Saturday, June 30, 2012
Named after a slang word for one of them marijuana cigarettes, The Doobie Brothers got their start as a Hell's Angels bar band. Their first album of country boogie failed to sell and Warner Brothers was tempted to drop the band when producer Ted Templeman stepped in to produce Toulouse Street. The album contains their first hit "Listen to the Music" ( US #11) as well as the Top 40 "Jesus Is Just Alright ( picked off from The Byrds' 1969 album Ballad of Easy Rider and backed by its B-side "Rockin' Down the Highway").
Yes, you've probably heard all three of those songs far too many times. With the exception of "Listen To The Music" which I loved as a kid, I know I have. But the revelation comes in the deep cuts on Toulouse Street ( something I've found to be true on a lot of Doobie Brothers albums).
Aberdeen, WA 's Patrick Simmons finger-pickin' acoustic guitar numbers like "Mamaloi" and the title cut and his playing on Tom Johnston's "Snake Man" and "White Sun" all sound great. The Doobie Brothers were on their way to challenging Chicago and The Eagles as the top American bands of the 70's.
Friday, June 29, 2012
A year before their partnership ended in an onstage explosion at Knott's Berry Farm, the brothers gathered at John Sebastian's house to record an album of dark and gloomy country tunes with a guest list of artists that read's like a who's who of 1960's rock: ex-Byrds, ex-Turtles, Burritos, Lovin's Spoonful and Delaney and Bonnie. The Everly Brothers' bandleader Warren Zevon was there with guitarist Waddy Wachtel and so was Ry Cooder. In a way this was their last opportunity to reinvent themselves. They plucked songs from Rod Stewart ("Mandolin Wind"), Kris Kristofferson ("Breakdown") and four from Dennis Linde whose "Burning Love" had spent most of 1972 in the charts thanks to Elvis Presley . Linde's "Christmas Eve Can Kill You" is one example of the melancholy that infused the album.
Here's "Mandolin Wind" :
After the release of The Stories We Could Tell, in June of 1972, the brothers went on tour in Europe with Zevon and Wachtel and found themselves playing all the old hits all over again. There was no re-inventing the Everly Brothers.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Before Vangelis composed the soundtracks to Chariots of Fire and Blade Runner, he was Evangelos Odyssey Papathanassou, a keyboard wizard in a Greek 1960's rock trio called Aphrodite's Child. Their 1969 album It's Five O'Clock is a worthy listen.
For 666, released in June of 1972, Vangelis teamed up with poet Costas Ferris to retell the Book of Revelation. Within the 78 minutes of this epic double album, you get Greek choruses, schoolchildren reading scripture, the actress Irene Pappas in the throes of orgasm : "I am to come, I was", and a lot of very short instrumentals that aren't anywhere nearly as interesting as the band must have thought they were. In its entirety, the album annoyed me. But if you break it down to the best tunes, it's a ...revelation.
You get some incredible tunes: "The Four Horsemen" sounds like something The Flaming Lips would eventually do thirty years later. The catchy "Babylon" sounds like The Who (Guitarist Silver Koulouris steals the show throughout the album). And the single "Break" sounds like a Dennis Wilson song.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
"It was with Sly Stone and James Brown in mind that I went into the studio in June 1972 to record On The Corner, " said Miles Davis. "During that time everyone was dressing kind of 'out on the street', you know, platform shoes that were yellow, and electric yellow at that, handkerchiefs around the neck, headbands, rawhide vests, and so on. Black women were wearing them real tight dresses that had their big butts sticking way out back."
Miles hoped to attract a young black audience with this funky album that features the kind of ethnic polyrhythms that would become the signature of 1980's Talking Heads. Like Zappa's albums of the same period, Davis cut snippets of melodic instrumentation during jams and pasted them in the places he saw fit. Critics and jazz stations didn't know what to make of the album , which became one of Davis' worst selling of his career.Now 40 years later, an appreciation for On The Corner has surged forth. On the collaborative musical database site Rate Your Music, it is ranked as the 28th best album of 1972.
In October of 1972, Miles would break both his legs in a car accident which would lead to a temporary halt in his recording a year and the beginning of his life as a recluse.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Give it up for Leon Russell! He played on The Byrds' "Mr Tambourine Man", Herb Alpert's "A Taste of Honey", Bob Dylan's "Watching The River Flow", organised the backing band for Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen Tour, toured with The Rolling Stones and played at George Harrison's Concert for Bangla Desh.
Then in June of 1972, he released Carny, a #2 Billboard album that sold a million copies thanks to the Top 20 single "Tight Rope". Carny is far from a perfect album. (If "Acid Annapolis" comes on while your iPod is in shuffle mode, I just hope you're not walking by yourself in the dark) But there are some great moments including "This Masquerade", which won George Benson a Grammy four years later, and our favorite deep cut: "If The Shoe Fits".
Sung from the point of view of one of those thousands of hangers-on/ groupies Russell must have met. Among the song's classic lines :
Can you do a benefit? Have you got any shit?
Have you made your peace with Jesus yet today?
Would you like to be a monk? C'mon, lets go get drunk.
Do you think Paul McCartney is okay?
Can we crash here for just a few days?
We're from Rolling Stone, so it's okay.
Russell's recording career didn't flourish for much longer but his friendship with Elton John resulted in a recent comeback that made a very fine story on CBS This Morning:
Monday, June 25, 2012
When "Lonesome" Dave Peverett decided he had enough of Savoy Brown the singer/guitarist took the band's drummer Roger Earl and bassist Tony Stevens with him. With the addition of lead guitarist Rod Price, the band signed with Bearsville and went into the studio, first with Todd Rundgren and later with Dave Edmunds.
"Dave was very much into early Elvis and the Sun Records thing," Peverett recalls. "I loved the phasing effects he got on the vocals. He wasn't scared to try off-the-wall sound ideas."
As the band finished off the album, all they were missing was a name. How about Brandywine Track? Hootch? Finally Peverett offered up a name he made up playing scrabble with his brother : Foghat.
Foghat's debut LP reached #127 on the U.S. album charts, with the single, a cover of Willie Dixon's "I Just Want To Make Love To You" reaching #83 on the Billboard Singles charts. Foghat would dominate the 70's with their boogie rock, selling 8 gold records, one platinum and a live album that would go double platinum.
Sunday, June 24, 2012
1972 was an odd year for artists who wanted to bare more than their souls on record.
Here are eight of the most, um , interesting examples.
CAETANO VELOSO : ARACA AZUL
I don't go to Caetano Veloso for odd, avant garde experimental sounds. Not when he can deliver albums like Transa. I guess I'm not alone. Araca Azul has established itself as the Brazilian Metal Machine Music. It's not that bad but, really, what music fan in his right mind--or her right mind-is going to walk up to the register with an album that looks like this?
BRAINSTORM : SMILE A WHILE
Brainstorm recorded a highly entertaining mix of krautrock/prog/jazz-rock that may remind some of the Canterbury scene. Not sure anybody has explained why the band dressed up in ladies undergarments for the cover. I guess to make you smile a while?
TERRY CALLIER : WHAT COLOR IS LOVE
Obviously this isn't Terry Callier on the cover but I'm not going to pass up an opportunity to write about Terry Callier. I got into the Terry Callier appreciation club later than most, via Beth Orton's 1997 Best Bit EP. Callier has a soulful voice and plays a sweet acoustic guitar but so do Bill Withers and Richie Havens. Callier also adds tasteful, borderline cheesy in some cases, jazz instrumentation. In 1972 he made What Color Is Love, an album as beautiful as the woman posing on the cover.
THE EDGAR WINTER GROUP: THEY ONLY COME OUT AT NIGHT
The Edgar Winter Group's They Only Come Out At Night features the #1 million selling instrumental "Frankenstein" and the #4 single "Free Ride" as well as a shirtless cover of Winter wearing jewelry so elaborate it would embarrass the Queen of England.
JEAN-CLAUDE VANNIER : L'ENFANT ASSASSIN DES MOUCHES
From, Jean-Claude Vannier, a French producer and arranger who worked closely with Serge Gainsbourg comes L'Enfant Assassin Des Mouches, a big budget no holds barred album that promises to overload the auditory senses with its mix of symphonic rock , huge choruses and sound effects. I think that's Vannier posing on the cover photo which suggests a completely different kind of album.
JONI MITCHELL : FOR THE ROSES
Long before there were hidden tracks on CDs, Joni Mitchell offered a hidden photo of herself, in the nude, on the inside cover of her gold album For The Roses. Although Wikipedia's entry suggests she's looking out upon the ocean, I'd say this is more likely The Strait of Georgia, off Vancouver Island. But I can't prove it. This is the album in which Joni begins exploring some of those jazz sounds with Tom Scott which would lead to such highs as Court and Spark and The Hissing of Summer Lawns and lows like the live album Miles of Aisles and a few others I'm too polite to name.
CHRIS SMITHER : DON'T DRAG IT ON
The great Duane Michals took this shot of Smither, a singer-songwriter who Bonnie Raitt called "my Eric Clapton" Despite her championing Smither hasn't had the best of careers but this album, recorded at Bearsville Sound Studio in Woodstock,NY, has a great feel to it and belongs in your "I must listen to this really soon" pile.
ANALOGY : ANALOGY
Analogy was a German psychedelic band based in Italy whose female vocalist was apparently not hired for her singing talent.
Saturday, June 23, 2012
Living in the Past, released June 23 1972, is an odds and sods two disc collection of album tracks, singles, B sides, outtakes and cuts from "Life Is a Long Song" EP that reveals the band in its finest, most prolific form. It may be one of the great arguments , like Kinks Kronikles, for collections less based on the hits than on giving an overall picture of a band at its peak.
With its blues based rock, the band was at first proclaimed by the British Press as "the new Cream". Tull also explored progressive rock, jazz and folk. The driving force has always been Ian Anderson who has spent most of his life dressed like a character out of Dickens, hating having people call him "Jethro", and running the group like a "dictatorial pharaoh" I think Rolling Stone put it.
Over the years Anderson has been asked the same questions over and over again and so with the help of his website I offer you this very non-exclusive interview the Faginesque Pharaoh himself
Are you, like the song, "Living in the Past"?
I am not one for nostalgia or reminiscences and prefer to live in the present and the future. However, some of our audience obviously like the nostalgia bit, and the older material which we play is, for them perhaps, a trip down memory lane. For us, it's not about playing a song which could be thirty years old. It's about playing something 24 hours old, since that's when we probably last played it on stage. Our style of music is, I hope, a little bit timeless and not rooted in a particular music fashion.
In 1973, Jethro Tull disbanded following the bad reviews of "A Passion Play". Why?
No, we didn't! Our then manager decided to respond to a bad review in the influential pop newspaper Melody Maker by cutting a deal with the editor for a front page "scoop" involving the band's supposed decision to quit. We knew nothing about it until we read it in the paper ourselves, and we were furious. It made us look petulant and silly. Which we probably were, but we didn't need the wrong kind of publicity. Tull have never disbanded, even for a moment. No come-back tours for us, thank you very much. We haven't yet been away!
Pop and Rock music have changed a great deal over the 30 years. How do you view these changes? And do you listen to the new music like Techno and Rap?
Well, the really big changes were back in the early years of the mid-to-late sixties and the early seventies. The introduction of musical influences from many diverse world cultures and historical periods provided for a rapidly evolving and richly creative musical environment. Folk, Classical, Blues, Jazz and Asian motifs and forms broadened the scope of American-derived pop and rock. Tull were a part of that evolution. Since the mid-seventies, the development has been more technological rather than musical. Sampling, synthesis, sequencing and the personal home computer revolution have brought music making to the masses at an affordable price. But the music goes round in circles. Same old simple rhythms, melodies, harmonies and verse/chorus/bridge song structures. Nothing really changes: nothing is really new. But each new generation of young musicians rediscovers the wheel, The Beatles, sunglasses and stretch limousines. As long as they and their fans think it is new, why disappoint them? Give the kids a pot of paint and they will repaint their house. Same old bricks underneath. Techno and Rap? Just nursery rhymes with attitude. Nice idea but going round in very small circles.
Don't you hate having to play the same songs, like Aqualung or Locomotive Breath, every night after so many years?
If they were not decent songs, then I certainly would, but I am lucky to have a good collection of material which I still enjoy playing. There are over 250 songs to choose from, in fact. Anyway, much of Tull's music contains elements of improvisation, so the songs are never the same two nights running. There is always some scope for variation and interpretation in each performance. A Tull concert wouldn't be the same without some of Locomotive Breath. Well, for me at any rate.
What is the worst thing you are willing to make public about yourself?
That I have never tried drugs. I am deeply ashamed of this, but I promise to try better in the next life to be one of the lads. I can manage the beer and curry, honest.
If you could go back in your life and change one thing, what would it be?
The 'Jethro' in Jethro Tull. Norman, Julien, Damon - anything but that bloody J-word.
If you could choose the words for your epitaph, what would they be?
"Thank you and goodnight". Or perhaps, "Any chance of a wake-up call?" I think that probably covers it.
Friday, June 22, 2012
Aretha Franklin's best selling album of all time, released in June of 1972, remains her greatest achievement. She may have achieved worldwide fame with secular soul songs like "Respect" and "I Never Loved A Man ( The Way That I Love You)" but Aretha was first and foremost a preacher's daughter. Her father, The Rev. C.L. Franklin, had earned the nickname "The Million Dollar Voice" for his sermons at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit.
On January 13, 1972 Aretha went back to church, in this case the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, to record what would become a double album with James Cleveland and The Southern California Community Choir. Aretha sang many of the songs she grew up with but also sang Marvin Gaye's "Wholy Holy" and Carole King's "You've Got a Friend" ( as part of a medley with "Precious Lord (Take My Hand)".
Some of those in attendance said the real powerhouse in church that day wasn't Aretha. It was the Spirit. Among those leaving the church inspired were Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts who were in LA finishing up Exile On Main St. They added gospel inflections to both "Let It Loose" and "Shine a Light" as a result.
Amazing Grace has sold two million copies so far.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
The Dutch band Golden Earring gave the world more than 1973's "Radar Love" and 1982's "Twilight Zone".
They formed in 1961 and recorded wonderful Beatlesque pop songs in the mid 60's that are truly worth exploring ."Another Man In Town" is from the 1967 album Winter Harvest.
Together, released in June of 1972--13 months before "Radar Love", is a spotty hard rock album that finds Golden Earring pulling together all the elements that would make 1973's Moontan such a classic. Among some of the more interesting moments, there's "Brother Wind" featuring a Cesar Zuiderwijk drum solo that typically ended in concert with Zuiderwijk launching himself over his drum kit and "Buddy Joe" a pop song featuring a sitar-like solo that could have come from The Sweet. The band opened for The Who on their European tour.
As a bonus: here's the band performing "Radar Love" a #13 hit ( and one of the great driving songs of all time) which would finally break the band in the US.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Jam packed with hot funk, There It Is , released in June of 1972, offers listeners four hits: "There It Is", "I'm a Greedy Man" ( with a chant every parent of a school kid should know: Now brother don't leave/your homework undone") and the funkiest of them all the #1 R and B hit "Talkin' Loud and Sayin' Nothing" ( at the 5:28 mark the band stops while James Brown and Bobby Byrd rap the rhythm with interchanging "Keep On Singin'"s).
And then there is "King Heroin".
The Godfather of Soul sets aside the funk for a few minutes to rap brother to brother and brother and sister about the evils of one of the most deadly killers in our country: heroin.
I can make a man forsake his country and flag
Make a girl sell her body for a five-dollar bag
Some think my adventure's a joy and a thrill
But I'll put a gun in your hand and make you kill
Whatever the circumstances, the lyrics deliver a haunting message that, as a single, managed to hit the Top 40 in 1972.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
What's the greatest three minutes of your life? One is Christmas morning... The next one is the last three minutes of the last day of school when you're sitting there and it's like a slow fuse burning. I said, 'If we can catch that three minutes in a song, it's going to be so big.'
The Alice Cooper Band emerged from the Arizona desert in the late 60's to sign with Frank Zappa's Straight label in Los Angeles. Two years later the shock rockers moved to the Motor City, practicing 12 hours a day and rubbing shoulders with the Stooges and MC5 -- influences which led them to record their finest albums Love It To Death and Killer. The Summer that saw the release of their most famous single "School's Out" and the album of the same name, the band moved to a mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut. I know the timing's off but I like to imagine Alice Cooper among the lock-jawed set at the country club getting cornered by Chase Davenport IV explaining to Alice that if he wanted to hear some "very fine music indeed" he should check out the soundtrack to West Side Story.
That might explain the concept album that is School's Out ( or at least Track 3 "Gutter Cat Vs. The Jets"). That kind of ruins the album for me even though I like "Luney Tune", "Alma Mater", "Public Animal No. 9" and of course "School's Out"--which just one, by a landslide, a recent Rolling Stone Readers' Poll for Best Graduation Song.( Actually "Alma Mater" is a better graduation song--"Goodbye everybody/ I finally grew up/They finally let me out of schooooool")
Alice Cooper told Esquire Magazine: "When we did 'School's Out,' I knew we had just done the national anthem. I've become the Francis Scott Key of the last day of school."
The producer , Bob Ezrin, reused the kiddie chorus trick again when he produced Pink Floyd's "Another Brick In The Wall" seven years later.
The single hit Top 10 in the US and #1 in the UK. The album hit #2 on the Billboard charts. Oh,and the vinyl disc originally came wrapped in a pair of flammable panties
Monday, June 18, 2012
[Purchase it, see if I care]
After backing up Linda Ronstadt on her 1971 album Linda Ronstadt, The Eagles --Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner-- formed their own band, signed with Asylum Records and recorded their West Coast country rock album in that sunniest of Southern California cities : uh...London, England.
That's how much the band wanted to work with Glyn Johns who had produced or engineered The Who, The Stones and Led Zeppelin. They knocked out the album in three weeks. (Not that The Eagles ever "knocked anything out". They were nothing if not perfectionists) Johns would later say "I don't think I'd been as excited since probably Led Zeppelin --they were amazing but they didn't really know what they'd got."
What they had on their debut album , released June 17, 1972, were three Top 30 US singles: the lead off track "Take It Easy" ( while writing the tune Jackson Browne got stuck at the line "I'm standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see." Frey added "It's a girl my lord in a flatbed ford/Slowing down to take a look at me"). "Witchy Woman" and "Peaceful Easy Feeling".
Naturally they'd be one of the biggest acts in the world. They'd sell millions of albums but they wouldn't sell all the critics. In his June 1972 article for Newsday, critic Robert Christgau who worte:
Another thing that interests me about the Eagles is that I hate them. "Hate" is the kind of up-tight word that automatically excludes one from polite posthippie circles, a good reason to use it, but it is also meant to convey an anguish that is very intense, yet difficult to pinpoint. Do I hate music that has been giving me pleasure all weekend, made by four human beings I've never met? Yeah, I think so. Listening to the Eagles has left me feeling alienated from things I used to love.
Maybe you've hated the good looking big men on campus for whom everything--and every hot looking girl-- comes too easily. The kind of guys who bond by chugging brews all night and telling each other about the hot chick who slowed down to take a look at them. Those are The Eagles. And because every goddamn country band in America is still trying to sound like them, I'm over them. Yeah, I hate The Eagles too.
Saturday, June 16, 2012
With their debut album, released June 16, 1972, Roxy Music set out to re-make and re-model rock and roll. The new sound deconstructs fifties rock, adds electronic bleeps and blitzkriegs courtesy of a synthesizer playing Brian Eno ( who looked like a "balding, long-haired eunuch" to critic Robert Christgau), features the hyperactive saxophone sounds of Andy Mackay and stars the quavering vocals of the lovelorn front man, former art student Bryan Ferry.
40 years later, I still have a problem enjoying this album as a whole but New Musical Express writer Tony Tyler predicted this was the start of something big:
Already awesome and potentially breathtaking...Roxy Music, Roxy Music Roxy Music. Remember where you heard it first.
Originally a non-LP single, "Virginia Plain" peaked at #4 in the UK charts and helped propel the debut album to #10. Although the song was included on US albums, Roxy's debut flopped in America.
Produced by King Crimson lyricist Pete Sinfield, the album begins with 25 seconds of party sounds before launching into the stomping "Re-Make/Re-Model". The chant "CPL 593H" is the licence plate of Ferry's old car, a blue 1970 Mini Clubman in which he saw a beautiful woman driving. Everyone gets a solo. Eno makes strange sounds on his synthesizer while bass player Graham Simpson quotes The Beatles' "Day Tripper".
For "Ladytron", Eno and Mackey team up to follow Ferry's instructions to make a sound "like the moon". Eno recently said the only instrument he ever learned how to play was a player piano in the house in which he grew up. His desire for amateur improvisation would soon clash with Ferry's desire for structured sophistication.
If only the entire album were this good. Roxy was still in search of the sound that would produce such classics as Country Life, Stranded and Siren. But the debut would be a major influence on punk and new wave music and a lot of what has followed since then.
Roxy's debut also introduced the first in a series of beautiful models posing for their album covers. In this case the model is Kari Ann Muller who would later marry Mick Jagger's brother, Chris. Mick would have a long term relationship ( and four kids) with Siren's cover model Jerry Hall after stealing her away from Ferry.
Friday, June 15, 2012
5 Interesting facts about LaBelle
who released their second album Moon Shadow June 10, 1972.
1. LaBelle ( made up of Patti LaBelle, Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash who combined rock, gospel and soul) went on tour as an opening act for The Who in 1970. They would cover "Won't Get Fooled Again" on their second album. Their 1971 debut album was produced by Who producer Kit Lambert.
2. LaBelle was too busy touring ( and helping Laura Nyro record her album Gonna Take A Miracle) to record Gamble and Huff's "If You Don't Know Me By Now" so the song went to Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes who hit #1 on the R and B charts and #3 on the Pop charts.
3. LaBelle recorded a 9 minute version of Cat Stevens's "Moonshadow" as the title track for their second album. Nona Hendryx wrote two thirds of the songs on the album.
4. Inspired by David Bowie, LaBelle went glam in 1973/1974 when they also opened for The Rolling Stones on their US Tour. Their third album contained a medley that included Thunderclap Newman's "Something In The Air" segueing into Gil Scott Heron's "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised".
5. LaBelle finally hit it big with the 1975 chart topper "Lady Marmalade" ( which featured the risque line "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi (ce soir)?", which means: "Do you want to sleep with me (tonight)?". The instrumental backing is provided by The Meters.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Days after Elvis played four sold out shows at Madison Square Garden, Simon and Garfunkel reunited there for a seven song performance on behalf of Democratic Presidential candidate, South Dakota Senator George McGovern. The break up of S and G was one of those demarcations of the end of the Sixties. Simon has said Art's movie career ( Catch-22, Carnal Knowledge) and personal differences led to the break up right after they released their most critically acclaimed album Bridge Over Trouble Water.
The concert took place the same day Simon and Garfunkel released their Greatest Hits album, which would go on to sell 14 million units. Also on hand, a reunited Peter, Paul and Mary, comedy duo Mike Nichols and Elaine May, and movie stars like Dustin Hoffman and Paul Newman.
Nixon blew away McGovern in the election by winning more than 60% of the popular vote and every state but Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.( The subsequent Watergate scandal inspired bumper stickers saying "Don't blame me – I'm from Massachusetts").
Madison Square Garden, New York Performance:
El Condor Pasa
Medley: Cecelia / Mother and Child Reunion / Bye Bye Love
Scarborough Fair / Canticle
Bridge Over Troubled Water (Paul sings last verse along Artie)
16 months later Rolling Stone's Ben Fong Torres interviewed Garfunkel about the concert:
What motivated you to do the reunion with Paul on behalf of McGovern?
There were also the reunions of Peter, Paul and Mary and of Nicholas and May. That’s why I did it, I loved the show. It appealed to my showmanship. Much more that McGovern ever could to my politics. It’s selfish, I suppose. I loved the idea of those three acts; I thought it would be a terrific
Who approached you?
I do believe in the lesser of two evils, and in that spirit I became a McGovern supporter.
How’d you feel onstage?
It was strange, non-experience. It was the first time I had sung with Paul onstage in quite a while. We had ostensibly broken up and we were doing this thing together. And I did think beforehand that it would be a kick, some kind of novel experience, and yet after about three bars into the first song I had a very strong feeling. “Well here we are again. This is where I left off.”
How was the relationship between you at that time? Were you cordial, anxious to see each other after two or three months?
Yes. We’re anxious to see each other when we see each other.
How did the decision come for Paul to sing a verse of “Bridge over Troubled Water”?
(Swirling his gin and tonic) Interesting question. (Long pause). He said that was an idea he wanted to do. He thought that would be good. I don’t know what you want me to say. Cut me open and look at all my contradictory reactions to uh, do I think it was a good idea? Do I trust? Do I sense an ego trying to subtract from my ego? It’s the kind of thing I don’t want to get into, really. Things work in relationships and things don’t work, because they’re usually petty s--t. Examinations of why things don’t work, negative things, can be lessons, or enlightenment to people who were carried along on the strength of your feelings about the unity of people through the unity of Simon and Garfunkel. Beyond the words of the songs, I felt that S and G projected the hopefulness of an ongoing friendship as a sort of public message. I liked that about S and G. But then there are even deeper needs.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Though they may have since earned a reputation as the brother-sister act that could have performed on the Lawrence Welk Show without disturbing a single senior citizen, The Carpenters could be subversive. Yes, subversive. For "Goodbye To Love", the first single to be released after their fourth album , A Song For You , hit record store shelves on June 13, 1972, Tony Peluso records not one but two fuzzy guitar solos.
Peluso first played something soft and sweet, but then Richard Carpenter said "No, no, no! Play the melody for five bars and then burn it up! Soar off into the stratosphere! Go ahead! It'll be great!"
Richard Carpenter has said it's the best guitar solo in recorded history.
Then there is the 22 second "Intermission" that ends Side A.
The lyrics are, in full, "We'll be right back after we go to the bathroom"
"Flat Baroque" anticipates the classical jazz sounds of Claude Bolling.
But what makes A Song For You such a stand out are the songs (Six hit singles were pulled from the album including "Top Of The World" (US#1) , "Hurting Each Other" (US #2), "It's Going To Take Some Time "(US #12) and "I Won't Last A Day Without You" ( US #11) ) and Karen Carpenter's voice--an equal blend of perfect pitch, emotion and diction. I found myself enjoying this album in the car with the windows rolled down and my son in the back seat. Not what I expected from The Carpenters!
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
While most of John and Yoko's Some Time In New York, released June 13 1972, sounds like a mess made with the best of revolutionary intentions, the title track is more than a worthwhile listen. It's kind of an update to "The Ballad of John and Yoko".
Standing on the corner
Just me and Yoko Ono
We was waiting for Jerry to land
( Jerry is most likely Jerry Rubin who, along with Abbie Hoffman, were the first people to get in touch with Lennon when he arrived in NYC. They got him involved in a John Sinclair benefit which led to the song "John Sinclair" and other political tunes Lennon would later dismiss as "journalism and not poetry")
Up come a man
with the guitar in his hand
Singing "have a marijuana if you can"
His name was David Peel
( David Peel, who had recorded the 1969 album Have a Marijuana for Elektra was a street musician who befriended Lennon. He'd recorded a song called "The Pope Smokes Dope" and a few songs about cops hassling street musicians. After Lennon's death, Peel wrote a song about the friendship called "In My Life")
And we found that he was real
He sangs "The pope smokes dope everyday"
Up come a police man
shoved us up the street Singin,
"power to the people today!"
NYC...NYC...NYC Que pasa Ny?
...Que pasa NY?
Well we went to Max's Kansas City
( New York City nightclub, a hand out for Andy Warhol, The Velvet Underground ( who recorded a live album there) and various other NYC artists)
Got down the nitty gritty
With the Elephants Memory Band
(NYC band that once included Carly Simon as a vocalist. They had two songs on the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack. As the Plastic Ono Elephants Memory Band, they back John and Yoko on Some Time In New York)
Laid something down
As the news spread around
About the Plastic Ono Elephants Memory Band!
Well we played some funky boogie
( I don't know how funky it is but there's boogie on Some Time like "We're All Water")
And laid some tutti frutti
Singing "Long tall sally's a man"
(Both Little Richard tunes)
Up come a preacher man
trying to be a teacher
Singing "God's a red herring in drag!"
(Likely a lunatic street preacher. Though red herrings are often considered elements of detective novels, they originate in a bible story.)
Que pasa NY?...Que pasa NY?
Well we did the Staten Island Ferry
Making movies for the telly
Played the Fillmore
with Frank Zappa and The Mothers June of 1971. Both Lennon and Zappa put out performance on record which cause some serious bad feelings.
and Apollo for freedom,
Lennon's December 1971 appearance at the Apollo was to raise money for families of victims of the Attica State Prison Riots.
Tried to shake our image
Just a cycling through the village
But found that we had left it back in London.
Well nobody came to bug us,
hustle us or shove us
so we decided to make it our home
(Easier sang than done. After John and Yoko posted billboards that declared "War Is Over If You Want It" the Nixon Administration spent 1972 embarking on what would be a four-year attempt to deport him. Lennon was denied permanent residency in the US until 1976 and said of the battle:
In '72, it was really gettin' to me. Not only was I physically having to appear in court cases, it just seemed like a toothache that wouldn't go away....' Now, the last thing on earth I want to do is perform. That's a direct result of the immigration thing. In '71, '72, I wanted to go out and rock my balls off onstage and I just stopped.
-John Lennon in a 1975 Rolling Stone interview
If the man wants to shove us out
We gonna jump and shout
The Statue of Liberty said, "come!"
Que pasa Ny?...Que pasa NY?
down in the village What a bad-ass city!
Que pasa Ny?...Que pasa NY?
Monday, June 11, 2012
Elvis may not generate the polymorphously perverse hysteria the Rolling Stones arouse, he may not move around and jump into the air and wiggle his hips as much as he used to, but he's come through superstardom without forgetting what it means to rock, that's the important thing. So everybody gets enough of what they want to get what they need.
-Bob Palmer, Rolling Stone
On June 10 and 11 of 1972, Elvis Presley performed four sold out shows at Madison Square Garden, his first live appearance before a live NYC crowd since 1956. In the audience: George Harrison, John Lennon, Art Garfunkel, Paul Simon, David Bowie ( with red hair and a padded space suit), the entire band Ten Years After, Jerry Leiber,Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen who had just signed his first record contract with Columbia Records earlier that week.
After the audience endured "toothless old men hawking Elvis pennants, Elvis posters, albums of Elvis pictures" , the singing of the Sweet Inspirations and an awful comedian, the show begins with the epic "Also Sprach Zarathustra" .
Elvis comes out as the TCB band ( led by guitarist James Burton) rocks out on "That's All Right".The show ends with the emcee announcing "Elvis has left the building"
In between, the 37 year old singer showed everyone there he was still the king.
He used the stage, he worked to the people. The ones in front, in the best seats, the ones in back, and up in the peanut galleries. He turned, he moved, and when a girl threw a handkerchief on the stage, he wiped his forehead with it and threw it back, a gift of sweat from an earthy god..
- Chris Chase New York Times
1. Introduction "Also sprach zarathustra"
2. That`s all right
3. Proud mary
4. Never been to spain
5. You don`t have to say you love me
6. You`ve lost that lovin` feelin`
7. Polk salad annie
8. Love me
9. All shook up
10. Heartbreak hotel
11. Medley (let me be your) teddy bear - don`t be cruel
12. Love me tender
13. The impossible dream
14. Introductions by elvis
15. Hound dog
16. Suspicious minds
17. For the good times
18. American trilogy
19 Funny how time slips away
20. I can`t stop loving you
21. Can`t help falling in love
22. End theme
Friday night, at Madison Square Garden, Elvis ... stood there at the end, his arms stretched out, the great gold cloak giving him wings, a champion, the only one in his class.
-Chris Chase, New York Times
One of the entire shows can be heard here.
Saturday, June 9, 2012
In 1972 there was no bigger song in Italy than Mina and Alberto Lupo's "Parole, Parole" ( "Words, Words"). The song made its debut on an Italian variety show called Teatro 10. While Lupo offers a series of complements, ( "If you didn't exist I would have to invent you ") Mina sings that they are just words, empty words. When Lupo says "You're like the wind that brings violins and roses", Mina sings "Candy does not want any more".
"Parole, Parole" has been covered many many times over the decades. In 1973 Dalida and Alain Delon recorded a french version ( "Paroles, Paroles") that topped the charts in France and Japan and became a huge hit in Canada.
At the end of 1972, Mina and Lupo joined Adriano Celentano on the stage of Teatro 10 for a parody version of "Parole, Parole". Celentano is both the best selling male artist in Italy and one of the nation's top comedians. When the line "Candy does not want any more" is sung, you'll see why.
Friday, June 8, 2012
My home has always been show business.
Sammy Davis, Jr.
From the same album as "I Am Over 25-But You Can Trust Me", Sammy Davis Jr hit #1 for three weeks in June of 1972 with "The Candy Man", a cover of the Leslie Bricusse/ Anthony Newley song from the soundtrack of Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory. Davis got a Grammy Nomination for Pop Male Vocalist. That's the same year he gave Archie Bunker a kiss on All In The Family.
Apparently Sammy hated the song even more than you do...and yet he had to perform "The Candy Man" almost every time he hit the stage for the rest of his life.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
"Take Me Bak 'Ome was an old song I'd had kicking around for ages. I re-vamped it a bit and nicked a phrase or two from The Beatles 'Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey'. Nobody ever noticed." Jim Lea who wrote the song with Noddy Holder
On this rocking single's way to #1 in the UK (#97 in the US), Slade performs "Take Me Bak 'Ome" on Top Of The Pops on June 8, 1972. Check out the clothes, the teenage girls, Noddy Holder's powerful voice and Dave Hill's haircut. The only troubling footnote to this story is that "Take Me Bak 'Ome" was knocked out of the #1 spot by Donny Osmond's "Puppy Love".
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
"I fell for Ziggy too. It was quite easy to become obsessed night and day with the character. I became Ziggy Stardust. David Bowie went totally out the window. Everybody was convincing me that I was a Messiah, especially on that first American tour (late 1972). I got hopelessly lost in the fantasy." - David Bowie ( 1976)
With The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars, released June 6th , 1972, we can all witness David Bowie making love to his ego. Or is it his alter ego?
1972's best release ( there, I've said it) is a concept album and a statement about Bowie's own conflicted desire for stardom. The earth has five years left. (suggesting 1977, the year punk broke out, would be a pivotal year) Doom is at hand when a space invader arrives and offers salvation. To spread his message Ziggy Stardust becomes an androgynous rock star and takes the stage with The Spiders From Mars. But stardom lasts little longer than a cigarette and Ziggy's downfall ends on stage in a rock and roll suicide.
"At this point I had a passion for the idea of a rock star as meteor and the whole idea of The Who's line 'Hope I die before I get old'. At that youthful age you cannot believe that you'll lose the ability to be this enthusiastic and all-knowing about the world, life and experience. You think you've probably discovered all the secrets to life. Rock n Roll Suicide was a declaration of the end of the effect of being young"-DB
Bowie created his own myth and The Rise and Fall is its bible. If his band really was The Spiders From Mars then surely Bowie was Ziggy Stardust, a combination of Iggy Pop, Marc Bolan and Brit rockabilly star Vince Taylor who once confided to Bowie that he knew where all the UFOs were going to land.
"He was the inspiration for Ziggy. Vince Taylor was a rock n roll star from the Sixties who was slowly going crazy. Finally, he fired his band and went on-stage one night in a white sheet. He told the audience to rejoice, that he was Jesus. They put him away." DB
outtake from album cover photo shoot
When he began recording Ziggy, Bowie was at the height of his creative powers. Just weeks after Hunky Dory's release, Bowie knocked out the cover of Ron Davies's "It Ain't Easy " in September of 1971. November proved more fruitful with "Hang on to Yourself", "Ziggy Stardust", "Rock 'n' Roll Star" (later shortened to "Star"), "Moonage Daydream", "Soul Love", "Lady Stardust", and "Five Years". "Starman", "Suffragette City", and "Rock 'n' Roll Suicide" were all recorded in early '72.
Mick Ronson leads the band with his jet fueled guitar lines. Listen to his call and response to Bowie's lyrics on "Moonage Daydream" and then witness the string arrangements he helped Bowie write.
5 Interesting Facts About The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust
1. Ziggy came from the name of a London tailor's shop, Ziggy's, and reminded Bowie of Iggy Pop. Stardust came from Bowie's label mate "The Legendary Stardust Cowboy" whose novelty song "Paralysed" Bowie had been obsessed with.
2. Echo and The Bunnymen's Ian McCulloch remembers Bowie's performance of the album single "Starman"on The Old Grey Whistle Test (seen below) as life affirming:
'In 1972, I’d get girls on the bus saying to me, "eh la, have you got lippy on?", or "are you a boy or a girl?" Until he turned up it was a nightmare. All my other mates at school would say, ‘Did you see that bloke on Top Of The Pops?’ He’s a right faggot, him!’ And I remember thinking, ‘You pillocks’, as they’d all be buying their Elton John albums, and Yessongs and all that crap. It made me feel cooler.’
3. The Sweet wrote a parody of Ziggy Stardust and the song Star called Rock And Roll Disgrace:
You're a heterosexual dream/ a super phallic machine/ Well who do you think you are?/ Well you think you're a star yeah a rock and roll star, you are
4. The prominent K. West sign seen on the cover has nothing to do with Kanye West of course. It was the name of a distribution company which shipped animal furs.
5. Bowie used his new level of stardom to produce three consecutive classic albums for other rockers: Mott The Hoople's All The Young Dudes (1972), Lou Reed's Transformer (1972)and Iggy Pop's Raw Power (1973).
for more great facts about David Bowie and his Ziggy Stardust era check out this website.