Archive for the ‘Elektra’ Category

Queen

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Listen: Crazy Little Thing Called Love / Queen QueenCrazy.mp3

After their first few singles, and by ’76, Queen officially resided in the ‘not friendly to punk rock’ space. Their music and image fitted totally with the helium sound and mustached look of US AOR radio – so not only did my attention wander, but in fact they were now considered the enemy.

Well I was wrong and my defiance softened. To be fair, they admittedly had singles all along that were secret pleasures. The video for ‘I Want To Break Free’ was a riot and a lot of our crowd realized, these guys are actually okay. Plus who is anyone, least of all me, to deny ‘Under Pressure’ or ‘Radio Ga Ga’?

Vividly remember that moment I sat up and really took notice. It was on an uneventful Saturday evening, watching SNL, as Queen literally unleashed one of TV’s best ever live music performances. ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’, with the added keyboardist (anyone know who that is?) decimated any previous prejudice. A mad dash to the wall shelf followed, checking the Queen 7″ collection – and the filling-in process began the very next morning, bright and early, when I hit the garage sales then moving on to The Record Archive’s backroom.

I turned to Corinne, jaw dropped, spurting out some exclamation. She was nonplussed by Queen during those days, exactly like the rest of us, but in her typical smooth one-up way simply said, and this is an exact quote: “I always loved Queen”. Right.

The Nashville Teens

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

 Find My Way Back Home / The Nashville Teens

Listen: Find My Way Back Home / The Nashville Teens NashvilleTeensFind.mp3

Last night’s season premier of MAD MEN ended with The Nashville Teens’ ‘Tobacco Road’, their one decent sized US hit. It reminded me I should share this story.

Back in the late 80′s when I worked A&R for Elektra, a guy came to play me his demo. Nice kid, worked at Colony Records a few blocks away on Broadway. In the 60′s, it was a haven for every release available, and the whole back wall was a 45 only counter manned by several employees – and open until 2AM. Always a hubbub of activity, the clerks were constantly juggling customers and going into the back, searching for whatever single you desired, and usually returning with it in hand.

Problem was they sold everything at list price – then 99¢. Seemed a fortune at the time, so you had to have unsuccessfully scoured all other shops before taking that plunge. I used to coax my Aunt Carm into the shop every summer when she’d take me on my yearly pilgrimage to the city.

Anyways this fellow and I get to talking, and I ask if they still have all those 7′ singles in the back sorted by label (which is how they did in the 60′s – you needed to know which label and preferably it’s catalog # as well). “Yes, they’re still set up that way”. So I tell him some of my favorite ones: Deram, London, Sue, Fontana.

A few days later, he comes back to Elektra. I get a call from the front desk informing me he’s upfront. What the fuck does he want – the demo wasn’t great and I told him so already. Turns out he thought I was a nice guy, and wanted to encourage me to let him return with new songs – so he just grabbed all the old stock on those labels and brought them over as a present. A heart stopper of a moment.

‘Find My Way Back Home’ (on the short lived blue swirl label with the WHITE instead of BLACK London logo) was one of many, many jems.

True story.

X

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

Listen: 4th Of July / X X4thOfJuly.mp3

If a ’4th Of July’ post on the 4th of July appears overly clever and obvious, I understand. But the clever idea came from local rock station 101.9 WRXP. I was a few blocks from home, fired up the car radio and on it came:

This fucker sounded so good plus I love X so much and thought, any reason to honor them is just fine by me.

Man, was I lucky. Got hired by Howard at Elektra and X were the first band I got to work with. Dream come true? Never even dreamt that one in my wildest, so yeah, pretty amazing.

You couldn’t find a better bunch of people. Not only the band, but every last person involved with them as well.

Bob Krasnow, our chairman, always supported X, loved their music and rightly saw them as the label’s most important political poets.

Getting them on the radio was a very different story. Although the band got some love from the alternative rock team, when it came time to take them to the next level, more mainstream exposure and opportunity, the brakes were always applied by Dave Urso, your typical old school 80′ sleaze ball promotion head. Yes, he pretty much put a lid on their career, sort of. X still play to bigger crowds than ever and he……..uh…….

Funny thing, it was the first, but not the last time I witnessed the head of promotion actually run the company, despite the chairman thinking he was the guy in charge. You see, the way it worked was as follows: the chairman would need to decide where to put the financial investment to pay off radio for play and would get that ultimate guidance from the top radio guy. So you tell me, who’s driving that plane?

Now, of course, the public has a much stronger voice. A local station doesn’t want to play a song, no problem. Their audience flocks to myspace and hears what they want. Gone are the days when the traditional gatekeeper is in charge. How fun.

It may only be once a year, but at least X get one play. If Bruce Springsteen had written and/or recorded this classic instead of Dave Alvin, it would’ve been a monster.

Never say never I like to think. Who has the publishing on this? Maybe they need to get off their ass, find it a placement, try to keep their job.

Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Don't Stop Loving Me, Baby / Pinkerton's Assorted Colours

Don't Stop Loving Me, Baby / Pinkerton's Assorted Colours

Listen: Don’t Stop Loving Me, Baby / Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours PinkertonsDontStop.mp3

True story. I know you will think this is a lie, but I swear on a stack of Ramones albums that it is not.

UK manager Dennis Muirhead paid me his yearly visit at Columbia Records in the late 90′s. We’d met back in ’85 when I’d first joined Elektra and he always stopped by when he came through town. One of his clients at the time was Stuart Colman. Stuart lived then in Nashville and had produced many successful country acts, but had prior UK hits with Shakin’ Stevens. Dennis gave me a package including all his producers latest discographies which I browsed while catching up. I noticed Stuart had started his career in the 60′s with The Shadows. So I said to Dennis, hey this guy goes back a bit, is he English? Affirmative. I proceeded to say I wish these fellows would list all those really early engineering jobs they would have started out doing prior to that first producer opportunity. “I mean, Dennis, he could have worked on something obscure like…..Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours or something”. I just grabbed that fun, eccentric example out of my head.

Dennis looks me square in the eye and says “He was IN Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours”. Silence. Neither of us could believe what had just transpired. “You’re not kidding are you, well call him now”. He suggested one better, that I ring his place asking for him as a member of the band, which I did. I let Stuart know fairly fast that Dennis was there with me, and we had a very nice chat. I mailed him this jukebox tab, he autographed it and sent it straight back.

Pinkertons Jukebox tab

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Stuart Colman

As for the group, I was interested because of the name. When I saw their first single ‘Mirror Mirror’ entering the UK charts, I had to hear them asap. But it wasn’t to be for ages. Even though released Stateside, it was nowhere to be heard or found. WMCR, the little station that gave me all those unwanted promo singles at the time, weren’t serviced by London, parent company of Parrot Records – home to Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours. Damn. I was jonesing by the time their second single hit. ‘Don’t Stop Loving Me, Baby’ limped into the UK Top 50 at #50 for one week. I love a good followup flop usually more than the previous hit, so this was reaching fever pitch.

Finally I was successful, finding it in a 25¢ bin at The House Of Oldies on Bleeker Street in NYC when my Aunt Nancy invited me along to visit some relative for a few days. I got a ton of London titles there – The Cryin’ Shames, Lulu & The Luvvers, The Gonks, Hedgehoppers Anonymous and Jonathan King among them – all nice orange swirl promos. This is a great double sider. Not overly special but a solid British staple. Actually, just tonight I realized some similarities to Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich thereby explaining a lot of it’s appeal for me.

Will Ya / Pinkerton's Assorted Colours

Will Ya / Pinkerton's Assorted Colours

Listen: Will Ya / Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours PinkertonsWillYa.mp3

The B side ‘Will Ya’ is my favorite of the two, but just. That timid but still wildish fuzz solo is the tie breaker. Mike Goldsmith picked me up the stock copy pictured, only a few months ago, at Academy Records in Brooklyn. I had never seen nor heard of one being pressed as it seemed likely this would never have made it beyond the promo stage – but here it is.

Swamp Dogg

Monday, May 17th, 2010

SwampDoggCreeping, Swamp Dogg, Jerry Williams, Elektra

Listen: Creeping Away / Swamp Dogg SwampDoggCreepingAway.mp3

SwampDoggBelieve, Swamp Dogg, Elektra, Island, Jerry Williams

Listen: Do You Believe / Swamp Dogg SwampDoggDoYouBelieve.mp3

I vividly recall my first look at the RAT ON! sleeve, his only album for Elektra from which both these single sides come. I thought, this is gonna be terrible.

There was nothing more I loved doing than checking every last record that came into our college station. I would sit for hours, well into the night, and instead of studying my class work, I studied records. Cataloging, suggesting cuts for airplay, deciding what to call into the labels for extra copies of, basically to fatten my collection. It was great being both MD and PD of a college station.

First listen, it went into a certain space, meaning very musical in a more grown up way, not unlike the occasional jazz or blues album that struck me, or The Crusaders, The Meters, The Blackbyrds and Dr. John.

I got slightly more interested when a 7″ showed up shortly thereafter. I loved this guys voice, and his name, terrific. Both sides segued nicely with ‘Wash Mama Wash’, a Dr. John single I liked playing on the occasional late, late shift I’d sit in for once in a while.

Gotta admit though, despite my liking of Swamp Dogg, I didn’t exactly follow up accruing the next few releases, which I recall being on the Brut label. I just wasn’t interested in certain record companies as a kid. Very stuck up, a know it all, basically an early version of a Pitchfork contributor. Well, a word to the wise, wrong attitude, a lesson learned later in life having to backtrack, filling in gaps of the vinyl collection. The Swamp Dogg gap being one in particular.

SwampDoggUKA, Swamp Dogg

SwampDoggHomeTooSoon, Swamp Dogg, Elektra, Island, Jerry Williams

Listen: Did I Come Back Too Soon (Or Stay Away Too Long) / Swamp Dogg SwampDoggHomeTooSoon.mp3

SwampDoggJukeboxTab, Swamp Dogg, Jerry Williams, Inez & Charlie Foxx

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Jerry Williams

Come ’74, Swamp Dogg is suddenly on Island, with a seriously happening album HAVE YOU HEARD THIS STORY?. I worshipped every last track, could sing any one of them for you on a dime. And the sleeve, in one way, a mess. An out of focus shot of a very unkept Swamp Dogg in a very unkept room, surrounded by records and books, perched atop a bean bag chair. Yet in another way, completely inviting and totally descriptive of the music inside. His talent for some twisted lyrics, actually clever slants on slightly sleazy subjects drew me in further.

“Did I Come Back Too Soon (Or Stay Away Too Long)’ Have a listen. Can’t be said any better, kind of funny yet very true. Always take care of your partner. And again, that signature voice.

SwampDoggMind, Swamp Dogg, Elektra, Island, Jerry Williams

Listen: The Mind Does The Dancing / Swamp Dogg SwampDoggMind.mp3

A second UK single from the album, and pressed promo only. This was a hard one to track down, plus it’s an edit, making finding a copy even more necessary. The full 7:20 album version gets cut to 5:30, not that much of a radio friendly timing, but seems this was more aimed at clubs, given the disco leaning beat and a vocal that doesn’t begin until 2:22.

Besides, Island UK only did five singles with this label design and the USA catalog number prefix, all aimed seemingly at clubs. Given the time period, Swamp Dogg wasn’t far from Ike Turner’s musical path, wah-wahs and revue horns still in place.

For fun, a press release below that was inside the album’s radio station shipping envelope, which the hoarder in me saved. I had a habit of sticking all these type things inside the sleeves, making for sometimes fascinating reading nowadays.

SwampDoggLetter, Swamp Dogg, Danny Holloway, Island

Swamp Dogg indeed has many releases, starting in 1970. Prior, he recorded under his real name, Jerry Williams, beginning with Little Jerry Williams until, I’m assuming, he grew up.

Nice closing trainspotter bit here. Jerry Williams co-wrote and had studio involvement with, to me, Inez & Charlie Foxx’s greatest ever single (and those are big words as they had many): ‘(1-2-3-4-5-6-7) Count The Days’.

Well in fact, one of the greatest soul singles of all times, posted elsewhere on this blog if you care to have a listen. Go ahead, start the first day of the rest of your life.

SMASH / FONTANA CATALOG 1968

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

Smash Fontana Catalog

Smash Fontana Catalog

Smash Fontana Catalog

Smash Fontana Catalog

God knows where I got this – probably wrote away for it being the record collector I was at eight years old. Still have a few Fontana 7″ mailers from that time period as well. I would write to this person, Claranelle Morris, at Fontana’s main office in Chicago back then, pestering her about The Herd and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. She’d send photos, bios, sometimes even a single. I guess she figured you couldn’t hear or buy them in the sticks of the Syracuse suburbs, so give the kid the record already. We’re going to toss them anyways. Thank you Claranelle. To go back and police the Fontana dumpsters. If only.

It was years later, when I finally got a break to get into the business when Howard Thompson gave me my first A&R job at Elektra. Without him, I’d still be struggling. That’s when I first discovered that as soon as a record isn’t current, being worked at radio or believed in (at Columbia, my last label job, this often happened within a few weeks: Charlie Walk in particular convinced many he was quite good at A&R, he’s now unemployed), off to the dumpster went the product, and many times off to the scrapheap went the act’s career.

But let’s not lose focus. So I found this catalog in one of the many trunks of stuff I’ve saved over the years. It’s just like new, man, I wouldn’t mind a box lot of many of the titles here. Of course, I loved the English groups back then, but also had a jones for Gloria Lynne. It wasn’t only because she was on Fontana (which was always a favorite label, Suzanne King made me a great Fontana T Shirt for my birthday one year. She lives in Chicago now. Visit the Fontana building Suzanne. It was at 35 E. Wacker Drive).

Gloria Lynne had a bunch of records on Everest prior. I had a copy of ‘Indian Love Call’ from that period, given to me in one of the Saturday morning piles of singles my uncle, a jukebox operator, would drop off instead of trashing when I was very young, about five or six. It’s probably the reason the record collecting gene was dangerously awakened in my DNA.

I paid attention to Gloria Lynne singles. I often heard them on the radio playing in the local barber shop where I’d get my haircut as a little boy. Must have been an AC station of the day, way before it’s then output turned into bachelor pad, lounge, hipster stuff decades later.

And check out some of the soundtracks here too.

NINA SIMONE

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

Listen:  Four Women / Nina Simone

Listen: Four Women / Nina Simone Nina4Women.mp3

Michael Alago signed Nina Simone to Elektra in ’92, and I’m pretty sure she made her last studio album as a result. Michael, at that point, was very friendly with her, having been an ardent fan for several years. Nina was living in LA at the time, and during October of that year, she and Michael were together doing pre-production in some studio off Hollywood Blvd.

I was in town for The Cramps as they were preparing FLAMEJOB for my label, Medicine, and had timed the trip around a three day run The Ramones were doing at The Palladium (10/14 – 16, to be exact). It was a fun one.

Both Micheal and I, as well as Johnny Ramone, Arturo Vega (The Ramones’ career long light & design guy) and Monte Melnick (their tour manager), all shared birthdays within days of each other in that exact time frame, so Alago decided to have a pre show dinner party at The Hollywood Athletic Club to celebrate all five, as well as his Nina/Elektra signing.

By then he was having a slightly difficult time getting her to record the songs he wanted. On that particular night, it didn’t help that I was enamored with her Philips period stuff. She and I sat across from each other at this long table. With Nina right next to Joey, she just got into deep details about her time with that label as soon as we asked. It was fascinating info, I was even interested in what she could recall about the actual Philips offices, which surprisingly was a lot. Plus the details of the studios, her engineers and the small, small recording budgets of the day.

‘Four Women’ was a much played single then as now, and after a LOT of champagne on her part, I suggested she re-record it for the new album. Michael at that moment was sort of standing behind her in his constant buzzing around, good host style, and just whipped his head toward me, eyes bugging and frantically hand motioned behind her head to STOP. Panicked and pissed all at once, he kept up this silent communication, but too late, she was now on a ‘Four Women’ roll. Her assistant, like Nina with back to Michael, opinioned that it was timely, and might be a good idea.

So fuck it, I threw in, “and you should make a video”.

Nina announces loudly “Michael, I want to make a video for ‘Four Women’ “.

Listen:  Four Women / Nina Simone Juke Box Tab

This was about to go very wrong when he seamlessly circles round behind me and says, “Before you forget, you should get Nina to do your jukebox tab now, and you know Nina, if we redo ‘Four Women’, Philips will just try to reposition their version and not pay you like they still don’t”.

Good move Alago, as that’s all she needed to be reminded of. End of idea, end of dinner and onward to The Ramones show (with signed jukebox tab in wallet), sans Nina.

The Prodigy

Friday, November 27th, 2009

ProdigyInvadersPS, The Prodigy, Cooking Vinyl, XL, Elektra, Maverick

Listen: Invaders Must Die / The ProdigyProdigyInvaders.mp3

I heard this a few months back on Radio 1. Don’t ever dismiss a seminal act, they all go through if-y patches. So is the case with The Prodigy. For whatever reasons, all of their original label partners (XL, Elektra, Maverick) decided to throw them on the scrapheap. Well from the outside looking in that’s what seemed to happen at least.

Suddenly, the band was signing to Cooking Vinyl, an unlikey fit. Out comes the new album, from which
‘Invaders Must Die’ is from – and bang – straight to #1 in The UK. And man did this jump out of the radio and deserve such a result.

The Mickey Finn

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

mickeyfinnnightcomesusa, The Mickey Finn, T. Rex, Shel Talmy, World Artists, Jimmy Page

Listen: Night Comes Down / The Mickey Finn MickeyFinnNight.mp3

Often confused with the bongo player from T. Rex, this is actually a band, not that person. The Mickey Finn’s career highpoint, according to most, was a two single association with producer Shel Talmy. And if you want to have your heart freeze for kicks, check out his discography.

Out of that came ‘Night Comes Down’ / ‘This Sporting Life’, their only US release via World Artists. Seems Shel Talmy had some juice there, having produced a few big hits for Chad & Jeremy. Although not listed on the above discography, I do believe he also produced The Moments version of Ray Davies’ ‘You Really Got Me’ for the label. The Moments were Steve Marriott’s first band, predating The Small Faces. That single, as with The Mickey Finn release, are stupid rare, making them very fun items to have and hold.

I got an unsolicited call from Shel Talmy many years back, I think when I was either at Elektra or Island. He had moved to LA, and was looking for work, still in that has-been stretch, not yet having graduated to legend status. I foolishly didn’t follow up, not necessarily with getting him some work, but neither forging a friendship, something I do regret.

mickeyfinnidoloveuk, The Mickey Finn, T. Rex, Shel Talmy, World Artists, Jimmy Page

Listen: I Do Love You / The Mickey Finn MickeyFinnIDoLove.mp3

Of lesser notoriaty is the band’s ’66 single “I Do Love You’. And I’m not sure why. Even amongst those who live for all things underrated, this is very underrated. It starts out noticeably similar to ‘Heart Trouble’ by The Eyes Of Blue, and then proceeds to a perfect groove a la The Foundations. I’d give anything to know how many copies would have been pressed of a single like this.

The Incredible String Band

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

incrediblethismoment, The Incredible String Band, Elektra

Listen: This Moment / The Incredible String Band IncredibleMoment.mp3

incredibleblackjack, The Incredible String Band, Elektra, The Gun Club, Steeleye Span, The White Stripes

Listen: Black Jack Davy / The Incredible String Band IncredibleBlackJack.mp3

Acquired taste. Okay, I agree. During the late 70′s folk boom and the accompanying blind acceptance of, I didn’t know what to make of some of these acts. I don’t think anybody did. The Incredible String Band were English so I put the time in to find some positives. I mean everyone needed a few essential folk genre bits for the collection. And they did have some happening album covers. Seems they released several in very short order – so many that I never ended up buying one out of confusion. Then I LOOKED UP came out and started to get a few plays on the local college station, Syracuse University’s WAER. I took the plunge and bought. My two, by far, favorite tracks (‘This Moment’ and ‘Black Jack Davy’) were A and B sides in the UK. How handy.

Shortly thereafter, the SU Concert Committee booked them into a weird part chapel/part venue joint on campus. It was usually reserved for jazz events, don’t remember the name, but I did see The Soft Machine there. Most likely, they could be considdered jazz if you stretched it – and I’m glad they did – wow, great show.

Anyways, The Incredible String Band were spectacular. Featured the expanded (Mike and Robin plus girlfriends Rose and Licorice) lineup from I LOOKED UP and the about to be released U. In hindsight, the girlfriends were a bit of a Spinal Tap move sans tambourines. Still, we loved it.

Whoever Black Jack Davy was, many a song has been written about his folklore reputation. This version is not to be confused with other excellent ones of the same title by The Gun Club, Steeleye Span and The White Stripes.

And the above ‘This Moment’ (3:19), to my knowledge, is a 7″ vinyl only version. Every LP and CD contains the full 6:09 minute take.

Public Image Ltd.

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

pil-pil, Public Image, Public Image Ltd., PIL, Johnny Rotten, John Lydon, Virgin

pil-pil-ps,Public Image, Public Image Ltd., PIL, Johnny Rotten, John Lydon, Virgin

Listen: Public Image / Public Image Ltd. PublicImage.mp3

It could have been awful, and left a nasty void, had John Lydon not delivered as powerful and contemporary a debut single for his new band as this. Do you remember the video that accompanied it? Equally great.

Johnny Ramone always planned to quit before the band got “fat, bald or lazy”. Despite everyone coaxing he and Joey back to the stage after their ’96 retirement, they did leave a timeless image of themselves, just as John planned, by never doing so. Whether by design or not, The Sex Pistols are in the same boat.

Lydon often hung out with Michael and Howard at Elektra around the time ALBUM was released in ’86. What a fucking hysterical guy. No question, he was a great night out.

Shirley Murdock

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

shirleymurdockusa, shirley murdock, roger troutman, bob krasnow, elektra, zapp, reprise, warner brothers
shirleymurdockukps,shirley murdock, roger troutman, bob krasnow, elektra, zapp, reprise, warner brothers

Listen: Truth Or Dare / Shirley Murdock ShirleyMurdock.mp3

Nothing like the sight and sound of Shirley Murdock making her way down the hallway at Elektra to visit Bob Krasnow – kitted out in high, high heels and tight, tight dress. She brought it to a whole new level. About twenty minutes after said sighting, my phone rang – Bob wanted me in his office. I couldn’t believe Bob had remembered my infatuation with her. By this time, they’d been joined by her producer, Roger Troutman, famous for his WB/Reprise band Zapp and his own solo hit, ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’. I was in heaven and Kras with that big smile on his face.

Her debut single ‘Truth Or Dare’ didn’t get the props it deserved, and admittedly the 80′s production dated fast, with a revival yet to be planned. But man, what a track.

Bread

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

Baby I’m - A Want You / Bread

Listen: Baby I’m – A Want You / Bread BreadBabyImAWant.mp3

The Guitar Man / Bread

Listen: The Guitar Man / Bread BreadGuitar.mp3

I was filing a box of singles last weekend that I’d been avoiding for ages, with no recollection of how I ended up owning them even. Mostly likely Graham Stapleton saved these for me from his stockpile of 70’s promos, back when he dealt with all the BBC dj’s and pop press music critics. Check out past posts for more details.

They were all UK A labels – and the reason for avoiding them was not what you think. It’s because I knew it would eat up an afternoon to get through the 30 count box, once I started cleaning and playing them all. As it turns out – I had a great time.

Amongst them were two Bread 7’s. Like everyone, I had my nose in the air toward this band at the time. Yes, they looked like shit, and were no match for glam or The Kinks. But guilty pleasures were indeed a few of their songs at the time. I have to say, ‘The Guitar Man’ sounded pretty great on Sunday. In hindsight, these sit perfectly with any Glen Campbell or Jimmy Webb record probably considered more politically correct still.

Love

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

My Little Red Book / Love

Listen: My Little Red Book / Love
My

7 And 7 Is / Love

Listen: 7 And 7 Is / Love
7

Love Jukebox tab

Above: Jukebox Tab filled out by Arthur Lee

Stephanie Knows Who / Love

Listen: Stephanie Knows Who / Love
Stephanie

She Comes In Colors / Love

Listen: She Comes In Colors / Love
She

Orange Skies / Love

Listen: Orange Skies / Love
Orange

Que Vida / Love

Listen: Que Vida / Love
Que

Alone Again Or / Love

Alone Again Or / Love

Alone Again Or / Love

Listen: Alone Again Or / Love
Alone

Softly To Me / Love

Listen: Softly To Me / Love
Softly

Your Mind And We Belong Together / Love

Your Mind And We Belong Together / Love

Listen: Your Mind And We Belong Together / Love
Your

LoveEverlastingUS, Love, Arthur Lee, Blue Thumb, Bob Krasnow

The Everlasting First / Love

Listen: The Everlasting First / Love
The

What do Love have in common with The High Numbers, JJ Cale, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, Mose Allison and Rockpile? Well, in this case, Tom Petty. He played them all, and more, on his Sirius/XM radio show, which I heard for the first time on the red eye from Seattle to New York Saturday night.

I don’t own a satellite capable device having been so disinterested in American radio for decades, and very bitter that it’s dummied down music as being a big part of culture in the US. Therefore figured it was more of the same. A few friends have, to be fair, tried convincing me otherwise. The very first time I heard it, on one of the now partnered networks, was in Kimberly Boley’s office at Sony. I asked her what she was listening to and she said satellite radio and that she loved it. I said sure but do they play The Cramps, just to throw a real wrench into the moment. She dialed up their station that most likely would, and The Cramps were playing that very second. Swear to God. I guess I should’ve taken it as a sign.

The flight was meant to be a time to finally get some rest. I’d been on Matt & Kim’s tour for several days and it had been non stop, stay awake. But this flight I’d earmarked as a sleeper. That was not meant to be. Spent the whole time flipping round these channels, then started jotting down some of the things I’d heard and kinda liked (The Soft Pack, Titus Andronicus), and some records I needed to look up once in the house to be sure I had (Chuck Jackson & Maxine Brown, Titus Turner, Bobby Womack). It was a noticeable change hearing so much variety: Lemon Jelly, Roxy Music (two stations playing two different songs simultaneously), Mott The Hoople, Eurythmics, LCD Soundsystem, Joan Armatrading, Nick Drake, The Nice. It was endless. You see, there is room for everyone. What a democratic concept.

There’s one thing that hasn’t changed though: the tired, lazy, hokey US DJ presenter. Does a building need to fall on these people? Unlike the BBC, and Radio 1 in particular, that presentation is lightning fast sonically and annoucer-wise. So with the luxury of access to BBC stations (Radio 1, 2, 6, Radio London) via internet streaming and my new discovery of satellite, I think things are pretty tolerable out there. I’d get subscribed up if I ever drove anywhere.

Back to Tom Petty’s program. He played Love’s ’7 And 7 Is’ on this particular episode. Interestingly named, I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Love. Many times, I crave hearing the music and thoroughly enjoy it. Other times, it sounds so lame, and twee, and overrated.

Some strong opposing opinions out there about Arthur Lee too. Met him the one time, and he was cool about doing the jukebox tab, but I was with Gary Umbo, a Love hardcore who I’m pretty sure Arthur knew and was friendly with. Undeniably some great singles though, and if you’re like me, it’s hard to forget the first time hearing ‘My Little Red Book’. It was a pretty big hit everywhere rightfully. Then ’7 and 7 Is’ came out, and that was the loudest cut record I’d ever heard. You can’t turn it down. Just try.

When I worked at Elektra in ’85, our mailroom guy Mark Cohen came down to my office telling me there was a closet that was about to be part of the renovation underway to create more office space. It was full of old chairs, cabinets, typewriters AND some boxes of old 45′s. Was I interested, they’ll be tossed otherwise.

It was a treasure trove. About 200 singles in all, and a virtual history of Elektra’s early 7′s. So many amazing things, I never separated the lot, kept them as they were. Loads of Tom Rush, The Voices Of East Harlem, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Beefeaters, Tim Buckley, plus a mixture of US and UK presses.

Every Love single was there, promos and stock, and some UK copies as well. Many are pictured here. Note the withdrawn copy of ‘Stephanie Knows Who’ / ‘Orange Skies’ (EK 45608). The catalog number was re-assigned as EK 45608 (REV). I’m guessing to indicate ‘revised’, replacing the A side with ‘She Comes In Colors’. I knew of the switch but wasn’t aware original copies had been pressed until that day.

Also, for some reason unknown as it wasn’t an Elektra master, the pile included a UK pressing of ‘The Everlasting First’. It was originally released in the US on Blue Thumb, Bob Krasnow’s label. Although he was our chairman and boss at Elektra, he had no idea why the record was included there either. “Maybe I gave Holtzman a copy then, and yeah that is Jimi playing the lead”. Thankfully he didn’t reclaim it.

Not long after, the front desk somehow decided to forward through an irate Arthur Lee to my line. I pick up and he launched into a rage about unpaid royalties and how Elektra, and even I myself, were stealing from him, so much so that he had to move in with his aunt in Nashville or some such place. I was very unequipped to handle this one, so politely sent him through to Gary Casson in business affairs, where I’m sure the rampage ended abruptly.

Audience

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

Indian Summer / Audience

Indian Summer / Audience

Listen: Indian Summer / Audience
Indian Summer / Audience

It Brings A Tear / Audience - US

Listen: It Brings A Tear / Audience
It Brings A Tear / Audience

Listen: You’re Not Smiling / Audience
You're Not Smiling / Audience

AudienceStandUKA, Audience, Charisma, Howard Werth

You're Not Smiling / Audience UK

You're Not Smiling / Audience - UK

Stand By The Door / Audience

Listen: Stand By The Door / Audience
Stand By The Door / Audience

I really shouldn’t like Audience. I’d have done a lot better in school had it not been for them. I could have been a doctor or something. Instead, I spent seemingly an entire Fall semester possessed by their album, THE HOUSE ON THE HILL. It wasn’t just me. My two room mates Larry and Stewart caught the Audience sickness as well. We would literally listen to this album over and over and over. Lights low, candles, pot, huge Audience poster hanging squarely above the turntable (still have it – neatly folded and slid inside the album with the label bio and 8×10′s). We were all entrenched at the college radio station, WITR. We pretty much ran the joint. I was both the music director and program director, not to mention concert chairman. It was English bands and only English bands. If you didn’t like it – transfer out. Every night we’d come back to the apartment with the latest promos that had arrived from the labels. We weren’t in the dorms – we had a proper apartment with very little furniture, lots of mis-matched pillows, orange shag rug and a low coffee table covered in music magazines and drug utensils. Mattresses on the floor in each bedroom – no beds, cardboard boxes for dressers. The records were everywhere, cinder blocks and clapboards constructing many makeshift shelves. Emergency suitcase record players in each bedroom for late night listening too. So we would whirl through the latest offerings: Greenslade, Byzantium, Atomic Rooster, Colosseum, Chicken Shack, If, Family, Juicy Lucy, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, just endless titles. But THE HOUSE OFN THE HILL would start and end the sessions, with a few plays during as well. You could really justify fucking off to it, nothing was more important, it was that good.

I’d heard ‘Indian Summer’ on the radio just before school went into session, must have been late August. Wow – what was that?!? It stood right out and was getting that suspicious two week window of play at Top 40. They called this being tested, and if good results came back, then they’d really hang you out for payola. Isn’t American radio great!!! This sophisticated British sounding song in between Andy Kim and Lobo, or whatever. Yes, I paid attention. I remember the single charted briefly on the Billboard Top 100 too.

During the following winter, I made one of my life’s biggest mistakes. I missed Audience live on their brief, and only, US tour. Gasp. They were opening for The Faces. It was a Sunday night, in Buffalo, about 80 miles away. I had no car, no one did, and no money to get there and certainly no way to get home. I watched the clock that evening, knowing they were playing so close yet so freaking far away. Why didn’t I just hitch hike? Risk being murdered – no brainer. But I didn’t and they never returned. Still bothers me to this day.

Such beautiful music. I know that sounds well corny but just listen. Howard Werth’s shivering vocals, Keith Gemmell’s signature sax that years later The Psychedelic Furs would unknowingly coin, just the right touch of baroque classical trimmings, not stuffy or overdone. The Strawbs, Amazing Blondel and ELO were klutzy klompy plodding wannabes next to Audience. Mind you, Audience had a wonderfully sloppy feel as well. But it was a magical balance and no one ever came close to matching it.

I’ve posted a bunch of Audience mandatories above. That first US 7″ is a classic double sider, and the promo only UK sleeve that housed ‘You’re Not Smiling’ is a prized possession. Isn’t even in the price guide. ‘Stand By The Door’, their final single is simply a perfect masterpiece.

Tom Waits

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Heartattack And Vine / Tom Waits

Listen: Heartattack And Vine / Tom Waits TomWaitsHeartattack.mp3

Frank's Wild Years / Tom Waits

Frank's Wild Years / Tom Waits

Listen: Frank's Wild Years / Tom Waits TomWaitsFrank.mp3

In the Neighborhood / Tom Waits

In the Neighborhood / Tom Waits

Dilapidated Hollywood motels like the long gone Sunset-Orange, where the vacancy sign’s on/off flicker kept you from sleeping all night (I tried it once), hookers doubling as strippers clothed only in pasties and G strings (check out the sleeve of his SMALL CHANGE album), the hangover after taste of a night in the French Quarter, that grizzly homicide in the Mohave desert near Las Vegas, the freeform delivery of The Last Poets, the acquired taste for Louis Armstrong’s voice, the romantically inviting booze, pills and dope cocktail. Just some of the images he conjures up in my pea sized brain. It must sound like I’ve just taken a continuing education class in creative writing. No, I’m just putting into words they way I hear Tom Waits, most of them are his. A more cinematic songwriter/performer I can’t really think of. Can you believe this recipe could make it onto several 7″ singles……what a great world we live in.

The Screaming Blue Messiahs

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Bikini Red / The Screaming Blue Messiahs

Listen: Bikini Red / The Screaming Blue Messiahs ScreamingBlueBikiniRed.mp3

Bikini Red / The Screaming Blue Messiahs

Brilliant single. Please listen all the way through. Try to find one for your collection as well. Howard and I picked up their option from WEA UK, allowing us to release their records via Elektra. Not only were the albums great, so too were the guys. Bill Carter is one of the most talented fellows ever. They needed a tour to support the first US release in ’87. I had an idea. Ask Lux and Ivy if The Cramps would be interested in the band supporting their summer US dates. The answer: Yes! Bang, we killed two birds with one stone. The Messiahs had a hot tour, and Howard and/or I could use Elektra’s money to ‘cover’ as many dates as possible on behalf of the label. We ended up seeing the package many, many times. Well done.

Max Romeo / The Prodigy

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

Chase the Devil / Max Romeo

Listen: Chase The Devil / Max Romeo 03 Chase The Devil.mp3

Out of Space / The Prodigy

Listen: Out Of Space / The Prodigy Out Of Space (Edit).mp3

Back in ’76, I was the music director and program director of my college radio station. I’d returned to school after a few years of fucking off in England and working for a one stop record distributor, but remembered the tricks of the trade: get into the radio station pronto, and snag both MD and PD slots if possible (oh yeah, and become the concert chairman while you’re at it as well), thereby insuring ALL the records pass through your mitts first, allowing one’s self to keep the extra (and sometimes the only) copy received. Yes those were some of the brutal measures necessary when plagued by a record collecting addiction. I was very into pub rock then: Ducks Deluxe, Doctor Feelgood and especially Eddie & The Hot Rods. The Hot Rods were signed to Island UK, and because we were playing their LIVE AT THE MARQUEE EP, and it was selling a few at the local record shop, I felt quite justified in writing Island’s London office letting them know of this incredible success story, oh and um….looking for some freebies. Talk about a smart move. The letter, the first one about Eddie & The Hot Rods from the US as it turned out, was handed to the young A&R scout who had signed them, Howard Thompson. He rang me, we began exchanging letters, phone calls, the latest releases and ended up best friends for life. He gave me my first real job at Elektra 8 years later, hence the smart move comment. But back to ’76, I would wait in huge anticipation of his packages showing up, as they were always filled with the latest punk singles and Island releases. A turning point that got me into reggae, was when Howard sent over the Island compilation, THIS IS REGGAE MUSIC (Volume 3). It in itself is a classic reggae title. Every act on there being seminal (Lee Perry, Peter Tosh, Justin Hines & The Dominoes, Junior Murvin, Bunny Wailer, Burning Spear amongst them – and all great tracks as well). This was also Lee Perry heavy, as he either performed on, or produced most everything on the comp. And one of the tracks, ‘War Ina Babylon’ was by Max Romeo & The Upsetters. The note that Howard enclosed described this Lee Perry stuff as ‘almost psychedelic’, and no truer words have ever been written. Of course, I needed all the singles and full length albums by each of these acts, which Howard quickly and thankfully supplied (see Max Romeo single pictured above). Fast forward a decade or two, and sampling has started. I remember reading Bowie’s comments on the process, he loved it as long as he got paid. Most artists weren’t as adventurous, not wanting their music altered, chopped, processed etc. But Bowie, not surprisingly, loved the ability of reinterpretation it afforded. Fast forward again to mash ups….which brings me to this record by The Prodigy: ‘Out Of Space’. From their classic and ‘must own’ PRODIGY EXPERIENCE album, this may be the first ever mash up, before they were even called mash ups. If not, then it certainly samples Max Romeo’s ‘Chase The Devil’ generously, mixing their own song with his. From the looks of The Prodigy’s label copy, neither Romeo nor Lee Perry were credited at the time, but I can’t imagine that hasn’t been sorted since. Never mind. Both singles are great and stand up beautifully on their own.

The Georgia Satellites

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

Battleship Chains / The Georgia Satellites

Battleship Chains / The Georgia Satellites

The NY Subway System and an iPod shuffle make for a great couple. I love when something comes up I haven’t heard for a bit, and it sounds so good you play it a bunch of times. Of course, in the subway, there’s no phone, no email, no distractions really from the music – not that I’m telling you anything you don’t know. My iPod rule is, only songs I love. At the least one I take on the subway. It’s filled with my favorites. So the other day, up comes ‘Battleship Chains’ from The Georgia Satellites first album. Now the two front guys of the band, Dan Baird and Rick Richards, they made a great couple as well. Danny pretty much sang lead on the songs, but occasionally Rick would, taking the roll of Keith if you will. And it’s Rick doing the singing on this one, with Dan’s signature harmonies making it very ‘them’. This band could set fire to any stage – that never failed – ever. I love this song, and their performance on it, so fucking much. It brings back the most incredible memories of great, fun times. I have a picture of the band and I on stage at London’s Marquee Club (during soundcheck) which is like the alter of life for me. I remember the second time I went down to Nashville to check them out. They were looking for a deal, and a bunch of labels were after them. Howard and I had pretty much decided we were signing them to Elektra, but for whatever reason, I made that second trip down as I think Epic were trying to close in on us. They played a bar, a restaurant really, called Margaritaville. Something was going wrong with their amps, and the guys were quite nervous probably thinking they’d blown their record deal. As the Epic fellows stood arrogantly at the bar, I just jumped on stage and offered everyone a valium. Jaws dropped (the courage you muster up on a valium is amazing). It probably clinched the deal. Even though Dan never did a drug, I’d bet he used his pill to negotiate something out of Rick relatively soon. I must remember to ask Dan about that next time we talk. Luckily, I still see both guys if I’m down south, or when they come to NY. Friends for life. Oh, an important piece of trivia: the natural wood coloured Strat that Dan played, and can be seen holding on this sleeve, was originally owned by Steve Marriott of The Small Faces. It’s the guitar he played on ‘Tin Soldier”.

Womack & Womack

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

MPB / Womack & Womack

Somehow, when I worked for Elektra in ‘84/’85 , Womack & Womack passed me by. They’d had some hits in the UK for the label, which should have tipped me off that I’d be interested. Here in the US, they never could get any traction at RnB or Pop stations. I still find it baffling. The Elektra singles ‘Love Wars’ and ‘Strange And Funny’ were great, and seemed to fit the sound of urban radio just fine. Nonetheless……no go at US radio. Like W&W, I moved to Island in ‘88. What a coincidence. And a repeat of the big UK/no US success pattern continued for them. This time I noticed. They were an interesting bunch, not only Cecil and Linda (who are W&W), but all the kids and their parents; the whole lot were on stage with them and seemingly constantly by their side. I was sitting in Chris Blackwell’s office when the cover slick for their only Island album came up from the art department for his approval. He was credited as producer, and immediately asked the assistant delivering the slick, ‘Why am I listed as producer?’. Her logical response was, ‘That’s how the credits came in from Linda’. He looked at me and said, ’I’ve never even met them!’. She proceeded to chase down the confusion. Strange and funny indeed. Cecil’s first wife was Mary Wells and second, Linda Cooke – Sam Cooke’s daughter. Not a bad run. His brother of course, is Bobby. Some family right?. All of their albums are worth owning, especially CONSCIENCE, from which this track comes. It may have a touch of ‘80 sonics, but it never fails to raise the question: ‘Who is this?’, even from the most knowledgeable.