Sunday, April 29, 2012

Amazing Rhythm Aces: Life's Railway to Heaven

It’s hard to believe that the Amazing Rhythm Aces who had a hit with “Third Rate Romance” would have recorded this gospel classic – but, like a friend of mine says, “It is what it is.” This recording is actually two versions strung together – one a straight ahead acoustic version and another that is bluegrass tinged.

Charles Davis Tillman, a revivalist song leader, wrote most of “Life’s Railway to Heaven” – the only part not composed by Tillman was the refrain “Blessed Savior Thou will guide us . . .” which was authored by Baptist minister M.E. Abbey. Actually, Tillman borrowed from a Mormon hymn he composed for the lyrics written by Eliza R. Snow – “Truth Reflects upon Our Senses.” Tillman took Snow’s poem, added Abbey’s refrain and composed the tune – which is the same as “Life’s Railway To Heaven.”

While “Truth Reflects upon Our Senses” never was popular outside of the LDS church, of which he was not a member, his follow-up “Life’s Railway to Heaven” was. The original was written in 3/4 time but now is performed most often as a 4/4 number. “Life’s Railway to Heaven” was one of the early examples of a common theme being used for a spiritual song. Others in the genre include “Operator,” “Jesus on the Mainline,” and “Turn Your Radio On.” This was an early example of this type of lyrical theme.

It was one of Davis’ most popular tunes – although two songs he published under his own name, but did not write eclipse the popularity of this song. They are “Old Time Religion” and “Wayfaring Stranger.” He did, however, expose a wider audience to these two classic gospel numbers. So popular was “Life’s Railway to Heaven” that upon Tillman’s death, his family had they lyrics inscribed upon his tombstone.

I’ve been known to do this song, but in more of a rockabilly vein.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Atlanta Rhythm Section: Neon Nights

I never got to see them in concert, but I always liked The Atlanta Rhythm Section in every incarnation – including being part of the Classics IV and their session work with others such as Mylon and Holy Smoke. Their records had a pure and clean sound and the level of musicianship was top notch. Unfortunately, I don’t have many of their albums.

I first became aware of the band through several travels in and around Cleveland in the late 70s and hearing many of their songs on AOR powerhouse WMMS. Today’s bubbling under hit, “Neon Nights,” comes from their 1976 LP “A Rock and Roll Alternative.” “Neon Nights” was the second of three singles released from the album with the third, “So into You,” being the best seller of the bunch charting at #7.

“Neon Nights” barely missed the Top 40 charts only rising to #42 in 1977, while the first single, “Georgia Rhythm” only made it to #68. The album did quite well being their highest charting album to date with it peaking at #11 and was their second highest charting LP in their entire career. “A Rock and Roll Alternative” was certified gold in both the US and Canada.

The final cut on the album, “Neon Nights” was authored by lead vocalist Buddy Buie and drummer Robert Nix. Dean Daughtry’s keyboard of choice on this cut was a Wurlitzer Electronic Piano. What makes the song is the interplay between guitarists Barry Bailey and J.R. Cobb. The octave runs set this song off as being different; however, the choruses betray ARS’ southern heritage.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Animals: For Miss Caulker

Today's Friday Flipside is from The Animals’ third American album, “Animal Tracks,” which was different than the original album of the same name released in the UK. “For Miss Caulker” is one of those songs where the title bears little resemblance to the lyrics. It was the flip side to “Bring it on Home,” which only peaked on the American charts at #32.

Penned by lead vocalist Eric Burdon, “For Miss Caulker” showcases the piano talents of keyboardist Alan Price. Although there is the obligatory lead guitar section by Hilton Valentine, this 1965 “B” side is really all Price.

I just want to know who Miss Caulker was and why she left him for fourteen long, lonely days. Perhaps, we’ll never know. It’s what The Animals did the best – the blues.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Association: Never My Love

I heard The Association’s “Never My Love” on an episode of House, M.D. a week or so ago, and so here it is – our TV Thursday’s selection. In October 1967, the song peaked at number 2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. By December, the RIAA certified the single as gold for one million sales.

“Never my Love” was written by the Addrisi Brothers (Don and Dick) who had two hit records in the 70s – “We’ve Got to Get it on Again” in 1972 and “Slow Dancin’ Don’t Turn Me On” in 1977; however, their recording career that stretched from 1958 to 1981 could not compare to their songwriting success with “Never My Love.”

According to BMI, “Never My Love” was the second most often played tune during the 20th century. It is in good company as “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling” was the number one song, while The Beatles’ “Yesterday” placed at #3. Others in the top five included “Stand by Me” and “Can’t Take My Eyes off of You.” It was estimated that by 1999, “Never My Love” had over seven million airplays.

The Association’s recording of “Never My Love” features dual lead vocals by Terry Kirkman and Larry Ramos. The arrangement is all tied together with organ chords, lush string arrangements, and layered vocals. The lead is played on an organ and I am not going to venture a guess on its brand. Pay particular attention to the electric piano. It isn’t a Wurlizter or a Rhodes – I am betting that it was either a Hohner Pianet or an RMI Electra-Piano.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Prelude: After The Goldrush

It’s One-Hit Wonder Wednesday on Reading Between the Grooves, and every week we feature an artist’s only foray into the American Top 40 charts. Today’s entry was one of the few a cappella hit recordings and was a song that entered the British folk band Prelude’s repertoire almost by accident.

The trio made up of Irene and Brian Hume and Ian Vardy were waiting at a bus stop when they started singing an a cappella version of Neil Young’s “After the Goldrush.” They began singing this tune in their shows and it was an instant hit with fans. When recording their second album, it was included. While the album was titled “Dutch Courage” elsewhere, the American release was named after the Young composition.

“After the Goldrush” was not the band’s only hit in the UK where it made it to 21. It was, however, a one-hit wonder in the US in 1974 peaking at #22. In 1982, Prelude re-recorded the song and it charted in the UK a second time – this time at #28. The band still performs yet today.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tom Hoelle: Remnants of Lee

A while back, I was searching for some harp guitar music on YouTube, and found Tom Hoelle’s original composition of “Remnants of Lee” and immediately placed it in my favorites. Tom is playing a harp guitar of his own construction. Besides the typical six guitar playing strings, it contains 6 additional bass strings and 8 extra treble stings.

Hoelle called the tune “Remnants of Lee” and explains its inspiration: “I wrote this song on the porch of a cabin up in the Smoky Mountains shortly after the remnants of Hurricane Lee made its way through the area. Record rainfall and the place was beautiful!”

The guitar is beautiful as well as the tune. Tom chronicles its construction at

Monday, April 23, 2012

Trader Horne: Sheena

During the summer of 1973, I came into knowledge of Trader Horne and the possession of their only recorded output – the 1970 album “Morning Way.” Trader Horne came into being at the behest of Judy Dyble and Jackie McAuley. Dyble was the original female vocalist in Fairport Convention and McAuley had a four month stint with the Irish rock band Them in 1965.

Trader Horne and its lone LP were completely overlooked in the U.S. I discovered them while simultaneously learning more about Fairport Convention. In November 1972, I had been given the first Fairport Convention album and by May 1973, I purchased an import called “A History of Fairport Convention.” This double album set chronicled that band from its second LP (“What We Did on our Holiday”) through the yet-to-be-released “Rosie.”

My knowledge that Trader Horne existed came from Pete Frame’s Fairport Convention’s family tree that was drawn for the album’s cover. Being interested in such things (rock and otherwise) was probably the reason I bought the album in the first place. It was a great investment and Frame’s tree introduced me to several acts that were related to Fairport Convention.

One of these was Trader Horne. Later during the summer of 1973, I found a copy of the American release of “Morning Way” on Janus Records in the cutout bin of F.W. Woolworths in the now defunct Eastland Shopping Mall. I also laid my hands on two albums by Dyble’s fellow Fairport alumnus Ian Matthews: “If You Saw Thro’ My Eyes” and “Tigers Will Survive” on Vertigo.

“Morning Way” is interesting and I like a good many of the songs. I have chosen one that stands out for our Mélange Monday feature – “Sheena.” Sung by Jackie McAuley and released as a single in the UK in late 1969, “Sheena” had real pop potential and probably the only thing that kept it from being a hit was the nonsensical lyrical content. For example, the line “I’m playing the piano with my fingers like bananas” is probably the most egregious example in the song.

The song really has an excellent hook and is easy to sing – so it was on its way of having hit potential – but alas the lyrical content made it difficult to connect with potential (and generally mindless) pop audiences. Even with that said, I like the song and the album. It’s too bad Judy Dyble is not better represented on this particular number; however, being the best cut on the album (and that’s my Top 40 persona speaking), I had to feature “Sheena.”

By the way the little piano part at the end of “Sheena” was found between all songs on side one of the LP. Side twp incorporated the use of a flute and celeste as the linking tunes. While the linking music is interesting, I never personally liked them – but I didn’t like the similar treatment used by Richard Hewson on James Taylor’s first album either. Nonetheless, if you have an opportunity to pick up Trader Horne’s “Morning Way” it is an interesting album that is worth many listens.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Byrds: I am A Pilgrim

The album “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” was first full-fledged entry into Country-Rock by The Byrds. This 1968 release is sometimes touted as the first Country-Rock album by anyone. The addition of Gram Parsons into The Byrds help cement this new genre for the band. It was Roger McGuinn’s idea to create a double album release that would serve as a history of American popular music. That never occurred, but many of the songs made it to final version.

Tensions between McGuinn and Parsons erupted during the post production when McGuinn re-recorded his vocals in place of the previous tracks recorded by Parsons. Recorded in Nashville, it is still considered one of The Byrds’ finest albums.

The second track of the album included a gospel song written in 1898 by Herbert Johnson. Bassist Chris Hillman sang lead and played guitar on the track and Roger McGuinn added the banjo track. Non-Byrds who participated were John Hartford on fiddle and Roy Husky on stand-up bass. Not too countrified, the track has a very pleasant feel to it. I’ve even performed this song several times in the past.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Men At Work: Be Good Johnny / RIP Greg Ham

You may not know his name, but you know his work – the saxophone riff on “Who Can it Be Now” and the flute solos on “Down Under” as well as his other iconic contributions to Men At Work’s compositions. As I found out on Thursday, multi-instrumentalist Greg Ham was found dead in his Melbourne, Australia home. Although his death was not ruled as suspicious, details its cause have not been released at the time of this writing.

I came to know Greg Ham’s music during summer 1982 when I was invited to a Columbia Records listening party at the Charleston Marriott Hotel. Columbia was pushing two artists: Larry Lee (formerly of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils) and Men At Work. Lee was actually at the function which was coordinated by Cincinnati District Columbia Promotions Director, Al Stann. I went home that evening with copies of both artists’ albums.

I loved Men At Work’s “Business As Usual” LP and one cut in particular, “Be Good Johnny” was my favorite. In the next week, Columbia issued “Who Can It Be Now” as the first single of the album and I added it out of the box at WCIR-FM – being one of the first three or four music directors to do so. The single was a #1 record and proved a solid hit with an unusual video aired on MTV to prompt upward chart movement.

The second single, “Down Under” performed as well climbing to the top position on the American charts. The album spent 15 weeks at the #1 slot – quite the feat for a new artist and in total the album sold over 6 million copies. Two additional promotional singles, “Underground” and “Be Good Johnny” were issued, but neither charted.

I don’t believe either was available commercially. “Be Good Johnny,” which failed to break the Hot 100, charted at 3 on the Rock Charts and due to an earlier release of a 12 inch single to album radio hurt the single’s chances at charting on CHR (Contemporary Hit Radio) stations. It is for that reason that I present “Be Good Johnny” as our Saturday bubbling under hit. Greg Ham provided the keyboards and speaking parts on this cut, while Colin Hay sang the lead.

For my early action on “Business As Usual,” Columbia Records awarded me with a platinum album.  This remains one of my most prized possessions and hangs on my office wall.  Thanks to Men At Work and Greg Ham for some excellent music - may he rest in peace. 

Stereo Version

Office Music Video

Friday, April 20, 2012

Levon Helm's Last Waltz

I only heard on Wednesday from my brother Chuck that Levon Helm was dying of cancer – it was announced earlier this week by his wife and daughter that he was in the final stages of the disease. Yesterday afternoon, I got an email from my friend John Sellards who informed me that Levon Helm had passed at 1:30 PM. Helm was a legend in the music business. A drummer/mandolinist/guitarist with The Band – his voice could be heard on dozens of their more popular songs – and even more that were not well known.

He was a lone Arkansan in a sea of Canadians and his unique vocal treatments and solid drumming made him one of the more well known members of The Band. His connection with the other members of The Band came when, as a member of Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks, he moved to Canada. Following the move, the musicians who became The Band one by one joined Ronnie Hawkins’ entourage.

One of the better known songs to feature Levon Helm on vocals was the original version of “Then Night they Drove Old Dixie Down.” Although Joan Baez later had a hit with the song charting at #3, The Band’s version received airplay; however, the tune was regulated to “B” side status – appearing as the flip to “Up on Cripple Creek.” The “A” side peaked on the Billboard charts at 25 in 1969. In tribute to Levon and to fit our regular Friday Flipside feature, “The Night they Drove Old Dixie Down” is today’s selection.

 Live Version from The Last Waltz

In addition to his music, Helm became an accomplished actor. Both he and Robbie Robertson began their acting careers in 1980 – Robertson in “Carney” and Helm starring as Loretta Lynn’s father in “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” Both are worth seeing. Helm would act in 10 additional movies and of course perform in The Band’s “The Last Waltz.” It is said that this was the last time Helm performed this tune live.

In their message to his fans, his family reflected, “Thank you fans and music lovers who have made his life so filled with joy and celebration... he has loved nothing more than to play, to fill the room up with music, lay down the back beat, and make the people dance! He did it every time he took the stage.”

First it was Richard Manuel – then Rick Danko – and now Levon Helm. Of The Band, only Robbie Robertson and Garth Hudson survive. The Band and Levon Helm touched the lives of many – including Elton John and Bernie Taupin, who credited the group as one of their favorites in the early 1970s. When writing the music for John’s “Madman across the Water” LP, they borrowed Levon’s name for title character of that particular tune. He may be gone from this earth, but his legacy will live on forever. Rest in Peace Levon Helm.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Rock, Roll and Remembering Dick Clark

America lost a legend yesterday when Dick Clark passed at the age of 82 from a heart attack resulting from a medical procedure. Clark was best known as the host of American Bandstand from 1956 through 1989.

While Clark wasn’t the original host of the show, he became synonymous with Bandstand and eventually purchased the rights to the show through his company Dick Clark Productions. During the 33 years of hosting the show (as well as afterwards), Clark never appeared to age giving rise to his identification as “America’s Oldest Teenager.”

The show was formulaic for teenagers – it included dancing to the hits of the day, pseudo-live performances by current and up-and-coming artists, the rate a record feature, and of course, Dick Clark. At least one young lady in my neighborhood (Kay Cook) had the opportunity to appear on the show – one of my friends was her next door neighbor. We both were impressed by her celebrity status.

In 1972, Clark branched out with his “Rockin’ New Year’s Eve,” which continued through 2011. Clark was host through 2003 and then following a stroke in 2004, he co-hosted the show. Somewhere, I have a cassette tape of the audio of the first broadcast in ’72.

In addition, Clark hosted several weekly syndicated radio shows. During 1981 to 1986, the Mutual Broadcasting System hosted “The Dick Clark National Music Survey.” He hosted “Countdown America” on his solely owned United Stations Radio Network from 1986-1994. In 1995, he launched “The U.S. Music Survey” – a weekly show he hosted until his stroke. Over the years, Clark co-hosted a number of other radio shows as well as a cadre of TV programs.

Clark promoted music to multiple generations and he will always be remembered for this contribution to the American music scene. Although his public persona was curtailed by his stroke in 2004, he will always be remembered for American Bandstand. “For now, Dick long.”

Les Elgart’s “Bandstand Boogie”

“Bandstand Boogie,” the original theme song for American Bandstand composed by Les Elgart, was used for the show from 1957 until 1974. Elgart’s original recording was used from 1969-1974.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Zager & Evans: In the Year 2525

Today’s One-Hit Wonder is a strange duck indeed as it may be the only bi-continental number one that was a one-hit wonder in both the US and the UK. On a third continent, Australia, the song peaked at #2 and was a one-hit wonder for Zager & Evans Down Under as well.

The full title is “In the Year 2525 (Exordium and Terminus). The parenthetical title can be translated from Latin as “Beginning and End.”

Rick Evans wrote the lyrics to this social conscience hit in 1964 and Denny Zager added the music by the time the duo recorded it for Truth Records in 1968. On the single release, Evans is credited as the sole author.

The song was popular in the duo’s home state of Nebraska as a regional hit, but when it was picked up for airplay in Odessa, Texas, it caught the attention of RCA Victor and they purchased the national release rights for the single in 1969. In the US, the song sold over two million copies and was certified gold. Platinum certification for singles would not be defined for nearly a decade – otherwise the second million copies would have qualified the single at the higher level.

It’s a great song that plots the plight of humankind and it isn’t a rosy picture. Additionally, this song is constructed of nine verses and no chorus – quite a strange arrangement that is off the formula hit track.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Return To Forever: No Mystery

In 1975 while listening to Harry Abraham’s jazz show on WHAM, he played a song that he attributed to “Return to Forever,” but didn’t name the tune. So I attempted to find this song which was titled “Crystal Silence” not knowing that it had not been released in the US at the time. My first attempt at finding this particular recording was to purchase the “No Mystery” album by Return to Forever.

While the song wasn’t on this album, I grew to love this jazz-fusion recording that featured the classic line-up of the band: Chick Corea on keyboards, Lenny White on drums and percussion, Stanley Clarke on bass, and Al Di Meola on guitar.

My favorite cut off of that entire album was its title cut “No Mystery.” It features tasty licks from this jazz quartet that still makes be envious of their individual and collective talents. I had a keyboard player, Mike Medley, from Louisville teach me the hook run from this song and I still have the rudimentary chart he wrote out for me in the spring of 1977.

This 2008 live recording reunites this lineup at the Montreux Jazz Festival doing this classic Return to Forever tune. Even more impressive than hearing what these four can do, seeing is believing.

As for the tune “Crystal Silence,” it took me two more tries to find the album featuring the original lineup of the band. After learning the title, I found it on a Chick Corea/Gary Burton album – it was a nice arrangement, but not the original. Nevertheless, the quest allowed me to explore some albums I never would have had I known the title from the very beginning.

The Original Studio Version


Monday, April 16, 2012

Mashup - Cilla Black/Dusty Springfield: I've Been Wrong Before

Last Monday, I featured H.P. Lovecraft’s version of Randy Newman’s “I’ve Been Wrong Before.” While I was doing research for that tune, I found a mashup of both the original single version by Cilla Black and the album cover by Dusty Springfield.

While mashups usually have flaws, but this one is nearly perfect. The mashup starts with Cilla Black and then moves to more orchestrated version by Springfield. Being that both versions were in the same key and based on the same arrangement, the mock duet is quite nice.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Second Coming: To A Sleeping Infidel

During late 1980, I received a review copy of the debut album by the group ArkAngel and for a year or two it was one of my favorite albums. One of the cuts on the LP about the second coming is named “To A Sleeping Infidel.” Kemper Crabbe wrote and sung the original and it was my intention to feature his version (and it is posted below); however, I stumbled upon a version by the band Second Coming at I really think their cover does the song justice.

Frankly, I like the vocals and the guitar lead better on this cover than I do the original; however, the production on ArkAngel’s version is much tighter. While the flute performance on the original is slightly better, Second Coming’s flautist does an excellent job in mimicking ArkAngel's flute with only an insignificant flaw that only slightly tarnishes an otherwise great performance. He definitely plays flute better than me.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find out anything about Second Coming – so perhaps someone will provide the info.

So, it’s like Certs – is it a breath mint or is it candy. It’s two mints in one. Today, we feature a twofer of “To A Sleeping Infidel.”

Second Coming’s Cover

ArkAngel’s Original

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Fleetwood Mac: Hypnotized

One of my favorite pre-Buckingham/Nicks Fleetwood Mac songs comes from the 1973 album, “Mystery to Me.” Bob Welch wrote and sang “Hypnotized,” which Reprise Records decided to release as the flip side to their cover of the Yardbirds’ “For Your Love.” Fortunately, album radio picked up the song for airplay and it became a minor AOR hit.

Much like Welch’s “Bermuda Triangle” from “Heroes are Hard to Find,” it is one of Welch’s cryptic/supernatural songs that seems to work very well with his voice. Backing vocals are provided by Christine McVie and Bob Weston. The song starts with Mick Fleetwood’s drumming and is followed by octave runs on the guitar – presumably by Bob Welch.

I’ve always been partial to Bob Welch’s contribution to Fleetwood Mac. It’s a shame that he was not included in the number of former members that were inducted into the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame with Fleetwood Mac.


It's the same kind of story that seems to come down from long ago
Two friends having coffee together when something flies by their window
It might be out on that lawn which is wide, at least half of a playing field
Because there's no explaining what your imagination can make you see and feel

And it seems like a dream; got you hypnotized (got me hypnotized)

Now it's not a meaningless question to ask if they've been and gone
I remember a talk about North Carolina and a strange, strange pond
You see the sides were like glass in the thick of a forest without a road
And if any man's hand ever made that land then I think it would've showed

And it seems like a dream; got you hypnotized (got me hypnotized)

And that’s right.
Oh ----

And it seems like a dream; got you hypnotized (got me hypnotized)

They say there's a place down in Mexico where a man can fly over mountains and hills
And he don't need an airplane or some kind of engine and he never will
Now you know it's a meaningless question to ask if those stories are right
'Cause what matters most is the feeling you get when you're hypnotized

And it seems like a dream; got you hypnotized (got me hypnotized)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Deep Purple: One More Rainy Day

Although their debut album and single were wildly more popular in North America, Deep Purple would later gain recognition world wide as one of the loudest bands in rock ‘n roll. Released on the short lived Tetragrammaton label, which was partially owned by Bill Cosby, the album and the single “Hush” did quite well for the band and for which they followed up this 1968 #4 release with a successful tour of America.

The album “Shades of Deep Purple” was the label’s second album release and “Hush” was the label’s third single release. Although the “A” side “Hush” written by Joe South helped propel the band into the limelight, the album featured three other covers and four original tunes.

One of the originals written by keyboardist Jon Lord and vocalist Rod Evans, “One More Rainy Day” made its way as the debut single’s “B” side – where it appears today as our Friday Flipside. Like it’s “A” side, “One More Rainy Day” starts with a sound effect.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Queen & David Bowie: Under Pressure

Today’s TV Thursday tune almost didn’t happen as it started as one song that evolved into another. Queen had been working on a song written by drummer Roger Taylor titled “Feel Like”; however, the song just didn’t gel. Enter David Bowie into the studio and the band created an improvisation that evolved from “Feel Like” to “Under Pressure” with Bowie penning the lyrics.

The final version of the song was later laid down by five musicians at Bowie’s studio in Switzerland. The song is characterized by John Deacon’s bass line. According to Deacon, Bowie created the riff, but everyone else including Bowie credits Deacon as the originator. Although Roger Taylor wrote the original, Queen members credit Freddie Mercury with the arrangement – all five musicians are credited with writing the song.

Since neither Bowie nor Queen were available for video shoots due to touring, director David Mallet strung together a variety of footage including scenes from several classic silent movies. Recently, Google utilized “Under Pressure” for its “Google+ Hangout” feature. The video also featured the talents of the Muppets with Beeker as David Bowie and Kermit as Freddie Mercury.

While the song was a number one hit in the UK and The Netherlands, this 1981 release just barely cracked the Top 30 in the US. The song peaked at 29.

Feel Like

The original studio outtakes of the song which evolved into “Under Pressure.”

Google+ Hangout Commercial

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Los Bravos: Black is Black

In 1966, four Spaniards and one German hit the pop music scene and took Europe and the Americas by storm with their one hit wonder in English. Its driving bass is unmistakable and the intro builds adding instrumentation with each four measures. The lone German, Mike Kogel, provided a vocal treatment that has often been compared to Gene Pitney.

Recorded in Britain, “Black is Black” was a top five record in the UK, the US, and Canada where it was a number one record. It charted on Billboard’s Hot 100 at #4 and on Cashbox Pop chart at #3. While there were follow-up singles, none reached the Top 40 in the US. This song reminds me of the summer of 1966 – the year that I embraced AM radio – especially KQV 1410 in Pittsburgh where I heard this tune and others. Where’s Chuck Brinkman when we need him today?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Santana: No One To Depend On

The sweet overdrive of Carlos Santana’s instrumentation combined with the licks provided child prodigy Neil Schon create guitar the interplay on the single “No One To Depend On.” From Santana’s third album, commonly called “Santana III,” its second single didn’t fare nearly as well as the first from the album.

The Author and Neil Schon in 1982

While “Everybody’s Everything” peaked at #12, “No One To Depend On” barely scratched the Top 40 by charting at #36. While the single didn’t include the long instrumental parts as did this album version of the song, it was (in my opinion) the musically better of the two singles. This second single was released in 1972 and it was one of several Santana singles that I purchased as a teenager.

The song was penned by Santana keyboardist and vocalist, Greg Rolie and percussionists Coke Escovedo and Mike Carabello; however, Rolie's songwriting input was omitted from the credits on the single. This is a great song to illustrate the tasty licks of Carlos Santana and Neil Schon.

Monday, April 9, 2012

H.P. Lovecraft: I've Been Wrong Before

Formed in Chicago in 1966, H.P. Lovecraft took their name from horror author Howard Phillips Lovecraft who is known for creating the Cthulhu Mythos. The band was originally an offshoot of folksinger George Edwards’ recordings and employed classically trained Dave Michaels on a variety of instruments and harmony vocals.

The owners of Dunwich Records, being fans of H.P. Lovecraft’s works, suggested the band’s name. Their own interest in the author had inspired the record label’s moniker after Lovecraft’s “The Dunwich Horror.” Following permission from the Lovecraft estate, the name was secured.

By 1967, a permanent band was secured through an audition process and a contract with Philips Records set in motion the band’s eponymous first album. George Edwards played guitar, guitarrón, bass, and provided lead vocals. Dave Michaels played a variety of keyboard instruments, recorder, and handled harmony vocals.

The remainder of the band included Tony Cavallari on lead guitar, Jerry McGeorge on bass, and Michael Tegza on drums. McGeorge was a late-comer to the band having replaced the original bassist Tom Skidmore. McGeorge had formally been the lead guitarist of the Shadows of Knight.

Today’s Mélange Monday selection is H.P. Lovecraft’s interpretation of Randy Newman’s “I’ve Been Wrong Before.” The song was a hit in the UK for Cilla Black, but failed to chart in the US. Shortly after Black’s release, Dusty Springfield recorded it on her LP “Ev'rything’s Coming up Dusty.” Since she was a Philips’ recording artist, the band probably heard her version of the song, which was based on Black’s original single.

H.P. Lovecraft’s rendition is much darker – but, what would you expect from a band named for the master of the macabre. The tune features organ glissandos and recorder runs and trills by Dave Michaels. His harmonies in the right channel balance George Edwards’ left channel leads and makes this a near perfect recording. What a song.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Phil Keaggy: He Is Risen

Happy Easter and for this Resurrection Sunday I present Phil Keaggy’s “He is Risen.” This cut was produced for the 2009 compilation CD “Resurrection Worship: Songs of Hope.” The CD deals completely with the topic of Jesus’s resurrection.

The style of the song is somewhat, but not totally, George Harrisonesque with the chord structure, slide guitar, and Keaggy’s vocal treatment. What a nice tune for Christendom’s most beloved holiday. Enjoy.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

In Loud Memory of Jim Marshall

Somehow, I missed the news of Jim Marshall’s passing on Thursday, April 5 at the age of 88. My brother relayed this news to me in a phone conversation last night and I decided to make today’s post a tribute to one of the more influential individuals in modeling of the sound of rock ‘n roll with the production of his Marshall amplifiers.

Marshall based his prototype amp from a Fender Bassman; however, he utilized military surplus tubes (valves for you Brits) and separated the amp’s head from its speaker cabinet. The cabinet was equipped with four Celestion 12 inch speakers which better handled the volume of high wattage amplifier. The cabinets were completely closed so none of the sound would leak out of the back of the cabinet. He also utilized higher gain tubes in the preamp to give the amp its characteristic overdrive.

While nearly every guitarist of note in the late 60s and 70s used Marshall Amplification, it was Jimi Hendrix who popularized the Marshall Stack. Soon hard rock and heavy metal bands would have a wall of Marshall Stacks creating a wall of sound. I knew of one band in the 1980s that couldn’t afford Marshall Stacks, so they painted faux Marshalls on cardboard to give the illusion that they had the real thing. The downside to using Marshalls was the weight – they are extremely heavy – but if you want to sound heavy, the weight is worth it.

In honor of Jim Marshall’s memory, I provide a cut of “Fire” by Jimi Hendrix. The characteristic Henrdrix Marshall Stack is seen behind him on stage. Fire was released as a single from the Jimi Hendrix Experience LP “Are You Experienced,” but it failed to chart – so it qualifies as our Saturday bubbling under hit as well.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Beach Boys: God Only Knows

According to most critics and musicologists, The Beach Boy’s “Pet Sounds” LP was considered one of the most influential albums of the mid to late sixties. Even Paul McCartney was enamored by this LP which had somewhat of an impact upon another classic “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” One of the instruments used on “Pet Sounds” was a bass harmonica which shows up on “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” and was played by The Beatles’ road manager, Mal Evans.

Released in May 1966, “Pet Sounds” still remains Brian Wilson’s masterpiece and Rolling Stone ranked it at #2 in the Top 500 Albums of All Time. It was beat out of the number one slot by “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” The session spawned four singles, with only three appearing on the album. They included Brian Wilson’s single “Caroline No” and two credited to The Beach Boys: “Sloop John B” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.” Portions of “Good Vibrations” were recorded during the same sessions; however, it appeared initially as a non-album single, but eventually was placed on the “Smiley Smile” album in 1967.

“God Only Knows,” our Friday Flipside, is the “B” to the Top 10 single “Wouldn’t it be Nice” and this flip barely made the Top 40 charts peaking at 39. Brian Wilson originally sang the song, but switched out his vocals with his brother Carl whose voice was better suited for this particular number. His voice was double tracked – a technique their Capitol Records’ cousins, The Beatles, had been using. Carl’s voice worked and became one of his classic cuts. Brian and Bruce Johnston provided the harmony and backing vocals. Carl also played 12-string guitar on this tune.

The author with Bruce Johnston, Mike Love, & contest winner, 1986
The original record session had three bassists. Lyle Ritz played stand-up bass, Carole Kaye probably utilized a Fender Precision bass, while the session notes credit Ray Pohlman on Danelectro Bass – which may have been actually a Danelectro baritone guitar. I cannot swear to that, but I cannot see why the brand was utilized for his instrument without it having some distinction other than the company from Neptune, NJ producing the instruments.

Other instruments include drums, two accordions, piano, organ, clarinet, bass clarinet, percussion, flute, baritone saxophone, and a string quartet. While 23 musicians were utilized in the twenty takes of “God Only Knows,” only sixteen appeared on the final cut. Two Beach Boys, Al Jardine and Mike Love, were not on this record.

While some sources cite that a harpsichord was used in the song’s opening measures, I believe that it was actually the piano and organ. Harpischord is not listed in the session notes. The French horn, an instrument later used by The Rolling Stones on “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” was used during the intro.

Brian Wilson and his co-writer, Tony Asher, debated at length on using “God” in the title fearing reprisal from the religious community as being sacrilegious. They went ahead and wrote the tune as we know it and it has become one The Beach Boys’ classic recordings – even though it was relegated to “B” side status.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Wang Chung: Everybody Have Fun Tonight

When they released their first recordings in 1980, Wang Chung was known as Huang Chung; however, a move to Geffen Records and the frequent mispronunciation of the band’s name as “Hung Chung,” its identity was rebranded as Wang Chung in 1983. While the band had five Top 40 singles as well as several dance hits and rock tracks, their best selling 45 was 1986’s “Everybody Have Fun Tonight.” It may be the only Top 10 record that frequently utters the artist's name within its lyrics.

The single came from their fourth LP “Mosaic” and charted in the US at #2. Kevin Godley and Lol Creme of 10cc fame produced the video for this track. Because stop motion photography was used, a number of video outlets refused to play it because of the fear that it would cause seizures. “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” is currently used as the bed for Pop-Tarts® latest “JoyliciousTM” commercial. Hence, it is this week’s TV Thursday hit.

12” Dance Mix

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Ian Matthews: Shake It

How many people do you know have recorded under three different names? One that comes to mind to me is Iain Matthews or is it Ian Matthews or Ian McDonald. Confused? Not really, but the story goes that Iain Matthew McDonald dropped the Scottish spelling of his birth name for the more conventional English version of the same as Ian.

He recorded under the name Ian McDonald with the Pyramids and on Fairport Convention’s debut album; however, he later dropped McDonald as it caused some confusion with Ian MacDonald of King Crimson, MacDonald and Giles, and Foreigner.

At that time, he pluralized his middle name as Matthews and used this surname starting with Fairport’s second LP. In 1990, he returned to the original spelling of his first name and has been known as Iain Matthews ever since.

Not counting Matthew’s Southern Comfort’s one hit wonder of “Woodstock” in 1971, the 1979 single “Shake It” from his album “Stealin’ Home” was his only solo hit in the US. This pure pop-single, which departed from his folk-rock past, charted at #13. The song was released under the Ian Matthews moniker.

1977 Original

The song was originally recorded by its author Terence Boylan on his self-titled second album in 1977. His original recording starts as a nice slow version of the song that moves to a medium-fast tempo. Enjoy this alternative to Ian Matthew’s hit recording.