Tony Allen is Dead.

Allen was the drummer who shaped the Afrobeat sound with Fela. The two of them combined jazz and Nigerian pop and lots of political edge to create a music that drove the central government wild. I once had tickets to see Fela in NY, but he was imprisioned in Nigeria and couldn’t travel. I did see Tony Allen once, at the Knitting Factory when it was on Leonard Street in New York’s Tribeca. A joy, and the opening band was Antibalas, a Brooklyn based Afrobeat band. They didn’t cover Fela, they didn’t impersonate him, but they surely inhabited his vibe and made it work. Antilbalas eventually became the house band when the musical about Fela and Tony Allen hit Broadway.

Tony Allen is drumming on this, maybe Fela and Afrika 70’s greatest song.

https://youtu.be/Qj5x6pbJMyU

Miles Davis and John Coltrane and Wynton Kelly and Paul Chambers and Billy Cobb, So What

This is jazz, recorded live in 1960 in Sweden. So What is a classic jazz cut, the first track on Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue. It is the kind of music that even if you think you haven’t heard it, you’ve heard it.

This live performance from Sweden is a classic demonstration of jazz and why. Fantastic performers, all five of them, take the tune and turn it into something huger. Yeah, that’s the best word I can come up with. Huger. A better word than amazing, but that, too.

If you want to check out the original album cut, which is great, too, here it is.

Wikipedia note: The actor Dennis Hopper at some point claimed that the name of the song came from a philosophical conversation Hopper had with Davis, during which Davis would say something and Hopper would say, So what?

Clapton/Gibson/Fender

I’m not much of a Clapton fan. As a matter of fact, anything he did in the past 25 years I likely don’t know.

But there’s a new Showtime doc on Clapton that you guys are bound to run into pretty soon. I stumbled into it and was interested enough to stick with it from about Cream through the middle of Clapton horndogging after George Harrison’s wife. Switched to the local news then, but I recorded it to watch the rest of what I want to later.

Anyway, Clapton went to see the Allmans. which led to the recording of Layla, of course. What struck me was a quote from Duane Allman saying something like, “I played the Gibson all the way through and he played the Fender all the way through.”

The movie then plays the Allman Layla guitar track naked and I never realized how much that gritty Gibson undertune contributes to the greatness of the song.

Forgive me if this is common knowledge to the Dave Marshers. I point it out because the Dave Marshers usually point out stuff like lyrics and jazz.

I’ve always been a Gibson man.

Wish I had the naked Allman track, but the best I can do is the whole song. Hopefully you can pick out the Gibson base guitar part (not bass guitar part). Watch the movie.

I Can’t Get No Satisfaction, 1969

The subject applies to so many things these days, but of course the subject is the name of a song. A Rolling Stones’ song.

It is a Rolling Stones’ song from the days of Andrew Loog Oldham, Brian Jones, and Nanker Phelge, attributed to Jagger-Richards. Recorded in 1965, it was the Stones’ first No. 1 hit. Mick Jagger said the song is the one that made the Stones different than other bands. He’s surely right, at least up to a point a few years later.

So it isn’t amazing or anything that the Stones played this song at their 1969 shows at Madison Square Garden. These shows became the meat of Get Yer Ya Yas Out, one of the great live albums of all time.

But what I found tonight was the video of the Stones playing the song at the Garden during those Ya Yas shows, mostly because I was looking for Janis Joplin things and she was standing beside the stage that night.

The original is a riff-based song where the music totally propels the satirical lyrics.

This live version introduces Mick Taylor to the band, and the results are not surprisingly magical. What is old becomes new. This doesn’t diminish the brilliance of what Mick and Keith started, and Brian Jones arranged, but how awesome to add lovely guitar solos!

I hadn’t heard this before. If you have, please be patient. I’m not saying it’s the best version. But it is a fantastic version by a band operating at peak effect.

And Janis Joplin, how I got here, is standing in the crowd.

Roxy Music

We’ve talked about them but not enough. They’re every bit as good the Beatles and the Stones and the Dolls and Howlin Wolf. The truest mark of greatness is that it keeps revealing. As it happens I have a dead speaker, which means I only hear one channel. Listening to Roxy with only one channel is amazing. What a band, including every single bass player, and there’s a different great one on every album. I mean, check out the bass on this, not to mention everything else. I also believe that Ferry writes lyrics to match anyone’s, including this song if only because he’s “growing potatoes by the score.”

 

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!