Friday, June 29, 2012

The Yardbirds: Jeff's Boogie

I was talking to someone this last week about The Yardbirds, one of the greatest bands from the 1960s – a band that produced the likes of Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page. Not a bad stable of guitarists. Add to those notables, the following: Keith Relf on vocals and harmonica, Paul Samwell-Smith on bass, Chris Dreja on rhythm guitar and later bass, and Jim McCarty on drums.

While they never received the notoriety of some of their contemporaries, such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, and The Who; The Yardbirds shaped rock ‘n roll in a significant manner. In looking for a “B” side to feature, I thought I might use one of their fantastic flips.

Today’s feature, named for the lead guitarist at the time, is “Jeff’s Boogie.” The instrumental was the flip side to “Over Under Sideways Down” (probably a song that has more prepositions in its title than any other). The “A” side peaked at #13 on the Hot 100 during the summer of 1966. It includes the pre-Page lineup that had Paul Samwell-Smith on bass.  Turn up and enjoy.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Billy Idol: Sweet Sixteen

I am going to deviate from our normal Thursday feature today to honor the 16th birthday of my youngest daughter. “Sweet Sixteen” is a special birthday and although the lyrics of Billy Idol’s 1987 hit don’t correlate with a father’s love, “I’d do anything for my Sweet Sixteen.”

From Idol’s “Whiplash Smile” album released in 1986, the single peaked at #20 on the Hot 100 and at #26 on the rock charts.  Happy Birthday Sweetie.

Eighty-five more posts until "Reading Between the Grooves" retires.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Us3: Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)

I know what you’re thinking – “He must really be sick as I never heard him feature anything like this in the past – That infection must have moved to his head.” Not so. I’ve liked Us3’s “Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)” since I first heard it 1993 as the opening music of the movie “Renaissance Man” starring Danny DeVito. It was Us3’s only hit in the United States and managed to climb the charts to the #9 position by March 1994.

This hip-hop tune, as did all of the cuts on their “Hand on the Torch” album, extensively used samples from the Blue Note Records’ catalog.

The spoken intro and the line “How about a big hand there” are by Pee Wee Marquette and come from Art Blakey’s “A Night at Birdland, Volume 1.” Samples of two men at the beginning of the track saying “yeah” and “what’s that” are from Lou Donaldson’s “Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky (From Now On).”

Herbie Hancock’s Cantaloupe Island

The pièce de résistance is the sample of Herbie Hancock’s “Cantaloupe Island” that was recorded thirty years previously on the album “Empyrean Isles.” That also featured Freddie Hubbard, Ron Carter, and Anthony Williams.

Hubbard plays the coronet on the original recording. The trumpet parts added to Us3’s version were by Gerard Presencer. Although the song is in the same key as Hancock’s original (Fm), the sample is sped up some.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Huey "Piano" Smith: Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu

The rocklicking piano of Huey “Piano” Smith is the subject of our Tasty Licks Tuesday selection with his 1957 hit “Rockin’ Pneumonia & the Boogie Woogie Flu.” Since I am suffering from a bout of lobar pneumonia this week, I thought it was a fitting selection that relates to my plight.

This top five R&B hit was cowritten by Smith and his producer Johnny Vincent. Although a huge R&B hit, it only made it to the #53 spot on the Hot 100. Although it is one of Smith’s best known recordings and a million seller, it was not his biggest hit. That was “Don’t Just Know It” that was released in 1958.

Johnny Rivers’ Later Version

In 1972, Johnny Rivers recorded a version that shows the influence of Huey Smith and the music of New Orleans. It was Rivers’ fifth most popular single and charted at #6.

Larry Knechtel, who was a session musician and member of Bread, rocks out on the Huey Smith inspired piano licks on this rendition.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Jefferson Airplane: Have You Seen The Saucers

Typically, I rather hear the studio release rather than a live version; however, Jefferson Airplane’s “Have You Seen the Saucers” is an exception to the rule. The live version, which received some album rock airplay, came from the album “Thirty Seconds Over Winterland” which was released in the spring of 1973. All of the albums cuts came from shows at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. “Have you Seen the Saucers” was recorded on September 21, 1972.

Unlike the original, Papa John Creech was a member of the band during 1972 and his electric fiddle makes the cut. It is said that Paul Kantner, who wrote the tune, had been a fan of science fiction since his preteen years. It was the first sci-fi themed song that Kantner had penned.

Studio Version from 1970

Originally released as the “B” side to “Mexico” – a non-album single in 1970, the studio version versions of both tunes would later appear on the compilation album “Early Flight” that was released in 1974. “Mexico” only charted at #102.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Them: Baby Please Don't Go

In 1935, Big Joe Williams wrote and recorded a song that would later become a rock classic – “Baby, Please Don’t Go.” The original recording had the original Sonny Boy Williamson on harmonica (there were two if you didn’t realize it). The first didn’t receive the fame as the later usurper of the name; however, that’s another story entirely.

The Belfast, Northern Ireland band Them entered the studio in late 1964 and recorded “Baby Please Don’t Go” as their next single release. The song featured Van Morrison on vocals and harmonica and lead guitar by band mate Billy Harrison. Jimmy Page was hired as a session musician and provided the rhythm guitar parts.

The recording also included two drummers and two keyboardists that featured band members Ronnie Millings and Pat McAuley and session musicians Bobby Graham and Peter Bardens on their respective instruments. Them bassist Alan Henderson also appears on the track.

Was it an “A” side or a “B” side? The answer is yes. Originally issued in the UK and the US as the “A” side, the American release on Parrot Records failed to break the Hot 100 charts peaking at #102. It was a top 10 hit in the UK and its success may have been due to the band appearing alongside The Rolling Stones on “Rock Steady Go!”

Later in 1966, London Records in the US decided to re-release the single on their Parrot subsidiary with the original “B” side, “Gloria,” as the “A” side. It is interesting that as a “B” side, “Baby Please Don’t Go” did better that it did previously as an “A” side. The second time around it charted at #71. It also beat all odds by outpacing “Gloria,” the “A” side which only charted at #93.

Later 1971 Rerelease

The band later re-recorded “Baby Please Don’t Go” and “Gloria” in 1971 with John Stark singing lead. It is quite different from their original single release and appears the album “Them . . . In Reality” released on the on the Happy Tiger label. The band was a three piece at the time and used a session drummer. I think I’ll stick to the original.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Chet Atkins: Jam Man

If you watch television in the United States, you cannot escape the numerous ads used in the campaign for esurance. There is a catchy little guitar instrumental that accompanies each of the commercials. For the uninformed, the song is “Jam Man” by the late Chet Atkins.

While the chords aren’t too difficult (Am, G, C, F, E, and etc.), Chet’s picking style makes this song a bear to learn. I tried it, but cannot pick like Chet – but how many people do you know who pick like Chet? Case in point.

Chet actually won a Grammy for “Jam Man” in 1994. When you listen to it, it is understandable why the committee and the members selected “Jam Man” to win. Enjoy. Only 90 more posts to go.

esurance Commerical

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Saga: On The Loose

Formed as a spinoff from the Canadian group Fludd, Saga began in 1977 and continues performing and recording today. Signed to CBS’ new label Portrait, Saga only had one Top 40 hit in the United States – thereby qualifying for our coveted, weekly One-Hit Wednesday spot.

While the band had several AOR singles to chart on the Mainstream Rock charts such as “Wind Him Up,” “The Flyer,” and “What Do I Know”; the only Top 40 hit was “On The Loose” which charted at #26. It also was their biggest AOR hit and peaked at #3 in 1982.

“Wind Him Up” and “On the Loose” were both from their fourth album “Worlds Apart” that was released in 1981. It's an interesting keyboard based tune that should bring back some early 80s memories.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Stanley Jordan: Stairway To Heaven

The song “Stairway to Heaven” is one of those songs that purists hate to see anyone else record. Since Led Zeppelin attained perfection with this song from their 1972 fourth album, no one else dare need to try. I felt that way until I heard Stanley Jordan’s version of this Led Zep classic.

His two handed technique is outstanding. I cannot fathom how Jordon two handed taps on one guitar, but to do this on a second guitar without missing a beat – sheer genius.

In case you are wondering, his main guitar in this video is a Vigier Arpege. His second axe is a Travis Bean with an aluminum neck. He also tunes his guitars in all fourths E-A-D-G-C-F so that his figuring can remain consistent across the neck. All I can say is “wow!!!”

Monday, June 18, 2012

Gene Cotton: Like A Sunday In Salem

This past weekend, I was looking for some cuts from Gene Cotton’s 1972 album “Gray of the Morning,” but alas, I was not able to find any. Pity – it was a great album that I had the opportunity playing during my first radio gig at WKCC-FM. While searching, a suggestion for his 1978 recording of “Like a Sunday in Salem (The Amos & Andy Song)” appeared on YouTube.

It had been probably 30 years or so since I listened to this cut. I had searched about a year ago for it and no one had posted it yet. Somewhere, I have a copy of the promotional single of this song that peaked right at #40 on the Hot 100. I remember hearing “Like a Sunday in Salem” on WKEE in Huntington, WV in 1978 during my daily commute from Ashland, KY to Huntington everyday.  Due to its poor chart performance, it didn't stick around very long.

“Like a Sunday in Salem” was actually released as a single twice on the Ariola-America label. It was the “B” side to Cotton’s bigger hit from the previous spring, “Before My Heart Finds Out.”

Ariola-America reissued the song as its own “A” side during the fall. Unfortunately, it didn’t do very well. That probably was related to the amount of money this German owned label was willing to pump into the US market. That would change in 1979, when the Ariola bought Arista Records.

Having recorded albums since 1966, “Sunday in Salem” was featured on Gene’s eighth album “Save the Dancer.” Besides “Before My Heart Finds Out” and “Like A Sunday in Salem,” the album also produced a hit with “You’re A Part of Me” – a duet with Kim Carnes that peaked at #36. All three charted within the top forty with “Before My Heart Finds Out” performing the best at 23 on the Hot 100 and at #3 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Bruce Springsteen & The Sessions Band: O, Mary Don't You Weep

Take one spiritual, three two parts Dixieland, and a dash of Gypsy violin and you have Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band’s version of “O, Mary Don’t You Weep.” The Seeger Sessions was Bruce Springsteen’s attempt to take folk songs made popular by Pete Seeger and interpret the songs in a larger band context. As far as I am concerned, the experiment worked; however, the application of Seeger name sometimes confused the public, so midway during the tour and with the subsequent release of the CD and DVD, Pete’s name was eliminated.

Like many spirituals, the song is hybridization of several biblical stories to infuse hope to a people in chains. It is said that the Mary referred to in the song is Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus, and here weeping was caused by the death of her brother. The illustration is – no matter how bad it will get, it will eventually get better.

One thing that I have been curious about in this song and about a half-dozen others is the line, “Mary wore three links of chain . . . every link was my Jesus’ name.” This is a frequent lyrical refrain that makes its way into other songs such as “Gospel Plow,” “Morning Train,” “All er my Sins are Taken Away,” and “Mary Wore Three Links of Chain.”

The significance must be related to the bondage of slavery as the line is extra-biblical in nature. Later versions of these songs as adopted by the Civil Rights Movement replaced the line, “every link was my Jesus’ name” to “every link was freedom’s name.”

Springsteen and company are a fine group of musicians that feature Charles Giordano on piano and accordion, Sam Bardfeld on violin, Curt Ramm on trumpet, and Clark Gayton on trombone. Check out Ramm’s trumpet – he’s playing lines that you would normally associate with a clarinet in a Dixieland band. The song was recorded live at one of the shows in Dublin.

Good stuff from the boss.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Fleetwood Mac: Bermuda Triangle

I had planned to utilize Fleetwood Mac’s “Bermuda Triangle” from “Heroes are Hard to Find” to be a bubbling under hit sometime this summer, but I guess with the recent passing of Bob Welch, there is no time like the present to feature it. This unusual song was Bob’s primary feature on the album and got some AOR airplay during 1974. It also was Bob’s final album with the band.

The eerie keyboard sounds are produced by an ARP String Ensemble that Christine McVie is playing. It was the original string synthesizer that was produced by Eminent in Europe for market under the APR and Solina brands.

While not a synth proper, the String Ensemble was really built upon organ technology and had a fully polyphonic keyboard with violin, viola, trumpet, horn, cello, and contrabass sounds.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Hollies: Signs That Will Never Change

Friday’s Flipside comes from the catalog of singles by The Hollies’ and features the “B” side of “Carrie Anne,” which charted at #9 in the US in 1967. The song was written by Tony Hicks, Allan Clarke, and Graham Nash.

It has nice arrangement and the song was not released on an album in the US at the time. The only way to hear this tune was to buy the single.

Original Recording

Although written by The Hollies, their version was not the original version of the song – well, sort of not the original. In 1966, Hicks, Clarke, and Clarke helped Don and Phil Everly with their album “Two Yanks in England.”

Eight of the 12 songs on the album were composed by Hicks, Clarke, and Nash and were credited to “L. Ransford,” a songwriting pseudonym used by Hicks, Clarke, and Nash. There’s was much like the arrangement that John Lennon and Paul McCartney had where credit and royalties were split among the two songwriters even if the other failed to contribute. The three primary members of The Hollies did the same thing and often song contributions were weighted toward one particular member of the band.

To tell the truth, I prefer the Everly Brothers rendition of “Signs that will Never Change” to The Hollies version. The celeste adds a Buddy Holly “Everyday” feel to the tune that was not being heard in pop music at the time.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Eilen Jewell: Everywhere I Go

In the latest T-Mobile commercial advertising their HTC One S phone has commercial actress Carly Foulkes selecting three songs before she heads off down the streets on her magenta and black motorcycle. The first of these is a four second excerpt titled as “Everything is Ours” by Waste Grease. Checking for this song, I’ve come to learn that the song in its entirety is only four seconds long and this miniscule selection was probably created for the commercial.

The second, and our TV Thursday song, is Eilen Jewell’s “Everywhere I Go,” which is followed by The Vines’ “Get Free.” While I was initially interested in the Waste Grease song, which is really a non-song, I have selected Eilen Jewel’s tune for today.

Having featured her twice before, Jewell is no stranger to Reading Between the Grooves. “Everywhere I Go” comes from her 2009 CD release “Sea of Tears.”

T-Mobile Commercial

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Stories: Brother Louie

During the summer of 1973 a song recorded by Stories took America by storm and within weeks landed at the number one spot for two weeks, required the record company to reissue the album to add the single, and it was certified gold.

Still controversial in 1973, the song was about an interracial relationship between a black woman and her white boyfriend. Although an uncommon situation in the early 1970s, it didn’t prevent radio and the buying public from wanting to hear this song.

Although a colossal hit in the US for Ian Lloyd and Stories, it was an anomaly – as it didn’t follow the typical style of the band. Since they became defined by “Brother Louie,” they never came close to repeating its success and were typecast from this one-hit wonder.

Original Version

What most people don’t realize that “Brother Louie” was not an original song for Stories. They covered a song written and performed originally by Hot Chocolate. The original was a top 10 hit in the UK; however, a song about an interracial relationship sung by a predominantly black band was not going to be released as a single in the US – leaving the opportunity for a white band to try their hand at recording “Brother Louie.”

In addition to Hot Chocolate’s performance, they enlisted British blues artist Alexis Korner to provide the speaking parts in the song. These were eliminated for Stories version of the song for obvious reasons.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Various Artists: While My Guitar Gently Weeps

In 2004, the late George Harrison was inducted posthumously into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A number of artists performed Harrison’s song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” during the ceremony. I have chosen this version of the song for Tasty Licks Tuesday because of Prince’s stellar guitar solo at the end of the song.

Among those on stage, lead vocals were handled by two of George’s Traveling Wilburys mates: Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne. Petty is playing 12-string acoustic guitar and Lynn a Fender Telecaster. Among the other performers was George’s son Dhani Harrison on acoustic guitar; he is a spitting image of his father. Marc Mann plays the initial lead that Eric Clapton played on the original and in the back is Steve Winwood on organ.

Prince, who was also being inducted on the same night, owns the song’s end with his solo. It just blows me away. I have one question though. Where did the guitar go?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Episode 900: In Memory of Bob Welch

Today is our 900th post of “Reading Between the Grooves.” We are in the home stretch because when our one-thousandth post is made on September 26 – our third anniversary, I am retiring this blog. It will be a fitting time to close the annals on this work. The fat lady has not sung yet, so we still have a 100 more posts to go. We’ll look at the blog in retrospect in a few paragraphs, but for now more important info comes with today’s blog post.

On Saturday, I learned of the tragic end of Bob Welch. Three months ago, he had spinal surgery and was apparently told that he would not recover and would be an invalid. He apparently told friends that he did not want his wife of 27 years, Wendy, to bear the burden of caring for him. He was found dead of a self inflicted gunshot wound to the chest on Thursday, June 7. Welch was 66 and was survived only by his wife.

Bob Welch laid the groundwork for Fleetwood Mac’s rise to pop stardom via his replacements and friends Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham; however, his many contributions as a member of Fleetwood Mac for four years have largely been ignored. When the band was inducted into the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, Welch was not invited to the ceremonies. Others who served in the pre-Buckingham/Nicks' version of the band, however, were inducted.

It is thought that a lawsuit for back royalties several years previous was the catalyst for Welch to be snubbed by his former band mates. During his tenure, Welch contributed to five Fleetwood Mac albums: “Future Games,” “Bare Trees,” “Penguin,” “Mystery to Me,” and “Heroes are Hard to Find.” Welch inspired the titles of two of those albums, “Future Games” – as he penned the title cut, and “Mystery to Me” that was named after a line found in his song “Emerald Eyes.”

I have already featured his two best known songs with Mac, “Sentimental Lady” from “Bare Trees” and “Hypnotized” from “Mystery to Me.” For the purpose of extending your understanding of Bob’s contributions to Mac, here’s a classic from 1971 “Future Games.” His distinct guitar rhythm technique and octave runs are recognizable on this cut.

When Welch left the band, he went on to form the band Paris which recorded two albums. His next album, “French Kiss” was originally slated to be “Paris 3”; however, it became his first solo album and produced three hits “Sentimental Lady,” “Ebony Eyes,” and “Hot Love, Cold World.” While Welch released twelve albums (including compilations), he only had one other Top 40 Hit, “Precious Love” in 1979.

Mainstream Americans are probably more familiar with Welch’s solo material, but I wanted to feature one of his Fleetwood Mac contributions to emphasize his pivotal role in the band. The world mourns Bob’s passing.

RBTG’s 900th Post Retrospect

Like I had reported with every other 100th post anniversary, I took a look backward on how we are doing visitor wise. I began this blog on September 26, 2009, but did not start monitoring the visits until October 16, 2009. Currently, we have 51 declared followers of the blog – up from 41 in February 2012. There are many others who have visited frequently without declaring themselves as followers. The statistics are listed below:

Unique Visitors65,975
Times Visited73,349
Number of Pages Viewed92,533
People Visiting 200+ Times1,198
People Visiting 101-200 Times483
People Visiting 51-100 Times288
People Visiting 26-50 Times255
Number of Visitor Countries Represented155
Percentage of Visitors Referred from Search Engines65.25%
Percentage of Visitors Referred from Other Sites25.47%
Percentage of Visitors via Direct Access9.30%

The Top Ten Charts

As one would find in music trade magazines, I have prepared some Top Ten Charts for "Reading between the Grooves."

The Top Ten Visitor Countries

The rankings remain static when compared to the previous 800th Anniversary. New countries and territories added include the following: Åland Islands, Bahamas, Cameroon, French Guiana, and Madagascar.
1United States36,488
2United Kingdom6,238

The Top Ten Pages via Direct Access

While most people (4,392) have visited the home page for “Reading Between the Grooves,” others enter distinct pages through page specific links and via search engine returns. Two new pages joined the list –Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” and Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s “Up Above My Head.” This particular chart is slow moving as it is cumulative – newer features on this site will have to be really popular to catch up to the total direct access of these ten songs.

The Top Days by Total Visits

This chart represents the days that encountered the most visits and the content that was featured on those particular days. Only two of the selections came from the last 100 posts and two days since February that had no associated content placed in the top ten.
The #1 and #4 days are anomalies as they represent two days that had intensive viewing of the entire blog by two new visitors. These two individuals spent a great deal of time on the blog and looked at hundreds of pages during one single weekend.

RankDayDateAssociated ContentVisits
1SAT16 JUL 2011Nektar – Let it Grow625
2MON30 APR 2012No Post Made281
3TUE05 JUN 2012Michael Hedges – Aerial Boudaries274
4SUN17 JUL 2011Liberty ‘N Justice & Robert Fleischman – The Lord’s Prayer271
5FRI20 APR 2012Levon Helm’s Last Waltz270
6SAT28 JAN 2012Steely Dan: My Old School267
7WED26 OCT 2011John Zacherle: Dinner With Drac 264
8MON23 JAN 2012Outkast vs Queen: Hey...We Will Rock you...Ya262
9THU09 FEB 2012The Brother’s Johnson – Strawberry Letter 23259
10SAT04 MAR 2012No Post Made281

The Top Days by New Visitors

This chart represents the days that encountered the most visits by first time visitors and the content that was featured on those particular days. All but two of these songs are new to this chart and eight are not older than 100 posts.

RankDayDateAssociated ContentNew Visitors
1MON30 APR 2012No Post203
2SAT11 FEB 2011Johnny Guitar Watson – Real Mother for Ya198
3TUE13 MAR 2012Jeff Beck & The Jan Hammer Group – Freeway Jam181
4TUE04 JUN 2012Lisa Loeb – I Do 181
5TUE05 JUN 2012Michael Hedges – Aerial Boundaries174
6SAT09 JAN 2012The Rolling Stones – Gimme Shelter173
7THU07 JUN 2012Journey – Anyway You Want It171
8MON27 FEB 2012Dramatics – In the Rain170
9FRI09 MAR 2012Creedence Clearwater Revival – Who’ll Stop the Rain168
10TUE17 APR 2012Return to Forever – No Mystery168

As always, I want to take this time to thank all of you for your support of this site and the encouragement to keep going forward. Thanks again for Reading between the Grooves and remember, this blog will be wrapping up with our 1,000th post on September 26, 2012. The countdown begins.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Alice Cooper: Salvation

Alice Cooper is not a name that you would expect to see as one of my Spiritual Sunday artists, but here we are. Although one of “bad boys” of rock ‘n roll, Alice admits that he never renounced the faith of his youth and that he felt that God had protected him all during the years he drifted away. The personage of Alice Cooper that was seized by Vincent Furnier was purely for show and not necessarily who he was spiritually.

Cooper, er Furnier, was raised in the The Church of Jesus Christ where his father was a lay evangelist and his grandfather had been the president of the denomination. The group was probably the first splinter group from the Mormon Church that occurred when an early leader, Sidney Rigdon, failed to ascend to the presidency of the Latter Day Saints Church when Joseph Smith was murdered.

Owing to Rigdon’s background as a Disciples of Christ minister prior to being converted by Joseph Smith, the small denomination is a strange mixture of Restorationist and Mormon doctrine and practices with a smattering of Pentecostalism. This was the environment for young Vincent Furnier’s faith to develop. In addition, Cooper’s wife is the daughter of a Baptist minister. “Salvation” is somewhat autobiographical and with his and his wife’s spiritual foundation it prompted a return to the faith of their youth.

Alice Cooper’s Religious Testimony

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Rolling Stones: Gimme Shelter

From one of my favorite albums by The Rolling Stones, “Let It Bleed,” comes today’s bubbling under hit. Inspired by the time of the Vietnam War and racial and political uproar in the world in 1969, “Gimme Shelter” is a song full of angst – an apocalyptic number by the Stones. Cowritten by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, the song starts with Richards’ rhythm guitar played through an amp using the tremolo/vibrato feature.

As with the majority of the Stones’ recordings Jagger takes the lead vocals. He also plays the amplified harmonica on this cut as well. Jagger and Richards also contribute backing vocals along with Merry Clayton. It is said that Clayton put so much into this recording that she suffered a miscarriage after the session. Clayton later released her version of the song.

Missing from this particular recording is multi-instrumentalist Brian Jones whose time with the band would shortly come to a close which would be followed by his death. Of course bassist Bill Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts handled the rhythm section. Longtime sideman Nicky Hopkins provided the piano parts.

This classic Rolling Stones’ cut has been featured in many motion pictures and television shows.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Standells: Rari

Our Friday Flipside takes us back to the king of garage bands from the mid 1960s – The Standells. “Rari,” today’s feature, was the “B” side to The Standells’ “Dirty Water” which charted at #11 – but has had more success being used by the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Bruins. Because of the reference to Boston and its geography, many people incorrectly thought the band was from “Bean Town’; however, The Standells were an LA based act.

“Dirty Water,” like its flip “Rari,” was composed by the band’s producer Ed Cobb. Like the “A” side, “Rari” continues that garage band sound; however, it is less guitar based like “Dirty Water” and it features the Vox Continental organ of Larry Tamblyn – who is the uncle of actress Amber Tamblyn. It’s a great example of ‘60s garage grunge.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Journey: Anyway You Want It

The latest commercial from State Farm is hilarious. It has the claims rep and the customer going through the lyrics of Journey’s “Anyway You Want It” and having a flashback to the 80s with a little Journey moment. “Any Way You Want It” opened Journey’s “Departure” album and was the first single released from this 1980 classic album.

It is said that the vocal and guitar interplay was inspired by the late Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy. The song was often used to close out Journey concerts. The single only peaked at #23, but that didn’t stop this Steve Perry/Neal Schon composition from being one of their best known tunes. The album fared much better by peaking at #8.

State Farm Commercial

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Shocking Blue: Venus

Although the Shocking Blue had been in existence for two years and released albums and singles in their native land The Netherlands, they burst onto the American pop scene in 1969 for one brief moment. Then they vanished from the American charts forever.

I decided to go with “Venus” today to honor planet that appeared between the sun and the earth yesterday in what is called the transit of Venus. While I did not get to view it first hand as the sun was obscured by clouds in my region, I did view it live from NASA’s stream from Hawaii.

Although today’s one hit wonder was about the mythical goddess from which the planet was named, I thought it fitting to use the Shocking Blue hit for One-Hit Wonder Wednesday. What a hit it was as it charted at number one in the US, Canada, Spain, Belgium, France, and Italy. It peaked at #2 in Germany and Japan and was a #3 record in The Netherlands. A top 10 hit in the UK, the single charted at #8.

The song features the vocals of the late Mariska Veres and the guitar of Robbie van Leeuwen. Klaasje van der Wal plays the memorable bass runs and Cor van der Beek handled the drums. The keyboardist, who actually contributes greatly to the record’s sound, was not credited. I believe an RMI Electra-Piano was used on this cut.

Robbie van Leeuwen is seen playing a Fender Telecaster in the accompanying video; however, other performances have him playing a Coral (by Danelectro) Longhorn thin-line electric six string.

The Big Three Big Ripoff

It is apparent that Robbie van Leeuwen was greatly inspired by a 1963 recording of “Banjo Song” by the folk group The Big Three. The Big Three consisted of Tim Rose, Cass Elliot, and her then husband James Hendricks. If you listen, it is obvious that their interpretation of Stephen Foster’s “Oh! Susanna “was the inspiration for the Shocking Blue’s hit.

Had Tim Rose pushed it, he would have been much richer from song royalties for “Venus” due to copyright infringement. He had a much better case than Ronald Mack’s claim that George Harrison stole from “He’s So Fine” as the basis for “My Sweet Lord.” That claim was tentative at best, but was close enough to win big for Mack and his publisher. The Big Three’s song, although an arrangement of a public domain composition, makes a much stronger case.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Michael Hedges: Aerial Boundaries

I was always impressed with the music of the late Michael Hedges since I first heard his music on a mid 1980s Windham Hill sampler album. He may have been one of the driving forces to bring back the popularity of the harp guitar.

His approach to the six string acoustic guitar is unorthodox at best. The tuning is a modal tuning of C2 C3 D3 G3 A3 D4 – the low C gives the guitar that bass like quality. He uses tapping, hammer ons, pull offs, harmonics, and a two handed technique that mimics someone playing the Chapman Stick.

The title cut from his second album “Aerial Boundaries” is the first song I heard him perform. In was released in 1984 and the album was nominated for the Grammy for the Best Engineered Album. Sadly it didn’t win.

This is a later live re-recording of the same song. How do I know – his hair is much shorter in this video and probably was recorded in the mid to late 90s. I am not sure of the guitar, but I believe it is a Martin 000-28. What a great song and a perfect addition to our Tasty Licks Tuesday collection.

The world lost an incredible talent when he died in a car accident in 1997.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Lisa Loeb: I Do

A coworker walked into my office last week and she was wearing horned rimmed classes as opposed to her normal contact lenses and I made the comment, “You look just like Lisa Loeb.” To which my coworker said, “Who?” I had to pull up a YouTube video of Ms. Loeb to show her the similarities. I happened to be our featured song of today – her 1997 hit “I Do.”

The song was featured on her third solo album “Firecracker” and the single charted at #17. By the way the electric guitar she is playing in the official video of “I Do” is a Danelectro Convertible – their answer to an acoustic electric. Having two Danos, I can appreciate what Nathan Daniel did with Masonite and a lipstick tube pickup.

Lisa got prominent attention with her 1994 recording of “Stay (I Missed You)” that appeared in the movie “Reality Bites.” It was the first #1 song to be recorded by an artist without a major record deal. While “Stay (I Missed You)” was a bigger hit, I prefer “I Do.” Since I write this blog, I get to pick the songs. I hope you concur.

Live Version

Sunday, June 3, 2012

In Memory of Doc Watson

This past Tuesday, the music world lost another legend “Doc” Watson. Saddled with the moniker Arthel Lane Watson, the legend is a radio announcer gave him the nickname “Doc” in reference to Sherlock Holmes’ sidekick. Doc lost his eyesight from an infection when he was one year old – therefore, he was blind for the majority of his life.

It is said that he learned his flatpicking style by learning to play fiddle tunes on his guitar. For many years he traveled and performed with his son Merle, who was equally accomplished guitarist. Merle died in an accident on the family farm in 1985.

He had fallen at his home and while at the hospital it was discovered that he had colon cancer. He died following the surgical procedure. Doc was 89 years young. As a tribute to Doc, his rendition of "When I Lay My Burdens Down" is our Spiritual Sunday selection. Rest in Peace, Doc and say hi to Merle for us.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Midnight Oil: Blue Sky Mine

Back in 1990, I was working on a Master’s of Arts degree in humanities with a dual concentration in history and media. One of my classes that fall semester was titled as History of Coal Mining in West Virginia and our final project was to create a week long curriculum to teach a unit on some aspect of coal mining to an eighth grade audience. I selected music class as my vehicle where the students would analyze different songs relating to various aspects of coal mining.

For the Thursday class, the students were to listen to and discuss songs relating to the dangers of coal mining and other industrial accidents. Two of the non-coal mining songs I used in the curriculum were Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” and a newer song, Midnight Oil’s “Blue Sky Mine.”

Released earlier that spring, “Blue Sky Mine” dealt with the health dangers contracted by the miners of the Wittenoom blue asbestos mine in Western Australia. In 1966, the government shut down the operation as well as the town. Even visiting the ghost town is considered hazardous today and the town’s name has been removed from maps and road signs. Vehicular traffic stirs up the blue asbestos fibers and increases human inhalation risks.

While the song was a #1 record on both the US mainstream rock and modern rock charts, it only charted at #47 on the Hot 100, making it a bubbling under hit as it failed to chart within the top 40. During the time, I was working at an oldies station and I was introduced to this particular song via MTV.

I really like Peter Garrett’s vocals and harmonica on this particular cut. Since Midnight Oil disbanded in 2002, Garrett has served as a member of Australia’s parliament since 2004 and has held a variety of leadership positions. In 2003, he was inducted as a Member of the Order of Australia.


There'll be food on the table tonight
There'll be pay in your pocket tonight

My gut is wrenched out it is crunched up and broken
My life that is lived is no more than a token
Who'll strike the flint upon the stone and tell me why?

If I yell out at night there's a reply of blue silence
The screen is no comfort I can't speak my sentence
They blew the lights at heaven's gate and I don't know why

But if I work all day on the blue sky mine
(There'll be food on the table tonight)
Still I walk up and down on the blue sky mine
(There'll be pay in your pocket tonight)

The candy store paupers lie to the shareholders
They're crossing their fingers they pay the truth makers
The balance sheet is breaking up the sky

So I'm caught at the junction still waiting for medicine
The sweat of my brow keeps on feeding the engine
Hope the crumbs in my pocket can keep me for another night

And if you blue sky mining company won't come to my rescue
If the sugar refining company won't save me
Who's gonna save me?

But if I work all day on the blue sky mine
(There'll be food on the table tonight)
And if I walk up and down on the blue sky mine
(There'll be pay in your pocket tonight)

And some have sailed from a distant shore
And the company takes what the company wants
And nothing's as precious
As a hole in the ground

Who's gonna save me?
I pray that sense and reason brings us in
Who's gonna save me?
We've got nothing to fear

In the end the rain comes down
Washes clean the streets of a blue sky mine

Friday, June 1, 2012

Billy Joel: The Ballad of Billy The Kid

Today’s Friday Flipside is neither historical nor autobiographical; however, for years many have thought that Billy Joel’s “The Battle of Billy the Kid” was just that. While inspired by Aaron Copeland’s ballet, “Billy the Kid,” Joel’s song is pure fiction in recounting the life of William H. McCarty alias William H. Bonney alias Billy the Kid.

In the song, Billy was stated as being from Wheeling, WV. While Wheeling was the home of Marsh-Wheeling Stogies, the Wheeling Jamboree, and was bisected by the National Road, it was not the home of Billy Kid. In fact it has been suggested that he was born in New York City, but his actual birthplace is not known.

“Well, he started with a bank in Colorado” – Bonney wasn’t a thief – he, however, was a gunman and a murderer.

“Well, he never traveled heavy; yes, he always rode alone” is inaccurate as Bonney had a small gang of compadres.

“To watch the hangin' of Billy the Kid” – is another piece of fiction as Billy the Kid was shot by Sheriff Pat Garrett.

“But he finally found a home underneath the Boot Hill grave that bears his name” – If Joel was referring to Boot Hill as a cemetery name (which was used for several cemeteries), then the song is wrong as he was buried in Old Fort Sumner Cemetery in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. If Joel was using boot hill as a euphemism for the graves of those who died with their boots on, then his usage was correct.

While a headstone indicated the approximate burial locations for Bonney, Tom O'Folliard, and Charlie Bowdre, his specific marker was stolen in 1950 and finally recovered in 1976. It was stolen again in 1981, but was quickly recovered.

I always thought that the Billy the Kid from Oyster Bay, Long Island was autobiographical of Joel himself; however, he admitted on the liner notes for “Songs in the Attic” that another Billy, who was a bartender, was the final verse’s inspiration.

Despite the inaccuracies in the lyrics, I always loved this song and it shows the breadth of Joel’s literary genius. Today’s version comes from his 1981 live album “Songs in the Attic.” It was the “B” side to “She’s Got A Way.” The “A” side peaked at #23.

Original Studio Version

The song originally appeared on Joel’s first Columbia album “Piano Man.” This version has a string arrangement. Joel plays harmonica on birth versions.

Only 110 more posts until the end of “Reading Between the Grooves.”