Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Who Were They?

Being almost 59 years old myself, I definitely subscribe to the theory that one is never too old to Rock & Roll. Over the last 5 years I've seen The Stones, John Fogerty (twice), Brian Wilson and Nick Lowe in concert and in addition I still love newer works by Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Tom Petty and a host of others whose names escape me at the moment. So what I am about to say is not at all about ageism. But the other night during half-time I felt totally embarrassed for that travesty that was calling itself The Who. It's not that Roger Daltry (who I thought bore a striking resemblance to Mrs. Doubtfire) can't sing or that Pete Townsend, who I really wish would have finished buttoning his shirt before coming onstage, can't play anymore. My problems with The Who started right after Keith Moon died. To me, this band was truly always much more than the sum of its parts. Here we had 4 distinct and often conflicting personalities and styles that joined to form this electrifying, unique combination that was way bigger than any of them individually. When Keith died that synergy was gone and they became just another rock band whose best days were behind them. When "Face Dances" came out I heard a few songs on the radio and was unimpressed. It was the first Who album I didn't buy. And now that John Entwistle is gone they're even less The Who than ever. I think I'd respect them more if they called themselves "The Townsend-Daltry Band" or something like that. But they will never be The Who. To quote Pete Townsend: "We won't get fooled again".

The Who - My Generation
Now THIS is The Who! Snotty, angry, arrogant, pumped-up and in your face. Listen to Entwistle and Moon - nobody could play like them before or since. The Who is dead. Long Live The Who!
Beck - Devil's Haircut
Many of my fellow garage-heads dismiss Beck as just one more modern artist they can't relate to, but I enjoy a lot of his music in much the same way that I've always liked XTC. He's got a real appreciation of R&R's past (check out the intro stolen note-for-note from "I Can Only Give You Everything") to which he adds an engagingly skewed pop sense of his own.
Bo Diddley - Put The Shoes On Willie
This is somewhat of a novelty number for Bo, despite having his trademark Bo Diddley maracas-shaking beat. Novelty or not, I've always liked this song.
Johnny Winter - Highway 61 Revisited
If this doesn't get your adrenaline flowing, then probably nothing will. I've never read or heard anything one way or the other, but my guess is that Bob Dylan would heartily approve of Winter's take on his classic. You've got to love that slide guitar playing. This particular rip lacks a little in the volume department so you might want to crank it up a bit.
Jason Eddy & The Centremen - Singing The Blues
I've seen his last name spelled with both a 'y' and an 'ie' at the end so I hope I got it right. This is one of Joe Meek's more raucous productions and a pretty out-there version of this old Guy Mitchell country standard.
Ognir And The Nite People - I Found A New Love
Over the years Ognir & Co. have shown up on a number of garage compilations and, to these ears anyway, they're always welcome. I wouldn't be surprised if by this point in time, original 45s are going for close to 4 figures and way out of my budget.
Chuck Higgins - Motor Head Baby
While Chuck Higgins may not have been the most accomplished of musicians, he certainly had a long and successful career, playing shows well into the 1980's. This is from his earliest session for Combo records in 1952.
The Viletones - Don't You Lie
From Toronto, Canada this song is taken from their "Look Back in Anger" EP recorded in 1978. It's funny how a lot of the punk records from that era that sounded so outrageous at the time, nowadays sound like nice upbeat pop. Which is by no means a bad thing. What's also amazing is how many of these singles are commanding such super high prices - even more than original 60's garage records at times.
The Roulettes - Bad Time
Although these guys are mostly knows as Adam Faith's backup band, they released a handful of singles on their own, this being their best. Anyone wanting to hear more, can check out their CD here.
Little Caesar & the Romans - She Don't Wanna Dance
This was the flip side to their ballady hit "Those Oldies But Goodies". While the A-side has been played to death on oldies radio, "SDWD" remains relatively unknown.
The Stones - Connection
This is taken from a rare mono version of "Between The Buttons". To me it sounds a whole lot punchier than the stereo mix. Back in late 1966 the druggy connotations gave this song an extra shot of 'cool' but even without that, it remains one of their better songs from that era.
Shemekia Copeland - Breakin' Out
The last time I saw Ms. Copeland perform in concert at B.B. King's in New York she must have played for close to 2 hours and she was absolutely incredible. Whether she's playing a slow blues or an upbeat rocker, she's a bundle of pure energy with a voice that reminds me of a young Etta James.
The Stems - She's A Monster
It's hard to believe that Dom Mariani has been playing either in bands or as a solo for over 25 years and yet remains relatively unknown. "...Monster" is one of his first recordings with garage rockers The Stems. Most of their early recordings have been collected on "Mushroom Soup: The Citadel Years", available from Amazon.
Charlie Rich - Lonely Weekends
Recording for Sun Records back in the late 50's, Charlie was a lot more of a traditional country singer than most of his labelmates, which is probably why they stuck on that awful background chorus.
Spencer Wiggins - Love Attack
Although he never made Billboard's Top 100, Spencer was well known and loved in soul circles. Now that Ace Records is reissuing so much of the Goldwax Records catalog, perhaps he will finally get a little more recognition.
The Us Too Group - I'll Leave You Crying
From Fairfield, Ohio, this moody, minor-key opus appears to be their one and only claim to fame.
Roy Loney - Born To Be Your Fool

Along with Cyril Jordan, Roy Loney was the main impetus behind the original Flamin' Groovies. After 3 critically acclaimed but commercially disappointing albums, Roy left the band and went out on his own. Until last year most of his early solo material remained unavailable on CD but Raven Records in Australia has since rectified the problem with a nice 28-track best-of.


It's a **** thing said...

I sway on these things and I guess what it comes down to is simply if it works, then it works, but often it doesn't.
I remember when Bon Scot died and AC/DC were auditioning and I was horrified. Turned out alright I suppose. I
'm not the biggest fan of the latter material, but I will admit to seeing them in a new light when I caught their show last year. Brian had decided to sing rather than shout and the difference was immense. Very bluesy and if he had sang like that on all the albums then I'd expect that they would be even bigger than they are.
The New York Dolls are still the New York Dolls. Regardless of who is backing David and Sylvain they will always rock like a mofo.
Will Aerosmith be Aerosmith without Tyler though? I don't know. Is it worse when a band loses a vocalist and tries to continue?
Last week I was in London at the 100 Club to see The Members and Deapartment S.
The Members were very, very, very poor and lost without Nicky Tesco on vocals, but Dep[rtment S were a revelation and I doubt anyone missed their sadly deceased former frontman.

YankeeBoy said...

I agree - there are no hard and fast rules for something so volatile as the personal chemistry within rock bands. For me, the Kinks will always be The Kinks as long as the Davies brothers are both involved and when I saw John Fogerty I loved all the old Creedence songs he did. What I said about The Who applies specifically only to The Who. Thanks for taking the time to write.

vega said...

Thanks for this post some great tunes ,great blog.