Sunday, 24 February 2013

Are there stars in the sky? I don’t know if it’s cloudy or bright. I only have eyes for you...

“I Only Have Eyes for You” by the Flamingoos (1959)
“Why Do Fools Fall in Love” by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers  (1956)

Doo-Wop: The influence from the street corners

An original corner-stone of pop music that we cannot ignore is what we call ‘Doo-Wop’. It was an urban ghetto post-WWII phenomenon. My English teacher would have said that “Doo Wop” is an onomatopoeia I think – words that imitate sounds basically. Yes that was the magic of this genre – bom bom, doobie doobie, shaboom,  oowahoo, shangalang.  They were essentially trying to emulate the gospel/R&B sounds of groups such as the Ink Spots. In fact Bill Kenny of the Ink Spots is sometimes regarded as the ‘Father of Doo-Wop’.

Predominantly African- American vocal group harmony (paralleled somewhat by ‘barber shop quartet’ with its understandable lyrics) could happen anywhere and it did. Why you may ask?
Not everyone could afford to buy or even play instruments. You had your voice – it might be the only instrument you need. Get a bunch of voices together and voila – instant band – a cappella style. You also had hands and fingers, so why not clap and snap the fingers too. Hey it worked.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Blondie - Hanging On The Telephone 1978 Video HQ

I’m the phone booth it’s the one across the hall If you don’t answer I’ll just ring it off the wall

Songs Everybody Should Know

“Hanging on the Telephone Line” Blondie (1978)

Deborah Harry is a street-wise punk-wave icon. In the late seventies the MTV revolution found a camera-ready bad-Barbie, former Playboy bunny with natural sass and blonde hair.  The lyrics of Deborah Harry/Chris Stein songs were emotionally expressed, accessible and executed with a punker-in-the-know attitude. Not crass or hardcore; but more like art meets stylistic rock. This is probably the most observable example of where the cross-over between punk and new wave happened.

From the epicenter of the American punk movement came the surprisingly inspired, complex concoction of a beautiful punk-wave icon and as it turns out her brilliant band. It always helps to have a beautiful front person in the band, but the music has to stand on its own or the band becomes a flash in the pan. The Roxy Music/Bowie inspired experimentation would take us from garage rock, surf, 60’s pop influence, reggae, punk, and new wave to disco and even a precursor to rap from the streets of New York.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Simmering on a Sunday Afternoon...

Jan & Dean - Deadman's Curve
The Byrds - Sweethearts of the Rodeo

Santana - Caravanserai

Pretty Things - Silk Torpedo

Friday, 25 January 2013

Robert Palmer - Addicted To Love

Robert Palmer - Simply Irresistible

You can't sleep, you can't eat There's no doubt, you're in deep Your throat is tight, you can't breathe Another kiss is all you need

Double Hit: Robo-chicks

“Addicted to Love” by Robert Palmer (1986)
“Simply Irresistible” by Robert Palmer (1988)

I remember in 2003 when Robert Palmer passed away and Bill at work said, “He was in Emerson, Lake and Palmer too right?” I cringed inside and tried not to be a total music nerd. I simply said, “No that is Carl Palmer and he was the drummer. I don’t think he is dead. Carl was also in the group ‘Asia’, remember them?”

Robert Palmer, (also not to be confused with the music historian Robert Palmer) was an English singer-songwriter who combined many styles of music. He could take jazz, blues, rock and even reggae and create unforgettable rhythms.

You may recognize his voice from when he covered ‘Get It On (Bang A Gong’, the old T-Rex song when he was in PowerStation or maybe you remember when he did the Moon Martin penned ‘Bad Case of Loving’ You’. His voice was distinctive. His style was polished. He dressed well. He was always trying to find a new and interesting sound or lyric or idea.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Goin' up to the spirit in the sky That's where I'm gonna go when I die

Quick Hit

“Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum (1969)

In 1968 he had a hit with “The Eggplant That Ate Chicago” with his band ‘Dr. West’s Medicine Show and Junk Band”. I don’t remember it.

Born in Wisconsin and raised in a Jewish family, Greenbaum watched a lot of western movies and from those he got the idea for ‘Spirit in the Sky”. It was not really a Christian song according to Greenbaum. It has become one of the staples of the hippie generation and still sounds good – the sound was cutting edge at the time – a key example of ‘psychedelic” music for sure.

The 1949 the Gene Autry movie entitled “Riders in the Sky” became a huge song for Gene as well. It was originally written by Stan Jones in 1948. It got recorded by many artists and became ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky” for Johnny Cash in 1979.  There had been the instrumental “Apache” by the “Shadows” which was widely known and hugely popular in 1966. There was “Riders on the Storm” done by the Doors which was western influenced quite possibly by Gram Parsons of the Flying Burrito Brothers who I am sure crossed paths with Jim Morrison. Robbie Krieger says it was influenced by “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend”.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Sheena is a Punk Rocker...well, she was...

Sex PIstols - Never Mind the Bollocks
Ramones - Rocket to Russia

MC5 - Kick Out the Jams
New York Dolls - New York Dolls

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Three Dog Night - Black & White

The ink is black, the page is white Together we learn to read and write

70's Pick of the Week

“Black and While” by Three Dog Night (1972)
It was the summer of ’72 and I recall a portable radio blaring on top of an old wooden picnic table in my friend’s back yard. The old brown table had seen better days but the songs were brand new. Every time we were in their yard that summer that radio would be snapped on. We would be done playing football for the day and having a slurpee or something; Bill would tell dirty jokes or we would just hang out. The songs sounded so new and alive – just like we were.

Three Dog Night
From the radio blasted “Black and White1” by Three Dog Night. The sun felt good. The Surplee ‘brain- freeze’ not so much.
Suitable For Framing
“Black and White” had been done by Sammy Davis Jr. in ’59, so technically this was a ‘cover’. Almost all of their most successful songs, (and there were plenty of them) were covers.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Very Eclectic Sunday...on Vinyl...

Doc Watson - Southbound

American Stars & Bars - Neil Young

Cramps - Psychedelic Jungle

B.J. Thomas - Raindrops Keep Falling

Bryan Ferry/ Roxy Music - - - " Like A Hurricane "

Saturday, 5 January 2013

You are like a hurricane. There's calm in your eyes. And I'm gettin' blown away...

Pick of the Week

“You are Like a Hurricane” by Roxy Music (1983)

I thought, and I still do think that Bryan Ferry is a bit of an odd cat. In fact when I first heard Roxy Music I thought it was odd. It does grow on you though. I remember chillin’ to “Avalon” with the T-bar off on my ’82 Capri. times have changed.

The four track EP’ “The High Road” recorded in 1982 in Glasgow was released in 1983 and I remember playing it all summer that year. It was one of those albums I made any friend that came over listen to. The haunting “Jealous Guy” (John Lennon) and “Like a Hurricane” (Neil Young) were brilliantly interpreted by Ferry who was on the brink of breaking up Roxy Music for the second time. None of the recordings from this album have ever been released on CD to this day. Terrible shame really.