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.

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).

Rolling Stones, Brown Sugar

I just read Gene’s comment about the Political Correctness Police in the comments to the Now I’ve Got A Witness post (about the ranking of every Rolling Stones’ song). I started reading the list from the bottom up, and was noting the very excellent songs ranked near the bottom of the list. Short and Curlies, in particular, apparently because it is misogynistic ignoring the jamming instrumental track behind the lyrics.

In any case, I come at the Political Correctness Police a little differently. I believe people have a basic right to express their opinions, and I also believe people have a right not to be aggressively attacked with hateful speech. Since those two positions are not mutually exclusive, the resolution is one of constant negotiation with oneself and with those within earshot.

For me, there is a big distinction between words said by a person directly to another person in such a way that the implication is personal, and the same words issuing into the public space in a more general way. The former is hate speech, the later is hateful speech (if the subject is hate) and hate speech is perhaps not illegal but certainly morally reprehensible, while hateful speech can be extreme and uncomfortable and repulsive, but its immorality is far from automatic and should be given every benefit of the doubt.

Which brings us to the Rolling Stones’ Brown Sugar, which is certainly one of the most rampantly offensive and rocking songs in their oeuvre. A writer named Lauretta Charlton wrote a defense of the song in Vulture a couple of years ago,  and quotes Mick Jagger as saying, in 1995, “I never would write that song now. I would probably censor myself. I’d think, ‘Oh God, I can’t. I’ve got to stop. I can’t just write raw like that.’”

I can imagine a world without the hatred and history of Brown Sugar didn’t exist (I have a good imagination), and in such a world such a song probably wouldn’t exist. But that isn’t our world, and if in 1969 Jagger didn’t pour out the lyrics to the song (which he in subsequent years in live shows changed, because he felt uncomfortable singing the originals) as he did, our world would be a lesser place. Fuck those Political Correctness Police.

David Marchese ranks Brown Sugar as the 10th best Stones song of all time.

Allman Brothers, One Way Out

Sonny Boy Williamson wrote this song, or maybe he wrote it with Elmore James. Or they wrote it together with another guy, too. Someone knows the story, and he’s probably gone.

This cut is live, comes from the Fillmore East but was from the last show ever at the Fillmore East, in 1971, not at the other shows in which the band made their bones at that place.

It’s a remarkable cut. Berry Oakley is percolating and that great rhythm section is propulsive. The guitars are sweet, and Gregg sings. You taught me good. This band was great at getting jazzy and improving and turning meh lyrics into musical profundity, but given this piece of meat they come back concise, energetic, and unbeatable. In other words, with the best.

Chuck Berry Is On Top

By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28740659

Dick Clark introduces an appearance by Berry promoting this album and stumbles over the title, with the audience tittering at the double entendre. Really?

It is 1959, and, as Clark mentions, this is an album that has on it Carol, Maybelline, Johnny B. Goode, Roll Over Beethoven, Little Queenie and many more.

Those were the days of album oriented rock. Not.

It’s an incredible trove, not a greatest hits album, that the Rolling Stones particularly mined for their early (and later) setlists.

Berry, of course, looks right at home playing along to this other cut, Back in the USA, that is also on Chuck Berry is on Top, with the totally white and polite audience clapping along.