THIS BLOG IS ABOUT 7" RECORDS ONLY. YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY. EVERY SONG IS CONVERTED TO MP3 FROM MY PERSONAL 45 COLLECTION, AND THERE'S NOT ONE THAT I WOULDN'T RECOMMEND YOU SEEKING OUT. ANY COPYRIGHT HOLDERS WHO DON'T WANT THEIR MUSIC HEARD HERE JUST LET ME KNOW, AND DOWN IT WILL COME. CLICK ON ANY IMAGE TO ENLARGE.
How do you pick a Kinks single to write about, yet avoid the guilt of the dozens you’re not mentioning? Not possible. But listening back to this week’s PICK OF THE POPS program, on BBC’s Radio 2, where Dale Winton counts down selected Top 20′s from years gone by, spanning the 60′s forward with much accuracy and old style chart excitement, I heard ‘Days’. It was in the 1968 chart that he was featuring.
‘Days’ has always been one of my most cherished records, and I have listened to it undoubtably thousands of times. I had a memorable life moment last November in London, walking from my hotel in Primrose Hill in the cold drizzling rain on a very grey Sunday to have late afternoon tea at my friend’s, when I heard it in the headphones, following Thunderclap Newman’s ‘Something In The Air’, played back to back on Radio 2. Being able to listen to the radio is a fascinating privilege not well known here in the States. This, my friends, was heaven.
As much as I loved it when released in summer ’68, and buying it at King Karol’s in NY on a summer excursion to see some bands, Jethro Tull with The Jeff Beck Group at the Fillmore East, I could never 100% enjoy it. I always felt so bitter that ‘Days’ got no airplay anywhere in the US and what a criminal shame it was that America was again being cheated out of such great musical culture by radio, a cancer that worsened year after year. No wonder we have what we have in our charts.
But some justice has been served, Ray Davies still performs and his great songs, like ‘Days’, get used in films etc. and covered. What would have happened if singles like this, and bands like The Small Faces or The Pretty Things had been given a chance back then. No question, things would have been very different here.
One of the great triple bills from ’70, still trading on the English Invasion angle that was becoming a distant marketing ploy.
No problem here. My friends and I ate it up. Couldn’t leave early enough that morning to make a day of hanging out on the campus, pretending to be college kids. The serious Anglofiles, crowded onto the entrance steps of The Palestra Auditorium for a solid few hours prior to doors opening, provided the ultimate social scene. Everyone opinioning and bragging about one record after the other. It was almost as much fun as the show.
I think it was well attended, up front there was no looking back.
We were very seriously not prepared for the power of Family live. No one in the room was. And I do mean no one. I’d only seen their three albums in the store, never heard them and as much as I wanted ownership of at least one record, some other title always took their purchase slot. Turns out, this was my favorite lineup, having become obsessed as a result of the show and then seeing them many times. Poli Palmer on xylophone most of the night, a stunning player. And John Weider on guitars and violin. It was the first band I saw playing any of these instruments (except Brian Jones on vibes during ‘Under My Thumb’), not to mention changing them up for each song.
The ace in the deck for Family was always Roger Chapman. Definitely an acquired taste vocally, you still seldom see a madman like him, totally possessed. Once you experienced Family in person, their recordings made perfect sense, vividly bringing back his on stage intensity.
They couldn’t catch a break in The States. Bill Graham banned them from The Fillmores. Don’t know why. This particular night the audience was into it, but a few years later, opening for Elton John, things didn’t work out the same. I remember many of the crowd booing. I couldn’t believe such a sophisticated group of great musicians were being booed. I was embarrassed. But the band tore threw it unflinched. This was ’72. Sadly it was to be the last time they toured the US. Props to Elton John for having them.
Listen: The Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack / The Nice The
The Nice were on Immediate. This was a big deal.
Immediate was a serious label to this bunch. A lot of conversation was had earlier on the steps about the greatness of the roster. Everyone was clued into the supposed stage antics of Keith Emerson, still I don’t think we were really ready. When he mauled his organ during ‘America’, it was shocking. Everyone took a step back as the knives came out. All these skinny English people with crazy energy. The flower power stuff from their albums interested me a lot. I think they stopped playing that stuff pretty quickly as the prog symphonic material took center stage, plus I assume Emerson, Lake & Palmer were right around the corner. I remember hearing this tour was simply honoring contractual commitments. Didn’t seem like it being a wide eyed kid upfront.
Savoy Brown were theatrics-free, but never mind, they tore it up. In keeping with the evening looks wise, the underfed, velvet and stacked heeled Englishness prevailed. Can still remember these fair haired frail guys playing wicked blues. Probably very white, but this was prior to seeing any of the originals, so all new, all impressive. RAW SIENNA had just been released, and their set covered a lot of it plus some prior singles (‘Made Up My Mind’, ‘Train To Nowhere’) and their theme at the time, Muddy Waters’ ‘Louisiana Blues’. Like Family, this was a classic Savoy Brown lineup, with Chris Youlden on vocals and Tone Stevens on bass.
My vivid memory of Kim Simmonds starting off ‘I’m Tired’ is as plain as day. It was my first time up super close, literally with elbows on the stage, and thinking ‘he makes it look so easy’, the true sign of a great guitarist.
Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Kim Simmonds
On the way out of town after the show, we stopped at a late night record/head shop near the campus, figuring out who would buy what, strategizing so that collectively we arrived home with records by all three bands. Picked these handout charts up at the counter, with some pretty interesting playlist titles. Yes, the days of underground radio…..and the ‘Super Heavy Sound’ of Janis Joplin. See them below:
It was hard not to notice the writer credit of Nyro in brackets below some of the most hybrid of song styles in the late 60′s and early 70′s. Always choosing to shy from the spotlight, which included endless TV appearance requests, gave Laura Nyro a mystique as attractive as her obvious grasp of everything from gospel to show tunes. Despite delivering her recordings in a brash neo-operatic vocal style, she was still full of soul.
Being the seldom mentioned, unsung performer at ’67′s infamous Monterey Festival is what really caught my attention. Why was everyone focused on all the other acts? Why was she never included in the footage? Every one of her early Verve Forecast releases and this, her debut Columbia single, became secret treasures. I badly wanted to see her the one weekend she played The Fillmore East, but it wasn’t to be.
In later years, Laura Nyro dedicated much of her time and money to the animal rights movement. Don DeVito at Columbia was very close to her, and spoke often of her kind and tender heart.
Never got to hear or see John Hammond in his introductory years, despite a few chances at The Fillmore. The sleeve of his Atlantic album, I CAN TELL, made me way curious. He looked like a cross between Mick Jagger and Arthur Lee. But it wasn’t until this single, a few years later, that I finally got the chance.
One of John Hammond’s consistently strong points was his ace ability to interpret classic blues tracks, using what turned into a signature style: minimal unprocessed guitar and harmonica.
His version of ‘Mellow Down Easy’ not only gave the song possibly it’s best white rendition ever, but spilled into Dr. John’s space. Like electric blues in the late 60′s, New Orleans music was brand new. Seems there were so many singles that introduced me to yet more genres and styles in a short period, and I became insatiable for them all.
‘As The Years Go Passing By’ slotted right in with then current versions from Chicken Shack and Savoy Brown, pretty much equaling if not topping them. With no small contribution being a fantastic voice.
Both tracks on this double sider ignited a John Hammond 7″ catalog completion process on my part that took years. Basically I wanted his every single and the two on Atlantic preceding this were oddly not easy finds. All great records as it turns out and worth the effort. Don’t pass any of them up.
If you live in America, well definitely New York, hearing ‘Lola’, (nowadays restricted to the oldies or dreaded classic rock formats) is as close as I imagine one can get to an oasis during a tsunami.
I was desperate a few weeks back, having left my iTouch at home during the morning school drop-off drive, all of ten minutes. Still it was one of those rare, aching to hear something decent moments, when suddenly ‘Lola’ appears as a result of my manic dashboard button pushing.
Let me tell you, I couldn’t believe once was a time I’d heard it on the radio so much, I thought I never needed to hear ‘Lola’ again. Do you remember those days? Well they are long gone. It never sounded better. And I finally got round to loading it onto my device tonight, an act I regret not having done before last weekend’s drive to and from Boston.
Hearing ‘Lola’ took me also to YouTube, where I was reminded it indeed was the song that, unbeknownst at the time, began signaling an end to that first classic era of The Kinks. Yes, there were several to follow, but as the seminal four piece lineup expanded to five, suddenly including John Gosling on keyboards, The Kinks immaculate 60′s visual perfection began to blemish.
Mind you, despite his un-English rough look, which was initially passable, the transformation was smooth. One could safely call it a soft landing as their sound remained pretty much unchanged, having always incorporated piano into their recordings, unually played by Nicky Hopkins or Ray himself.
Other than lyrically, ‘Apeman’ could have easily fit onto ARTHUR or even THE VILLAGE GREEN PRESERVATION SOCIETY for that matter. The mix always bothered me. Had it been as powerful as ‘Lola’, my bet is ‘Apeman’ would have been a bigger hit. The struggle to hear Ray’s vocal annoys to this day, particularly during the intro. Having said that, it’s impossible to ruin such a great song.
Sticking close to the original Kinks sound was also the case with ‘God’s Children’, the last official UK Pye / US Reprise 7″. Technically, in England, as opposed to being an A side, it was the lead track off a 4 song EP pulled from the PERCY film soundtrack, the full album being rejected by Reprise and apparently destroying the band/label relationship.
Whereas, in the US, ‘God’s Children’ became an official and final Reprise single. A later US Reprise 7″ ‘King Kong’ / ‘Waterloo Sunset’ notwithstanding, as it came after the band had moved to RCA, and was released solely to promote THE KINK KRONIKLES double album compilation.
Back to YouTube, ‘Lola’ from TOP OF THE POPS lead me to watch ‘Apeman’, then ‘Autumn Almanac’, ‘Wonderboy’ and ultimately ‘Days’:
For those of you like myself, who waited agonizingly for The Kinks to be allowed back into the US after some musician’s union ban during ’66, our wishes became reality when in ’69, the band returned to promote ARTHUR. Apparently, many of the scheduled shows between the tour’s New York start and it’s conclusion in Los Angeles were cancelled. Lucky was I to see them at the very beginning, New York.
Not only does the above clip capture the absolutely perfect Kinks during the period, it too gives the viewer ultimate Ray Davies moments at exactly :24 – :29, again at 1:02 and then 1:20. Expressions and smirks that addicted many a weak soul to the heroin known as The Kinks in the 60′s.
The clip, in fact, must have been shot within weeks of that infamous US return, as both Dave and Ray are wearing the exact same clothes they had on here at The Fillmore East (October 17 & 18, ’69) and then also in Potsdam NY, at the State college gymnasium on Sunday October 19. I will never, ever, ever forget Ray’s shirt. We were at stage edge, literally speaking out requests to the band.
See said shirt for yourself in the clip above. When uncovered with a jacket, like at the live shows, who could forget it?
Never much interested in American flannel shirt country rock easily lead me to brush off similar bands from the UK. I was equally dismissive of Man, Help Yourself, Brinsley Schwarz, any of that early stuff hiding behind the pub rock shield. One listen and as soon as The Band/Woodstock detector would sound in my head – immediately off came the vinyl and back into the sleeve it went. Besides, I noticed Brinsley Schwarz were playing The Fillmore East with Van Morrison and Quicksilver Messenger Service. This just didn’t feel right for my palate.
Having preceded themselves as Kippington Lodge, a more mod, colorful pop Marmalade meets Herd lightweight singles band, they too never registered on my radar, oddly, despite Mark Wirtz as producer. So the evolution of Brinsley Schwarz basically was a rather unnoticed one for a while.
I softened a bit to some singles by The Band, and actually liked ‘Up On Cripple Creek’. Interestingly, their first few 45′s were higher, much higher chart achievers in the UK than here. I know, not an obvious guess, but true.
By ’72, I was fast friends with Rich Fazekas out at UA’s west coast office – a connection initialized by the label suddenly being the hip home to Family and The Move. He implored me to give their newly released fourth Brinsley Schwarz album, NERVOUS ON THE ROAD, a fair listen. I did and guess what, it became a favorite for a patch. There are a bunch of songs worthy of 7″ status on that one, and I was perfectly content to have ‘Happy Doing What We’re Doing’ be someone at the label’s choice. I just wanted a Brinsley Schwarz single from that LP in my collection.
Being a completist, I eventually surrounded ‘Happy Doing What We’re Doing’ with their singles prior and following. Some of them are fun, and real keepers, but nothing tops this one still, not for me at least.
Covered by everyone from Manfred Mann to Ray Charles via his infamous version, ‘Let’s Go Get Stoned’ is as ubiquitous as “Strangers In The Night’ or ‘Satisfaction’.
During the late 60′s/early 70′s, during the heights of electric blues rock’s success, seems every last band dug up some deserving song, and in hindsight rather obvious classic from the genre, added on some whitewash and brought it successfully to the masses, tunes like ‘Let’s Go Get Stoned’ were everywhere. Add to that, the phenomenon of Janis Joplin – and you’ve get many a previously struggling original blues artist, particularly female ones, suddenly sharing bills with the biggest album selling underground bands of the day at The Fillmores, Avalon Ballroom, in War Memorials and college gymnasiums around the country. Big Mama Thornton was no exception.
Signed to Mercury and released around the time of Mother Earth’s almost breakthrough success, her renewed version of the surprisingly-penned-by Ashford & Simpson classic got some FM play in my neck of the woods. Never ever expecting a soul to buy it, I was well pleased to find a promo in the local used record bin for a quarter. Still sounds authenically ruff and tumble to this day.
While going through the library for my previous Mica Paris post, I couldn’t resist also listening to her alphabetical predecessor, Paris, the band.
Baffling how this post Fleetwood Mac, pre solo success Bob Welch era hardly gets a mention. Almost as though his band, Paris, never existed.
Firstly, nowhere near enough credit is afforded to the Fleetwood Mac/Bob Welch chunk of albums. Being just prior to their Stevie Nicks/Lindsey Buckingham skyrocket, it’s sadly dwarfed. As with the Peter Green era just before it, both include must have singles.
I was a serious Glenn Cornick fan, for ages considering him the best bassist out there. From seeing Jethro Tull’s first US show at The Fillmore East, I was in. THIS WAS and STAND UP, have remained big favorites. That band just plummeted downhill once he was replaced by a very stiff someone or other. All of the band’s soul was robbed.
Therefore, with much interest did I approach Paris. BIG TOWNE, 2061, their second album, oddly didn’t register with FM radio, a strange twist given the Fleetwood Mac and Jethro Tull history. Not to mention it’s quality. Seemed Capitol didn’t care, never do I recall much press or visibility. Add bad timing to the equation as this preceded punk by less than a year, so in no time, the sound was passe.
Still, a good single. I forced it on everyone around for ages, which clearly didn’t help the big picture at all.
Often lumped with Duane Eddy and Link Wray, contemporaries of the day, Lonnie Mack’s musical distinction is the blues as opposed to a rockabilly instrumental slant. Not surprisingly, he’s widely regarded as a ground-breaking rock guitarist, whose artistic impact far outreaches his commercial accomplishments, although he had a few massive records. His first, ‘Memphis’ hit Top 5 in early ’63 on both Billboard’s Pop and RnB charts.
Things were clearly different in those days. It’s not the first time that a record, recorded quickly during some down time, post a proper session, somehow got released without the artist knowing, and ended up a hit – again to said artist’s surprise. Such was apparently the case with ‘Memphis’
‘Wham’, a followup, has significance for (a) being another unlikely instrumental success and (b) for actually describing a sound both unique and original at the time in it’s title. The culprit, a whammy bar, in reality a Bigsby tremelo arm. To further enhance the vibrato on his tunes, Lonnie Mack employed a variant of Robert Ward’s distortion technique, using a 1950s-era tube-fired Magnatone amplifier to produce a ‘rotating, fluttery sound’. Hence, the blues guitar revolution began, at least according to some.
Either way, this is a great double sider. Adults and children alike should own a handful of his 7′s for when the appropriate party moment occurs at one’s home.
I was quite excited back in September ’69 when Lonnie Mack was on the bill at The Fillmore East as main support to headliners Crosby, Stills & Nash. Opening that weekend: The Move. I just sent away for two tickets and announced to my Dad that he was either taking me or I was hitch hiking. Mind you, we lived in Syracuse and NYC was a good 300 miles away. To be honest, this was all about seeing The Move, but planning to stay long enough to gawk at Lonnie Mack and his wire-fire fingers.
Sadly, The Move never did play New York, so I exchanged my seats for another weekend’s triple header: Spirit / The Kinks / The Bonzo Dog Band. A life changing tradeoff, I can assure you.
OUTSIDEINSIDE, Blue Cheer’s second album, was their pinnacle. They recorded some of it on a pier in NJ, and had mikes on the NY side of the water as ambient devices. You can really get the resulting effect on tracks like ‘Come & Get It’. This was the most inviting scam yet – at the time. I listened to Side 1 over and over and over. It was a favorite for ages. They had just come off a massive Top 10 single with ‘Summertime Blues’ and album VINCEBUS ERUPTUM. Now let me clue you in: you need both the mono and stereo versions of VINCEBUS ERUPTUM. It is massive in mono and in stereo, well it’s the only album I know of that has complete left/right separation with drums all in the left channel, guitars all right. It sounds fantastic, why others have never followed is a surprise, although probably some have and I’m forgetting.
So OUTSIDEINSIDE was the terrific followup, and everything was all set for world domination. Then clunk. Promotors started blackballing them, beginning with Bill Graham’s Fillmores, because of volume. He seemed to have a mean streak that fellow, he did the same thing to Family. Then radio didn’t play either single from this second album and it all just went cold. Guitarist Leigh Stephens decides to leave. Boom. End of story. ‘Feathers From Your Tree’ was the second single, even came with a picture sleeve – and in headphones (like all the tracks on the album) it was a drug takers dream come true. Right up there with The Pretty Things’ SF SORROW and The Pink Floyd’s THE PIPER AT THE GATES albums. Sounds swirling and switching speakers at record pace. Dickie Peterson is one of the world’s greatest vocalists too, that’s just fact.
The Beatles lifted so much from these guys. Tell me ‘Yellow Submarine’, or lots of SGT PEPPER and MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR weren’t influenced by the work of The Bonzos, and I’ll know you haven’t bothered to listen to them. It may have been innocent flattery, but I’m not too sure about that. Paul McCartney did produce their hit, ‘I’m The Urban Spaceman’. He may have felt guilty. I do pick on The Beatles when I can, too vaudeville for me and they were quitters but admittedly had many good singles. It’s that Beatles vs Rolling Stones rivalry I can’t quite shake.
Last year, a friend at EMI in London sent me the entire set of Bonzo Dog Band reissues on cd. I still play them a lot, very worth seeking out. As for the 7″ vinyl, ‘Mr Apollo’ was the first to be released after they dropped the Doo Dah from their name. The US was lucky enough to see them at The Fillmore East, opening for Spirit and The Kinks, their first US shows in three or four years after the Musician Union’s ban, we’re talking 1969 and ARTHUR had just been released. This was October 17 & 18 to be exact.