Because the Night

The story I remember is that Patti Smith was recording in the same studio as Bruce Springsteen, she heard this song and put out her own version. Without approval, just hijacked it.

I’ve read Bruce’s autobiography and Patti Smith’s books and I don’t know what the truth is. Maybe I knew once, but now, I like my memory. What I do know is that this is one of the Boss’s best songs. And one of Patti’s best songs. It has become a collaboration.

So, today I was listening to the Screaming Females, a New Jersey band who have made seven albums. I don’t know that much about them, but as a rock band they’re pushing a big rock up a steep hill.

And I stumbled upon their collaboration with 90’s indie band Garbage on a cover of the Boss’s song.

It’s still a good song, but I don’t know. This makes me want to hear Patti and her group.


Nina Simone, Brown Eyed Handsome Man

I stumbled across this a couple days ago. It’s a curiosity, the least Chuck Berry-ish Chuck Berry cover I can think of. Hearing Waylon’s version in Steve’s recent post, I couldn’t resist. This version doesn’t sound like this because Simone couldn’t rock ‘n’ roll, it’s because she chose not to.


Song of the Week – Never Met a Dog…, Vinegar Joe


As a record collector, I always get a kick out of finding an album that has early, obscure recordings by an artist that went onto much greater stardom later in his/her career.

One such album was by the early ‘70s British R&B band, Vinegar Joe. Vinegar Joe had two singers that left the group to launch successful solo careers. One, Elkie Brooks, had moderate success. The other, Robert Palmer, became an international superstar.

Vinegar Joe (I assume named after the prickly US WWII general, Joseph “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell) was only able to stay together for less than 4 years. In that time, they recorded three pretty good albums. (Unfortunately, I don’t have any of them in my record collection!) Today’s SotW is “Never Met a Dog (That Took to Me)” from the band’s self-titled debut. Vinegar Joe (1972) had a great cover too.

“Never Met a Dog…” was written and sung by Palmer. It is very typical of the “pub rock” genre of the early to mid ‘70s, popular in the UK. Palmer takes the lead but Brooks adds some nice harmony vocals. And it has a solid sax break about mid-way through.

I never saw the band but they were reputed to give great live performances. Although the records are pretty good, their fans often complained that they were never able to capture the energy of their live shows in the recording studio. That’s a shame! But there are an unusually large number of live videos available to see on YouTube, especially considering the technological limitations during the years the band was around.

So, if like me, you like to check out music of artists “before they were great,” listen to the songs of Vinegar Joe.

Enjoy… until next week.

Bob Beucler, The Piper

My high school buddy Russ had a little brother, a tow-headed kid who was happy to play with his Matchbox or Hot Wheels cars while we kept him far away from our explorations with Thai stick in the garage.

Now, some 40 years later, he’s releasing at a pretty good pace songs he’s written on which he plays all the instruments. I’ll always think of him as the kid, but now he is also the kid who shreds.

Song of the Week – Down in the Tube Station at Midnight, The Jam


Back in late 1977, The Jam finished their second album, This Is the Modern World, and quickly left the UK for their first US tour. It was going to be a quick but important tour, covering six shows over nine days. It started with a west coast swing at the Whisky A Go Go in LA and San Francisco, then went east to Boston (The Rat) and NY (CBGB’s).

The tour was widely considered a disaster. Bandleader Paul Weller was homesick for London so his heart wasn’t into it. (Plus, the 19 year old was pissed that he wasn’t able to drink in the bars he was playing like he could in England where the drinking age was younger.) Equipment problems in SF caused them to cancel a show that was intended to be a major showcase for music industry bigwigs.

I was lucky enough to see the Boston show on October 13, 1977, as a guest of Polydor Records. (I was a DJ at WZBC at the time.) I remember meeting a guy who introduced himself to me as “Mark Parenteau of WCOZ.” I innocently asked him if he was “on air.” He replied “I do the fucking afternoon drive.” I didn’t mean to insult him but how would I know? I didn’t listen to commercial radio at the time. Mark went on to a long and illustrious career at COZ and WBCN but died at 66 years old in mid-2016.

But let’s get back to The Jam.

This Is the Modern World is a decent album but was considered a typical sophomore slump for the band upon release. The awful US tour and disappointing reception for This Is the Modern World was incentive for Weller to dig deeper and come up with better material. He answered the call and returned to form on their third release – All Mod Cons (1978). It is often considered the best album in the Jam’s strong catalog. Chris Woodstra of All Music wrote “Terms like ‘classic’ are often bandied about but in the case of All Mod Cons, it is certainly deserved.” MOJO wrote it “… still stands as The Jam’s finest hour.”

Its best song was “Down in the Tube Station at Midnight.”

The song tells the story of a guy who gets into an altercation with a gang in the London subway. They beat the crap out of him, leave him semi-conscious and take his money and the keys to his house. As he lies there he begins to worry about the safety of his wife, waiting for him at home.

The last thing that I saw as I lay there on the floor
Was “Jesus saves” painted by an atheist nutter
And a British rail poster read “have an away day, a cheap holiday, do it today”
I glanced back on my life, and thought about my wife
‘Cause they took the keys, and she’ll think it’s me
I’m down in the tube station at midnight

Tough stuff!

Enjoy… until next week.

New Speakers in My Life

For weeks I had a blown speaker. At first I was busy, then I was lazy, then I started digging on Roxy with a single channel, and otherwise hearing little things I had missed in songs I knew very well. You should try it with Roxy, or with one of the great dense production albums like Exile or Layla or – check it out – Cry of Love. Hendrix ain’t on youtube except for live stuff (some of which is great), and I hope that forces everybody who doesn’t own it to buy that album. I think it’s his best, which ain’t saying much unless you go for that oh wow doodling that stops all his other albums in their tracks. Makes me wanna drop Orange Sunshine into my eyes and become a strobe.

So finally I broke down and bought new ones. Actually, my sweet baby bought ’em for me today. Vic thinks of everything and makes me do things I like. So I hauled the box down to my cave and spent my usual befuddled half-hour trying to assemble the wires and plot an installing strategy. Detatching the old stuff proved impossible withour a forklift – cables running behind my massive desk-bookshelf-table-for-four – so I had to cut the wires.

The key new piece is a subwoofer. That threw me. I know mono and stereo and even remember quadraphonic but three speakers is new to me. When I hear subwoofers on the street I always have to take a shit – there’s the generation gap right there – but I have to admit the setup sounds great. We’ll see if I make it to the bathroom tomorrow morning.

Jimi live before he began indulging himself:


Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Passenger

Saw I, Tonya tonight. It’s well worth seeing, a grand entertainment, as they say, in a theater. On TV it will look like something that elected Trump.

The closing credits are this Iggy Pop song by Siouxie and the Banshees, which is worth a listen.

Though in all fairness, we should also link to the original. Well, not recording, but amazing live performance.


Song of the Week Revisited – Rocket Man, Pearls Before Swine & The Man in the Moon, Grinderman


I recently learned that Tom Rapp, a psych-folk innovator and the creative force behind Pearls Before Swine, has died after a long bout with cancer. This news has prompted me to pay him tribute by revisiting a SotW posting I originally distributed on April 4, 2009. You can read his full obituary here:

Back in the late 60s/early 70s, Tom Rapp recorded several fine “psychedelic folk” albums with his band Pearls Before Swine. His finest was The Use of Ashes (1970). This album was recorded in Nashville with some of the same session men (Charlie McCoy & Kenny Buttrey) used by Bob Dylan on Nashville Skyline and John Wesley Harding.

That album’s “Rocket Man” (not to be confused with the Elton John/Bernie Taupin song used in a recent episode of My Name Is Earl) is my favorite and this week’s song. The lyrics were inspired by Ray Bradbury’s “The Illustrated Man” and tell the story of a son’s astronaut father that dies in space:

My father was a rocket man
He often went to Jupiter or Mercury, to Venus or to Mars
My mother and I would watch the sky
And wonder if a falling star
Was a ship becoming ashes with a rocket man inside

I was first turned onto Rapp and Pearls by my brother and his college buddies (they were big in Boston). A couple of years ago my buddy Joe M. (the drummer in San Diego’s Pink Floyd tribute band) revived my interest in these records when he let me borrow a boxed set he picked up. It wasn’t until this more current listening that I picked up on Rapp’s Carol Channingesque lisp. How did I miss it all the times I listened to this song/album in the 70s?

If you get a chance, listen to “The Jeweler” from the same album. It’s truly a gem. (Sorry!)

I was recently reading a MOJO article on Nick Cave and learned that his Grinderman song “The Man in the Moon” has a very similar feel and lyrical content, so I have to include that as a second song of the week.

My daddy was an astronaut
That’s what I was often taught
My daddy went away too soon
Now he’s living on the moon

Hang on to me people, we’re going down
Down among the fishes in an absence of sound
It’s the presence of distance and it’s floating in time
It’s lack and it’s longing and it’s not very kind

Sitting here scratching in this rented room
Scratching and a tapping to the man in the moon
About all the things that I’ve been taught
My daddy was an astronaut

They’re perfect bookends.

Enjoy… until next week.