Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Doobie Brothers: Black Water

One of the best known Doobie Brothers’ tunes, “Black Water,” was actually a repeat. It was originally issued early 1974 as a flipside to “Another Park, Another Sunday,” the first single from the album “What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits.” The “A” side only charted at #32.

A second single, “Eyes of Silver,” was issued next, but failed to chart in the Top 40 and it only peaked at #52. During the run of the second single, radio stations began playing “Black Water” and Warner Brothers followed with it as a single release. It was an excellent move as “Black Water” was the band’s first of only two number one records. It peaked on the charts in 1975. The band’s other #1 was 1979’s “What a Fool Believes.”

Contrary to popular belief, there is no violin on this recording. There is, however, a viola which is played by session musician Novi Novog. The viola is larger and tuned a fifth lower than a violin and is an octave above a ‘cello. It also includes wind chimes and an Autoharp courtesy of Arlo Guthrie.

One of the notable parts of the song is it’s a cappella break. Producer Ted Templeton is credited with the idea for this part of the song. It may have just been the hook that made “Black Water” a hit.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Beatles: I've Just Seen A Face

One of my favorite Beatles tunes turns up today as my Wooden Wednesday selection. Written by Paul McCartney, but credited to both Paul and John Lennon, “I’ve Just Seen A Face” is a song with three acoustic guitars. Paul and John play acoustic 6-strings and George Harrison played the 12-string leads.

Adding to the “wooden music,” Ringo Starr plays maracas and uses brushes on his snare drum. Both the lead and harmony vocals are provided by Paul. No bass appears on this recording which is highly unusual. The song is in the key of “A” and I wonder if any of The Beatles capoed their guitars up two frets to play it easier in “G.” When McCartney does the tune live today, he plays it in “A” without a capo.

It was released in 1965 on the original version of the “Help” album which was different than the one issued in the US. The US album included the songs from movie as well as all of the instrumental tracks arranged by George Martin. It was a gatefold album and did not include “I’ve Just Seen a Face.” I happened to have the German issue of the album on the Hör Zu label. The configuration was the same as the British issue which had the songs from the movie on Side One and Side Two had seven additional songs.

The seven songs from the European version’s second side appeared on several American releases. “Yesterday” and “Act Naturally” were issued on the contrived LP “Yesterday and Today.” The North American/Japanese only release of Beatles VI had three of the songs: “You Like Me Too Much,” “Tell Me What You See,” and “Dizzy Miss Lizzy.” “It’s Only Love” and “I’ve Just Seen A Face” were on the American issue of “Rubber Soul,” which was a different version of the same named LP from the UK.

It’s a great tune and I hope you like this acoustic Beatles’ number.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Episode 1100: Junior Brown: Surf Medley

Today’s post marks our 1,100th edition of this blog and before we get into the nitty gritty of the numbers thus far, we’ll head to today’s musical selection. Since it is Tasty Licks Tuesday, I thought I might share a number from Junior Brown. If you are not familiar with this iconic guitarist, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Brown plays a custom made guitar that combines a six-string electric guitar with a neck from an 8-string lap steel. Because of this combination, his “guit-steel” is fastened to a stand that allows him to switch between guitar necks. He keeps his steel in a pocket that rests above the six-string.

Typically, Brown has been pigeonholed into the country genre; however, he has recorded Jimi Hendrix tunes with remarkable agility and aplomb. In today’s selection, Brown shows that he is equally adept in performing par excellence in the surf guitar realm.

His “Surf Medley” incorporates The Chantays’ “Pipeline,” The Ventures’ “Walk Don’t Run,” The Marketts’ “Out of Limits,” and Johnny Rivers’ “Secret Agent Man.” If you haven’t heard anything else of Brown’s music, I would encourage you to check out his other videos.

RBTG’s 1,100th Post Retrospect

Like I had reported with every other 100th post 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 59 declared followers of the blog – up from 57 in September 2012. There are many others who have visited frequently without declaring themselves as followers. The statistics are listed below:
Unique Visitors101,474
Times Visited112,018
Number of Pages Viewed166,866
People Visiting 200+ Times1,527
People Visiting 101-200 Times486
People Visiting 51-100 Times459
People Visiting 26-50 Times488
Number of Visitor Countries Represented172
Percentage of Visitors Referred from Search Engines63.44%
Percentage of Visitors Referred from Other Sites27.81%
Percentage of Visitors via Direct Access8.75%

The Top Ten Charts

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

The Top Ten Visitor Countries

The rankings remain static when compared to the previous 1,000th Anniversary. Eight new countries and territories were added since September 2012. They include one from Europe (Gibraltar), one from the Caribbean (Dominica), and the remainder from Africa (Angola, Benin, Senegal, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe).
1United States53,741
2United Kingdom9,325

The Top Ten Pages via Direct Access

While most people (6,010) have visited the home page for “Reading Between the Grooves,” others enter distinct pages through page specific links and via search engine returns. Elliott Murphy’s “Eva Braun” reentered the top 10 and Mike Deasy’s “All God’s Children” placed in the top listing for the first time. This particular chart is slow moving as it is cumulative – newer features on this site will have to be really popular to catch up to the total direct access of these ten songs.

The Top Days by Total Visits

This chart represents the days that encountered the most visits and the content that was featured on those particular days. All but two of the selections, the number one and number six slot, came from the last 100 days. Five of the pages were from new features that were added since September – the Second Week Special and the Fourth Week Label Special.

The #1 day is an anomaly as it represents a day that had intensive viewing of the entire blog by two new visitors. These two individuals spent a great deal of time on the blog and looked at hundreds of pages during one single weekend.

RankDayDateAssociated ContentVisits
1SAT16 JUL 2011Nektar: Let it Grow625
2THU24 JAN 2013Ariola Records: Flying476
3THU17 JAN 2013Steppenwolf: Sookie Sookie395
4SAT12 JAN 2013Farfisa: See Emily Play383
5FRI4 JAN 2013Foreigner: Night Life372
6WED13 JUN 2012The Stories: Brother Louie362
7SUN6 JAN 2013Farfisa Organ: Wooly Bully361
8SUN9 DEC 2012The Band’s Namesake is Not the Lead Vocalist: Manfred Mann358
9FRI7 DEC 2012In Memory of Mr. Skin - Ed Cassidy341
10FRI11 JAN 2013Farfisa Organ: Double Shot (of my Baby's Love)333

The Top Days by New Visitors

This chart represents the days that encountered the most visits by first time visitors and the content that was featured on those particular days. Except for Sandy Denny’s version of “Easy to Slip,” all of the other positions on this chart were featured during the last 100 posts. As with the Top Ten Days, five of these positions were from our two newest categories.
RankDayDateAssociated ContentNew Visitors
1SAT12 JAN 2013Farfisa: See Emily Play261
2THU17 JAN 2013Steppenwolf: Sookie Sookie 234
3FRI4 JAN 2013Foreigner: Night Life217
4SUN6 JAN 2013Farfisa Organ: Wooly Bully215
5FRI7 DEC 2012In Memory of Mr. Skin - Ed Cassidy214
6MON16 JUL 2012Sandy Denny: Easy to Slip213
7SUN9 DEC 2012The Band’s Namesake is Not the Lead Vocalist: Manfred Mann209
8THU24 JAN 2013Ariola Records: Flying209
9FRI11 JAN 2013Farfisa Organ: Double Shot (of my Baby’s Love)203
10WED5 DEC 2012Show of Hands: Country Life202

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

Monday, January 28, 2013

David Bowie & Pat Metheny Group: This Is Not America

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to watch the motion picture “The Falcon and the Snowman.” I don’t know why I missed this movie in 1985, as I typically saw every release that hit the big screen at that time. I had read about the story of Christopher Boyce and Daulton Lee selling governmental secrets to the Soviets but had never followed through with seeing the movie.

As for the movie's theme, I had always liked this collaboration between the Pat Metheny Group and David Bowie. The music was composed by guitarist Pat Metheny and keyboardist Lyle Mays. Bowie supplied the lyrics. Bassist Steve Rodby and drummer Paul Wertico also appeared on the cut. In addition, a Linn drum machine was overdubbed to the track.

The title comes from a point in the movie where Lee is arrested by Mexican police on trumped up charges of murder. Lee argues with the police, “but I’m an American.” To which the police sergeant responds, “This is not America.”

I remember programming the single on WOAY-FM, but sadly it did not perform well – in fact, despite its title, it did not do well in America by only peaking at #32. It was a Top 10 single in Brazil, Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, and Italy. It peaked in the Top 20 in the UK and Canada. Sha la la la la.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Ariola Records: Winning Man

Our final Ariola America artist is a band that is near and dear to my heart as they gave me a guitar at a concert in January 1995. Today’s featured cut, “Winning Man,” came from their 1981 album “Hardware.” Although “Hardware” was this Swiss band’s fifth album, it was their second and final album for Ariola before being moved to Arista in 1982.

While the single failed to chart, it was the first Krokus album to place within the top 200 hundred albums in the US.  It peaked at #103. I had a chance to see Krokus twice in concert. The first time was in 1983 when they opened for Def Leppard at the Charleston (West Virginia) Civic Center.

In 1985, they supported Sammy Hagar on his VoA Tour and I saw them again at the Charleston Civic Center. The band was great backstage and they presented me with the guitar the Fernando von Arb played on their final cut.

The author, Rick Moorefield, Robert Tipane, & Fernando von Arb

It was a Stratocaster copy that he threw straight into the air and it came down on the headstock snapping it from the neck just below the joint.  It suffered some other structural damage as well. All the members of the band signed the guitar.

I had a friend replace the neck and fix some of the other problems with it and it became playable. Overtime the finish has yellowed some and the signatures began to wear off the instrument. I will always cherish this one-off piece of rock memorabilia.

As with most of the songs on “Hardware,” “Winning Man” was penned by lead guitarist Fernando von Arb and bassist Chris von Rohr. What a great tune.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Ariola Recods: Time Will Bring You Love

Although they have never had a hit record since their inception in the late 1960s, the Sons of Champlin have been a mainstay in the music business, but never received the recognition that they deserved. Having recorded for a number of labels including Capitol, Columbia, Ariola America, and Arista, the band virtually remains unknown to this day.

Ariola America label blank during the Sons of Champlin years

The band is fronted by Bill Champlin, who is additionally known for his session work, songwriting, and as member of Chicago from 1981 to 2009. One of his greatest accomplishments was winning a pair of Grammy awards for writing “After the Love has Gone” with David Foster and Jay Graydon for Earth, Wind, and Fire and “Turn Your Love Around” with Jay Graydon and Steve Lukather for George Benson.

In addition, Champlin has performed as a session musician on numerous well known albums and singles. He sings and plays keyboards and guitar. The Sons of Champlin were together from 1968 to 1970 and then from 1971 to 1981 when Champlin joined Chicago. Although they participated in a reunion show in 1985, the band did not reform until 1997 and Bill divided his time between the Sons of Champlin and Chicago until leaving Chicago in 2009.

The ballad, “Time will Bring you Love,” comes from the band’s third and final album with Ariola America – the 1978 release of “Loving is Why.” The album cut was cowritten by Champlin and Pat Craig. I got interested in Champlin’s music when I discovered a couple of singles in the discard bin at a radio station for which I worked in the early 1980s.

In tracing our family trees, I discovered that he and I are seventh cousins – this means we share a pair of sixth great-grandparents: William Champlin and Sarah Thompson. My great grandmother was born as Amy Alice Champlin. While that and $5.00 might get me a brand name coffee from a barista, it remains interesting that I can make a family connection to someone I am featuring in this blog.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ariola Records: Flyin'

From Vancouver, British Columbia, Prism was one of those bands that had only a modicum of followers in the US, but were significantly more popular in their native Canada. Although signed to GRT in Canada, their US product was released on Ariola America Records.  The band would eventually move to Capitol Records – who were originally responsible for the pressing early Ariola America product in the 1970s.

Our pick cut, “Flyin'” from their 1978 second album “See Forever Eyes,” was their most popular single release on Ariola in the US; however, they would have a higher charting single with “Don’t Let Him Know” on Capitol in 1981, as it peaked at #39. “Flying” placed at #53 in the US.

The Ariola label blank used on Prism singles released before "Flyin'"

“Flyin'” has a pop feel to it. In places and especially during the chorus, it reminds me of Styx’s recordings from the late 70s. An instrumental hook comes in the form of very simple portemento runs via a monophonic synthesizer at the hands of band member John Hall.

Because this was recorded during the time before the advent of polyphonic synthesizers, there also appears to be a string ensemble present as well as an organ. There may be a vocoder as well on this cut – or an effect that at least mimics a vocoder. “Flyin'” was written by Allen Harlow who also contributes the driving bass.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ariola Records: Real People

I got Mac McAnally’s first LP by chance, as a radio station for which I was employed was throwing out some albums and I grabbed this one and a few others. I love nearly every cut on this LP and remember playing it over and over when I got it. This album was released on Ariola America in 1977. Although “It’s A Crazy World” was the single and typically the cut I would have featured, it is unfortunately not currently available on YouTube.

What is on YouTube, however, is a excellent example of McAnally’s songwriting prowess and my personal favorite cut on the album. “Real People” is not a “feel good” song. In a nutshell, it is quite depressing. It deals with a child named John with a brain tumor and his eventual death – but more importantly, it deals with our insensitivity to the tragedies of life.

His schoolmates should have been sad at his death – but in their superficial lives, they only cared about things that didn’t matter. Children can be so cruel – but so are adults. It is a lesson for us that we need to care about others and not just ourselves.

When I got this LP, I played it for my girlfriend at the time and she broke out in tears – that was the reaction John’s friends should have had instead of being self absorbed. We all need to cry when a catastrophe occurs. Yes, it’s depressing, but there is a lesson for each of us in this song. “Real people would understand, and real people would lend a helping hand, but real people are hard to find.”

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ariola Records: Back On The Road

In 1972, Joe Egan and his school chum Gerry Rafferty formed Stealers Wheel and had one major hit – “Stuck in the Middle with You.” The single peaked in the US at #6; however, only one other single, “Star,” made it to the Top 40 and charted at #29. When Stealers Wheel disbanded in 1975, both Egan and Rafferty were contractually forbidden to release any recordings for three years.

In 1979, Egan’s first solo album, “Out of Nowhere” was released by Ariola America Records. The first single, “Back on the Road,” failed to chart in the US. Although it not receive the airplay it deserved, “Back on the Road” was a nice tune and should have at least charted in the adult contemporary world; however, it didn’t.

Egan recorded his second album, “Map,” in 1981; unfortunately, it was less successful than his first.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Ariola Records: Before My Heart Finds Out

It’s the fourth week of the month and time for our Fourth Week Label Special. During this week, we will explore some of the lesser known artists that recorded for Ariola America Records.

Many of the hits on Ariola were in the disco vein; however, since I am not a particular fan of that genre, we will look at some of the other songs recorded for the label. Some of these you may have never heard before; therefore, it will be a learning experience for all.

Ariola Records was founded by German conglomerate Bertelsmann in 1958. During 1975, a branch of the label was formed in LA under the brand of Ariola America. By 1977, the “America” part of the name was minimized giving the impression that the label was soley named as “Ariola Records.” Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG) purchased Arista Records in 1979 and the Ariola brand was distributed and promoted by Arista staff until 1981. By that year, the Ariola brand in the US was devalued and its remaining artists were switched to the Arista brand.

BMG continued to grow with the acquisition of RCA Records in 1986 and by 1989, it took complete control over Windham Hill, a label it originally distributed and then partly owned. Sony and BMG merged in 2004 in a 50/50 arrangement; however, by 2008 Sony took complete control of the corporation.

While many of you may not remember the Ariola brand in the US, they did have some interesting artists. Today, our feature is a hit from Gene Cotton’s 1977 album, “Save the Dancer.” Cotton, who began his career as a Contemporary Christian artist, switched to secular music in 1975. “Before My Heart Finds Out” was his most popular single; however, it only peaked at #23 in 1978 on Billboard’s Hot 100. The song charted at #3 on the adult contemporary chart.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

100,000 Visitors: Luke Slott - One Hundred Thousand Veils

Today is a momentous occasion for Reading Between the Grooves, as we have now broken the one hundred thousand mark for unique and unduplicated visitors. It took us nearly three and one half years to reach this many visitors to the blog – but the numbers are growing at a much faster pace than in the past.

It took us nearly two years to reach the 25,000 mark. This was accomplished on June 10, 2011 which was 620 days following the establishment of this blog. We reached the 50,000 mark 246 days later on February 11, 2012. Our next milestone was 75,000 unique visitors which occurred 180 days after the previous record on August 9, 2012. Today’s 100,000 visitor record comes only 164 days after the last record was set.

I wanted to utilize a song that fit the occasion with a similar theme in its title, and I found Luke Slott’s “One Hundred Thousand Veils.” The song was written for International Human Rights day which occurs annually on December 10 and appears on his 2012 EP “The Light of Unity.” Slott provides the acoustic guitar, piano, and vocals on this track.

The lyrical content of “One Hundred Thousand Veils” addresses religious persecution, but specifically the heinous persecution of those who practice the Bahá'í faith in Iran. While Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians may occasionally suffer persecution in Iran, all three are afforded at least some protection by the government. Bahá'ís, who are the largest religious minority in Iran, are not provided the same rights, as they are considered both religious and political enemies of the state.

Although my own religious beliefs differ in practice from Bahá'í tenets, I sympathize with their plight. Persecution and human suffering in any form needs to be abolished. Slott, an Irish singer/songwriter, has made “One Hundred Thousand Veils” as a free download, and from what I can see, he has already touched the hearts of many individuals across the world with this message.

Live Version

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Jefferson Airplane: It's No Secret

Formed in San Francisco in 1965 as a folk band, Jefferson Airplane would later be in the forefront of the psychedelic movement. In late 65, the band was signed to RCA Records and began working on their debut album “Takes Off.”

The album is a testament to their folk beginnings and featured two songs that gained some airplay: “Blues from an Airplane” and “It’s No Secret.” Both would later be reissued on the compilation, “The Worst of the Jefferson Airplane.”

“It’s No Secret” was the band’s first single release; however, it failed to chart. Lead vocalist Marty Balin wrote the song with the intent that Otis Redding would record the song. In addition to Balin’s vocals, he is joined by the band's original female lead vocalist: Signe Toly Anderson. The song also features a 12-string electric guitar.

Although it is not credited to a single member and both Jorma Kaukonen and Paul Kantner had electric 12-string Rickenbacker models, it is impossible without documentation to say who played the 12-string for sure on this cut. There appears to be a rhythm guitar in one channel that is buried in the mix with the bass. I am banking that Kantner is playing the rhythm and the 12-string parts are being played by Kaukonen; however, I cannot be 100% certain on this speculation. Released in 1966, the single failed to chart.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Crosby, Stills, & Nash: Long Time Gone

Some albums in their own right are considered to be seminal works – the debut Crosby, Stills, & Nash LP is one of those. Recorded in 1968 and 1969, the album brings together three well known musicians: David Crosby, formerly of The Byrds; Graham Nash, ex member of The Hollies; and Stephen Stills, one of the driving forces behind Buffalo Springfield.


The album brings together outstanding songwriting, excellent harmonies, and a musicianship that had not yet previously been seen out of three individuals. “Long Time Gone,” written by David Crosby, was his response to the aftermath of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. Typically when one thinks of Kennedy assassinations, we tend to think of where we were when heard about the death of his brother JFK. I was in third grade at the time and during the day of the shooting we were sent home early due to the tragic events.

With the Robert Kennedy assassination, it happened late in the evening and I heard about it while waiting for the bus to school the next morning. I was in eighth grade at the time. The senseless violence that led to the Kennedy and the Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination put our country in turmoil. Had Kennedy lived, he likely would have been the winner of the 1968 election; however, we never got to see that. As Crosby lamented, “The darkest hour is always, always just before the dawn. And it appears to be a long, appears to be a long – appears to be a long . . . time before the dawn.”

“Long Time Gone” was the flipside to “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” – a song Stephen Stills wrote about Judy Collins. The single charted at #21; however, as with many B-sides, “Long Time Gone” failed to chart on its own merit. The song features only two musicians: Dallas Taylor on drums and Stephen Stills on everything else. All three members of the band sing harmonies.

The song appears to fall apart at the end – something that would have been faded before the rather haphazard ending. That’s the beauty of the song – it ended as the band had designed it. Who knows – the ending may be a reaction to the turmoil of the times.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Steppenwolf: Sookie Sookie

Our Thursday Repeats and Threepeats selection is a song I remember getting airplay; however, it failed to chart both times it was released as a single. Steppenwolf’s “Sookie Sookie” was originally released as the “A” side to the band’s second single in February 1968. Written by veteran R&B singer/songwriter Don Covay, “Sookie Sookie” was also the lead track of Steppenwolf’s self-titled debut album – the one that was released with a silver foil cover.

Of the band's first three singles, “Born to be Wild,” was a success. It charted at #2 in early fall. By October, the next LP, “Steppenwolf the Second” was issued. It’s first single, “Magic Carpet Ride,” was an excellent follow-up to “Born to be Wild” and it too was a top five hit peaking at the #3 slot.

With the issue of “Magic Carpet Ride,” ABC-Dunhill saw the wisdom of re-releasing the “Sookie Sookie”; however, this time it was a “B” side. Like the “Born to be Wild” and “Magic Carpet Ride,” “Sookie Sookie” not only featured the extraordinary guitar work of Michael Monarch and vocals by John Kay, it had that signature organ sound of Goldy McJohn that came to define Steppenwolf’s sound.

While often mistakenly credited as a Hammond organ, McJohn played a Lowery outfitted with a Leslie speaker.  Not only did he play his organ – he played at it creating all kinds of musical effects that inspired and defined a generation of rock organists. His style featured smashing the keys for a percussive sound and glissando swells and growls. I never owned a tone wheel organ, but I often emulated the sound on my Prophet 5’s organ setting at patch “23”. Listening to Steppenwolf today, I see where I picked up some of what I did when I was playing back in the 1980s.

Thanks to my friend Mike Kolesar who corrected some obvious errors that I had in the original version of this post.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ralph McTell: From Clare To Here

Back in 1963, Ralph McTell heard an Irish worker in England make a comment “It’s a long way from Clare to here.” Being that his coworker was from County Clare on the western side of the island, it really was a long way to his home. The phrase stuck with McTell and he built a song around the theme.

Released on his “Right Side Up” album in 1976, it is considered Ralph’s second most covered song and it has been done by The Furey Brothers, Nanci Griffith, and others; however, my favorite version is McTell’s original. I wonder which of his songs was the most covered. I would guess that “Streets of London,” which was my first experience with McTell’s music probably was his most often covered song.

The reference in the first verse to “the craic” was a Middle English term referring to conversation that was borrowed by the Irish. The original spelling was “crak” which evolved to “crack” was Gaelicized as “craic.” It is the current preferred English spelling.


There's four who share this room and we work hard for the craic
And sleeping late on Sundays I never get to Mass


It's a long way from Clare to here
It's a long way from Clare to here
It's a long, long way – it grows further by the day
It's a long way from Clare to here

When Friday comes around Terry's only into fighting
My ma would like a letter home but I'm too tired for writing


It almost breaks my heart when I think of Josephine
I told her I'd be coming home with my pockets full of green


And the only time I feel alright is when I'm into drinking
It sort of eases the pain of it and levels out my thinking


I sometimes hear a fiddle play or maybe it's a notion
I dream I see white horses dance upon that other ocean


It's a long, long way from Clare to here.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Gin Wigmore: Don't Stop

For our Media Monday selection, we turn to New Zealand singer/songwriter Gin Wigmore. From her album “Holy Smoke,” “Don’t Stop” is one of her two songs that are currently featured in American television commercials. “Don’t Stop” and its characteristic piano treatment can be heard in the latest series of ads for Lowes.

Wigmore cowrote the “Don’t Stop” with producer/multi-instrumentalist Mike Elizondo. My favorite part of the song is the muted trumpet. Unfortunately, you don’t hear this part of the song in the commercials.

Lowes Commercial


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Farfisa Organ: See Emily Play

Our final tribute to the Farfisa organ was written by one of the most tripped out individuals of the psychedelic age – Syd Barrett. Although only released as Pink Floyd’s second single in the UK, “See Emily Play” was released both as a single and a part of the US version of the band’s debut album “Piper at the Gates of Dawn.”

The US and UK versions of the album were somewhat different and only shared eight cuts among them. The UK version had 11 cuts with three unique tracks. The US album only had nine tracks with one different selection – “See Emily Play.” Neither version contained their first single, “Arnold Layne.”

Barrett originally stated that the protagonist of the song was a girl he dreamed about while sleeping in the woods following an acid trip. It was later revealed that the inspiration was the adolescent Emily Young who later went on to become Britain’s premier sculptor. Ms. Young was known to frequent London's UFO Club where Pink Floyd played in 1967.

Emily Young

In addition to Richard Wright’s double manual gray and black Farfisa Compact combo organ, the song also features Wright on piano with some of the parts recorded at half speed which gave the effect of being an octave higher and twice as fast at normal speed. Barrett played slide guitar on the cut which he accomplished by using a plastic ruler as his slide.

The late Richard Wright at his Farfisa

Although charting at #6 in the UK, it failed to break into the Hot 100 in the US despite being issued three different times in 1967 and 1968. The highest peak any of the three US releases was at #134.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Farfisa Organ: Double Shot (of my Baby's Love)

Our next to our last excursion into Farfisa land takes us back to 1966 with The Swingin’ Medallions. The Farfisa takes a prominent role on this song that to me always sounded like a frat party. It was their only record to chart within the Top 40 – it placed at #17 on Billboard’s Hot 100. “Double Shot (of my Baby’s Love)” was originally recorded by Dick Holler and the Holidays.

The song features a great keyboard hook and the cheesy sound of the classic Farfisa Compact combo organ. Even though the band was from South Carolina, a number of stations in the South felt the lyrics were too risqué for airplay.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Farfisa Organ: Rock Lobster

The Farfisa organ had a second life in the late 70s and early 80s as the keyboard of choice for a number of punk and new wave bands. Its usage is epitomized by a classic bubbling under recording by The B-52’s. Although it had been previously issued twice on DB Records in 1977 and 1978, the familiar version was a re-recording of the song in 1979 that appeared on the band’s self-titled debut album on Warner Brothers.

Kate Pierson plays the Farfisa organ as well as the bass lines on a Korg SB100. Ricky Wilson used a vintage Moserite guitar that was tuned a fifth lower like a baritone guitar. Fred Schneider sings lead and adds the cowbell. Backup vocals are supplied by Pierson and and Cindy Wilson. Rounding out the rhythm section was Keith Strickland on drums.

Although it was a #1 record in Canada, it failed to break into the Top 40 in the US peaking at #56. This unusual song always brings back pleasant memories from 1980. During that year, I worked the evening shift at WEMM in Huntington, WV. When my shift ended, I drove over to WKEE and hung out with the late night jocks – notably Greg Smith. Every so often at about 3 AM Greg would sneak a couple songs into the mix that were out of character for the Tri-State’s leading contemporary hit radio station.

Completely breaking format, you might hear The B-52’s “Rock Lobster” or Slim Whitman’s “Indian Love Call” at or around 3 AM. Both songs caused me to laugh uncontrollably. I hadn’t thought about Greg in decades, but his sense of humor was most unusual. He and a handful of other jocks threw a goodbye party for me when I left Huntington in 1981. That was the last time I saw him and I heard that shortly thereafter he had returned to Elkhorn City, Kentucky to work in radio in his hometown.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Farfisa Organ: Incense and Peppermints

One of the quintessential psychedelic recordings of the 1960s was Strawberry Alarm Clock’s “Incense and Peppermints.” The song had some hurdles – the band had just changed its name after the song was released, the song was not even sung by one of the six members of the band, it was never intended to be the “A” side, not all of writers received credit, and it was released three times. Any number of these issues could have been disastrous for “Incense and Peppermints”; however, it was destined to be a number one record.

Originally named as Thee Sixpence, a conflict with another Los Angeles band with a similar name required them to take the high road and rebrand themselves as Strawberry Alarm Clock. Contrary to popular belief, the name was not inspired by The Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Even though the band had released four singles on All-American as Thee Sixpence, the new name did not have a negligible effect on their hit potential.

While each member of the band had a try at singing the lead vocals on “Incense and Peppermints,” none performed the band’s liking. Being that “Incense and Peppermints” was relegated to B-side status, they asked a guest who had been brought in to sing back-up to try his hand at singing lead. A guitarist and vocalist in The Shapes, 16-year old Greg Munford who would never be a part of Strawberry Alarm Clock sang lead on their most popular recording.

All American Records released the single in early 1967 with “The Birdman of Alkatrash” as the “A” side under the artist name of “Thee Sixpence”; however, LA radio had a different opinion and began flipping the single and playing “Incense and Peppermints.” In March 1967, All American re-released the single with “Incense and Peppermints” as the “A” side under the Strawberry Alarm Clock banner. The airplay in Los Angeles caught the attention of MCA and they picked up the band and they re-released the single in May on the Uni label.

Four individuals contributed to the writing of the single, and the omission of two band members’ names for some unknown reason nearly erupted in a lawsuit when the single peaked at the number one slot. Songwriters John S. Carter, who also tried his hand at singing lead, and Tim Gilbert were given credit and royalties for writing the song; however, the foundation of “Incense and Peppermints” was written by keyboardist Mark Weitz and guitarist Ed King. King, by the way, later joined Lynyrd Skynyrd – a band that had been Strawberry Alarm Clock’s opening act.

The memorable keyboard parts were played by Mark Weitz on his Farfisa Compact combo organ. Add fuzz guitar, cowbell, handclaps, and a memorable high-hat cymbal break and you have a hit that would stand up for generations to come.

Here’s a video showing Mark Weitz playing his Farfisa organ on “Incense and Peppermints.” Be alerted, the audio is horrible.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Farfisa Organ: Midnight Confession

During summer 1968, The Grass Roots released their biggest single of all time – “Midnight Confessions.” It peaked on the US charts at #5 and on the Canadian charts at #4. By the end of the year, the song had sold over a million units and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Being the third in our series dealing with the Farfisa organ, I am reasonably sure that a Farfisa was used on this cut, but cannot be 100% certain. During this time producer Steve Barri was notorious for not letting the acts that he produced to actually play on their recordings; however, they were allowed to sing the vocals.

It’s not particularly clear who played keyboards on this cut, and with that, it makes it difficult to determine what brand of combo organ was used. If we go by an early video, the band’s keyboardist, Warren Entner, is shown playing an older model gray and black Farfisa Compact combo organ.

In listening to the recording, the organ doesn’t quite have the edge that a Vox Continental had; therefore, I am going out on a limb here and I am going to suggest that it was a Farfisa - but don't quote me on that.

Here’s a TV video showing Warren Entner playing his Farfisa on “Midnight Confessions.”

Monday, January 7, 2013

Farfisa Organ: Crocodile Rock

Our second in our series of Farfisa organ recordings comes from the pen of Elton John and Bernie Taupin – 1972’s “Crocodile Rock.” The song was not only the first number one record for Elton John in the US and Canada, it was the first single released on the newly created MCA Records label. The song placed in the Top Five in the UK, Australia, Germany, and Norway as well.

In 1973, “Crocodile Rock” also was certified as a gold single for sales in excess of a million copies. When the Recording Industry Association of America introduced the platinum designation for single sales in excess of two million copies in the late 1970s, “Crocodile Rock” eventually achieved this status in 1995.

Bringing with it inspiration from ‘50s rock ‘n roll and pop numbers, the song was wildly popular. John’s vocal treatment in part reminds me of the tenor in The Diamonds’ version of “Little Darlin” and the girl character’s vocals on Pat Boone’s “Speedy Gonzales.” Davey Johnstone utilized a popular ‘50s’ guitar technique of muting the strings with the heel of one’s palm while playing arpeggios.

While Elton’s piano is the primary keyboard instrument, you can hear him using the Farfisa organ in a partial staccato fashion. In parts, the Farfisa lends an almost carnival atmosphere that is punctuated by Johnstone’s guitar work. In stereo, John’s double tracked vocals beginning with the first chorus and which comes to fruition during the last verse really add the icing on the cake on this tune from his “Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player” album.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Farfisa Organ: Wooly Bully

Growing up in the US, I tended to think that many of the recordings featuring combo organs on this side of the Atlantic used Farfisa organs; however, I was wrong. An equal number of classic American combo organ songs were using Vox organs, which were considered the top of the line for both established acts and garage bands. Most British bands using combo organs sported Voxes as well.

The combo organ craze of the ‘60s made it easy on bands who wanted a polyphonic sound to provide some glue to their songs without the heavy price tag and the added weight of purchasing a tone-wheel organ like a Hammond. It was also possible for one person to carry a combo organ – not so with a Hammond and they were less prone to malfunction than their heavier cousins.

I got my combo organ in August 1982. It was made in Japan under the name of Ace Tone – a predecessor company to Roland. My model, the TOP 1, was the bottom of the line instrument. It had a typical combo red and black exterior but it was in rough shape in 1982, but it played and I cleaned it up and it was worth the $45 I paid for it. I still have it, but have not fooled with it in years. At one time in a fit of insanity, I almost sold it. Thank goodness I didn’t. I sold my Wurlitzer Electric Piano at about the same time and now I could kick myself.

The author and his Ace Tone, 1984

We are here, however, not to talk about Ace Tones, Hammonds, or even Voxes. Our time is to discuss to discuss the organ with the quintessential sound – the Farfisa. The name came from its parent company, FAbbriche Riunite di FISArmoniche, which otherwise translates as the “united factory of accordions.” In 1962, this accordion manufacturer began making electric accordions; however, the popularity of Vox combo organs (later made in Italy) inspired the Farfisa organ and they began manufacturing their own brand in 1964. Gibson’s owner, Chicago Musical Instruments, distributed Farfisa products in the US.

While the Farfisa Compact also came in gray and black, the classic version of this instrument was in combo organ red and black. On the left, it had 12 keys in a reverse color scheme. This octave could be played as a set of bass notes or could be set to be an extension of the organ sounds. Later FAST versions of the Farfisa had three sets of key colors – black/white, gray/white, and white/black. The bass could be programmed to the black/white keys, extended into the grey/white, or extend the organ sounds over the entire keyboard.

Unlike the Vox, some models of the Farfisa Compact folded the legs inward to make transportation and storage easier. Some Farfisas came with an expression pedal (i.e., that’s volume and just “swell”) and a knee lever that opened up all of the settings and was called a Multi-Tone Booster. Just add vibrato and you have that cheesy Farfisa organ sound that made it to a number of recordings.

The first Farfisa hit in the US came about when Domingo Samudio and his band decided to write a tribute song to the “Hully Gully.” Named after Samudio’s cat “Wooly Bully,” his band Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs had a hit record during a time when it was difficult to get an American record into the Top 10 – let alone at the number 2 spot.

It also was named the number one record of 1965 by Billboard, which was highly an unusual situation as this is typically reserved for a song that peaked at number one and that held that position for a number of weeks. Uno, Dos, One, Two, Three, Cuatro!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Grand Funk Railroad: Heartbreaker

Today’s Bubbling Under Hit is testimony that Mark Farner was a very talented vocalist in addition to his guitar work. Grand Funk Railroad never achieved the critical recognition that they deserved. For some reason, they were relegated to a second tier status despite their numerous chart successes and gold and platinum albums.

Their first album, “On Time,” did not reach the pinnacle of its success until the release of the second LP, “Grand Funk” (AKA the "red album") was released. “Heartbreaker,” the fourth single by the band, was released following “Mr. Limousine Driver” and “Inside Looking Out” – both of which came from the second album.

“Heartbreaker,” released in February 1970, peaked at #72 in the US, but did better in Canada with a chart position of #58.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Foreigner: Night Life

Released in February 1982 as the third single from Foreigner’s album “4,” “Juke Box Hero” had been playing on album radio since July 1981. It had peaked on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Chart at #3; however, the single release only charted at #26 on the Hot 100 despite its immense popularity. This was probably due to the lack of coordination between album and Top 40 airplay.

Its “B” side, “Night Life” is our Friday Flipside feature. By the time of “Juke Box Hero’s” single release, album radio was already playing “Night Life” in rotation and the song charted at #14. Foreigner is a high energy band that was a must see in concert and I had an opportunity to see them twice – during fall 1981 and spring 1985.

Every hour for two solid weeks prior to the 1985  show, we gave away Foreigner prizes every hour that consisted of T-shirts, posters, albums, concert tickets (probably close to 100 total), a bus trip to the Charleston, WV show aboard our concert bus for 30 winners, and other Foreigner and Giuffria memorabilia - a total of 336 prizes and winners.  Thanks are extended to Atlantic Records, MCA Records, Bill Scull and Tri-State Promotions, both band's management, the concert promoters, and other sundry vendors.

This promotion was done over WOAY-FM – then known as Y-94. The grand prize in our Y-Ninety Foreigner promotion was drawing of all of our winners and was an all expense paid trip for two to Rochester, NY for Lou Gramm’s birthday concert in his home town. It was probably the most extensive promotion that I did during my entire radio career and it was perfectly timed during our spring rating sweeps as well.

The concert, as you may expect was great, we didn’t get to see the band backstage; however, guitarist Mick Jones came aboard our bus following the show and we had a chance to meet at least one member of the band. Somewhere I have his picture as he embarked on our concert cruiser.  It was one of the most memorable times I’ve had.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Moody Blues: Nights In White Satin

For Thursday’s Repeats and Threepeats, we treat you to a song that was released thrice in the United States. The Moody Blues “Nights in White Satin” clocks in at 7:38 on the “Days of Future Passed” with the addendum of “The Late Lament”; however, the single was released in two different lengths. Both edits fade before orchestration that leads to the “Late Lament” recitation.

The first American release of the single was issued with a length of 4:26 and only charted at #103 in the US and did much better in the UK by peaking at #19. While all three issues of the single carried the same catalog number of 85023. The three pressings can be distinguished by the catalog number prefixes. The January 1968 pressing has 45-DEM-85023, the 1972 is referenced as 45-85023, and the 1974 version has BN-85023. 

The 1968 version is also distinguished by the songwriting credits of Redwave as opposed to Justin Hayward. The early pressings of the album also listed Redwave and Redwave/Knight as authors on the tunes. Knight was Peter Knight who provided the orchestral arrangements and conducted the London Festival Orchestra. Redwave was a pseudonym for all or any of the band members. The practice was not continued with subsequent albums and later pressings of “Days of Future Passed” properly listed the authors by their actual names.

In 1972, the single was rereleased by Deram, a subsidiary label of London Records in the US and Decca Records Ltd. in the UK. It appears that the 1972 release was issued in two time formats – a botched edit of 3:06 and the original edit of 4:26. There is no rhyme or reason two issues other than they came from different pressing plants. This second issue was the successful version as it peaked at #2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and #1 at Cashbox. The British version peaked at #9.

For some reason, Deram released “Nights in White Satin” in 1974 – this time with the same time configurations – some at 3:06 and some at 4:26. We’ll feature the album version which includes “Late Lament” written by Graeme Edge and recited by Mike Pinder. Pinder, by the way, plays the gong at the end of the song.