Posts Tagged ‘The Standells’

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.

Annette & The Afterbeats

Monday, May 13th, 2013

AnnetteTaulPaul, Annette Funicello, Annette & The Afterbeats, Disney

Listen: Tall Paul / Annette & The Afterbeats
Tall

Who were The Afterbeats? I’ve never been able to find out.

Being 1959, I’m guessing studio musicians the lot. But it’s nice to think that maybe soon-to-be members of The Standells or some such band, that five or so years later would try posing as teenagers during the crossover from Surf to English Invasion, were actually the players.

Annette was my first crush, probably like every other little kid who watched THE MICKEY MOUSE CLUB. Her singles are some of my earliest memories of owning records, once I graduated from those 5″ yellow shellac nursery rhyme jobs. It wasn’t long before I’d move on to Phyllis McGuire, I can now see where it was all heading. Meanwhile, ‘Taul Paul’ had to have driven my parents mad. Who knows how many millions of times I played it.

Not a singer with any power or confidence, it was Disney staff producer Tutti Camarata who coaxed her into recording stardom, according to Annette herself. Having worked with Billie Holiday, among others, his greatest innovation may have been the creation of what became ‘The Annette Sound’. His solution to the limitations of her teenage voice was to record her vocals twice, the second time with large amounts of echo thrown in; a technique apparently so successful that others like Connie Francis, Shelley Fabares and even The Beatles began to borrow it.

Correct, George Martin did not invent the wheel. More importantly, he destroyed The Action with his shit production. See my post on that one.

Tell me, do you ever, ever hear Annette on oldies radio, bar Sirius?

AnnetteFirstNamePS, Annette Funicello, Annette & The Afterbeats, Disney

Listen: First Name Initial / Annette & The Afterbeats
First

Predating the surf craze that seems to have musically started around ’61/’62 by about two years, you can definitely detect ‘First Name Intital’ moving into that direction. Sounding undeniably RnR 50′s style, it still reaked of sock hops and malted shakes, but in a good way.

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.

Gus Jenkins

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Listen: Chittlins / Gus Jenkins
Chittlins

Damn, I wish I knew more about Gus Jenkins. I know he recorded as early as ’56, under the name Gus Jinkins, and he’s up there as one of the most mysterious raw blues obscurities around.

Someone at Capitol decided to release ‘Chittlins’ via their newly formed subsidiary, Tower, in late ’64.

The Tower label went on until ’68, amassing a small, but fairly collectable bunch of releases, the most famous of course being all the very early US singles by The Pink Floyd. But there were more, Joe Meek masters by Heinz and Tom Jones, Ian Whitcomb & Bluesville, The Chocolate Watch Band, The Standells…pull up a Tower discography sometime. Nice stuff.

Even on first listen, you’ll agree, a wonderfully noticeable amount of Gus Jenkins’ swagger may have influenced The Cramps just a bit, and even more, The Rolling Stones, sounding not unlike any number of tracks from their first few albums.

According to BILLBOARD’s November 14, 1964 RnB DJ Roundup below, along with Jimmy Reed’s ‘I’m Going Upside Your Head’, Ed Wright at WABO Cleveland was spinning it, Ed Hardy over at KDIA in San Francisco chose ‘Chittlins’ as well as Little Jerry Williams’ ‘I’m The Lover Man’, a filthy sleaze fest of a single, a no fucking around must for every collection. And let’s not forget WYLD’s Ed ‘Screaming’ Teamer in New Orleans, who was not only jamming Gus Jenkins and Little Jerry Williams, but was playing the mad great ‘My Country Sugar Mama’ by Howlin’ Wolf.