Archive for the ‘Heads Hands & Feet’ 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.

Eddie & The Hot Rods

Friday, December 13th, 2013

AT THE SOUND OF SPEED / Eddie & The Hot Rods:

Side 1:

Listen: Hard Drivin’ Man / Eddie & The Hot Rods
Hard

Listen: Horseplay / Eddie & The Hot Rods
Horseplay

Side 2:

Listen: Double Checkin’ Woman / Eddie & The Hot Rods
Double

Listen: All I Need Is Money / Eddie & The Hot Rods
All

There were few better live bands in the world than Eddie & The Hot Rods around the time of this EP. Depending on the moment, probably no better one.

They are seldom credited with putting the bpm’s back into sluggish radio rock, the type of poisonous stuff Lee Abrams was about to turn into a successful US format, proceeding to keep punk off of America’s airwaves for two decades. By then, bands several generations younger were glorifying or respectfully copying the original idea. Regardless, most of punk’s, and in the case of Eddie & The Hot Rods, pub rock/pre-punk bands never got the massive exposure they deserved.

AT THE SOUND OF SPEED EP followed it’s predecessor LIVE AT THE MARQUEE during the summer of 1977, almost exactly one year later. The former reintroduced the EP format to the UK singles charts after a solid decade, peaking at #43.

As a result, Island did a short series of EP’s at the time, including those with new music from by The Jess Roden Band and Michael Nesmith, as well as reissue four song jobs by Toots & The Maytals, Jimmy Cliff, The Spencer Davis Group and even Heads, Hands & Feet.

They’re a nice series to collect.

Joe South

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Listen: Birds Of A Feather / Joe South
Birds

Turns out my tastes were always partial toward Joe South.

WNDR was playing ‘Birds Of A Feather’ upon release, and my then close friend/next door neighbor had bought a copy. The record became a regular after school spin for ages. We’d load up on candy and chips, sodas, then converge on his parent’s house from about 3 to 5pm daily. The place became a juvenile hangout for our clique, basically young aspiring record fanatics searching for their first high. Seriously, we’d mix Coca-Cola and aspirin with drips of alcohol from his parents liquor cabinet trying hard for a buzz, always to no avail. We couldn’t risk his folks noticing the slowly depleting bottles, hence the required rationing. Certain singles, like Joe South’s, made up our soundtrack.

Joe South, in hindsight, had also written Billy Joe Royal’s ‘Down In The Boondocks’, a very early memory from winter ’65. Great song, and personally an easy one to identify with. Being banished to small town upstate New York, pining to live in a big, big city full of deeply stocked record stores was my apparent fate. A little boy presumably sentenced to life in said boondocks.

I would argue that Joe South’s songs and especially his singles collectively inspired many an Americana music band, not only US but also British. The Flying Burrito Brothers and Sea Train from here or Brinsley Schwarz and Heads, Hands & Feet from there come to mind. It’s my instinct at least. Joe South seems to be the one guy forever overlooked when the media instead busies itself siting Johnny Cash, Hank Williams or The Band as the catalysts.

Heads, Hands & Feet

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

headshandsfeetonewomanuk,Heads Hands & Feet, Atco, Atlantic, Tony Colton, Chas Hodges

headshandsfeetonewomanusa, Heads Hands & Feet, Atco, Atlantic, Tony Colton, Chas Hodges

Listen: One Woman / Heads, Hands & FeetHHFOneWoman.mp3

Albums came in rapid succession during the 70′s. The first by Heads, Hands & Feet was a double, and not long after came it’s followup, TRACKS. These were issued on Island UK and Capitol US, during the era when those Capitol labels were that beautiful lime green. I wasn’t paying much attention to the band, they had an intentionally American sound. I was put off.

Fast forward to summer ’72. They’re third on the bill to The J. Geils Band and Humble Pie. I was certainly not about to miss Steve Marriott. So, we got there early to see Heads, Hands & Feet. After all, they were English. By now, I was becoming a fan. They’d recently switched labels to Atco/Atlantic, and their single ‘One Woman’ was pretty great. I particularly appreciated that lead singer, Tony Colton, doubled as a producer for one of my all time favorite albums: ON THE BOARDS by Taste.

Plain and simple, they were tremendous live. I would say they stole the show, certainly preferring them to the headliner by miles. At this point, Peter Frampton had left second-on-the-bill, Humble Pie, but it was sure fun being invited back to the Holiday Inn by Steve Marriott for a party. More on that in some other post.

So yes, Heads, Hands & Feet ripped up a storm, and their extended version of ‘One Woman’, the show closer, took the cake. I mean these guys were super great musicians. You can hear it in the recordings. Guitarist Albert Lee has been cited as a bit of a virtuoso over the years, and he certainly was on fire that night. Chas Hodges on bass was equally important to that fire, playing off of Albert Lee almost like a second guitarist.

We wormed our way into their crowded dressing room and they seemed somewhat impressed to have a few fans. It was fun complimenting Tony Colton on his work with Taste. I remember him being appreciative, and a bit surprised. All in all, it was obvious they weren’t having a very good time, and I’m pretty sure they called it a day soon afterwards. Too bad.

The Shotgun Express

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

ShotgunExpress, The Shotgun Express, Rod Stewart, Peter Bardens, Mick Fleetwood, Peter Green, Columbia

Listen: I Could Feel The Whole World Turn Around / The Shotgun Express ShotgunExpress.mp3

’65 – ’66 was a busy time for so many major stars as they did a non stop jig of musical chairs, seeming all a bit desperate in hindsight.

In this internet age, where everything is at your fingertips instantly, and anyone can record some songs with only their laptop, it’s wildly ironic that in the 60′s, bands, records and record deals moved much faster than today. Within months you could jump ship to another company, with two, four or more singles under your arm ready to release. Yet nowadays, despite all our resources, it seems to take like sometimes two years for a band to issue a followup.

Again, none of that was the case back then. And talk about musical chairs, Jimmy Page is rumored to have been on dozens, maybe hundreds of hits and flops as an in demand session player and John Paul Jones too. Rod Stewart went from solo deal to a very short stint as vocalist with The Kinks (thank God and heaven above that didn’t work out) to Long John Baldry & The Hoochie Coochie Band, on to Steampacket – a sort of super star ensemble that featured Baldry, Stewart, Brian Auger, Julie Driscoll, Micky Waller and others, back to a solo contract (this time recording ‘Shake’ with The Brian Auger Trinity on backup), then onto The Shotgun Express. Often viewed as a poor man’s Steampacket supergroup, with members Peter Green, Mick Fleetwood, Peter Bardens (later of Camel) and female vocal sparring partner, the unknown Beryl Marsden, they lasted only a few months, but it didn’t hinder a singles deal with Columbia UK and this lone, flop 7′ release, by official NME chart position that is. Over at pirate station Radio Caroline, it had a decent first week at # 25, unfortunately also it’s peak, by two weeks later, it was gone from their Top 50.

Always collectable mostly due to it’s various members instead of the music, on first spin, it’s a big let down – more often a “what the hell did I spend all that money on this dog of a record for?” Even I thought that too, yet on second listen, I quite liked the obvious frustration of it’s members sounding ‘forced’ into recording a track against their instincts, back in the day when you obeyed your label, their chosen producer and accompanying material. I kinda think it’s pretty great now, and not only because of that tension, I like the song too. Plus it’s a co-write by a favorite: Heads, Hands & Feet vocalist/Taste producer Tony Colton.