THIS BLOG IS ABOUT 7" RECORDS ONLY. YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY. EVERY SONG IS CONVERTED TO MP3 FROM MY PERSONAL 45 COLLECTION, AND THERE'S NOT ONE THAT I WOULDN'T RECOMMEND YOU SEEKING OUT. ANY COPYRIGHT HOLDERS WHO DON'T WANT THEIR MUSIC HEARD HERE JUST LET ME KNOW, AND DOWN IT WILL COME. CLICK ON ANY IMAGE TO ENLARGE.
My first real job in the music business, one where I got decent pay, benefits, expenses, etc, was as an MCA local radio promotion rep. I covered New York State excluding NYC, so it was a piece of cake. Pretty small market and whatever play I got was appreciated, but not vital. Brad Hunt hired me, it was ’78. We later worked together at Elektra in the 80′s. Small world and even smaller business.
MCA had a very unhip roster then, especially in rock. It was known as the Music Cemetery of America to insiders. However, the country roster was sweet and gave me a chance to meet many of the greats, particularly Loretta Lynn, who invited me onto her bus for some birthday cake one night. She was touring with Conway Twitty at the time, and we were working a their infamous duet ‘You’re The Reason Our Kids Are Ugly’. Check out her pronunciation of “wires”. What a nice lady.
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.
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.
It’s strange how time has diminished the apparent power and originality once associated with Jackie Wilson.
Read Doug Carter’s THE BLACK ELVIS: JACKIE WILSON. You won’t be able to put it down, nor will you understand why he didn’t reach legendary status like those who credited him with their inspiration: Michael Jackson, James Brown and Elvis Presley for starters.
On stage, his knee drops, splits, spins, one footed across-the-floor slides became the blueprint from which they, and many others, lifted, crowning him Mr. Excitement. As a result of the book, I found myself trolling through a surprisingly large section of about thirty Jackie Wilson singles, involuntarily amassed through the years, sure that one day, I’d need them. Well that day arrived even before the book’s halfway mark. Didn’t take much to pull out and spin the pristine pressing, on original orange labelled Brunswick, of ‘Baby Workout’, a huge record in ’63 (#5 Pop). Workout being the giveaway word, this title held great potential. No let down there.
House producer Dick Jacobs, ann under appreciated band leader and executive, took responsibility for A&Ring many of Jackie Wilson’s records during the period. His clean, safe backing vocals and big orchestral arrangements, often dismissed and unfairly overlooked, actually helped to bring out the grit in both Jackie Wilson’s voice and songwriting. According to many, the combination of these two talents led to some of the earliest soul recordings, many becoming mainstream hits, like ‘Baby Workout’.
The post Dick Jacobs era resulted in Carl Davis being tasked the Jackie Wilson production responsibilities. One of their first works together, ‘Soul Galore’, got no traction upon release, somehow failing to pick up much airplay, even on the RnB stations. But by the early 70′s, it qualified as one of Jackie Wilson’s biggest Northern Soul successes, thereby being reissued, via the pressing pictured above.
Luckily, a very typical trait of Carl Davis’ was to consistently incorporate pumped up, brass arrangements into swinging soul songs, thereby helping give Jackie Wilson one of his biggest and ultimately final mainstream hits with ‘(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher’ a year or so later in ’67.
Anything with Huey P. Meaux’s name attached should heighten your radar immediately. From what I know, he’s never made a bad record.
The former music director from a one of a kind, progressive 60′s / early 70′s Rochester AM Top 40, WSAY, brought me two massive burlap bags of promo 45′s when the station sadly lost steam in ’79, by then churning out a weak country format to deaf ears. The aged and nasty private owner was selling. Everyone was losing their jobs.
It was a drag, this guy was so distraught and worried, yet clearly wanted to share some decency via the truly unexpected gifts. He knew I had drooled over the thousands of singles locked behind management’s doors, and decided to just say fuck them, grabbing me several hundred. At the time, I was a local promotion rep for MCA, and always took good care of him while most others were dismissive and disinterested. It was a massive surprise when he buzzed me from my apartment building lobby, huge burlap bags in each fist and certainly a most kind repayment.
Impossible to wait, halfway up the stairs, I pulled out a couple. ‘Please Stay’ by The Cryin’ Shames on an orange swirl US London was one, this was the other.
About then, my interest in Loma was beginning to fully form, and anything from the label bugged my eyes. Alton Joseph & The Jokers, produced by Huey P. Meaux, well I couldn’t get upstairs and to my turntable fast enough.
This was April ’79. The thirteen year gap between a Spring ’66 release of ‘Where’s The Place’ and my first listen already created a euphoric walk back into time. Nowadays, it’s a total rocket ship ride to the past, in a good way.
I swear, this was a one take, live in the studio natural for these guys.
Listen: The Other Place / Alton Joseph & The Jokers The
Never could I find any comprehensive information about Alton Joseph & The Jokers, their lineup or origins. Bob Krasnow, who ran Loma and years later, Elektra during my time there, couldn’t remember many details either, barring an almost complete certainty that they were Texas beer joint locals, and broke musician friends of Heuy P. Meaux on the three boogie woogie sets a night treadmill.
‘The Other Place’ might indeed verify Bob’s instinct, given it’s a penny pinching instrumental of the A side, only shortened a bit and given a slighty different mix.
Found yet another gem at Academy Records in Brooklyn, hysterically sitting peacefully amongst the 50¢ boxes: Joyce Bond’s version of ‘Ob La Di, Ob La Da’. A song seemingly written for the natural Caribbean bounce, it further validates the lightweight value of The Beatles. Again, I preferred The New Vaudeville Band when comparing equals.
To be honest, I had no idea this even got a Stateside release, so I admit needing to be more humble in my criticisms of the local vendors. But hey, Steel Pulse singles on MCA are not worth $10 guys.
Nonetheless, way more fascinating is the B side here. Policy usually meant a straight up instrumental of the single’s A side was the norm, or as the mid 70′s evolved, a dub version. Not so this time. A completely new track, instrumental, and clearly nothing to do with Joyce Bond in any way other than her label copy credit.
Produced by B. Lee. Was it Byron or Bunny? Seems Joyce Bond had musical affiliations with both.
If ever there were an expert on Ska/Rock Steady/Reggae/Dub, it’s Duane Sherwood. He’s the go to on this stuff for all things not previously grooved into my gray matter. Inconveniently in this case though, he’s not big on the pop end of the genres. Add to that, the records recorded in the UK as opposed to down the yard, of which this is one don’t grab his attention. But given, as he pointed out, Bunny Lee produced a version of Otis Redding’s ‘Mr. Pitiful’, released by Joyce Bond and Little John in ’69, one year after this issue, Duane guessed B. Lee to be the Bunny man himself.
A fun, sonically out of place on Decca or any other major label at the time, single. I can only imagine how few were pressed, not to mention, sold.
Back in ’79, MCA had a freak hit with Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers ‘Bustin’ Loose’. I distinctly recall our head of radio promotion being amazed at the record’s surprise success and frustrated too. Black radio wouldn’t play the single, only the white pop stations were airing it.
Fast forward a few years, Go Go is now officially a musical genre and movement, but the same tired radio resistance kept all those great singles off the urban airwaves.
But in ’85, Island was headstrong in aiding this musical cause. Signing a bunch of acts to singles deals, some to full albums, then packaging them together for a few nights of serious nasty grinding at The Ritz. I’ll never forget those shows. EU, Mass Extension, Trouble Funk.
The real truth: Redds & The Boys, they were crazy great. Even the worst dancers lost shame, made fools of themselves and did not care. I know cause I was one.
Onstage, ‘Movin’ & Groovin’ did not end, and not a soul wanted it to. Talk about a signature song. These guys were so locked it was scary. They seemed ready to take on the world. What the fuck happened?
When I joined Island in ’88, their mailroom was knee deep in Go Go records. Praise be. I grabbed handfuls of them all.
Like Redds & The Boys, and all the others for that matter, Trouble Funk suffered from the same curse: misguided production and mixes. The drum sounds were so wrong. To be honest, the team around these recordings were a bunch of self celebrating studio churls. Hacks basically having their moment in the sun. Damn shame. Because live, these bands ripped down anything in their way.
Real drums. That’s it. The processed drums fucked it all up. Someone should remix all these records, take off that ghastly wash of cheap studio technology. Because the foundation is here, on every last one.
I can admit it, I never payed a blink of attention to Randy Crawford, although I did love her name. Her Warner Brothers album sleeves left me believing she was safe RnB sludge. Plus I had tunnel vision back then for all things punk.
Along comes her feature on The Crusaders’ ‘Street Life’ single, which was a record I worked as the local MCA radio promo guy back in ’79.
Wow. I loved this and since then, have loved her too (despite some questionable picture sleeves). ‘Street Life’ probably would have been more respected if it hadn’t become a hit – but it did. And deserved to as well. Sometimes there is justice.
To this day. ‘Street Life’ is considered a rare groove classic, one of those UK soul affectionado terms that I admittedly am not sure the meaning of. Fact is, Randy Crawford has a terrific voice, one that’s very much appreciated in the UK and Europe, but sadly not here in the US. Despite ‘Street Life’ peaking at #17 Stateside, and #5 in the UK, she has never had a Billboard chart entry on her own. Given my leaning toward all things British, I guess my passion for her makes sense.
It always sounded like Abba to me, I didn’t even know it wasn’t Abba for a minute. I did radio promotion for a year or two during the late 70′s, when this was current. John Sykes was the Epic local. I worked for MCA. He oddly had a hard time getting it played. I couldn’t understand why. I used to suggest to some of my Top 40 program directors that they add this instead of whatever I had in my bag at the time. Sandy Beach at WKBW being one of them. What a great guy he was. I think he did play it to tell you the truth.
Basically a #1 everywhere else on the planet. I spun this out when I was dj’ing at Brooklyn Bowl a few weeks back. Sounded mammoth through their PA.
Being an avid fan of British bands during the 60â€™s and 70â€™s meant Iâ€™d find a way to hear just about everything. Working at college stations and record shops helped immensely. Iâ€™d give anything a chance, and having wide tastes allowed me to get excited about a whole slew of things that never got traction, many times despite deserving it. Sharks were a mini super group to us hardened Anglofiles. Andy Fraser from Free seemed at their core – and followers of Free know he was a key member, despite â€˜onlyâ€™ being the bassist. He wrote songs and his playing style was specific. Sharks benefitted from this recognizable strut. Add in Snips, a vocalist with a dash of both Jim Morrison and Paul Rodgers, plus Chris Spedding, a much accomplished guitarist whoâ€™d played with all the right people – and youâ€™ve got something of a recipe. The NME and Sounds both anticipated their debut, and so did I. The two albums they made were patchy and there was little fanfare about the live shows. Missed them when they played The US – in fact donâ€™t really recall it, but their bio says otherwise. Nonetheless, this single was a favorite and still is. The lyrics are a touch simple, but that never put me off. Donâ€™t care much about lyrics unless they are particularly quotable. Block them out and just listen to the music – not a problem. The Asian slant was always pretty fun I thought, especially that piano line.
The first urban record that got handed to me was, in hindsight, seminal. Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers ‘Bustin’ Loose’. I had no idea how lucky I was but knew one thing: this guy’s live show was out of control. Black radio, as it was weirdly known then, really hated playing this record. It was the first Go-Go record to break national – in fact the only one other than the EU single. Like many sub-genres, it went against the homogenization known as American radio. A true street record, it was too hard to stop.
Thankfully. I saw him again about three years ago in DC. He did a show with Vivian Green. The place was heaving. He smoked like that first time, and was the same sweetheart he’d been way back then.