Should Have Been a Hit

Actually it was a #1 hit in Britain. Somehow I missed it back in the day. Garage soul with Satisfaction-plus fuzztone. That singer’s got some pipes. They didn’t write it but they might as well have. The original by Jackie Edwards is an early reggae song and a fine tune, but Spencer and the fellas make it something else again.

 

Tres Hombres

When we did our Top 50 albums of all-time a couple years ago, I’m sure this was on my list. Drove around to it today, reinforcing its greatness.

ZZ Top is sort of like AC/DC in that the early stuff (pre-MTV beards, spinning fuzzy guitars and electronic drums) is so superior to the just passable later stuff. The good/mediocre dividing line for AC/DC is Bon Scott.

Tres Hombres as a unit proves a fine example of the abomination of playlist shuffle.

Here’s an underrated classic. Try driving around to this and not drumming the steering wheel. Peter talks about swing a lot and this song has it.

Classic Nuggets: Paul Revere & the Raiders, “Sometimes”

I am not sure why Sometimes of all songs from my past popped into my head the other day. I think someone asked me a question, and I answered “sometimes,” and poof, there you go.

But, I am glad because I remember loving the shit out of this song when I bought Paul Revere’s third album Here They Comethough it was never a hit or even released as a single. It was covered later by The Cramps and The Flamin’ Groovies, however.

The Raiders were certainly a hot band in 1963. I saw them twice in the early 60’s opening for the Beach Boys (whom I actually saw six times and was in attendance August 1, 1964 when Beach Boys Concert album was recorded) and with music and television growing, The Raiders became a house band on Dick Clark’s Where the Action Is, his follow-up to Bandstand aimed at the next generation of pop music kids.

But, talk about an advanced sounding song, recorded in 1965, Sometimes was produced by Terry Melcher. Melcher was a principal producer for Columbia Records at the time, and was the son of Doris Day. Melcher had a band–The Rip Chords–who had an early 60’s hit (Hey Little Cobra) and as part of Bruce and Terry (Here Comes Summer).

Bruce, was Bruce Johnson who eventually became a member of the Beach Boys, but Melcher also was tied to Charles Manson. Melcher rejected Manson’s audition tapes, clearly pissing Manson off. Melcher had owned the home where the Tate-LaBiancha murders took place, but (obviously) did not live there any longer when Manson’s minions did their dirty work.

Rumor has it that some of the recording of Here They Come was performed by The Wrecking Crew, but Drake Levin probably did play the guitar and his solo is pretty hot. Levin was a pioneer with guitar pyrotechnics, having been among the first to double-track a solo on Just Like Me.

To me, however, Sometimes sticks out as an actual substantive song as opposed to a lot of what turned into the car song pop dreck that highlighted pop music, along with surfing, before the Beatles and Brit Pop rescued us. Nothing represents this pre-genre better than Hey Little Cobra.

Compare that to Sometimes.

And, will try to write here more often. The re-launch of Creativesports, and work on my latest book have distracted me!

Lunch Break: Sister Rosetta Tharpe, “Didn’t It Rain”

I feel like a stupid ignorant fuck, having lived nearly 65 years, being a music junkie, and having never heard of Sister Rosetta Tharpe till a couple of days ago, but I got a link to some of her stuff via my weekly NPR music email push, and there she was.

Not much I can say but, “wow.”

Check this out and you will see what I mean. Swear to fucking god.

 

Song-Ending Solo

Here’s my nominee.

Anyone not completely blown away the first time you heard this as a kid? Made me wanna jump out of my pants.

It’s a really odd rock song (if this copies something else I’m not aware of, please do tell) and one of the oddities is there’s no solo until the very end. The guitar is all riff and thump up to that point.

And what a solo it is – herky-jerky as hell and packed full of what has become cliche Page solo material. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

1970 Classic Nuggets: Tighter, Tighter, and Ride Captain Ride

The good old Spotify shuffle dug these choice pop tunes from 1970 out the other day as I was driving to the golf course (was I driving in order to drive?) and I was reminded of a couple of things.

One, is both are just classic pop/rock gems from the era, with pretty lush and thoughtful productions. The second is both songs feature not just one, but two guitar solos, the first of which falls after a couple of verses, the second to close out the song.

What is different is that in both, that second solo gives the guitar player a chance to cut loose, and by most 1970 pop song standards, both guys shred and push their sound as much as anyone.

First off is Tighter, Tigher, by Alive’n’Kicking. Alive’n’Kicking were actually discovered by Tommy James, who got the group signed to his Roulette label. James wrote the song Crystal Blue Persuasion  for Alive’n’Kicking, but liked it so much he kept the song for the Shondells.

However, as a gesture, James gave Tighter, Tighter to the band who scored a hit in a song which does bridge 60’s pop (ie, there are trumpets) with the pop influenced by Psychedelia and Brit Pop. Add that great Hammond organ, and guitar work by Dave Shearer and a sparkling catchy tune is the result. (Note these are two of the funkiest videos ever: maybe even funkier than those early Clash ones.)

The Blues Image were a Florida-based band who moved to LA at just the right time, making it to the strip and signed to Atco, releasing a second album in 1970 that included Ride Captain Ride.

For Ride Captain Ride Kent Henry–who went on to play with Steppenwolf–played the first solo and fills, and then Mike Pinera did the shredding at the end. Pinera moved on to play with Iron Butterfly and then Alice Cooper, and his band-mates did work with Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, and Manassas. (This is one funky video, BTW.)

It is kind of sad that song production has changed from those lush 60’s sounds of Motown and Phil Spector and George Martin, to Jack Nietschze and Sonny Bono, and even into guys like Steve Lillywhite. Somehow, though, it seems like electronics have kind of purified music kind of like CGI has changed film.

I am OK with that progress, but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss what used to be too.

More Baseball Fun

Outfielder Franchy Cordero was recently brought up from the minors for the San Diego Padres. The last guy I knew named Franchy (sort of – no idea if it’s even pronounced the same), was early Misfits guitarist Franche Coma, who plays on the legendary Bullet EP – and other stuff – of course.

And about the fifth youtube comment down is from “J Sickels.” Doubt it’s the same guy but if so, that would be so much baseball fun our heads would explode.

Truth be told, when I bought this single as a 17-year-old I didn’t think music could get much better than this. The early genius of the Misfits still holds up.

So when you see some dumbass little kid poser at the mall today in his Misfits t-shirt, punch him in the stomach for Franche Coma and Franchy Cordero.

Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives

25 years ago I had a pair girlfriends, back-to-back, named Debbie, whom, in retrospect, I refer to as the “Deb-aucle.”

I guess the best way to describe the sensitivities of Debbie I, would be this little tale. I liked this woman, who was quite pretty, and who never seemed to feel acknowledged. So, I wrote a couplet for her that read:

“She is not the Deb you taunt,
That would not be fair.
She is just the Deb you want,
She’s so “Deb-o-nair.”

My beloved’s response to this epithet? “What in the hell is that supposed to mean?”

Well, Debbie I was a Top 40 girl of the highest order, although when we went together–and ashamedly I admit I endured a year with her–Debbie was seriously into country music. And, the worst shit in my view: Reba McIntire and Toby Keith and those kind of flag waving Jesus loving knuckleheads.

But, during that time, Marty Stuart released his album, This One’s Gonna Hurt You, and I bought that album and have kind of followed the fine guitarist (who began his career as a teenage guitar player with Lester Flatt’s band) and a guy I just liked.

Marty is now on tour supporting his latest album, Way Out West, and his band was set to play a wonderful little 400-seat venue called The Freight and Salvage in Berkeley. This is not a little dump either, but a cool downtown non-profit community supported venue that is modern, has wonderful sound, and killer acoustics.

So, I hit my friends and musicians Steve Gibson and Stephen Clayton up and we toddled off to see Marty and his band Monday night, and all I can say is they were one of the two best live bands I have ever seen.

This statement is kind of bombastic, going back to 1968, and including seeing acts like Pink Floyd, Cream, Derek and the Dominoes, The Who,  Jimi Hendrix and Buffalo Springfield and so on. But a lot of bands, and a lot of great ones over the past 50 years.

From, however, the first note by Marty, Kenny Vaughn (guitar), Harry Stinson (drums) and Chris Scruggs (bass, and yep, Earl’s grandson, and a guy who can play every instrument on the stage) came out of the blocks smoking, and just got hotter and tighter with a set that featured new stuff from the new album, old stuff (Running Down a Dream) and a monster cover of Charlie Christian’s, Bennie Goodman’s, and Jame’s Mundy’s Airmail Special, of which I looked for a YouTube link, but none exists.

So, I went for this clip from David Letterman which gives an idea of just how tight the band is and how exceptional their players are.

One of the “oldies” the band played was Marty Robbins incredible El Paso, a song I loved from first listen in 1959. When guitar player Grady Martin was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, Stuart and his band were asked to play, and since Martin played the melodic moving part in the song, El Paso was what they performed. The band did cover it Monday, and I did find a link.

BTW, I said one of the two best bands I have ever seen. The other? George Clinton and Parliment (with Bootsie, Bernie, et al).

J. Geils Blues Band Loses J. Geils

John Miller came into the lunch room at Smithtown Central and said something like, I’ve got the new Rolling Stones. What he meant was he’d heard the J. Geils Band’s first album.

It turns out that the J. Geils Band wasn’t the new Stones, the Stones themselves were just escalating into an incredible streak of great music, but the J. Geils Band was great fun. Especially before they became sexy hitmakers. Good for them to make the money, but the love was in those early cuts, like this one.