Archive for the ‘Gladys Knight & The Pips’ Category

Jason Crest

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Listen: Turquoise Tandem Cycle / Jason Crest

The most hardcore psychedelic music prioritized itself just as it read: psychedelic first, music second. I loved the insanity of it as much as the next guy, it’s power to baffle the unsuspecting listener was hard to top. Unfortunately, struggling through a whole side of what LSD supposedly sounded like on a compilation, or worse yet an entire cd, always got tedious around these parts.

A 7″ single, freestanding, that was another story. I like to think I was well adept in the style, with The Smoke ‘My Friend Jack’ or The Pretty Things ‘Defecting Grey’ being favorites when current. Compared to the average American teenager, my friends and I were definitely hardcore. But to the true psychedelic addicts, we were lightweight I’m sure. Given the choices were everywhere for a summer or two made stumbling on the obscure not very difficult, especially when, in my case, a cousin in London was happily exchanging UK psychedelic singles for US soul hits.

If I’d read about something, or just saw a trade ad in DISC & MUSIC ECHO or MELODY MAKER, on to my list it would go. And weeks later, for the simple task of mailing off something like The Supremes ‘Reflections’ or Gladys Knight & The Pips ‘The End Of Our Road’, The Accent ‘Red Sky At Night’ or Jason Crest ‘Turquoise Tandem Cycle’ would turn up in my parents postbox. Good deal.

‘Turquoise Tandem Cycle’ certainly could double as a blueprint for sweet shoppe lyrics meets kitchen sink production, all carefully assembled for the psychedelic cause. Add in a large dose of no fun, and ptoff, we have a masterpiece. I’ve seen this record called just that on a few occasions. I don’t necessarily disagree as long as were clear of what kind of a masterpiece.

Having played it many, many times during those long, late summer vacation nights, it will always touch a soft spot. It’s admittedly silly compared to The Pink Floyd ‘See Emily Play’, but so is Napoleon XIV ‘They’re Coming To Take Me Away’ and anyone who snubs that is a moron.

Kim Weston

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Listen: It Should Have Been Me / Kim Weston KimWestonShouldHaveBeenMe.mp3

‘It Should Have Been Me’, not surprisingly, has been covered a bunch, including by Gladys Knight & The Pips and most successfully, Yvonne Fair (see that post elsewhere on this blog). Just to quickly recap, the latter is a proper church style reading, all the more convincing via her gruff delivery. A true classic.

Little did I realize, Kim Weston’s first Tamla single was indeed the original version. Really nice find in Cleveland’s Beachland Ballroom record annex, you can imagine my eyes lighting up at the sight of it. There was a part of me that couldn’t get home fast enough to give this beauty a spin. Unfortunately, home at that moment was 460 miles east but luckily the shop’s customer turntable/headphone setup did just fine. What a surprise to hear Kim Weston sounding so unrefined, raspy, beautifully under produced, even shouty.

Word is she has a Detroit radio show. Good thing I didn’t know that when I was there. I’m a Kim Weston stalker.

Gladys Knight & The Pips

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Listen: Nitty Gritty / Gladys Knight & The Pips GladysNitty.mp3

What’s really proof of this record’s power: the most addicted to any other genre of music fan can’t resist instant curiosity when ‘The Nitty Gritty’ powers through a set of speakers. I had quite the time spinning singles at Brooklyn Bowl last Sunday with Lord Wardd, playing mostly 60′s – present, basically tomorrow’s sound today stuff – even the one’s from the 60′s and 70′s, when released, would have been considered that: The Small Faces, T. Rex, or X. So it’s really fun to watch a younger but musically informed crowd light up when some down and dirty funk or soul hits. Even better, a whole bunch of parents and their young kids, out bowling for a fun afternoon, suddenly doing an about face toward the DJ booth with that ‘Oh my God, I remember this’ look burned onto their face.

Gladys Knight could belt it out every time, when she was given the green light that is. Looking back on a few gems like ‘The Nitty Gritty’ need only one listen to show us why.

Some friends stuck with her from the Motown move to Buddah. Suddenly she was sounding a touch buffed around the edges for my tastes, but the pre ‘Midnight Train To Georgia’ era, all that Tamla/Norman Whitfield stuff, there’s no topping it.

Gladys Knight & The Pips

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

GladysEndRoad, Motown, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Soul, Norman Whitfield

Listen: The End Of Our Road / Gladys Knight & The Pips GladysEndRoad.mp3

Feeling victims, as were The Marvelettes and Mary Wells, of being tossed the leftovers, those songs passed on by Motown’s A level acts (The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations) according to legend, really pissed off Gladys Knight and her Pips (all family members as it turns out). Having moved from Vee Jay to Motown in ’65 with wider success in mind, they quickly found themselves relegated to subsidiary Soul, set up for the more RnB, less leaning pop acts. good call there. From ’66 – ’68, they recorded some of the label’s dirtiest and most raw sides. I’m sure to Berry Gordy’s surprise, ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ became the company’s biggest selling single at that point, leaping to #2 pop and bringing Gladys Knight’s signature rasp to the mainstream.

Even better was “The End Of Our Road’, it’s followup. Peaking at #15 on Billboard’s Hot 100, it was a mighty strong showing for such a picture perfect dirt and grime black single. Their performance, recording and mix are so aggressive, it’s impossible to not be dragged in. Played this a few nights ago at the Otis Clay show – it sounded mighty powerful through that big system, filled the room, every last head and foot surrendering.