Archive for the ‘Frampton’s Camel’ Category

Alvin Robinson

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

Listen: Down Home Girl / Alvin Robinson
Down Home Girl / Alvin Robinson

I saw The Rolling Stones for the first time on October 30, 1965 at the Syracuse War Memorial. I had forged a press pass, a typed note actually, on letterhead from a weekly paper in my little hometown. My Dad had set me up with the pompous owner of it, as I wanted to interview the band for a feature.

Looking back it was quite a good idea on my part, but this self celebrating fellow was nasty and dismissive. Even though I ended up meeting the band, I still loathe him for his attitude, not towards me, but towards my Father. He was so busy being busy, running in and out of his pathetic office, that I just reached over and grabbed a few pages of letterhead when he wasn’t looking. I shook with fear at what I’d done. I was still a good Catholic boy, but too late, I’d done it. So he tells me, “We don’t need a piece on this dirty English combo”, and that was that, or so he thought. Indeed, they didn’t need a a kid in his late single digits writing a review.

To be exact, this was the Canastota Bee Journal, as close as you can get to Mayberry. He and the paper, I’m guessing, are long gone. Still, I composed this laughable letter, claiming to be a writer on assignment and needing to interview them for a feature.

In those days, arenas were filled with hysterical, screaming kids, so how I managed to slide backstage so easily still baffles. An usher fell for that forged letter, and brought me back, where Bill Wyman was wrapping up his cords. Bill reads it, stares me straight in the eye and says in hindsight with a knowing smirk, “Come on and we’ll meet the rest”.

Holy shit. Is this really happening? It was the first time I nearly blacked out. I seriously remember that vividly. We are suddenly walking up the steps to the dressing room, knees weak, where in years to follow, I would meet, more like pester, (here goes, I know this is all a bit name droppy, but it really, really happened. I met all these bands and I’m proud of it): The Mindbenders, Them, The Moody Blues, The Nashville Teens, The Ikettes, The Who, The Pretty Things, Manfred Mann, The Kinks, Humble Pie, Heads Hands & Feet, Fairport Convention, John Martyn, Steppenwolf, Canned Heat, Caravan, Toe Fat, Derek & The Dominoes, Jethro Tull, Grand Funk Railroad, Frampton’s Camel, Traffic, Wild Turkey, The Faces, Badfinger, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Mother Earth, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, The Chambers Brothers, Sly & The Family Stone, Savoy Brown, Iron Butterfly, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Big Brother & The Holding Company, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, even Vivian Green, who I worked with decades later, was in that very room when on tour with Maxwell. Talk about coming full circle.

The management knew me and my friends well early on, they must’ve gotten a kick out of these crazy little kids, who’s Mom’s & Dad’s would wait patiently for until the shows ended. Our parents befriended the office staff, and in turn, those nice ladies always let us backstage.

The Rolling Stones were great, so nice. No one was in their dressing room except the band, and one other guy, I’m guess Ian Stewart, the tour manager. No food, nothing but bottles of Coca Cola. They signed my copy of 12 X 5, it probably lasted all of a minute but I still can relive it to this day. Here I was, with this exotic band from England that changed my life, which prior I could only see on TV every three to four months tops. I thought at that very moment, “This is the life for me”. I’m completely convinced it led to my career in music. No question.

Their current album at the time, THE ROLLING STONES NOW, was not a real album at all. In those days, the English labels released singles and EPs, in addition to albums. Not only were the EP tracks not on the LPs, but the singles weren’t either. So the US companies were always dropping off intended LP tracks to make room for the singles and sometimes strong ones from those EPs. For this particular release, London Records basically cobbled together some singles and EP songs, as well as unused UK LP tracks. Remember, the UK LPs were 14 songs compared to our 10-12, thereby creating even more choices.

Probably by coincidence more than design, THE ROLLING STONES NOW actually works as a proper LP. It was certainly a big success, slowly but very solidly scaling the US LP charts and staying Top 10 for ages, as it deserved to. The record’s filled with dark, minor key classics like ‘Heart Of Stone’, ‘Little Red Rooster’ and ‘Pain In My Heart’ which they played on that night, Brian sitting at a huge B3 organ, wailing away.

It’s ok if you’re getting tingles. Take your time. You’ll need it. They were back, nine months later, during the AFTERMATH tour, and that’s whole ‘nother post waiting to be written.

This all leads us to ‘Down Home Girl’, a song on THE ROLLING STONES NOW. Little did I know then that it was a cover. I don’t even think I knew what that meant. They were all Rolling Stones songs to us. Years and years later I wised up, seeked out the original, and became a dangerous Alvin Robinson fanatic.

Here’s his version. Get any of his other releases. all of them actually.

Kevin Ayers

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Caribbean Moon / Kevin Ayers

Listen: Caribbean Moon / Kevin Ayers KevinAyersCaribbeanMoon.mp3

In summer ’73, you could hear ‘Caribbean Moon’ incessantly on BBC Radio 1. I know, I spent most days lying in Regent’s Park with a transistor clamped to my ear. Occasionally a policeman would wander by instructing me to turn it off. Radios were not allowed in the Queen’s Parks.

By late afternoon, I’d start my rounds of the used record stands in Soho market, before going to meet my girlfriend Claire as she got off work at the Scotch House on Regent Street. Over to The Ship on Wardour we’d go, to have some beers and maybe a sandwich if money permitted; then onto the Marquee for work.

Yes, my job consisted solely of collecting empty pint glasses for the kitchen. I was not the washing up fellow, so felt a bit of seniority on my side. The obvious perk, in addition to free beers for us both, was seeing the bands. And guess what, this was simply a daily routine for months. I had a job which paid £1 a night, lived in the west end of London and had access to the latest 7″ promo singles daily. It’s seldom been better.

Glued to Radio 1 morning til night meant getting to hear a lot of great records, many of which somehow never charted: The Kinks ‘Sitting In The Midday Sun’, Blue ‘Little Jody’, Writing On The Wall ‘Man Of Renown’, Frampton’s Camel ‘All Night Long’. This Kevin Ayers single unfortunately, was one as well.

I guess it wasn’t only me that thought it should have been a smash, as Harvest reissued it at least twice more within the next few years.

Listen: Take Me To Tahiti / Kevin Ayers KevinTahiti.mp3

There were a few resident dj’s at The Marquee. I want to say Ian Fleming and Jerry Floyd. Well Jerry someone, maybe Lloyd. Both guys were pretty cool, and we had a bit of a rivalry going on as to who could get the latest releases first. I did love when I flanked them after all, they were being serviced by the labels whereas I was slogging around the stalls picking singles up for 10p, maybe even a few they had handed off. All in good fun though.

I recall excitedly getting in one night, with this latest Kevin Ayers release. Radio 1 were already playing ‘Caribbean Moon’, but we were all jonsing to hear it’s B side ‘Take Me To Tahiti’. Everyone I knew was insatiable for Kevin Ayers that summer. Oh Lord did it sound spectacular playing through The Marquee’s sound system. Yes, this very single you see pictured above was the one that got spun at The Marquee that July night. Click on schedule above to enlarge, just to have a look at who was playing that month.

I’d always hinted to Jack Barrie, the club’s manager, that I should be the dj, but it never did happen.

Frampton’s Camel

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

All Night Long / Frampton’s Camel

Above / Below: UK Promo Only sleeve (front/back)

All Night Long / Frampton’s Camel

Listen: All Night Long / Frampton’s Camel 01 All Night Long.mp3

Peter Frampton was, unfairly, a guilty pleasure to loads of folks for years. Once he hit the big time it was uncool to like him. Not me. I loved The Herd, and was loyally into Humble Pie. That was a funny one actually. Here you had a signature member of The Herd and Steve Marriott in the same band. If you’re an Anglofile, you give them rope. Their early stuff I liked even though it leaned toward the extended blues rock sludge setting in at the time. Live, they were on fire. Luckily, I saw them open for Ten Years After on that first US tour, not yet Americanized in any way, still kitted out in lime or purple velvet and silk trousers etc. Glued to the edge of the stage in the Livestock Pavilion on the Syracuse State Fair grounds, overjoyed by the fact that we were seeing members of The Small Faces and The Herd, was half the thrill.

Then Peter Frampton went solo. His second, post Humble Pie release was issued as Frampton’s Camel. He’d shed that Humble Pie heaviness. The album didn’t sell. I never heard it anywhere at the time, although the single ‘All Night Long’ got a lot of daytime BBC Radio 1 play that summer ’73 I’d spent in London. It was a perfect seasonal single and has sentimental value.

Listen: (Baby) Somethin’s Happening / Peter Frampton PeterFramptonSmethin.mp3

For the record, the follow-up album, SOMETHIN’S HAPPENING, went fairly undiscovered too. He toured that record with former band mate Andy Bown, from The Herd, on keyboards. Rich Packter, the A&M promotion guy during summer ’74 had set Corinne and I up with Peter and Andy for lunch at the then turquoise and pink circular Holiday Inn restaurant in Downtown Syracuse. Frampton’s Camel were opening for Uriah Heep that night. We both worked at Discount Records, so I’m guessing Rich could justify the meal.

As far as we were concerned, this was lunch with The Herd. It was great fun picking their brains about the past. They both laughed non stop at all my questions, in a most flattering way. And I’m sure Andy Bown was genuinely surprised at the attention. Peter didn’t seem to mind one bit that when push came to shove, these two crazies were there to meet Andy Bown.

So yeah, SOMETHIN’S HAPPENING is a gem too. Soon after, Peter Frampton’s deserved home runs began. The industry calls this process artist development. I call it finally getting a fair shot at radio.

Andy Bown

Monday, August 10th, 2009

andybownsweetusa, Andy Bown, Peter Frampton, The Herd GM Records, Mercury Records

Listen: Sweet William / Andy Bown AndyBownWilliam.mp3

It’s real simple. Andy Bown was in The Herd. He has a lifetime, out of jail free card. End of story.

Add to that, a haircut rivaling only Brian Jones.

But seriously, he’s made a lot of great singles. These are two. ‘Sweet William’ was originally released as the B side of The Herd’s seminal classic ‘From The Underworld’. The above version was a re-record for Andy Bown’s second solo album, ironically titled SWEET WILLIAM. I always loved the song.

andybownsatyricon, Andy Bown, Peter Frampton, The Herd GM Records, Mercury Records

Listen: New York Satyricon Zany / Andy Bown AndyBownSatyricon.mp3

Go back and read my story of meeting he and Peter Frampton during a Frampton’s Camel show back in the 70′s. It was an exciting moment. A few years later, ‘New York Satyricon Zany’ came out as a UK single, with an obvious Peter Frampton solo during the last passage. Either way, it became an instant favorite, and it’s just one example of Andy Bown’s many songwriting and vocal superiorities.