Archive for the ‘Bill Wyman’ Category

Alvin Robinson

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

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.

Del Tha Funkee Homosapien

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Listen: Mistadobalina (Radio Edit) / Del Tha Funkee Homosapien
Mistadobalina (Radio Edit) / Del Tha Funkee Hoosapien

When I started The Medicine Label in early ’92, we were distributed by Warner Brothers for the UK. My first trip to meet the London office turned out to be a collectors dream come true. First off, Gary Crowley had just joined their A&R staff. Like myself, he’d worked at Island prior and also recently migrated.

Day one, Gary takes me to lunch at Bill Wyman’s then new Sticky Fingers Cafe, only a few blocked away from the WB building in Kensington. Now this was some place for both a Rolling Stones fan and general collector alike. Every wall space literally covered with memorabilia: gold record plaques, trade ads and pictures sleeves, hand bills, posters, ticket stubs. The guy saved everything. Sticky Fingers became a favorite stop for a few years. Food was on the dodgy side for a vegetarian, but the scenery made up for it.

Back at the office, Gary walks me through to the head of radio promotion, who’s already been informed of my vinyl issues. He opens his cabinets and says, “take what you want, in fact, take the lot, we don’t get much call for 7′s.” Well, you need only ask me once. His back catalogue was deep, and so I grab one of everything (minimum). A few hundred 45′s later went into the international pouch and got shipped home.

Over the next few weeks, I’d made my way through the lot, and a few things became one-play favorites, like ‘Mistadobalina’. This record probably hasn’t aged as historically well as hoped for, which might explain it’s appeal to me. I definitely have vanilla tastes when it comes to rap.

The Rolling Stones / Ian Stewart & The Railroaders

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Listen: I Wanna Be Your Man / The Rolling Stones RollingStomesWannaBe.mp3

Like every other kid, I was crazy about The Beatles after seeing their first Sunday night ED SULLIVAN SHOW performance, and that was quite by accident. I knew nothing of The Beatles prior to them appearing on the screen. My folks watched the program religiously, it’s how we ended the weekend basically, it’s 9pm broadcast, then off to sleep.

Most parents regretted the moment that band hit the airwaves, a nationwide frenzy occurred on the spot. Seriously, there was chaos in school that next day. It was like no one could concentrate, and Beatlemania literally avalanched the youth of America. Little did we know, the best was yet to come.

I have forever proudly said, “I loved The Beatles until one minute into ‘Not Fade Away’ on HOLLYWOOD PALACE.” For true, nothing can compare to The Rolling Stones’ US television debut. Suddenly, we’d been hit dead center, this time for real.

Two days later, by the Monday, I had somehow mustered up enough money to buy The Rolling Stones’ full length, ENGLAND’S NEWEST HIT MAKERS and their single ‘Not Fade Away’ at Perrin’s Drug Store. Having eyed multiple copies of each sitting unsold for several weeks prior, I was panicked all day Sunday they’d be gone. Luckily, there they sat, waiting. The album had the poster insert, and the 7″ was in the picture sleeve. I still tingle at the memory. How could I have been so stupid as to leave the others behind?

Along with the great black and whites being printed in 16 MAGAZINE and TEEN SCREEN, the articles mentioned the band’s previous single having been a Beatles song. And this I needed a copy of. Given my cousins were in the jukebox business, they became my prime target for as much Rolling Stones content as possible, and it was my Dad who convinced Uncle Dominick to search out more records for the little pest, me.

Low and behold, he delivered a copy of ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’, as an A side, a few weeks later. I had often asked about the record’s origination, and was told it came from his regular one-stop. Years later, when I got my first job in a one stop record distributor, it all became clear, as indeed there were always a few piles of promo 7′s in the office, said copies waiting to be auditioned and considered for bulk purchase. Bless them for rescuing this gem from the rubbish bin.

The official US commercial release of ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ has forever been in question. Seems the choice was quickly overshadowed by ‘Not Fade Away’ and apparently very few copies, promo or stock, found their way to the public, making this even more cherished.

Listen: Stoned / The Rolling Stones RollingStonesStoned.mp3

As with ‘Now I’ve Got A Witness’ from ENGLAND’S NEWEST HIT MAKERS and ’2120 South Michigan Avenue’ from 12X5, B side ‘Stoned’ grabbed my ear. Where’s the singer?

Yes, I was at first disappointed with the lack of vocals, but there was always so much enjoyment coming off these instrumental tracks, you could just tell the band loved playing this stuff, almost like it was home to them. And having worked very early on with Phil Spector, it’s clear his blessing encouraged them, given so many of his singles by The Ronettes and The Crystals coupled throwaway (at the time) jams on their B sides. Quick on the studio time and easy as a publishing grab.

Listen: Stu-Ball / Ian Stewart & The Railroaders IanStewartStuBall.mp3

When Bill Wyman produced Bobbie Miller’s ‘Everywhere I Go’ for UK Decca in ’66, word is he assembled various Rolling Stones and the band’s life long silent member Ian Stewart for the session. In true Phil Spector fashion, the resulting studio jam yielded B side ‘Stu-Ball’, credited to Ian Stewart & The Railroaders. Unlike earlier instrumentals from The Rolling Stones, this copy took more than a few weeks to land. More like a few decades.

The Andrew Oldham Orchestra

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

AndrewLoog365, Jukebox Tab, , Decca, The Rolling Stones, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, The Andrew Oldham Orchestra

Listen: 365 Rolling Stones / The Andrew Oldham Orchestra AndrewLoog365.mp3

In ’64, Andrew Loog Oldham clearly ruled the roost at Decca Records. And why not? He managed their biggest act, The Rolling Stones. So if and when he felt like making a record, smartly the powers that be (Sir Edward Lewis I assume) turned on the green light. Despite their popularity, it was still a time when he could march his band members into the studio to do the instrumental backings for his sonic fetishes.

AndrewLoogBSide

Listen: Oh, I Do Like To See Me On The ‘B’ Side / The Andrew Oldham Orchestra AndrewLoogBSide.mp3

Occasionally, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts, along with Ian Stewart, were allowed to stretch into muiscal territory that was more their natural habitiat than the commercial Andrew Oldham Orchestra A sides. ‘Oh, I Do Like To See Myself On The ‘B’ Side’ being the most prime example. And, how uncommonly generous too was Sir Andrew, the boys even got writer’s credit and hopefully publishing – although despite The Rolling Stones growing popularity at the time, and name checks in the song titles, none of his singles sold squat – so not sure that pub money amounted to more than a few teas and English fry ups. Not so bad I must admit. I do love a trad breakfast fry up, vegetarian that is, in some unrenovated, chilly, damp, not been changed since the 60′s cafe – usually out of gentrified Central London I’m sad to say.

AndrewLoogJukeboxTab, Jukebox Tab, , Decca, The Rolling Stones, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, The Andrew Oldham Orchestra

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Andrew Loog Oldham

And how nice of Andrew Oldham, manager of truly the world’s greatest rock and roll band ever to generously fill in a jukebox tab for my collection when approached by dear friend Lindsay Hutton on my behalf. Thank you Lindsay. That great rock and roll band, just to be clear, were not the ones that quit after five or so years, their silly vaudeville music being continually decimated production wise by that stiff, suit and tied George Martin, who also destroyed The Action’s career with his souless ‘talent’. Yes, I’m referring to the overrated Beatles. Quitters, thankfully.

AndrewLoog5RollingStones, Jukebox Tab, , Decca, The Rolling Stones, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, The Andrew Oldham Orchestra

Listen: There Are But Five Rolling Stones / The Andrew Oldham Orchestra AndrewLoog5Rolling.mp3

Very nice Joe Meek production nick here. Some say this represents Andrew’s constant attempt to replicate Phil Spector’s sound, but no this is unquestionaably Joe Meek territory. As stated above in similar vocabulary, anyone who claims it’s not The Rolling Stones, or various members, playing on these is just stupid. Compare the guitar solo on the outro of ‘There Are But Five Rolling Stones’ with the middle break on the band’s version of ‘It’s All Over Now’. Only question being is it Keith or Brian?

Listen: Da Doo Ron Ron / The Andrew Oldham Orchestra & Chorus AndrewLoogDoRon.mp3

And before heads got too big, can you guess who Andrew wheeled in to vocal ‘Da Doo Ron Ron’ for his UK Decca album 16 HIP HITS by The Andrew Oldham Orchestra & Chorus? If this doesn’t bring you back to Denmark Street, chills up the spin included, nothing will.

Doris Troy

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Jacob's Ladder / Doris Troy

Listen: Jacob’s Ladder / Doris Troy
DorisTroyJacob'sLadder.mp3

Although having recorded with The Rolling Stones, Humble Pie, Kevin Ayers, Dusty Springfield, Nick Drake, Junior Campbell and Pink Floyd, it was The Beatles, and especially George Harrision, who seemingly had the real jones for Doris Troy. Signing to their Apple label, she was afforded a self produced long player, DORIS TROY. Apple issued two singles from it, the second being a remake of the biblical folk/gospel standard, ‘Jacob’s Ladder’.

Get Back / Doris Troy

Listen: Get Back / Doris Troy
Get

Both Apple 7′s luckily had non-LP B sides from the album sessions. For the flip of ‘Jacob’s Ladder’, the basically still current ‘Get Back’ was used. In general, the overall recording approach for the project was very 1970, it’s a total Mad Dogs & Englishmen shamble/jam. No musician credits are listed on the album sleeve although it’s widely accounted that Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Stephen Stills, Leon Russell, Bill Wyman and Peter Frampton all joined George Harrison in it’s recording.