Friday, November 28, 2008

(A Somewhat Belated) Happy Thanksgiving

I hope that all of you out in Cyberland who celebrate Thanksgiving had a great day yesterday. I certainly did. I spent the day with good friends, ate lots of delicious food and enjoyed some stimulating conversation.  It doesn't get much better than that. With all of the crap that's happening in the world these days it's easy to get bogged down in negativity, so I think it's important to stay mindful of the good things in life, those people and things that make you feel glad to be alive. So, for today, this is my gratitude list. I'm grateful for my family who I know will always be there to help me up when I fall down. I m grateful for the good friends I have who are there for me when I need them. I'm grateful for my cat Mickey who is the cutest and sweetest little puss who loves to be petted and doesn't scratch up my record album covers. I am grateful that after 57 years on this earth I am learning to truly love myself, warts and all. I'm grateful that I am also finally acquiring some humility that, more and more, lets me see the world as it really is instead of just through the eyes of my own desires.  I'm grateful that I am learning to see the cup as half full instead of the other way around all the time. Finally, I am grateful for my wonderful apartment, my music collection, my life of relative abundance and the fact that all my problems are for the most part, problems of privilege. And now, as Ronnie Dawson used to say, "Gimme the downbeat Maestro". 

Barrence Whitfield - I Just Want To See You So Bad
Barrence Whitfield is one of the most incredibly talented and soulful vocalists I've ever heard. I've always loved this Lucinda Williams song but hearing Barrence sing it makes it even more special. 
The Byrds - It Won't Be Wrong
Speaking of favorite songs, if I had to choose just one, this would probably be my pick of all the fantabulous Byrds tracks that they've recorded over the years. It's from their "Turn Turn Turn" album and was also released as a single.
The DC5 - Don't You Know
Back in the day, the Dave Clark 5 were regarded as nothing more than a teeny-bopper singles band, not to  be taken seriously by 'real' music fans. It took long enough but luckily we musical snobs have learned a thing or two. This is an early album track that actually never came out on a 45.
Dave Davies - Creeping Jean
I'm not sure if this originally came out as by The Kinks or Dave Davies. Nonetheless, it's a terrific record and I just love that jack-in-the-box bass guitar riff.
Del Shannon - Move It On Over
Del never rocked out any harder than he did on this, one of his later Amy singles that unfortunately, went nowhere.
The Headless Horsemen - Can't Help But Shake
The Dogmatics - Gimme The Shakes
Back in the 80s and 90s when I used to be really into making tapes for people and parties, this was one of my favorite song combinations. Both bands were (and still are) personal favorites especially the Horsemen who were local friends and whom I must have seen at least 30 times over the years. Sadly, due to premature death and other destructions, it's very unlikely that either of these bands will ever reform. 
Jules & The Polar Bears - Sometimes Real Life
I've never been sure of what he's trying to say in this song but I love the chorus. "Sometimes real life is just like real life. Sometimes real life is just what we expected". True, true.
Kenny & The Kasuals - Nothing Better To Do
I believe that this was their first single and while it's not quite on the same level as their legendary "Journey to Tyme", it's a better than average record in its own right. Awhile back I read somewhere that someone was putting out a band-sanctioned compilation of their best material presumably from master tapes and such. I really hope that's true but in the meantime, there's a pretty decent sounding CD out on Eva which is where this track came from. 
The Keys - I Don't Wanna Cry
I first discovered this little gem on one of the "Shake Some Action" comps and it immediately became a favorite. Those vocals, especially when they go into that mini falsetto, are just so innocent and sweet, the essence of pure pop.  
Lightnin' Hopkins - Mojo Hand
In complete contrast, Lightnin' Hopkins sings like a man who has been everywhere and seen everything. This is the title track from an album he recorded in 1962 which is supposed to be one of his better albums. It can be found relatively cheaply on Amazon. 
Ronnie Dawson - This Is the Night
Back in the 90s Ronnie was touring with this incredible backing band. I especially remember the lead guitarist who would just rattle off these amazing licks, one right after the other. From the sound of it, I think that band is backing him on this track which is from the "Monkey Beat" album.   
Teenage Fanclub - He'd Be A Diamond
In addition to their own songwriting abilities TFC are known for being able to cover a song and make it their own. "He'd Be A Diamond" was written and originally recorded by Bevis Frond but this version really brings out the wistful passion of the words. I remember the first time this song played on my Ipod on my way into work, I must have had it on repeat almost the entire rest of the day.    
The Count Bishops - Train Train
Caught up in the first wave of UK punk, the Bishops' brand of red hot bar band R&B was seen as somewhat passe at the time. This song in particular has a haunting quality to it that totally captivates me every time I hear it. 
The 7th Cinders - You Take Me For Rides 
This moody garage punk masterpiece was first unearthed on one of the Garage Punk Unknown albums. To my ears this record had a lot more going on than many others of the same ilk and, with better production, had the potential to be at least a minor hit in the same vein as The Beau Brummels.
The Lazy Cowgirls - Still On The Losin' Side
I absolutely LOVE these guys. I've got about 4 or 5 albums by them, plus a single or two and while they all may sound pretty much alike, when you do what they do so well, there's really no reason to reinvent the wheel. I saw them a bunch of years ago when they did a show at CBGBs and, as you might imagine, they were awesome.
The Lyrics - Mr. Man
These guys are best known for their two 60s garage classics "So What" and "They Can't Hurt Me" so this song sometimes gets overlooked.  Which is a shame because while it might not be quite as intense as the other two, it still packs quite a wallop both lyrically and musically.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Less Talk More Music

For the most part I've just about stopped paying attention to the news. As the saying goes "Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference". And there is soooo nothing I can do about what's going on these days. Everywhere you turn there are more big corporations asking for government bailouts from quagmires that I can't help but think were created by their own greed and shortsightedness, and workers by the thousands losing their jobs. And quite frankly, when I think about it all, it depresses and scares the hell out of me. So, as a measure to save what sanity I have left, I have decided that all I can do is try to take care of myself and not worry about the rest of the world's mistakes. So far I remain optimistic about our new president but I am realistic enough to realize that he is just one person and that it's going to take awhile for things to turn around. So for now, on with the music.

The Beau Brummels - Don't Talk To Strangers
Of all their singles, this is easily my favorite. Those harmonies when they sing "baaaaaaaabe" are nothing short of awe inspiring. And I am old enough to remember how amazing they sounded coming through my little transistor radio speaker.
Etta James - Tell Mama
This was Etta's biggest hit but, according to her autobiography "Rage to Survive", she never really liked it. Nonetheless, she turns in a powerful vocal and it's big danceable beat is an almost guaranteed floor-filler.
Earl Hooker - Frog Hop
As is evidenced here, Earl Hooker was an above average blues guitarist, despite never attaining the success and reknown of some of his contemporaries. "Frog Hop" was recorded for Chess Records in the early 60s. 
Grandpaboy - Dead Man Shake
Grandpaboy is actually an alias for Paul Westerberg and on this track, the ex-Mat wears his Rolling Stones influence right on his sleeve. 
Joe Clay - Get on the Right Track
"...Right Track" is one of a handful of singles by Joe Clay released by RCA who were looking to capitalize on the success of Elvis Presley. But Clay is no mere imitator and most of his releases are quite worthy in their own right. According to his website, Clay is still performing today.
Kevin Ayers - Shouting In A Bucket Blues
KA is probably best known as one of the founding members of Prog rockers Soft Machine. Not being a big fan of the genre I must admit I never paid much attention to him but after hearing a friend tell me about his music I was intrigued. This song reminds me somewhat of John Cale's "Vintage Violence" album - which is by no means a bad thing.
Moon Martin - No Chance
The spirit of Buddy Holly definitely lives on in this track. "No chance of loving you, no chance at all". We've all been there and Martin captures the despair of the moment beautifully without falling into melodrama and self-pity.
Dorothy Berry - You're So Fine
Produced by David Gates, who would later go on to form the soft-pop group Bread, this update of the old Falcons hit is one of many records that came out in the years 1963 - 1965 that was influenced by Phil Spector's bigger-than-life production style.
Lee Dorsey - Candy Yam
I've always loved Lee Dorsey's funky yet good-time style of singing. Vocalists like Otis Redding, David Ruffin and Wilson Pickett may have had more grit and soul but very few singers had the welcoming warmth that Lee Dorsey brought to his records.
The Scientists - Frantic Romantic
"Frantic..." was The Scientists debut single released in 1979.  Their later material had a much more grungy and dirty edge to it but even here there is a certain amateurish, ragged quality that adds a lot to its charm.
T.R. and the Yardsmen - I Tried
From the absolutely essential "Friday at the Hideout" comp on Norton, comes this mid-60s stomper. As far as I can tell from Soybomb's Garage Database, "I Tried" was their only single but it's still enough to guarantee them at least a footnote in the history of 60s Garage R&R. 
The Blue Hearts - I Wanna A Kiss
Back in the late 80s and early 90s these guys were superstars in their native Japan, selling out large stadiums. It was at that point that their record company tried to launch them stateside but the language barrier proved to be too much of an obstacle. Nonetheless, their records are upbeat, catchy and sing-alongable in any language.  
Tim Buckley - Song For Jainie
From his first album, released in the fall of 1966 this is one of his prettier songs. Subsequent records would show him moving in a more jazz influenced direction.
The Scorpions - Keep-A-Knockin
These guys started out as a German beat combo imitating their heros like The Yardbirds and Pretty Things. After not too long they took on a more metal sound, became very successful and are still performing today. But for many of us this is truly among their finest moments.
Buddy Love - Heartbreak Hotel
Buddy turns in a remake of Elvis' early smash at twice the speed as the original. While, at the time, it came and went without a trace, today it is a big favorite among Rockabilly fans and can be found on a number of compilations. 
The 13th Floor Elevators - Tried To Hide
This is the B-side of "You're Gonna Miss Me" and it's a totally different, much faster recording than the version on their first album. Rumor has it that there is a 10-CD box set of Elevators material coming out early next year which will consist of stereo and  mono versions of their albums from the master tapes for the first time as well as a ton of alternate takes and live shows. I can't wait.
The Society - High & Mighty
I just love this kind of primitive, pre-LSD psychedelia. From the sound of things, I'm guessing they were still mainly playing covers of the hits of the day at local dances yet, with all that was happening in the 60s and maybe having smoked some pot from time to time, were beginning to expand their musical horizons.
Richard & The Young Lions - You Can Make It
One of the best shows I've ever seen in my life has to be the Richard & The Young Lions show at Maxwells about 8 years ago. Richard Tepp, their lead singer (who has since passed away) was so sickly and frail that he literally had to be helped on and off the stage but once he got behind the mike, he sang, ranted, raved and shouted like he was still a kid of 16. If ever anything on this earth was a sign of Rock & Roll's rejuvenating powers, this show was it. Of their 3 singles, this was their last and, in my opinion, their best.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

3CLFS - Pt. 2

Things haven't been going so great lately. Not just for me but, it seems, for the whole country and maybe even the rest of the world as well. Everyone I talk to, when I mention that I am out of work, tells me that they know someone else who has also recently lost their job. Despite the optimism that many of us share at the thought of the Bush White House years coming to a close and a new Obama presidency beginning, every day it seems that the mess he will inherit just gets larger and larger. So, there comes a time when one has to just take a step back and, when things are looking their bleakest, remain thankful for all the little pleasures that life has to offer. It is with that thought in mind that I put together this playlist. As Peggy Lee once said, "If that's all there is then let's keep dancing". 

Danny's Reasons - Little Diane
While Danny certainly doesn't have the vocal ability of Dion, he and his Reasons certainly came up with  a spirited version of Mr. DiMucci's Top 10 hit from 1962.  
Firestarter - Trashy Dreams
One of the highlights of the 1994 Garage Shock festival was seeing Teengenerate play a few shows in the Seattle area. When they broke up some of them formed Firestarter who play similar supercharged garagey punk, with possibly a bit of a more poppy sound.
Florian Monday & His Mondos - Rip It, Rip It Up
This is the original version of one of my favorite Swingin' Neckbreakers songs. Although to me the Neckbreakers' version still has the edge, it's easy to see why they picked this particular song to cover with the arrangement intact.
Jack & the Jumpin' Jacks - More More
Just like in the punk and garage eras, in the mid-50s when scores of bored, horny teenagers who'd been raised on country music heard Elvis Presley, they picked up a guitar and decided to have a go at it themselves. While there may be nothing particularly memorable about this track, it's still a fun listen 50 years later.
Joe Jitsu - Start It Up
No, not the Dick Tracy character, this Joe Jitsu is a 3-piece pop punk band from Beaumont, Texas. If you like The Queers, The Descendents or The Vacant Lot you are sure to like these guys. Check out their MySpace page.  
Kid Thomas - Rockin' This Joint Tonite
This has long been a big favorite of mine and is possibly one of the fastest records ever recorded before The Ramones got together. Who put the benzedrine in Kid Thomas' Ovaltine?
Little Richard - I Saw Her Standing There
While this version of the Beatles' rocker can't come close to the wildness of his earlier Specialty records, it has always been a big favorite with the Northern Soul crowd. Unfortunately, this recording is from the stereo album ("The Rill Thing") which definitely dilutes some of the oomph of the 45. One of these days I'll try to upload the mono single version which is much punchier.  
Paul Bascomb - Mumbles Blues
Paul was actually more of a jazzman than a rocker but like like many of his contemporaries he attempted a few Rock and Roll records in the 50s. 
Phillip Roebuck - Jackass Blues
"Jackass Blues"  comes from a double CD entitled "Attack of the One Man Bands" which is chock full of wacky, swingin' nuggets just like this. 58 of them in fact. I'm not sure what this says about my musical tastes but this CD set is actually one of my favorite purchases of the last year. I can't listen to all of it at once but in small doses, it can't be beat.
The Poets - Vowels Of Love
From the first "Ba wa na na na now now" this record rocks like crazy. Most people think of doo wops as slow dreamy ballads and for the most part, that is what the genre is best known for. But most of the time, those ballads were paired with a rocker on the flip side. This is one of the better ones - in my opinion anyway.
Richie Deran - Girl and a Hot Rod
Over the years I've seen many bands cover this song. And why not, it's a classic. A girl and a hot rod - if only life were so simple.
Slade - Goodbye T`Jane
Although Slade were huge hitmakers in England, here in the U.S. they were largely ignored. This was their biggest hit of the Glam Rock era, making it up to number 68 on the Billboard chart in March of 1973. Back in those days I was very serious and mostly into singer/songwriters but something prompted me to buy their album. At the time I remember liking it but never being quite sure why.
The Maniacs - Now I Know
Soybomb's garage compilation database lists  6 songs called "Now I Know" and a number of bands called The Maniacs. To be truthful, the record itself is rather generic but for whatever reason, whenever it comes up on the Ipod, I always crank up the volume.
The Valiants - Don't Wanna Leave the Congo
I first heard this on "Las Vegas Grind" many years ago and it has remained a favorite of mine. With it's nonsensical spoken vocals and jungle noises this has been a highlight of many a party tape in its day.
006 - Like What Me Worry
I'm guessing that this song was inspired by Mad Magazine's Alfred E. Newman as LWMW was his catchphrase. While I'm sure it was done all in fun, listening to it now I have to wonder if the violent nature of the lyrics was one thing that prevented it from getting any radio airplay. 
The Painted Ship - I Told Those Little White Lies
Speaking of nasty lyrics, this is about as spiteful as it gets but in an understated kind of way. Nonetheless (or possibly because), this remains a favorite among 60s garage fans.
The Spinners - Heebie Jeebies
This is the very same Spinners that had all those hits in the 70s. This was the B-side of their very first hit, the doo-wopish ballad "That's What Girls Were Made For". Not too surprisingly, I like this side much better. 
T-Rex - Jeepster
"Jeepster" got a lot of radio airplay in NYC back in the early 70s. Enough so that I was surprised to learn that it never even cracked the Billboard Top 100. This is another one of those records that I always liked a lot but hearing it on my Ipod while walking in the city made me appreciate even more. 

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Some Random Thoughts and A Little Music Too

My job search is not going very well at all. In the 6 weeks that I've been unemployed I 've probably sent out close to 200 resumes, the end result of which so far is a total of 1 interview and a few phone calls. I'm not telling you all of this just to complain.  After all I've got it a lot better than many other people in my situation. For one thing, I have no family to support. It's just me and Mickey my cat. No kids to think about putting through college. Nobody is really being affected except myself and if I have to tighten my belt even more for the next year or so, it's nothing I won't survive. 

But am I really the only one being affected? Forget the fact that I (and others in my situation) are simply not spending and supporting local businesses the way we were. Let's just talk about taxes. In 2008 I'll say for argument sake that I paid $20,000 in Federal, State and Local taxes.  In 2009, if I don't find other work, not only will I not be paying those taxes but I will also be a drain on the economy. For one thing I will be collecting unemployment insurance. So let's say I am collecting $400 a week for 26 weeks. That's $10,400 I am taking away from the system. Do the math. From +$20,000 to -$10,400 is a difference of $30,400.  Multiply that by the 300 - 500 employees who were laid off by the bank I worked for due to outsourcing. We are now talking about a tax loss of over $15 million, because of the actions of a large corporation who are already getting huge tax incentives just for being who they are.     

To me the solution is simple. Why not make my former employer pay the difference? It may not directly help me or any of the other people who have already lost their jobs but it might make sending more jobs overseas less attractive. 

Apples In Stereo - The Rainbow
Sometimes these guys come off as a little too clever for cleverness' sake but here they do what they do best - creating perfect 2 1/2 minute catchy pop vignettes ideal for singing along to.
Bob Dylan - Queen Jane Approximately
Nobody writes love songs like Dylan. While he's not offering romance, hearts and flowers, he is promising to be there when things turn sour, no explanations or excuses required.  Sounds good to me.
Duke Ellington - Ad Lib On Nippon
If he isn't already, there will soon come a time when Duke Ellington will be regarded as one of the top American composers of the 20th century. Listening to any one of his hundreds of recordings, there is always something special to discover, not just in the melodies and solos themselves but in the arrangements, coloring and texture of the music. This piece, from the "Far East Suite" album is one of many he wrote with his long-time friend and collaborator Billy Strayhorn. 
Harold Burrage - Messed Up
Unlike the music of Duke Ellington, there's nothing sophisticated or complicated about "Messed Up". But I'm sure the Duke himself would be the first to say that that takes nothing away from the vibrancy of this particular track. Or as an old buddy of mine would say "This is some seriously good shit". 
The Litter - Legal Matter
From their "Distortions" album, reisssued a few years ago by Arf Arf and highly recommended, these guys turn in a spirited version of one of my favorite songs from "The Who Sings My Generation" album.  
The Little Ones - Lovers Who Uncover
From the Phillipines via Los Angeles, this young foursome is creating some of the sweetest pop music I've heard in a really long time. You can hear more by clicking on their Myspace site.
Robert Parker - You See Me
I'm not sure if this song was ever actually released as a single but with it's bouncy New Orleans rhythm and those wonderful "Woo Woo's" in the background, this has 'hit' written all over it.
Ronnie Dawson - Action Packed
Sadly, Ronnie passed away about 5 years ago but I was lucky enough to see him about 6 or 7 times in concert. And he was never anything less than amazing! His enthusiasm and love for playing came across in everything he did, and he was a helluva nice guy besides. Although he recorded "Action Packed" when he was in his teens, it remained a highlight of his live shows throughout his career.
The Shags - Don't Press Your Luck
From the wilds of Connecticut comes this moody garage gem by The Shags in pristine sound. From the Sundazed compilation of the same name, this is just one of many great tracks on that album.
Z.Z.Hill - You Just Cheat And Lie
While not a household name by any means, Z.Z. had been recording for many years up until his premature death at the age of 48 in 1984. This is one of many recordings he made for the Kent label back in the 60s and 70s. 
Mouse & The Traps - Maid of Sugar, Maid of Spice
This needs no introduction to fans of garage punk music. With it's searing guitars, superfast tempo and snarling vocals, "Maid of Sugar..." is as close to perfection as it gets.
Homer Banks - A Lot Of Love
One has to wonder if The Spencer Davis Group heard this soul stomper before recording "Gimme Some Lovin'". This is another record that really got folks onto the dancefloor in a hurry back when I used to DJ. 
Jimmie Patton - Okie's In The Pokie
Although I have this song on a few different Rockabilly comps, I have to admit I know nothing about the recording or the artist. But even if this was his only record, it's enough to guarantee him a place in the hearts of Rock and Rollers forever.
The Flippers - Sargento Flippers
Speaking of records I know absolutely nothing about, this 6T's Columbian combo turns in a dynamite version of the Sgt. Pepper theme. If any of you Spanish speakers out there can provide a translation please post it in the comments section. 
The Zombies - What More Can I Do
I'm sure a more technically trained musician than myself could explain exactly why, but The Zombies had a sound that was so different from that of their contemporaries. For a long time they were rather underrated and overlooked by many fans of 60s British bands. While "Odyssey and Oracle" was acknowledged as the classic that it is, their earlier beat-styled material was largely ignored. Luckily, all that changed with the release of the Zombies box by Big Beat back in the late 1990's. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday Morning 1 AM

There hasn't been all that much happening here in YankeeBoy land these past few days. I either had a minor case of the flu or else a really bad head cold that knocked me out for a few days but I'm starting to feel a lot better. So tomorrow I'll be getting back to the job search.  My newest favorite waste of time is watching "3rd Rock from The Sun" reruns on TVLand. There's something about the whole premise of aliens living among us and the comedic situations that arise as they attempt to adapt to our ways that I find very amusing. John Lithgow is perfectly cast as the 'commander' and Jane Curtin is superb as his somewhat uptight love interest and straight (wo)man. And now for the musical portion of our program.

Andre Williams - The Greasy Chicken
Andre has had a huge career revival over the last 10 years, playing clubs and festivals around the world and recording with musicians young enough to be his kids. And while there is no question that he still has his vocal chops and that 'dirty little man' peculiar kind of charm, for me it's those original Fortune records from the 50s that I mostly want to hear.
The Barracudas - Inside Mind
Their first album is still regarded as groundbreaking, merging surf-vocal, garage and punk styles in the unique way it did. And while their subsequent records had a somewhat darker edge to them, they could still be just as exciting. "Inside Mind" is from "The Garbage Dump Tapes" which has always been one of my favorites.
The New Colony Six- At The River's Edge
In the latter part of their career The NC6 achieved some Top 40 fame with a couple of soft-pop hits but this is their very first single from their garage band days.  In fact, their first 2 albums, reissued by Sundazed, are regarded as near-classics by 60s garage music fans.
Tommy Ridgely - Looped
I don't know much about this record other than that it was recorded in New Orleans sometime between 1949 and 1954. An ode to the joys of getting totally smashed, "nippin' and sippin' all night long". To quote officer Joe Bolton, "Kids, don't try this at home."
Boris The Sprinkler - No Longer
This Green Bay, Wisconsin pop-punk combo definitely took the 3CLFS credo to heart. According to their listing in Wikipedia, they had a very extensive discography most of which I haven't personally heard. It's rare that a band can be silly and fun without sounding like they're trying too hard at it, but on this track at least, they manage to do just that.
Clifford Curry - She Shot A Hole In My Soul
This was as close as CC ever got to the big time as "She Shot..." was a minor hit for him in the spring of 1967. It's a tasty slice of upbeat soul with a nice Stax-y horn section that had all the ingredients to be a much bigger it than it was.
The Dillards - I've Just Seen a Face
The Dillards got their start in bluegrass/folk circles and eventually gravitated to more Rock oriented fare. This Beatles song however perfectly lends itself to a country/bluegrass treatment and the results, especially those lovely harmonies, are nothing less than magestic.
Eddie Bo - I'm Wise
With that syncopated shuffle beat, this has New Orleans written all over it. It's another record I know little about but that doesn't take anything away from how my enjoyment.
Fish 'N' Chips - Four Times Faster
I played this at a record party I DJ'd at once and I was surprised at how quickly this bouncy bubblegum garage nugget filled up the dance floor. 
The Michael Guthrie Band - Do What You're Doing
I'd never heard of Michael Guthrie, his band or their album but once again I have the folks at Power Pop Lovers (now Power Pop Criminals - see sidebar) to thank for bringing this back to life. It amazes me that back in 1981, when many less talented bands playing the same kind of upbeat Badfinger-esque pop were getting major label contracts, this record went totally unnoticed. Hopefully the master tapes still exist and somewhere down the road someone will decide to reissue this stone gem of an  album. 
Henry Henry - Baggie Maggie
I first heard this Rockabilly pounder on a Buffalo Bop compilation (Date Bait). What it lacks in originality and 'sophistication' it more than makes up for in sheer Rock & Roll stompability.
The Kan Dells - Cry Girl
From the cold wilds of Minnesota comes this 1965 garage rocker, another dancefloor filling favorite from my DJing nights. Nowadays this record is rather hard to find, unless you have the "Root 66" LP comp that came out back in 1984 and which is now being sold for over $100 on Gemm Music. Back in the days when these comps were coming out one after the other, nobody ever thought there'd come a day when the comps themselves would become the collector's items they now are. Pretty incredible, huh.
Love - Can't Explain [Mono]
Here's another track from Love's self-titled debut album that I wrote about a few posts back. 40 years later, it's difficult to explain how hearing this album for the first time when I was 15 years old changed my life forever. 
The Magic Numbers - Love Me Like You
As far as I know the Magic Numbers have barely registered at all with the American music buying public although they are quite big in the UK. And that is definitely our loss. Listening to them I hear echoes of Brit pop as well as a hint of C86 and a heartfelt love of 60s California surf vocals. But like the best pop music, their sound is way more than just a sum of their influences. 
The Meteors - Fire Fire
I first discovered these guys back in the 80s when I was pretty much exclusively listening to garage music. To me there didn't seem to be much of a difference between them and bands like The A-Bones and The Raunch Hands. Perhaps it was their image or whatever but for some reason they never caught on over here.
The Talismen - I Know A Girl
If I didn't already know who the band was and someone told me this was a long lost Sonics outtake, I'd definitely believe them. According to Soybomb's Garage Compilation database this has never been comped which is a damn shame. So enjoy it here folks. 
Walter Egan - Only The Lucky
Egan is best known for his lovers ballad "Magnet And Steel" but this was released a year earlier. Like his big hit, it was produced by Lindsay Buckingham and you can hear his influence all over the place. Another non-hit that shoulda, coulda, woulda been.

As much as I love writing about and posting some of the music I love, I'm beginning to feel like I'm doing this all in a vacuum. So please leave comments - good, bad or indifferent. I want to know if and how any of this music is affecting you, or if you know something about one of the artists or songs that I might have neglected to mention. Whatever it is, I want to hear it. Thanks   

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Good Guys Win, THE GOOD GUYS WIN!!!!

Now that the elections are over, it's time to give a sigh of relief and a shout for joy. So much has been written about the historical significance of this election that I don't feel it's necessary to go into all that here. Make no mistake, there are still going to be some tough times ahead. Eight years of George Bush and his cronies have left this country in a really big mess, both at home and abroad. President elect Obama is inheriting a truckload of problems and it's going to take awhile for him just to sort through it all and undo the damage. But right now, today is a day for celebration. So no sad songs on this day. No broken hearts, no two-timing lovers, no weary blues from waitin'. Today we've got blue skies, Rock & Roll, dancing, and love that's true blue and lasts forever.
The Monkees - Good Clean Fun
"The pain is finally down as the engines start their sound". A little countrified pop written by Mike Nesmith, it's the sound of a man realizing where and with whom he belongs. Not a bad thing for anybody.   
George Strait - Blue Clear Sky
George Strait has been a fixture in the C&W world for a long time. It's a world that I must admit I know little about. But just like that old saying goes "I don't know much about art but I know what I like", this song just makes me feel good.
Barbara Greene - Long Tall Sally
While no one can match the original for sheer zaniness, Barbara Greene gives it all she's got and more than holds her own. Of course, that crazy bass vocal in the background helps quite a bit. 
Billy Lee Riley - Flyin' Saucers Rock & Roll
Talk about classic Sun records with any Rockabilly fan and it's almost guaranteed that "Flyin' Saucers..." will come up in the conversation. And why not as this record's got it all - loud guitars, pounding beat and a frantic vocal - not to mention little green Martians. 
Merrill Moore - House of Blue Lights
Mixing elements of Jazz, Boogie Woogie and Western Swing with a Rock and Roll rhythm his sound is easily identifiable. Although his was not the original version, HOBL, which has been recorded by a number of different artists from The Andrews Sisters to George Thorogood, is one of his better known recordings. He remained active in music, playing clubs and parties up until his death in 2000.
DDDBM&T - I'm On The Up
When compared to some of their contemporaries, DD & Co's. output is sometimes considered pretty lightweight. For the most part their early records are upbeat feel-good affairs that make no attempt at social significance. I often find myself thinking of them as a 60s version of the Bay City Rollers, and that's a good thing. 
The El Capris - Oh But She Did
There's nothing like a little up-tempo doo wop to put me in a good mood.  Despite the fact that he thought she'd never leave him but 'oh but she did', he really doesn't sound too broken up about it. 
Etta James - Tough Lover
Although Ms. James is mostly known for her mid-late 60s soul hits on the Chess family of labels, her career spans a half century and she is still performing today. 'Tough Lover" is one of her earlier sides recorded for the Modern label in the mid-50s. 
The Boys - First Time
"First Time" is about....well, the first time (nudge nudge wink wink). There's nothing like some adrenaline and testosterone fueled pop-punk to get the blood flowing. This is from their first self-titled album which remains one of my favorite albums of the 70s British punk era. 
The Hoodoo Gurus - (Let's All) Turn On
Here's another track from the first Hoodoo Gurus album. I'm not sure how popular they were/are in their native Australia but unfortunately in this country they are known to only a fairly select few, despite having been on a few major labels.  
Johnny Allen - The Promised Land
Just as it's hard to do a bad version of a Chuck Berry song, it's also kind of difficult to take one and really make it your own. But here Johnny Allen does just that, adding a down home zydeco flavor while still maintaining a nice level of energy. Don't you just love that accordion solo?  
The Kinks - Till The End Of The Day
This has got to be one of my favorite records ever, a true desert island disc. No matter how bad things get, this simple ode to feeling good to be alive, always reminds me of what's really important. 
The Marvelows - I Do
Speaking of feeling good, this song, with possibly the catchiest refrain ever, is another guaranteed mood uplifter. Which is probably why The Marelows made the Billboard Top 40 in the summer of 1965 for the first and last time.    
The Tempests - Look Away
Like many garage music fans I first heard this song on the fantastic "Riot City" comp, which for sheer dumb fun remains one of the best party platters ever. The Swingin' Neckbreakers also do a great version of this song in a medley with Bunker Hill's "The Girl Can't Dance". I'll have to post it sometime.
The Chiffons - I Have a Boyfriend
Aah, true love. I met my boyfriend a week ago, we're going to get married, stay in love for always and live happily ever after. If only it really were that simple.
Tim Tam and The Turn-Ons - Wait A Minute
Many times I've travelled home from work in a totally crappy mood, after having the worst day ever when this song would come on my Ipod (or Walkman) and by the third line, with those pounding drums and piano chords kicking in, I'm grinning like a kid in a candy store. A perfect blend of garage and doo wop.
Lulu - I'll Come Running Over
Lulu's voice has always had that peculiar twang that can sometimes put people (i.e. me) off a bit. But on this mid-60s beat stomper she's just perfect. It was also done by some US garage band and while their version is OK, hers is definitely the one.  
The 5,6,7,8's - (I'm Sorry Mama)I'm a Wild One
It's been a number of years but I used to see these ladies play live fairly often and their shows were always loads of fun. At first they were not all that accomplished on their instruments but being Japanese, cute and into good music, they totally charmed their (mostly male) audiences. Over the next few years they improved a lot musically but still maintained their charm and Rock and Roll spark.
Los Milos - Lucila
To close out the proceedings this time, we go south of the border for this fun fun fun version of Little Richard's "Lucille". I love those background vocals and especially, the horn playing on the break. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Music to Vote By

As I'm starting to write this it's about 1 AM on Election Day and the polls will open here in about 5 hours. Between the primaries and the election campaign itself it's been well over a year and I, like many others I suspect, will be happy to see it finally end. And for me that means ending with Barack Obama as our next president. Personalities aside, I often joke and say that I wish I could afford to be a Republican. And I think that's one of the basic differences between the two candidates. The Republicans say let's have less regulations, let the rich get richer and the wealth will trickle down to everybody else. But what we are seeing now in our economy is how that just doesn't work. Humans are basically greedy. We get 10, we want 20. We get 100, we want 200 and so on and so on. I see it in myself as a record collector - enough is never enough. I always want more. Which might be OK if I'm buying records on Ebay but not if I am the CEO of a large corporation making decisions that benefit myself, my rich friends and the large stockholders but are at the expense of everybody else. I am not naive enough to think that Obama is going to step in and be able to solve all our problems just like that. He's a politician and any politician, in order to get where he is, will have to make compromises. But I believe his heart is in the right place and that he genuinely wants to help the "little guy" - be it Joe the Plumber, Fred the factory worker or YankeeBoy the out-of-work programmer. 

The polls show Obama to be way ahead of McCain and it looks as if he is destined to win this election but I am still uneasy. The one thing I don't hear talked about much is the race factor and how that will affect the election. My mom and stepdad live in a retirement community in New Jersey and most of their friends are ex-New Yorker liberals and they tell me that a number of the people they know say that they can't bring themselves to vote for a black man. And I have to wonder how many other people feel the same way. I hope people can put aside those feelings and vote for the man who is truly looking out for them - who will try to establish some kind of universal health care coverage, who will not keep shoveling more people and money into Iraq with no end in sight, who will not continue to give tax credits to large corporations who move jobs offshore.  For the first time in many years we are being given a real choice. So, in all seriousness I say to everyone who is eligible to vote in this country, get out there and vote and cast your vote for someone who is not afraid to shake things up a bit. Vote for Barack Obama. 

The Beach Boys - This Whole World
From the "Sunflower" album, this has always been one of my favorite Brian Wilson compositions. There's an air of innocent optimism about it which hopefully is an appropriate way to lead off this Election Day lineup.
DDDBM&T - Touch me, Touch Me (Mono Single Version)
Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tish never really caught on in this country but in the rest of the world they were much more successful. With a pounding big beat and a slightly suggestive (at least for the mid-60s) singable chorus, I can't imagine why this didn't click over here.
Nolan Strong & The Diablos - I Wanna Know
It's been said that Smokey Robinson developed his style by listening to Nolan Strong and while I have no idea whether or not that's true, I can certainly hear some similarities in this lovely ballad. But also, check out that incredibly sensuous bass vocal. 
Edwin Starr - Way Over There
The Smokey Robinson connection continues as he originally wrote and performed this song with The Miracles. But here Edwin Starr takes it at double time and turns it into a dancefloor favorite.  
Esquerita - Crazy Crazy Feeling
I saw Esquerita play a club in New York shortly before he passed away and it was pretty sad - he was quite drunk, could barely sing and had little of his old fire left in him. But here we find him at the height of his talents, giving Little Richard a run for his money. 
The Golliwogs - Fight Fire
By now pretty much anyone who cares knows that The Golliwogs were Creedence Clearwater Revival right before they became CCR. While this is probably their best single, they recorded a whole slew of really great songs that are available on the CCR box that came out back in 2001.
The Hummingbirds - Word Gets Around
Here's another record which seemingly has it all - lots of chiming guitars, sweet vocals and catchy hooks. So why wasn't it a hit?  From their "Love Buzz" album, co-produced by Mitch Easter, copies of which can be found for pretty cheap on Amazon.
Johnny Cash - I Still Miss Someone
Sometimes less is truly more as this song, with its low-key, no-frills arrangement proves. At one time or other every one of us has pined for a lost lover and I can't think of any other song that expresses that feeling better than this. 
The Mo-Shuns -The Way She Walks
From my home state of New York comes this stompin' frat rock classic. Nothing sentimental or overly intellectual, just pure 3CLFS beer swilling good times.
The Nivens - Shake It From The Top
I really don't know much about these guys, if indeed they are all guys. A number of years ago I was in Pier Platters in Hoboken NJ when my friend who knows my taste in music handed me this 12-inch EP and said 'buy this'. And that was that.
The Raunch Hands - Blackjack
If I had to list 10 of the best live Rock and Roll bands I've ever seen, the first version of The Raunch Hands, with Vince Brnicevic on drums and Michael Tchaing on rhythm guitar would definitely be on that list. From their "Learn to Whap A Dang" album (copies of which can still be found) this, in it's own particular way, is my favorite gospel song ever.
The Stems - Make You Mine
As I wrote in one of my first postings, I can't say enough good things about Dom Mariani. "Make You Mine" is one of the earlier singles by his first band The Stems and it is a 5-star killer. As of now there are a number of albums and compilations by these guys on Amazon, any of which are well worth your money.
X-Ray Specs - Oh Bondage! Up Yours!
I'm not sure exactly what kind of bondage they were in but they sure sound happy to be out of it. This has to be among the most exuberant 2:51 in the history of Rock and Roll. 
Johnny Stewart - A Whole Lot of Lovin'
Until I discovered this track on an obscure R&B compilation I had no idea that Johnny Stewart even existed. I'm guessing this was recorded sometime between 1957 and 1959. And while it does sound kind of derivative and not all that original, it's still fun to listen to.
Alternative TV - Action Time Vision
This is one of many records I'd heard at various times in my life that never made much of an impression on me until I got my Ipod. I remember hearing this recently while I was walking through Central Park on a warm late-summer day and it was as if I'd just shot up a triple dose of caffeine, such was the burt of energy I felt.  
The Tamrons - Wildman
From one of the "Back From the Grave" comps, this has long been a big favorite among garage music fans. Back in the days when I used to occasionally guest DJ at Pop Gear in downtown NYC, the most fun I ever had there was one night when these rather inebriated NYU students came in and went absolutely nuts over this song.