Thursday, May 31, 2012

Louis Prima & Keely Smith: Enjoy Yourself (It's Later Than You Think)

Last week as Dr. Gregory House rode off with his pal Dr. James Wilson to celebrate Wilson’s last five months of his life. House had faked his own death so he wouldn’t miss being with his friend during his most trying times. The episode was titled “Everybody Dies” – a play on House’s constant mantra “Everybody Lies.”

The producers picked the best possible version of “Enjoy Yourself (It’s Later than you Think) written by Carl Sigman and Herb Magidson that was penned in 1949. The most popular version was recorded by Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians. It was a top 10 hit for Lombardo. And you thought he only sang Auld Lang Syne.

For House, the version by Louis Prima and Keely Smith was the better choice. Louis never took himself seriously – after I learned he was King Louie in the “Jungle Book,” I could never take him seriously either. So “Enjoy Yourself (It’s Later than you Think).

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bruce Cockburn: Wondering Where The Lions Are

It took Bruce Cockburn five albums to be heard in the lower 48, but what a great tune to ingratiate himself to a fickle American audience. I loved “I Wonder where the Lions Are” since I first heard it over WAMX – my top 40 employer in 1979. From the LP “Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws,” “I Wonder where the Lions Are” peaked at 21 on the Hot 100.

With the amount of airplay the album “Stealing Fire” got in 1984, it’s hard to believe today’s feature was Cockburn’s only top forty hit in the US. While American artists are not familiar with his vast catalog (er, catalogue for you Cannucks) of music, I recommend that you purchase “Waiting for a Miracle: Singles 1970–1987.” I got the cassette copy from True North Records in the 80s and it played in my car for the longest time.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

David Gogo: Whiskey Train

Tasty Licks Tuesday with David Gogo and his rendition of Procol Harum’s “Whiskey Train” – a song that was composed by guitarist Robin Trower and lyricist Keith Reid. The original came from Procol Harum’s album “Home,” which is not their best known LP, but it was the first one I ever owned.

Gogo actually works on two incarnations of Robin Trower on this cut. The first incarnation is in the song proper which emulates Trower’s classic licks on “Whiskey Train’s” riff. He finishes off the song by melding it with an instrumental that is reminiscent of Trower’s playing in the late 70s on albums like “Bridge of Sighs.” He captures both well.

Of the later portion of the tune, Gogo opines “cranked my Gibson SG through my Vox amp and some Fulltone effects pedals, including the Soul Bender.” Which is fortunate , as the cut appears on his CD “Soul Bender.”

I love this cut, but I do have one eentsy teentsy problem with the cut. There is a drum beat at 1:16 that bothers me – it may just be me – listen and see what you think. David Gogo on “Whiskey Train” – would this be a real live “Whiskey-A-Gogo?”

Monday, May 28, 2012

Bruce Springsteen: Born In The U.S.A.

I had the opportunity to see Bruce Springsteen on the fourth leg of the “Born in the U.S.A.” tour. The show was at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh on August 11, 1985. The album struck a chord and it raced up the charts to the number one slot. It also produced a record seven top 10 singles with two of those, “Dancing in the Dark” and “Glory Days” appearing in the top five.

While not a patriotic song, “Born in the U.S.A.” chronicles the struggles of a Vietnam War soldier and veteran. It reminds us that these men, who often died or at most risked their lives, were not given the due respect because of their connection to an unpopular war. On this Memorial Day, let us not forget the sacrifices that our soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen have made – even in wars that did not receive the support of public opinion.

Selling over a million copies, the single “Born in the U.S.A.” was certified gold. It peaked at #9 on the American singles charts and at #8 on the rock charts in 1984. Interestingly enough, although the singles garnered more sales in the America, the song charted higher outside of the U.S.A. In the UK and The Netherlands, “Born in the U.S.A.” charted at the #5 position and it was #2 record in Australia. In Ireland, it was a double sided #1 along with its flip “I’m on Fire.”

In addition, the “Born in the U.S.A.” album received the following original certification awards:

  • 15 times platinum in the US (for 7.5 million sales),
  • 10 times platinum in Canada (800 thousand sales),
  • 16 times platinum in New Zealand (240 thousand sales),
  • 13 times platinum in Australia (910 thousand sales),
  • Triple platinum in the UK (300 thousand sales), and
  • Double platinum in Germany (400 thousand sales).

Later certifications were issued at the diamond level occurred in the US (10 million) and Canada (800 thousand). In addition, the LP reached the number one slots in Australia, Canada, Germany, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, and the UK.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Dierks Bentley: Gonna Get There Someday

Today I’ll be with friends for a Decoration Day celebration in Boone County, West Virginia. I’ve been doing this since 1977 and it is a time of joy to see old friends and a time of sadness as we visit the graves of departed friends.

Our Spiritual Sunday song comes from country artist Dierks Bentley. As he sings “Gonna Get There Someday,” it is revealed that he is talking to his departed mother on the anniversary of her death. Until he says “Momma” that isn’t clear as it It could have been his wife or girlfriend.

It will be a bittersweet day for those placing flowers on the graves, but there is the hope that you’re “Gonna Get There Someday.”

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Jethro Tull: Thick As A Brick

Released in May 1972, Jethro Tull’s “Thick as a Brick” was nearly a 44 minute (43:46 to be exact) song that was split over two sides of the album. The LP, with its newspaper styled cover, spoofed the concept albums of the prog rock bands of the day.

While the album is devoid of a hit single, radio edits were issued and more popular theme of the extra long song were often heard on album radio – but rarely on Top 40 – in fact, had a commercial radio edit been issued in the US, the single probably would have been a top 20 release based on the commercial success of the album. Original copies of the Reprise release opened up to the dimensions of a full newspaper.

“Thick as a Brick” was a #1 charting album on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart. It was a departure for the band with the use of instruments heretofore not previously utilized by Ian Anderson and his companions.

While it started as a spoof, side two shows how Tull fit into the prog rock genre very well. The album/song features different time signatures and begs to be consumed in one listen. Although I bought the album much later (from a friend), I had the entire 44 minutes captured from an album feature that was played on WDVE in Pittsburgh. Even though side two is interesting, I favor side one most.

Short Radio Edit

Longer Radio Edit

Side One – Part 1

Side Two – Part 2

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Bee Gees: I Can't See Nobody

Since the passing of Robin Gibb this week, I thought I would feature one of his “B” sides as our Friday Flipside. Despite the obvious grammatical error, The Bee Gees “I Can’t See Nobody” has an excellent arrangement and it features lead vocals by Robin Gibb.

The song was flip of the band’s first American single “New York Mining Disaster 1941” that charted at 14 in the US. It was a top fifteen hit in most countries breaking into the top 10 in Germany and the top five in The Netherlands and New Zealand. “I Can’t See Nobody” failed to chart.

It is a minor key number that showcases Robin’s talent and his unique voice. The single was released in 1967 and appeared on the LP “The Bee Gees’ 1st.” The album title was a misnomer as The Bee Gees had previously released two other albums in Australia: “Barry Gibb and The Bee Gee’s [sic] Sing and Play 14 Barry Gibb Songs” and “Spicks and Specks.”

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Warren Zevon: Keep Me In Your Heart For A While

“House, M.D.” had its series finale this past Monday. The show started in 2004 and chronicled the lives of Dr. Gregory House, his teams, his loves, and his friend Dr. James Wilson. It was a fitting end to the show and the ending ranked as one of the best for a series finale. Towards the end, House, the doctor you loved to hate, appears to have died and his funeral is attended by those who knew him best.

While all of the main and semi-main characters had an opportunity to speak positively about House, his best friend, Wilson, tells it like it is. Surrounding the funeral scene is a fitting song. The final cut on Warren Zevon’s final album “The Wind.” “Keep Me in Your Heart for a While” was written and recorded by Zevon and Jorge Calderón during the time Zevon was dying of pleural mesothelioma. The album was released only two weeks prior to his death.

“Keep Me in Your Heart for a While” is a bittersweet song of goodbye and hope wrapped into one. It was nominated for two Grammy awards – Song of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance – Male. The album won Best Contemporary Folk Album and the song “Disorder in the House,” which had two nominations, won Best Rock Vocal Performance – Duo or Group. The song was sung with Bruce Springsteen.

It was a fitting song to be one of the two final cuts on House, M.D. Next week, I’ll feature the other.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Paul Stookey: Wedding Song (There Is Love)

The inspiration for today’s selection comes from the fact that it is my 20th wedding anniversary. It is only fitting that I picked a song that met with this auspicious occasion. Being that it is also One-Hit Wonder Wednesday, I selected Noel “Paul” Stookey’s 1971 hit the “Wedding Song (There is Love).”

Although Stookey contributed to a number of hits as a member of Peter, Paul, and Mary, this was his only hit single. The “Wedding Song” was written in 1969 on a flight from San Jose to Boston. In Boston, he was to be the best man at Peter Yarrow’s wedding where the song debuted.

Feeling that he was inspired by God with the melody, Paul felt that he did not justify royalties from the song and therefore set up the Public Domain Foundation which collects the royalties and distributes them for charitable purposes. While the “Wedding Song” placed within the top five of the Adult Contemporary chart in 1971, it peaked at #24 on the Hot 100.

As a mobile DJ in the 80s and 90s, I frequently played this tune at wedding receptions. It still is a popular number to sing and play at weddings and receptions over forty years after its composition.


He is now to be among you at the calling of your hearts
Rest assured this troubadour is acting on His part.
The union of your spirits, here, has caused Him to remain
For whenever two or more of you are gathered in His name
There is Love,
There is Love.

Well a man shall leave his mother and a woman leave her home
They shall travel on to where the two shall be as one.
As it was in the beginning is now and til the end
Woman draws her life from man and gives it back again.
And there is Love,
There is Love.

Well then what's to be the reason for becoming man and wife?
Is it love that brings you here or love that brings you life?
For if loving is the answer, then who's the giving for?
Do you believe in something that you've never seen before?
Oh there is Love,
There is Love.

Oh the marriage of your spirits here has caused Him to remain
For whenever two or more of you are gathered in His name
There is Love,
There is Love.

Live Version

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Rest in Peace Robin Gibb

The year 2012 is not half over and we have lost our share of industry superstars. In January, Etta James passed. Then we heard the reports of the tragic deaths of Whitney Houston and Davy Jones in February. April brought the deaths of Jim Marshall, Dick Clark, Levon Helm, and Greg Hamm. Just last week, Donald “Duck” Dunn and Donna Summer left this earthly abode.

On Sunday, I learned of the death of Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees. Gibb had been suffering from colorectal cancer; he contracted pneumonia and went into a coma in April. It was expected that his demise would shortly follow; however, he clung to life as best as he could and six days later he awoke from the coma while his family had been playing one of his more recent compositions. The cancer with which he had been battling took its toll – Gibb was 62

His voice had the characteristic vibrato that was heard on songs like “New York Mining Disaster, 1941”; “Massachusetts”; “I Started A Joke”; and others. One of his last singles in the pre-disco incarnation of the Bee Gees was the title to the band’s 1974 “Mr. Natural” album. It was penned by Robin and his oldest brother Barry. Both brothers sing on the number, but Robin had the lead on the first verse and the chorus which is augmented by Barry’s and Maurice’s harmonies. The second verse features Barry on lead.

“Mr. Natural” was only a hit in Australia where it peaked at #11. In the US, the song didn’t fare as well and could be considered a bubbling under hit as it only charted at 93. It’s a song you never hear on the radio these days, but I remember hearing it quite a bit in 1974. Rest in peace Robin.

Only 120 more posts until the end of "Reading Between the Grooves."

Monday, May 21, 2012

Alice Cooper: I'm Eighteen

Back when I was a freshman in college, I turned that magical age of 18 and my friends sang to me that auspicious Alice Cooper song celebrating that magical year of life. Today, my oldest daughter turns eighteen and I’ve decided to feature the same song that was sung to me so many years ago.

Released in November 1970, the Coop’s first major single release peaked on the pop charts at #21 in early 1971. The song often is credited at portraying the uncertainty of youth during the Vietnam era – old enough to serve in the military, but not old enough to vote. The Twenty-Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution changed that and was adopted in July 1971 and effectively lowered the voting age to 18.

This tune in Em is built on a riff that combines guitar and bass playing in unison. The song became an anthem of my generation. In addition, it is one of a handful of releases with different titles for the single than on the corresponding album releases. The single, which was released prior to album “Love it to Death,” was issued as “Eighteen.” The subsequent LP release has the title as “I’m Eighteen.”

Happy Birthday sweetie from your strange old man.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Don Nix: Golden Mansions

Early this week, I mentioned Don Nix in conjunction with the passing of Duck Dunn as they were both members of the Mar-Keys. In those days Nix played the saxophone. When he reinvented himself as a singer-songwriter, he was frequently seen sporting a guitar. Between the Mar-Keys' years and his solo career, Nix honed his skills as a record producer.

In 1971, he released his first album and the only one on Leon Russell’s Shelter Records. The album, “In God We Trust” was followed by two on Elektra and six on small, independent labels. “In God We Trust” is a gospel tinged release that features several spiritually based numbers including our Spiritual Sunday selection “Golden Mansions.”

While the album has Leon Russell’s influence, it was not direct as he was not involved in the project. The two piano parts were played by Barry Beckett and the Mt. Zion Singers provided the gospel backup vocals.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Slade: Gudbuy T' Jane

Every Saturday I feature songs that missed the Top 40 charts and were bubbling under. While the band Slade had six #1 singles and six additional top five records in their native UK, their chart activity in the US was lackluster at best. The band that influenced 80s stars The Clash and Quiet Riot only had two Top 40 hits in the US. Both of these hits, “My Oh My” at #37 and “Run Runaway” at #20, were released in 1983.

While I remember numerous articles on Slade in Circus Magazine in 1973 and 1974, but rarely heard their music on American radio. Prior to 1983, their highest charting US single was “Gudbuy T’ Jane” that was released in late 1972. Written by Noddy Holder and Jim Lea, “Gudbuy T’ Jane” only peaked at #68. “Gudbuy T’ Jane” appeared on their third album: “Slayed.”

In Britain, the song went to #2 and was certified silver for sales of 200,000 copies. Gold in the UK is 400,000 singles sales – as opposed to 1 million copies in the US for singles. There is no corresponding silver certification in the US. The song was a top ten hit in Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Austria, Norway, and Ireland. In the southern hemisphere, the song was a top 15 hit in Australia and New Zealand.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Donna Summer: I Do Believe (I Fell In Love)

During my years in Top 40 radio from 1978 to 1987, I had an opportunity to play quite a few of Donna Summers’ records. In fact, one of the bands in which I was a member in the early 80s performed her hit “She Works Hard for the Money.” Yesterday, the Queen of Disco succumbed to her battle with cancer. She was 63.

In her honor, our Friday Flipside is her recording “I Do Believe (I Fell in Love).” It was the “B” side to her 1983 hit “She Works Hard for the Money.” The “A” side peaked at #3. “I Do Believe (I Fell in Love)” is a ballad that moves to an uptempo number. It showcases the versatility of Summer’s voice. Rest in Peace Donna.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Sundays: Wild Horses

It is said that Gram Parsons helped write the Rolling Stone’s song “Wild Horses”; however, it is only credited to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. It was Parsons band, The Flying Burrito Brothers, that released the song first – nearly a year before the Stones’ version debuted on “Sticky Fingers.”

A couple of weeks ago, an old episode of the TV show Psych utilized The Sundays’ recording of the tune for a very poignant scene regarding the near hit and miss relationship between Shawn and Juliet. The song also appeared in the movie “Fear” and the TV shows “CSI” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” If that wasn’t enough, it was used in a Budweiser commercial in the 1990s. Its exposure garnered a great deal of synchronization royalties for The Sundays as well as for Mick and Keith.

Formed in the late 80s, The Sundays released three albums with “Wild Horses” coming from their US version of their second LP: “Blind.” They chose their unusual moniker as it was the only name the four members of the band could agree. If you’ve ever had to think up a band name (and I have), it can be a difficult prospect.

This is probably one of my favorite Stones’ songs and one of the few I ever learned to play on guitar. I know the purists out there will hate this version, but I like it a lot. If there would be one thing I would change it would be to bring out Harriet Wheeler’s vocals in the mix. They are a little too buried for my taste.

Having not played this song in about eight years caused me to get out my guitar to play it again. I actually found it better suited for the octave mandolin that I got for last Christmas. I love it.

This is post 875 - only 125 before the end of Reading Between the Grooves.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mar-Keys: Last Night

I thought I would throw in another “Duck” Dunn recording – this time when he was the bassist for the legendary Mar-Keys. The keyboard riff on “Last Night” was played by “Smoochie Smith” while guitarist Steve Cropper laid down his ax and played a one note drown on the organ. Saxophonist Floyd Newman does the speaking part on the single. Among others in horn section was Don Nix who later put out numerous albums in the late sixties and seventies.

Released in the age of rock ‘n’ roll instrumentals, “Last Night” charted at #3 in 1961 and was the band's only Top 40 hit. It was released on Satellite Records which later changed its name to Stax. It’s another great tune that shows the talent of the late Donald “Duck” Dunn.

Stereo Remix

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

RIP Donald "Duck" Dunn

I heard yesterday that Memphis legend Donald “Duck” Dunn died in his hotel room in Tokyo just hours before he was to head back to the US on a plane. He and his longtime friend Steve Cropper were accompanying Eddie Floyd on a series of concert dates in Japan. As a child, his nickname was applied by his father while they were watching a series of Donald Duck cartoons. In high school, he picked up the bass and was self taught – which contributed to his unique style.

For many of us, we heard his driving bass line, but really didn’t know his name until the release of “The Blues Brothers” movie where he and Cropper were enlisted to be a part of Akroyd’s and Belushi’s band. Friends with Cropper since high school, the two formed a band in 1958 named the Royal Spades that eventually evolved into the Mar-Keys and had a hit with the single “Last Night.” Both left the band in 1962 and Cropper became the guitarist in Booker T. and the MG’s (with an unfortunate incorrect punctuation in the band’s name). The band had its first hit in 1962 with “Green Onions.”

In 1964, Cropper asked his old friend to join the band and he became part of the better known incarnation of the group that was led by organist Booker T. Jones and also included drummer Al Jackson, Jr. One of their better known hits features that driving bass by Dunn, which is doubled for the most part by Cropper’s guitar. While the MG’s may be a continuation of the sports car names that started with Volt recording artists The Triumphs, I always heard that it stood for “Memphis Group.”

It is also only one of two singles that charted for the band higher on the Hot 100 than it did on the R&B charts. The chart positions were respectively #6 and #7. The only other record to do this was “Hang ‘Em High,” which only charted at #35 on the R&B charts, but peaked at #9 on the Hot 100. Both were released in 1969.

Single Edit

Stax Records edited down the original recording of 4:55 to 3:14. It is an excellent mix for radio and edit includes only most important parts of the instrumental to maximize its hit potential - it worked as it was a Top 10 crossover hit.

The single mix is different than the original album version as well. Cropper’s guitar and Dunn’s bass are mixed to the left and Jackson’s drums to the right. Booker T.’s organ is placed in the center. This is a much better mix than the original which had the organ to the right with the drums. The centering of the main instrument is glue that holds the song together.

Album Version

As stated, the album version of the song is mixed differently and there are additional organ and guitar parts at the beginning and end of the song. It appears to me that the guitar is a little brighter in the album version whereas, the single has the bass and guitar mixed like they are a single instrument. The song was from the motion picture soundtrack for the movie “Uptight.”

Rest in Peace Duck. We’ll miss you on the low end, but see you on the flip side.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Elise Testone: Whole Lotta Love

While I’m not an American Idol viewer, occasionally we’ll see an act either when switching channels to Fox or as they are featured on CNN or other programs. A few weeks ago, we caught Elise Testone on the tail end of Round 9 of season 11 where she performed the Led Zeppelin classic “Whole Lotta Love.”

While it isn’t the entire song ala Led Zep, it is an interesting cover and I like it a lot. It is considered one of the defining moments in Testone’s performances on the show. She gives Robert Plant a run for the money. See what you think.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

In Memory of Everett Lilly

Today, bluegrass legend Everett Lilly will be laid to rest near his home at Clear Creek, West Virginia. Lilly passed away at his home on Tuesday, May 8; he was 87 years old. I didn’t know Mr. Lilly, but I had met him once and I heard him perform a couple of times. I did have the pleasure of knowing three of his talented sons: Charlie, Mark, and Everett. While I never played music with the late Charlie Lilly, I have with Mark and Everett. Of the three, I know Everett the best as we are coworkers as well.

Everett and his brother nicknamed “Bea” got their start playing on Beckley, WV radio station WJLS in the late 1930s. With the addition of banjo picker Don Stover, they became the Lilly Brothers and Don Stover. Their group the Confederate Mountaineers brought their unique sound to Boston and an entire bluegrass music scene was born in that metropolitan area in the 1960s as a result.

In addition, Everett played with Flatt and Scruggs during the 1950s. He and the Lilly Mountaineers recorded a CD last summer and continued to book shows into 2013. As a tribute, country music star Marty Stuart opined, “I think when we all get to Heaven we’re gonna find out that Everett Lilly is God’s favorite mandolin player — and mine too!”

For our Spiritual Sunday selection, here’s the Lilly Brothers with “Sinner You Better Get Ready.”

Rest in Peace Everett Lilly.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Spencer Davis Group: Blues in F

As I do every Friday, I pick a flip side to feature. If you hadn’t heard today’s song before, I bet you might lean towards think it was Jimmy Smith tickling the plastics on the Hammond B3 organ; however, it is a very young Steve Winwood and the Spencer Davis Group. “Blues in F” was released in late 1966 as the “B” side to the band’s  “Gimme Some Lovin’” that charted at #7 in the US.

The song has a great jazz vibe (although it has no vibes) and is not characteristic of the music we’ve grown to expect from The Spencer Davis Group. It really shows the extent of their creativity and influence that this band and its members had.

Not only is Winwood’s organ parts top notch, Spencer Davis’ guitar rhythm and lead guitar parts are also characteristic of jazz recordings of the mid sixties. The rhythm section features Steve’s older brother Muff Winwood on bass and Peter York on drums.

Interestingly enough, the song is F for :30 and then modulates to G – well, modulate is not the correct terminology, as the song switches gears from first to fourth without any hesitation. G or F, it’s an excellent instrumental and to top it off Steve ends with a great chord a G11. I just love jazz chords.

If you play keyboards, I am going to give you my secret to easily play complex sounding chords.  For example, a full eleventh chord as referenced above is comprised of the root chord triad and the adding of a flatted 7th note, a 9th note, and an 11th note in the scale.  For G it is G-B-D-F-A-C. The easy way to remember how to play an 11th chord is to play a chord one step below the actual chord either on top of the root chord or the bass.  In this case, it would be a G chord on the bottom and an F on top.  For C11, it is C on the bottom and Bb on the top.  E11 is E on the bottom and D on top.

To even extend the sound to the next iteration, try a 13th.  You add a 13th note (same as a 6th) to the 11th chord on top.  For G, it comprises G-B-D-F-A-C-E.  To easily play a 13th, I play the root chord on the bottom and then the major seventh of the chord one step below the root on the top.  For G, it is G on the bottom and Fmaj7 on the top.  For D, it is D on the bottom and Cmaj7 on the top. For B, B on the bottom and Amaj7 on the top. 

Elevenths and thirteenths can easily substitute for a seventh or a ninth and can really make a chord sound fuller.  I stumbled on this years ago and if someone asks for an 11th or 13th, I don't have to think about it.  It is very easy to remember and simple to do.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Kathleen Edwards: A Soft Place to Land

I heard “A Soft Place to Land” on the latest episode of House, MD this week. From Kathleen Edwards’ LP “Voyageur” released earlier this year, I find the tune poignant, emotional, and thought provoking. No doubt the producers of House felt the same way, as the song appeared in one of the episodes that deals with James Wilson’s diagnosis of cancer.

I would classify the song as alternate folk. It showcases Edwards 12 year training as a classical violinist as well as her ability to multitask as a guitarist. It starts out with a fade in of a piano sustain of decay. The attack has passed and gives a very unique sound to begin and end the tune.

In today’s cut, Edwards’ appears on a special private performance recorded in her native Canada by the CBC. I actually prefer this live version to her studio release of the same song. That’s not normally the case, as I prefer studio recordings for their overall sound quality. This live recording sounds great. I like it better every time I play this cut. By the way, check out her guitar. It appears that it is covered with numerous autographs. On closer inspection of it, they are personal messages from friends and family members. See it here.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cross Country: In The Midnight Hour

Most everyone is familiar with The Tokens who recorded “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”; however, did you know that the group reformed in 1973 as Cross Country? Well at least three of the former Tokens reinvented themselves as an acoustic influenced vocal ensemble.

Their only hit was their adult contemporary rendition of the Wilson Pickett R&B classic, “In the Midnight Hour.” Slower and not funky like the original, Cross Country’s version aimed for a different audience.

While it will never be remembered in comparison to the original, Cross Country provided a completely different spin on this 60s hit. Their version only charted at #30, while the original was a #1 R&B and #21 pop hit in 1965.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

KT Tunstall: Suddenly I See

KT Tunstall got the inspiration for her song “Suddenly I See” after staring at the black and white photo of Patti Smith on the cover of her debut LP “Horses.” According to Tunstall, the song is about “female power.”

Released in 2005, the song was Tunstall’s highest charting song in the UK peaking at #12. In the US, it’s feature as the opening song in the movie “The Devil Wears Prada” gave a jump start to the song and it peaked at #21.

This live recording comes from the TV show “Later with Jools Holland.” You may wonder what qualifies it for Tasty Licks Tuesday; however, the percussion at the end makes the grade. How can you not like a song that utilizes a trash can lid as a percussive instrument.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Olya Lantseva & Chuck Owston: Native Land

A number of years ago, I found a book that chronicled how my grandmother’s family was connected to Edward III of England. Three of her ancestral lines named Gardner were descended from Edward’s son John de Gaunt. With a connection to a crown head of Europe, it was easy to trace his ancestors to other earlier royalty from all across the continent. One piqued the interest of my brother Chuck and that was our 35th great-grandfather, Yaroslav I, the Grand Duke of the Kievan Rus'. He was also known as Yaroslav the Wise.

The story of Yaroslav is intertwined with that of his daughter, Anna Yaroslavna, our 34th great grandmother. Her mother, Ingegerd Olofsdotter, Princess of Sweden, supervised her instruction in Latin, Classical Greek, and the medical sciences. Anna had an equivalent to a classical university education at the age of 18. In 1049, she became the second wife of Henry I and the Queen of France.

It is said that Henry, a widower, could not find a suitable bride within Western Europe that was not already related to him. So he had sent an embassage to Kiev to request Anna’s hand in marriage, and Yaroslav, wishing to create alliances accepted King Henry’s offer.

Although a queen and eventually the regent for her seven year-old son Phillip, Anna despised France. She was far from her Orthodox upbringing and even wrote to her father, “What a barbarous country you sent me to – the dwellings are somber, the churches horrendous and the morals – terrible.”

Olya Lantseva

Today’s song was the concept of Chuck Owston who sent the idea to Olya Lantseva in Russia and asked her to compose a song that sounded like a traditional Russian ballad. Olya asked poet Dimitri Dubinin to write the Russian lyrics.

Chuck Owston

Here’s Chuck’s original concepts that Dimitri used to write the lyrics.
First Verse: She's leaving Mother Russia, going to a new country (France) and she's very apprehensive. She's leaving behind beautiful Kiev, her family, all that she holds dear, her faith is strong that all will be for the best, but she still worries. She is going to marry a man she doesn't even know, for political purposes (Yaroslav married all of his children to foreign royalty).

Chorus: Something about her beautiful homeland, will she ever see it again? Will she ever walk again through the golden fields of wheat or see the beautiful trees in autumn, the winter snows on the river. And what lies ahead, she knows not.

Second Verse: She's thinks back about her childhood as a Princess of the Rus. She had such dreams, of a handsome man who would someday be her husband, a man she could love. (Does she love Henry, this Frenchman? How can she? He is unknown to her). Will she have children in this new land (she did, obviously), and will she be buried there (she was).

Third Verse: Years have passed. She gazes out of the window of her palace, eastward, toward her homeland. There is an aching in her heart. She knows that she can never return, except in her memories. Her husband is dead; her children gone; she is all alone in a strange land, surrounded by strange people with different customs. Her Russian soul cries out for home.
Olya wrote the music and emailed Chuck musical charts and he recorded all of the instrumentation and added three Gregorian chant like vocals to the third verse. His instrumentation includes the following: acoustic guitars, lead electric guitar, octave mandolin, keyboard, and balalaika. The backing tracks were recorded in suburban Pittsburgh and the lead and harmony vocals in Kaliningrad.

I may be a little biased, but I believe that this is the best sounding recording project in which Chuck has been involved.

Russian Lyrics

Запорошен двор белой нежностью,

В зимней зореньке я ищу покой,

Ведь печаль в груди, белоснежная

Шепчет ласково: будешь ты другой,

За морями люд, буйной вьюгою,

Черным вороном позабыл себя,

За горами скорбь, да подругою

Будет вечной для тебя.


Не найти простор, краше родного,

Где метели плед, на плечах полей,

Что в осенних снах теплым золотом

Вдаль несет крик журавлей.

Жемчуг горьких слез на моих щеках,

В детство доброе мне откроет дверь,

Там где лето спит в заливных лугах,

И где тропами бродит добрый зверь,

Где дождей лучи с неба свесившись,

Тянут радугу над березами,

Там где горсти звезд благом светятся

Наполняя утро росами.

Вьется лентою коллея в лесу,

Слепит очи снег стороны родной,

Не забыть во век мне Руси красу,

Солнца лик размыт за моей спиной,

В резном тереме, во другом краю,

Выпадает мне тяжка долюшка,

Ведь стезя судьбы, во моем раю -

Потерять свет солнышка.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Kaiser Mansfield: Celestial Shore

In 1990, Christian blues artists Glenn Kaiser and Darrell Mansfield teamed up for the album “Trimmed & Burnin’” as Kaiser Mansfield. With Kaiser on National resophonic guitar and Mansfield on harmonica, the duo produced one fantastic blues album.

Mansfield, by the way, was inducted in the Hohner Harmonica Hall of Fame in 1980. Our Spiritual Sunday selection is the cut “Celestial Shore” penned by Kaiser. Who said the blues had to be sad?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Traffic Feelin' Alright

Traffic was one of my all time favorite bands of the 60s and 70s and it is normally characterized by Steve Winwood’s involvement; however, Dave Mason made a sizable contribution to their music – if you were lucky enough to catch him in the band.

Mason was in the band at three different stages. He was present during the first album “Mr. Fantasy” and left the band prior to the album’s American release and hence is not depicted on the cover. He rejoined Traffic during the recording of the second LP (where his is on the cover) – only later to leave. He was also featured on the album “Last Exit,” an album of left over recordings released after the band broke up the first time. He finally rejoined the band during the “Welcome the Canteen” tour and was featured on that live album – and then he was finally gone like will-o'-the-wisp.

While the Joe Cocker remake of “Feelin’ Alright” is arguably the most famous and the one that most other covers copy, I thought it might be nice to feature the original by Mason and Traffic. Mason plays guitar and sings lead on this version. Steve Winwood is on piano, bass, and backing vocals. The late Chris Wood contributed the killer tenor sax and back-up vocals. Drums, percussion, and background vocals are handled by the late Jim Capaldi.

Traffic’s original version of “Feelin’ Alright” only made it to #123 on the American charts; and hence,  it is our Saturday “Bubbling Under” hit.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Pink Floyd: Any Colour You Like

Today’s Friday Flipside, “Any Colour you Like,” comes from Pink Floyd’s 1973 landmark album “Dark Side of the Moon.” It was the “B” side to the LP’s hit single, “Money.” This instrumental was composed by three of the band’s members: guitarist David Gilmour, keyboardist Richard Wright, and drummer Nick Mason.

Bassist Roger Waters, the unofficial leader of the band, contributed bass but not to the writing the song – one of the few he did not have a part in during these years. For some strange reason, David Gilmour’s name is in all caps on the American single release.

This instrumental starts with Richard Wright playing an EMS VCS 3 synthesizer. This British made synth had three oscillators with one being a low frequency oscillator. The VCS 3 was used by a host of acts notably The Who and The Alan Parson’s Project.

In addition to a dry signal, the synth track was channeled through a tape loop of considerable length to give the keyboard its characteristic delay. This is on both ends of the song which has David Gilmour’s guitar and him scat singing in unison with the licks he is playing. Because of this, the working title of the song was “Scat Section.” In some references, the song is referenced as “Breathe (Reprise).”

The chorus effect on Gilmour’s guitar was created with Univox Uni-Vibe pedal. Like with most of “Dark Side of the Moon,” the stereo separation on this song is part of “Any Colour you Like’s” attraction.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

War: Why Can't We Be Friends?

Can a song that repeats the hook line over forty times get on your nerves? Perhaps, but not necessarily, as War’s 1975 hit of “Why Can’t We Be Friends?’ did just that and charted at #6 on the American charts. The song was played in space and has appeared in a number of movies, TV shows, and a few commercials – which qualifies it for our TV Thursday hit.

The most recent commercial to feature the song was in 2010 when Pepsico used it for their Pepsi Max campaign. The commercial is one of my favorites; however, the band War is not smiling as members of the band who performed the song were neither consulted nor did they receive any royalties from the obvious synchronization of their tune to this ad. Apparently, the band members found out about the song’s commercialization when they saw it on television.

In September 2010, several of the members of the original War filed suit against Pepsi regarding their blatant lack of permission in its use. At this writing, I can find no information on whether the suit went to trial, was settled out of court, or was dropped. One would think that nearly two years later that news would be forthcoming in this matter.

The Infamous Commercial

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Martin Briley: The Salt In My Tears

Although he toured extensively as a guitarist with a host of well known acts, Martin Briley will be probably best remembered for his 1983 one-hit wonder. As a story of love gone south that has left the protagonist with a bad taste in his mouth, “The Salt in My Tears” was Briley’s lone American hit.

From Briley’s second album, “One Night with a Stranger,” the song only peaked at #36. Although its chart action was dismal, it is better remembered as an MTV hit rather than a radio hit. I always thought it was a great song and wondered why it didn’t do any better than it did.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hirmoni’s Sonic Bloom: Time Difference

Last week a coworker enlightened me to the music of Japanese keyboardist Hiromi Uehara and her work with Chick Corea. How I missed learning about this talented young lady escapes me. Therefore, I explored more of her other live performances and found one with her band, Hirmoni’s Sonic Bloom that I particularly liked. Their style is reminiscent of the fusion bands of the late 70s and early 80s.

This live performance of “Time Difference,” which originally appeared as the opening cut on their “Time Control” album, provides a perfect platform to expose the talents of this band. Hiromi shines on her Yamaha grand piano as well as her synth leads played on the Nord Lead 2 polyphonic digital (virtual analog) keyboard. Tony Grey is playing a Yamaha six string bass, which is not to be confused with a Fender VI of the 1960s. Adding to the rhythm section is Martin Valihora on drums.

Pay particular attention to the guitar work of David “Fuze” Fiuczynski. Born in America, but raised in Germany, Fiuczynski’s is not your grandfather’s jazz guitarist. His double neck 12/7 guitar is fretted on the bottom neck and fretless on the top neck. Although it is designed for a 12-string configuration on top, it is not a guitar, but actually an oud.  The low seventh sting is a "B."  The guitar was designed by Johan Gustavsson.

Fuze has also played with the Screaming Headless Torsos and an unusual Klezmar band called Hasidic New Wave.

These four are some of the tightest musicians on record (er, CD). Check them out.