Archive for the ‘The Mothers Of Invention’ Category

The Mothers Of Invention / The GTO’s / Wild Man Fischer

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

WPLJ / The Mothers Of Invention

Listen: WPLJ / The Mothers Of Invention

In the late 60′s and early 70′s, it wasn’t only The Beatles and The Rolling Stones who started their own labels, Frank Zappa did as well. In fact when he left Verve and joined Warner/Reprise, they gave him two imprints: Straight and Bizarre.

I think The Mothers were one of the few west coast, Los Angeles to San Francisco, groups that interested me at the time. I was admittedly loyal to the British bands back then. They looked better. It may have been the beards that put me off the US acts. Admittedly, Blue Cheer and Big Brother & The Holding Company always looked great, and so too did Love and especially The Seeds, all coincidentally beard free. But despite the beards and various repulsive elements, I loved The Mothers Of Invention. They looked menacing, and dirty and just plain seedy. The cover of MOTHERMANIA is a particularly fantastic shot. Musically, give me WE’RE ONLY IN IT FOR THE MONEY, and many of the early singles and songs as well like ‘Wowie Zowie’, only being a let down in that it never got issued as a 7″.

Frank Zappa always applauded his self love of doo wop, as is exampled on this track from BURNT WEENY SANDWICH, ‘WPLJ’. The style, dreadfully out of step at the time, made for a terrific single. There must have been a radio station with those call letters somewhere….if only they’d played it, which I’d bet they didn’t.

Frank Zappa was obviously an insomniac. I mean who has more double albums? And then to constantly tour and put together two labels. Amazing. Alice Cooper debuted on Straight, Tim Buckley moved there from Elektra. Even Keith joined the roster post ’98.6′.

Circular Circulation / G.T.O.S

Listen: Circular Circulation / G.T.O.’s

Two of his earliest signings are on singles featured here: The GTO’s and Wild Man Fischer. I always got a kick out of both these tracks, hearing them initially on one of the many $2.00 Warner/Reprise samplers that were everywhere in those days. Both acts had great album sleeves too.

We may want to blame The GTO’s for giving license to a whole slew of twee female singers hiding behind indie rock as an excuse for minimal vocal ability, but ‘Circular Circulation’ is an absolute out of jail free card.

Merry Go Round / Wild Man Fischer

Listen: Merry Go Round / Wild Man Fischer

Wild Man Fischer has a story and a half going on. Google him – I don’t have enough time to write it all…….but ‘Merry Go Round’ is tops. Sounds like David Byrne picked up some vocal tricks from him.

The Valadiers

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

Listen: I Found A Girl / The Valadiers

Seems I’ve heard the first white act of Motown claim many times. History dictates though that The Valadiers indeed take home that honor, if you can call it that. You’d have to look pretty hard to find a more hated release amongst the diehards that follow all things Motown.

One of their biggest gripes focuses on the single’s UK release via Oriole, Britain’s first ever record company, which by the mid 60′s was the Detroit label’s exclusive outlet. Seems there were many terribly more deserving records that didn’t luck into a UK release, and given the dated doo woo pop of ‘I Found A Girl’, this just drove the devoted bonkers. The hate still spews on some hard corp Motown blogs.

I always kind of liked this though. Never did experience doo woo first time through, way too young if even born, and have never been interested enough to figure that out. Closest I come is Ruben & The Jets first album, where Frank Zappa, as on several songs by The Mothers Of Invention, does a spotless send up. So quite possibly my references for comparison are titled terribly in the wrong direction. Whatever.

Hard to disagree that ‘I Found A Girl’ certainly sits okay next to some same period releases by The Marvelettes and The Miracles. As with those Oriole issued copies and in fact, all nineteen released during their partnership, they are amongst the most valuable English Motown pressings ever.

John Mayall

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

Listen: Walking On Sunset (Mono) / John Mayall

I recall vividly awaiting each new album from John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers during their vast and frequent output of the late 60′s. There was something very British about it all. Seemingly via coincidental osmosis, to me, this band personified the damp, cold and grimy UK club circuit. Photos of their decidedly uncomfortable, barely heated van imply a situation closer to say, a jail sentence than an accommodating overnight transportation mode. And that’s just the travel bit.

So by the release of the BLUES FROM LAURAL CANYON album, summer ’68, it was well fun to hear a bright, almost happy version of blues rock. In this case, documenting what must have been like the world changing from black and white to color, for an English band usually grinding through the drizzly UK and then suddenly ending up in Southern California performing a week of shows at Los Angeles’ Whisky A Go Go.

John Mayall himself returned, or maybe stayed on for a week or two, and hence the resulting documentation of the trip. References to The Mothers Of Invention, Canned Heat and The GTO’s make for fun musical name checks. But it’s the almost pop-like songs that entertain the most.

‘Walking On Sunset’ was always a favorite, along with ’2401′, a UK 7″. Again, having the promos of these means owning the scarce mono versions, as posted above.

‘Walking On Sunset’, to this day, can still invite you along for the stroll, envisioning what it must have been like, mid century architecture overloading one’s senses from all directions, and a list of upcoming club shows in the vicinity that could rival London’s Marquee with heart stopping effect.

Years later, having morphed from fan to A&R, I signed John Mayall and he made his terrific comeback album for Island, A SENSE OF PLACE. One of the nicest, most dependable, problem free guys you’d ever want to work with quite frankly.

Only a few years back, I ran into he and his family as we both waited for outbound flights at LAX. We sat for a good hour and caught up. John, as always, sharing endless details about those days. Love the guy.

Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

samtheshamjujups, Sam The Sham, Sam The Sham & The Pharoaohs, MGM, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Dr. John, ? & The Mysterians, The Sir Douglas Quintet, The Mothers Of Invention

Listen: Ju Ju Hand / Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs SamTheShamJuJu.mp3

samtheshamring,samtheshamjujups, Sam The Sham, Sam The Sham & The Pharoaohs, MGM, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Dr. John, ? & The Mysterians, The Sir Douglas Quintet, The Mothers Of Invention

Listen: Ring Dang Doo / Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs SamTheShamRing.mp3

Throw together the music of Dr. John, The Sir Douglas Quintet and ? & The Mysterians, a bit of The Mothers Of Inventions’s intimidating looks and bang, you end up with Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs. Deservedly, they had some huge hits. You can probably still catch ‘Wooly Bully or ‘Lil Red Riding Hood’ on the oldies stations. But I guarentee you – don’t hold your breath waiting for ‘Ju Ju Hand’ to get played.

Polishing their style as resident house band at the perfectly named Congo Club in Louisiana, the self pressed ‘Wooly Bully’ blew up, selling three million singles in ’65, and was pretty quickly licensed to MGM. Expectations for ‘Ju Ju Hand’, it’s followup, were clearly high. You can always tell when the label would spring for a full color sleeve. Probably a touch too Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, it stalled at #26 and quickly fell back. Oddly, it’s followup, the heavily played ‘Ring Dang Doo’ repeated the process hitting #33.

Then Sam, real name Domingo Samudio, revamped those original Pharoahs, or maybe they quit – whatever – and the remaining releases (still lots of good ones) proceeded with lineups anew.

Ruben & The Jets

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Jelly Roll Gum Drop / Ruben & The Jets

Listen: Jelly Roll Gum Drop (Mono) / Ruben & The Jets

Proof positive that those mono mixes back in the 60′s were approached very differently than their stereo counterparts. Word has it the importance of the 7″ single, and early indifference towards albums, many times resulted in leaving the stereo mix to one of the studio engineers, while the band and producer focused only on mono. Might explain the radical difference in mono/stereo versions of The Pink Floyd’s PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN and A SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS. Not to mention The Pretty Things S. F. SORROW or The Small Faces OGDEN’S NUT GONE FLAKE. If you’re lucky enough to have both versions, a/b them sometime. You’ll hear different vocal takes and even additional instruments throughout.

No exception is this mono version of ‘Jelly Roll Gum Drop’. Like other early mono releases by The Mothers Of Invention, who were one in the same with Ruben & The Jets, this too is radically different, and therefore much desirable in it’s mono 7″ issue.