Archive for the ‘The Band’ Category

Joe South

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Listen: Birds Of A Feather / Joe South

Turns out my tastes were always partial toward Joe South.

WNDR was playing ‘Birds Of A Feather’ upon release, and my then close friend/next door neighbor had bought a copy. The record became a regular after school spin for ages. We’d load up on candy and chips, sodas, then converge on his parent’s house from about 3 to 5pm daily. The place became a juvenile hangout for our clique, basically young aspiring record fanatics searching for their first high. Seriously, we’d mix Coca-Cola and aspirin with drips of alcohol from his parents liquor cabinet trying hard for a buzz, always to no avail. We couldn’t risk his folks noticing the slowly depleting bottles, hence the required rationing. Certain singles, like Joe South’s, made up our soundtrack.

Joe South, in hindsight, had also written Billy Joe Royal’s ‘Down In The Boondocks’, a very early memory from winter ’65. Great song, and personally an easy one to identify with. Being banished to small town upstate New York, pining to live in a big, big city full of deeply stocked record stores was my apparent fate. A little boy presumably sentenced to life in said boondocks.

I would argue that Joe South’s songs and especially his singles collectively inspired many an Americana music band, not only US but also British. The Flying Burrito Brothers and Sea Train from here or Brinsley Schwarz and Heads, Hands & Feet from there come to mind. It’s my instinct at least. Joe South seems to be the one guy forever overlooked when the media instead busies itself siting Johnny Cash, Hank Williams or The Band as the catalysts.

Bobby Charles

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Listen: Small Town Talk / Bobby Charles BobbyCharlesSmallTalkTown.mp3

When Bobby Charles was invited by The Band to participate in their final concert and accompanying documentary, THE LAST WALTZ, seems the group and Rick Danko in particular, had a dream come true. For years regarded an important member of New Orleans’ swamp / cajun music fraternity, Bobby Charles soon after headed to their home base in Woodstock and recorded his sole album for Bearsville.

With John Simon and Rick Danko as his co-producers, the result is to this day, a perfect document of southern Louisiana-influenced rhythm and blues and magnified The Band’s quality as players better than just about anything else they recorded, in my opinion.

Even the sound those guys succeeded to document in of all places, upstate New York, rivals the most revered French Quarter studios. ‘Small Town Talk’, the 7″, is a completely different version to the album, with Dr. John, Levon Helm, Rick Danko and John Simon essentially his make shift band. The record got a bunch of evening plays on BBC programs back then. I recall John Peel championing the single which indeed now, is a cherished possession.


Monday, August 30th, 2010

Listen: 13 Questions / Seatrain Seatrain13.mp3

Despite my preference for the British bands from the 60′s and 70′s, there’d many times be an American group as part of those three band live lineups so prevalent at the time. Like there were always three at The Fillmore. Three bands were kind of a given.

No recollection which bill Seatrain were part of, ’13 Questions’ was current at the time and I remember liking the set.

Besides, I did fancy the look of the Capitol label around this time: those lime green with purple/black logo albums, then the circular orange and red with graphically matching blue/yellow bullseye 7″ label/sleeve combos. Plus, Capitol used a lot of recycled vinyl, whereby they’d grind up and melt down returns and defectives with the label still affixed, hence ‘Capitol surface noise’ as we all coined it. Example: did you EVER hear a Quicksilver Messenger Service album without it during the quiet patches? There you go. The proof.

I must admit, it made all those records by Joy Of Cooking, The Band and yes, Seatrain sound a touch desirable to one person at least. I liked Capitol’s particular sound of crackle.

Listen: I’m Willin’ / Seatrain SeatrainWillin.mp3

Seems ’13 Questions’ had a fair share of airplay on the FM stations in it’s day. I know I heard it on occasion, as was the case with their version of Lowell George’s ‘I’m Willin”. Despite Seatrain’s general lack of lyrical ability, seems they were not alone. Lowell Geroge, on this particualr song at least, is clearly no poet. I mean, are these words supposed to be funny?

Still, I’d acquired a taste for violin in rock, when well done as in the case of Family, it can make one quite open minded. Then I saw The Flock support John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, and Jerry Goodman was setting the place ablaze. Really good stuff. Likewise with Seatrain. Richard Greene was a much more subtle but classy violinist. His playing was never overdone.

Live, they were pretty raw. In the studio though, with George Martin producing, no doubt wearing his signature shirt, tie and suit coat, they were sadly cleaned, polished and de-souled. He did have a knack for white washing things in the booth. See my post on The Action.

Got home that night after seeing the band and played both ’13 Questions’ and ‘I’m Willin” a good half dozen times each, until I could stand the ‘Capitol surface noise’ no longer.

Brinsley Schwarz

Friday, May 21st, 2010

BrinsleyHappyUSA, Brinsley Schwarz, Nick Lowe

Listen: Happy Doing What We’re Doing / Brinsley Schwarz BrinsleyHappy.mp3

Never much interested in American flannel shirt country rock easily lead me to brush off similar bands from the UK. I was equally dismissive of Man, Help Yourself, Brinsley Schwarz, any of that early stuff hiding behind the pub rock shield. One listen and as soon as The Band/Woodstock detector would sound in my head – immediately off came the vinyl and back into the sleeve it went. Besides, I noticed Brinsley Schwarz were playing The Fillmore East with Van Morrison and Quicksilver Messenger Service. This just didn’t feel right for my palate.

Having preceded themselves as Kippington Lodge, a more mod, colorful pop Marmalade meets Herd lightweight singles band, they too never registered on my radar, oddly, despite Mark Wirtz as producer. So the evolution of Brinsley Schwarz basically was a rather unnoticed one for a while.

I softened a bit to some singles by The Band, and actually liked ‘Up On Cripple Creek’. Interestingly, their first few 45′s were higher, much higher chart achievers in the UK than here. I know, not an obvious guess, but true.

By ’72, I was fast friends with Rich Fazekas out at UA’s west coast office – a connection initialized by the label suddenly being the hip home to Family and The Move. He implored me to give their newly released fourth Brinsley Schwarz album, NERVOUS ON THE ROAD, a fair listen. I did and guess what, it became a favorite for a patch. There are a bunch of songs worthy of 7″ status on that one, and I was perfectly content to have ‘Happy Doing What We’re Doing’ be someone at the label’s choice. I just wanted a Brinsley Schwarz single from that LP in my collection.

Being a completist, I eventually surrounded ‘Happy Doing What We’re Doing’ with their singles prior and following. Some of them are fun, and real keepers, but nothing tops this one still, not for me at least.

Delaney & Bonnie & Friends

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

Never Ending Song Of Love - Delaney & Bonnie & Friends

Listen: Never Ending Song Of Love – Delaney & Bonnie & Friends 06 Never Ending Song Of Lov.mp3

I never got too deeply into that American country sound, the occasional single by The Band or Poco once in a while, I guess. In hindsight, the more country/blues, loosely shambled records actually appeal from time to time. Seems like everybody has forgotten about Delaney & Bonnie & Friends. Probably best known for letting Eric Clapton join their band after the success of The Cream, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and The Yardbirds was just too much to handle, they seemed to fade away as soon as he left. Don’t know about you, but I never hear them anywhere. Bonnie Bramlett got into a scrabble with Elvis Costello after he’d made a racial slur towards blacks in a hotel bar once. So I do give her props for that. Once in a while, I like the laziness of their back porch sound to be honest.