Archive for the ‘Elton John’ Category

Fairport Convention

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

FairportSirB, Fairport Convention, Island

Listen: Sir B. McKenzie’s Daughter’s Lament For The 77th Mounted Lancers Retreat From The Straights Of Loch Knombe, In The Year Of The Lord 1727, On The Occasion Of The Announcement Of Her Marriage To The Laird Of Kinleanie / Fairport Convention FairportSirB.mp3

Although the song title earned the Guinness Book award for ‘longest ever’, Fairport Convention were guaranteed not to have a hit single because of it. Besides, this was oddly relegated to the B side. A last remnant of Richard Thompson’s days with the band, by the time of it’s release, he was gone.

I was desperate to own this single, not having been included on FULL HOUSE, their current album at the time. Far from being amongst the majority vote, I considered the new four piece lineup, sans Thompson, their best yet. And although the prior release, LEIGE AND LIEF got, and still gets, all the praise, it’s FULL HOUSE hands down that’s my favorite. Possibly due to it coinciding with my first ever Fairport Convention concert, supporting Traffic. A wondrous night that. I was spellbound.

FairportJohnLee, Fairport Convention, Island
FairportJohnLeePS, Fairport Convention, Island

Listen: John Lee / Fairport Convention FairportJohnLee.mp3

Less spellbound were the critics. Everyone missed Richard Thompson and Sandy Denny. Okay, I get it, but Dave Swarbrick and Simon Nicol were equally powerful, unsung frontmen. Tiny Dave in dark blue platform boots swirling around the stage, attacking his violin, and creating a whirlwind of sound and nuts-ness. Showmanship in addition to being a superb songwriter. It was Dave Swarbrick who wrote all of these A sides. What the fuck’s not to like?

Their next album, BABBACOMBE LEE, ruled my world. That tour was a special night out for us British music followers, being sandwiched between The Kinks and Lindisfarne. This my friends was heaven on earth, the absolute best place to be in the entire solar system.

‘John Lee’, one the the album’s two singles, still brings back that raging blizzard of March 1, 1972. We’d driven through blinding snow for well over an hour. Being pre-cell phone days, I was terrified of finding the show’d been cancelled once we arrived and approached Kleinhand’s Music Hall with a deadly pit in the stomach. Besides, this was my first date with Corinne, who finally agreed to accept an invitation out. Please God, make it all happen.

Miracle. The show went on as planned, thankfully. It was in the stars I guess.

Let me tell you about it: This was Lindisfarne’s first ever US date, though you’d never have known. ‘Fog On The Tyne’ made it clear this was going to be a very English night. Bring it on, we had waited long for this.

Not to worry, Fairport Convention, despite being of the folk rock classification, powered that stage the moment they hit. Straight into ‘Walk Awhile’, “Sir B. McKenzie’s…’, ‘The Journeyman’s Grace’, ‘Sickness And Diseases’, ‘Sloth’ and the above ‘John Lee’, Even the balcony was jigging in the aisles, or at least they thought they were.

Then came The Kinks. At this point, in their high camp era, Dave decked out in a tailored tangerine red suit and Ray with bright green velvet jacket and clown sized bow tie, perfectly sloppy, opening with ‘Till The End Of The Day’, then satiating us with ‘The Village Green Preservation Society’, ‘Victoria’, ’20th Century Man’, ‘Death Of A Clown’, ‘Apeman’, ‘Dedicated Follower Of Fashion’, ‘Holloway Jail’, ‘Autumn Almanac’, ‘Have A Cuppa Tea’, ‘Arthur’ and ‘Waterloo Sunset’. Sweet Jesus have mercy!

FairportRosie

Listen: Rosie / Fairport Convention FairportRosie.mp3

“Rosie’ is as vital a song and single in Fairport Convention’s history as any of the others, which by the way, seem to get all the name checks. It came to represent the beginning of a comradery amongst former members that eventually defined lineups ahead, whereby any or many would float in and out of the band.

For this one, it was Sandy Denny who guested on the call and response type chorus, hinting at the full time member she would return to be just a year or so down the road. For proof of the fantastic vocal clarity she could bring to any song, just listen to ‘Rosie’.

FairportWhitePS

FairportWhite, Fairport Convention, Island

Listen: White Dress / Fairport Convention FairportWhiteDress.mp3

Supporting the reunion album, RISING FOR THE MOON with another Anglophile crushing US package (Caravan and Renaissance), the horribly under attended September 24, 1975 stop in Rochester had to be a demoralizing, why-are-we-here moment. Unfortunately, the stark, vast theater seemed ironically fitting during ‘White Dress’, their most haunting track ever, and in some ways, most powerful simply via Sandy Denny’s ability to evoke chills so effortlessly.

As with her very own version of Elton John’s ‘Candle In The Wind’, a solo single from ’78, ‘White Dress’ can be overwhelming, and many times, still challenges my courage to play it all the way through.

Mr. Bloe

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

Groovin' With Mr. Bloe / Mr. Bloe

Listen: Groovin’ With Mr. Bloe / Mr. Bloe
Name

In keeping with my previous posts about novelty songs, I was playing this a few weeks back during the holiday break. Phil and I had a late one, basically our own Northern Soul Allnighter. It was one of the many singles we’d dug out.

To be honest, ‘Groovin’ With Mr. Bloe’ always sounded average not only to me but every one I knew when originally released years back. My Anglophile friends and I would blag or buy anything in the UK charts, and this was an immediate let down. But once blessed as Northern, the single suddenly had a new glow. The record’s even in THE ESSENTIAL NORTHERN SOUL PRICE GUIDE, so there. Phil says he always gets requests for it when DJing, in England at least.

71-75 New Oxford / Mr. Bloe

Listen: 71-75 New Oxford / Mr. Bloe
Name

Mr. Bloe Press Release

A collaboration between Mr. Bloe, who were actually Hookfoot in disguise, and Elton John, ’71-75 New Oxford’ became a follow up single one year later. Titled after the address of the DJM Records office, it’s pretty valuable nowadays, both sides being Elton John’s only instrumentals. Luckily, this copy, from Tony King’s collection, still retained the original press release (above).

Long John Baldry

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Listen: When The Sun Comes Shining Thru’ / Long John Baldry
When

Long John Baldry, as with Georgie Fame and Alan Price, was another guy from the early 60′s London blues and soul club circuit. Then known as Long John Baldry & The Hoochie Coochie Men, he and his band can be found on numerous schedules from The Flamingo and The Marquee clubs, double billing with several similar up and coming American RnB music enthusiasts, all hell bent on reinterpreting their worshiped heroes.

Like with yesterday’s post, he too took a more commercial route as the 70′s approached, successfully achieving mainstream pop hits in England. A switch of labels in both the UK and US, as well a change in musical style and the recruitment of Tony Macaulay as producer resulted in ‘Let The Heartaches Begin’, which went to #1 in Britain during November of ’67. A year later, ‘When The Sun Comes Shining Thru”, written by Manfred Mann’s lead vocalist Mike D’Abo, went Top 30, although neither caught much traction in America.

Around ’68, Tony Macaulay began cornering many of my favorite records, either as writer, producer and in some cases, both. Current day British pop had become his forte with Scott Walker, Pickettywitch, The Marmalade and The Foundations amongst his successes. I guess he had a sound, and quite frankly, in my world, these two were a perfect pair.

Come ’71 though, Long John Baldry had reverted back to his original boogie woogie style, as he called it. Teaming up with Elton John and Rod Stewart as producers, both struggling newcomers in the early 60′s but by then successful superstars, afforded their old friend some decent US traction. Good for John Baldry of course, but for me, the music wasn’t as much fun nor more memorable than that period anchored by Tony Macaulay and ‘When The Sun Comes Shining Thru”.

Savoy Brown / The Nice / Family

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

Savoy Brown The Nice Family Poster

The Weaver's Answer / Strange Band

Listen: The Weaver’s Answer / Family
The Weaver's Answer / Family

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.

The Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack / The Nice

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.

Made Up My Mind / Savoy Brown

Listen: Made Up My Mind / Savoy Brown
Made Up My Mind / Savoy Brown

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.

I'm Tired / Savoy Brown

Listen: I’m Tired / Savoy Brown
I'm Tired / Savoy Brown

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:

WHFM 3-5-70

WHFM 11-5-70

WHFM 12-4-69

Thunderclap Newman

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Thunderclap Newman USA

Listen: Accidents / Thunderclap Newman
Accidents / Thunderclap Newman

Not enough people seem to appreciate Thunderclap Newman.

For such a British sound, they surprisingly had a pretty big US hit with ‘Something In The Air’. It, and their album HOLLYWOOD DREAM, were produced by Pete Townshend. Word is they were a studio concoction he put together to help John ‘Speedy’ Keen, a roadie for The Who. Speedy Keen had indeed quite a talent for songwriting, doing just that for all but one song on the LP. He later released two solo albums, as well as some great singles including ‘Bad Boys’, a reggae style Chris Blackwell produced favorite of mine.

This track though, was the followup to ‘Something In The Air’. A 9:40 version of ‘Accidents’ can be found on the album, complete with kitchen sink psychedelics during a long middle part, but it’s the 7″ version that out-Englishes the Englishness of ‘Something In The Air’, if you can believe that. If not, just listen.

I dare say it’s a near perfect, or perfect plain and simple, record. Despite that, the single spent only one week in each the UK and US charts: #44 UK / #100 US.

Guitarist Jimmy McCulloch was noticeably great. His intertwining parts here, and on every song, are hugely melodic and make all Thunderclap Newman’s material a little more special.

He later joined Stone The Crows and a very obscure band called Blue. They actually scored a minor hit, ‘Capture Your Heart’, when signed to Elton John’s Rocket label once he had departed, but previously had two albums on RSO, the first of which included the single ‘Little Jody’, an absolutely perfect, must own pop record, made even more perfect by his playing.

Later, he joined Wings, debuting on ‘Junior’s Farm’, undeniably one of their strongest singles.

I’m posting the mono single version of ‘Accidents’ here. A stereo version can be found on the cd reissue of that infamous HOLLYWOOD DREAM album, but for some reason they left off the mono. Sloppy….

Sunny

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

sunnydoctors, Sunny, Sue & Sunny, The Brotherhood Of Man, Roger Cook, Roger Greenaway, Geoff Stephens, CBS

Listen: Doctor’s Orders / Sunny SunnyDoctors.mp3

Basically Sunny has loads of history. Solo artist, one half of Sue & Sunny (both of whom were also members of The Brotherhood Of Man) and background voice on many, many, many hit singles (Dusty Springfield, Elton John, The Love Affair, Lulu, Mott The Hoople, T. Rex, Tom Jones, and Joe Cocker to name but a few bigger ones). She’s probably on more records than even she can remember – let alone you or me.

Often associated with the Cook & Greenaway writer/producer team, it was their song ‘Doctor’s Order’ (co-written with Geoff Stephens, himself claim to a long list of song credits: The Applejacks, Manfred Mann, Scott Walker, Dave Berry, Frank Sinatra, The Carpenters) that became a favorite for literally months in ’74. As into rock and soul as I was in ’74, the occasional pop track would bite me hard. I was never comfortable that Sunny’s version didn’t become the US hit version, it was better and smoother than Carol Douglas’. Rest of world though, the crown went to the awesome Sunny. I want to meet her someday.

Sandy Denny

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Candle In The Wind / Sandy Denny

Listen: Candle In The Wind / Sandy Denny SandyDennyCandle.mp3

I hadn’t even thought about meeting Sandy Denny for the longest time, not until writing my Fotheringay post a week or so back. It’s unbelievable how much email I got as a result. People wanting the most specific details of our conversation, what she drank, what she wore, did she seem depressed. Not that I’m surprised she is so revered.

‘Candle In The Wind’ was always a song that got me choked up and not many do. Then when Elton John’s version became the signature Princess Di track, forget it. I literally had to switch it off. It weirded me out. Combine such a powerful song with Sandy Denny’s immaculate voice and, well, it was a hard one to pull out and play.

But I did it just now and it really is so spectacular. I don’t know if many people have heard this as the single is quite rare, at one time booking for 100 GBP in The Record Collector Price Guide. Fact is it never made it beyond the promo run.

Derek & The Dominoes / Duane Allman / Elton John / Toe Fat

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad (Mono Edit)/ Derek & The Dominoes

Listen: Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad (Mono Edit)/ Derek & The Dominoes DerekWhyDoesLove.mp3

Bad Side Of The Moon / Toe Fat

Listen: Bad Side Of The Moon / Toe Fat ToeFat.mp3

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


Toe Fat US Picture Sleeve

On December 4, 1970, Derek & The Dominoes/Elton John/Toe Fat played the Syracuse War Memorial. Truth be told, I went to this show more to see Toe Fat than either Derek & The Dominoes or second on the bill, Elton John. It was all about those obscure UK bands for me, and with Cliff Bennett on lead vocals, Toe Fat, despite the dreadful name, were of big interest.

It was Elton John’s first US tour and to be fair, I was pretty curious. He was great by the way, just a three piece then with Nigel Olsson and Dee Murray. He proceeded to do ‘Bad Side Of The Moon’, despite it being the current single for Toe Fat, who played it as well just before his set. Still remember John Glascock on bass, later in Chicken Shack when I booked them at my college in December 71 and eventually joining Jethro Tull. He had a definite groove to his style and probably made the band swing the way they did.

This show, reviewed below, was one of only two that Duane Allman played live with Derek & The Dominoes. Like the poorly written recap, journalist Terry Lee clearly had no clue about this major moment, despite the roar of the audience when Eric Clapton brought Duane Allman out for the second song onwards. I recall an interview with Duane whereby he mentioned doing Syracuse and Tampa only. Despite his participation on LAYLA, it was one of the lucky moments to see it all live. Years later I quite appreciated the whole Delaney & Bonnie & Friends/Leon Russell feel, and admittedly this show was spectacular despite walking in as a Toe Fat fan. Probably the world’s only.

Derek, Elton, Toe Fat Review

Limmie & Family Cookin’

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

You Can Do Magic / Limmie & Family Cookin'

Listen: You Can Do Magic / Limmie & Family Cookin’ Limmie.mp3

Another UK hit from my summer ’73 spent in London. I’d wait for this one to come on the radio – couldn’t hear it enough. The English programmers loved US formula soul, still do. It wasn’t a huge hit back home. Not so in Britain, reaching #3 during July. Very much a daytime airplay staple, I’d always hear it doing my daily troll through the used/promo record stalls along Rupert and Berwick Streets, blaring out of all the vendor’s radios. Remember, there was only one pop station then, Radio 1, and no cassettes really – therefore everyone listened to the same thing.

Roger Armstrong and I sat at an outdoor cafe on Berwick Street and had tea a year or two back during the May bank holiday long weekend when I was over on some business. It was on the Monday. Soho was deserted, a true flash back to the days when the area wasn’t crowded and full of tourists, like in ’73. Do it sometime if you can.

‘You Can Do Magic’ is ripe to be revived. I bet it could do for someone what ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’ did for Kiki Dee & Elton John, making a perfect duet.