Song of the Week – I’m On The Lamb But I Ain’t No Sheep & The Red & The Black, Blue Oyster Cult


Today’s SotW is by the heavy riffing, Long Island band Blue Öyster Cult and comes in two versions.

“I’m On The Lamb But I Ain’t No Sheep” was on BÖC’s 1972 eponymous debut.

The song was reworked and given a new title – “The Red & The Black” – for their second release, 1973’s Tyranny and Mutation.

“The Red & The Black” opens with what sounds like a song “ending” and then kicks right into a blast furnace, fast tempo rocker. After two rounds of verse/chorus comes a blistering guitar solo by Buck Dharma. At about 3 minutes in the bass takes a short solo but continues to propel the song forward all the way through to the end.

The song is a tribute to the Canadian Mounted Police and has become a staple of the band’s live shows in “The Red & The Black” format.

It is a prototypical hard rock performance in the genre that was popularized by bands like Blue Cheer, Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper and Hawkwind.

BÖC was also the first band to utilize the umlaut in their name. This went on to become a heavy metal trademark, copied by other bans such as Motörhead, Mötley Crüe, Queensrÿche and most effectively by the parody group Spın̈al Tap.

Enjoy… until next week.

Song of the Week – Fish Walk, Harvey Mandel


Harvey Mandel is a guitarist that languishes in relative obscurity when he really should be a household name.

His career began in the mid-60s playing blues guitar with luminaries such as Charlie Musselwhite, Barry Goldberg, Elvin Bishop and Graham Bond. He was invited to join Canned Heat when lead guitarist Henry Vestine quit in 1969. Mandel’s third gig with the band was at Woodstock!

Next he joined John Mayall for two albums – the now classics, USA Union and Back to the Roots. The musicians he connected with through Mayall led to a short lived band called Pure Food and Drug Act. Their only album was critically acclaimed but never troubled the charts.

In 1975, the Rolling Stones auditioned him to replace Mick Taylor – the job that Ron Wood won. Mandel played on two songs (“Hot Stuff” and “Memory Motel”) on the Stones “audition” album Black and Blue that also featured Woody and Wayne Perkins on other cuts.

But if Mandel is famous for anything, it is for developing the two-handed fretboard tapping technique that was later broadly popularized by Eddie Van Halen. (Mandel acknowledges picking up the technique, in a more rudimentary form, from fellow PFaDA bandmate Randy Resnick.) He introduced it on his 1973 solo album Shangrenade on songs such as “Fish Walk.”

Shangrenade was ahead of its time. If you’re a fan of Jeff Beck’s jazz/rock fusion instrumentals on Blow by Blow (1975), you will love Shangrenade as it explores much of the same landscape.

Enjoy… until next week.

Rolling Stones, Connection

They were showing Shine A Light in the park tonight on one of those big blow up screens, and, it turned out to be a fantastic sound system. Nothing better in the middle of a heatwave to see the Stones outside in somewhat cooler air.

I thought I’d seen the movie before but I was wrong. The nexus of Stones and Scorcese had someone how slipped past me.

Here’s the review. If you like the Stones, you will like this show. The songs are arranged a little differently, but the rearrangements are astute and advantage all the supporting players, so the front guys can play their rote parts, hit their marks with passion, and even if the ravages of age a little apparent, make us forget that this is 50 years later. It’s a great performance.

In the middle of the show Mick hands off to Keith for You’ve Got The Silver, which is a terrific tune that advantages Keith’s game but less than full voice. And then, surprisingly, the show move on to Connection, one of the oldest songs they played, one of my favorites from Between the Buttons. This is a pop hit that has a more insidious pop hook than the overt grabbers of Satisfaction or Get Off My Cloud or Paint It Black, and was never released as a single, so was never a hit.

But it lives on. Scorcese obviously understands the limits of a non-pop historical song from an audience perspective and uses that to glide into Keith interviews when he was young and when he was old. Good stuff, all, but it diverts our attention away from the performance, which is remarkably winning in spite of its limitations.

I particularly like that dynamic, so I wanted more of the performance, but what I can share is this Italian version of the song and intercuts. I hope it suffices. By that I mean, I think this is fun.

Song of the Week – California Soul, Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell


One of the greatest and most tragic musical collaborations was the series of duets recorded by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. Their glorious list of hits include “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Your Precious Love” (my favorite), “If I Could Build My Whole World Around You,” “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing,” and “You’re All I Need to Get By.”

But as you well know by now, the SotW is all about providing exposure to the overlooked gems, so today’s feature is “California Soul.”

“California Soul” was written by Ashford & Simpson and recorded by numerous (mostly Motown) acts before Gaye and Terrell took a crack at it. They managed to take it to #56 as the B-side to “The Onion Song.” It was the last single released by the duo (March 1970) and was included on the album Easy.

On October 14, 1967, Terrell collapsed into Gaye’s arms onstage at a concert in Virginia. She was soon diagnosed with brain cancer and was unable to fully continue her career. She received treatments and operations through early 1970 when she finally succumbed to her disease and died about 6 weeks before her 25th birthday.

Controversy has surrounded whether Terrell truly sang on Easy or if her parts were actually sung by Simpson. But I choose to believe Terrell sang, especially since Simpson has continually denied that it was her. (She claims to have provided guide vocals for the weakened Terrell who had to sing while seated in a wheelchair.)

We can only imagine what more great music Gaye and Terrell were destined to make together.

Enjoy… until next week.

The Biters Forge Ahead

Things to know:

1) I feel guilty for liking this Bolan forgery so much.

2) It’s the “soco, soco, soco. . .” part.

3) They’re not even from Sweden! Atlanta, actually.

4) The singer is prettier and probably half as masculine as Joan Jett, whose look he forged. (Joan Jett did plenty of Bolan forging herself so it all comes full circle.)

The Beatles Get Worst to First Treatment

Note first, Bill Wyman wrote this.

He’s a rock critic, not the Rolling Stones bassist. But does that matter?

I immediately check out the end and find Good Morning in last place. Geez. I like that tune, not in a rock sense, but in a music and attitude sense, it’s pretty powerful. So, I disagree.

And then it gets worse and better and worse, and there’s not reason to think about the ranking. This is an internet click bait thing, Wyman is a pretty decent critic, and does a good job of navigating through the ranks.

Which are totally wrong. Discuss.