Monday, September 28, 2015

The Lovin' Spoonful: Butchie's Tune

OK, I admit it. I have a problem. I am a binge-watcher. There, I said it. Since June 2014, I’ve been hogging my wife’s Netflix account to watch several programs that I hadn’t had the opportunity to see as of yet. I’ve seen most of the biggies and a few relatively unknowns. I find it easier to follow a series when I have the opportunity to watch it in sequence at my own time – whether that be at 11:00 PM or 5:00 AM.

Recently, I finished watching – well, let me backtrack, I finished watching all of the episodes on Netflix of “Mad Men.” The final seven episodes are not yet online – so, I’ll have to wait to see what happens. When the show originally aired on AMC, I only got to see two episodes – one from season two and one from season four. Without the prior context, I waited for Netflix to pick up the series.

What I’ve seen so far was pretty accurate for its portrayal of the 1960s. I did find some flaws and possible flaws in some of the artifacts – but really only minor ones that only someone with OCD would notice. One of the nice things about the show is that it provided a plethora of music from varying styles.

One of the tunes that caught my ear was the closing song of the 12th episode from season five. It is when Don Draper is driving Glenn Bishop back to the prep school and he allows Glenn to drive his car. The song, “Butchie’s Tune,” was by The Lovin’ Spoonful and was an album cut off their “Daydream” LP from 1966.

Although cowritten by John Sebastian and bassist Steve Boone, the lead vocals were supplied by drummer Joe Butler who still tours as Joe Butler and The Lovin’ Spoonful. One of the shining moments of “Butchie’s Tune” is the countrified guitar licks of Zal Yanovsky who had the pedal steel type Sus4 chords down pat.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Sixth Anniversary - Deram Records: I Woke Up This Morning.

Today is a day of celebration. Six years ago today I began this blog on a rainy Saturday afternoon. It was one of the better decisions I’ve made as I have rekindled friendships and made a number of new ones over the six year period. The last two years (especially last year) with the change in jobs, I’ve not kept up with the blog. In 2015, I’ve had long gaps without new posts. Hopefully, that will change.

Before we get to the stats, our final selection to celebrate the music of Deram Records, we bring you an album cut from Ten Years After fourth album for the label: “Ssssh.” In all, Deram released seven Ten Years After albums – five studio, one live, and a compilation album. “Ssssh” was their second album from 1969 and a number of cuts got some album airplay, no singles were issued from the album to my knowledge.

Until the 1971 hit on Columbia, “I’d Love to Change the World,” singles were just a nuisance that the record company released hoping that mainstream radio would pick up on it. With the exception of “I’d Love to Change the World,” it didn’t work and Deram had no hit records from Ten Years After.

To remedy that, we turned to the final cut on “Ssssh” and an Alvin Lee tune – “I Woke Up this Morning.” It really showcases how great a guitarist Alvin Lee was. Even as great a talent as Lee was, he needed a solid band and Ten Years After fulfilled that need. The band was rounded out by Leo Lyons on bass (always a joy to watch), Chick Churchill on keyboards, and Ric Lee on drums. Great stuff for a Saturday – rainy or otherwise.

RBTG’s Sixth Anniversary Retrospect

Like I had reported with every other anniversary, 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 95 declared followers of the blog – the same number as in March 2015 when we had our 1600th post. There are many others who have visited frequently without declaring themselves as followers.

As noted above, we have not been vigilant in maintaining posts, but that hasn’t affected our overall numbers. With over 1600 posts, people have been visiting anyway even without new material that was forthcoming.

The cumulative statistics for the blog are listed below:

Unique Visitors190,254
Times Visited213,983
Number of Pages Viewed298,652
People Visiting 200+ Times3,188
People Visiting 101-200 Times1,557
People Visiting 51-100 Times1,486
People Visiting 26-50 Times1,418
Number of Visitor Countries Represented191

The Top Ten Visitor Countries

Since our 1,600th post, three new countries were added to the list: Tajikistan (in Asia), Cuba (in the Caribbean), and Chad in Africa . The Top 10 countries remain the same; however, former tenth position Spain knocked Netherlands out of the ninth position.

1United States105,359
2United Kingdom18,120

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.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Deram Records: Hallelujah Freedom

While the name Junior Campbell won’t mean much for our American audience, it will for the folks in the UK. His only American Top 40 hit was with Marmalade and it was “Reflections of My Life” from 1969 on London Records – Decca Records Ltd.’s American counterpart. Campbell not only sang lead, but also played guitar and keyboards. “Rainbow,” which was a Top 5 release in Britain, made it to #7 on the American A/C chart, but only hit #51 on the Hot 100.

In Britain, both Marmalade and Junior Campbell had numerous hit records. In 1971, William Campbell, Jr. broke from Marmalade and embarked upon a solo career on Decca/London’s subsidiary Deram Records. His second single, “Hallelujah Freedom” from 1972, was his most successful solo recording. While it charted at #10 in the UK, none of his solo recordings charted in the US. Campbell provide piano, guitar, electric piano, and lead and back-up vocals. The recording won the Best British Single of 1972 – which is why we’re including it here.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Deram: My Baby Loves Lovin'

Day Five at our look at Deram Records takes a trip down the pop music memory lane with a hit from 1969: White Plains’ “My Baby Loves Lovin’.” Like their label counterparts The Brotherhood of Man, White Plains initially started as a session group that morphed into a performing group. Like The Brotherhood of Man, Tony Burrows was one of its vocalists.

In addition to White Plains and The Brotherhood of Man, Burrows’ lead vocals can be heard on several other hit records. These include the following: Edison Lighthouse’s “Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes,” The Pipkins “Gimme Dat Ding,” and First Class’ “Beach Baby.” Three of his recordings with different groups were on the charts simultaneously and the public never noticed.

Recorded in October 1969, “My Baby Loves Lovin’” was released in January 1970. Being the most popular record for White Plains, from which Burrows left shortly after the song’s release, “My Baby Loves Lovin’” peaked at #9 in the UK and at #13 in the US.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Deram Records: Repent Walpurgis

For our Wordless Wednesday song from Deram Records, it was a competition between Whistling Jack Smith’s “I was Kaiser Bill’s Batman,” which charted at #20, and Procol Harum’s “Repent Walpurgis,” which failed to chart. Duh!!! Well, if you know me well enough, you would have guessed “Repent Walpurgis” won that battle. Since I had previously featured the band’s only hit on Deram, “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” I had to cull something else from their debut LP.

In Britain, only the “Whiter Shade of Pale” single was released on Deram Records. Their self titled debut LP would be the first release on the newly resurrected Regal Zonophone label – a subsidiary of EMI. In the US, the first Procol Harum LP was issued on Deram and led with “A Whiter Shade of Pale” and eliminated “Good Captain Clack” from the LP’s lineup. Additionally, the song order varied between the transatlantic versions, but “Repent Walpurgis” was the final cut on both.

Written by organist Matthew Fisher, “Repent Walpurgis” is one of the more powerful tunes on the album. Fishers’ overdriven Hammond Organ, Gary Brooker’s piano, and those guitar leads from Robin Trower just conjure up all kinds of images. Fisher felt the song was full of angst and that he thought it should be named “Repent.” One of his band mates said it reminded him of Walpurgis Night – or witches night that occurs prior to St. Walpurga’s Day on May 1. So they combined the thoughts into the title “Repent Walpurgis.”

While the name was ominous, so were the inspirations for this instrumental as they spanned centuries and continents. The primary progression of the tune featuring Cm, Ab/Eb, Dm7b5, and G was directly inspired by the chorus of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons 1967 single “Beggin’.” The piano interlude came primarily from Bach’s “Prelude 1 in C Major” from “The Well-Tempered Clavier.” This is prog rock at its finest.

Alternate Stereo Version

Here’s an alternate take of “Repent Walpurgis” that was shelved until the 1999 release of “Pandora’s Box: The Unused Procol Harum Stereo Versions Plus.” Unlike the original and shorter version, the alternate take is in true stereo not the rechanneled stereo found on American Deram release. While Fisher plays some different organ counterpoint, “Repent Walpurgis” also features more and heavier guitar work by Trower. It becomes quite the jam towards the end when someone whistles to signal to Trower and bassist Dave Knights to wrap it up and they do. It is a rather nice version in its own right.

The Four Season’s Inspiration

To make this feature complete, I found it necessary to add Frankie Valli and the Four Season’s “Beggin’.” Written by Bob Gaudio and Peggy Farina, the single peaked at #16. Although it had a respectable chart showing, it lost in the airplay wars with Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes off of You” that charted at #2 and was released two months after “Beggin’.”

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Deram Records: Tuesday Afternoon

One of my favorite bands of all time is The Moody Blues; and thus, it makes them my favorite Deram Records’ act. The classic version of the band released three LPs on the Deram imprint until moving over to their own label, Threshold Records, in 1969. The three Deram albums were “Days of Future Passed,” “In Search of the Lost Chord,” and “On a Threshold of a Dream.” The latter was the inspiration for their new label’s name.

In addition to three albums, five singles appeared on Deram. Being that it is Tuesday, we’ll feature their second seven inch release – “Tuesday Afternoon,” or as it appears on “Days of Future Passed” as “Forever Afternoon (Tuesday?).” Justin Hayward, who wrote the tune while sitting in a field playing his guitar, had originally named the song “Tuesday Afternoon”; however, producer Tony Clarke wanted a name that fit with the concept album “Days of Future Passed.” So, it was changed for the time being.

While the album was released in 1967, the “Tuesday Afternoon (Forever Afternoon)” single was not issued until 1968. It was the second single from “Days of Future Passed” with the first, “Nights in White Satin” only making it to #103 with the original 1967 issue. When reissued as a single five years later in 1972, “Nights in White Satin” peaked at #2 and was the band’s highest charting single in the US.

While “Nights in White Satin” did well both times in the UK (#19 and #9), it was not their biggest British release – “Go Now,” with the original lineup, peaked at #1, while the biggest song with the classical version of the band was 1970’s “Question.”

As for “Tuesday Afternoon,” it was not released as a single in the UK and only made it to #24 in the US. This is a pity, as it remains one of the band’s most enduring performances both in terms of airplay and their live performances. “Tuesday Afternoon” is a song that has held up well over its 48-year existence. It just has so much. The clear, ever present vocals of Justin Hayward and the fantastic bass of John Lodge that is occasionally punctuated by Mike Pinder on the piano’s bass register.

Speaking of Pinder, the Mellotron makes this tune – this new sound adds to the overall texture of “Tuesday Afternoon,” as well as numerous Moodies’ recordings to come. I would be remiss if I forgot to also credit Ray Thomas’ flute, Graeme Edge’s drums, and the London Festival Orchestra under the direction of Peter Knight. It just doesn’t get much better than this. “The trees are drawing me near; I've got to find out why. Those gentle voices I hear explain it all with a sigh.”

Although not credited on the album,“Tuesday Afternoon” is paired with a John Lodge composition “(Evening) Time to Get Away.” Here’s the complete album track from “Days of Future Passed.”

Monday, September 21, 2015

Deram Records: Night of Fear

Our second look at Deram Records features the precursor to the Electric Light Orchestra – The Move. Released in December 1966 as the ninth single for the label, “Night of Fear” charted in the UK at #2 in January 1967. Like most of The Move’s single releases, it failed to chart in the US. Only “Do Ya,” which was released in 1972, made a dent in the American charts – and it was barely a ding with its peak at #93.

“Night of Fear” draws from Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and you can see that Roy Wood was thinking about a mixture of rock and classical music well before ELO. The song features Carl Wayne on lead vocals and Trevor Burton, Ace Kefford, and Roy Wood on back-up vocals.

This is a great little tune and it can only be conjectured why it never charted in the US. Perhaps being on Deram was part of the problem. In 1967, it was still a very new label; and frankly, many of the Deram releases never charted in the US or the UK. Most that did still get oldies play. Enjoy this nugget from the past.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Deram Records: United We Stand

It’s the fourth week of the month, and as we have in the past, we’ve featured independent and smaller subsidiary record labels. For the next few days, we’ll look at Deram Records a subsidiary of Decca Records, Ltd., a UK music concern now owned by Universal Music Group. In the US, Deram was managed under London Records (Decca Records, Ltd.’s US label) from 1966 to 1980. The Deram imprint in the UK is still active.

As a youngster, I thought the label was pronounced as Dee-Ram. As I grew older, I figured that couldn’t be correct and thought it might be pronounced as Deer-am. I was wrong on both accounts. A few years ago, I heard an interview with one of the label’s former artists who called it Deh-ram.

Deram was an abbreviation for Decca Panoramic Sound and the “Deh-ram” pronunciation sounds correct with this in mind. The idea was to provide a more natural sounding stereo mix in the recordings and several of the label’s offerings were mixed this way; however, not all releases were examples of the Deramic Sound. For example, Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale” was a mono release in the UK and issued in fake stereo in the US.

In addition to Procol Harum, Deram had the distinction at one time of also having The Moody Blues, Ten Years After, David Bowie, The Move, and Cat Stevens on the label. Of those six, The Moody Blues and Ten Years After had a modicum of multi-year successes with Deram. Procol Harum and The Move left the label, as they were not officially signed to Deram per se. Their management company signed a contract with the label and eventually moved the two groups over to EMI’s subsidiary Regal Zonophone.

The Move recorded two singles (“Night of Fear” and “I Can Hear the Grass Grow”) and Procol Harum released an album (in the US) and single (“Whiter Shade of Pale”) for Deram. Of its other well known artists, both Cat Stevens and David Bowie failed to have hits with Deram in the US. The reason will become obvious after listening to some of these early recordings.

For our first look at the label, we turn to the British vocal group known as Brotherhood of Man. While the band released a number of records beginning in 1969, it did not have a fixed lineup until 1973. Like many other groups of the era, it was a studio creation without an actual identity. Their only Top 20 American hit, “United We Stand,” featured Tony Burrows, Sue Glover, Sunny Leslie, John Goodson, and Roger Greenway on vocals. The single was released in the US in March 1970 and its positive message resonated with youth on both continents.

Brotherhood of Man did much better on the UK charts than they did across the pond. While “United we Stand” only charted at #13 in the US on the Hot 100 at #15 on the A/C charts, it did slightly better at #10 in the UK. Their only other US hit, 1976’s “Save Your Kisses for Me” went to #1 in the UK and on the US A/C charts; however, it only peaked at #27 on the Hot 100.

Brotherhood of Man had two additional #1 records in the UK, but neither charted in the US. Like “Save Your Kisses for Me,” all were hits after they left Deram. Incidentally, all of their recordings on Deram listed the band as “The” Brotherhood of Man. After leaving the label, the definite article in their name was dropped.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Remembering Jimi Hendrix: If 6 Was 9

Forty-five years ago today, the world lost one of the most innovative guitarists – Jimi Hendrix. For today’s Friday Flipside feature, we use “If 6 was 9” – the “B” side of “Stone Free.” While “If 6 was 9” never charted, “Stone Free” only made it to #130. While “Stone Free” had been issued as the flip of “Hey Joe” in the UK in 1966, it was not released in the US until July 1969 when it appeared on the “Smash Hits” LP.

“If 6 was 9” was originally released on the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s 1967’s “Axis: Bold as Love” album and later appeared on the “Easy Rider Soundtrack” in 1969. The single was released on September 15, 1969 – a year and three days prior to Hendrix’s death. Penned by Hendrix, “If 6 was 9” contains plenty of distortion, reverb, echo, and even features Hendrix on soprano recorder. It is a counter-culture anthem that pits one side of the generation gap with the other.

The original stereo master of the “Axis: Bold as Love” unfortunately was lost so Hendrix and engineer Eddie Kramer hurriedly remixed the album with the exception of one cut: “If 6 was 9.” Unable to get a satisfactory remix of the tune, a noisy premix of the song that belonged to bassist Noel Redding was used as the final master.

It has been reported that Redding’s copy so was badly wrinkled that Kramer resorted to using an iron to straighten out the tape. The copy was transferred to virgin tape and was inserted into the album’s master. “If 6 was 9” was produced by Chas Chandler – Hendrix’s manager. Chandler, by the way, was the original bassist for The Animals.

On Friday, September 18, 1970, Hendrix died from aspirating his own vomit while overdosed on barbiturates and alcohol. It certainly was a sad day and I remember hearing the news 45 years ago like it was yesterday.

As an aside, this occurred during my sophomore year at East Allegheny High School in Pennsylvania. The very next school day, while Principal Joseph Churchman prepared to play the “Star Spangled Banner” and lead the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag over the public address system as he did every morning, several students approached him about playing Hendrix’s version from the Woodstock soundtrack. While it was definitely not his musical style, he obliged this request.

The next issue of the Wildcat Crier, the student newspaper, poked a bit of fun at Joe Churchman for allowing the Hendrix recording to be played in place of the military band record that he typically used. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the artist’s name, but I have remembered this all these years.

“White collared conservative flashing down the street, Pointing their plastic finger at me. They're hoping soon my kind will drop and die, but I'm gonna wave my freak flag high, high. Wave on, wave on.” Unfortunately, “If 6 was 9” was somewhat prophetic and in a year after this single was released, Jimi died in London at the age of 27. Play on Jimi – and the world will be playing your music for centuries to come.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Santana: Stormy

Having been a fan of the music of Dennis Yost and the Classics IV, I’ve also appreciated the covers of their bigger hit releases. This includes today’s Thirty Something Thursday selection of “Stormy” by Santana. Although the original peaked at #5 in 1968, the remake ten years later only made it to 32 on the Hot 100 chart.

From their 1978 “Inner Secrets” album, “Stormy” was the album’s second of three singles. The other two singles included a remake of the Buddy Holly album track “Well All Right” and “One Chain (Don't Make No Prison),” which was penned by the album’s producers, Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter. “Well Alright” basically used the same arrangement employed by Steve Winwood and Blind Faith in 1969.

Like any song by Santana, “Stormy” features the unique overdrive guitar of band leader Carlos Santana. Greg Walker provides the lead vocals. This is an exceptionally well done cover of “Stormy” that perhaps should have charted much higher than 32. “Stormy” was penned by Classics IV guitarist J.R. Cobb and the band's producer/manager Buddy Buie. For the original, see this post from 2014.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Fairport Convention: Tokyo

One of my favorite instrumentals comes from Fairport Convention’s ninth LP, which was appropriately titled “Nine.” Although the LP was released in 1973, I didn’t get my copy until 1976. It is not the typical fare for the band, but “Tokyo” showcases the band’s prowess as instrumentalists with guitar, fiddle, bass, drums, and keyboard pyrotechnics and the liberal use of wah-wah pedals.

The song was primarily a vehicle for Jerry Donahue to show off his talents as a lead guitarist, but it also provides an opportunity for his band mates to shine as well. There are a couple of places that showcase Dave Swarbrick: one has him on double fiddles and the other has him playing electrified violin complete with the aforementioned wah-wah pedal.

Additionally, Dave Pegg is keeping up on bass by using a plectrum for attack and speed. Drummer Dave Mattacks not only provides some interesting tom work, but he plays a mean clavinet that really adds to the mystique of “Tokyo.” I can only imagine that Trevor Lucas handles the rhythm guitar parts on the track.

At the close of the song, everyone is in unison. I can’t swear to it, but it sounds as though there is a mandolin in there as well. If so, it is either played by Swarb or Peggy. As you might expect, “Tokyo” was penned by Jerry Donahue. Nice stuff from an album that is not typically considered anyone’s favorite Fairport LP – but I like despite what anyone else thinks.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Barbara Dane: I'm On My Way

When I first heard Barbara Dane, I hadn’t seen her photo. I supposed that she was like most female blues artists of the late 50s and early 60s: African-American, a little older, and more matronly in appearance. I was surprised to learn that she was blonde, blue-eyed, 33 years old, and, er, not matronly like most of best known female blues artists of the era.

Ebony observed in 1959, “As the rich white spotlight sweeps over the face with the fresh-scrubbed look, the girl seems startlingly blonde, especially when that powerful dusky alto voice begins to moan of trouble, two-timing men, and freedom. She is singing the blues—just as Bessie Smith sung them, and Mama Yancey and Lizzie Miles and Ma Rainey. But, she is white.”

Looking at her older photos, it was obvious that her “startlingly” blonde hair came from a bottle, but it was fitting with her “fresh-scrubbed” complexion. Bottle or not – who cares? Her voice, however, is amazing – pure, unadulterated, and classy. She’s still around and still singing at the age of 88.

My introduction to Ms. Dane was her 1960 recording on Trey Records of “I’m On My Way.” Produced by Lee Hazelwood, this was her only output on this fledgling label that released less than 20 singles. Her record was the fifteenth of the series and has of late been a popular Northern Soul classic in England.

Although her rendering of “I’m On My Way” is a secular twist of the field holler that turned spiritual. This same song became an old time country gospel song at the hands of The Carter Family in 1934. Although a traditional song at the time of the Carter recording, A.P. Carter took the writing credit and Ralph Peer owned the publishing rights. The original author is unknown and Barbara Dane did the honorable thing – she only claimed the arrangement of this traditional spiritual.

Two years after the Trey release, Capitol Records issued an updated version of the song as the title cut for her LP, EP, and Seeburg Series’ 7 inch-33 1/3 RPM for jukebox play. All three releases were named as “On My Way.” The newer version moved the key from Gm to Am, had a different horn arrangement, and included backup vocals by the Andrews Gospel Signers. The newer version also featured Rocco Wilson on congas and is a slightly faster than her original.

While her original recording is sparse by comparison, I prefer it to the 1962 release of the same song. I am providing both versions as comparison. See what you think.

Monday, September 14, 2015

RIP REO's Gary Richrath

Gary Richrath is dead. While he may not have been a household name, he was one of the most underrated guitarists of the rock n’ roll era. Although he wasn’t the front man of REO Speedwagon, his impressive guitar licks always stood out on REO’s numerous LPs. While I met him twice, both were brief encounters and I never had an opportunity to really talk to him except to complement him on his work.

His death yesterday reminded of my own mortality as he is just a few years older than me. And although I have not been active with this blog, this sad news prompted me to attempt to reactivate “Reading Between the Grooves” for the second time this year.

I first heard Richrath’s licks during the fall of 1973 – Greg Rector placed his stereo speakers out the open window of his dorm room at Kentucky Christian College and I heard REO’s “Ridin’ the Storm Out” as it blared across campus. Penned by Richrath, “Ridin’ the Storm Out” is notable for the Moog synthesizer used on the cut, but you’ll also hear some of the greatest guitar work this side of Peoria.

While I featured “Ridin’ the Storm Out” in 2010 with several other REO classics, it was the studio version featuring Michael Murphy. The song was released as a single in 1973, but failed to chart. In 1977, a live version featuring Kevin Cronin was released as a single from “Live: You Get What You Play For.” While the tune charted, its peak at #94 wasn’t spectacular; however, Gary’s guitar work was; if you excuse the pun, its electrifying on this live version.

Gary – we’ll miss you – Keep “Ridin’ the Storm Out.”