Archive for the ‘The Jeff Beck Group’ Category

Alvin Robinson

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

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.

The Kinks

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Day's / The Kinks

Day's / The Kinks

Day's / The Kinks jukebox tab

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Ray Davies

Day's / The Kinks press-release

Listen: Days / The Kinks
Days / The Kinks

How do you pick a Kinks single to write about, yet avoid the guilt of the dozens you’re not mentioning? Not possible. But listening back to this week’s PICK OF THE POPS program, on BBC’s Radio 2, where Dale Winton counts down selected Top 20′s from years gone by, spanning the 60′s forward with much accuracy and old style chart excitement, I heard ‘Days’. It was in the 1968 chart that he was featuring.

‘Days’ has always been one of my most cherished records, and I have listened to it undoubtably thousands of times. I had a memorable life moment last November in London, walking from my hotel in Primrose Hill in the cold drizzling rain on a very grey Sunday to have late afternoon tea at my friend’s, when I heard it in the headphones, following Thunderclap Newman’s ‘Something In The Air’, played back to back on Radio 2. Being able to listen to the radio is a fascinating privilege not well known here in the States. This, my friends, was heaven.

As much as I loved it when released in summer ’68, and buying it at King Karol’s in NY on a summer excursion to see some bands, Jethro Tull with The Jeff Beck Group at the Fillmore East, I could never 100% enjoy it. I always felt so bitter that ‘Days’ got no airplay anywhere in the US and what a criminal shame it was that America was again being cheated out of such great musical culture by radio, a cancer that worsened year after year. No wonder we have what we have in our charts.

But some justice has been served, Ray Davies still performs and his great songs, like ‘Days’, get used in films etc. and covered. What would have happened if singles like this, and bands like The Small Faces or The Pretty Things had been given a chance back then. No question, things would have been very different here.

Fleetwood Mac

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Listen: The Green Manalishi (With The Two Prong Crown) / Fleetwood Mac
The

To my recollection, this 1970 non-LP A side was Peter Green’s final, officially planned single with Fleetwood Mac. Almost feels like they were veering toward the sound de jour: those beginnings of heavy guitar arena rock, as Deep Purple and The Jeff Beck Group seemed to happily forge.

In fact, around the same time ‘The Green Manalishi (With The Two Prong Crown)’ was released, so too was Deep Purple’s ‘Black Night’. And given Peter Green’s imminent departure, that musical default could very well have been Fleetwood Mac’s path of least resistance.

Luckily, guitarist Jeremy Spencer’s love of late 50′s/early 60′s doo wop/ RnR influenced the direction for their next album, KILN HOUSE, and disaster was averted.

Technically, KILN HOUSE was an extension of ‘Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight’, the B side of a previous single, ‘Man Of The World’, their only ’69 release on Immediate Records, issued a year or less, between their periods on Blue Horizon Records and Warner Brothers/Reprise. The band even adopted the comical moniker Earl Vince & The Valiants for that side of the single’s label copy.

If ever you were lucky enough to see the Peter Green lineup pictured above on that beauty of a rarer than rare 7″ sleeve, you know how powerful these five were on a stage. Simply unforgettable.

Peter Green’s closing guitar solo twists and turns once again provided musical fear as only he could.

Jeff Beck

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Hi Ho Silver Lining / Jeff Beck

Hi Ho Silver Lining / Jeff Beck

Listen: Hi Ho Silver Lining / Jeff Beck
Hi Ho Silver Lining / Jeff Beck

From all reports, Jeff Beck hates these records. Shame. But I do wish I’d seen him perform them, as he must’ve done for a brief time just prior to recording and touring TRUTH.

Saw him a few years back at Roseland. His playing superb, and from where I was, he looked almost the same as when with The Yardbirds. Slim, no change in haircut, frozen in time. That show was way better than I remember The Jeff Beck Group being years prior. I was so disappointed that he didn’t play these two singles that night in 1969. We’d hitch hiked all the way to The Fillmore for the show, a bluesy metal jam instead of the clean English group sound we’d expected, based mainly on these two solo singles.

As with ‘Night Of Fear’ by The Move, the first time I heard ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining’ was via American Bandstand’s Rate A Record segment. My trusty tape recorder Tivo’ d the moment, 1967 style.

Tallyman / Jeff Beck

Listen: Tallyman / Jeff Beck
Tallyman / Jeff Beck

A ‘Tallyman’ highlight was the nice double tracked guitar solo, as well as his fills through to the end. Not to mention the vocals, which must really make him cringe. I don’t think he ever sang again actually.

The Attack / The Syn

Friday, March 6th, 2009

Hi Ho Silver Lining / The Attack

Listen: Hi Ho Silver Lining / The Attack
Hi

If ever you wanted to hear the ultimate English group sound, you are on the right post. Two examples being The Attack and The Syn.

Originally known as The Soul System, the group signed to Decca UK in late ’66, changing their name to The Attack. Despite various line-up changes, which included David O’List and John Du Cann, then soon to be members of The Nice and Atomic Rooster respectively, as well a future founder of The Marmalade, Alan Whitehead, the band spawned four class singles. Their second in the UK, and lone US release on Decca’s US imprint, London, ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining’, lost out in the British charts to Jeff Beck’s version, which reached #14 in ’67, then #17 in ’72 and yet again #62 in ’82. Embarrassingly, his version peaked here at #123 in ’67 due to very little airplay, a pathetically common tale known as the sewer of US radio. The competing version also gave The Attack controversial attention in the British press claiming Jeff Beck had stolen the song from them.

Created By Clive / The Attack

Listen: Created By Clive / The Attack
Created

Created By Clive / The Syn

Listen: Created By Clive / The Syn
Created

Amazingly, despite having been damaged by the Jeff Beck fiasco, Decca jumped into a similar fire and chose to release the terrific follow-up, ‘Created By Clive’ on the very same day as it’s in-house subsidiary label, Deram, issued The Syn’s version of exactly the same song. It unknowingly predates Clive Davis’ eventual destruction of the record business with frightening accuracy by some forty years.

Neville Thumbcatch / The Attack

Listen: Neville Thumbcatch / The Attack
Neville

The Attack’s fourth and final single, ‘Neville Thumbcatch’ seems to mix The Kinks ‘Big Sky’ with the sound of LSD.