Archive for the ‘Shelter’ Category

J. J. Cale

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Listen: Travelin’ Light / J. J. Cale

March ’77, Corinne and I made our first trip to England together for a fortnight of fun. We ended up staying at the then seedy Royal Scott Hotel, way before the area became chic. But seriously, it was heaven to us, a real taste of old London, now long gone.

Most importantly, the visit marked our first meeting with Howard. Who knew then that we’d become life long friends. HT showed us around for two weeks solid, and must’ve been glad to see the back of us.

This was a time almost like no other, with the energy of punk united against the stale old guard, and HT had every night sorted: The Damned, The Jam, Eddie & The Hot Rods, Ultravox, Eater, Johnny Moped, The Sex Pistols, The Heartbreakers, Sham 69, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Rockpile, The Downliners Sect, Generation X, The Clash, The Vibrators. Pretty sick, right?

We would start every morning in one of the many rickety cafes along Argyle Square or Crestfield Street, covering traditional English breakfast fry ups of eggs, chips and mushy peas with plenty of HP Sauce, gagging back several sugary teas, then scouring either the record shops or dumpy street markets, Corinne looking for deco jewelry and vintage clothes, me for used 45′s. By early evening, flying on Cadbury Flakes or Fry’s Chocolate Creams, we’d meet Howard, always in a swinging pub with a happening jukebox.

He introduced me to Andrew Lauder on one of those nights, and we all found quite a lot to talk about simply by scouring through the records in The Hope & Anchor’s jukebox. ‘Travelin’ Light’ was visually playing at the time, meaning the machine was a vintage model, one whereby you can watch the vinyl spinning round. Easily, it made for a lasting memory.

Released by Denny Cordell’s Shelter Records, quite possibly ‘Travelin’ Light’ was a single simply to allow the B side, ‘Cocaine’, availability to jukeboxes and club dj’s. For obvious reasons, that track doubled as bragging rights amongst us all, and along with Dillinger’s ‘Cokane In My Brain’, became our cheap theme.

Still it’s this A side, ‘Travelin’ Light’, that I can play endlessly and never tire of, all the while doubling as a journey back in time, to that jukebox and those incredible two weeks.

Leon Russell

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Listen: If I Were A Carpenter / Leon Russell

Despite rabidly dismissing Leon Russell in his heyday, I always liked his version of ‘If I Were A Carpenter’, turning a blind eye toward the rather embarrassing lyric changes. Actually, it’s surprising Tim Hardin allowed them. He probably needed the money, because heaven knows he didn’t seem to get his fair share.

I never quite knew if Leon Russell’s country hick delivery was serious or an inside joke, right down to his “s” being instead pronounced “sh”.

Over the years, as with many acts, my tastes have changed, particularly when produced by Denny Cordell. He really had it all down when it came to an English fellow loving American delta roots. Besides, Duane Sherwood is such a rabid Leon Russell fan, we’re all forced to sit up and listen or else.

Phoebe Snow

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Poetry Man / Phoebe Snow

Poetry Man / Phoebe Snow

Listen: Poetry Man (Mono) / Phoebe Snow

The nice thing about double A promo singles, up until the late 70′s, was you got an otherwise unobtainable mono mix on one side. Being a mono collector, these are now coveted.

I hated Phoebe Snow when this single was current. I went to see The Pretty Things in Niagara Falls during their SILK TORPEDO tour, and Carol Hardy, who worked promotion for Atlantic at the time, took me backstage to meet the band. I’d already booked them two years earlier at my college in ’73, which unbelievably was during their first ever US tour. Can you believe this seminal band didn’t tour here until ’73! Still I was well up for hanging out with them.

John Povey, Phil May and I got to talking about current records, and they proclaimed their love of ‘Poetry Man’ and Phoebe Snow, who they’d not heard until arriving Stateside. I was mortified. How could The Pretty Things liked this record?

Didn’t change my mind. I proceeded with nose in the air towards her for years.

But my tastes changed and one day, I just had to hear Phoebe Snow. Just like that. Snap.

Now I worship her voice, it’s huge and thunderous. I love all her Shelter Records releases. Leave it to Denny Cordell.

Leon Russell

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

Listen: Roll Away The Stone / Leon Russell LeonRussellStone.mp3

Despite Denny Cordell cutting his teeth during the 60′s as producer of The Moody Blues, The Move, Beverley and Joe Cocker & The Grease Band, he seemed to take a nasty turn in the period that immediately followed. He set up shop in Los Angeles, forming Shelter Records. Other than issuing a few reggae singles in the States for Chris Blackwell (The Maytals, The Wailers), Denny pretty much shifted gears musically. To this Anglophile, he betrayed his own greatness, suddenly producing and/or releasing super Americana stuff like Phoebe Snow, JJ Cale, Mudcrutch…..and Leon Russell.

I despised everything about Leon Russell. I hated his country boogie blues singalongs, his clothes, his grey hair – every last thing about him. Mind you, I was hard core pro England. The Kinks were the ultimate, Glam was preferred, I was not a believer.

Isn’t it crazy how one’s tastes can change, or in my case, grow. Man, was I wrong about Denny and Shelter. Fast forward a decade, and I’m jonesing for every last act on that roster, catching up on filling in the record collection with the Shelter singles.

Leon Russell’s history ran way deeper than I originally knew, back to Phil Spector’s Philles days where he led his house band, and he performed in the TAMI show and was a regular on SHINDIG and….and….and. Check the writer’s credits on some of those Phil Spector B sides: Leon Russell. Seemingly overnight, I needed everything attached to his long, long discography of contributions.

Well there aren’t many things I like more than a UK A&M A label. All the busy conflicting fonts, the bright yellow label, the red ‘A’ and the onslaught of release date/time/publisher info (Reminder: click on any of the records pictured to enlarge). It became a quest to get all Denny Cordell / Shelter via UK A&M 7′s. Took years but now pretty much complete. One of the first to be issued back on the old 700 series: ‘Roll Away The Stone’.

Do you think Mott The Hoople ever listened to Leon Russell?

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

tompettyanythinguka, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Shelter, Island

Listen: Anything That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll / Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers TomPettyAnything.mp3

This band got off to a slow start. Maybe it was simply his motorcycle jacket on their album cover, but Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers were thrown into the punk category by US radio programmers. Those radio gate keepers were a very intimidated, non-musical and paranoid bunch. Their heyday was nearing an end.

Proving their ineptitude, to them, Talking Heads, Blondie, Elvis Costello & The Attractions, The Ramones, Television, The Sex Pistols, The Patti Smith Group and Eddie & The Hot Rods all sounded the same: they were punk bands the American public didn’t want to hear. Wrong and wrong.

Sharing bills with both The Ramones and Blondie were probably temporary bad moves, because on to the unplayable scrapheap they went. Funny enough, fans of those bands were the first to appreciate them. Right up to the present day, it’s hard finding many folks, regardless of musical tastes, to hate on Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers.

Howard Thompson was the guy who turned me on to them. He’d convinced Island in the UK to release their debut album. The single, ‘Anything That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll’, charted soon after over there, and he sent me a copy. I preferred it then, and now, to that first album’s eventual hit, ‘American Girl’ – and it unfortunately seems lost in the band’s history, never getting any mentions ever again.