Archive for the ‘The Faces’ Category

Alvin Robinson

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

Listen: Down Home Girl / Alvin Robinson
Down Home Girl / Alvin Robinson

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.

Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Listen: Brother, Can You Spare A Dime / Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance
Brother,

Remember the day when a major label would release a record like ‘Brother, Can You Spare A Dime’? Issuing such an off the wall track in England was one thing, but in the US, quite another.

With hindsight, many will agree the true spirit behind The Faces was indeed Ronnie Lane. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rod Stewart were to admit that thought.

Not sure exactly what those in the know would call Ronnie Lane’s loose-knit signature sound. The music press came up with a few suitables: rag-tag, rural plynth. Whatever, it certainly permeated all of his post Small Faces work, particularly those solo albums with Pete Townshend and Ronnie Wood.

Needless to say, this single got zero airplay, bar a few college stations, but is certainly nice to have, particularly in it’s promo only mono form.

For the UK though, airplay was not the intention initially. As the press release above wishfully indicates, the film, in which the record is heard during the closing credits, also spotlights the song as it’s theme. In somewhat sloppy fashion, said press release neglects to mention the actual name of the film. Revert to the label copy on the stock copy for that detail. In case you couldn’t guess, it’s called BROTHER CAN YOU SPARE A DIME.

Listen: Don’t Try To Change My Mind / Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance
RonnieLaneChangeMind.mp3

There were handful of followups from a handful of followup albums. ‘Don’t Try To Change My Mind’ was a double sided marvel. This A side being lifted from the album ONE FOR THE ROAD, I wouldn’t be surprised if it had been chosen wearing a blindfold and ear plugs. It’s that unobvious as a single, making the record all the more desirable.

Both the band and album were framed nicely by a genuine gypsy lifestyle from that period, whereby he and his family played out a downmarket version of Mad Dogs & Englishmen, complete with authentic costume and living accommodations.

Listen: Well Well Hello (The Party) / Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance
Well

Quite possibly the real gem here is the single’s non-LP B side, ‘Well Well Hello (The Party). In itself a future template for many a Pogues single, I’m shocked this isn’t more widely sought after as an ultimate Ronnie Lane essential, or maybe it is. It’s sure to touch anyone’s weak spot with a bit of sadness.

If

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Listen: The Promised Land / If
The Promised Land / If

Jazz rock didn’t usually work for me. The description of If, a UK version of Blood, Sweat & Tears, was not inviting. But hey, they were from England, and when booked to open a show for The Faces who were still in their newly formed prime, I went along early.

No question, this was a live act almost like no other. The sheer power of two saxophones, part of their seven piece lineup, featured an incredible virtuoso in Dick Morrissey. Wow. Other than Family, Blodwyn Pig, Jethro Tull or Fairport Convention, my live experiences were strictly guitar based line-ups. Shortly thereafter, The Flock and Edgar Winter’s White Trash would pass through town, but at that moment, it was all new.

On record, things were a bit less spontaneous. Sounding more like Chase than the intended BS&T, If produced a rather controlled racket. Not unlike The Keef Hartley Band, occasional tracks or singles became favorites, especially some of those played live.

‘The Promised Land’ can still return me to that live show years later. Trust me, this one sounds way different having watched it up close.

War

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

WarCiscoUSA, War, United Artists, Island

WarCiscoUKA, War, United Artists, Island

WarCiscoUKAIsland, War, Island, United Artists

Listen: The Cisco Kid / War WarCisco.mp3

Today is the first full day of spring, according to my neighbor who knows all these things. Actually it started yesterday at around 1:15, so that didn’t count. Whatever. When it’s about 70°, no humidity with clear blue skies, and I find myself digging through boxes of doubles stockpiled for some 15 years back out in the garage, I know it’s spring. It’s the first thing I do, having itched to get at something or other all winter – and that’s exactly how yesterday was spent. The place is actually a scene from that new TV show about hoarding, the latest condition a doctor will give you tablets for. Corinne went in to get something, and being her first time for a couple of years, and just flipped out on me. So I needed to do some shuffling around anyways.

Brought one of those portable suitcase record players out with me. I bought this one for a steep $20 sometime in the late 80′s when those two parking lots on 6th Ave and 26th St had the weekly junk sales, dealers of everything covering the two spaces. I got into a habit of getting there at dawn, and found records even I can’t believe. One time, I got it into my head I needed a wlp of The Faces debut on Warner Brothers, and found it that very day. Like I willed it to be there. True story.

The player still works, perfectly in fact. It’s one of my favorite pieces, complete with interchangeable 45 adapter spindle. So off I go to the garage to dig and spin. First box, first handful, I find a copy of ‘Cisco Kid’. I’d forgotten Island UK licensed their catalog off Jerry Goldstein around ’75, and proceeded to be his English outlet for War, although quite why United Artists there didn’t hold on to his Far Out Productions was probably a mistake in hindsight.

I freaking love ‘Cisco Kid’. It reminds me of April ’73, when I took my pal and college radio rep for United Artisits in LA, Rich Fazekas, up on his offer to come on out and visit Easter week. The Pretty Things were making their US debut at the Whisky Au Go Go. Did I need more reason? We tooled around non-stop. He turned me on to Mexican food – there was no Mexican food in my college town of Rochester. I’d never had a taco, and given Rich is Mexican, he knew the real deal places to go.

‘Cisco Kid’ was easily the soundtrack to the trip. It was being played everywhere, you remember how hits used to be unavoidable. By early summer when I went to London, it had migrated to their airwaves, and I heard it constantly all over again.

So this time of year brings that all back, and to find a copy in that first handful I grabbed does make me feel frighteningly connected to my records. I love those records.

Audience

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

Indian Summer / Audience

Indian Summer / Audience

Listen: Indian Summer / Audience
Indian Summer / Audience

It Brings A Tear / Audience - US

Listen: It Brings A Tear / Audience
It Brings A Tear / Audience

Listen: You’re Not Smiling / Audience
You're Not Smiling / Audience

AudienceStandUKA, Audience, Charisma, Howard Werth

You're Not Smiling / Audience UK

You're Not Smiling / Audience - UK

Stand By The Door / Audience

Listen: Stand By The Door / Audience
Stand By The Door / Audience

I really shouldn’t like Audience. I’d have done a lot better in school had it not been for them. I could have been a doctor or something. Instead, I spent seemingly an entire Fall semester possessed by their album, THE HOUSE ON THE HILL. It wasn’t just me. My two room mates Larry and Stewart caught the Audience sickness as well. We would literally listen to this album over and over and over. Lights low, candles, pot, huge Audience poster hanging squarely above the turntable (still have it – neatly folded and slid inside the album with the label bio and 8×10′s). We were all entrenched at the college radio station, WITR. We pretty much ran the joint. I was both the music director and program director, not to mention concert chairman. It was English bands and only English bands. If you didn’t like it – transfer out. Every night we’d come back to the apartment with the latest promos that had arrived from the labels. We weren’t in the dorms – we had a proper apartment with very little furniture, lots of mis-matched pillows, orange shag rug and a low coffee table covered in music magazines and drug utensils. Mattresses on the floor in each bedroom – no beds, cardboard boxes for dressers. The records were everywhere, cinder blocks and clapboards constructing many makeshift shelves. Emergency suitcase record players in each bedroom for late night listening too. So we would whirl through the latest offerings: Greenslade, Byzantium, Atomic Rooster, Colosseum, Chicken Shack, If, Family, Juicy Lucy, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, just endless titles. But THE HOUSE OFN THE HILL would start and end the sessions, with a few plays during as well. You could really justify fucking off to it, nothing was more important, it was that good.

I’d heard ‘Indian Summer’ on the radio just before school went into session, must have been late August. Wow – what was that?!? It stood right out and was getting that suspicious two week window of play at Top 40. They called this being tested, and if good results came back, then they’d really hang you out for payola. Isn’t American radio great!!! This sophisticated British sounding song in between Andy Kim and Lobo, or whatever. Yes, I paid attention. I remember the single charted briefly on the Billboard Top 100 too.

During the following winter, I made one of my life’s biggest mistakes. I missed Audience live on their brief, and only, US tour. Gasp. They were opening for The Faces. It was a Sunday night, in Buffalo, about 80 miles away. I had no car, no one did, and no money to get there and certainly no way to get home. I watched the clock that evening, knowing they were playing so close yet so freaking far away. Why didn’t I just hitch hike? Risk being murdered – no brainer. But I didn’t and they never returned. Still bothers me to this day.

Such beautiful music. I know that sounds well corny but just listen. Howard Werth’s shivering vocals, Keith Gemmell’s signature sax that years later The Psychedelic Furs would unknowingly coin, just the right touch of baroque classical trimmings, not stuffy or overdone. The Strawbs, Amazing Blondel and ELO were klutzy klompy plodding wannabes next to Audience. Mind you, Audience had a wonderfully sloppy feel as well. But it was a magical balance and no one ever came close to matching it.

I’ve posted a bunch of Audience mandatories above. That first US 7″ is a classic double sider, and the promo only UK sleeve that housed ‘You’re Not Smiling’ is a prized possession. Isn’t even in the price guide. ‘Stand By The Door’, their final single is simply a perfect masterpiece.

David Bowie / The Faces

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

London Boys / David Bowie

Listen: The London Boys / David Bowie
London Boys / David Bowie

What can anyone say about David Bowie ‘The London Boys’. It’s damp, cold, eery, but cryptically and wonderfully captures a lot of my London experiences as a kid in ’73: Wardour Street, pills, having no money, living on butter and bread, listen to the lyrics. If we come back in life after death, I would do it all over again, to a T. Read on.

So I decide, upon graduating high school, that instead of going to college, I’m moving to England. Can you believe this? I can’t.

My parents, ever understanding, desperately advised against it. But always supporting me in my ambitious dreams, finally said okay providing I do some college when I return.

My Mom was born in Great Britain, her sister lived in London, so I guess it didn’t seem all that risky at the time. I skipped a grade in high school and was therefore really a baby, boarding a Pan Am flight in early June ’73 with a huge $200 in my pocket. I would never let my kids do this today by the way. My aunt in London had me for a few weeks, then shipped me off to my cousin Diane, who lived, and shockingly still does, on Cleveland Street in London’s west end, Soho, This, as it turned out, was the place to be. Literally 4 blocks down from her council flat (Cleveland Street eventually turns into Wardour Street as it crosses Oxford Street), was the Marquee Club. Without shame or hesitation, I walked into the office midday and asked for a job. And they give me one, shockingly. I now was in charge of collecting the empty pint glasses left all around the club as the bands are playing, an endless cycle. I was a slave but deemed this as the opportunity of life.

I grew up outside of Syracuse, dreaming of the other worldly England, now here I am, working at The Marquee. Holy shit. Is this really happening? No one will believe me back home, or care for that matter.

I got paid one huge great big British pound a night, drank all the beer I could for free and got to see every band playing. All I need do is pick up the glasses. I’ll take it.

This was heaven. My days were spent trolling the used record stalls in Rupert Street, Cheapo Cheapo Records in particular, where Graham Stapleton, a good friend now, who I met decades later by shear crazy coincidence via Jim Lahat, sold all the promo/dj copies that the Radio 1 and Melody Maker staff would unload, for pennies, in an open air market stall. The stuff I got from him then…..forget about it. Crazy. We still exchange records and laugh about those days. Small world indeed.

Then there were the bands that played: Robin Trower, Thin Lizzy, Sparks UK debut with Queen opening (from whom Queen admittedly lifted many of their ideas – why Queen didn’t ask Russell Mael to join the reunion lineup instead of Paul Rodgers is preposterous), Andy Bown, Alex Harvey Band, Sutherland Brothers & Ouiver, Daryl Way’s Wolf, The Spencer Davis Group, Writing On The Wall, Climax Blues Band, Colin Blunstone, Chicken Shack, Bedlam, Wild Turkey, JSD Band, The Marmalade, Caravan, East Of Eden, Byzantium, String Driven Thing, Tempest, Colosseum, Keef Hartley Band – I could go on and on and on. Plus, I had the golden key, I could put people on the guest list.

With hormones raging and so many pretty girls trying to unsuccessfully get to the bands, they’d turn to the staff. I spent many a damp grass night in Soho Square on the green, juggling in hindsight, laughable relationships. And in the process, fell for a Scottish girl, Claire.

Bowie ticket Reading 73

Claire and I became an item and went to loads of shows together (Family, Wizzard, Fairport Convention, The Kinks, Slade, Curved Air) or, didn’t bother to go to some, like the biggest mistake of all times: David Bowie & The Spiders From Mars final show ever – for which I bought a ticket (see scan above) and didn’t use. I know, stupid.

Listen: Pool Hall Richard / The Faces
Pool Hall Richard / Faces

It wasn’t the only ticket I didn’t use. Claire & I went to Scotland the weekend of Reading Festival, for which I had a 3 day, all access pass. Only a few years ago I admitted to myself, I didn’t really like The Faces (who were playing – see scan) because Rod Stewart’s voice irritates me to no end, not to mention his fat bottom half in leopard pants.

Still, their ‘Pool Hall Richard’ single has a groove that’s unmatchable. A beautiful shambles.