Archive for the ‘Lothar & The Hand People’ Category

The Seeds

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

Can’t Seem To Make You Mine / The Seeds

Listen: Can’t Seem To Make You Mine / The Seeds
11 Can't Seem To Make You Mine.mp3

GNP Crescendo not only possessed a great label name, turns out they were one of the small indies with enough taste to issue several of their singles in quality color picture sleeves. Biggest sellers, The Seeds, certainly benefitted most.

Not unlike London’s maraca drenched blues knockoffs epitomized the English sound, The Seeds ruled roost as to what life sounded like in L.A., at least to a little kid growing up in small town New York State.

Never did I hear The Seeds on daytime radio when current, but certainly heard them at night. Whether by choice or reality, my recollection associates the band with summertime ’67, when The Seeds original debut single, ‘Can’t Seem To Make You Mine’ got re-released. Yes, late night, warm weather airplay, when the AM Top 40′s went all underground rock in the evenings. Those non hits by Lothar & The Hand People, Big Brother & The Holding Company, The Leaves and Country Joe & The Fish rubbed shoulders with The Seeds on every nighttime playlist that summer, both locally and as far off as WBZ from Boston and WOWO in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The band’s interest was peaking, certainly in the world of radio. Depending on the market, each were playing The Seeds, whether it being ‘Mr. Farmer’, ‘Pushin’ Too Hard’, their latest, most psychedelic record yet, ‘A Thousand Shadows’ or ‘Can’t Seem To Make You Mine’.

Just imagine this intro beaming through my transistor for the first time. I tell you in all honesty, the memory is as plain as day. It, and the song, were one listens. I desperately needed the record on the spot.

Praise be, the thrill of finding it in my weekly pile of airplay rejects from WMCR that very Friday. Yet another single which didn’t fit into their adult, easy listening format, much to my miraculous luck.

Pianist Daryl Hooper, already carving the initial model of playing bass on a separate keyboard, not only dominated the overall sound of The Seeds, he also wrote some of their most powerful hooks, all based on simplicity. In my fantasy world, that break in ‘Can’t Seem To Make You Mine’ soundtracked driving through the desert by night, heading into the creepy unknown, speeding west on Route 66, just like The Doors long keyboard middle in ‘Light My Fire’. Hearing both for the first time, late on hot summer nights, clearly left deep impressions.

The Buffalo Springfield

Friday, June 10th, 2011

Listen: Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing / The Buffalo Springfield
Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing / The Buffalo Springfield

West coast soft rock, not a fan. It was the anti-christ to British music. Even as some of the UK bands got fascinated by it, started copying it, I still wasn’t buying in. But initially, The Buffalo Springfield looked as though they may have had promise. I wanted badly to hear their first single ‘Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing’. The title made me curious, and I wasn’t sharp enough to be put off by the band’s name. There was Lothar & The Hand People, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother & The Holding Company, these guys seemed to fit into the nonsensical band name pocket just fine.

Digging through a massive bin of drilled, 39¢ closeout singles, I found a copy only a few months later. This was just before their third 45, ‘For What It’s Worth’, got traction and went Top 40. I got home and did not love this record later that night.

But I did like that a) it was a Bubbling Under The Hot 100 flop (#110), b) was on Atco and c) was an unlikely single.

a) There’s nothing like the endless gems that never reached the Top 100. In retrospect, countless seminal classics populated and peeked on BILLBOARD’s Bubbling Under The Hot 100 chart, within it’s #101 – 135 range. All struggling for airplay that never came. Where was the expertise programmers supposedly had in the 60′s and 70′s, we now wonder. Proof that some things never changed.

b) Atco was cool. The younger, but prettier step sister of Atlantic. Amongst it’s early roster of bands that never made it / looked like they weren’t going to: The Vagrants, The Who, The Groupies, The Spencer Davis Group, Julie Driscoll/Brian Auger & The Trinity and The Cream. Yes, this was in the day before groups like The Pink Floyd, The Cream and The Buffalo Springfield managed to drop ‘The’ from their official professional name.

c) There are few things more inviting than a single that made no sense being a single. Like just about any jazz 7″, certainly edited versions of tracks from Miles Davis’ BITCHES BREW album. Not that ‘Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing’ came close to such an extreme, but it was a real surprise on first spin.

The Buffalo Springfield have now reformed, sans ‘The’, with the remaining living original members, and I would bet the whole house of cards they are not playing this first single live. Just like the setlist for The Cream’s reunion (sans ‘The’) omitted ‘I Feel Free’.

So I won’t be attending, but all said and done, I ended up liking ‘Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing’ a lot.

Update (6/11/11): John Poole emailed to say they did play ‘Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing’ during their first reunion appearance at the Bridge Benefit Concert last year. How awesome is that?

Lothar & The Hand People

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Listen: Machines / Lothar & The Hand People LotharMachines.mp3

When, of all people, Mort Shuman wrote ‘Machines’, I wonder did he intend it to sound like this. Given that this and Manfred Mann’s versions are all drums and bongos and such leans towards a “yes”.

Lothar & The Hand People first and foremost had a killer name. Immediately uncomfortable sounding. On first look, you could’ve mistaken them as one of the San Francisco bands, which indeed I did for a while. Being on Capitol Records blindly reinforced the possibility, as the label seemed to lean west coast when it came to domestic signings. Indeed, the band were New York based, and who knows, may have stumbled on ‘Machines’ at The Brill Building. It’s possible.

Supposedly one of the first electronic rock bands to use Moog in the lineup, as with Silver Apples, seems they set the stage for Suicide a few years down the line. Lothar in fact refers to the band’s theramin as opposed to a member.

‘Machines’ got a lot of late night AM radio play summer ’68. All things were leaning underground, as the genre was called, and many of the major market Top 40′s were programming the sound of youth culture at night. Nowadays, US pop radio just swims as hard against that tide as possible.

It’s how I heard it – and only ever heard it via the transistor radio under my pillow until snatching a copy in a shoe store running some kind of tie-in with one of the local Top 40′s. Buy a pair, get a free single. I was having none of that. Sweet talked about fifteen 7′s out of a peer working the register.

The Stone Poneys / Linda Ronstadt

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Stone Ponies - Different Drum

Listen: Different Drum / The Stone Poneys StonePoneysDifferentDrum.mp3

Ok, so a follow up single isn’t always better than the hit preceding it, as was maybe the case with ‘Up To My Neck In High Muddy Water’. It’s hard to top ‘Different Drum’. In fact, Linda Ronstadt never did. At least I don’t remember her doing it, possibly due in part to my general lack of interest toward country leaning music back then.

‘Different Drum’ was indeed another story though. It became a radio staple not long after Jefferson Airplane’s somewhat similar sounding ‘White Rabbit’, and at the same time as both ‘Itchycoo Park’ by The Small Faces and ‘Zabadak’ from Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich.

‘Different Drum’ felt a bit psychedelic, even though it wasn’t. Maybe it was by association. Nick Venet was the producer and his work covered many genres. As a Capitol in house employee, seems he was handed all their youth culture signings of the day, thus slotting The Stone Poneys sessions between The Leaves, Lothar & The Hand People or Hearts & Flowers. It was one of many historic times at the Capitol Tower.

Stone Ponies - Up To My Neck picture sleeve

Listen: Up To My Neck In High Muddy Water / Linda Ronstadt & The Stone Poneys StonePoneysUpToMyNeck.mp3

Long before Simon Cowell, the ruthless corporate machine gnawed it’s way through bands, carving out the superstar for investment and mainstream marketing, leaving the other members to survive somehow. As when Clive Davis butchered Big Brother & The Holding Company for Janis Joplin, so too, it seems, did Capitol decimate The Stone Poneys for the asset now known as Linda Ronstadt.

‘Different Drum’ by The Stone Poneys was literally still on Billboard’s Top 100 when ‘Up To My Neck In High Muddy Water’ was released as Linda Ronstadt & The Stone Poneys. Housed in a full color sleeve, big things were expected. The record stalled at #93, but the setback was only temporary. She skyrocketed. It’s a great single despite the misery.

Linda Ronstadt was particularly critical of The Ramones, having gone to CBGB’s, catching an early performance and trashing them the very next day in a local New York paper. It was a hurtful moment that they talked about on occasion. So when Elektra threw a rather lavish party for her in New York, upon release of a successful new album, CANCIONES DE MI PADRE, the mischievous idea of inviting the band was impossible to resist and they were happy to attend.

We all met at Paul’s Lounge on 3rd and 10th, now a drug store, for a drink, then proceeded uptown to the event. Monte of course came along, Michael Alago and Arturo Vega did too. Everyone cleaned up on designer Mexican food, the album theme being traditional Mexican folk songs, and waited patiently for her to make the rounds, greeting her guests. The moment when she turned towards our table was classic, but it was too late to turn back. Obviously, she’d not been forewarned. Her look was priceless. DeeDee smiled and stared very menacingly, John just glared. Joey, after about five or ten seconds, decided to break the silence with “So Linda, long time no see”.

Nervously: “How are you guys doing?”

“We’re fine” replies John before she’s even finished her last word.

Incredible singer, successful artist but at that moment, Linda Ronstadt was stumped. Wincing, she backed away and slithered into the crowd.