older sister Stella playing the six-string banjo slide style. She sings lead on the first verse as well. All three sisters harmonize on the second verse as they do on the choruses. Verse three features the youngest sister Sunniva who plays guitar. On the final verse, middle sister Stella handling the vocal chores. Stella is the stand up bassist for Baskery.

I love the sound of this studio recording of this song it is haunting. I could listen to it all day long. The lyrics are so American – it is hard to believe that its composers are Swedish. Who would have thunk it. Their Nordic accents, which are present when they talk, are completely absent when they sing.

Live Version

While the video and audio is not the best on this live recording from 2009, it gives you an opportunity to hear what Baskery sounds like live. On the several recordings of this song, it is evident that Stella uses a good bit of tremolo and reverb from her vintage Fender amp to get her live sound on the banjo. Stella also has a bass drum, snare drum, and tambourine that are activated by drum pedals providing the beat.


There's a riot in Atlantic City
Gamblers are running wild
'cause suddenly the sky opened up
and gold was pouring down
people started fighting each other
while they tried to get their share
saying, “I've got a gun so you don't wanna mess with me.”

There's a flood all over Deadwood City
citizens are going mad
'cause suddenly the sky opened up
and rain was pouring down
people started pushing each other
while they tried to clear their way
saying, “I've got a house that's sinking into the ground.}

On a day like this it shows who you really are

There was this girl from Milwaukee
Nobody really knew
Suddenly one night she appeared
on a nation-wide TV-show
Oh, people started talking about her
And the boys were digging her past
Saying, “we've all been with her I'm sure she will remember me.”

On a day like this it shows who you really are

There's an old man in South Nevada
He's running the local bar
suddenly the wind whispered news
about how he lost that eye
locals did'nt show up at the bar
until the rumours were revised
saying, “We all knew that was nonsense all the time.”

On a day like this it shows who you really are
On a day like this it shows who you really are

On a day like this it shows who you really are
On a day like this it shows who you really are
On a day like this it shows who you really are

On a day like this, day like this you are;
On a day like this.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Gruhak: Love Me Two Times

A little late post due to a busy weekend, but I hope today’s featured cover tune is worth the wait. I wanted to do a song in honor of Valentine’s Day, so I thought what song would fit the occasion? My first choice was a cover of The Beatles’ “And I Love Her”; however, having featured the Fab Four twice last week it seemed, well, -- like overkill. Scratch that one.

So I thought long and hard about what love song fit my mood of the day and the first thing that popped into my mind was a tune made famous by The Lizard King himself, Jim Morrison and his band The Doors. The song was selected and now to find a fitting cover which seemed more difficult that I would have imagined.


The first cover I considered was by Aerosmith. While their instrumentation was great, Steven Tyler’s vocals seemed to strain more than normal on this number. I did like his harp playing, but his vocals wouldn’t get him a slot on American Idol with this rendition. Sorry Steven, I generally like your hits and your covers (i.e., “Train Kept A Rollin’,”), but this one – hmmm, I’ll have to think about it.

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

I next listened to Joan Jett. This was more to my liking, but being the critic that I am, I felt that her vocals were slightly buried in the mix and too compressed. Tweaking that channel would have made her version nearly perfect. In fact the Blackhearts keyboardist even was playing a Rhodes Piano Bass ala Ray Manzarek. As much as I liked the idea of the use of a vintage keyboard, I’m thinking that perhaps there are others worth investigating.


After listening to two dozen covers of this song, I think I’ll go with Gruhak from Croatia. Their name is Croatian slang for “a loud and obtrusive person.” While the keyboard part is not the same as Ray Manzarek’s original, that’s not a problem. It works. As I can gather from their website, the keyboardist is not a member of the band – at least not currently. What can you say about a band whose lead vocalist is named Boris? These guys are looking for gigs – hire them now. If their original songs are as good as this cover, they need to be signed.

The Original by The Doors

Released as The Doors’ fourth single and peaking at 25, “Love Me Two Times” was written by the band’s guitarist Robby Krieger. It was about a soldier shipping off to Vietnam and seeing his girl for the last time. Krieger is an interesting guy as rumor had it that he never changed his strings on his guitar. Urban legend or not? – even Snopes doesn’t confirm or deny this piece of musical trivia.

John Densmore kept the beat going as Ray Manzarek played the keyboard parts and bass on a Rhodes Piano Bass during their live performances. On this recording from the “Strange Days” album, however, Doug Lubahn is playing bass guitar. Manzarek utilized a clavinet and not a harpsichord which is often misstated when this song is mentioned. Of courses, the lead vocals were by the legendary Jim Morrison.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Kelly Family: Brother, Brother

The Kelly Family were children of two American parents who traveled as vagabond musicians throughout Europe beginning in the 1970s. While they are immensely popular throughout the European continent, they are virtually unknown in the US. I found the Kelly Family by accident when I was looking for bouzouki music and found a recording by the youngest of the family – Angelo Kelly. The family is very close-knit and all are multi-instrumentalists.

Today’s Spiritual Sunday tune features the third from the youngest member of the band: Michael Patrick Kelly who is better known as Paddy Kelly. He is the only one of the 12 Kelly children who was born in Ireland.

The brother that sang "Brother, Brother" became a Brother.

From 2004 to this year, Paddy study theology at a monastery in Ireland where he took the monastic name of John Paul Mary. Paddy has left the order and is returning to music full-time.

My favorite part of the instrumentation of "Brother, Brother" is the chorus effect on the guitar. It just makes this song.

"Brother, Brother" was written for his family – especially the male members, but it can have significance for all of us. At the time the song was written, the band’s father Dan Kelly was still living. He died in 2002. The live recording below was recorded after Dan’s death.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Mason Proffit: Eugene Pratt

Today’s bubbling under song did not chart on Billboard’s Hot 100 when it was released in 1971. From Mason Proffit’s third LP “Last Night I had the Strangest Dream,” “Eugene Pratt” was a Vietnam War protest song. Although not well known, Mason Proffit was Chicago based country-rock band that was fronted by Terry and John Michael Talbot.

Although the song was panned by Top 40 radio, it became an underground classic where its anti-war message hit home with the audience who had a bit of problem with our “police action” in Southeast Asia. Although of draft age at the time the war was winding down, I would have gone if my number was called and done my duty – even though like Eugene Pratt, I had reservations why we were there in the first place.

I just love the production on this song by one the Midwest’s favorite and most obscure bands of the late sixties and early seventies. “Last Night I had the Strangest Dream” was the band’s only album for the Ampex label.

Their first two LPs were on the Flying Tiger Freight Line’s own record label – Happy Tiger Records. From 1972 to 1975, Mason Proffit released three albums with Warner Brothers - one was a repackaging of their first two LPs on Happy Tiger. In addition, the first Talbot Brothers’ album was originally released on Warners to fulfill the band’s contract for four albums. “That’s the way it was; that’s the way it is.” In more recent times, Terry Talbot reformed the band and released a fifth LP on Warners in 2005 under their name. 

See also the post of "Two Hangman" from Mason Proffit's debut album.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Beatles: I Saw Her Standing There

I’ve wanted to feature the flip to The Beatles’ “I Want to Hold your Hand” for some time now and yesterday’s feature on their Ed Sullivan performance reminded me of this tune. “I Saw Her Standing There” made the single a double sided hit by charting at #14 in the US.

Ironically, it was recorded 48 years ago today on February 11, 1963. Capitol Records released it as a single almost exactly a year later on February 8, 1963 – the day before the first Ed Sullivan performance. It had previously appeared on the US LP “Introducing… the Beatles” on the VeeJay label.

Typically the countdown to a song was edited out, but producer George Martin not only decided to leave it in, he made it better by taking a more rousing countdown by Paul McCartney found on the ninth take and tape spliced it to the beginning of take one – and the rest was rock and roll history.

On “Please Please Me,” The Beatles’ first UK LP, “I Saw Her Standing There” was the lead cut. This was repeated on the VeeJay release; however, part of the countdown was edited with only the four remaining. On the first Capitol LP, “Meet the Beatles,” the song appears second to “I Want to Hold your Hand.” While “I Saw Her Standing There” was the US flip to the #1 “I Want to Hold your Hand,” “This Boy” appeared as the flip in the UK.

I have one more thing to add about this song and it shows what a strange family from which I come. Even after all of these years, I remember my brother’s parody of the tune that went as follows:

She was just ninety-nine;
And looked like Frankenstein.
And the way she looked was way beyond repair.
So how could I dance with her mother, when I saw her standing there?

If there was any more to this parody I don’t remember it, but I’m sure Chuck will call and let me know.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Beatles On Ed Sullivan 2-9-1964

Where were you in ’64? Forty-seven years ago last night, The Beatles had their debut performance on the Ed Sullivan Show. As a member of the TV generation, I sat along with family members mesmerized by the four lads from Liverpool. Although they had released singles in the US since 1962 on a half a dozen different labels, the band did not get noticed until Capitol Records picked up there option and released the album “Meet The Beatles” and the single “I Want To Hold Your Hand/I Saw Her Standing There.”

While it wasn't their first time on American TV, February 1964 was a big month for the Fab Four and their three consecutive Ed Sullivan performances secured their place in American stardom.

I can remember watching this first performance on KDKA-TV 2 in Pittsburgh. The Ed Sullivan Show was an American staple on Sundays at 8 PM. Remember Topo Gigio, the guy that spun the plates to Khachaturian’s “Sabre Dance,” and Bill Dana's José Jiménez? Ah yes, but nothing tops the memory of seeing The Beatles live.

I’m not sure where my mother was that night - I would imagine that she had not yet returned from church. I remember sitting in front of the TV with my 15 year-old brother John and my 79 year-old grandmother who was temporarily living with us as she had recently fallen and had broken her arm.

I should explain that Grandma was not on the floor with John and me, but rather she was comfortably sitting in the swivel rocker we had in the living room. The three of us sat there with rapt attention as John, Paul, George, and Ringo performed “All My Loving,” “’Til There was You,” “She Loves You,” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” I wonder what Grandma thought of this music.

The performance was the talk of Mrs. Beck’s third grade class at Green Valley Elementary School the next day. It was truly fantastic. Their harmonies, which were somewhat different than the recordings, were fabulous. I’m glad I had a chance to see this live. Looking back 47 years and having 20 years broadcasting experience, I can honestly say that the camera shots, the sets, the sound, and the entire production were top notch. Although I’m a day late in getting this up, it is a perfect selection for TV Thursday. Enjoy this trip back to 1964.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Argent: Hold Your Head Up

Ah yes, the summer of 1972 – and what we Americans thought was a new band had been in existence since the break-up of the Zombies in 1968. Four years later, Argent burst onto both AOR and Top 40 American radio stations with their top 5 hit “Hold Your Head Up.” The song was co-written by keyboardist Rod Argent and producer Chris White. White had been the bassist in the Zombies with Rod Argent four years previous.

The band also included multi-instrumentalist Russ Ballard, bassist Jim Rodford (who was Argent’s cousin), and Robert Henrit on drums. Unfortunately, it was Argent’s only US hit; however, they scored top 40 hits in the UK with “Tragedy” and “God Gave Rock and Roll to You.” Such was not their luck on this side of the pond. So with that in mind, “Hold Your Head Up” is our Wednesday One Hit Wonder.

The album version of the song is the one to hear. At over six minutes in length, it’s a progressive song that features Rod Argent’s acumen on the keyboards and would inspire groups to come like Boston. The lead vocal chores are handled by Russ Ballard.

Single Edit

Here’s the original stereo single edit for AM Top 40 radio. It is amazing that the lousy plastic (not vinyl) CBS used on their single releases sounds so good nearly 40 years later. See if you can find the edit – this is an easy one.

Live version from Midnight Special

John Denver introduces the band for their 1973 performance on Burt Sugarman’s Midnight Special.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Abigail Washburn: City of Refuge

I caught a piece on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” program this last Sunday and the final vignette dealt with banjoist Abigail Washburn. I wasn’t familiar with her or her music prior to this episode and I cannot tell you why. But that is behind me now – I certainly am a fan of her clawhammer style of banjo playing and her crystal clear voice. It is certainly worth taking a listen to this live cut from WFPK in Louisville, KY to see what you think.

Abigail is also married to the best known banjoist these days – Bela Fleck. Although Bela plays a different style altogether, I would imagine that this marriage would produce some unique jam sessions around the old home place. I wonder what style their children will play after they have the obligatory banjo lessons.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Gary Moore: Red House

I heard last night that guitarist Gary Moore had passed away in Spain while on vacation. Not only known for his three stints with Thin Lizzy, Moore had a semi-successful solo career. Sadly, he never reached the renown that matched his talent.

In honor of Moore and to fulfill our Monday Cover feature, I have selected a live concert recording of his covering Jimi Hendrix's “Red House.” It really showcases Moore's talent as a guitarist and vocalist. It was recorded at Wembley Arena in 2004. Rest in Peace Gary – the world will miss your talent.

Jimi Hendrix Original

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Patty Loveless: Two Coats

Today’s Spiritual Sunday selection comes from Patty Loveless’ 2001 “Mountain Soul” CD. This release has a great selection of songs and it reminds me of the eight years that I lived in Eastern Kentucky. Some of my favorite tunes include “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” (which I prefer to Kathy Mattea’s version and Darrell Scott’s original), Ralph Stanley’s “Daniel Prayed,” and today’s selection “Two Coats.”

The illustration is of one’s taking off the old man and putting on the new one is told in the comparison of trading an old worn overcoat for one that is new and better. It is in an interesting key – B. For some reason, B is a popular key in bluegrass music. For the life of me, I don’t know why any string musician would want to play in B as it is a difficult key for guitars, mandolins, and banjos.

Emory Gordy, who coproduced the album with Loveless, plays slack-key guitar to get the very low B notes, which are a fourth lower than standard tuning. I learned this song on five-string banjo a number of years, but B was a key that was not only difficult to play, but too low for my voice. I came up with a modal banjo tuning of A D A D E – (which I can only remember though the mnemonic device of A Daddy). Typically, a five-string banjo is tuned as G D G B D.

I’ve never performed it, but now that I have a music room. I think I’ll work it up again using my own type of clawhammer style.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Cheap Trick: Surrender

Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” was a song that didn’t get much (or perhaps any) airplay in the Huntington, WV market when it was released in June 1978. I first heard it in Columbus, OH that summer while I was hopelessly trying to make headway with a young lady I knew from there – it was a futile attempt. C'est la vie as they say in France.

I got to see Cheap Trick in concert several months later when I won a pair of tickets from WVAF in Charleston. I was actually working at another radio station in Huntington and listing to them at the time of my evening shift. It shows that I was multitasking at the young age of 22. AC/DC opened the show and I took a friend from my former job at McDonalds in South Point, Ohio to the concert. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

The song never gained widespread national attention at the time of its release but has gone into the pantheon of Cheap Trick numbers from the exposure it has received since its initial release. It has been featured in a number of films including “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”; however, it was omitted from the soundtrack. “Surrender” peaked at 63 on the Hot 100.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Yardbirds: Steeled Blues

Today’s Friday Flipside was flea market find for me back in 1972 or 73. In those days, I scoured the local flea market at the Great Valley Shopping Center for all types of records including LPs, EPs, 45s, and 78s. Not familiar with the flip written by Jeff Beck, I purchased the single solely based on the A side of “Heart Full of Soul.”

When I got back home, I played both sides and really loved the flip of “Steeled Blues.” The song features the slide guitar of Jeff Beck and adding to the blues ambiance is Keith Relf’s harmonica. The song originally was a single only release.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Bibio: Lovers' Carvings

Used for a recent commercial celebrating the Kindle, Bibio’s “Lovers’ Carvings” is a song in two movements. It is the second movement that appears in the commercial as the bed. The second movement starts at 1:28 into the song. “Lovers’ Carvings” is from Bibio’s 2009 LP “Ambivalence Avenue.”

Bibio is the non de plume of UK music producer Stephen Wilkinson. Obviously Wilkinson is doing something right as his music is also used as commercial beds for L.L. Bean, Toyota, and others.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cymarron: Rings

It’s One Hit Wonder Wednesday and see if you remember this 1971 top 20 hit from Cymarron. The band took their name from a failed TV series from the late sixties named “Cimarron Strip.” “Rings” was the group’s only recording of note. It peaked at 17. Lobo later released the song as a single in 1974, but his version only made it to 43 on the Hot 100.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Battlefield Band: The Yew Tree

I apologize for the absence of two days – our cable MODEM died and was not restored until late yesterday. So, we will pick up with our Traditional Tuesday song. This one is from Scotland’s Battlefield Band. I had the opportunity to hear them twice – once in Lewisburg, WV and again in Charleston, WV during the late 1980s.

“The Yew Tree” is a song that chronicles a brief history of Scotland's struggles and was part of the selections from their 1984 “Anthem for the Common Man” album. I was always impressed by this song and the band in general. I purchased a cassette of this and their “Celtic Hotel” cassettes directly from the band and had the members autograph the J-Cards for me. Both cassettes got a great amount of play in my car while on my many journeys in the late 80s and early 90s.


A mile frae Pentcaitland, on the road to the sea,
Stands a yew tree a thousand years old.
And the old women swear by the grey o' their hair,
That it knows what the future will hold.
For the shadows of Scotland stand round it:
'Mid the kail and the corn and the kye –
All the hopes and the fears of a thousand long years,
Under the Lothian sky

My bonnie yew tree:
Tell me what did you see?

Did you look through the haze o' the lang summer days
Tae the South and the far English border—
A' the bonnets o' steel on Flodden's far field.
Did they march by your side in good order?
Did you ask them the price o' their glory?
When you heard the great slaughter begin—
For the dust o' their bones would rise up from the stones,
To bring tears to the eyes o' the wind

My bonnie yew tree :
Tell me what did you see?

Not once did you speak for the poor and the weak.
When the moss-troopers lay in your shade,
To count out the plunder and hide frae the thunder—
And share out the spoils o' their raid.
But you saw the smiles o' the gentry,
And the laughter of lords at their gains.
When the poor hunt the poor across mountain and moor,
The rich man can keep them in chains.

My bonnie yew tree:
Tell me what did you see?

Did you no' think tae tell when John Knox himsel'?
Preached under your branches sae black—
To the poor common folk, who would lift up the yoke
O' the bishops and priests frae their backs.
But you knew the bargain he sold them,
And freedom was only one part.
For the price o' their souls was a gospel sae cold,
It would freeze up the joy in their hearts.

My bonnie yew tree:
Tell me what did you see?

And I thought as I stood and laid hands on your wood
That it might be a kindness to fell you.
One kiss o' the axe and you're freed frae the racks.
O' the sad bloody tales that men tell you—
But a wee bird flew out from your branches,
And sang out as never before.
And the words o' the song were a thousand years long.
And to learn them's a long thousand more.

My bonnie yew tree:
Tell me what CAN you see?