Posts Tagged ‘Canned Heat’

Alvin Robinson

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

Listen: Down Home Girl / Alvin Robinson
Down Home Girl / Alvin Robinson

I saw The Rolling Stones for the first time on October 30, 1965 at the Syracuse War Memorial. I had forged a press pass, a typed note actually, on letterhead from a weekly paper in my little hometown. My Dad had set me up with the pompous owner of it, as I wanted to interview the band for a feature.

Looking back it was quite a good idea on my part, but this self celebrating fellow was nasty and dismissive. Even though I ended up meeting the band, I still loathe him for his attitude, not towards me, but towards my Father. He was so busy being busy, running in and out of his pathetic office, that I just reached over and grabbed a few pages of letterhead when he wasn’t looking. I shook with fear at what I’d done. I was still a good Catholic boy, but too late, I’d done it. So he tells me, “We don’t need a piece on this dirty English combo”, and that was that, or so he thought. Indeed, they didn’t need a a kid in his late single digits writing a review.

To be exact, this was the Canastota Bee Journal, as close as you can get to Mayberry. He and the paper, I’m guessing, are long gone. Still, I composed this laughable letter, claiming to be a writer on assignment and needing to interview them for a feature.

In those days, arenas were filled with hysterical, screaming kids, so how I managed to slide backstage so easily still baffles. An usher fell for that forged letter, and brought me back, where Bill Wyman was wrapping up his cords. Bill reads it, stares me straight in the eye and says in hindsight with a knowing smirk, “Come on and we’ll meet the rest”.

Holy shit. Is this really happening? It was the first time I nearly blacked out. I seriously remember that vividly. We are suddenly walking up the steps to the dressing room, knees weak, where in years to follow, I would meet, more like pester, (here goes, I know this is all a bit name droppy, but it really, really happened. I met all these bands and I’m proud of it): The Mindbenders, Them, The Moody Blues, The Nashville Teens, The Ikettes, The Who, The Pretty Things, Manfred Mann, The Kinks, Humble Pie, Heads Hands & Feet, Fairport Convention, John Martyn, Steppenwolf, Canned Heat, Caravan, Toe Fat, Derek & The Dominoes, Jethro Tull, Grand Funk Railroad, Frampton’s Camel, Traffic, Wild Turkey, The Faces, Badfinger, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Mother Earth, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, The Chambers Brothers, Sly & The Family Stone, Savoy Brown, Iron Butterfly, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Big Brother & The Holding Company, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, even Vivian Green, who I worked with decades later, was in that very room when on tour with Maxwell. Talk about coming full circle.

The management knew me and my friends well early on, they must’ve gotten a kick out of these crazy little kids, who’s Mom’s & Dad’s would wait patiently for until the shows ended. Our parents befriended the office staff, and in turn, those nice ladies always let us backstage.

The Rolling Stones were great, so nice. No one was in their dressing room except the band, and one other guy, I’m guess Ian Stewart, the tour manager. No food, nothing but bottles of Coca Cola. They signed my copy of 12 X 5, it probably lasted all of a minute but I still can relive it to this day. Here I was, with this exotic band from England that changed my life, which prior I could only see on TV every three to four months tops. I thought at that very moment, “This is the life for me”. I’m completely convinced it led to my career in music. No question.

Their current album at the time, THE ROLLING STONES NOW, was not a real album at all. In those days, the English labels released singles and EPs, in addition to albums. Not only were the EP tracks not on the LPs, but the singles weren’t either. So the US companies were always dropping off intended LP tracks to make room for the singles and sometimes strong ones from those EPs. For this particular release, London Records basically cobbled together some singles and EP songs, as well as unused UK LP tracks. Remember, the UK LPs were 14 songs compared to our 10-12, thereby creating even more choices.

Probably by coincidence more than design, THE ROLLING STONES NOW actually works as a proper LP. It was certainly a big success, slowly but very solidly scaling the US LP charts and staying Top 10 for ages, as it deserved to. The record’s filled with dark, minor key classics like ‘Heart Of Stone’, ‘Little Red Rooster’ and ‘Pain In My Heart’ which they played on that night, Brian sitting at a huge B3 organ, wailing away.

It’s ok if you’re getting tingles. Take your time. You’ll need it. They were back, nine months later, during the AFTERMATH tour, and that’s whole ‘nother post waiting to be written.

This all leads us to ‘Down Home Girl’, a song on THE ROLLING STONES NOW. Little did I know then that it was a cover. I don’t even think I knew what that meant. They were all Rolling Stones songs to us. Years and years later I wised up, seeked out the original, and became a dangerous Alvin Robinson fanatic.

Here’s his version. Get any of his other releases. all of them actually.

Wilbert Harrison One Man Band / Prince La La / Derek Martin

Monday, December 30th, 2013

THE SUE SOUL BROTHERS / Various Artists:

SIDE 1:

Listen: Let’s Work Together (Parts 1 & 2) / Wilbert Harrison One Man Band
WilbertWorkTogether.mp3

Side 2:

Listen: She Put The Hurt On Me / Prince La La
She

Listen: Daddy Rollin’ Stone / Derek Martin
Daddy

Just check my previous two posts. Not hard to guess, I’ve been picking through the various artists section of my wall shelf.

Weirdly enough, this is usually a head scratching process. I don’t do it often, but every time seems to unearth a multi-artist record, usually an EP, that I’d never really noticed before, suddenly falling into the ‘where on earth did I get this from’ category. And honestly, it happens every single time. One source, the UK weeklies, who for a few years there during the late 80′s/early 90′s were including free EP’s, whether it be NME, Music Week or Melody Maker, with each issue. I religiously grabbed every one and stuck them in that VA section for a rainy day. The entire chunk now being a treasure trove of both obscure and focus tracks.

When the Ensign label got all hot and bothered about the Sue Records catalog, which I’m guessing they could suddenly access via their 1983 Island distribution deal, they issued a series of four song EP’s religiously honoring the labels iconic history. Some were single artist compilation EP’s by Ike & Tina Turner or Inez & Charlie Foxx. Others were theme centric: SUE INSTRUMENTALS, THE SUE SOUL SISTERS and this, the latter’s partner, THE SUE SOUL BROTHERS. I played all three in the past few hours and basically did a blindfold drill to choose today’s 31 Days Of December – All EP’s post.

THE SUE SOUL BROTHERS, most likely by design, builds around much covered songs from Sue’s UK catalog. And there were many songs to choose from here, not forgetting, the Sue UK label issued the American Sue releases along with various blues and RnB singles from small and indie US labels. Initially, Juggy Murray, who owned Sue in the US was reportedly furious with Chris Blackwell and Guy Stevens, the day to day guy at Island/Sue in London. Apparently, neither had cleared the idea of picking up product from other US companies and slapping a Sue label on it for the UK.

As a result, other than the bothersome bad blood, Sue’s British catalog and discography rivaled the majors like Decca’s, who bolstered their output and image by repping Atlantic, Monument, Tribe, RCA, Coral and others in Britain. Island became the little indie that could, even harder in the 60′s, when swimming against the tide of Decca, CBS, EMI and Pye was near impossible.

And so, the team at Ensign picked some solid originals here that went on to become widely popular as covers. Loads of bands, including The Who and John’s Children released Derek Martin’s ‘Daddy Rollin’ Stone’ during the Mod era.

Canned Heat, blues experts themselves, took Wilbert Harrison’s ‘Let’s Work Together’ Top 40 in 1970, delaying their version to give the original a chance to sell and reach #32 on BILLBOARD. In a loose full circle chain of events, John Mayall chose to record Wilbert Harrison’s ‘Let’s Work Together’ for his fantastic, and I do mean fantastic, Island album, A SENSE OF PLACE from 1990.

John Mayall

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

Listen: Walking On Sunset (Mono) / John Mayall
Walking

I recall vividly awaiting each new album from John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers during their vast and frequent output of the late 60′s. There was something very British about it all. Seemingly via coincidental osmosis, to me, this band personified the damp, cold and grimy UK club circuit. Photos of their decidedly uncomfortable, barely heated van imply a situation closer to say, a jail sentence than an accommodating overnight transportation mode. And that’s just the travel bit.

So by the release of the BLUES FROM LAURAL CANYON album, summer ’68, it was well fun to hear a bright, almost happy version of blues rock. In this case, documenting what must have been like the world changing from black and white to color, for an English band usually grinding through the drizzly UK and then suddenly ending up in Southern California performing a week of shows at Los Angeles’ Whisky A Go Go.

John Mayall himself returned, or maybe stayed on for a week or two, and hence the resulting documentation of the trip. References to The Mothers Of Invention, Canned Heat and The GTO’s make for fun musical name checks. But it’s the almost pop-like songs that entertain the most.

‘Walking On Sunset’ was always a favorite, along with ’2401′, a UK 7″. Again, having the promos of these means owning the scarce mono versions, as posted above.

‘Walking On Sunset’, to this day, can still invite you along for the stroll, envisioning what it must have been like, mid century architecture overloading one’s senses from all directions, and a list of upcoming club shows in the vicinity that could rival London’s Marquee with heart stopping effect.

Years later, having morphed from fan to A&R, I signed John Mayall and he made his terrific comeback album for Island, A SENSE OF PLACE. One of the nicest, most dependable, problem free guys you’d ever want to work with quite frankly.

Only a few years back, I ran into he and his family as we both waited for outbound flights at LAX. We sat for a good hour and caught up. John, as always, sharing endless details about those days. Love the guy.

Canned Heat

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Listen: Rollin’ And Tumblin’ / Canned Heat CannedHeatRollin.mp3

This wasn’t a huge favorite then, yet I did show off that sleeve at every turn. Lots of era bands covered ‘Rollin’ And Tumblin’, and I must admit, my favorite is by The Cream. But what’s great about this is Bob Hite on vocal. He may have been a big boy, but he was relentless on stage. Really superb. I remember them doing it the one and only time I got to see this lineup (who are on all three singles posted here).


Listen: Going Up The Country / Canned Heat CannedHeatCountry.mp3

That particular show was a real treat. Canned Heat were in the midst of this run of hit singles, can you believe it, hit Top 40 singles. Support that night were John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers (during the BAREWIRES tour – fantastic) and Albert King. Now tell me you aren’t jealous and I’ll know you’re fibbing.

‘Going Up The Country’ had the unique voice of Al ‘Blind Owl’ Wilson on lead. He and Bob Hite seemed to share an equal 50/50 of those singing chores live. No star bullshit, just real blues lovers that band. In fact, Bob reportedly had one of the world’s largest and most complete blues vinyl collection at the time of his passing.

Blind Owl actually brought pop perfectly into the band via his voice. It’s just impossible to not love.

Listen: On The Road Again / Canned Heat CannedHeatRoad.mp3

So much appeal did indeed that voice have, that Canned Heat pulled off something similar in the US to what The Rolling Stones had in the UK with ‘Little Red Rooster’. Both singles, tried, true, plain and simple slow blues numbers, became smashes against every industry know-it-all warning.

Not sure about you, but I haven’t heard these for years. Really glad I pulled them out.