Posts Tagged ‘Liberty’

Bobby Fuller Four

Saturday, December 26th, 2015

BobbyFullerLetHerDance, Bobby Fuller Four, Mustang, Liberty

Listen: Let Her Dance / Bobby Fuller Four

Released during the summer of ’65, ‘Let Her Dance’ somehow made merely a dent (# 133) on BILLBOARD’s Bubbling Under The Hot 100, sadly getting airplay only in Southern California.

Amazingly, the single didn’t spread like wildfire. It’s not like Los Angeles airplay couldn’t break a record. I still can’t believe it wasn’t a hit.

Apparently, more than those at the original label, Mustang thought so too. They proceeded to license it to Liberty Records, clearly expecting to take the song national as Mustang did later in the year with ‘I Fought The Law’. Why it wasn’t re-released as the followup to ‘I Fought The Law’ remains a mystery, given a few trade mentions in March ’66 that indeed it was scheduled. I suppose Liberty insisted if re-released, despite passing on ‘I Fought The Law’ later that year, it be via them or some such wrangle.

To be honest, Little Steven turned me on to this about five years ago. He plays it regularly on his Sirius radio channel. Sounds fantastic on the air as it must have that summer while driving along the Pacific Palisades, surf boards popping out the back of pink or aqua woodies. Foolishly, I hadn’t paid much attention prior.

Missing this when originally issued is indeed an embarrassing admission, but one that makes for endless records to discover as life moves on.

‘Let Her Dance’ remains a haunting record with a suspicious streak, one that blossomed in an unfortunate way. I was never sure why the single appeared on both the Mustang and Liberty labels, so decided to do some research, stumbling on Aaron Poehler’s ‘The Strange Case Of Bobby Fuller’. It’s a must-read.

Julie London

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

CRY ME A RIVER / Julie London:

Side 1:

Listen: Cry Me A River / Julie London

Listen: I’ll Cry Tomorrow / Julie London

Side 2:

Listen: Baby Baby All The Time / Julie London

Listen: Shadow Woman / Julie London

To think that during it’s heyday, camp bachelor pad music was simply referred to as Easy Listening. Did life really sound like this in Los Angeles during the mid 50′s? Was it really a world of smokey cocktail lounges and leopard print furniture and pastel colored cars and perfect weather? I guess so.

Despite her suggestive, alluring vocal distinction and the timeless sexual drenched sonic of producer/husband Bobby Troup’s recordings, apparently this couple lived a pretty normal and uneventful lifestyle, avoiding Hollywood’s social dramas and remaining together until his death in 1999.

‘Cry Me A River’ went Top 10 on BILLBOARD’s Hot 100 in 1955, with the accompanying album, HER NAME IS JULIE, reaching #2. Of her vocal style she was quoted as saying, “It’s only a thimbleful of a voice, and I have to use it close to the microphone. But it is a kind of oversmoked voice, and it automatically sounds intimate.”

Simple formula. Add to it, simple and crystal clear production, some playful lyric sass and bang, 32 albums later, you’re a well deserved legend.

This US EP, unlike those in the UK, represented a trimmed back version of then current albums, many times using identical cover art. In some instances, including Julie London’s, an entire album might be issued over three or four 7″ EP’s, as was the case with her CALENDAR GIRL full length.

Jimmy McCracklin

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Listen: Dog (Part 2) / Jimmy McCracklin

‘Dog (Part 2)’ was the second of eight singles Jimmy McCracklin issued between ’67 and ’70 on Minit, a sister label of Imperial, where he’d been signed since ’62 and had an additional seventeen releases. All in all, twenty five 45′s during an eight year run with basically one label group, Liberty Records, of which both Minit and Imperial were imprints .

At 90 years old, he can boast a recording career that began in 1945, continuing until most recently, 1999. Yes, 54 years. Given that he performed during 2010, his recording days may not be over yet. I would sure like to shake this guy’s hand.

Like the A side, ‘Dog (Part 1)’, this flip is largely an instrumental style backing track. For all we know, those female voices just may have been The Ikettes. Remember, Ike & Tina Turner were on Minit during this period as well.

Having co-written the Otis Redding and Carla Thomas hit, ‘Tramp’ with Lowell Fulson, released in ’67, and this having been issued around that same time, maybe ‘Dog (Parts 1 & 2)’ were the formative demo beginnings of ‘Tramp’.

Regardless, a great jukebox filler on a winter Sunday afternoon, and a needed artifact, if only for the title.

Julie London

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

Listen: Nice Girls Don’t Stay For Breakfast / Julie London

You can listen to Julie London for the rest of your life if you want, and probably find it hard to get intimately familiar with her entire recorded output: 32 albums. She’s so good, I say give it a try.

She was signed to Liberty Records from ’55 – ’69, yet had only one single that made the BILLBOARD Top 100. Now that’s a commitment to the artist. But what a worthy choice.

Julie London, wife of DRAGNET’s Jack Webb, issued endless suggestive song titles and double entendres, some hysterical now, in the 21st century. Surely at their time of release, they turned many a lonely guy on.

Knowing her own vocal weakness, or strength in my book, she’s qouted as follows: “It’s only a thimbleful of a voice, and I have to use it close to the microphone. But it is a kind of oversmoked voice, and it automatically sounds intimate.” Now there’s a recording technique tip if I’ve ever heard one.

Wonderfully out of place in the ’67 musical landscape, ‘Nice Girls Don’t Stay For Breakfast’ was even, in it’s day, a 50′s throwback to an era when, I guess, it was not talked about that even nice girls did stay for breakfast.

Never mentioned as one of her greats, and she has many, many greats, this single is most elusive. Yes, it’s the title of one of her final albums, but as for the 7″, seldom seen.

The Blisters

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Listen: Shortnin’ Bread / The Blisters

It’s fun to be wandering on your own, completely lost, every once in a while. So is the case with The Blisters. No idea who they were, or where they ended up. Google is pretty far reaching, but when it comes to records like this apparent one off, even the World Wide Web is baffled.

Thinking this was yet another formula rendition of ‘Shortnin’ Bread’ proves negative. Instead, The Blisters’ take is pretty inspired, not following the easy rockabilly path but instead, doo wop meets jump.

Listen: Cookie Rockin’ In Her Stockings / The Blisters

Scouring a Liberty discography puts this release somewhere in ’63. Checking out eBay for interest, seems there’s not too much. One guy had a post calling them and this single a one hit wonder. More like no hit, it neither charted on the Top 100 nor Bubbled Under.

Impossible to not spin ‘Cookie Rockin’ In Her Stockings’ a few times on title alone. A good double sider, and a keeper.

Irma Thomas

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

Listen: Nobody Wants To Hear Nobody’s Troubles / Irma Thomas IrmaNobody.mp3

B side ‘Nobody Wants To Hear Nobody’s Troubles’ is basically a carbon copy arrangement of ‘Time Is On My Side’. It too was a flip side from four singles prior. The style became a dependable blueprint for Irma Thomas. Started with ‘(You Can Have My Husband But) Don’t Mess With My Man’, her first record.

I want to say she was an early rapper, but I suppose that could be contradicted in a flash. God knows where a pulpit reading during the breakdown first began, but you certainly had to be an Irma Thomas to pull it off.

Not sure which of her nine Imperial (Liberty in the UK) singles clocks in as favorite, but coincidentally, a box lot of any did cross my mind, and had me searching for just how singles used to be manufactured, something I always meant to check out years back when Kent Cooper offered me a trip to the plant during our Elektra years. Regretfully never did get around to that. The fantasy of employment at a pressing plant in the 60′s crossed my mind, sent me on a search only to discover this:

Martin Denny

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Listen: Call Me / Martin Denny MatinDennyCallMe.mp3

When I think of Julie London (see previous post), I think of Liberty Records, I think of bachelor pad music and then my trusty jukebox. The sum of those parts many times equals a Martin Denny single. Name a 50′s cocktail comp that leaves him off and you’re naming one that needs be left in the shelf.

What better than a remake of the Tony Hatch classic, ‘Call Me’. This Ramsey Lewis Trio influenced instrumental battles the Chris Montez hit version to the finish line as they both reach for that camp remake crown. It’s a tie says I.

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.

Irma Thomas / The Rolling Stones

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

IrmaTimeUKB, Irma Thomas, Liberty, The Roliing Stones

Listen: Time Is On My Side / Irma Thomas IrmaTime.mp3

Believe it or not, things moved fast in ’65. Technology being what it was, it’s amazing that records were made in days, while presently, with FTPs galore, they take months – sometimes years.

The English groups were good at finding the latest RnB hits, and non-hits, from The US. In a blink, they’d release their own version introducing an insatiable white youth culture to music that was literally down the aisle from them at the local record shop. ‘Time Is On My Side’, with all due respects, was a great call on The Rolling Stones’ part. It was hidden on the B side of Irma Thomas’ ‘Anyone Who Knows What Love is (Will Understand)’, which peaked at #54 in the Billboard Top 100 on July 4. 1964.

StonesTimeUSA, Irma Thomas, Liberty, London, The Rolling Stones

StonesTimePS, Irma Thomas, Liberty, London, The Rolling Stones

Listen: Time Is On My Side / The Rolling Stones StonesTime.mp3

By October of that year, The Rolling Stones’ word for word, inflection for inflection, rendition (I’ve posted the actual single version above, which starts with organ instead of the guitar) was climbing to an eventual #6, their first US Top 10. Some say they stole her hit. I don’t agree. It was never going to get heard by a white teenage audience, or even liked by them most probably. To begin with, it was a B side. Still, as with Bessie Banks’ original of ‘Go Now’, the raw soul of it is hard not to love.

April Stevens

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

aprilstevens, April Stevens, Nino Tempo, Imperial, Liberty, Duffy, Marilyn Monroe

Listen: Teach Me Tiger / April Stevens AprilStevens.mp3

aprilstevens6501,april stevens

Listen: Teach Me Tiger – 1965 / April Stevens AprilStevens65.mp3

Doing her best Marilyn Monroe imitation, ‘Teach Me Tiger’ was too suggestive for 1958 programmers, resulting in little airplay and just making it to #86 on Billboard’s Top 100.

Not content, possibly renewed confidence took over after going to #1 with brother Nino Tempo via their rendition of ‘Deep Purple’ in ’63. April attempted another stab at ‘Teach Me Tiger’ with new label partner, Atco. ‘Teach Me Tiger – 1965′ starts with a rather awkward ‘Leader Of The Pack’ style intro, otherwise you’d swear it was the exact same version as the original. I had no idea this one existed until stumbling on it a few years back in a stack of promos at a garage sale. Still, what a fantastic track either way.

Why doesn’t anyone make singles like this nowadays? Shouldn’t someone like Duffy take a swing at this kind of camp?

And to think, she was from Niagara Falls.

The Strawberry Children

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Strawberry Children Picture Sleeve

Listen: Love Years Coming / The Strawberry Children

Turns out Johnny Rivers was a pretty hip cat, as I believe he’d be referred to at the time. Like his career, Johnny Rivers’ record label Soul City, was very Los Angeles centric. Having earned parent company Liberty a ton of cash, he was afforded an imprint and indeed quite the businessman, which occasionally populated the landscape during the 60′s. In short, he licensed his masters instead of allowing the label to own them. Not only as performer, but as producer and A&R alike, Johnny Rivers had talent, signing The Fifth Dimension to Soul City as well producing many of their hits. Reputedly giving Jimmy Webb his initial songwriting placements, Rivers teamed he and The Strawberry Children together. Never shy on picture sleeves, Soul City issued ‘Love Years Coming’ during the summer of ’67. It was almost a hit.

Looking back on one of my local radio station’s chart below, ‘Love Years Coming’ was that week’s pick hit. Look further though. Usually a very tight follower of the national Top 40, seems WNDR was burning it’s bra that summer as well. The sunshine was clearly powerful as acid pop singles aplenty were being played: Sagittarius at #15 (which they misspelled), The Third Rail, The Forum, The Merry-Go-Round, The Will-O-Bees, The Cyrkle, The Left Banke and pyschedelic folk hippie Marcia Strassman. Not to mention some decent soul/Northern soul: Linda Jones, The Sweet Inspirations, Betty Swanne and a portion, though not big enough, of UK stuff: The Kinks, The Spencer Davis Group

It was a great summer.

The Bonzo Dog Band

Monday, July 28th, 2008

Mr. Apollo / The Bonzo Dog Band

Listen: Mr. Apollo / The Bonzo Dog Band
Mr. Apollo / The Bonzo Dog Band

The Beatles lifted so much from these guys. Tell me ‘Yellow Submarine’, or lots of SGT PEPPER and MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR weren’t influenced by the work of The Bonzos, and I’ll know you haven’t bothered to listen to them. It may have been innocent flattery, but I’m not too sure about that. Paul McCartney did produce their hit, ‘I’m The Urban Spaceman’. He may have felt guilty. I do pick on The Beatles when I can, too vaudeville for me and they were quitters but admittedly had many good singles. It’s that Beatles vs Rolling Stones rivalry I can’t quite shake.

Last year, a friend at EMI in London sent me the entire set of Bonzo Dog Band reissues on cd. I still play them a lot, very worth seeking out. As for the 7″ vinyl, ‘Mr Apollo’ was the first to be released after they dropped the Doo Dah from their name. The US was lucky enough to see them at The Fillmore East, opening for Spirit and The Kinks, their first US shows in three or four years after the Musician Union’s ban, we’re talking 1969 and ARTHUR had just been released. This was October 17 & 18 to be exact.