Archive for the ‘The Youngbloods’ Category

The Youngbloods

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

Listen: Merry-Go-Round / The Youngbloods

As with my post from a few years back, ‘Merry-Go-Round’, the followup to the equally poppy ‘Grizzly Bear’ single, was a first listen record. Despite Gail Collins and Felix Pappalardi’s psychedelic revolutionary lyrics, I’d go as far as to say this is the band’s most pointed attempt at a throwaway Top 40 hit. Throwaway, only because I’ll bet you anything the band hated it.

Let’s be fair, The Youngbloods were very musical. They mastered a perfect electric piano/clean guitar sound off the bat. Anyone who got a chance to see them live will instantly verify their greatness.

‘Merry-Go-Round’ was a hit upstate. All their singles got played, and in hindsight, that’s quite unusual. Most weren’t getting national attention from radio. ‘Get Together’ flopped on release. Not until a few years later, when reissued, did proper airplay result.

‘Merry-Go-Round’ worked perfectly coming out of the car dashboard, trust me. It sounded just fine next between The Ohio Express and The 1910 Fruitgum Company to be honest.

Sorry guys.

Merle Haggard / The Youngbloods

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Listen: Okie From Muskogee / Merle Haggard
Okie From Muskogee / Merle Haggard

I think it was on the Johnny Carson Show where I first encountered ‘Okie From Muskogee’ and in fact, had initially even heard of Merle Haggard. He and his song became the enemy in three short minutes. It was, at the time, a clear antagonistic attack on youth culture. And I was a member.

Many years later it became obvious that the world of country music was as twisted by drugs and sex as any other. Made Merle Haggard become something like an unregistered hypocrite. And once everyone discovered he’d been in jail and all that, he crumbled into a joke.

As it turns out, he claimed the song to be tongue in cheek, and nowadays, I guess everyone believes him. He’s certainly made a lot of good records since. Who knows – the single is quite funny in the 21st century, even hard to hate.

Listen: Hippie From Olema / The Youngbloods
Hippie From Olema / The Youngbloods

There was some relief in the day though. The Youngbloods shot back with a fantastically hysterical response in the form of ‘Hippie From Olema’, a very under heard, under appreciated non-LP track. I don’t believe it’s ever been compiled.

It was the local Syracuse University station, WAER, that started to spin it heavily. The single was perfect for campus radio. And we all glued ourselves to their frequency, given in the late 60′s, they were the only progressive format in town.

I, for one, loved the station. Half the student disc jockeys were Anglophiles jamming out Blodwyn Pig, Juicy Lucy, Chicken Shack, Taste, King Crimson etc over the airwaves. WAER was a Godsend.

The Youngbloods came to the school’s gymnasium about then as well. Despite their unwashed, American folk rock angle, I always loved their records. Never did they release a bad single either, whether it be the early, more pop intended ones (which Jesse Colin Young often accused RCA of forcing them to do) to later, underground album tracks.

So off to the show we went. Let me tell you, they were a serious live band, incredibly musical and entertaining. Collected every last release ever since.

The closing lyric: “We still take in strangers if they’re haggard” gets a SO MANY RECORDS SO LITTLE TIME lifetime lyrical achievement award for being right up there with both The Ramones’ “I don’t care about poverty, all I care about is me” and Lux Interior’s “From your bottom to your top, you’re sure some lollipop”. Congratulations guys.

Rita Pavone

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

ritapavoneps, Rita Pavone, RCA

Listen: Remember Me / Rita Pavone RitaPavone.mp3

Remember Rita Pavone? Something to the effect of a sixteen year old Italian teen sensation. She was on Ed Sullivan many times, or seemingly. How her tomboy, hobo image slotted in so nicely with the English Invasion’s mini skirted and Yardley’s Slickered lipped Twiggy types in hindsight doesn’t make much sense. It didn’t last long anyways.

She did make a decent album, and a couple of good singles. ‘Remember Me’ got some radio traction here, despite the accent, which I found very exotic. The lure of a picture sleeve was too much for me to resist. In a very, very, very small way, I suppose it helped the record’s climb to #26 on the Billboard charts.

You have to hand it to RCA, they were pretty good at handing out full color sleeves: Duane Eddy, The Youngbloods, The Small Faces, Jefferson Airplane, Little Peggy March.

The Youngbloods

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

Above & Below: Double Sided US Picture Sleeve

Listen: Grizzly Bear / The Youngbloods

I want to say I got turned on to The Youngbloods around the time of those late night summer ’67 transistor-under-the-pillow listening experiences; but I’m not certain, as ‘Grizzly Bear’ picked up a lot of daytime Top 40 play in my hometown pretty quickly.

I consistently seem to forget them as well as Country Joe & The Fish, who I did first hear on late night AM, when recalling favorite west coast bands during a period of primarily preferring English acts. But I always appreciated their sound, even when veering dangerously close to The Grateful Dead’s more country, mellow stuff. I guess the difference was the near magical combination of Jesse Colin Young’s voice and Lowell Banana Levinger’s guitar technique. I liked that instantly, yet it wasn’t until a few years later I could admit it to my Anglofile friends, shockingly even more prejudice than me.

A bunch of us went to see The Youngbloods at the Hamilton Collage gymnasium around the time of ‘Get Together’, chugging cheap strawberry wine during the ride. Never a dull moment. A loose, fun and spontaneous set will always be the way I remember their greatness.

This, the band’s first single, as with a few that followed, were considerably more pop than the albums and The Youngbloods’ general m.o. Presumably some record company arm twisting went down here, looking for singles. And why not, check out the result.

‘Grizzly Bear’ was issued in a now pretty scarce double front cover picture sleeve. At the time, it was impossible to find. All the copies that made it into the local Syracuse shops were bagged in stock RCA sleeves. In fact, it wasn’t until the early 90′s, at a Seattle record fair, that my luck finally changed. Took that long to find one.