Archive for the ‘Graham Stapleton’ Category

Little Richard / Quincy Jones

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Listen: Money Is / Little Richard
Money Is / Little Richard

How do you take a period piece blaxploitation style soundtrack composition, and make a proper song out of it, one that might actually get heard and become a radio hit? In the case of turning ‘Money Runner’ (below) into ‘Money Is’ (above): bring up the electric guitar chords, the love hangover Rhodes keys and add a RnR legend. Voilà.

Oh, don’t forget one other ingredient. Quincy Jones. Check out his discography sometime. How did he do it all….and when? Did this guy ever sleep?

I bet there’s recordings so obscure, so off his radar, even he doesn’t remember. Troll through your old Mercury soundtracks some time. Or just check credits on Mercury releases from the mid 60′s. Start with Lesley Gore.

Not until filing stuff from last summer’s trip to London did it even come to my attention he’d worked with Little Richard at all. It’s constantly a mad dash against time, sorting through piles of promos every trip to Graham Stapleton’s basement shop in Fulham. I just end up grabbing, then reading the fine print a later.

Listen: Money Runner / Quincy Jones
Money Runner / Quincy Jones

Incidental music for films, many times more experimental and mesmerizing than those intended works meant to push the envelope could ever be. The rare talent of turning actions into sounds, like the ending of ‘Money Runner’, is what separates us common people from Quincy Jones.

I never saw the film, but it sure sounds like a heist to me.

Country Gazette

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Listen: Teach Your Children / Country Gazette CountryGazetteTeachYourChildren.mp3

Graham Nash seems a good egg. Having written so many great songs, his patience with Crosby, Stills & Nash must be admired. Unlike The Hollies or he as a solo artist, that band just never seemed to breathe life into any of his compositions. I didn’t pay them a lot of attention mind you, and only when it was a Graham Nash song did Crosby, Stills & Nash seem to catch my ear.

How glad was I to finally find an inspired version of ‘Teach Your Children’ in a pile of A labels, saved so generously for me by my pal Graham Stapleton in London. Check out our history elsewhere on the blog.

Even before giving it a spin, hopes were high. Jim Dickson had produced. His many recordings with The Byrds, he demoed and managed their original lineup, were always powerful.

When Country Gazette were current, and releasing records on United Artists, yours truly was the label’s New York State college rep, having gained notice from Rich Fazekas. Basically UA, as we all called them, were the US outlet for a few of my top favorites from the period: Roy Wood via his various releases with The Move, Wizzard and solo; plus Family. Racing their singles and albums to the top of our college station’s playlist alerted the UA home office. Fandom expanded to business relationship. Exactly what going to college is really all about, making connections for the real world.

Once firmly in place as the UA college rep with a trunk full of promos, I blindly championed the aforementioned English acts, while unfair lack of attention was bestowed on the Blue Note catalog and various Nashville leaning artists like Townes Van Zandt and Country Gazette. Big regret. Apologies.

Luckily, the ‘unable to throw anything away’ gene meant I saved a copy of every last record I was supposed to promote, and can now repent for my sins by finally trying to spread the word about Country Gazette, even if Graham Stapleton hadn’t saved me this 7″.

The Crystals

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Listen: Little Boy / The Crystals CrystalsLittleBoy.mp3

How is it possible that ‘Little Boy’ was not a hit. It will always be one of the unexplained wonders of the world. No surprise Phil Spector flipped his lid. This (#92), ‘River Deep – Mountain High’ (#88), The Ramones ‘Baby I Love You (never charted at all). How appalling. What an embarrassment.

I do recall hearing the record a lot in my hometown though. All the Phillies singles seemed to get played upstate. And when ‘Little Boy’ was current, I neglected to get me a copy. It wasn’t until summer ’73 when I finally bought one for 35p at Graham Stapleton’s stall outside Cheapo Cheapo Records on Rupert Street in London’s Soho. What a bargain. As always, the label copy name checks included Larry Levine and Jack Nitzsche.

Fast forward to the late 80′s. I’m working at Island, A&Ring Marianne Faithfull. The company was searching for something a bit more current on the upcoming album. She’d done STRANGE WEATHER prior, and it’s old Europe Prague winebar angle was getting tired. I’d suggested New Order produce. Chris wasn’t feeling that. It was apparently too young a look. Somewhere in the mix, Jack Nitzsche became the possible candidate, so off to LA went Marianne to try writing with him, see if some result could develop.

He had just produced the soundtrack to THE HOT SPOT, a truly terrific album with John Lee Hooker, Miles Davis and Taj Mahal. There was even a single released, and that’s posted elsewhere on this blog.

Jack actually called me one day with an update, basically saying nothing much was getting done. Not the best news, but getting a call from Jack Nitzsche with any news at all was huge in my book.

No sooner did he ring than Marianne was on the phone.

“I need to get out of here. All he wants to do is fuck me”

“So do it”


She was back in NY days later. So much for that collaboration.

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by LaLa Brooks


Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

Baby I’m - A Want You / Bread

Listen: Baby I’m – A Want You / Bread BreadBabyImAWant.mp3

The Guitar Man / Bread

Listen: The Guitar Man / Bread BreadGuitar.mp3

I was filing a box of singles last weekend that I’d been avoiding for ages, with no recollection of how I ended up owning them even. Mostly likely Graham Stapleton saved these for me from his stockpile of 70’s promos, back when he dealt with all the BBC dj’s and pop press music critics. Check out past posts for more details.

They were all UK A labels – and the reason for avoiding them was not what you think. It’s because I knew it would eat up an afternoon to get through the 30 count box, once I started cleaning and playing them all. As it turns out – I had a great time.

Amongst them were two Bread 7’s. Like everyone, I had my nose in the air toward this band at the time. Yes, they looked like shit, and were no match for glam or The Kinks. But guilty pleasures were indeed a few of their songs at the time. I have to say, ‘The Guitar Man’ sounded pretty great on Sunday. In hindsight, these sit perfectly with any Glen Campbell or Jimmy Webb record probably considered more politically correct still.

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.