Archive for the ‘Jethro Tull’ 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.

Jethro Tull

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

Listen: Driving Song / Jethro Tull
Driving

Don’t confuse this early lineup of Jethro Tull with what came later. By album four, AQUALUNG, leader Ian Anderson had completely diminished their original swing and power by either eliminating founding members, or torturing them away with a softer, fussy sound, noticeably devoid of any jazz or blues influences.

The Clive Bunker / Glenn Cornick rhythm section were so integral to the swing the band had on THIS WAS and STAND UP, well it was almost criminal seeing it be destroyed at the time. ‘Driving Song’, the B side to ‘Living In The Past’, recorded just prior to the STAND UP sessions, remained a strong example of the live sound, even after adding John Evan on piano, around the time of third album BENEFIT. That was sadly the beginning of the end for their great initial period though, as both BENEFIT and the US dates to promote it began to show signs of the soft rock rot which inevitably came thereafter.

A timeless complaint theme of band being overworked by label/management/agent, ‘Driving Song’ probably felt completely throwaway to the voting members of the team, but in hindsight like anything pre BENEFIT, aged better than all further releases.

Blodwyn Pig

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Dear Jill / Blodwyn Pig

Dear Jill / Blodwyn Pig

Listen: Dear Jill / Blodwyn Pig
Dear

Even if you don’t favor late 60′s blues or progressive stuff, you might still appreciate Blodwyn Pig. They were an exception, really quite musical and in fact, still hold up well today.

The band was formed by Jethro Tull’s original guitarist Mick Abrahams, not long after they’d released their debut album, THIS WAS.

Similarly, Blodwyn Pig leaned a bit jazz and like Jethro Tull, were based in more than your standard guitar/bass/drums lineup, with Jack Lancaster on saxes/horns/harmonicas. A particularly strong asset being Mick Abrahams’ effortlessly authentic blues voice. Plus he was a very accomplished acoustic slide player as you can hear.

Pretty amazing to realize this music was written and played by guys in their late teens or at most, early twenties. Saw them once too, along with Chicken Shack, opening for The Kinks. The stellar UK band triple header had me glazing over my school work as I counted down the weeks, then days, then hours until showtime. Man, was it ever worth the agony.

Jethro Tull

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Listen: A Song For Jeffrey (Mono) / Jethro Tull
A Song For Jeffrey / Jethro Tull

A very close friend reminded me just the other day that the mention of Jethro Tull still conjures up a cringe amongst many. I get it, but everyone needs to section off their first two albums as being very different to what followed. Even the third, BENEFT, had strong songs in the same style as the previous pair, but the shift in attack on recordings began to reveal itself as softening at that stage.

BENEFIT sounded safe and small. Would bet money a remix that captures Jethro Tull’s wild abandon on stage in ’69 could breathe life into it still, although my guess is Ian Anderson would disagree. Quite soon after it’s release, bassist Glenn Cornick was gone, and the band never regained their sizzle. All soul had been zapped.

‘A Song For Jeffrey’, their UK debut A side single as Jethro Tull, was coupled with second UK single A side, ‘Love Story’ on their double sided US 7″ debut.

Listen: Back To The Family (Mono) / Jethro Tull
Back To The Family / Jethro Tull

The song that best represents this band’s live power at their peak, during the touring cycle for second album STAND UP, was ‘Back To The Family’. I wanted the track to be released as a single so badly then, I just may have beamed it into reality. What a thrill to find it initially mis-pressed on the B side of Reprise 0886, incorrectly labeled ‘Reasons For Waiting’.

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.

The Eyes Of Blue

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

Listen: Heart Trouble / The Eyes Of Blue
Heart

THE ESSENTIAL NORTHERN SOUL PRICE GUIDE describes this one as ‘Pop Northern Soul’, proceeding to, well, split hairs, describing it and them as “pop records by pop artists (usually white) that have the necessary beat and are recognisable as being non-soul singers”. Huh?

One of the things I loved about this single was Gary Pickford-Hopkins’ soulful voice, sounding not unlike Darrell Banks to me. But no worries, I live by that price guide and I recommend it highly. It’s the good book you curl up with in front of the fireplace during a blizzard, but then that’s just me.

I got ‘Heart Trouble’ upon release, specifically because it was on Deram. Predictably, the record was very English, due in part to the backup vocals and was produced by Deram in house guy, Noel Walker. He had a sound that I liked a lot.

In ’72 I got to meet Gary Pickford-Hopkins and talk with him about The Eyes Of Blue. By then he was the vocalist for Wild Turkey, Glenn Cornick’s band after leaving Jethro Tull. Regrettably named, they were good live and I loved their first album, BATTLE HYMN. I think I may have been the only person on earth who did, or at least admitted it. That night Wild Turkey were supporting Black Sabbath and not unusually, I was more into the obscure opening UK band than the headliner.

Nowadays, both Eyes Of Blue Deram singles are Northern Soul collectables, listing for $40-60 each. I bought many copies back in the 70′s, all for less than a dollar. In fact one for a mere penny off of Tom Kohn’s Bop Shop. He gave me change for my nickel.

I just couldn’t pass them up though. The lesson here is, you can never have enough spares, plus one day…they may be worth something.

Paris

Monday, February 15th, 2010

Paris2061USA, Paris, Capitol, Bob Welch, Glenn Cornick, Fleetwood Mac

Listen: Big Towne, 2061 (Mono) / Paris Paris2061.mp3

While going through the library for my previous Mica Paris post, I couldn’t resist also listening to her alphabetical predecessor, Paris, the band.

Baffling how this post Fleetwood Mac, pre solo success Bob Welch era hardly gets a mention. Almost as though his band, Paris, never existed.

Firstly, nowhere near enough credit is afforded to the Fleetwood Mac/Bob Welch chunk of albums. Being just prior to their Stevie Nicks/Lindsey Buckingham skyrocket, it’s sadly dwarfed. As with the Peter Green era just before it, both include must have singles.

I was a serious Glenn Cornick fan, for ages considering him the best bassist out there. From seeing Jethro Tull’s first US show at The Fillmore East, I was in. THIS WAS and STAND UP, have remained big favorites. That band just plummeted downhill once he was replaced by a very stiff someone or other. All of the band’s soul was robbed.

Therefore, with much interest did I approach Paris. BIG TOWNE, 2061, their second album, oddly didn’t register with FM radio, a strange twist given the Fleetwood Mac and Jethro Tull history. Not to mention it’s quality. Seemed Capitol didn’t care, never do I recall much press or visibility. Add bad timing to the equation as this preceded punk by less than a year, so in no time, the sound was passe.

Still, a good single. I forced it on everyone around for ages, which clearly didn’t help the big picture at all.

Derek & The Dominoes / Duane Allman / Elton John / Toe Fat

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad (Mono Edit)/ Derek & The Dominoes

Listen: Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad (Mono Edit)/ Derek & The Dominoes DerekWhyDoesLove.mp3

Bad Side Of The Moon / Toe Fat

Listen: Bad Side Of The Moon / Toe Fat ToeFat.mp3

Toe Fat US Picture Sleeve
US Picture Sleeve: Front (above) / Back (below)


Toe Fat US Picture Sleeve

On December 4, 1970, Derek & The Dominoes/Elton John/Toe Fat played the Syracuse War Memorial. Truth be told, I went to this show more to see Toe Fat than either Derek & The Dominoes or second on the bill, Elton John. It was all about those obscure UK bands for me, and with Cliff Bennett on lead vocals, Toe Fat, despite the dreadful name, were of big interest.

It was Elton John’s first US tour and to be fair, I was pretty curious. He was great by the way, just a three piece then with Nigel Olsson and Dee Murray. He proceeded to do ‘Bad Side Of The Moon’, despite it being the current single for Toe Fat, who played it as well just before his set. Still remember John Glascock on bass, later in Chicken Shack when I booked them at my college in December 71 and eventually joining Jethro Tull. He had a definite groove to his style and probably made the band swing the way they did.

This show, reviewed below, was one of only two that Duane Allman played live with Derek & The Dominoes. Like the poorly written recap, journalist Terry Lee clearly had no clue about this major moment, despite the roar of the audience when Eric Clapton brought Duane Allman out for the second song onwards. I recall an interview with Duane whereby he mentioned doing Syracuse and Tampa only. Despite his participation on LAYLA, it was one of the lucky moments to see it all live. Years later I quite appreciated the whole Delaney & Bonnie & Friends/Leon Russell feel, and admittedly this show was spectacular despite walking in as a Toe Fat fan. Probably the world’s only.

Derek, Elton, Toe Fat Review