Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Tubes: Talk To You Later

Before they became a household name (sort of), The Tubes had already released five studio albums and a compilation of their better known (sort of) material. The Tubes had a loyal cult-like following that began with their release of their self-titled debut LP and theatrical performances of the single “White Punks on Dope.” While their albums generally sold well without a supporting hit single, the masses were oblivious to their talents.

That was until 1981 when the rest of the world outside of their existing fan base began to notice this band. Part of this was due to their video for “Talk to You Later” and the other part was consistent promotion by Capitol Records to Album Oriented Rock stations.

The Video

You’ll have to turn up the volume on this as for some reason EMI Music didn’t have the levels quite right. It is also mono as well.

The Single Mix

While AOR radio embraced “Talk to you Later,” and it peaked at #7 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, it failed to make the Top 100 charts being a true bubbling under hit with its highest position at #101.

The album, “The Completion Backwards Principle,” peaked on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart at #36 – making it their second highest charting LP. This album was eclipsed by their next release “Outside Inside” which topped the charts at #18.

The Album Mix with Spoken Intro

“Talk to you Later” was “The Completion Backwards Principle’s” lead track and featured a rather unusual spoken word intro: “As I mentioned near the close of the last record, this record you are now playing is another example of The Completion Backward Principle; if you can possibly manage the time, please play both sides at one meeting.”

Despite this rather unprecedented narration (which did not detract from the music at all), “The Completion Backwards Principle” was one of my favorite albums of 1981 and it eventually produced a mid-charting hit at #35 with the ballad “Don’t Want to Talk Anymore.” I can’t think of a bad cut on this album and would carte blanch recommend it to anyone who wants to delve into a nostalgic trip to the early 80s. It is considered by many a concept album as it was loosely based on corporate training manuals.

“Talk to you Later” was co-written by the band, producer David Foster, and Toto lead guitarist Steve Lukather. In addition to the song being performed still today by The Tubes, Lukather also makes it a part of his live song set.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Pretenders: Brass In Pocket (I'm Special)

Usually, I have my week pretty well planned out in advance for what I plan to feature; however, periodically yesterday I would wrack my brain about what I was going to do for TV Thursday this week. Well, last night I saw the new commercial for the Blackberry Playbook and low and behold Chrissie Hynde and The Pretenders’ “Brass in Pocket (I’m Special)” was the background music.

The single was released in 1979 and climbed to the #14 spot on the Hot 100 chart in early 1980. The single did better elsewhere as it was #1 in the UK and Sweden, #2 in Australia and New Zealand, and #5 in Canada. The album, “Pretenders,” did better in the US charting at #9 and selling in excess of a million copies to be certified as platinum. It was certified gold in the UK for sales in excess of 100 thousand and the Netherlands for over 30 thousand copies sold.

One of the things that has changed linguistically since 1979 is the connotation of the word "special." The word used to mean something extraordinary; however, it carries a meaning that indicates someone needs a little help in life. When I want to get my oldest daughter's goat, I tell her she's special. To which she thanks me, and then says "hey, wait a minute - special how?"

Stereo Version

Music Video in Mono

The video was one of the first 10 music videos played on MTV when the channel debuted in 1981.

Blackberry Playbook Commercial

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Firm: Radioactive

I can hear it already, there will be those muttering under their breath – “Is he crazy? The Firm had more than one hit besides their song 'Radioactive.'” True they had some airplay on two other songs, but our definition of a One Hit Wonder is that it was the only song by an artist to chart in the Top 40 of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. Within those parameters, “Radioactive” was their only song with distinction having peaked at #28.

As for the other two songs, “Satisfaction Guaranteed” charted at #73 and “All the King’s Horses” did a little better at #61. Additionally, “Radioactive” attained the number one position on Billboard’s Top Rock Tracks chart. While “Radioactive” was their best known song in the US, it was not the case elsewhere. This 1985 American hit charted at 75 and 76 in Canada and the UK respectively. The album, “The Firm,” hit #17 on the LP charts and was certified gold in the US and Canada.

“Radioactive” and their self-titled debut LP was the world’s introduction to 1985’s new supergroup that featured Paul Rodgers (formerly of Free and Bad Company) on lead vocals and Led Zeppelin lead guitarist Jimmy Page. Rounding out the quartet was studio musician Tony Franklin on bass (fretless much of the time) and keyboards. Chris Slade, formerly of Uriah Heep and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, handled the drums.

While the video shows Jimmy Page playing the lead on his cherry red Gibson 12/6 string double neck SG model guitar, he did not play the highly unusual lead guitar run on this recording. Vocalist Paul Rodgers played the lead that has been both praised and panned by critics everywhere. I like it as it is unusual. I tried figuring it out, but had difficulty in doing so and am amazed that no one has a tablature available for this solo or a YouTube video showing you how to play it.

The song is in Am and I tried a number of things including diminished arpeggios but could not replicate Rodgers’ genius on this track. I will have to say that it is what first attracted me to the song and I used to sing it in the mid 80s when I played keyboards with a local band named “Street Heat.” Not everyone has the same appreciation of this strange lead. Guitar World ranked it at 77 of their “Top 100 Worst Guitar Solos” list. Everyone is a critic these days.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Seth Lakeman: Hearts & Minds

For today’s Traditional Tuesday selection, how about a little folk music with attitude? Multi-instrumentalist Seth Lakeman released his latest LP “Hearts & Minds” last summer. The album debuted at #17 on the UK LP charts. This was Seth’s highest chart position for the LP, which shows that his dedicated followers bought their copy as soon as it was available.

It is an excellent LP and I recommend it to anyone with a penchant for folk and fiddle music with an edge. Today’s feature is the LP’s title cut “Hearts & Minds.”

Live Version

Monday, April 25, 2011

David Bowie & David Gilmour: Arnold Layne

I got thinking about early Pink Floyd this weekend because I stumbled upon a comedic video on YouTube that satirized the late Syd Barrett – the originator and genius behind the band. Due to increasing mental problems which were exasperated by the use of hallucinogens, Barrett’s actions became radically unpredictable. He would participate in weird behavior during concerts and at times not even show up for the show.

While not officially fired by the band, they elected to not pick him up for a gig and he was phased out of Pink Floyd being replaced by his friend David Gilmour. Previously, Gilmour had substituted for the missing Barrett on a number of occasions and finally became the band’s official fifth member prior to Barrett's departure. Pink Floyd was in the midst of recording their second LP, “A Saucerful of Secrets” and a handful of singles when Barrett was relieved of his responsibilities with the band.

Although recorded in the same sessions that produced their debut LP, “Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” “Arnold Layne” did not show on a Pink Floyd album until the release of the compilation “Relics” in 1971. As the band’s initial single, it failed to chart in the US, but gained some momentum in the UK and The Netherlands where it charted at #20 and #30 respectively.

In 2006, David Gilmour began reprising “Arnold Layne” during his tour that year. Two live recordings of the song were captured from the Royal Albert Hall performances. One featured Gilmour on vocals and was released as a single. Gilmour’s version did slightly better than the original as it charted at #19 in the UK.

A second version featured David Bowie on vocals and is our Monday Cover tune today. Bowie previously covered Pink Floyd’s second single, “See Emily Play” in 1973 for the album “Pin Ups.” This LP featured Bowie recording covers of music by The Pretty Things, Them, The Who, The Kinks, The Yardbirds, The Easybeats, The McCoys, and Pink Floyd.

While Bowie did a good job on “See Emily Play,” I like his rendition of “Arnold Layne” much better. David Gilmour joins on harmony vocals. If the keyboard parts sound strangely familiar, it is the late Richard Wright who as a member of Pink Floyd played on the single.

The Original by Pink Floyd

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Don Francisco: He's Alive

Happy Easter everyone! To celebrate the most important holiday in Christendom, I thought I would feature a song about the resurrection. In 1977, Don Francisco recorded his landmark LP “Forgiven” that featured his most popular song: “He’s Alive.” The album and single were released on NewPax Records, a label owned by record producer Gary Paxton.

When Contemporary Christian Music Magazine (now CCM Magazine) published its first issue in July 1978, the song “He’s Alive” debuted at the #1 slot and became the longest charting single on Christian radio. In 1980, Francisco won a Dove Award from the Gospel Music Association for “Songwriter of the Year” and “He’s Alive” garnered 1980’s Dove Award for “Song of the Year.”

Francisco had intended to write the song from the Apostle Thomas’ perspective but could not accomplish his goal. He later switched to a view from the Apostle Peter and the rest is history. Francisco’s consummate style is that of a story-teller much like the songs of secular musicians Harry Chapin and Billy Joel. Because of this style, the song made a powerful connection among those who heard it.

Original Recording

Re-recorded Version

All weekend, I’ve been making ridiculous puns. So I feel obligated to add one here. If we would only speak of today’s artist by his first name, would we be referring to him as Don sans Francisco? Use this season of Easter to forgive me for that one. Happy Easter.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Mott The Hoople: All The Way To Memphis

As always on Saturday we feature a bubbling under hit and today we take you back to the fall of 1973 and the opening cut from Mott the Hoople’s sixth album “Mott.” Although released as a single, “All the Way to Memphis” failed to chart in the US – which was highly unusual at the time as the song was well known to their fans. Album radio played it to death and I remember seeing the band perform this tune live on television a number of times – always to the cheers of an approving audience.

While this glam rock outfit fronted by the curly headed Ian Hunter (who is now 72) never transitioned to top forty radio in the US. The closest they came was in the summer of ’72 when “All the Young Dudes” made it to a dismal 37. American mainstream radio was not that accepting of Mott the Hoople – they just weren’t a singles kind of band; however, the album charted at 35 on the Top 200 LPs charts. It was not their highest charting LP, but it started a trend that saw their final two albums, “The Hoople” and “Live,” chart even higher.

“Mott” was their second LP released in the US on the Columbia label; the first four albums by the band were on Atlantic. I can remember sitting in the lobby of Jones Hall – my dorm at the time seeing Ian Hunter, Mick Ralphs, Pete “Overend” Watts, and Dale Griffen doing this and other legendary “Hoople” tunes. While the song is a constant reminder of this period, the picture that comes to my mind is Ian Hunter playing his H-shaped guitar. To see it, check out the following site:

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Rolling Stones: 2000 Light Years From Home

Friday’s Flipside takes us back to 1968 and the psychedelic “B” side to the Rolling Stones’ “She’s A Rainbow.” Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a good recording of the single mix which starts right before the bass guitar intro. With that said, here’s the longer LP version of “2000 Light Years from Home.”

It is an interesting song for the Stones and there is a backing vocal that sounds like Yoko Ono; however, Yoko is not credited on the LP. It could be Anita Pallenberg who is the only female credited with singing backup, and who had been the love interest of first Brian Jones and then later Keith Richards. To me it sounds like one of those falsetto faux female voices that are characteristic of Monty Python skits. In reality, it is probably one of the Rolling Stones doing this high harmony.

Demo Recording of the Instrumental Track

The lyrics were written by Mick Jagger while in prison on drug charges and the unusual backing track had been recorded by the band under the working title of “Toffee Apple.” Many times bands would have an initial melody and would sing nonsensical words until the real lyrics were composed. I bet you didn’t know that The Beatles’ “Yesterday” was originally titled “Scrambled Eggs.” Think about singing, “Scrambled Eggs, da da da da da da – scrambled eggs.”

I’m not sure how the Stones sang “Toffee Apple” to the menagerie of psychedelia found in this song. That might be a little difficult. The strings were actually Brian Jones on Mellotron. There are also backwards recordings and the instrument that makes this tune is Bill Wyman’s bass. Check out the original backing track demo. It is missing some of the sound effects that were added for the official release.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

ZZ Top: La Grange

Last weekend I caught a commercial for the first time that advertised CanAm Spyder Roadster. In the background, you immediately recognize Frank Beard's characteristic shuffle on the drum rim and the John Lee Hooker style guitar and vocals by Billy Gibbons. It was the band’s first single from their debut 1973 album “Tres Hombres.”; however, "La Grange" barely missed the top 40 charts by peaking at #41.

Live Version

While Billy Gibbons played a Fender Stratocaster on the original studio recording of “La Grange,” he is seen here playing a Gretsch Jupiter Thunderbird – a guitar originally made famous by Bo Diddley. You can see Bo’s original 1959 model on the cover of the LP “Bo Diddley is a Gunslinger.”

Bo gave this same guitar to Billy Gibbons – which Gibbons later modified. A few years ago, a reconstituted Gretsch Guitar Company began marketing the Jupiter –Thunderbird as the “Billy-Bo” model and that moniker can be found on the back of the headstock.

The guitar and the man behind the guitar – rocks.

CanAm Spyder Roadster Commercial

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tin TIn: Toast and Marmalade For Tea

Today’s one hit wonder comes from a pair of Australians living in the United Kingdom. Named after a Belgian cartoon character named Tintin, Tin Tin was formed by Steve Kipner and Steve Groves. Kipner and Groves were joined by bassist Johnny Vallins and drummer Geoff Bridgford

Because of their friendship with Bee Gee Maurice Gibbs, the band was signed to a one album contract with the Robert Stigwood Organization – the company that managed a number of musical acts including Eric Clapton and the Bee Gees.

Gibbs produced and played a number of instruments on both of Tin Tin’s albums. The self-titled debut album barely made Billboard’s Top 200 Album Chart by peaking at 197. The LP’s single release “Toast and Marmalade for Tea” charted in the US at #20 in 1971 and was their only top 40 hit.

In the US, Tin Tin’s records were released on ATCO like many of Robert Stigwood’s other acts. By 1973, Stigwood incorporated RSO Records and his acts, sans Tin Tin, moved to the new label. Steve Kipner continued in the music business and has produced a variety of artists such as Chicago, George Benson, Olivia Newton-John, and Christina Aguilera.

This psychedelic/bubble gum hit is rarely heard today even on oldies stations. Dick Bartley used to play it quite a bit. Lyrically the song is banal, but it has some interesting instrumentation starting with acoustic guitar and a strange sounding keyboard. I’ve read that it was a distorted piano, but I am not convinced of that – it sounds like a synthesizer to me. There is one musical mistake in the song – see if you can catch it? It drives me crazy. Listen to the song and the answer will appear below.

OK, if you haven’t found it, listen when the bass enters. The third note (28 seconds into the recording) is about a half of a beat too late. With multi-tracking available at the time, you would think that Gibb would have fixed this. With today’s computer technology, the note would not need to be re-recorded – just moved digitally. Don't you just love technology.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts: Fleetwood Fair

Our Traditional Tuesday song was suggested by my brother Chuck this week: Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts with “Fleetwood Fair.” The song recently won a Hancock Award for the “Best Original Song.” The Hancock Award is sponsored by TalkAwhile – an acoustic music forum. Dave Swarbrick, formerly of Fairport Convention, is the honorary president of the awards.

I am really impressed by the song, the arrangement, and video. The harmonies are nearly perfect. There are also some interesting instrumental things occurring with “Fleetwood Fair.”

While Katriona Gilmore plays the mandolin left-handed, she plays violin and viola right-handed. She also is apparently small in stature as I originally thought the instrument was a larger mandola as it dwarfs her; however, its tonality and the credits rightfully identify the instrument as a mandolin. Its presence as an accompaniment instrument provides bell like accents and chunky rhythm when necessary.

Jamie Roberts is simply amazing on the percussive lap guitar on this tune. It is different enough to draw attention to this song. The sight of someone playing a guitar in a nontraditional way is exciting, but close your eyes and listen and Jamie’s guitar evokes a synthesis of an Appalachian dulcimer, Chapman Stick, and a cajon all in one.

The song is Em; from doing some research on Jamie’s technique, I learned that he uses a D modal tuning that he capos at the fifth fret to play in G – the relative major of Em. The tuning he employs is D A D A A D and when capoed is a fourth higher at G B G B B G. I tried both the tuning and his technique.

The tuning I was able to handle – the lap/percussive style is quite another thing. Doing this would take quite a bit of practice as it requires both hands to be on the fret board (much like the Chapman Stick). The acoustic I used was a thin Ibanez acoustic/electric and did not lend itself to the sound Jamie gets from a dreadnaught guitar. I’ve got another guitar I can try, but I doubt if I’ll master this style anytime soon.

Jamie’s Tutorials on his Lap Style Percussive Guitar

Monday, April 18, 2011

4 Non Blondes: Misty Mountain Hop

If someone would have said in the early 1970s that there would be a vocalist that could rival Robert Plant, I would have laughed. But then again, I hadn’t heard of Linda Perry and 4 Non Blondes. Today we feature their cover recording of “Misty Mountain Hop.”

The song starts off with the opening piece from another Zep tune – “Black Dog” and moves into the characteristic electric piano part. The sound is a little different than the piano on “Led Zeppelin IV,” and I believe that is because it appears to be a Wurlitzer Electric Piano with the tremolo turned up part way, while the instrument played by John Paul Jones (according to the live videos and its bell like sound) was a Rhodes Piano.

4 Non Blondes released their cover on Atlantic Records’ 1995 album: “Encomium: A Tribute to Led Zeppelin.” “Misty Mountain Hop” was also released as a single for this short lived San Francisco band, but the single failed to chart.

Led Zep Original

Kicking off side two of Led Zeppelin’s best selling fourth album is their version of “Misty Mountain Hop.” Need I say anything more?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Chi Coltrane: Go Like Elijah

From her self-titled album that brought us “Thunder and Lightning,” Chi Coltrane received additional airplay with today’s Spiritual Sunday song – “Go Like Elijah.” This gospel tinged song has her characteristic pounding piano and features a choir to give that church experience. In fact, a number of gospel groups have also recorded this song.

Live Version

From 2009, here’s a live version of today’s selection. Even nearly 40 years afterwards, Chi has still got it.


Someday my time to die will come.
When that will be, I do not know
I only know that when I have to go.
Yeah, when I go— I wanna go
Just let me go— Lord, when I go
Yeah, when I go— Lord, let me go

Just let me go like Elijah when I go
I want to rise right up into the sky
And ride white horses with fiery eyes
Lord for my sins I apologize

Just let me go — Lord when I go
When my time comes for me to go
Just let me go like Elijah when I go
I don't want no tombstone above my head
And I don't want no pinebox for my bed
And I don't want anyone to say I'm dead.
I don't want no one cryin'
Or feelin' sad
Or standin' in the rain without their hat
I wanna go up happy — Imagine that

Yeah, when I go— I wanna go
Just let me go -—Lord, when I go,
Yeah, when I go— Lord, let me go
Just let me go like Elijah when I go
I want to rise right up into the sky
And ride white horses with fiery eyes
Lord for my sins I apologize
Just let me go— Lord when I go
When my time comes for me to go
Just let me go like Elijah when I go...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Be-Bop Deluxe: Sister Seagull

My first taste of our bubbling under group Be-Bop Deluxe came in 1977 when I purchased their “Live! In the Air Age” album. This double disc set had one record in white vinyl and the second in black vinyl. I was hooked on this English art-rock band from the moment the needle hit the vinyl.

“Sister Seagull,” which had been a flip side of their 1975 “Maid in Heaven” was also featured in a live context on this album. “Live! In the Air Age” was their most popular album in the US charting on Billboard’s Top 200 Album Chart at 65; however, they never attained wide-spread appeal in the States.

While the song never charted when originally released on their second album “Futurama,” its feature on “Live! In the Air Age” caused AOR programmers to go back and revisit the studio version. “Futurama” never charted in the US; however, the studio version allowed guitar virtuoso Bill Nelson to show off his talents by the way of overdubbing the lead over his rhythm and accompaniment parts – something he couldn’t do live – as he was the only guitarist in Be-Bop Deluxe.

Nelson is really an underrated guitarist, which is unfortunate as he is quite good. It’s a pity not more people haven’t heard his work. Five thumbs up.

Live Version

From a 1975 performance on the “Old Grey Whistle Test,” here’s a live version of “Sister Seagull.” While it isn’t the best recording as the tape had stretched, it gives you an idea what this band was like live. Along with Nelson on guitar and vocals, bassist Charlie Tumahai also contributes backing vocals. A member of the Maori community of New Zealand, Tumahai died of a heart attack in 1995 at the age of 46.

Simon Fox handles the backbeat, while keyboards were supplied by the band’s newest member Andrew Clark. Using his Rhodes Electric Piano, Clark doubles the rhythm part normally played only on guitar by Nelson at the beginning of “Sister Seagull.” The realistic strings are courtesy of Clark’s Mellotron.

Because of the limitations of only one guitar, the live version is a bit mellower as Nelson cannot do those fantastic leads while playing rhythm guitar parts; however, he does get to shine on the solo. Nelson is playing a sunburst Gibson Stereo ES-345 run with added distortion and an Echoplex during his solo.


Sister seagull, oh you're flying me to high
Feels so dizzy underneath your open skies
And it's strange the games we play to hide the crime
Sister seagull you're the reason I survive

I am a prisoner who has thrown away the key
My soul has vanished with the bird who flies so free
And the wings of change have spread themselves o'er me
Sister seagull you're the reason I survive

I am waiting here for the tide to turn
And the pathways of the air to open
Will you meet me there
By the golden stairways to the clouds
To the clouds

I am a changeling
Like the wind across the waves
Though in the end there will be nothing left to save
I will return one day
With all the time you gave
Sister seagull you're the reason I survive
I survive
I survive

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Guess Who: Undun

One of my favorite Canadian bands of all time was The Guess Who and beginning in 1969 they were riding high on a string of hits that began with “These Eyes” from their album “Wheatfield Soul.” It was their first American hit since 1965’s “Shakin’ All Over” that featured their original lead vocalist Chad Allen. In 1966, Burton Cummings replaced Allen as lead vocalist and the rest is history.

The follow-up to “These Eyes” was the double sided hit “Laughing” b/w “Undun.” Both songs were from the “Canned Wheat” LP and both songs charted in the US and Canada. “Laughing” topped the charts in their native Canada and was their first number one record since “Shakin’ All Over”; although, the band had 13 singles issued in Canada between the two number one hits. In the US, it peaked at #10.

While “Laughing” was the hit, its flipside “Undun” was nearly as popular charting in Canada and the US at 21 and 22 respectively. Written by Randy Bachman, the guitar has a bossa nova feel – a technique that Bachman used on other recordings like “Looking out for Number One” and “Blue Collar” – two singles for Bachman-Turner Overdrive that never made it into the top 40. “Undun” also features the flute work of Burton Cummings. It’s a great song all around.

Live Version from 1983

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Placebo: Running Up That Hill

Frequently my inspiration for my TV Thursday features come from the writers of the TV show “Bones.” The episode was a rerun entitled “Judas on a Pole” and features the song towards the end of the episode, as is the custom with this series. Placebo’s interpretation of Kate Bush’s “Running up that Hill” has been featured in about six other shows.

Placebo released “Running up that Hill” for their 2003 release appropriately titled “Covers.” It was released as a single in 2007, but only was a mid-charting song in the UK, Australia, and Sweden. It failed to chart elsewhere. It’s different, but I like it. Hope you do as well.

Kate Bush’s Original

I never was a big Kate Bush fan and I guess that stems from being disappointed by her debut album “The Kick Inside” which was released with a great deal of hype because she was discovered by David Gilmour of Pink Floyd. Being a Floyd fan for a number of years, I jumped on the album before hearing it. I think it was her vocal style that turned me off – but that was her first LP which was released in 1978.

By the time 1985 rolled around and EMI released her 12” single of “Running up that Hill” that they persuaded Bush to re-title from “Deal with God” as they felt resistance from the buying public especially in the US, Australia, Italy, and France. Her vocal stylings matured and I really liked this release.  The single features Kate taking aim in a photograph that was surely to cause all of the boys to quiver.

From her “Hounds of Love” album, it was a top 30 hit in the US. It also charted on the Hot Dance Club Play, Hot Dance Singles, and Mainstream Rock Tracks charts. The song charted in the top five in the UK, Germany, and Ireland as well as being a top 10 hit in Australia and the Netherlands.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Nickel Creek: The Lighthouse's Tale

Nickel Creek’s first major release, their self-titled CD on Sugar Hill Records, brought this trio of virtuosos into the lives of the mainstream populous. “The Lighthouse’s Tale,” our traditional Tuesday selection, was penned by Adam McKenzie and mandolinist Chris Thile. Thile also sings lead.

This tune which shows their instrumental and vocal talents was one of three singles from the album. It charted only at #49 on Billboard’s Country Charts. The album fared better at 13 on the Top Country Albums and 125 on the Top 200 LPs. While the album was released in 2000, the video single appeared in 2001.

The song features Sean (guitar, vocals) and Sara (violin, vocals) Watkins who are brother and sister. Chris Thile’s father Scott is on bass. Alison Krauss produced this album. This song has a message that you might have found in folk songs of the past. There are three personalities – the lighthouse keeper, the keeper’s lady friend, and of course the lighthouse who narrates the song. Ironically, the only one that lives is the lighthouse.


I am a lighthouse worn by the weather and the waves
I keep my lamp lit to warn the sailors on their way
I'll tell a story, paint you a picture from my past
I was so happy but joy in this life seldom lasts

I had a keeper, he helped me warn the ships at sea
We had grown closer 'til his joy meant everything to me
And he was to marry a girl who shown with beauty and light
They loved each other, and with me watched the sunsets into nights

And the waves crashing around me
The sand slips out to sea
And the winds that blow remind me
Of what has been and what can never be

She'd had to leave us; my keeper, he prayed for a safe return
But when the night came, the weather to a raging storm had turned
He watched her ship fight, but in vain against the wild and terrible wind
And me so helpless, as dashed against the rocks she met her end

And the waves crashing around me
The sand slips out to sea
And the winds that blow remind me
Of what has been and what can never be

Then on the next day, my keeper found her washed up on the shore
He kissed her cold face, and that they'd be together soon he swore
I saw him crying, watched as he buried her in the sand
Then he climbed my tower, and off the edge of me he ran

And the waves crashing around me
The sand slips out to sea
And the winds that blow remind me
Of what has been and what can never be

I am a lighthouse worn by the weather and the waves
And though I'm empty I still warn the sailors on their way

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Horslips: Sure The Boy Was Green

Horslips – I love this band – from their first album, the traditionally based “Happy to Meet – Sorry to Part,” to there more rock oriented trio of albums of “The Book of Invasions,” “Aliens,” and “The Man Who Built America.” The band took their unusual name from a Spoonerism of “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” which came out as “The Four Poxmen of the Horslypse.” Thus their name was born.

It’s songs like today’s bubbling under feature “Sure the Boy was Green” that gave Horslips the reputation of being an Irish version of Jethro Tull; however, the comparison is made largely on Jim Lockhart’s flute work which is similar, but not exactly the same as Ian Anderson’s style. I read a fan’s comment where he said this song was “Jethro Tull meets Thin Lizzy.” A much better analysis if I say so myself.

The album “Aliens” was the follow-up to their critically acclaimed LP “The Book of Invasions” that chronicled the history of Ireland through successive invasions of the Emerald Isle during its pre-Christian era.

“Aliens” moved closer to modern times and provided a musical interpretation of the Irish who left their homeland in the 1840s for a hope of a better future in America. “Aliens” was their highest charting LP in the US where it peaked at #98. The only other LP to chart on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums was “The Man Who Built America” which was the follow-up to “Aliens.” It peaked at #155.

“Sure the Boy was Green” was released as a single in the US in green vinyl and I found my copy at record store in Barboursville, WV in 1978. The single, however, failed to chart. The title was a bit of a double entendre. First, the seventeen year-old protagonist leaving his homeland for America was inexperienced in life. Second, he was green in that he was Irish. Besides this single, I have five of their albums and one CD and would recommend this band to anyone who wants to explore his inner Celt.


He was only a mad moonlighter, dancing by the sea,Envying nobody chasing shadows crazy and free.
You were the cloud that covered the moon now he just can't see.

Now he's just a kid with a runaway heart,
Jumping ship to anywhere, trying to make a fresh start .
Running away from everything playing a lonely bit part.

Sure the boy was green his heart was on the line.
Seventeen and lonely and biding his time.
Sure the boy was green his heart was on the line.
Seventeen and lonely and biding his time.

 Look at all those fresh young kids, they think they know it all,
Look at the little crazy guy, swaggering down the hall,
He could dance his way to freedom if you don't make him fall.

Now you got him all to yourself what you gonna do?
You're the one who set the trap you know it's up to you,
Call the shots, open the cage, you know he won't run through.

Sure the boy was green his heart was on the line.
Seventeen and lonely and biding his time.
Sure the boy was green his heart was on the line.
Seventeen and lonely and biding his time.

Torch-bearing lady see this kid, he's in love with you.
Dream-selling lady he's in need, you'd better come through.

Sure the boy was green his heart was on the line.
Seventeen and lonely and biding his time.
Sure the boy was green his heart was on the line.
Seventeen and lonely and biding his time.

Live Version

Here’s a live version of “Sure the Boy was Green” recorded from a live rehearsal in 2009. Drummer Eamon Carr, who remains a member of the band, no longer performs live. On drums is guitarist Johnny Fean’s brother Ray handles the drums during engagements.

This live version has Barry Devlin playing an Ampeg Dan Armstrong Plexi-bass. I always thought that the see-through Dan Armstrong plexiglass guitars and basses were some of the neatest instruments of the 1970s. It is said the density of the plexiglass creates better sustain than a wood made electric.

Charles O’Conner is on an electric mandolin; however, I can’t ascertain the brand as I’ve never seen one quite like this. Johnny Fean is playing one of his two 1959 Gibson Les Paul Juniors. The ’59 Junior is characterized as having a double cutaway – the only year Gibson utilized this body style and is much sought after by collectors.

While Fean’s Junior appears to have a natural finish, it is actually cherry red. The stain is a little more transparent than later cherry red Gibsons. Add a little aging that causes the finish to fade and illuminate with stage lights and the red color appears to be completely washed out and yellow.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Beatles: I'm Down

“I’m Down” is one of the three Beatles’ songs that appeared on a single but not on an album while they were still together. Although the flipside of the number one “Help,” “I’m Down” peaked on the charts at only 101. It’s a great rocker featuring Paul McCartney on vocals and John Lennon playing what I always thought was an RMI Electra Piano, but from the stage video it appears to be a Vox Continental Organ.

If you have any of their bootlegs, and I have two, “The Good Old Days at Shea” and “Last Live Show,” you’ll find a version of this tune. It appears on many of their live recordings from 1965 an 1966. If I’m not mistaken the original 45 RPM single release of this song was in mono. It’s a great tune that hasn’t ever got enough airplay. Here’s a live version from Shea Stadium in 1965.

Recent Stereo Remix

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Will Dailey: Rise

The other night, I watching “CSI New York” and Mac Taylor (played by Gary Sinise) was playing bass behind Will Dailey doing his hit “Rise.” I had seen this episode before, but never paid any attention to the song. Released in 2007, “Rise” has been used on other CBS TV shows such as “CSI,” “NCIS,” the “Early Show,” and others.

Dailey is one of three artists signed to CBS Records which is a new company operated by the CBS Television network and not to be confused with Columbia (North America) and CBS Records (elsewhere) that CBS once owned but sold to Sony. The entire Columbia Records story is convoluted anyway.

Columbia (UK) which was once owned by the same parent as Columbia (US) had to divest of its US holdings but kept the label identity under its new corporation EMI and used the trademark everywhere except North America. Confused? Good – as we all are. Eventually, EMI retired the Columbia Label and sold the trademark to Sony who now markets the Columbia label worldwide.

Back to Daily, I believe he is playing a Gibson J-50 on the main video and he uses an alternate tuning that is primarily a half-step lower than standard for “Rise.” The only difference is that the low E string is dropped to a B. The other notes are dropped a half-step to be G# D# F# A# D#. So when he plays a C it is actually a B and Fmaj7 sounds as Emaj7. Other chords such as Dm, G, and F are sounded as C#m, F#, and E. Still confused? Excellent – don’t worry about it – listen to one of the three versions of “Rise” and try to think too much about it.

Live on the Early Show

Cameo Appearance on CSI NY

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dave and Ansell Collins: Double Barrel

Today’s one hit wonder is one that I’m sure you’ll remember, but would not be able to tell me the name. Dave and Ansell Collins were a reggae act from where else – Jamaica, mon.

I wouldn’t know the name of this song if it were not for a various artist album that was put out by Bell Records and featured songs from the various labels it distributed. “Double Barrel” was a Big Tree Records release.

Dave and Ansell were not brothers – Dave’s name was Dave Baker, which wasn’t his real name anyway – he was born as David Crooks. Ansell Collins (his real name) played keyboards and Dave provided the unique vocals ala “I am the magnificent – the W – O – O – O.” This was the first recording on which reggae drummer Sly Dunbar played. He was 14 at the time.

Truly a one hit wonder – Dave and Ansell Collins – never returned to the American Hot 100. Even a rebranding to Clint Eastwood and General Saint in 80s failed to produce another American hit. We will need to be content with their one and only that charted in the summer of 71 at #22.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ian Matthews: Reno, Nevada

Here’s another Fairport Convention who has been variously known as Ian McDonald, Ian Matthews, and more recently as Iain Matthews in which he reverted back to the original spelling of his forename. From 1971, “If you saw thro’ my Eyes” is Matthew's fifth album project after exiting Fairport. It was his first of two albums for the Vertigo label.

I bought my copy from the cutout bin at Woolworths in the Eastland Shopping Center in North Versailles, PA back in 1973. It really is a great album all the way through and I labored on which song to feature in our weekly Traditional Tuesday feature. The album features the likes of other Fairport alumni Sandy Denny and Richard Thompson; Fotheringay alumni Sandy, Pat Donaldson, and Gerry Conway; as well as Tim Renwick and Andy Roberts. Matthews would form the band Plainsong with Roberts.

After much consternation, I decided on my first choice – Richard and Mimi Fariña’s “Reno, Nevada.” This was a song that Matthews and Judy Dyble sang in their Fairport days. Fairport’s version was not released until nearly 20 years later with the release of “Heyday: the BBC Radio Sessions 1968–69.” Which version is better, I will have to say I like Matthew’s version better than his previous recording with Fairport and much better than the Fariña’s original version.

One of the reasons I like this incarnation better is that I think Richard Thompson has a much better lead on this version than his lead on the earlier version. Matthews’ vocals are much more expressive and the intervening years of singing has only made him better. Additionally, the production is very tight on this recording – probably in part to the rhythm section of Pat Donaldson and Gerry Conway. The same energy they brought to Fotheringay’s only LP. Enjoy.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Radney Foster & Pat Green: Texas In 1880

It is not often where I feature an artist who covers his own song; however, today’s selection is one of those rare occasions. I love this song and even learned it in 1987 when it was the third of four singles from Foster & Lloyd’s self titled debut album. I remember seeing them on Austin City Limits and within a few days, I bought the cassette and played it death while on the road. I was reminded of this because the cassette just surfaced about a month ago.

The duo was made of Bill Lloyd and Radney Foster. Note the spelling of his name is RAD-ney; I wonder if he had a dollar for every time in his life that he was called either Randy or Rodney how rich would he be. Anyway, Foster and Lloyd broke on the scene with their debut LP and garnered three top ten singles and “Texas in 1880” which peaked on Billboard’s Hot Country Charts at 18. The album charted at #33 on the Country Album Charts. This was a fairly good showing for a debut record.

Foster & Lloyd had a unique country-rock sound reminiscent in places of The Byrds’ country-rock period and harmonies that were compared to the Everly Brothers. I always wondered why they never could sustain their run at the charts. Were they too late with their sound missing the fledgling country-rock era of the 70s or too early missing the “country is cool” phase of the 90s? Perhaps the promotional department of RCA Nashville didn’t know what to do with this band. I guess we will never know for sure.

Another duo, Brooks & Dunn, were country chart favorites from 1991 until they called it quits last year. If Foster & Lloyd had waited four years to hit the scene would their stab at the charts have been any different? Speaking of Brooks and Dunn, what if Radney Foster and Kix Brooks teamed up – they could be known as Foster Brooks. I guess you have to be of a sufficient age to appreciate that joke.

In 2001, Radney Foster and Pat Green covered the old Foster & Lloyd 1987 hit and tried a run at the charts. I would imagine that Foster saw the potential in his own song that he chose to rerecord it and see if it could do better the second time around; however, it didn’t as it only charted at #54 on the country charts. The album, “Ready for the Big Show” failed to chart.

The arrangement mirrors the original; however, an addition of an organ, mandolin, piano, and slide guitar (probably a lap steel) add to the newness of this version. It also features the harmony vocals of then up-and-coming country artist Pat Green. In a few years, Green would have his own hit with “Wave on Wave.”

The Foster & Lloyd Original

As stated earlier, I loved this song the first time I heard it in Austin City Limits, although I have no partiality towards cowboys, rodeos, or the decade of the 1880s. In fact, I’ve never been to a rodeo and have no plans of every attending one – it is the music and not the subject of the song that grabbed me.

Although missing the instrumentation of the cover, this song is fine the way it is and it doesn’t need anything else. Guitars, bass, and drums are enough for this 1987 hit. By the way, Foster and Lloyd have reformed as of the end of last year. Expect the release of their new CD "It's Already Tomorrow" sometime this spring.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Buddy Miller: Wide RIver To Cross

One of my favorite performers is Buddy Miller and he and his wife Julie wrote today’s Spiritual Sunday selection – “Wide River to Cross.” The song appears on Buddy’s 2004 solo album “Universal United House of Prayer.” His version of Mark Heard’s “Worry Too Much” from the same album won the 2005 American Music Awards’ Song of the Year.

While Buddy Miller’s name is not universally recognized by the average Joe, he is a musician’s musician. Beneath the three-day growth of a beard and the obligatory ball cap is a man that is a musical genius. Enjoy.

Impromptu Live Version


There's a sorrow in the wind
Blowing' down the road I've been
I can hear it cry while shadows steal the sun
But I cannot look back now
I’ve come too far to turn around
And there's still a race ahead that i must run

I’m only halfway home I gotta journey on
To where I’ll find the things that I have lost
I've come a long, long road still I’ve got miles to go
I've got a wide, wide river to cross

I have stumbled I have strayed
You can trace the tracks i made
All across the memories my heart recalls
But, I'm just a refugee won't you say a prayer for me
Cause sometimes even the strongest soldier falls

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Billy Thorpe: Children Of The Sun

Our Saturday “Bubbling Under” tune was inspired by Greg Rector, an old college friend and follower of this blog. I had forgotten about “Children of the Sun” the title cut from Billy Thorpe’s first American LP release until Greg requested it. The album was a concept recording that is often referred to as a space opera.

Although English by birth, Thorpe moved to Australia as a child and he is generally considered an Australian artist. His first solo US release was meant with a modicum of success as the album charted at 39 on Billboard’s Top 200 Album Chart. The single is truly a bubbling under hit as it peaked at #41 on the Hot 100 – therefore qualifying as a true bubbling under single by our definition.

The album was originally issued in the US on Capricorn Records, which was an outlet for many Southern Rock bands such as the Allman Brothers, The Marshall Tucker Band, Stillwater, Wet Willie, Elvin Bishop, Dickey Betts, Black Oak Arkansas, Cowboy, and the Dixie Dregs. The label almost became synonymous with Southern Rock acts and typecast as a Southern Rock label.

Besides Billy Thorpe, the label hosted non-Southern Rock artists such as Livingston Taylor, Jonathan Edwards, Captain Beyond, White Witch, Sea Level, and Dobie Gray to name a few – of which Billy Thorpe is one. Thorpe died of a massive heart attack on February 28, 2007. Although nominated prior to his death, Thorpe was posthumously inducted as a member of the Order of Australia later the same year.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Lovin' Spoonful: Night Owl Blues

Ultra busy yesterday, so I passed on the TV Thursday theme, but I am back with Friday’s Flipside. Today’s selection is the “B” side to The Lovin’ Spoonful’s 1966 hit “Daydream.” “Night Owl Blues” is a little instrumental that features the harmonic of John Sebastian and the guitar work of Zal Yanovsky.

The “A” side peaked at #2 on the Hot 100; however, the flip side did not contribute to the success of the single. While “Daydream” was the title cut from the album of the same name, “Night Owl Blues” was not released on an album until 2002 when it appeared as one of five bonus tracks on the “Daydream” CD.