A powerful new song from Peter Holsapple (dB’sContinental Drifters) about the emotional ripples that from a favorite uncle’s post-traumatic stress. Available on February 4 as a vinyl 7″, digital download and stream.
Archive for the ‘Video’ Category
Alongside Seals & Crofts, it’s hard to think of a duo more representative of 1970s adult contemporary soft rock than “England” Dan Seals and John Edward “Ford” Coley. The duo first performed together in a series of high school bands, including Theze Few and Southwest F.O.B., and debuted as a duo in 1971 on A&M. This collection picks up with their 1976 move to the Atlantic subsidiary Big Tree, and their breakthrough pair of Parker McGee-penned tunes “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight” and “Nights Are Forever Without You.” They continued to mint Top 40 singles throughout the rest of the 1970s, including Todd Rundgren’s “Love is the Answer” and several self-penned hits, and topped the AC chart four times.
Varese’s sixteen-track set collects nearly all of their Big Tree singles, including the Japan-only “Keep Your Smile.” Omitted are “You Can’t Dance,” and the non-charting “If the World Ran Out of Love Tonight” and “Hollywood Heckle & Jive.” Filling out the track list are album- and B-sides, and a pair of tracks from the film Just Tell Me You Love Me, including the duo’s last single “Part of Me Part of You.” This stacks up well against the shorter Essentials, I’d Really Love to See You Tonight & Other Hits and the period Best Of. Superfans may want to indulge in the import The Atlantic Albums+, but for most, this set will hit all the radio high points, and provide just the right amount of smoothly produced, touchingly sung ‘70s pop. [©2017 Hyperbolium]
Guitarist Dennis Coffey may be most familiar from his 1971 instrumental hit “Scorpio” and its follow-up “Taurus.” But astute liner note readers will recognize Coffey as one of Motown’s Funk Brothers, and the player who introduced harder-edged guitar sounds into Norman Whitfield’s productions, including “Ball of Confusion” and “Psychedelic Shack.” Like many of his Motown colleagues, Coffey also played out live in Detroit clubs, and this 1968 date from Morey Baker’s Showplace Lounge finds him in a trio with Lyman Woodard on Hammond B3 and Melvin Davis on drums. The group played under Woodard’s name, but Coffey’s guitar took most of the leads.
The group’s repertoire included soul, pop and jazz covers, as well as original material, the latter including Coffey’s opening showcase, “Fuzz.” The sounds encompass soul, rock, funk and jazz in equal parts, as Woodard vamped deep and low, Davis provided the groove, and Coffey took the lead lines. Coffey’s guitar is edgy even when he’s picking an upbeat take on the MOR classic “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” or playing slinky lines on “The Look of Love.” The band played from chord charts without rehearsal, fueling their performances with lively, jazz-styled improvisations. Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage” and Ramsey Lewis’ “Wade in the Water” remain close to their roots, but even here, the trio finds original ground to jam.
Professionally recorded on a half-inch four-track (courtesy of the then-nearby Tera Shirma studio at which Coffey worked with his partner Mike Theodore), the tapes are a world away from the hobbyist recordings one often hears from club settings. The performances are lively, and the results were good enough to score the trio a contract, which resulted in 1969’s Hair and Thangs. Woodard continued on as music director for Martha Reeves and as a jazz leader, Coffey and Davis eventually found their studio gigs drying up and signed on to day jobs. Now retired from the Ford Motor Company, Coffey is gigging weekly at the Northern Lights Lounge, and Davis has released albums on his own Rock Mill label.
In addition to the music, this archival find sheds light on the symbioses that formed between Detroit’s clubs and record labels. The clubs provided a second income stream to the musicians, but also space for players to fully express themselves. What you hear in this performance are some of the musical hearts and souls that fed Motown and other Detroit labels. The 56-page booklet includes archival photos, liner notes from producers Kevin Goins and Zev Feldman, cover art by illustrator Bill Morrison, and interviews with Coffey, Davis, Theodore and Detroit legends Bettye LaVette and Clarence Avant. There are several excellent albums of Coffey’s material, including an out-of-print Best Of, but this previously unreleased live set adds a funky new dimension to his catalog. [©2017 Hyperbolium]
Peter, Paul and Mary was born in 1961, amid the artistic ferment of New York City’s Greenwich Village, and it was in that highly-charged atmosphere that their art sharpened into advocacy. Brought together by manager Albert Grossman, the trio’s debut album topped the chart in 1962, and led them to perform songs of social import at protests, strikes and political rallies around the world. They championed the early works of Bob Dylan, sang “Blowin’ in the Wind” at the 1963 March on Washington, endorsed Eugene McCarthy’s 1968 campaign with an original song, protested nuclear power at Diablo Canyon and documented the plight of El Salvador in the 1980s. They lived up to Mary Travers’ edict, “if you’re going it sing the music you have to live the music.”
Though their hits ended with 1969’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” and they started a seven-year hiatus in 1970, they regrouped in 1978 and continued to record and perform until Travers’ passing in 2009. Jim Brown’s 78-minute documentary focuses primarily on the salad years of 1961-70, capturing the group’s deep conviction in live performance and interviews. The period footage, often in full-length songs, is incredibly moving as the trio sings with a strength of sentiment rarely seen on today’s national stages. The way in which Mary Travers was physically gripped by the music remains enthralling to this day. Their folk music galvanized a broad international audience in ways nearly impossible with today’s balkanized world of personalized streams. But in 1963, music was a rallying point that had wide societal impact.
Clips with Tom Paxton and Pete Seeger link to the broader folk and political milieus, and scenes from Mary Travers’ memorial service expand the program beyond Brown’s earlier Carry It On – A Musical Legacy. The film sticks mainly to the trio’s public, performing side, leaving out the inner workings of how they wrote, developed their sound, toured or recorded. Also missing is Yarrow’s 1970 arrest and conviction and its impact on the group. Interviews with the trio, along with spouses, children and managers provide period color. Those seeking more music and less story should check out the 25th Anniversary Concert. But those wishing to see PP&M’s intense earnestness in the context of their times will be greatly moved by this film. [©2017 Hyperbolium]
Eight years after the 1978 death of Nancy Spungen, director Alex Cox turned Spungen’s dysfunctional, death-courting relationship to then-former Sex Pistol Sid Vicious into the well-regarded film Sid and Nancy. The story of psychological damage, drug use, domestic violence and death made for compelling cinema, but the opacity of its central drama – the death of Nancy Spungen – also proved to be catnip for unsolved murder buffs and conspiracy theorists. Magnifying the unproven allegation against Vicious was his overdose death while awaiting trial, and the subsequent closing of the police investigation. Did Sid kill Nancy? Or might it have been one of the couple’s drug dealers or even a suicide pact?
The film does consider “who did it?,” but the unresolved theorizing isn’t the core value. What sets this documentary apart are the retrospective descriptions of the sordid milieu in which Sid and Nancy lived. The documentary is told in interviews with more than two-dozen people who were on the scene, living in the Chelsea Hotel, touring and playing with Vicious and socializing with the couple, and it’s those recollections that are the draw. The conversations are interwoven with archival film, television and photographs to tell Sid and Nancy’s story as it led to the fateful morning of October 12, 1978, and the subsequent fallout for Vicious.
As in most portraits of the couple, Spungen doesn’t fair well. Although a few interviewees identify themselves as her friend, the adjectives most regularly applied are angry, depressed, controlling, suicidal and unlikeable. Vicious is depicted initially as a puppy-dog man-child image, but separated from drugs by incarceration, a more canny Vicious emerges from the heroin fog. How much of his earlier doe-like innocence was feigned become an interesting question in the shadow of his post-incarceration wrist slashing, re-jailing on a battery charge, and his OD on smack that his mother bought. Just when you think the story couldn’t get more tawdry, it manages to take it down a few more notches.
There is a large body of media covering Sid and Nancy. In addition to Cox’s film (which reportedly drew from Deborah Spungen’s book about her daughter, And I Don’t Want to Live This Life), there are Alan Parker’s book No One is Innocent and documentary Who Killed Nancy? There’s infamous footage of Vicious nodding off in D.O.A. and retrospective articles, punk rock histories, exhibitions and autobiographies. But even with all that, there are no definitive answers. Few who knew Vicious believe he killed Spungen, and her shallow wound suggests negligence over murder. But no one knows. What Danny Garcia’s film offers is first-hand color and context, and a feel for the people and times. But not certainty. [©2017 Hyperbolium]
Led Zeppelin borrowing from Little Richard, perhaps by way of Ritchie Valens.
Chuck Blore is the program director who brought Top 40 rock ‘n’ roll to the major market masses. His rise to fame began as a DJ on Tucson’s KTKT and San Antonio’s KTSA, and as program director for Gordon McLendon’s KELP in El Paso. It was at KELP that Blore developed the fast-paced, jingle-filled, personality driven Top 40 rock ‘n’ roll format that was dubbed “Color Radio.” In 1958 he moved to Los Angeles, where he put KFWB on the map and became the first to establish Top 40 rock ‘n’ roll in a major market.
Blore chronicles his years at KFWB (and sister station KEWB in the San Francisco Bay Area) in a breezy collection of anecdotes, rather than a detailed history, but readers will gain valuable insight into the endless details involved in creating and maintaining a complex and unique radio format. KFWB’s influence and reach were unparalleled in the Los Angeles market, and the impact of Blore’s innovations (along with the DJs, business team and operating staff he trained) reverberated throughout the industry for decades.
After leaving the programming side of radio, Blore founded a pioneering advertising firm, and produced many memorable ads. Most notable was the “remarkable mouth” ad originally produced for KIIS, and reproduced for stations throughout the country [1 2 3 4 etc.]. Along with Ron Jacobs’ KHJ-Inside Boss Radio, this is one of only a few insider documents on the workings of classic Top 40 radio. It’s an essential read for anyone who enjoyed (or is retrospectively interested in) rock and pop radio of the 50s-70s, as well as anyone curious about the art of radio advertising. [©2016 Hyperbolium]
Before there was “The Beach Boys,” there was a garage band called the Pendletones, formed by three brothers, a cousin, a friend and a domineering father whose own show business dreams had never come to fruition. The harmony vocals of the 1950s and the surf sounds of the early ‘60s provided the ambitious Brian Wilson stepping stones to musical immortality, and these two discs of pre-Capitol sides paint the most complete picture yet of Wilson’s first steps towards the beach. From the Fall of 1961 until their signing to Capitol in the Spring of 1962, the Beach Boys recorded nine songs for Hite and Dorinda Morgan, with “Surfin’” b/w “Luau” released as a single on the Candix and X labels. The A-side charted at #75 nationally, but was a huge local hit on Los Angeles’ powerhouses KFWB and KRLA.
The group recorded additional material for the Morgans, including Beach Boys icons, “Surfin’ Safari” and “Surfer Girl,” but only one other single, “Barbie” b/w “What is a Young Girl Made Of” was released in the U.S., and then with Brian, Carl and Audree Wilson singing under the name Kenny and the Cadets to pre-produced backing tracks. The rest of the recordings were consigned to the vault, coming to light only after the group had established themselves on Capitol. Omnivore’s two-disc set gathers together the pre-Capitol master takes and all of the extant session material, including demos, rehearsals, studio chatter, false starts, overdubs and alternates. At sixty-two tracks covering only nine songs, this set isn’t for the casual listener, but for fans who have imbibed every detail of the masters, it’s a welcome peek into the group’s embryonic creative process.
Among the most surprising elements of this set is the fidelity of the tapes. It may not match what Brian himself achieved at Goldstar and elsewhere, but even the demos are clean and the studio productions are quite crisp. That said, take after take of the same song, often with only minute differences to break up the repetition, is both a revealing and an exhausting experience. The sessions document the arduous job of capturing a perfect live take from a nascent group with no studio experience, the group and their producer gaining confidence on each track as they try it again and again. Though there was limited overdubbing of guitar leads and lead vocals (and for “Surfin’ Safari,” a ragged stereo mix), the core of these takes are a quintet posed around microphones, hoping that no one screws up.
“Surfin’ Safari” and “Surfer Girl” were reborn at Capitol (the former with reworked lyrics, the latter shaking off the morose tone of this early version), but the rest of the material failed to make the jump. Dorinda Hite’s “Lavender” is sung in acapella harmony for the demos and augmented by bass and acoustic guitar on studio takes. Hite’s “Barbie” is a novelty tune redeemed largely by Brian’s tender lead vocal and the production’s stereo mix; its flip “What is a Young Girl Made Of” is a frantic 50s-styled R&B song that even Brian’s lead vocal can’t redeem. Brian Wilson’s “Judy” is a bouncy pop tune written for his then-girlfriend Judy Bowles; the master take shows how the group filled out bare demos with Carl’s guitar and Brian’s sincere, enthusiastic lead vocal. Carl’s “Beach Boy Stomp” is a basic instrumental that picks up steam as the group plays it a few times, paving the way to “Stoked,” “Surf Jam” and “Shut Down, Part II.”
The set’s most revealing moment occurs at the end of six takes of “Surfer Girl.” Unable to play bass and nail down his vocal, Brian Wilson realizes that overdubbing would allow him to focus on singing. His request is curtly shut down by Hite Williams, who either didn’t understand its value, or didn’t want to pay for extra studio time. To add insult to injury, there’s an extra overdub with an unknown and uncompelling lead vocalist. No doubt this helped plant the seeds of self-production in Wilson’s head. Moments like this are a music archaeologist’s dream, and in a sense this entire set is like a dig through a museum’s archive. This isn’t something you’ll track through on a regular basis, but there are subtle, important discoveries to be made here, and you’ll enjoy having them pop up on shuffle. Some of this material was released on 1991’s Lost & Found, but this full rendering, packaged in a tri-fold digipak with a 20-page booklet and liner notes from James Murphy, is the one to get. [©2016 Hyperbolium]
There was a time that melodic guitar rock music was a mainstay of college and alternative radio. During that time, the North Carolina-based Connells were a hardworking band whose career hit a commercial peak in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s with a string of singles that included “Something to Say,” “Stone Cold Yesterday” and “Slackjawed.” But their most lasting mark on listeners ears came with the belated European success of the nostalgic “‘74-’75,” and its memorable video (since updated, Up style). In all, the group has released eight albums and two EPs, and worked with numerous noted producers, including fellow North Carolinians Don Dixon and Mitch Easter.
Although they continue to perform sporadically, their recording career effectively ended with 2001’s Old School Dropouts. This first-ever best-of collection cherry-picks sixteen tracks from across all of the group’s albums except the first, Darker Days, and last. The group’s music is impressively timeless, as Doug MacMillan’s vocals still cast a spell on the introspective lyrics, and the guitars, bass and drums retain their punch. The song list is programmed for listenability rather than chronology, but the effect, even with the switch from Rickenbackers to Fenders and the introduction of a keyboard player, was fairly consistent. If you can’t help but sing the chorus of “‘74-’75” you’ll find a lot more to like here. [©2016 Hyperbolium]