Posts Tagged ‘Liberty’

Jan & Dean: Filet of Soul Redux – The Rejected Master Recordings

Monday, September 11th, 2017

Jan & Dean fulfill their contract with a satire of Jan & Dean

By 1965, Jan & Dean were riding high. They’d minted a dozen top-40 singles, including the chart-topping “Surf City,” collaborated extensively with Brian Wilson, hosted the T.A.M.I. Show, filmed a television pilot, begun work on a feature film, and as highlighted here, added comedy to their stage act. As the last album owed to Liberty, Filet of Soul, was apparently too outre for a label looking to milk the last ounce of profits from a departing act, so a more conventionally edited version was released in 1966 as Filet of Soul – A Live One. The full length original record, with sound effects and comedy bits intact remained in the vault, unreleased for more than fifty years, until now.

Although technically a contractual obligation album, Jan & Dean used the opportunity to experiment, rather than simply complete their obligation. The duo brought members of the Wrecking Crew to the Hullabaloo Club for two nights of live recording, and then tinkered with the tapes in the studio. As they sweetened and edited the live recordings, they sought to offer something interesting, while not giving their soon-to-be-ex-label chartworthy new material. The answer was to present a live set of cover songs augmented by sound effects and satirical comedy bits. Except it wasn’t an answer to their contractual obligation, as the label rejected the master and demanded more songs.

To appease the label, several songs from the duo’s television pilot were added, but so too a spoken word piece that was sure to raise the label’s ire. But before the lawyers could engage, Jan Berry was involved in the auto accident that ended the duo’s recording career. The label, seizing the opportunity to release amid the ensuing publicity, edited the album down to its songs, releasing a cover of “Norwegian Wood” and “Popsicle” as singles, the latter rising to #21. So how does the original fare? On the one hand, the label was likely right about its commercial potential among Jan & Dean’s teenage audience in early 1966; on the other, Jan & Dean clearly knew what they were doing, and were ahead of their time.

The album’s opening trumpet flourish suggests something grand, only to have its pomposity punctured by the sound effect of a rooster crowing. A live take of “Honolulu Lulu” is awash with the excited screams of female fans, but the subsequent monolog, “Boys Down at the Plant,” lampoons the show business facade. The live tracks are tightly performed, if not always with huge enthusiasm, but the duo’s chemistry, command of the stage and improvisational skills are on full display. The studio manipulations and dadaistic sound effects point forward to the surrealistic rock and comedy records of the late-60s and 1970s, but haven’t the conceptual coherency that the Firesign Theater and others would bring to records a few years later.

Omnivore reproduces the ten tracks of the resubmitted master, and includes Beatles songs (“Michelle,” “Norwegian Wood” and “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”), Jan & Dean’s own “Dead Man’s Curve,” and pop hits of the day (“Cathy’s Clown,” “Lightnin’ Strikes” and “Hang On Sloopy”). The recordings are taken from a mono acetate (hand labeled “Fill it with Shit,” seemingly to indicate the duo’s non-commercial intentions). The 10-page booklet includes liner notes by Dean Torrence and surf music historian David Beard, photos and some of the original graphical elements that Torrence designed for the originally planned release. This isn’t the high point of Jan & Dean’s musicality, but it’s an interesting suggestion of where they might have gone, if not for Berry’s accident. [©2017 Hyperbolium]

Jan & Dean’s Home Page

Timi Yuro: The Complete Liberty Singles

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

The 1960s singles of a soul powerhouse

Timi Yuro was an anomaly in the world of 1960s soul – a small girl of Italian descent with a gigantic, hugely emotional voice. The opening notes of her million-selling 1961 debut single, “Hurt,” suggest no less than Jackie Wilson with their power and vibrato, leaving listeners to momentarily wonder if they were hearing a man or a woman. She could sing more tenderly, but the biggest thrills in her catalog came from the sort of wrecking ball outbursts that Phil Spector helped capture on her subsequent “What’s A Matter Baby.” Barely missing the Top 10, this latter single is perhaps the single greatest kiss-off in the history of pop music; from it’s opening drum roll to Yuro’s derisive laugh after singing “I know that you’ve been asking ‘bout me,” to the soul-crushing finale “and my hurtin’ is just about over, but baby, it’s just starting for you,” this is a five-star kick in the teeth delivered point-blank to a deserving cad. Even the distortion on Yuro’s voice connotes indignation so strong that the microphone should’ve stepped back.

Yuro’s commercial fortunes never topped these two singles, but she continued to release fine albums and singles forLibertythroughout the rest of the 1960s. The bluesy choke in her voice suggested DinahWashington, as did the string arrangements with which she was often supported. The material for her early singles was drawn in large part from pop standards, ranging from early century classics to Tin Pan Alley to the hit parade. As with her two biggest hits, songs of romantic discord and joy, such as the non-charting “I Know (I Love You)” and its Drifters-styled flipside, “Count Everything,” provide the sort of material Yuro could really sink her teeth into. Perhaps not coincidentally, both of those sides were co-written by Yuro’s producer Clyde Otis, who also co-wrote “What’s a Matter Baby.” The flip, “Thirteenth Hour” was co-written by Neil Sedaka’s writing partner, Howard Greenfield, and provides another great stage for Yuro’s passionate delivery.

Otis left Libertyin the middle of producing “What’s a Matter Baby,” and she subsequently charted with a Burt Bacharach arrangement of “The Love of a Boy.” Joy Byers’ bluesy “I Ain’t Gonna Cry No More” was actually a better fit, but as a B-side, it didn’t get much exposure. Yuro’s material shifted from pop standards to more recent soul and pop compositions, and with the release of her 1963 album Make the World Go Away, to a deep well of country songwriters. Yuro had become friends with Willie Nelson, and recorded several of his tunes (including “Are You Sure” and the choked-up “Permanently Lonely”), along with titles from Hank Cochran, Don Gibson and Hank Snow. Ray Charles had developed a country-as-soul template on Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, and Yuro took the concept to the next level with her highly charged vocals.

Yuro’s last single for Liberty in 1964, two distinct takes on “I’m Movin’ On,” failed to chart, and later that year she moved to Mercury. Three more excellent singles for Libertyin ’68 and ’69 failed to stir any chart action, but do provide a fine ending to disc two. In addition to her regular singles, this set includes the superb withdrawn B-side “Talkin’ About Hurt,” the jukebox-only single of Hank Cochran’s “She’s Got You” b/w Willie Nelson’s “Are You Sure,” the 1969 UK release of “It’ll Never Be Over For Me” b/w “As Long As There is You,” and a 1962 Italian-language recording of “Hurt.” Everything here is mono, save for tracks four and five on disc two, and the audio (some of which was apparently dubbed from acetates and discs) were mastered by Kevin Bartley at Capitol. The 16-page booklet includes liner notes by Ed Osborne. Those new to Yuro’s catalog might start with The Best of Timi Yuro, but this rundown of her singles in punchy, radio-ready mono includes some less-anthologized items that her longtime fans will treasure. [©2012 hyperbolium dot com]

The Timi Yuro Association Home Page
Rare Timi Yuro Recordings

Jan and Dean: Surf City and Other Swingin’ Cities

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Take a road trip with Jan & Dean

As great as are the singles (1963’s “Surf City” and “Honolulu Lulu”), Jan & Dean’s first concept album doesn’t always represent their most interesting or inventive work. Heavy on covers that pale in comparison to the originals, the duo’s nasally voices weren’t well-suited to Rodgers & Hart’s “Manhattan” or Tony Bennett’s classic “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” Still, Jan Berry’s true stereo production is excellent, and there are some unusual touches in his arrangements – like fuzz guitar played against violins – that are oddly compelling. They manage to rock Freddy Cannon’s “Tallahassee Lassie” in a sun-bleached West Coast sort of way, and fare nicely with the nostalgic novelty “Philadelphia, PA” the swinging cha cha of Chuck Berry’s “You Came a Long Way from St. Louis,” and the go-go closer “Soul City.” [©2011 hyperbolium dot com]

Jackie DeShannon: Jackie DeShannon

Friday, September 4th, 2009

JackieDeShannon_JackieDeShannonStellar singer-songwriter’s debut caught in the folk revival

Jackie DeShannon’s renown as a songwriter (“When You Walk in the Room,” “Don’t Doubt Yourself Babe,” “Come and Stay With Me,” “Bette Davis Eyes,” “Break-a-Way”) has generally overshadowed her hits as a singer (“What the World Needs Now is Love” and “Put a Little Love in Your Heart”). But despite her lack of broad commercial success as a performer, she recorded numerous singles (including a superb pre-Searchers version of “Needles and Pins”) and albums that suggest a few breaks could have turned her into a bigger singing star. Her husky voice is well suited to a range of material, including country, R&B, pop, folk, folk-rock and singer-songwriter balladry.

This debut album from 1963 followed a string of non- and low-charting singles, including a barely-top-100 cover of “Faded Love.” Without a hit single upon which to hang the album, with the folk revival in full swing, and with DeShannon lobbying for an album of Bob Dylan songs, Liberty agreed to three Dylan tunes and a mix of contemporary and traditional folk songs. Of the three Dylan covers, her impassioned take of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” is the strongest and unmarred by the backing vocals deployed on the other two. In addition to Dylan’s own work, DeShannon covers a song closely associated with (but not written by) Dylan, “Baby, Let Me Follow You Down.”

Other folk revival favorites covered here include the Weavers’ “If I Had a Hammer,” Peter, Paul & Mary’s “Puff (The Magic Dragon),” and Bob Gibson’s celtic waltz “Betsy From Pike.” More interesting is Bobby Darin’s woeful “Jailer Bring Me Water” sung full-throated and backed by hand-clap percussion and a broken and desperate rendition of “500 Miles.” Jack Nitzsche employs guitars, bass, banjo and harmonica throughout, and the heavily strummed 6-strings of “Oh Sweet Chariot” perfectly frame DeShannon’s folk-gospel testimonial.

DeShannon’s folk roots carried through to her rock and pop songwriting. The chime in the Searchers’ “When You Walk in the Room” came from DeShannon’s original, and her contribution to the Byrds debut album sprang from the same well. As for her own debut, there are some fine performances, and DeShannon’s voice is always worth hearing, but the all-covers format reveals little of the greatness she’d achieve as a singer-songwriter. Fans should pick this up this first-time-on-CD release, but those new to DeShannon’s catalog should start with a greatest hits or an anthology of others singing her songs. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]