Archive for the ‘Capitol’ Category

Wanda Jackson & The Party Timers

Monday, December 21st, 2015

Listen: A Girl Don’t Have To Drink To Have Fun / Wanda Jackson & The Party Timers
A

Fresh off a seven hour flight, my blood was sizzling to stop by the Brooklyn Record Riot at The Warsaw Theatre yesterday. Even I couldn’t believe I had the energy, but something was telling me: go, go. Sure enough, that little bell in my brain rang true. Despite being late in the day, around 4:30 and with the threat the place theoretically had been picked, as those of us possessed would tend to describe it, there were boxes of 45′s just waiting to be hoarded.

I’m speaking mainly of a fellow with hundreds of clean, still in the original company sleeves, most without a crease, early 60′s country promos, primarily Decca and Capitol 7′s. Country in the loosest sense that is. Luckily the radio station from where they came clearly kept anything remotely associated with country, like former rockabilly greats whose stars had long ago faded as in Carl Perkins. Bluesy bar room crying in your drink songs from guys influenced by the great guitar pickers, like Hoyt Axton, Leo Kottke and Albert Lee. To rock acts that dressed like farmers describing themselves as tasty even then, such as Goose Creek Symphony, Joy Of Cooking, Joe Crane & The Hoodoo Rhythm Devils and The Grease Band.

Praise be, there were loads of gems. Fantastic Merle Haggard & The Strangers various red neck hater songs, Buck Owens & The Buckaroos, Sonny Burgess & The Southern Gentlemen, Ferlin Husky & The Hushpuppies and Conway Twitty 7′s. Chunks of Loretta Lynn, Kitty Wells, Tammy Wynette, Dottie West, Brenda Lee, Wilma Burgess and even Patsy Cline singles, many in picture sleeves.

Amongst my favorite scores were a sizable stack of Wanda Jackson releases. Who can pass up anything by her, especially one titled ‘A Girl Don’t Have To Drink To Have Fun’, a #22 Country chart hit in ’67, from her flawless CREAM OF THE CROP album. My feet barely touched the ground leaving despite being armloads of records heavier, yet a wallet only $25 lighter. The whole 10 for a dollar experience and especially this single, made my day.

Perry & The Harmonics

Thursday, December 25th, 2014

Listen: Do The Monkey With Mr. James / Perry & The Harmonics
Do

If you haven’t heard or heard of Perry & The Harmonics, then get to steppin’. For years, I too slept on this single and the sole album from which it came, INTRIGUE WITH SOUL.

Seemingly led by saxophonist Clarence Perry, the ’65 studio-only Perry & The Harmonics attempted to cash in on the extremely successful and then current craze of James Bond / 007. The bulk of the album being soul interpretations of the film’s various theme songs, plus a few originals like ‘James Goes To Soulville’ and then, this spectacular single ‘Do The Monkey With James’.

The album is scarce, and this single even more so. That’s Ed Townsend, possibly most known as co-writer of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Let’s Get It On’, doing the voice overs, which double as lead vocals, and I doubt a better delivery could have been conjured by anyone. His credits as a songwriter and producer are fairly deep, particularly in the Mercury catalogs, where he was a house producer working closely with Dee Dee Warwick. His label ties included Vee Jay, Capitol and Scepter. As well, as an unsung hero, his writing and producing credits covered Etta James, Big Maybelle and The Shirelles. He was particularly good with the female voice.

The Action

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Twentyfourth Hour / The Action

Listen: Twentyfourth Hour / The Action Twenty Fourth Hour.mp3

Melody Maker Top 50

It took a long while to hear The Action. Started reading about them around the time The Move debuted, mid ’66. They seemed to be from the same club scene, both were being touted for strong live shows and regulars at The Marquee. Like The Move, they had a great name and some great photos were about. I was desperate to hear ‘I’ll Keep Holding On’, which charted on the Melody Maker Top 50 during April of that year. But nothing was being released in the US. Then one Friday in May ’67, when I dropped by WMCR to blag some 45′s, there they were in my stack. This had been an agonizingly long wait. Now I was over excited. Couldn’t get home fast enough.

To be honest, I was a little disappointed, this didn’t have that edge I expected. Something seemed missing from their attack. Years later I realized the downfall: George Martin. He produced all their singles. Clean, jangly, immaculately recorded, well crafted, probably did them all wearing that fucking suit and tie. Self celebrated for his work with The Beatles, but in my opinion, George Martin also single handedly tanked The Action’s career. There was no dirt. This guy just didn’t get down. Wouldn’t be surprised if he never even saw them live.

With all his Beatles clout, you’d thought he’d have gotten US Capitol to release more than one single. Nope.

Or pushed Parlophone to release an album. Nope.

The Action only ever had one 7″ here in the US and no LP in the UK.

I actually grew to love ‘Twentyfourth Hour’, their RnB authenticity and a great Reg King vocal won through his pasty white production. If only Denny Cordell had produced.

Leadbelly

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

HUDIE LEADBETTER / Leadbelly:

leadbellyep1, Leadbelly, Capitol, Jack White,

leadbellyeppsback1

Side 1:

Listen: Take This Hammer / Leadbelly
Take

Listen: Ella Speed / Leadbelly
Ella

Side 2:

Listen: Back Water Blues / Leadbelly
Back

Listen: Sweet Mary Blues / Leadbelly
Sweet

Like jazz or gospel singles, blues 7′s are pretty irresistable. For years, fairly abundant, it was a non stop 50¢ field day. I ended up with stacks, and occasionally spend several hours having a proper sift through them. ‘Take This Hammer’, like so many, found it’s way to me via a white 60′s English band, The Spencer Davis Group. Stevie Winwood unquestionably had the voice to pull off any of these standards, which was the case for ‘This Hammer’, as it was titled on their US GIMME SOME LOVIN’ album.

Good news. This stuff is still around if you look. I only just bought Leadbelly’s UK EP, HUDIE LEADBETTER while in London last month, for a few pounds. Lovingly played, I do believe original records like these would sound a bit naked without the surface noise.

King Curtis & His Noble Knights

Friday, September 27th, 2013

Listen: Beach Party / King Curtis & His Noble Knights
Beach

I’m struggling to find a King Curtis single that I don’t like. Even his questionable cover choices of current day standards during the late 60′s Atco run like ‘ Harper Valley P.T.A.’ and ‘For What It’s Worth’ are fun spins on a rainy Sunday. Plus they always sound good in the Seeburg.

But few compare to his Capitol debut from ’62 ‘Beach Party’. What other RnB act was segueing straight into the whiter than white surf craze? None. Ok, so James Brown pulled up to the bumper in time to do a ski party appearance, but King Curtis, he was first.

Helen Reddy

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

Listen: I Am Woman / Helen Reddy
I

To think, in ’72, ‘I Am Woman’, a song about women’s rights, not only got airplay, but reached #1 on BILLBOARD’s Hot 100. With our US Presidential election only days away, a track like this might not get a chance to be heard for another four years if Romney wins. In fact, this blog might disappear for even saying that. Hopefully, you’ll all vote against such a threat.

Read about Helen Reddy on Wikipedia. Fascinating. Her first record deal in the US was with Fontana, but not until moving to Capitol did she get any traction. I recall Corinne and I being crazy about her around the time of ‘I Am Woman’, and standing for hours in the blazing sun to watch her up close at the New York State Fair summer ’74. Not only did we love the singles, but were knocked out by her words at the Grammy’s, whereby she concluded her acceptance speech famously thanking God “because She makes everything possible”.

The Johnny Otis Show

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

Listen: The Johnny Otis Hand Jive / The Johnny Otis Show
The

Later issued as the more familiar ‘Wille And The Hand Jive’, whatever that’s meant to mean, this original pressing went by ‘The Johnny Otis Hand Jive’. Either way, it wasn’t until many years later did I realize where the blueprint for The Strangeloves sound originated. And that’s okay, both have co-existed just fine in the record collection.

I think this was known as race music in it’s day, despite Johnny Otis himself being a white guy. Greek to be exact. Quite a compliment then.

Listen: The Watts Breakaway / The Johnny Otis Show
The

Seems The Johnny Otis Show’s sell by date had past by ’69, when their only Okeh release, ‘The Watts Breakaway’ hit a small smattering of record store shelves that summer. Despite fun filled lyrics like “I’m the duckin-est dodgin-est, dancin-est cat you ever knew”, the single’s theme, a new dance, was most likely considered dreadfully out of step with the times, relegating it to our favorite place in record colletordom, a flop and hard to find.

Turning up this seemingly factory fresh copy, with it’s sparking new and unblemished Okeh stock sleeve, in a $1 box full of 80′s hits was terribly baffling. How did it get there? And where are all the other records it’s been coexisting with for around four decades? Never content I guess.

Admittedly, it’s rude to keep pounding $1 finds, but let me advise you all, finding 60′s and 70′s soul, jazz and RnB 7″ valuables laughably underpriced at hipster indie rock shops is a miracle that still exists in real time. That’s all I’m saying.

Joe South

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Listen: Birds Of A Feather / Joe South
Birds

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.

Luscious Jackson

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

Listen: Naked Eye / Luscious Jackson
Naked

Luscious Jackson never did manage to spin their wheels beyond the college market for very long.

Oh yes, the good old college market as it was once known. You don’t hear that tag being sold much these days, which clearly coincides with college radio’s withered presence. The format was always an interesting free for all when it came to musical selection, but the consistent requirement to allow untrained students airtime meant ultimately, those amateur deliveries put most listeners off. Only the die hards could withstand the dead air and weak back sells in exchange for hearing something different.

‘Naked Eye’ became Luscious Jackson’s temporary out of jail free card, gaining enough play to reach #36 on BILLBOARD’s Top 100. Despite name producers and an old school record label, their homemade, amateur sound was never lost. In fact, as with ‘Naked Eye’, they didn’t really sounded like a group were playing together at all. Despite their attempts at rap coming closer to a suburban high school band than some street toughs from New York’s Lower East Side, their squeaky clean middle class take on Prince basically boiled down to reheated Waitresses, but it kinda worked, and I always found myself fond of their singles.

The Rats

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

Listen: Spoonful / The Rats
Spoonful

Ever been curious about a seminal guitarist’s humble beginnings? Well, most folks look towards The Rats version of ‘Spoonful’ as being the one to expose Mick Ronson’s rudimentary start.

Wrong. He joined the band post, but no doubt played this live. Instead, Frank Ince held down the lead guitar fort back in Fall ’64 when this was recorded, and surprisingly released in the US via Laurie Records.

Why surprisingly? Because for such a local, initially independent pressing of a mere 200 copies, the master found it’s way onto a US label’s release schedule prior to an expected English one. This was new territory. Possible explanation being at the height of British Invasion, every label’s marching orders were to acquire whatever they could find, anything, doesn’t matter, as long as it’s English. Being a small independent, Laurie clearly waited in line for the majors to pass, just as Vee Jay had patiently done when US Capitol turned their nose at UK sister company’s signing: The Beatles.

So for fun, here you go. The Rats first single, ‘Spoonful’. In no way a contender against The Cream’s version from ’68, but still a primitive attempt to compete with Hull hometown superstars, The Hullaballoss. For that, anyone gets an out of jail free card.

The Beatles

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Listen: I Want To Hold Your Hand / The Beatles
I Want To Hold Your Hand / The Beatles

A few weeks from now will mark yet another anniversary of The Beatles’ ED SULLIVAN SHOW debut in ’64 on February 9. Yes, forty eight years have passed since. Forty eight years! Scary, especially if you recall it, like I do. I wasn’t alone, but will readily admit it changed my life, like practically everything about it, despite being a little boy in his single digits. I never thought the same way about what I wanted to do when I grew up after that night, despite endless lectures from school guidance counselors to become a Math teacher, and not peruse a career in the record business. I think some of them may still be employed giving out such insightful advice.

Apparently, that first appearance is now considered a milestone in American pop culture and the official beginning of the British Invasion in music. The broadcast drew an estimated 73 million viewers, at the time a record for US television.

The Beatles performed five songs that evening including their then, newly achieved, first US #1: ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’. I might be accurate in saying I hadn’t heard this in a good five, maybe ten years. But leave it Little Steven on Sirius, suddenly there it was throbbing out of my dashboard. And it sounded fantastic. I got home and pulled the single right out, still practically untouched in it’s original picture sleeve above from so many years ago.

Not a hardcore Beatles admirer would be understating my self description for sure, but scanning over a singles discography as I did earlier, anyone would be an ignorant fool not to acknowledge their incredible run of endless stellar 45′s. Take a look sometime.

Prior to that US explosion, England was avalanched by Beatlemania during pretty much all of 1963. Having made their first appearance on Britain’s READY STEADY GO! that fall, logically, Vicki Wickham, the program’s talent manager and booker, who became the show’s producer, was serviced all the latest releases from the labels.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving weekend, 2010. Vicki, a dear friend nowadays, rang to say she’s found several thousand 45′s in her Manhattan storage unit, having completely forgotten they existed, and was I interested. Just try to guess how fast I tore over there and I’ll guarantee you it was twice that. Praise be, these were, and still are, the holy grail. I can’t even begin to describe it’s contents and revel in them constantly, filing these gems away ever so slowly. I never want it to end.

So pictured above, from Vicki Wickham’s original collection, not only the actual copy serviced to her at Rediffusion Television’s READY STEADY GO! offices, but one that very conveniently indicates the record’s November 29, 1963 UK release date. It’s also the copy streaming here, yes, the real thing.

Quite probably the same copy that secured them yet another booking on the program. I must ask Vicki to confirm that detail.

Kraftwerk

Sunday, December 25th, 2011

Listen: The Robots (Edited Version) / Kraftwerk
The

A virtue worthy of living by: the holiday is all about giving, and showing the ones you love that you love them. In keeping with that holiday spirit, I’m giving more than usual. Two A sides. They were separately released in the UK as consecutive singles: ‘The Robots’ then ‘Neon Lights’. But in the US, coupled as and A and B. Although in reality, 2 A’s.

Despite ‘The Robots’ reaching #20 in the UK pop charts, of course in the US, it got no airplay. Hey, here’s an act that still isn’t even considered for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Are you a member of that deciding committee? I hope so. Because that means you are reading this and I’m able to tell you: you’re a fucking idiot and/or a coward.

That’s cool actually. Kraftwerk have been so loudly ignored by that self appointed bunch that they’re spotlighted more for not being in than if they were.

Speaking of those committee bozos, when they learned I owned the original London Records sign, the one that graced the doorway of the label’s 539 East 25th Street offices in New York, they asked me to please donate it to the museum. I really couldn’t part with it. Understand, I still have rocks collected in kindergarden, unable to throw anything away. How could I possibly just give this sign to anyone? Well as a result, I was kicked off the voting panel. How great is that?

‘The Robots’, released in the thick of our addiction to punk, was accepted as part of the family. Everyone I knew worshiped it. Corinne was the singles buyer at a one stop then, and ordered a ton of them, hence the jukebox tab below.

And if you have been lucky enough to see Kraftwerk perform this live, well, nothing more needs said.

Listen: Neon Lights / Kraftwerk
Neon

Equally equal in greatness, ‘Neon Lights’ was possibly more palatable for airplay…so I thought. I worked radio promotion at the time. Although my employer was MCA, I spent most of those meetings with program directors talking about worthy records to be considered, usually on competing labels. During that period, Kraftwerk was both my topic of discussion and usually of battle. Little good it did either the record or yours truly, but to end the post as I started it, with a virtue to live by, it was the thought that counted.

H. B. Barnum

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Listen: Heartbreaker / H. B. Barnum
Heartbreaker

Let’s not forget what seemingly mediocre productions of non charting, weak Motown copy songs from the late 60′s and early 70′s became. They became a genre to themselves: Northern Soul.

Everyone loves the greatest songs ever written. Some people love the dodgy followups and non hits just as much. To be exact, that would be me, and in this particular situation, followers of Northern Soul.

Give a few of these songs two or three listens and you won’t believe what can happen. All those supposedly calculated, devoid of original idea tracks get under your skin in the most addictive way.

Scour the label for writer, arranger or producer credits, plus certain publishers and/or production companies, and you’ll start to find several reoccurring names, some whose careers blossomed later; or critically acclaimed folks that you want to like, but just never really got round to.

For some, the producer of ‘Heartbreaker’, David Axelrod, fits that bill. One of the house production guys at Capitol during the period, you’ll notice him often on label credits. Pay closer attention and a whole new world of untapped records will be come into your life and onto your want list.

Likewise H. B. Barnum, but more so as an arranger, back when songs needed arranging I guess: The Supremes, Little Richard and, in a most hands on capacity, Lou Rawls.

A few of H. B. Barnum’s many non hits spilled over to Northern Soul, like ‘Heartbreaker’, re-released in ’76 as a result of the UK’s insatiable taste for flops from America.

Pink Floyd

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Listen: Julia Dream (Mono) / Pink Floyd
Julia

Here’s how I remember it, and believe me, this is accurate.

Pink Floyd, or The Pink Floyd as they were initially known, took several years to get noticed by many in the US other than hardcore Anglophiles. Their first two American singles, ‘Arnold Layne’ and ‘See Emily Play’, were impossible to find at retail. In fact, the only stock copy of ‘Arnold Layne’ I’ve ever seen is the one I own, a special order via Smith’s Records in Oneida, NY. ‘See Emily Play’…I’ve seen three stock copies. Mrs. Smith managed to get me this also, plus two others for the shop. I believe these qualify as a few miracles on Phelps Street, where her store was located.

Their debut full length, PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN sold a bit, but the followup, A SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS, never charted, never got played, hardly got distributed. The album was so good, in ways my all time favorite by Pink Floyd. How could this have happened? Not forgetting, they lost Syd Barrett around this period as well. Most bands wouldn’t have recovered.

Now to the point. If getting the aforementioned singles when current sounded, and certainly were, a challenge, imagine the next few.

US only single, ‘The Gnome’, invented the process of sinking without trace. In some ways, it’s the least common. In some ways.

By their fourth, ‘Apples And Oranges’, the 45′s weren’t even charting in the UK. Despite a second appearance on AMERICAN BANDSTAND miming it pitifully, or maybe because of, nobody cared. Not true for this little kid at 334 Roberts Street. I was hyperventilating at the mere mention of it, and found a promo copy amongst a small pile of giveaways reserved for the dance competition winner at the Purple Haze club in Canastota, NY during a WNDR record hop. Basically, I stole it. Seriously, just shop lifted it into my winter jacket. I had no other choice.

By the time of fifth single, ‘It Would Be So Nice’ / ‘Julia Dream’, panic had enveloped. The struggle for US Pink Floyd singles was worsening exponentially. How was I ever to get this one? It had become completely pointless to put in special orders. By now, Tower’s parent company, Capitol, were useless filling my local’s requests for their product. All those little shops bought from the one stops anyway, and if the distributor didn’t agree to order at least a box lot, they weren’t getting the record. As a result, there’d be no way for the mom and pops to get these obscure releases. Radio were typically dismissive of Pink Floyd despite having re-written history on the subject since, and unfortunately my one open source, WMCR (the story of their donations to my record collecting causes are chronicled elsewhere on the blog) didn’t get Capitol service.

Around this time, the bell in my head to call home offices of record companies requesting copies for airplay suddenly chimed off. Problem wasn’t a receiving address, WMCR were cool about that. But the Music Director hated me by this time, complaining constantly about the scrounging. I mean, I was really obsessed and even I became uncomfortable with myself. Enter the station owner, Mrs. Warner, who was forever kind. Not only did she put in the call, she was generous enough to give me my own little inbox on the mail slot rack.

Whoever worked at Tower Records in Los Angeles must have been looking to clear out the cupboards. The resulting package included releases by The Chocolate Watch Band, The Standells, The E Types, Eternity’s Children and some disposable country singles. As a whole, a serious high, but nothing topped ‘Julia Dream’, in mono.

Now knowing how history unfolded meant there was one more Tower single to come: “Let There Be More Light’ / ‘Remember A Day’. I’m leaving that accomplishment for another post.

Judas Jump

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Listen: This Feelin’ We Feel / Judas Jump
This

No new info here: I’m an Andy Bown freak.

The Herd really were his band from what I can assess, having been a member before and after Peter Frampton. Not that I don’t love the Andy Bown / Peter Frampton period. PARADISE LOST is a class album, always overlooked even by the band themselves.

When it comes to an Andy Bown backing vocal, I can spot it a mile away. So after that first listen to ‘This Feeling We Feel’, I was in.

Scored the US promo above when relieving a Dewitt, NY Shopping Town Mall clothing store of a big box full with 45′s, meant for a tie-in promotion with WNDR, the local Top 40. If you bought an item, you got a 45. That box was beaming with stuff I needed, unlike their racks. A long store clerk negotiation that required me going home, on my bike, collecting a few dozen cast off singles acquired from various sources, and returning to do a one-for-one trade was well worth it.

Even though I had mail ordered for the UK pressing which arrived a week or so later, this Andrew S. Bown production hit the turntable first, and stayed, eventually switched out for Thunderclap Newman’s ‘Accident’.

Above: Jukebox Tab signed Adrian Williams

God bless Jackie Hyde at Sony in the UK. She one day thought to mention that Adrian Williams, down the other side of the building, was the singer of Judas Jump. I almost blacked out, tearing across the courtyard to do a face to face.

I don’t think anyone had ever asked him anything about Judas Jump his whole life. He was more shocked at my interest than I was with his employment at Sony. We’d spoken a lot on the phone, but never did I think he was one in the same.

What an embarrassing surprise for me, not knowing Allan Jones was a member of The Amen Corner prior to Judas Jump. I deserved the one upping that transpired. Great chap, Adrian Williams.

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.

Bobo Mr. Soul

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

Listen: Hitchhike To Heartbreak Road / Bobo Mr. Soul
Hitchhike To Heartbreak Road / Bobo Mr. Soul

A story for Record Store Day.

A happy garage sale find this one. It was Whitestone, a typically bad place to find anything. But I was in the neighborhood having trolled better surroundings earlier that morning, and was on a mission. A lesson concerning garage sales I’d taught myself many times prior, never assume what’s on the driveway or lawn is telling you the whole story.

Case in point, after inquiring had they any records, the mom goes into the farthest reaches of the garage and pulls out a hollow glass wall brick that’s packed with about thirty 7″ singles, a perfect fit. They were all London and London label orange swirl promos from the early 70′s. ‘Headloss’ by Caravan was one, and a whole bunch of Hi releases the others. The grilling began instantaneously but alas, no family member ever worked for the company, no other records were in the house and no one had a recollection where they even originated from. Guess they fell out of heaven.

‘Hitchhike To Heartbreak Road’ was first to hit the turntable at home later. How perfect, it’s immediate Northern intro validated an official find and a day most well spent.

Written by Phillip Mitchell, could that be brother to Hi Records staff and alumni Willie Mitchell? Logical assumption but wrong, sort of. According to a published Phillip Mitchell interview, although not an immediate relative, a possible distant one. Who knows, he didn’t really seem to.

Bobo Mr. Jones was the early moniker for Beau Williams, now a gospel artist, after a spell in the mid 80′s for Capitol Records. When Phillip Mitchell was signed to Hi as an artist in the early 70′s, he brought in a version of ‘Hitchhike To Heartbreak Road’ he’d recorded and produced earlier by Curtis Wiggins but with Beau’s vocal re-singing Curtis’ parts instead. The label decided to give this new update a release.

According to Phillip Mitchell: “Curtis was a very similar singer and I produced the record for him in Muscle Shoals. However, we never got a chance to get a deal for it. I then brought in Beau Williams. We called him Bobo Mr. Soul, dubbed his voice on the track and shopped it with Hi Records.”

Lucky for us.

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.

James Burton & Ralph Mooney

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Listen: Corn Pickin’ / James Burton & Ralph Mooney
Corn Pickin / James Burton & Ralph Mooney

I wonder if ‘Corn Pickin” ever got played on Country radio back when released in ’68. According to THE AIRHEADS RADIO SURVEY ARCHIVE, it got no Pop play whatsoever. By far not a complete overview of airplay, it’s a pretty good source, and really fun to troll about on if you have a few hours to kill. But be forewarned, you will need a few hours.

Recorded, most likely cheap and on the fast, his collaborative album with pedal steel player Ralph Mooney yielded this one single, which was dreadfully out of tune with the times. Being, I’m guessing, an LA music scene player/celebrity, and fresh from resident guitarist on SHINDIG (and member of house band The Shindogs), turns out ‘Corn Pickin” foresaw the whole country/rockabilly west coast fad by about fifteen years, when The Long Ryders and others would find it musically fashionable.

Much appreciated by guitar players universally, putting in his time with Ricky Nelson during the late 50′s, when you really had to be able to play if you wanted to make records, meant his tones and clarity were unmistakable.

Did you know James Burton’s an inductee of the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame? Did you even know there was a Rockabilly Hall Of Fame? I didn’t until tonight.

It’s a fun website. But until The Cramps are in (The Stray Cats and not The Cramps – huh?), it’s a little hard to take it seriously.

Heads, Hands & Feet

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

headshandsfeetonewomanuk,Heads Hands & Feet, Atco, Atlantic, Tony Colton, Chas Hodges

headshandsfeetonewomanusa, Heads Hands & Feet, Atco, Atlantic, Tony Colton, Chas Hodges

Listen: One Woman / Heads, Hands & FeetHHFOneWoman.mp3

Albums came in rapid succession during the 70′s. The first by Heads, Hands & Feet was a double, and not long after came it’s followup, TRACKS. These were issued on Island UK and Capitol US, during the era when those Capitol labels were that beautiful lime green. I wasn’t paying much attention to the band, they had an intentionally American sound. I was put off.

Fast forward to summer ’72. They’re third on the bill to The J. Geils Band and Humble Pie. I was certainly not about to miss Steve Marriott. So, we got there early to see Heads, Hands & Feet. After all, they were English. By now, I was becoming a fan. They’d recently switched labels to Atco/Atlantic, and their single ‘One Woman’ was pretty great. I particularly appreciated that lead singer, Tony Colton, doubled as a producer for one of my all time favorite albums: ON THE BOARDS by Taste.

Plain and simple, they were tremendous live. I would say they stole the show, certainly preferring them to the headliner by miles. At this point, Peter Frampton had left second-on-the-bill, Humble Pie, but it was sure fun being invited back to the Holiday Inn by Steve Marriott for a party. More on that in some other post.

So yes, Heads, Hands & Feet ripped up a storm, and their extended version of ‘One Woman’, the show closer, took the cake. I mean these guys were super great musicians. You can hear it in the recordings. Guitarist Albert Lee has been cited as a bit of a virtuoso over the years, and he certainly was on fire that night. Chas Hodges on bass was equally important to that fire, playing off of Albert Lee almost like a second guitarist.

We wormed our way into their crowded dressing room and they seemed somewhat impressed to have a few fans. It was fun complimenting Tony Colton on his work with Taste. I remember him being appreciative, and a bit surprised. All in all, it was obvious they weren’t having a very good time, and I’m pretty sure they called it a day soon afterwards. Too bad.