Thursday, April 8, 2010

Escape From Bellevue

I just finished reading an amazing book that I'm sure will resonate with me for a really long time. The book is "Escape From Bellevue" by Christopher John Campion, who is also the lead singer of indie-rock band Knockout Drops. It's the story of the band's quest for success which went hand-in-glove with his worsening alcoholism and drug addiction. Written from a now clean and sober point of view, he pulls no punches and spares us few details. Over the course of his disease he sank about as low as it is possible to sink yet he tells his story with an honesty and sense of humor that never wallows in self-pity. In fact, at times I had to stop reading because I was laughing so hard. Truth be told, it was fairly easy for me to relate to this book. While I am a moderate drinker at most and haven't gotten high in over 20 years, I am a compulsive overeater. My drug of choice is sugar, usually in the form of chocolate. And while the effects of my particular brand of bingeing may not be as dramatic as with other vices, they are definitely there. I have on too many occasions eaten myself into a sugar stupor and have felt the headache-y effects of the hangover for a few days afterwards. So in a way, Chris' story is also my own, except that he hasn't touched anything in a few years. Powerful reading indeed.

I'm really excited about my latest playlist. Not only do I have a new song by one of my favorite bands, Couple, but I also have some demos by two really good friends of mine that, to the best of my knowledge, are making their downloadable debut here. So enjoy the music and please leave a comment or two. I really enjoy hearing from you.

Barbara Lynn - Oh, Baby (We Got A Good Thing Goin')
For many years the only version of "Oh Baby..." I knew was by The Stones from the "Now" album. And while I still prefer their version over the original, it's not hard to see why Mick & Co. were so taken with this song when they heard it back in 1964.
Christopher & The Souls - Diamonds, Rats, and Gum
This came out originally on the super-collectible Pharoh label out of McAllen, Texas. There's an in-depth write up on these guys on the Garage Hangover blogsite so there's not much more I can add here. Except that looking at their picture, you'd never think that these clean cut kids could ever come up with anything as dark and demented as this.
Jay Banerjee - Kate
Michael Lynch - Go To Her
Over the last few years the NYC garage band scene has dwindled to almost nothing. One of the last bright spots was The Anything People who could always be counted on to put on a great show with their mix of obscure covers and like-sounding originals. Unfortunately, the Anythings broke up last year but the good news is that their former members are still musically active on some level and two of them now have new projects going. Jay Banerjee recorded a 3-track CD last winter and "Kate" is my favorite song from that disc. He's got a new band together now called Jay Banerjee & The Hearthrobs who made their debut a few weeks ago at Mercury Lounge. They've got a really nice pop sense and a whole set worth of cool tunes, not to mention a few Beatles covers as encores. They've got another show coming up in a few weeks that's definitely worth your time if you're in the NYC area. Michael Lynch has been doing his one-man band recordings for a few years now and "Go To Her" is his latest. Hopefully he'll also be getting back into playing out live before too long.
Leon Russell - Roll Away The Stone
There was a point in my life when I was in my very early 20's that Leon was THE MAN. There was one scene in the "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" movie where he is being interviewed by an over-zealous reporter who stuck the microphone uncomfortably close to his face and Leon, without batting an eye gently pushes his hand away while continuing to answer the question. Maybe you had to be there but at the time it was the epitome of cool. In the almost 40 years since then I've listened to a lot of music but I still find myself going back to those first few Leon Russell albums occasionally.
The Sons of Fred - Baby What You Want Me To Do
I can't for the life of me understand why this wasn't a big hit over here. With that 'Oh..oh.. see ya later" chorus this was a ready-made radio smash just waiting to happen.
The Capris - Morse Code of Love
Despite the fact that this song has been played to death on oldies radio over the last 15 years, it remains a favorite of mine that I'll never get tired of. Luckily for all of you who can't bear to hear it one more time, all these songs are individual files and that's why computers have trash bins.
Inez & Charlie Foxx - Mockingbird
Here's another ditty in the hit portion of our program as "Mockingbird" made it all the way up to number 7 on the Billboard Charts in 1963. Unfortunately many people know this song only by James Taylor and Carly Simon's lame early 70's remake. This is the real deal folks.
Couple - Lagu Cinta Untukmu
A few months ago one of my favorite bands Couple released their third album "Pop Tak Masuk Radio". Unlike their first two, this one is sung entirely in Malaysian, which proves once again that Rock & Roll is its own language. I can't understand a word (although knowing Aidil who writes their songs I'm sure the lyrics are quite poetic) yet it still sounds terrific. Anyone who wants to hear more or score a copy of the CD for yourself can check out their blog.
Joe Ely - Musta Notta Gotta Lotta
It's 9 AM and the party's just ended so forgive me if I don't look my perky best. "Musta Notta Gotta Lotta" is of my favorite odes to the Rock & Roll lifestyle. One of the things I really like about it is that unlike a lot of songs on this subject, there's no hint of that "look at me I'm so cool" vibe. And whoever the band it, they are absolutely smokin'.
The Kooks - Always Where I Need To Be
I'm so out of touch with today's mainstream pop and rock audiences that I have no clue anymore what makes a song a hit. With few exceptions, most of the new bands that I like have some degree of retro in their sound. So I hear a song like "Always...." and think how fresh it must sound blasting out of a car radio speaker and how incredibly catchy it is. Therefore it makes no sense to me that it's not a big hit and that these guys aren't huge stars. And for all I know, maybe it is and they are and I'm so out of things that I have no idea. I just know what I like.
The Falcons - I Gotta See Her
According to the Soybomb Garage Database there were at least 7 groups from various points around the globe calling themselves The Falcons back in the day. But these Falcons actually were from my home state of New York. Snotty 3-chord garage punk at its finest.
Richard Berry - Watusi
I'm guessing that this was recorded to cash in on the success of "Stranded in the Jungle" by The Cadets as it is a note-for-note copy. In fact, it might even be the exact same backing track.
The Who - Early Morning Cold Taxi
Ever since I heard "...Taxi" on some crappy sounding bootleg back in the early 80's, it's been a particular favorite of mine. It was originally recorded during the "Sell Out" sessions but for whatever reason, wasn't included on the album.
Jimmy Patton - Let Me Slide
I've already posted Jimmy Patton's two other "hits" and as I promised a few months ago, this is his third. I'm not sure if he recorded anything else but if he did, hopefully somebody like Norton or Ace will see fit to release them all together at some point.
Edgar Winter Group - Round & Round

Edgar Winter playing power pop? A few months ago my favorite DJ on Top Shelf Oldies played this song as a mystery oldie and nobody could guess who it was. Once I figured out the song title I went looking through Gemm Music to try and figure out the artist. I saw Edgar Winter Group listed and thought to myself "No way it could be them". But this is actually from the same album that gave us "Free Ride" and "Frankenstein" way back when - which means I must have heard this song at least a few times back then and forgot about it.


Tom Diehl said...

Nice set, Jeff.

Jay Banerjee said...

VERY nice set, Jeff, and not just 'cause I'm on it! For the record (no pun intended), the material wasn't recorded last winter; I laid down parts of it as early as summer 2008, and those three songs were all done by summer 2009.

I, too, handle everything myself in the studio, but whereas the Lynchster (who engineered/co-produced my stuff) does that because he's a talented instrumentalist, I do that because I don't get along with people.

Well, I kind of get along with Jay Banerjee & The Heartthrobs (especially Jay Banerjee). The other guys are all much better than me at their respective instruments. We made our debut at Otto's back in October 2009, and yes, everyone reading this is welcome to attend the April 29th show at The National Underground.

See ya soon!

sunny15blue said...

yup i remember this- it got a fair bit of airplay here in the uk and i taped it off the radio[must have been a single]-never had any interest in the group but made sure i picked up the track much later

YankeeBoy said...

Sunny - what song are you referring to?