Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I'm Up And I'm Leaving

Going to take some time away from 1001Songs to recharge the batteries. My friend Lewis has put together a canoe trip down the Cahulawassee River before they flood the valley to build a dam. Bobby's coming and Drew's bringing his guitar. Sounds like fun!

Be back in September.

In the meantime, scratch that 40 year itch and enjoy the 1972 #1 Australian hit by Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs "Most People I Know (Think That I'm Crazy)".

Saturday, August 11, 2012

40 Year Itch: Cheech And Chong Day

Apparently remembering the Alamo wasn't a big enough draw. Legend has it that  straight-laced but colorful Mayor John Gatti of San Antonio declared August 11, 1972 "Cheech and Chong Day". Neither were born anywhere near the city. And no, Dave wasn't there. But doper comedians "Cheech" Marin and Tommy Chong showed up at the airport where they were met by two delegations and a beaming mayor. That night Cheech  and Chong performed a legendary set with Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks.

The duo had just released their second album Big Bambu in June which would earn a Grammy nomination for Best Comedy recording. George Carlin's FM and AM would win that year.

Friday, August 10, 2012

40 Year Itch: McCartneys Busted!


    The Wings Over Europe tour nearly got grounded in Gothenberg.

    When Wings finished their concert at Gothenburg's Scandanavian Hall on August 10, 1972, there were more than autograph hounds waiting to see them. Earlier that day customs officials intercepted a package from London containing 5 to 7 ounces of marijuana allegedlly addressed to Paul. Now Swedish police were waiting in the dressing room. As tour photographer Joe Stevens shot photographs, the police tool Paul, Linda, drummer Danny Seiwell and Paul's secretary Rebecca Hinds to police headquarters for questioning.

   In a press conference that followed a police spokesman said at first the McCartneys lied about the drugs:

 "We told them we had found the cannabis in a letter and at first they said they knew nothing about it. But after we had questioned them for about three hours they confessed and told the truth. McCartney, his wife and Seiwell told us they smoked hash every day. They said they were almost addicted to it. They said they had made arrangements to have drugs posted to them each day they played in different countries so they wouldn't have to take any drugs through the customs themselves."

 Tour organizer John Morris disputed the "official" account of how the McCartneys got the pot, telling reporters:

"Paul, Linda and Dennis did admit to the Swedish police that they used hash. At first they denied it but the police gave them a rough time and started threatening all sorts of things. The police said they would bar the group from leaving the country unless they confessed. The drugs were found in a parcel addressed to Paul by customs men. Lots of people send drugs to the band. They think they are doing them some kind of favor. Instead it causes all this sort of trouble. I'm not prepared to say whether Paul has been posted hash before during this tour or whether he smokes the stuff. It was simply a case of pleading guilty, paying the fine and getting out of the city. As far as we are concerned the whole business is finished."

After paying a fine of about  ₤1000 ($1530) the band were free to leave the country. But the sensational bust , which made news around the world, would cost Paul McCartney more than he thought. Back home in Scotland, police searched the McCartney farm and ordered Paul to appear before court to face charges of "cultivating" cannabis plants. The video below is actually from March of 1973.

There was another cost. The bust meant that Wings would not be allowed in either Japan or the United States where they had originally planned to tour next.

Wings released "Hi Hi Hi" December 1, 1972. Their third single of the year ( after "Give Ireland Back to the  Irish" and "Mary Had A Little Lamb") was the second to be banned by the BBC. Not because of the drug references apparently. The BBC didn't like sexual imagery of the line 'I want you to lie on the bed and get you ready for my body gun and do it, do it, do it to you."

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Top 10 Fave Songs of Haysi Fantayzee's Kate Garner

Taking a break from the 40 year itch to celebrate the 30 year itch. Former fashion photographer turned quirky new wave singer Kate Garner gave her top ten list to Smash Hits for their August 5, 1982 issue as the Haysi Fantayzee debut single "John Wayne Is Big Leggy" hit the charts. This list comes courtesy of Brian at Like Punk Never Happened

1.CAJUN GRASS BAND : La Cravat - It sounds like my friend Kim Bowen ( now a Hollywood costume designer) at 78 r.p.m.
2. DR JOHN Walk on Gilded Splinters - 'Cos it's spikey
3. T. REX Ride A White Swan - 'Cos it's bootiful
4. LONNIE DONNEGAN  Pick a Bale of Cotton - 'Cos it has good vocal harmonies

5. BLACK BLOOD Tumba - 'Cos it's jangly
6. BONEY M Brown Girl in The Ring - 'Cos it's got a groovy nursery rhyme

7. MY MUM The Spinning Song - 'Cos it's a fine traditional Irish tune and no-one sings it like my mum
8.  TOM TOM CLUB Genius of Love - 'Cos It's wacky
9. FELA KUTI Sorrow, Tears N' Blood - "Cos it hurts my stomach
10. BABY O In The Forest - "Cos it's good to sing along to in big American cars.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

40 Year Itch : Under The Covers With Bob

By the time Bob Seger released Smokin' O.P.'s in August of 1972, he'd been playing in Detroit area bands for more than 11 years, effortlessly blending Motown soul with Mitch Ryder style rock'n'roll. Witness this Bob Seger and The Last Heard performance of Seger's "East Side Story" in 1966, which sold 50,000 copies in the Detroit area.

In 1968 The Bob Seger System had a Top 20 hit with "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" ( with his friend and future Eagle Glenn Frey signing back up).


But the next two album failed to chart. And after Capitol Records dropped him, it seemed Seger would go down as a local legend and one hit wonder. That's when he recorded Smokin' O.P's with the duo Teegraden and Van Winkle.

The title refers to Smokin' Other People's ( cigarettes) and features a cover that looks like a pack of Lucky Strikes. It's the earliest Seger album still available on CD and it has become a fan favorite. The album is made up of cover versions of songs by Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and not that many others. The album had only nine songs. All earnestly and soulfully sung. It's running time was under 34 minutes. The single was a version of Tim Hardin's "If I Were A Carpenter" which peaked at #76.

It would take many more albums and a hell of a lot more touring before Seger would truly hit it big in 1976 with the combination of Live Bullet, recorded in front of adoring hometown fans, and Night Moves with its #4 title track. Seger would earn millions performing mid temp rock tunes that repeated the song titles over and over again ( like "Against The Wind": "Against the wind/ against the wind/ still runnin/ against the wind/ still running against the wind/ against the wind" etc. which also had backing vocals from Glenn Frey)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

40 Year Itch: A Little Chicken Pickin'


 40 years ago this summer Spartanburg, South Carolina's favorite sons, the Marshall Tucker Band entered the studio and recorded their self titled debut over a two month period, working 16 hours a day. Probably because the Capricorn studio in Macon, GA had air conditioning. The studio certainly had Paul Hornsby who helped develop the" South's Gonna Rise Again" sound with Marshall Tucker, Charlie Daniels and Wet Willie.

 Hornsby tells Swampland.Com the Marshall Tucker debut was his third and probably last chance to produce an album.

I had very little producing experience to draw from. What we had going for us was some great songs that Toy Caldwell had written and a band who were the easiest to work with I had ever met. They brought their enthusiasm with them and played their asses off like they had been doing for the last few years. Not much thought was given for an "image." We took each song individually, and added whatever we thought fit that particular cut. On "Hillbilly Band" there was a fiddle added. Toy played steel guitar on several cuts. If you read the musician's credits, you'll see that Jaimoe played "gitongas" on "Can't You See." Actually, that was just him beating on the back of an acoustic guitar instead of using congas! Wherever there was a "crack" left, I filled it with a keyboard. Everyone got to explore their ideas and try what they wanted. I don't think we left one spot open for anything. 

 Well, we spent eight weeks in the studio, there were many 15-hour days. At the end we came out not knowing what we had. I had been so close to the project and spent so much time on it, that I didn't know if it was great or terrible. I don't have any idea of what the band thought. When we handed the tape over to Capricorn, it wasn't clear what they really thought either at first. The label was brand new, and with the success of the Allman Bros, maybe they thought this project would be cut from the same mold. Well, it wasn't. It had more country influences- steel guitars, fiddles, etc. The term "Southern Rock" was yet to be coined. By the time those two words were used in conjunction, it was perfectly normal to use all of the above ingredients within one band.

 Anyhow, Capricorn was somehow convinced to release the LP. It was simply entitled "The Marshall Tucker Band". One of my favorite definitions of "luck" is "being good at the right time." The Marshall Tucker Band was that! At the time of the release of that LP, they were opening act on tour with the Allman Brothers. Band. What a perfect audience to showcase a band like that. It allowed thousands of people to get a taste of what the band had to offer on that record. It was practically a hit right out of the shoot!

The Marshall Tucker Band ( named after a blind piano turner who rented their rehearsal hall before them) toured relentlessly, had five gold records and 1977's  Carolina Dreams which went platinum. You'll have a hard time finding a guitarist who plays as smoothly and seemingly effortlessly as Toy Caldwell.
(And all without a pick!) His brother Tommy, who played bass, was killed in an car crash in 1980. The Wretched Killer Curse of Southern Rock.

I think the only time I went to Spartanburg was to shake my head at a Ku Klux Klan Rally in the early 1990's. But if you ever go, stop at Ike's Korner Grille. Ike can't spell too good but his hamburgers are the best in the Upstate. And you'll notice,  even today , there are a lot of guys who look exactly like someone in the Marshall Tucker Band.

Monday, August 6, 2012

40 Year Itch: Aerosmith Nabs Record Deal

After catching their 40 minute energetic set at Max's Kansas City in New York City , Columbia head Clive Davis signed Aerosmith on August 5, 1972. The band would go on to sell 150 million records.

Aerosmith had been toiling in Boston bars before they got the break to play Max's. Of the legendary NYC club Steven Tyler says "You knew even the assholes were going to be famous someday. It was that kind of place … it was like lighting a whole pack of Black Cat firecrackers all at once and throwing it in the room."

At the time The New York Dolls was the band everyone was talking about but Aerosmith's manager had convinced both Clive Davis of Columbia and Jerry Greenberg of Atlantic Records to see the band's set. Greenberg brought Ahmet Ertegun. They were the favorites because they already had hard rock acts on the label like Led Zeppelin.

24 year old lead singer Steven Tyler almost blew the audition when he introduced an instrumental : "We call it 'We Don't Wanna Fuck You, We Just Wanna Eat Your Sandwiches'". The line was met with complete silence. However at the end of the show Clive walked up to Tyler, slung an arm around the young man and said "Steven, you want to know something?  You're gonna be a big star."

The night is celebrated on the Night In The Ruts cut "No Surprise".

Nineteen seventy one 
We all heard the starters gun 
New York is such a pity 
But at Max's Kansas City we won 
 We all shot the shit at the bar 
With Johnny O'Toole and his scar
 And then old Clive Davis said
 He's surely gonna make us a star 
I'm gonna make you a star
 Just the way you are

Guess Steven couldn't come up with a rhyme for "Nineteen Seventy Two" which would have been the correct year. But of course, if you're Steven Tyler,  it's all been a blur.

Aerosmith's debut , featuring the single "Dream On" , was released in January of 1973 and rose to #21 in the charts. In 1976, when "Dream On" was re-released following the success of Toys In The Attic  and rose to #6 on the singles chart.

By the way Jerry and Ahmet thought the band sucked.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

40 Year Itch: The London Rock N Roll Show

This week Wembley Stadium is the site of  Olympic soccer action but 40 years ago the former Wembley Stadium played host to its first ever concert, The London Rock N Roll Show.

[Purchase The Documentary]

   The concert featured some of the greatest rock n roll acts of the 1950's: Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Bill Haley and the Comets and Chuck Berry. They were celebrating a revival in interest that began with their 1969 Madison Square Garden concert

The Teddy Boys were out in abundance with their slicked back hair and colorful suits. The rockers showed up in black leathers. They were there to see the old timers and booed the other acts like Screaming Lord Sutch ( written about last week), The MC5, Gary Glitter and Roy Wood's brand new band Wizzard.

Rolling Stone's Julian Moseley reported The MC5 were met with "a hail of Coke cans and wine bottles from the crowd of 50,000. Real 1957 stuff. With Teds and Rockers you either play it their way or not at all".

Also there, future rock impresario Malcolm McLaren seen in the above clip trying to sell clothes and Mick Jagger who did not perform but always offered kind words about idols like Little Richard:

"I had heard so much about the audience reaction that I thought there must be some exaggeration. But it was all true. He drove the whole house into a complete frenzy. There's no single phrase to describe his hold on the audience. I couldn't believe the power of Little Richard on stage. He was amazing. Chuck Berry is my favorite, along with Bo (Diddley), but nobody could beat Little Richard's stage act. Little Richard is the originator and my first idol."

Although the concert, four years in the planning, did not do as well as promoters hoped, Wembley Stadium would host many more concerts in the years to come-- by artists like Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson (15 times) and the entire British leg of Live Aid in 1985.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

40 Year Itch: Everybody's A Dreamer

By the time Everybody's in Showbiz came out in August of 1972, The Kinks had earned a reputation for boozy, often sloppy live performances that sometimes ended in arguments between Ray Davies and his brother Dave.

Here you get two albums in one. A live collection on one disc ( featuring an interesting, theatrical version of "'Til The End Of The Day", seen above ,as well as sloppy versions of some of 1971's Muswell Hillbilly tunes) and a more interesting disc of studio recordings about life on the road.

A surprising number of songs seem to be about food: "Hot Potatoes" ( my son's favorite food), "Maximum Consumption", and "Motorway" ("Motorway food is the worst in the world") but there are also a few gems here: "Celluloid Heroes" remembers Hollywood's biggest stars. "Supersonic Rocket Ship" was their last Top 20 UK hit for more than a decade.

And there's our fave deep cut "Sitting In My Hotel" which is full of Davies's humor and self pity: ("Sitting in the hotel room/ Thinking about the countryside and sunny days of June/ Trying to hide the gloom...").
Historically,  Showbiz can be seen as an album of transition, marking the end of the band's glory years and a period of unsuccessful concept albums ( Preservation Acts 1 and 2, Soap Opera, Schoolboys in Disgrace), broken marriages and drug problems.

Friday, August 3, 2012

40 Year Itch: Blades Are Long, Clenched Tight

Give it up for Canton, Ohio --home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and birthplace of Boz Scaggs, Macy Gray and The O'Jays, one of the most popular black vocal groups of the 70's thanks , in large part , to their association with the production and songwriting talents of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff.

Until they met Gamble and Huff in the late 60's, The O'Jays--made up of Eddie Levert, Walter Williams and Bobby Massey-- were on their way to giving it all up. But the combination of The O'Jays's harmonies and Gamble and Huff's social commentary and production skills led to eight #1 R-and-B singles from 1972 to 1978, including two huge hits from the first album on Philadelphia International, Backstabbers (released in August of 1972)

The title cut, which digs into the same barrel of paranoia as The Undisputed Truth's 1971 Top 5 hit "Smiling Faces Sometimes" ( and even quotes the song in the fade out), was the first big hit, peaking at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Among the lyrics:

 Somebody's out to get your lady
A few of your buddies they sure look shady 
Blades are long, clenched tight in their fist
Aimin' straight at your back
And I don't think they'll miss 

Robert Christgau called "Back Stabbers" the best song of the year, writing "A smooth, hard-rocking concoction, it mixes dozens of elements--Latin rhythms and faintly jazzy singing, mellifluous back-up and harsh lead, even strings and brass--into what can only be called the rock and roll of the seventies. The most musically compelling version of the smiling faces phase of an old black-music theme: Trust your brother, but not too damn much." 
The second single was "992 Arguments". 
The third was "Love Train" which hit #1  on March 24, 1973 displacing Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly With His Song".

Backstabbers is probably the best of the O'Jays's albums ( though there's a strong argument for the follow-up Ship Ahoy, featuring "For The Love of Money"). 

When Blues And Soul Magazine  put together their Top 10 of 1972 Backstabbers came in Number 8, but look at the company The O'Jays kept: 

 Favourite Albums Of 1972 Blues and Soul Magazine
 1. The Stylistics 
 2. Superfly (soundtrack) – Curtis Mayfield 
 3. Best Of – Otis Redding 
 4. All Directions – The Temptations 
 5. Still Bill – Bill Withers 
 6. A Lonely Man – The Chi-Lites 
 7. Understanding – Bobby Womack 
 8. Back Stabbers – The O’Jays 
 9. I’m Still In Love With You – Al Green 
 10. Be Altitude – The Staple Singers
(Albums in Yellow have already been covered this year on 1001Songs)

 Our deep cut is another piercing social commentary Gamble,Huff and Whitehead number called "Shifty, Shady, Jealous Kind of People". 
Sure it's  "Back Stabbers Part 2" but it's also bad ass.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

40 Year Itch: Death of an Associate

                                                    Brian Cole and son


No cheating: name the band who opened the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival at the dawning of the Summer of Love?

The answer is The Association. The band sold 15 million records in the 60's but if you've only heard their biggest hits "Cherish" (#1, 1966) , "Windy" (#1, 1967) and "Never My Love" (#2, 1967) you might have mistakenly crossed them off as purveyors of bland soft pop.

Yes, there was some of that but The Association also hit the charts with the catchy "Along Comes Mary" ( with the baffling line "Now my empty cup is as sweet as the punch") and later took a shot at progessive rock on albums that deserve to be heard again. The track below comes from Waterbeds in Trinidad produced by the same guy who worked on Van Morrison's Astral Weeks.

 The man singing this John Stewart composition, "Little Road And A Stone" ,was there from the start: Tacoma native Brian Cole, who was both the bass player and the most rocking of the Association's vocalists.

But tragically, just as the band prepared to go on tour in support of Waterbeds, 29 year old Brian was discovered dead of a heroin overdose in his Hollywood home on August 2, 1972. He left behind three children .

Those children would probably most want him remembered by this humorous Smothers Brothers clip in which he introduces the band.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

40 Year Itch: A Few UK Hits from August 1972

I've always been interested in the UK singles that never seem to find their way across the Atlantic. Here are four of the biggest UK hits from August 1972 that, like the Titanic, never made it to US shores.

1. Blackfoot Sue: Standing In The Road

 One hit wonders Blackfoot Sue scored a UK#4 hit with their stomping single "Standing In The Road".

 2. Lynsey DePaul: Sugar Me

Romantically linked with Ringo Starr, Roy Wood, Dodi Fayed and Sean Connery, Lynsey DePaul hit the top ten in the UK with "Sugar Me". The single topped the charts in other European countries and has recently been used in Louis Vuitton ads.

 3. Judge Dread: Big Six
 The first white performer to have a reggae hit, Judge Dread (born Alexander Hughes) hit #11 with "Big Six" based on Verne And Sons "Little Boy Blue". The lyrics ( which turn the nursery song into something lewd) got it banned from BBC airplay. That happened a lot to Judge Dread who the Guinness Book of World Records credits with having the most songs banned of all time. Yes the women in the background are topless.And yes this is YouTube.

 4. Bobby Hebb: Love Love Love
 Best known for the 1966 hit "Sunny" which led to his touring with The Beatles, Bobby Hebb reached #32 in the UK charts with the catchy "Love Love Love".