Saturday, December 12, 2015

Wishbone Ash: Blind Eye

I got thinking this week about the British rock band Wishbone Ash and my introduction to their music. I was given a sampler album that featured artists from a variety of MCA labels: Decca (US), Coral, Uni, and Kapp. It was called “The MCA Sound Conspiracy” and the first track on the LP was Wishbone Ash’s “Blind Eye.” It was their first American single, as well as the lead cut from their self-titled debut album.

What was critical to Wishbone Ash’s sound was the twin guitar leads of Andy Powell and Ted Turner. The quartet was rounded out by Martin Turner (no relation to Ted) on bass and Steve Upton on drums. The piano on the cut is uncredited – so, your guess is as good as mine. Ted Turner sings the lead on this track.

Wishbone Ash was discovered by Ritchie Blackmore who encouraged MCA to sign the band. Deep Purple’s producer, Derek Lawrence, handled the production duties on the band’s first three albums – which are often considered their best.

As you can imagine, Wishbone Ash never received the popularity in the US that they deserved. No singles charted and album sales were not commensurate with their overall talent. Wishbone Ash, by the way, is still together with Andy Powell remaining as the band’s sole original member. Still talented – still great music.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Dominoes: Sixty Minute Man

Well, it has finally occurred. I have reached my sixtieth birthday. I don’t remember the nature of my conversation with my boss two weeks ago, but it may have been because we opted to take the elevator rather than climbing four flights of stairs. I made the comment, “Well it’s not like I’m sixty or anything.” Immediately, the cold slap of reality hit me and I said – well, I won’t be able to say that in two weeks. Yes, time has a way of catching up to us. I’m just glad I’m here. My father and grandfather never made it to being 50 let alone 60.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been debating on what to play on this auspicious occasion. The only song with 60 in its title, of which I am aware, was the 1951 R&B hit by The Dominoes “Sixty Minute Man.” It is an important recording in musical history as it vies as being one of the recordings that was responsible for the creation of rock ‘n roll.

While there is much debate on which song holds those honors, there are dozens of tunes that have been considered in hindsight. I tend to lean towards Jackie Brensten’s “Rocket 88,” but that’s my personal choice. “Sixty Minute Man” was recorded three months earlier on December 30, 1950 and was released in May of the next year.

While some consider it a novelty record, “Sixty Minute Man” did quite well on the charts holding the number one slot on the R&B charts for 14 weeks. It crossed over to the pop charts where it peaked at #17. Additionally, “Sixty Minute Man” was 1951’s “Song of the Year.” It also has made it to the soundtracks to several major motion pictures. Quite impressive,

It was written by The Dominoes’ manager and pianist Billy Ward and his talent agent partner, Rose Marks. The song features the lead vocals of the quartet’s bass singer Bill Brown. In addition to Brown, The Dominoes consisted of Charlie White, Joe Lamont, and Clyde McPhatter, who later sang lead with The Drifters. McPhatter adds the woo hoos and the falsetto parts. Good stuff, but released before my birth some sixty years ago today.