Saturday, December 31, 2011

Van Morrison: Celtic New Year

Happy New Year’s all and for this New Year’s Eve Bubbling Under hit, I’ve selected Van Morrison’s “Celtic New Year” as today’s song. I know, it’s the Gregorian New Year and not the Celtic New Year, but I thought this song was fitting any way.

The instrumentation is interesting on this one. I like the string arrangements especially. The cut comes from the British TV Show “Later with Jools Holland.” I’m taking tomorrow off from the blog, so see you Monday. Have a Happy New Year.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Eagles: Funky New Year

Well I looked very hard to find a copy of today’s New Year’s themed flipside and found an audio version of the Eagle’s “Funky New Year.” The song was probably written tongue in cheek to see if the band could pull off recording a funk song during the height of the funk craze. Written by Don Henley and Glenn Frey, it features Henley on lead vocals and probably Frey on keyboards – off which the most notable is a clavinet.

The song was the flipside of “Please Come Home for Christmas” that was released in 1978 and peaked at #18. I haven’t been able to find a list of the personnel, but it appears that the recording includes the same lineup of the band as “The Long Run” album and includes, besides Henley and Frey, Don Felder, Timothy B. Schmidt, and Joe Walsh. It is an interesting recording outside of the normal boundaries that were previously set by the Eagles.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Mohammed Rafi: Jaan Pehechan-Ho

Well, it’s not every day that I feature a song sung in Hindi, but today “Jaan Pehechan-Ho” by Mohammed Rafi is our TV Thursday song. The tune and its accompanying video were recorded in 1965 for the Bollywood release of the Indian thriller “Gumnaam.” The movie was a loose adaptation of Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None.” The song and its original video also made it to American movie screens in 2001 as part of the movie "Ghost World."

A loose translation of the song’s title to English is “We need to get to know each other.” Written by Shankar Jaikishan and Anand Bakshi, the song was recorded by Mohammed Rafi. It was once theorized that Rafi, who supplied the singing voice for numerous Bollywood movies, had recorded more songs than any other individual.

Fluent in a number of languages, Rafi recorded songs in Hindi, Urdu, Konkani, Bhojpuri, Oriya, Punjabi, Bengali, Marathi, Sindhi, Kannada, Gujarati, Telugu, Maghi, Maithili, Assamese, English, Persian, Spanish and Dutch. Like with “Jann Pehechan-Ho,” his primary language canvas was Hindi. He recorded over 7,500 songs in Hindi for motion pictures alone.

Rafi did not appear in the film “Gumnaam”; however, the music was synched by Ted Lyons and His Cubs – a real band from the period. Lyons is the drummer, while the front man for the movie was Herman Benjamin also known as “Mr. Charisma.” In addition, Benjamin was responsible for the choreography at the Silver Jubilee disco. At one point, Benjamin takes a handheld stereo mike onto the dance floor. Watch what he does with the mike stand as well – he was way ahead of his time.

The central character of the video is the exotic Laxmi Chhaya who is wearing the gold lamé outfit and who discards her mask during her dance. She was 18 at the time this film was shot. While an example of kitsch, it is not unlike the dance scenes from the beach baby bimbo films coming from Hollywood at the time. The music, although not the style heard on American radio, was also consistent with the bands featured in American films of the same era.

TV Commercial

“Jaan Pehechan-Ho” was chosen as the TV Thursday selection because it is featured in Heineken’s latest commercial titled “The Date.” The first time I saw the commercial I loved this song and had to find it. Even though it’s not in English, it’s shows that music is universal despite the language.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Haircut One Hundred: Love Plus One

While Haircut One Hundred had four Top 40 hit singles in the UK, they had one minor hit in the US “Love Plus One.” It only charted at #37 in 1982; however, it was a #3 record in their native land. “Love Plus One” also charted at #8 on Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play and #18 on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks charts.

Haircut One Hundred was fronted by guitarist/vocalist Nick Heyward who also was the band’s primary song writer. “Love Plus One” was featured on the band’s debut LP “Pelican West.” Their sound was mixture of styles and was similar to The Beat or The English Beat as they were known in the US.

I loved this album when it was released, but upon listening to some of it recently, I realize that it didn’t have the staying power as other LPs from the early 80s. The single still sounds good though. I love the driving bass, sax, and percussion on this number.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Carlos Vamos: Little Wing

When I picked up my Christmas present of an octave mandolin the other day, the first song I played was Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing”; however, I played my very basic rendition of the chords to the Clapton version from “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs” by Derek and the Dominoes. I actually heard this version first, but like Hendrix’s original much better. Even better, I like the live version The Corrs did a few years back.

I’ve already featured The Corrs, Clapton, and Hendrix.  I was looking for another version for this week';s Tasty Licks Tuesday feature; however, I found an even better version – better than Hendrix – no way. Way.

I stumbled upon Carlos Vamos’ instrumental treatment. Vamos lives in Amsterdam, but you are likely to see him busking around Europe with his partner in crime – dulcimer player Lindsey Buckland as part of The Famous Unknowns. From looking at his MySpace site, it is obvious that guitar is not his only talent as his portfolio of the mixed media creations.

As far as recordings, Carlos has 17 CDs to his credit. His talent in using both hands to tap the guitar into a world of marvelous sounds makes me want to give away all of my instruments and shave my head as I will never in a million years have the talent he has in one finger within my two hands. I am now definitely a fan.

Vamos’ Etherial Electric Version

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Roches: Good King Wenceslas

I figured that I would feature the best known carol for the Feast of Stephen which falls on December 26 or December 27 depending on one’s religious calendar. It is typically lumped into the realm of Christmas carols as its proximity to the primary holiday of the season.

After listening to a half dozen versions of “Good King Wenceslas,” I chose the vocal treatment by The Roches from their Christmas LP “We Three Kings.” While the trio of Irish-American sisters of Maggie, Terre, and Suzzy Roche never achieved commercial success, they did have critical acclaim. I just liked their simple arrangement of this 19th century English carol.

The song was written about Wenceslas I, Duke of Bohemia, who braced the cold of St. Stephen’s day to give alms to a peasant. Wenceslas was later martyred by his younger brother Boreslav the Cruel who ascended to the leadership of the Duchy of Bohemia. Although only a duke in his lifetime, Holy Roman Emperor Otto I posthumously applied the regal title to Wenceslas – hence he became “Good King Wenceslas.”

John Mason Neale and Thomas Helmore authored the lyrics and applied it to a 13th century Finnish folk tune, “Tempus adest floridum.” Neale and Helmore’s version was first published in 1852.

I typically don’t comment on the video treatments found on YouTube, I try to find versions that do not have stupid videos. Unfortunately, that was not the case with The Roches’ treatment of the song uploaded by a fan. You can close your eyes and listen to their voices and disregard the silly bouncing duck.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Moody Blues: When A Child is Born

In 2003, the Moody Blues released their Christmas LP “December.” It was their first recording since the retirement of flautist Ray Thomas. The band only includes three members – one original, Graeme Edge on drums and two additional from the classic band lineup, guitarist Justin Hayward and bassist John Lodge.

Joining the band on this LP are two members of the touring band: Norda Mullen on flute and Danilo Madonia on keyboards. The music for “When a Child is Born” was composed as an instrumental named “Soleado” by Ciro Dammicco alias “Zacar.” The lyrics were authored by Fred Jay several years later.

The Moodies do an excellent version of this Christmas song that starts with Norda Mullen’s flute. Both Justin Hayward and John Lodge share lead vocal duties. It is an excellent to remember the reason for the season – the birth of the Christ child. May you and yours have a Merry Christmas.


A ray of hope flickers in the sky
A tiny star lights up way up high
All across the land dawns a brand new morn
This comes to pass when a child is born

A silent wish sails the seven seas
The winds of change whisper in the trees
And the walls of doubt crumble tossed and torn
This comes to pass, when a child is born

A rosy hue settles all around
You got the feel, you're on solid ground
For a spell or two no one seems forlorn
This comes to pass, when a child is born

And all of this happens, because the world is waiting.
Waiting for one child; Black-white-yellow, no one knows...
But a child that will grow up and turn tears to laughter,
Hate to love, war to peace and everyone to everyone's neighbor,
And misery and suffering will be words to be forgotten forever.

It's all a dream and illusion now,
It must come true sometime soon somehow,
All across the land dawns a brand new morn,
This comes to pass when a child is born.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

John & Yoko: Happy Xmas (War is Over)

Our Bubbling Under selection for this Christmas Eve was released in December 1971 by John and Yoko and the Plastic Ono Band. Originally released in green vinyl for the 1971 holiday season, “Happy Xmas (War is Over) was a anti-Vietnam war protest record that subsequently became a Christmas favorite. It charted on Billboard’s Christmas chart at #3; however, it never made it to the Hot 100 chart let alone the Top 40.

The single was subsequently released every year. In 1972, Apple utilized the label schema from Lennon and Ono’s “Sometime in New York City” that shows John and Yoko’s faces morphing into one person. All versions of the single have the couple giving a Christmas message to their children from previous marriages: Kyoko and Julian.

In 1982, Geffen Records, Lennon’s label at the time of his 1980 death, rereleased the single as part of their “John Lennon Collection” LP – the single was released under Lennon’s name only. The original single listed the artists under as "John & Yoko with the Plastic Ono Band and the Harlem Community Choir." Unlike the original which had Yoko's “Listen the Snow is Falling” as the flip side, “Beautiful Boy” was selected as the “B” side.

In 1993, Capitol Records released "Happy Xmas" once again in green vinyl as a jukebox only single. They released numerous Beatles’ singles at the same time in colored vinyl for jukebox play. The series has become a popular collectors’ item and are available at relatively inexpensive prices despite the limited numbers of these singles that were available.

Geffen release picture sleeve from 1982

While some will balk at the title of this single as “Happy ‘Xmas’” as being a late twentieth effort to eliminate Christ’s name from Christmas by “X”ing it out. The replacement of Christ with X goes back centuries as a shortcut – as Christ in Greek is written with the letter chi – which looks exactly like the English/Latin letter “X.” The designation of X for Christ goes back at least 1000 years.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Jethro Tull: Christmas Song

Friday’s Flipside with a Christmas song that came out in late 1972 as the “B” side to Jethro Tull’s “Living in the Past.” While “Living in the Past” was originally recorded in 1969 and released as a single in the UK at that time, it did not make its way across the Atlantic until the release of the “Living in the Past” LP in 1972.

While the “A” side is a great tune that was Tull’s biggest American single charting at #11. It also unusual since it is in 5/4 time – shades of Dave Brubeck. “Living in the Past” was released four times (1969, 1972, 1975, & 1985) – each with a different flip side. The 1972 version had “Christmas Song,” which was perfect timing due to its late release in the year.

In addition to flute, Ian Anderson is also playing mandolin on this cut. It does cut – as it chides people for not having the real spirit of Christmas especially during this time of year.


Once in royal David's city –
Stood a lonely cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her baby.
You'd do well to remember the things he later said.

When you're stuffing yourselves at the Christmas parties,
You'll laugh when I tell you,
To take a running jump.
You're missing the point I'm sure does not need making:
That Christmas spirit is –
Not what you drink.

So how can you laugh when your own mother's hungry?
And how can you smile, when the reasons for smiling are wrong?
And if I just messed up your thoughtless pleasures,
Remember, if you wish, this is just a Christmas song.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Drifters: White Christmas

Well I skipped yesterday as there are very few Christmas records that are true one-hit wonders that I haven’t already featured on this blog, or that I would ever dare to feature. During 20 years of radio broadcasting, there were songs I skipped over during the holiday season and I am not ready to start playing some of them now. I was very particular about the Christmas songs I played and I’m not quite ready for “I’m Getting Nuthin’ for Chirstmas” and others that actually made it to the Top 40. So rather than skipping to another category, I skipped yesterday’s post.

Today’s theme of TV Thursday is pushing it, as Jimmy Durante’s version of “Frosty the Snowman” is not my cup of eggnog either. Gee, I’m beginning to sound like The Grinch – oh yeah, I’ve featured that number by Thurl Ravenscroft last year. By the way, I just like saying Thurl Ravenscroft anyway.

I mean pushing it, as today’s feature song was used in several motion pictures that have made their way to television. Two I can remember are “Home Alone” and “The Santa Clause.” Since they have been featured on TV, I guess it is safe to make The Drifter’s 1954 rendition of “White Christmas” our TV Thursday Christmas song.

The song features lead vocalist Clyde McPhatter and bass singer Bill Pinkney, although his name was misspelled on the labels of the 78 and 45 releases of the tune. “White Christmas” charted on Billboard’s Rhythm and Blues chart at #2 in 1954. It made the Hot 100 in 1955 by charting at 80. It’s a great song and sure much more palatable for someone of my generation than the original by Bing Crosby – even though the 78 on Decca and subsequent reissues on 45 on Decca and MCA made Bing’s version the biggest selling single of all time. Bing sang this Irving Berlin song in two movies, 1942’s “Holiday Inn” and 1944’s “White Christmas.”

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Faith Noel

For Tasty Licks Tuesday, we feature some great guitar work from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The instrumental “Faith Noel” incorporates the traditional carol “The First Noel” as well as original music from this band known for their Christmas performances.

“Faith Noel” opens their 2004 CD “The Lost Christmas Eve.” The premise of the CD is that an angel is sent from God to find the person that best exemplifies Jesus. At the conclusion, it is discovered that there are many who are in image of Jesus – especially at this auspicious time of the year.

Despite their Eurasian name that was taken from the Trans-Siberian Railroad, the band is American. According to band leader Paul O’Neill in an interview in the Citizen’s Voice in November, “In the 1980s I was fortunate enough to have visited Russia. If anyone has ever seen Siberia, it is incredibly beautiful but incredibly harsh and unforgiving as well. The one thing that everyone who lives there has in common that runs across it . . . is the Trans-Siberian Railway. Life, too, can be incredibly beautiful but also incredibly harsh and unforgiving, and the one thing that we all have in common that runs across it . . . is music. It was a little bit overly philosophical, but it sounded different, and I like the initials, TSO.”

While I haven’t been to Siberia, I have seen it from 30,000 feet in a Korean Air jetliner – it is a rugged, harsh, and unforgiving landscape. The area that I witnessed was not near the railroad, but rather on the far eastern coast and mountainous regions near the Arctic Ocean and the Bering Sea. Somewhere, I have photos of the landscape from the air.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Annie Lennox: In The Bleak Midwinter

Our second in our series of Christmas songs this season features Annie Lennox formerly of the Eurythmics and her interpretation of “In the Bleak Midwinter.” The song appears on her 2010 CD “A Christmas Cornucopia.” The album was favorably received by the public and critics alike. Interestingly enough, Lennox was born on Christmas Day in 1954.

“In the Bleak Midwinter” was written in 1872 by Christina Rossetti in fulfillment of a request for a Christmas themed poem by Scribners Monthly magazine. By 1906, Gustav Holst had set the poem to music and it appeared in The English Hymnal. Because of its late writing, it is not particularly known in the United States as are earlier Christmas carols.

Lennox plays seventeen instruments on this CD, as well as singing lead and backing vocals, writing orchestral and string arrangements, and producing the album.


In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.

Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Blackmore's Night: We Three Kings

In keeping with the Christmas season, for the next week I’ll be featuring various Christmas songs as part of “Reading between the Grooves.” Today’s Spiritual Sunday selection comes from Blackmore’s Night – led by former Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and his wife Candace Night.

The traditional carol, “We Three Kings” comes from their 2006 CD “Winter Carols.” It is a nice treatment of this song written in the mid 19th century by John Henry Hopkins, Jr. Apparently the song was initially written for a holiday pageant starring the students of the General Theological Seminary in New York City in 1857.

Typically, the song is performed in Em, but Blackmore’s Night does it in Am.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Fleetwood Mac: Landslide

This Saturday’s bubbling under hit is actually a double bubble under. Fleetwood Mac’s studio version of “Landslide” from the 1975 “Fleetwood Mac” album was a popular album cut for album radio. Because it wasn’t released as a single in ’75, it never charted.

The song was written prior to Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham joined Fleetwood Mac. After only one LP, Polydor Records released Buckingham Nicks from their contract. The couple’s marriage was suffering as well. On a trip to Colorado, she felt her life was in a landslide as she looked out at the mountains, and hence, the song that bears that name was born. It was one of two Nicks contributions to her first LP with Fleetwood Mac.

In 1997, the most popular lineup of Fleetwood Mac (Nicks, Buckingham, Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood, and John McVie) rejoined forces and released a live CD of primarily older material. “Landslide” was released as a single from “The Dance” and it became an adult contemporary hit, but failed to make the Top 40 and only charted at #51.

Its performance on two lite rock formats did better charting at #10 on the AC chart and #26 on the Adult Top 40 chart. While released as a Fleetwood Mac single, only Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham appeared on this performance. The maxi single also included three remixes of the 1975 studio version of “Landslide.”


I took my love, I took it down
Climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
‘Til the landslide brought me down

Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?
Mmm, mmm, mmm

Well, I've been afraid of changing
'Cause I've built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older and I'm getting older too

Well, I've been afraid of changing
'Cause I've built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older and I'm getting older too
Oh, I'm getting older too

Ah, take my love, take it down
Ah, climb a mountain and turn around
And if you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well, the landslide’ll bring it down

And if you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well, the landslide’ll bring it down
Oh, the landslide’ll bring it down

Friday, December 16, 2011

Elton John: Take Me To The Pilot

Well not all of the Friday Flipsides I feature are “B” sides, as some are those unfortunate songs which are “A” sides that get flipped by radio programmers in deference to a more popular “B” side. Elton John’s “Take me to the Pilot” from his self-titled second album is one of those cuts. While a rocker, the ballad “Your Song” that was the intended “B” side became the hit charting at #8 in 1971.

Notwithstanding, “Take me to the Pilot” is a great cut that received some airplay but failed to chart in the Hot 100.

The production is a little dated with the instrumentation segregated to certain sides of the mix – sometimes the piano is the left channel and other times it’s in the right channel. It appears to be suffering a little production schizophrenia. The saving grace of this cut is Paul Buckmaster’s string arrangement. Come to think of it, as I listen to the cut - the mix started to make sense to me. 

Live Version

Personally, I like the live version of this song on the "11-17-70" album a whole lot better than the original,  as it displays Elton's concert energy. This version was recorded in New York’s A&R Studios and broadcast on WABC-FM. It was never intended for release, but bootlegs of the broadcast forced UNI Records to counter with a legitimate copy of the recording.  I'm glad they did.  The original LP was only 2/3 of the concert as a single LP could only fit about 40 minutes of music and the entire show was an hour long.  Today, the entire show in its original order is available on CD.

While this version is a little thin and missing Paul Buckmaster’s strings, it smokes. While “Take me to the Pilot” opens the album, it was actually the eighth song performed that night – so Elton was fully warmed up to say the least. A heck of a lot of sound comes from the three musicians: Elton, Dee Murray on bass, and Nigel Olsson on drums.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Josh Ritter: Good Man

Here’s a song that I featured in the past, but I cannot find where I had ever posted it on the blog. I was reminded of this tune a few weeks ago when I heard it on an older episode of House, M.D. – specifically, the season three finale.

The artist, Josh Ritter, cites his early influences as Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan – specifically, Dylan’s “Nashville Skyline” LP. One of the interesting things about Ritter is that he created his own college major at Ohio’s Oberlin College. His self designed major was “American History through Narrative Folk Music.” Being that I like both history and music, I find this fascinating.

“Good Man” comes from Ritter’s fourth album, “The Animal Years,” that was released in 2006 and was later re-released this year in a deluxe edition on CD and in vinyl.

Live Version

The audio quality is not the greatest, but it gives you an idea of what Josh is doing up on the 11th fret on his Gibson J-45. The song is the key of E.


These chords are old but we shake hands
Cause I believe that they're the good guys
We can use all the help we can
So many minor chords outside
I fell in love with the sound
Oh I love to sing along with you
We got tunes we kicked around
We got a bucket that the tunes go through

Babe we both had dry spells
Hard times in badlands
I'm a good man
For ya
I'm a good man

Last night there was a horse in the road
I was twisting in the hairpin
My hands held on, my mind let go
And back to you my heart went skipping
I found the inside of the road
Thought about the first time that I met you
All those glances that we stole
Sometimes if you want them then you've got to

Babe we both had dry spells
Hard times in badlands
I'm a good man
For ya
I'm a good man

They shot a western south of here
They had him cornered in a canyon
And even his horse had disappeared
They said it got run down by a bad, bad man
You're not a good shot but I'm worse
And there's so much where we ain't been yet
So swing up on this little horse
The only thing we'll hit is sunset

Babe we both had dry spells
Hard times in badlands
I'm a good man
For ya
I'm a good man

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Georgia Satellites: Keep Your Hands To Yourself

Well I’ve been fighting a super cold virus for the last few days and when I was leaving for work yesterday, my wife who is wise in not wanting to catch this thing told me “no huggie and no kissie.” That got me thinking of a great rock ‘n roll tune from 1986 – “Keep Your Hands to Yourself.” This one hit wonder by The Georgia Satellites made it to number 2 on the hot 100.

None of their other singles broke the Top 40, although their cover of the Swingin’ Blue Jeans’ “Hippy Hippy Shake” came close at #45. This was a song that several bands I was in during the mid to late 80s played. In Street Heat, Kevin Cordle played the guitar parts and did the lead vocal, I bashed out chords on my Wurlitzer electric piano.

In my next band, The Game, I got to play some guitar on this tune. I just did the rhythm parts as they were taught to me by our lead guitarist Keith Fain. I’m not sure who sang the tune; it was either Keith or our drummer, Meredith Trent. That was 25 years ago, so forgive me if my memory happens to skip a beat from time to time. Come to think of it, our next band, Lyvyn Daylitz may have done this one as well.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cheap Trick: Mandocello

It’s been a while since I featured any Cheap Trick songs – so I guess I am due for one. I’ve always liked the band and had a chance to see them in concert in 1978. I actually won the tickets off one radio station while simultaneously working at another. Multitasking, I guess. It was the summer of that year and AC/DC opened for the Cheap Trick at the Huntington (WV) Civic Center.

Here’s a song from their first album and the title has nothing to do with the lyrics. “Mandocello” was named for the acoustic instrument that carries the rhythm but is predominant during the intro and outro of the tune. Guitarist Rick Nielsen plays the mandocello on the cut, but is not credited on the album as such.

The mandocello, which is typically mandolin shaped, is tuned as a ‘cello with double course strings as CC GG DD AA. Later versions of the mandocello were made with guitar bodies to provide better projection of the low sound as the C note is lower than the low E on a guitar.

I have a mandocello wrapped up in the corner and I am not allowed to touch it until Christmas. Drat. I can’t wait to get it out and play it. I always loved sound of the instrument and since it is tuned in fifths, I should be able to pick it up pretty easily as I already play mandolin, tenor guitar, and bouzouki – all tuned in fifths. Oh well, until Christmas – here’s Cheap Trick’s “Mandocello.”

Monday, December 12, 2011

Paul Winter Consort: Icarus

Suffering from a terrible winter cold, I skipped working on the blog yesterday. Not feeling much better, I thought I would at least provide one of my favorite recordings from the 1970s: “Icarus” by the Paul Winter Consort. The Consort defied definition in the 1970s being mostly found within the jazz bins of record stores. Today, it would be called “world music.”

Live Version from 1970

“Icarus” features Ralph Towner on guitar, Paul Winter on soprano sax, Paul McCandless on double reeds, Glen Moore on bass, David Darling on ‘cello, and Colin Walcott on percussion.

Although composed by a guitarist, the song’s finest points are the ‘cello and the reeds. What a great instrumental and perfect for a Mélange Monday.

Studio Version from 1972

In 1972, the band recorded a studio version of what would be one of their signature tunes with the same personnel with the exception of Herb Buscher on bass.

“Icarus,” written by guitarist Ralph Towner, is the title cut of the album of same name. Like the album “Road,” “Icarus” opens the LP.

Ralph Towner’s Solo Version

Since I was a fan of the music of the ECM record label out of Germany, I was constantly buying product from this label for my jazz show in the late 70s. Ralph Towner’s solo recording was my introduction to “Icarus.” Knowledge of the Paul Winter Consort came at the hands of my friend Jon Weiner who plays ‘cello.

From his 1974 release “Diary,” Towner plays all of the instruments and piano becomes the lead instrument of choice replacing the ‘cello and the reeds of the Paul Winter Consort versions. It is nice – and this morning was the first time I’ve listened to this version since the 70s. I forgot how good it was.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

James Gang: Must Be Love

When folks typically think of the James Gang, they normally equate the band with the Joe Walsh years from 1968 to 1971 that produced such hits as “Funk #49,” “Midnight Man,” and “Walk Away.” When Walsh left in 1971 to form Barnstorm, he was replaced by Domenic Troiano who recorded two albums with the band.

When Troiano left the James Gang to join The Guess Who, he was replaced by Tommy Bolin who performed on two albums before leaving the band. By 1975, Bolin had replaced Ritchie Blackmore in Deep Purple. By 1976, he was dead from an overdose.

“Bang,” Bolin’s first LP with the James Gang, produced one single that got significant airplay; however, it failed to chart in the Top 40. “Must be Love,” which features Bolin on guitar and vocals, bubbled under at #54 in 1974. It starts off with Bolin’s slide guitar and even features an Elvis impression – “uh, got that feeling – it must be love.”

Friday, December 9, 2011

Billy Joel: You're My Home

One of my favorite lyricists is Billy Joel – he really knows how to turn a phrase to his advantage. Consider the bridge of today’s Friday Flipside, “You’re My Home.”

Home can be the Pennsylvania Turnpike
      Indiana's early morning dew
                High up in the hills of California
                            Home is just another word for you.

It is truly brilliant – as is many of his other songs. “You’re My Home” was the “B” side to Joel’s first single, “Piano Man.” The single was released in November 1973 but did not peak at #25 until April 1974.

“You’re My Home” was written as a Valentine’s Day gift for Joel’s then wife, Elizabeth Weber because he could not afford a gift at the time. It’s a great tune; unfortunately, it does not appear that the pedal steel guitarist was credited on the album. Later live versions featured Tom Whitehorse on steel.

Unfortunately, you never hear this song very often. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


When you look into my eyes
And you see the crazy gypsy in my soul
It always comes as a surprise
When I feel my withered roots begin to grow
Well I never had a place that I could call my very own
That's all right, my love, 'cause you're my home

When you touch my weary head
And you tell me everything will be all right
You say, "Use my body for your bed
And my love will keep you warm throughout the night"
Well I'll never be a stranger and I'll never be alone
Whenever we're together, that's my home

Home can be the Pennsylvania Turnpike
Indiana's early morning dew
High up in the hills of California
Home is just another word for you

Well I never had a place that I could call my very own
That's all right, my love, 'cause you're my home

If I travel all my life
And I never get to stop and settle down
Long as I have you by my side
There's a roof above and good walls all around
You're my castle; you're my cabin and my instant pleasure dome
I need you in my house 'cause you're my home.
You're my home.

You're my home.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

M*A*S*H: Suicide is Painless

Yesterday, the world lost veteran actor Harry Morgan who is best known for his characterization of Colonel Sherman T. Potter on the televised version of M*A*S*H. The second commandant of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, Potter replaced Colonel Henry Blake who was portrayed by McLean Stevenson. Morgan made his debut as Potter during the series' fourth season.

For eight seasons, Morgan played the fatherly Colonel Potter – being both loveable and stern when necessary. My first memory of Morgan is his role as Officer Bill Gannon in the late 60s version of “Dragnet” opposite of Jack Webb; however, he had a long career as a film actor prior to his famous TV roles. I always felt he would have been a natural for Robert E. Lee as there was a resemblance between the two; however, that never happened. Morgan died yesterday of complications due to a recent bout with pneumonia. He was 96 years old.

Today’s TV Thursday song is the instrumental version of the theme from the original M*A*S*H motion picture. A vocal version of the song, “Suicide is Painless,” which relates to a suicide in the original motion picture was recorded as an instrumental, as American TV at the time would have not played song that appears to glorify one’s taking his or her own life.

The song was written by Johnny Mandel and Mike Altman, the fourteen year old son of the film’s director Robert Altman. The younger Altman made more in royalties for penning the dark lyrics than did his father for directing the film. The vocal version from the film was a #1 record in the UK and was credited to a contrived group named “The Mash.”

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pearl Harbor & The Explosions: You Got It (Release It)

Well, I’ll probably catch some flack over my decision for the artist to be featured on this the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in the Hawaiian Islands. Since there are no songs I know of that deal with the subject of Pearl Harbor, I decided to go with a band that’s named in honor of the home of the Pacific Fleet – Pearl Harbor and the Explosions.

Generally categorized as a new wave band, Pearl Harbor and the Explosions released their debut LP in 1979 and their single “Driving” was a local hit in their hometown of San Francisco – this caught the attention of the A&R department of Warner Brothers Records who signed the band and re-released the LP and single.

Even a cover version by Jane Aire and the Belvederes was released before Warners could get the single out. Neither version charted within the Hot 100. It was a typical new wave record and this was responsible for the band’s small, but not mainstream, following.

The second single, “You Got It (Release It),” probably should have been the LP’s first single, as it was extremely commercial sounding. This 1980 release had everything Top 40 radio could want: a catchy hook, great harmonies and instrumentation, tight production, and a length of only two minutes and 29 seconds.

Warners, however, wanted capitalize on the regional value of “Driving”; however, mainstream radio was not ready for it. Top 40 programmers turned off by “Driving” probably never gave “You Got It” a listen – and truth be known, since “Driving hadn’t attracted national attention, it probably was not a priority for Warner Brothers’ promotions team either. Pity.

If they would have released “You Got It” first, it probably would have been a top 10 single, thus leading the way for exposure for their less than mainstream singles such as “Driving” and “Shut up and Dance.” The latter being a better choice than “Driving” for a follow-up.

Pearl Harbor, whose name is listed as Pearl E. Gates (real? – I doubt it), later experienced some minor chart action with a remake of Wanda Jackson’s “Fujiyama Mama.” I was trying to find the studio recording of that one, but alas, it is not on YouTube. A live version with the Clash is available, but her vocals are down in the mix more than I like. Besides, this is a better representation of what could have been a hit record.

None of their songs made it into the Hot 100 – this one should have though. Therefore, I cannot classify it as a one-hit wonder – so today’s theme resurrects the “Anything Goes Wednesday” category.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Rory Gallagher: Tatoo'd Lady

Tasty Licks Tuesday brings a feature from Rory Gallagher’s “Irish Tour ‘74” LP and documentary. “Tatoo’d Lady” had previously been released in studio form as the title from the album of the same name, the live version gives you the opportunity to see Gallagher, one of premier guitarists of the twentieth century, doing one of his signature tunes.

The song also features an interesting lead from Gallagher’s keyboardist, Lou Martin, on his RMI Electrapiano. If you can only buy one Rory Gallagher LP, “Irish Tour ’74” is the one to own.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Poco: You Better Think Twice

I got thinking about this song the other day and it brought back memories of my first concert – Poco at the Syria Mosque in Pittsburgh in 1973. When they did this song in concert, Richie Furay sang the lead – it would be his last tour with the band before creating Souther, Hillman, and Furay later that year.

 The original vocalist on this cut was its composer, Jimmy Messina. Messina had left the band after the LP “Poco” – their second, which features “You Better Think Twice.” It was their first single to chart – at a dismal #72.

The album and single also feature Rusty Young on pedal steel guitar (among other instruments), George Grantham on drums, and newcomer Timothy B. Schmidt on bass. Schmidt was the replacement for Randy Meisner who left the band after their debut LP. He would later replace Meisner again when he joined the Eagles. Everyone sang backup.

Live Reunion Version

Richie Furay joins the band in a reunion to do this classic Poco cut. Paul Cotton, who replaced Messina, plays the leads on this one. Rusty Young, who in later years became the band’s leader, introduces the song. Jack Sundrud is on bass and George Lawrence joins in on drums and percussion. I believe that Michael Webb is the keyboardist.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Phil Keaggy: Love Broke Thru

In 1976, Phil Keaggy released his second solo album after leaving Glass Harp. The title cut of his “Love Broke Thru” album is our Spiritual Sunday selection. It was the single for the LP and I remember playing this one to death at WKCC – my first radio gig.

The song was co-written by Keith Green, Todd Fishkind, and Randy Stonehill. It has since been released by Stonehill and the late Keith Green. Keaggy’s interpretation may have been most folks introduction to the song. The string arrangement which makes this song was composed by Michael Omartian – an artist we featured a few weeks ago.

Well known musicians who played on this cut included the following: Leland Sklar on bass, Jim Gordon on Drums, and Larry Knechtel on keyboards. Back-up vocals were supplied by Mylon LeFevre and Matthew Ward and Anne Herring of 2nd Chapter of Acts.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Band: It Makes No Difference

Although Robbie Robertson penned the song “It Makes No Difference,” it was bassist Rick Danko’s vocals that make it come to life. Since it received a bit of album airplay in the 70s, it is regarded as our Saturday Bubbling Under hit. It appeared on The Band’s 1975 album “Northern Lights – Southern Cross.”

As with the remainder of the album, “It Makes No Difference” was recorded in 24 tracks. Keyboardist/saxophonist Garth Hudson made use of many of the empty tracks to layer keyboards. Hudson also plays the soprano sax leads on this song.

Robertson’s lyrics are powerful which I believe why so many people connected with this song. It includes memorable poetry such as “It makes no diff'rence who I meet. They're just a face in the crowd, on a dead-end street.” Love found and lost is echoed in “It makes no diff'rence how far I go – like a scar the hurt will always show.” Who can forget the poignant lines like, “These old love letters, well, I just can't keep. 'Cause like the gambler says read 'em and weep.”

Live Performance from “The Last Waltz”

Danko is playing a Gibson Ripper bass on this one and not the characteristic Ampeg AMUB-1 fretless bass he used to play in previous years.

The older bass had a scroll headstock and had F-holes that went through the body. Pretty neat.


It makes no diff'rence where I turn
I can't get over you and the flame still burns
It makes no diff'rence, night or day
The shadow never seems to fade away

And the sun don't shine anymore
And the rains fall down on my door

Now there's no love
As true as the love
That dies untold
But the clouds never hung so low before

It makes no diff'rence how far I go
Like a scar the hurt will always show
It makes no diff'rence who I meet
They're just a face in the crowd
On a dead-end street
And the sun don't shine anymore
And the rains fall down on my door

These old love letters
Well, I just can't keep
'Cause like the gambler says
Read 'em and weep
And the dawn don't rescue me no more

Without your love I'm nothing at all
Like an empty hall it's a lonely fall
Since you've gone it's a losing battle
Stampeding cattle they rattle the walls

And the sun don't shine anymore
And the rains fall down on my door

Well, I love you so much
It's all I can do
Just to keep myself from telling you
That I never felt so alone before

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Byrds: Why

I’ve often heard critics pan The Byrds’ LP “Fifth Dimension”; however, I regard it as my favorite album by the band. I guess I heard it quite a bit when I stayed two weeks with my brother in Kentucky in 1966. He had just purchased the album and it influenced me as a 10 year old to buy my first single, “Mr. Spaceman.”

The album produced two other singles besides “Mr. Spaceman” – “5D (Fifth Dimension)” and “Eight Miles High.” The latter was the first single and the highest charting of the three and peaked at #24. I guess the world was not ready for raga-rock at that time, but it remains a classic song from those pre-psychedelic days.

 “Eight Miles High” was the “A” side of today’s Friday Flipside feature of “Why.” The raga sound was explained as being influenced by David Crosby’s interest in Ravi Shankar’s sitar recordings.

Younger than Yesterday Alternate Version

Written by Roger McGuinn and David Crosby, “Why” was only released on single initially. That is, until 1966 when it was rerecorded for the “Younger than Yesterday” LP. The original single version was re-released as a bonus track on the “Fifth Dimension” CD in 1996.

Absolute Original Version of Why”

Actually, “Why” and “Eight Miles High” were originally recorded at RCA Studios in December 1965; however, Columbia Records refused to release anything that was recorded at a competitor’s studio. Therefore, the band returned to the studio and re-recorded both songs in early 1966. Both were also released as bonus tracks on the CD of “Fifth Dimension.” My favorite version is the one released on single. See what you think.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Beatles: Birthday

I love it when a plan comes together and this morning I was looking for a birthday song that also had a corresponding commercial. Why? Because, they say it’s my birthday. What better song for a birthday than The Beatles’ “Birthday.” It was used in The Beatles Rock Band commercial that aired on Comedy Central. Works for me and kills two birds with one stone.

“Birthday” was only released as single as a special edition jukebox 45 in 1992 in colored vinyl. These were not issued to the public per se but collectors had access to purchase these limited edition releases. The flip was “Taxman” and the single was released in green vinyl.

It is unusual that I don’t have any of these 34 commemorative colored vinyl jukebox singles in my collection as I was both a Beatles and a colored vinyl collector. While researching this single, I saw where the green vinyl UK import of “Abbey Road” is now going for nearly $400. I think I paid $9.00 for mine in 1978.

Back to “Birthday”; it was a tune that was completely written in the studio and was approximately 50% Paul McCartney and 50% John Lennon in a time when the two had nearly stopped writing together; however, they shared writing royalties on everything with The Beatles.

The song kicks off side three of the “White Album,” which is officially known as “The Beatles.” I have that LP from Britain in white vinyl. You can pick this one up for under $100 if you shop around – more copies were pressed of this LP in white vinyl – and it is rarer on the Apple label.

The Beatles Rock Band Commercial