Archive for the ‘Sirius’ Category

Bobby Fuller Four

Saturday, December 26th, 2015

BobbyFullerLetHerDance, Bobby Fuller Four, Mustang, Liberty

Listen: Let Her Dance / Bobby Fuller Four
Let

Released during the summer of ’65, ‘Let Her Dance’ somehow made merely a dent (# 133) on BILLBOARD’s Bubbling Under The Hot 100, sadly getting airplay only in Southern California.

Amazingly, the single didn’t spread like wildfire. It’s not like Los Angeles airplay couldn’t break a record. I still can’t believe it wasn’t a hit.

Apparently, more than those at the original label, Mustang thought so too. They proceeded to license it to Liberty Records, clearly expecting to take the song national as Mustang did later in the year with ‘I Fought The Law’. Why it wasn’t re-released as the followup to ‘I Fought The Law’ remains a mystery, given a few trade mentions in March ’66 that indeed it was scheduled. I suppose Liberty insisted if re-released, despite passing on ‘I Fought The Law’ later that year, it be via them or some such wrangle.

To be honest, Little Steven turned me on to this about five years ago. He plays it regularly on his Sirius radio channel. Sounds fantastic on the air as it must have that summer while driving along the Pacific Palisades, surf boards popping out the back of pink or aqua woodies. Foolishly, I hadn’t paid much attention prior.

Missing this when originally issued is indeed an embarrassing admission, but one that makes for endless records to discover as life moves on.

‘Let Her Dance’ remains a haunting record with a suspicious streak, one that blossomed in an unfortunate way. I was never sure why the single appeared on both the Mustang and Liberty labels, so decided to do some research, stumbling on Aaron Poehler’s ‘The Strange Case Of Bobby Fuller’. It’s a must-read.

Baron Daemon & The Vampires

Friday, October 30th, 2015

Listen: Ghost Guitars / Baron Daemon & The Vampires
Ghost

Here’s one I never ever hear about anywhere. Not since it came out and I was a kid, until today. Sirius radio are doing a ton of great Halloween programs this weekend, and this popped up on XMU Channel 35. See my screen shot below, apologies, it was sunny and I was driving. I couldn’t believe my eyes nor ears. Damn, I am impressed.

Even Roger Armstrong from Ace didn’t know details surrounding Baron Daemon & The Vampires. Only as a result of his THESE GHOULISH THINGS compilation did I mention them in the first place. So that’s how scarce they and their only single are.

‘Ghost Guitars’ was a very local release in the Syracuse area, I’m guessing around ’64. Lots of cities had their own AMERICAN BANDSTAND record hop programs. Given that Saturday afternoon scary movies were the rage, they were usually tied in with teen music, and in this case, a home town radio personality host done up in vampire gear.

The local guy who did all this was Mike Price. He mc’d the scary movies job, on which Baron Daemon was his alias. And he’s still living there today, having recently retired from WSYR, where he began his career in ’62. During Mike Price’s Syracuse tenure, while doubling as Baron Daemon, he released this single. It’s exactly the kind of record that resulted in The Cramps eventually festering into a top rock and roll band.

Spirit

Saturday, October 19th, 2013

Mechanical World / Spirit

Listen: Mechanical World / Spirit
Mechanical World / Spirit

Luckily, despite the revolution in stereophonic sound that was going hand in hand with the album format of 1968, most singles were still issued in mono. Such was the case for Spirit’s first release, on both the promo (listen above) and stock copies. ‘Mechanical World’ epitomized the dark side of the LSD generation, and defined late night radio. I always had fantasies of this and many tracks by The Doors being the soundtrack to driving through a pitch dark desert in the early hours. God knows why, I’d never even been to a desert. There wasn’t one near Syracuse although I certainly felt like I was growing up somewhere equally deserted, hence the possible connection in my brain.

I loved Spirit from the get go. They didn’t sound English which was a strict requirement, but thankfully they didn’t sound Americana either. Plus they looked good. LA bands tended to.

Spirit / I Got A Line On You

Listen: I Got A Line On You / Spirit
I Got A Line On You / Spirit

Somehow rather quickly, Spirit had a hit with their second 45, ‘I Got A Line On You’. It was welcomed. Their albums were great and hearing them on Top 40 radio made us all feel liberated. Things were pretty good on the airwaves. The Who and The Cream were getting some play, as were Big Brother & The Holding Company, Iron Butterfly and The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown. I was rather content.

Dark Eyed Woman / Spirit

Listen: Dark Eyed Woman / Spirit
Dark Eyed Woman / Spirit

‘Dark Eyed Woman’ was the lead track and first single from the difficult 3rd album CLEAR. Difficult (as a second album is known to be these days) because they’d had a hit despite the ‘album band’ and ‘live band’ habitat from which they came. Top 40 was developing it’s evil lack of loyalty way back then, and ‘Dark Eyed Woman’ didn’t get much play. But FM radio, much like today’s Sirius satellite stations, made up for it. Touring in support of it’s release, I finally got to see the band live. Despite how fantastic they were, and believe me, fantastic is putting it mildly, I was reeling from the support act that night (October 19, 1969): The Kinks.

It was The Kinks first US tour after the three year musician’s union ban. They had just released ARTHUR, much of which they played along with tracks from THE VILLAGE GREEN PRESERVATION SOCIETY, ‘Waterloo Sunset’, ‘Autumn Almanac’, ‘Sunny Afternoon’, ‘Death Of A Clown’ and ‘Til The End Of The Day’, their opening song. Jawdropping. I walked out of the venue never to be the same again.

I digressed, sorry.

1984 / Spirit

Listen: 1984 / Spirit
1984 / Spirit

Spirit released ’1984′, a non LP single, next. This was not a common move in the day. Still, it’s forever attached to Spirit’s CLEAR era, being of same time period. Actually, ’1984′ only ever appeared on LP once BEST OF SPIRIT was issued years later. The year 1984 seemed an eternity away on release and the record contributed to a political and ecological slant the band had taken from inception. Remember ‘Fresh Garbage’ from that first album?

Animal Zoo / Spirit

Listen: Animal Zoo / Spirit
Animal Zoo / Spirit

Many rightfully consider the original lineup’s fourth and final album, THE TWELVE DREAMS OF DR. SARDONICUS, to be their art rock pinnacle. At least I read something to that effect recently. The two singles released from it are seminal. In fact the first, ‘Animal Zoo’, came out seemingly months prior to the album. I swiped it from a local album rock station whose late night dj occasionally let me visit. I honestly don’t remember their call letters, and he was a rather unpleasant know-it-all. I once recall him adamantly arguing with me about Humble Pie, claiming all their members, instead of just one, were from The Small Faces (wrong) and that none were from The Herd or Spooky Tooth (wrong), which I desperately tried to point out as incorrect for his benefit. He wasn’t having it, his loss. Nonetheless, I would tolerate him to get the records.

Mr. Skin / Spirit USA

Listen: Mr. Skin / Spirit
Mr. Skin / Spirit

This became mine one summer night’s visit a month or so later, along with the Juicy Lucy, Sea Train and Vivian Stanshall singles.

Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

Listen: Alice Long / Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart
Alice

Specific probably to me alone, ‘Alice Long’ was right up there with the most named checked California songs of all time. This just reeked of an endless summer. Well that’s how I remember it anyway.

During the 60′s, bunches of records got Top 40 play made by guys a little too old to wear fringed haircuts and Carnaby Street fashions, but did regardless. It was even more noticeable once all the hip kids started to sleep in their clothes instead of iron them. Blame San Fransisco. I seem to remember The Association being in that old guys with squeaky clean threads space, Spanky & Our Gang, and yes Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart too. Despite great records, without Top 40 play, these acts were never going to have ROLLING STONE on their side and therefore basically doomed.

Luckily a few by Boyce & Hart did get heard, like ‘Alice Long’. Occasional singles would come on the air and instantly hit the refresh button, decades before a refresh button existed, like this one for me. We’d be riding around after school, wasting our parent’s gas, radio on, windows down and ‘Alice Long’ blaring out of the dash, all compressed up tight via a mono AM signal. Vivid as yesterday.

Why can’t Sirius do an oldies channel that plays mono singles mixes this way, from vinyl?

Sonny & Cher

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

Listen: Baby Don’t Go / Sonny & Cher
Baby

There aren’t many things as lasting as Sonny & Cher. I stumble on their records via radio or in any public place less and less and less. With the exception of ‘I Got You Babe’, and Sirius XM, their older singles are played literally never.

Wasn’t always the case. ‘I Got You Babe’ hit so big and wide that for a year or more, they were everywhere. Appearances on all the TV shows plus each had solo hits right next to their rapid output as a duo. At the peak, past labels were reissuing worthy songs that had flopped only nine to twelve months prior. Such was the case with ‘Baby Don’t Go’.

Damn if I don’t remember this one like yesterday. It was late winter/early spring and I think for a period, this was played more than the current Atco stuff. The two distinctive pieces that make ‘Baby Don’t Go’ so memorable to me are the rather unlikely but perfect harmonica and mandolin combination plus Sonny & Cher’s signature harmonizing, whereby Cher always sang the low parts against Sonny doing the highs.

And there you had it, timeless magic.

The Lovin’ Spoonful

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

Listen: Do You Believe In Magic / The Lovin’ Spoonful
Do

If you don’t subscribe to Sirius radio in NYC, you might need to go to England to hear something like this in your car. It may be far but still beats driving around the US scouring for a decent radio station. Anyway, being in London last week meant I caught this on the air, and it sounded, hate to say it, magical.

The width and variety that BBC’s Radio 2 covers in a day puts shame to US programmers in general. Thankfully, you can stream their stations easily nowadays.

But once was a moment when that looked to be in jeopardy. Seems the BBC is still funded by UK residents, like a tax or some such thing. A few were quite up in arms that non-UK residents got to enjoy the benefit of their publicly funded network for free. I still worry that could mean a block for we US listeners. Yikes.

Every single The Lovin’ Spoonful ever recorded was equal in quality and timelessness to ‘Do You Believe In Magic’. This just happened to be the one that jarred my memory to the fact.

Them

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Listen: I Can Only Give You Everything / Them
I

This came on Little Steven’s Sirius station yesterday. I was in the car, literally flying down the FDR. It was a bizarre Saturday, as though New York had been deserted. There was no traffic. None.

Not only did the mere sound of Them completely lift my mood, it also reminded me I’d never heard ‘I Can Only Give You Everything’ on the radio in my entire life. Released during summer ’66 makes it a good four, going on five decades later that the record is finally getting some airplay. A mitzvah indeed.

Like ‘Gloria’ before it, I recall ‘I Can Only Give You Everything’ being covered by seemingly every American punk band during the 60′s. In so doing, Them were immortalized and, I guess to Van Morrison’s annoyance, tarred with those horrible garage band shackles.

Make no bones about it mind you, ’66 was a great year for Them when it comes to US singles. Four in all, and every one locking their place in music history as being perfect: ‘Mystic Eyes’, ‘Call My Name’, ‘Richard Corey’ and this.

So when the very first notes came through the dash, my involuntary reaction cranked the volume, and in a way too, purposely forced me to miss the 23rd Street exit, Bobbie Graham‘s drumming so driving I needed to keep speeding along to catch the song’s priceless dynamic moment at :47, when that Farfisa organ drops right as the second verse begins.

Seriously, the combination made me feel a little high. New York’s skyline almost overpowering the senses on a warm yet chilly spring day, hearing this long forgotten piece of musical perfection loudly and basically having the FDR entirely to myself at 70 mph.

Womack & Womack

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Listen: Celebrate The World (Radio Edit) / Womack & Womack
Celebrate The World (Radio Edit) / Womack & Womack

I’m a huge fan of Sirius radio here in the US. Certainly compared to our totally tuckered terrestrial stations, it’s an oasis in a very dry desert. You see, Sirius, via it’s many channels, provides endless variety, with easily one hundred or so to pick from. But put the whole lot up against the UK’s BBC Radio 2, and even collectively, they can’t compete.

Not sure why or how, but every last presenter on BBC’s various stations pack more excitement and personality into their on-air style than many of those from Sirius in America. Here, there’s this persistent problem of a time warp delivery rut. Well, funny enough, not Bob Dylan. Nor most of Little Steven’s crew. And yes, Sirius does have Andrew Loog Oldham, but he kind of counts as English to me, clearly weened on UK radio.

Basically, my preference and the opinions above boil down to one thing. Variety. Not necessarily variety over that one hundred or so channel options, each with a narrow genre to offer, but as in programming variety within each show throughout the day.

Yes, Radio 2 has dedicated programs: Sounds Of The Sixties, Sounds Of The Seventies, specialty country or blues shows and such. But otherwise, each host and their producer pick a wide range of genres to mix within their respective daily time slots.

My absolute favorite being Janice Long. Having started with the BBC in ’82, it was on 6 Music that I first found a real affinity to her via The Dream Ticket, whereby she chose a deep, multi decade variety of live sessions from the station’s library, assembling them into a…dream ticket. In essence, a concert lineup one could only dream of.

Joining Radio 2 a few years back, there’s rarely a week goes by when I don’t listen to her most recent shows on demand, all archived for up to seven days. Never a dull moment and always a surprise or ten musically. Do yourself a favor.

Today, I did some Janice Long catching up, and once again, shook my head in happy disbelief. From The Honeybus, Ivor Culter, Alexis Korner and The Maytals, amongst many, to Womack & Womack, all in the span of a few programs from last week.

And not ‘Teardrops’ by Womack & Womack either. Instead ‘Celebrate The World’, closing track and fourth UK single from their flawless CONSCIENCE album. In England, this 7″ release made it to #14 in ’89, and was a perfect live performance finale, whereby the entire Womack clan would pile onstage for an extended ramp with the audience. Wow, those shows back in the day were so good.

Working for Island at the time, like most of the US staff, I found great frustration by the lack of radio and/or media support here for such a worthy album. Back in the UK, where it went platinum, this was not the case.

Well Janice Long gave ‘Celebrate The World’ a play on one of those shows I soundtracked my afternoon with today, and let me tell you, it sounded superb.

The Beatles

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Listen: I Want To Hold Your Hand / The Beatles
I Want To Hold Your Hand / The Beatles

A few weeks from now will mark yet another anniversary of The Beatles’ ED SULLIVAN SHOW debut in ’64 on February 9. Yes, forty eight years have passed since. Forty eight years! Scary, especially if you recall it, like I do. I wasn’t alone, but will readily admit it changed my life, like practically everything about it, despite being a little boy in his single digits. I never thought the same way about what I wanted to do when I grew up after that night, despite endless lectures from school guidance counselors to become a Math teacher, and not peruse a career in the record business. I think some of them may still be employed giving out such insightful advice.

Apparently, that first appearance is now considered a milestone in American pop culture and the official beginning of the British Invasion in music. The broadcast drew an estimated 73 million viewers, at the time a record for US television.

The Beatles performed five songs that evening including their then, newly achieved, first US #1: ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’. I might be accurate in saying I hadn’t heard this in a good five, maybe ten years. But leave it Little Steven on Sirius, suddenly there it was throbbing out of my dashboard. And it sounded fantastic. I got home and pulled the single right out, still practically untouched in it’s original picture sleeve above from so many years ago.

Not a hardcore Beatles admirer would be understating my self description for sure, but scanning over a singles discography as I did earlier, anyone would be an ignorant fool not to acknowledge their incredible run of endless stellar 45′s. Take a look sometime.

Prior to that US explosion, England was avalanched by Beatlemania during pretty much all of 1963. Having made their first appearance on Britain’s READY STEADY GO! that fall, logically, Vicki Wickham, the program’s talent manager and booker, who became the show’s producer, was serviced all the latest releases from the labels.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving weekend, 2010. Vicki, a dear friend nowadays, rang to say she’s found several thousand 45′s in her Manhattan storage unit, having completely forgotten they existed, and was I interested. Just try to guess how fast I tore over there and I’ll guarantee you it was twice that. Praise be, these were, and still are, the holy grail. I can’t even begin to describe it’s contents and revel in them constantly, filing these gems away ever so slowly. I never want it to end.

So pictured above, from Vicki Wickham’s original collection, not only the actual copy serviced to her at Rediffusion Television’s READY STEADY GO! offices, but one that very conveniently indicates the record’s November 29, 1963 UK release date. It’s also the copy streaming here, yes, the real thing.

Quite probably the same copy that secured them yet another booking on the program. I must ask Vicki to confirm that detail.

The Dictators

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Listen: Sleepin’ With The TV On / The Dictators
DictatorsSleepin.mp3

A bit of a baffling one here. Got to know Andy Shernoff, who wrote this, quite well via Joey Ramone. They were close friends way before I knew either, having played shows together in the early CBGB’s days. Logically, and given the small world we live in, Andy’s close to Monte Melnick, Mickey Leigh and Lindsay Hutton as well. So the fit was natural. But most importantly, he’s a super guy with never a bad word to say about anyone.

And his lifelong bandmate, Dick Manitoba, well same story. A real testament to strength, business sense and flawless musical instinct. Even though we all socialized often for the past twenty years, it wasn’t until tonight did I realize I’d not heard ‘Sleepin’ With The TV On’ for almost as long. How could this be?

Simple, it’s an overlooked, not true to the purists, representation of The Dictators’ harder sound. Instead, I suppose it was power pop, not a genre that brings out my loyalty either.But having caught Manitoba’s Sirius radio show earlier tonight in my new satellite equipped car, it suddenly dawned on me that the first thing I needed to revisit upon arriving home was this single. Which I just did.

True to memory, ‘Sleepin’ With The TV On’, by song’s end and as a result of Andy’s picture perfect chorus, is something else. Now I recall why I loved it so during it’s time of release. Still, the record is an anomaly when it comes to the band’s signature sound, and to quote Little Steven, they were “the connective tissue between the eras of The MC5, Stooges, The New York Dolls, and the punk explosion of the mid to late 1970s”. What’s to disagree about?

They were that and the originators of this classic singalong.

The Mamas & The Papas

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Listen: Twelve Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming To The Canyon) / The Mamas & The Papas
Twelve

Never in my life did I expect to say I fell in love with Mama Cass, but the day has come. Yes, reading DREAM A LITTLE DREAM OF ME: THE LIFE OF CASS ELLIOT by Eddi Fiegel allowed me to realize how much was missed during my empty life. Cass was clearly a great soul and this is a great book.

In their time, The Mamas & The Papas were everywhere, and despite the good songs, this Anglophile blotted the vision of them completely out of view. I mean, they looked pretty rough in comparison to The Small Faces, let’s say. And their name. Dreadful.

Having trolled through the world wide web as a result of my new found affection for Mama Cass, I did notice someone, somewhere, claiming they were America’s answer to The Beatles. No way. They deserve much more credit.

Combing back through their singles, anyone would need to admit, they were flawless. One classic after the other. A few still get heard today.

Not so with ‘Twelve Thirty’. Not in my world that is, but I never listen to terrestrial radio. I do have the balls to criticize it nonetheless, and am happy to take the risk of proclaiming ‘Twelve Thirty’ gets no play on the oldies format, bar Sirius. My brother-in-law Mitch argued differently just now, but I’m not buying it.

Written of course by John Phillips, it’s easy in hindsight to understand why the royalty of their 60′s and 70′s peers watched in awe of their output. The hooks, melodies and string arrangements that intertwine this, and all of his songs, remain unchallenged. Just when you think you know the track like you know your own being, another new, how the fuck did I not hear that before, twist slams you.

Possibly my favorite song at this very moment in time.

The Walker Brothers

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

walkerbrosshipuk, The Walker Brothers, Scott Walker, Philips, Smash
walkerbrosshipusa, The Walker Brothers, Scott Walker, Philips, Smash
walkerbrosshipps, The Walker Brothers, Scott Walker, Philips, Smash

US Picture Sleeve: Front (above) / Back (below)

walkerbrosshippsb, The Walker Brothers, Scott Walker, Philips, Smash

Listen: My Ship Is Coming In / The Walker Brothers
My Ship Is Coming In / The Walker Brothers

I will never forget the Friday night I walked into Two Guys Department store with my parents. As usual, I headed straight to the record department while they proceeded to do some weekly shopping. The singles were displayed all along the the tops of the album bins, each in their own metal rack holding about 25 copies. I wish I had photos.

There in brilliant full color, was the above Walker Brothers picture sleeved single, ‘My Ship Is Coming In’, a solid 25 copies freshly unboxed. I could hardly breathe. They looked fantastic in bulk. The sleeve just radiated about one hundred times more intensely than anything else in sight, like a messiah. I still get tingles looking at the cover. It brings me right back. I owned it minutes later.

I could not get home fast enough, freaking out in the dark car, holding this masterpiece but only getting to glimpse at it as we passed under traffic lights and street lamps. God knows how many times I played it that night. It was not guitar based British beat, but instead sounded like music grownups listened too. Yet clearly there was something addictive in it’s air. I decided then and there, I was going to love this record. That was that. I did then and I still do.

Years later Scott Walker would reveal that while all his contemporaries in London were modeling themselves after American blues greats, his attention was focused on becoming the next Eddie Fisher. How genius was this guy?

WalkerSunUKA, The Walker Brothers

walkerbrossunuk, The Walker Brothers, Scott Walker, Philips, Smash
wlakerbrossunusa, The Walker Brothers, Scott Walker, Philips, Smash

Listen: The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore) / The Walker Brothers
The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Anymore) / The Walker Brothers

The world was not ready for the followup to ‘My Ship Is Coming In’. Mine certainly wasn’t. How could The Walker Brothers possibly up the perfection of that record? Then along comes ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)’, a flop a few years earlier for Franki Valli. He and The Four Seasons had loads of great records, and he’s no slouch in the vocal department. But Scott Walker he is not, no one is.

I swear, this record can still stop me in my tracks when it comes up on the ipod or BBC’s Radio 2. I heard it on the 60′s Sirius radio channel aboard a JetBlue flight recently. As diverse and truly exciting that the many other songs were, this just grabbed the prize unchallenged.

I saw Matt Pinfield the other day. He had Matt & Kim on his morning WRXP radio show, so I went along. Pinfield is the most kind hearted and passionate music fan, really knows his stuff, loves records. We worked together at Columbia and got connected at the hip. Somehow the subject of ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)’ came up. Almost in unison, we both blurted out nearly identical sentences.

“This may be the greatest single of all time.”

Deservedly, it spent a month at #1 in the UK. See the three consecutive NME charts below, reprinted from 40 YEARS OF THE NME CHARTS. Despite not one US TV appearance or live show, it did get played here and had a decent chart run, peaking at #13 in BILLBOARD. It should have, at least, gone Top 10 but given the many singles that never ever charted, there’s some contentment in it’s placing.

nme4_66, 40 Years Of The NME Charts

Tom Jones

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Listen: It’s Not Unusual / Tom Jones
Listen: It's Not Unusual / Tom Jones

Everyone knows Tom Jones. Most don’t know that he began his professional life as the powerful front guy in Tommy Scott & The Senators, from home turf Wales. And during that period, the first person who tried bringing him to the public’s attention was Joe Meek. A few of those early recordings they made together, and I believe there were four, surfaced on Tower Records in the US not long after his initial success on Decca UK and their American outlet, Parrot. Someday soon I’ll post one.

Meanwhile, his first release for Decca, ‘Hide And Seek’, got no traction or attention. Second single ‘It’s Not Unusual’ skyrocketed despite the BBC’s lack of belief and airplay for the record. Massive at the time, and well played on the US oldies stations for decades, it wasn’t until a week back, while waiting for Kim to show up for dinner in the bar of The Lodge, did it suddenly come onto their house system. I figured it was an ipod playlist, but upon inquiring, learned it to be a stream from the Frank Sinatra station on Pandora radio. Wow – this whole Pandora thing is clearly becoming a major factor in the rapid listenership decline of foul US commercial radio, satellite’s Sirius/XM excluded. I’m no doubt one of the last to discover this good Pandora news. But with the onset of the Ford’s Focus’ groundbreaking internet ready technology, the hour glass on snail paced commercial FM programming instincts and decision makers has officially been turned over.

After ‘It’s Not Unusual,’ Decca/Parrot released a handful of singles that dwindled chart wise, all in Tom Jones’ forceful, RnB powerhouse vocal style. When Top 5 results evaded his followup 45′s like ‘With These Hands’, ‘Stop Breaking My Heart’ and ‘Sixteen Tons’, the label heads guided him toward daytime radio ballads. Given his undeniable voice, many of these are essentials in my collection too. ‘Detroit City’ and ‘I’m Coming Home’ of particular note.

What I did realize though, ‘It’s Not Unusual’ seems to have passed beyond that cut off date in the oldies radio world, and now, if played, would be a bit of an oasis, as is, say ‘Lola’, these days. That is, of course, if one is forced to endure your short playlist, local oldies station, religiously puking up the same researched standards. At least that’s the case with the very, very tired WCBS-FM here in New York City. Okay, some greats do get spun, but they’re basically overplayed beyond enjoyment (‘California Girls’, ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’, ‘I Got You’, ‘Respect’) and so a nice reminder last week of Tom Jones’ greatness via the Pandora death knell to stations like the aforementioned.

Jerry Lee Lewis

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

jerryleelewissmashep, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bob Dylan, Sirius

Listen: High School Confidential / Jerry Lee Lewis JerryLeeLewisHigh.mp3

“Sounding as good as the day it was recorded”. Bob Dylan thinks so. Me too.

Have you ever listened to Bob Dylan’s THEME TIME RADIO program on Sirius? It is the best radio I have ever heard. Honestly, right up there with a lot of the BBC’s output through the years. Mind you, he has an army of researchers helping out, and credit is due there as well. For true, THEME TIME RADIO is simply worth the price of a Sirius subscription.

So yeah, he played this one the other day – well I heard it the other day – it could’ve been a repeat. I always hoped The Cramps would cover ‘High School Confidential’. They would have shredded it.

This is from a precious, four song, promo only 7′, sent round to radio and press when Smash signed him, and licensed some of his original Sun sides for a GOLDEN HITS package. It’s a beauty, right?

But can you imagine seeing Jerry Lee Lewis in his prime? I saw him play New York about fifteen years ago, he’d signed to Sire at the time. I always say either you’re the real deal or you’re not, therefore age doesn’t really matter. Think, Little Richard vs Candlebox. And Jerry Lee Lewis is clearly the real deal. Obviously the stage show was not as physically chaotic as in the aforementioned heyday, but still he radiated a kind of ‘higher form of life’ glare.

Next day he turned up in the office to see Seymour Stein, who was just down the hall. The glare is even more intense up close, strange odor (not bad, but strange) and his skin was a grey-ish, lavender color. It was all just fantastic.

Mark – Almond / Johnny Almond Music Machine / Jon-Mark

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

markalmondwhat,Blue Thumb, Deram, Bob Krasnow, John Mayall, Marianne Faithfull, Columbia, Patto, Joe Cocker & The Grease Band, Mark - Almond, Johnny Almond Music Machine,  Jon - Mark

Listen: What Am I Living For / Mark – Almond MarkAlmondWhatAmILiving.mp3

markalmondcityusa, Blue Thumb, Deram, Bob Krasnow, John Mayall, Marianne Faithfull, Columbia, Patto, Joe Cocker & The Grease Band, Mark - Almond, Johnny Almond Music Machine,  Jon-Mark

Listen: The City / Mark – Almond MarkAlmondTheCity.mp3

I was lucky enough to see one of the early shows John Mayall did in support of his then brand new album TURNING POINT, basically himself, Jon Mark, Johnny Almond and Steven Thompson. A fantastic drumless lineup – so different at the time. If you have the album, well the live show was exactly the same. A perfect evening.

Always on the move musically, John Mayall soon reinvented himself, possibly due to the formation of Mark – Almond. They too, were a super good act live. Several of the songs from their first two albums on Bob Krasnow’s Blue Thumb label were progressive radio staples, including ‘The City’. It was frankly shocking to hear it on a JetBlue flight recently via their Sirius radio feed. It had been years since that came out of any radio. Got to hand it to Sirius, they play a lot of great stuff.

Learn something everyday: I was completely sure ‘What Am I Living For’ had charted, even peaking in 30′s/40′s on Billboard’s Top 100. Not so. Never even entered. I heard it often as a current during the summer of ’72. It was a high point of the live show as well.

Mark – Almond double billed often with plain and simple guitar bands during their 4-5 year run. Despite the company, every audience listened and appreciated their undeniable musical superiority. Jon Mark, the consummate acoustic, 12 string player, with Johnny Almond at his side, swaying to the music, eyes closed. His seemingly euphoric state took up almost as much stage time as his playing, which by the way, was superb.

jalmonduka, Blue Thumb, Deram, Bob Krasnow, John Mayall, Marianne Faithfull, Columbia, Patto, Joe Cocker & The Grease Band, Mark - Almond, Johnny Almond Music Machine,  Jon-Mark

jalmondusa, Blue Thumb, Deram, Bob Krasnow, John Mayall, Marianne Faithfull, Columbia, Patto, Joe Cocker & The Grease Band, Mark - Almond, Johnny Almond Music Machine,  Jon-Mark

Listen: Solar Level / Johnny Almond Music Machine JohnnyAlmond.mp3

Prior to the John Mayall association and subsequent Mark – Almond period, Johnny Almond made a few albums for Deram’s jazz leaning long player roster (along with the likes of Henry Lowther, The John Cameron Quartet and The Mike Westbrook Orchestra). All highly desirable now, primarily for their sampling potentials, it’s interesting to think that the label would actually release singles from said endeavors, which even more oddly, I ended up liking a lot.

jonmarknightcomesdownukb, Blue Thumb, Deram, Bob Krasnow, John Mayall, Marianne Faithfull, Columbia, Patto, Joe Cocker & The Grease Band, Mark - Almond, Johnny Almond Music Machine,  Jon - Mark

jonmarkus, Blue Thumb, Deram, Bob Krasnow, John Mayall, Marianne Faithfull, Columbia, Patto, Joe Cocker & The Grease Band, Mark - Almond, Johnny Almond Music Machine,  Jon-Mark

Listen: Night Comes Down / Jon-Mark JonMarkNightComes.mp3

Jon Mark, in fact, started years earlier, playing guitar on various Marianne Faithfull singles, like ‘Come And Stay With Me’ and ‘Summer Nights’. It was during that period (’65) that he too recorded a version of the Shel Talmy written ‘Night Comes Down’, which I post a few days back by The Mickey Finn in a much more psychedelicized style.

Spyder Turner

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

spyderstand, MGM, Spyder Turner, Billy Stewart, Ben E. King, Sirius, James Brown, Eddie Kendricks

Listen: Stand By Me / Spyder Turner Spyder.mp3

This version of ‘Stand By Me’ is the one way too many people overlooked or more likely, sadly never heard – despite it being a big US hit (#3 Pop, #12 RnB) in ’67. The accompanying album is great too. If you stumble on a copy, buy it.

Credit to Sirius Radio. I caught this one while listening during a recent JetBlue flight. I don’t recall the station’s name, maybe The Joint or something like that.

A possible blame for his short career may indeed be MGM Records. They just didn’t have the roster, and therefore the leverage, when it came to RnB. A+ for trying though.

Listen through until the end – he does some killer vocal impersonations. The Billy Stewart take is spot on and Jackie Wilson’s is priceless. They’re all pretty sweet.

R.E.M.

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

remkenneth, R.E.M. , Warner Brothers

Listen: What’s The Frequency Kenneth? / R.E.M. REMKenneth.mp3

It must be the mix that got me. The guitar is really loud – in a good way. Pete Buck’s a nice guy, hung with him on many an occasion, big record collector and music fan. But talk about a great single. Like the band or not – it’s hard to switch this one off when it hits the radio, which it did on my JetBlue flight the other day.

Are they the best airline or what, offering Sirius radio instead of the usual pre-programmed genre stations. I Sirius surf from takeoff to landing every last flight. If you don’t have Sirius radio, you are missing out. It’s like penance for the past 30 years of radio programming sins. Please God let it survive.

The Standells

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

The Standells - Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear Black

Listen: Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White / The Standells StandellsGoodGuys.mp3

Most people were disappointed by follow up singles, I was usually the opposite. Accepting that my tastes fell off the straight and narrow, the mid chart followups pleased me more every time. Like with this one, I always had wished they were the bigger hits. A real testament to this song’s quality came when The Cramps started covering it during the Kid Congo era.

I had seen The Standells open for The Rolling Stones, along with The McCoys, on July 6, 1966. While trolling backstage to nervously reacquaint The Rolling Stones with myself (as if they cared) – having gotten into their dressing room the previous October (see my Alvin Robinson post for the full story) – I stumbled on most of The Standells. They looked old and kind of fake to this little kid. Indeed, they weren’t true beat group long hairs and were slightly advanced in years having done the early 60′s LA circuit during the surf days. Never mind. I was way more interested in seeing The Rolling Stones. Years later I did regret not knowing enough about The Standells history at the time. Like, for instance, that Gary Walker from The Walker Brothers had once been a member. Missed opportunity, I’m ashamed to say.

This followup to ‘Dirty Water’ was all over my local station that summer (see local WOLF chart below). God, it sounded fantastic on the air. Bless him, Little Steven plays it on his Sirius channel, but unfortunately, it might be the remastered, digitally polished and shined stereo version. So just in case, here my friends, is the mono single, taken right off my original 7″ purchased at WT Grants that very summer.

WOLF charts 7 23 1966

Wailers

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Out Of Our Tree / Wailers

Listen: Out Of Our Tree / Wailers WailersOutOfTree.mp3

Imagine growing up and hearing this stuff on the radio. It happened to me. See my post on The Riot Squad from two days ago (March 1) with the local Syracuse radio survey. Even I couldn’t believe all the seminal singles WOLF played when reading it over. Probably would have done better in school if hadn’t been for that station. I couldn’t concentrate.

It’d been ages since I pulled this one out of the shelf. The past several years have seen a religious honoring of 60′s garage rock – so much so that I don’t need to play much of it at home anymore. And now that Holly over at Sirius gave me a radio, Little Steven’s Underground Garage covers me totally. I heard The Hullaballoos on there last week. Last time I heard them on the radio was……1965.

‘Out Of Our Tree’ has to be at the top of it’s genre. Fuck me does it soar! Not many singles swing as hard as this one.

It eventually peaked at #3 at WOLF (see below – click to enlarge). Do you think any other station in the country, outside Tacoma, their home town, even played it?

WOLF 4-30-66

Love

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

My Little Red Book / Love

Listen: My Little Red Book / Love
My

7 And 7 Is / Love

Listen: 7 And 7 Is / Love
7

Love Jukebox tab

Above: Jukebox Tab filled out by Arthur Lee

Stephanie Knows Who / Love

Listen: Stephanie Knows Who / Love
Stephanie

She Comes In Colors / Love

Listen: She Comes In Colors / Love
She

Orange Skies / Love

Listen: Orange Skies / Love
Orange

Que Vida / Love

Listen: Que Vida / Love
Que

Alone Again Or / Love

Alone Again Or / Love

Alone Again Or / Love

Listen: Alone Again Or / Love
Alone

Softly To Me / Love

Listen: Softly To Me / Love
Softly

Your Mind And We Belong Together / Love

Your Mind And We Belong Together / Love

Listen: Your Mind And We Belong Together / Love
Your

LoveEverlastingUS, Love, Arthur Lee, Blue Thumb, Bob Krasnow

The Everlasting First / Love

Listen: The Everlasting First / Love
The

What do Love have in common with The High Numbers, JJ Cale, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, Mose Allison and Rockpile? Well, in this case, Tom Petty. He played them all, and more, on his Sirius/XM radio show, which I heard for the first time on the red eye from Seattle to New York Saturday night.

I don’t own a satellite capable device having been so disinterested in American radio for decades, and very bitter that it’s dummied down music as being a big part of culture in the US. Therefore figured it was more of the same. A few friends have, to be fair, tried convincing me otherwise. The very first time I heard it, on one of the now partnered networks, was in Kimberly Boley’s office at Sony. I asked her what she was listening to and she said satellite radio and that she loved it. I said sure but do they play The Cramps, just to throw a real wrench into the moment. She dialed up their station that most likely would, and The Cramps were playing that very second. Swear to God. I guess I should’ve taken it as a sign.

The flight was meant to be a time to finally get some rest. I’d been on Matt & Kim’s tour for several days and it had been non stop, stay awake. But this flight I’d earmarked as a sleeper. That was not meant to be. Spent the whole time flipping round these channels, then started jotting down some of the things I’d heard and kinda liked (The Soft Pack, Titus Andronicus), and some records I needed to look up once in the house to be sure I had (Chuck Jackson & Maxine Brown, Titus Turner, Bobby Womack). It was a noticeable change hearing so much variety: Lemon Jelly, Roxy Music (two stations playing two different songs simultaneously), Mott The Hoople, Eurythmics, LCD Soundsystem, Joan Armatrading, Nick Drake, The Nice. It was endless. You see, there is room for everyone. What a democratic concept.

There’s one thing that hasn’t changed though: the tired, lazy, hokey US DJ presenter. Does a building need to fall on these people? Unlike the BBC, and Radio 1 in particular, that presentation is lightning fast sonically and annoucer-wise. So with the luxury of access to BBC stations (Radio 1, 2, 6, Radio London) via internet streaming and my new discovery of satellite, I think things are pretty tolerable out there. I’d get subscribed up if I ever drove anywhere.

Back to Tom Petty’s program. He played Love’s ’7 And 7 Is’ on this particular episode. Interestingly named, I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Love. Many times, I crave hearing the music and thoroughly enjoy it. Other times, it sounds so lame, and twee, and overrated.

Some strong opposing opinions out there about Arthur Lee too. Met him the one time, and he was cool about doing the jukebox tab, but I was with Gary Umbo, a Love hardcore who I’m pretty sure Arthur knew and was friendly with. Undeniably some great singles though, and if you’re like me, it’s hard to forget the first time hearing ‘My Little Red Book’. It was a pretty big hit everywhere rightfully. Then ’7 and 7 Is’ came out, and that was the loudest cut record I’d ever heard. You can’t turn it down. Just try.

When I worked at Elektra in ’85, our mailroom guy Mark Cohen came down to my office telling me there was a closet that was about to be part of the renovation underway to create more office space. It was full of old chairs, cabinets, typewriters AND some boxes of old 45′s. Was I interested, they’ll be tossed otherwise.

It was a treasure trove. About 200 singles in all, and a virtual history of Elektra’s early 7′s. So many amazing things, I never separated the lot, kept them as they were. Loads of Tom Rush, The Voices Of East Harlem, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Beefeaters, Tim Buckley, plus a mixture of US and UK presses.

Every Love single was there, promos and stock, and some UK copies as well. Many are pictured here. Note the withdrawn copy of ‘Stephanie Knows Who’ / ‘Orange Skies’ (EK 45608). The catalog number was re-assigned as EK 45608 (REV). I’m guessing to indicate ‘revised’, replacing the A side with ‘She Comes In Colors’. I knew of the switch but wasn’t aware original copies had been pressed until that day.

Also, for some reason unknown as it wasn’t an Elektra master, the pile included a UK pressing of ‘The Everlasting First’. It was originally released in the US on Blue Thumb, Bob Krasnow’s label. Although he was our chairman and boss at Elektra, he had no idea why the record was included there either. “Maybe I gave Holtzman a copy then, and yeah that is Jimi playing the lead”. Thankfully he didn’t reclaim it.

Not long after, the front desk somehow decided to forward through an irate Arthur Lee to my line. I pick up and he launched into a rage about unpaid royalties and how Elektra, and even I myself, were stealing from him, so much so that he had to move in with his aunt in Nashville or some such place. I was very unequipped to handle this one, so politely sent him through to Gary Casson in business affairs, where I’m sure the rampage ended abruptly.