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Saturday, December 27, 2008

JOE BECK : Red Eye (1975)

R.I.P. Joe Beck (Jul. 29, 1945 - Jul. 22, 2008)
From the NY Times:
Joe Beck, a jazz guitarist who collaborated with artists like Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis and James Brown, died on July 22. He was 62. His death was confirmed by the Munson-Lovetere funeral home. He died at a hospice after battling lung cancer.
Mr. Beck was a prolific studio and session performer, arranger and producer, with an identifiable harmonic and rhythmic sound.
Mr. Beck was born in Philadelphia and grew up in New Jersey and the San Francisco area. He got his start as a musician as a teenager in the 1960s, playing in a jazz trio in New York. By 1968, he was recording with Davis and other top jazz stars.
After taking a three-year break from music to run a dairy farm, Mr. Beck returned to music in the 1970s. He worked with artists like Gloria Gaynor and Esther Phillips, including playing on Ms. Phillips’s hit single “What a Diff’rence a Day Makes.”
In 1975, his collaboration with the saxophonist David Sanborn, “Beck & Sanborn,” became a popular fusion hit.
He also composed and arranged for film and television, and played with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London.

This is a track off his collaboration album with sax player David Sanborn. It's a groovy little number, with alternating guitar and sax solos. You can hear how the sound of fusion was changing at this point in the 70s; from the grittier, groovier early '70s, to the more slick NY sound of the late '70s. The majority of this group became The Brecker Brothers backing band.

Song : "Red Eye" by Joe Beck
From the LP "BECK" (Kudu) 1975; also released as "BECK & SANBORN" (CTI)

Joe Beck : guitar
Dave Sanborn : alto saxophone
Steve Khan : guitar
Don Grolnick : keys
Will Lee : bass
Chris Parker : drums
Ray Mantilla : percussion

Get it here : Red Eye

Saturday, December 20, 2008

GERONIMO BLACK : Low Ridin' Man (1972)

R.I.P. Jimmy Carl Black (Feb. 1, 1938 - Nov. 1, 2008)
From Rolling Stone:
Jimmy Carl Black, the original drummer for Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, passed away after a bout with lung cancer. He was 70. Black, the self-proclaimed “Indian of the group,” served with the Mothers from their acclaimed 1966 debut Freak Out! until Zappa’s 1970 album Weasels Ripped My Flesh. Black is also known for donning a dress on the cover of We’re Only In It For the Money. Black’s drumming also formed the heartbeat during the band’s chaotic live performances captured on albums like Uncle Meat and Burnt Weeny Sandwich. Black also played a noticeable role in the Zappa film 200 Motels, where he sang “Lonesome Cowboy Burt.” In his post-Mothers career, Black played in several bands, including a stint with Captain Beefheart, Geronimo Black (which Black fronted) and the Zappa tribute bands like the Grandmothers and the Muffin Men.

This track is from Black's first 'solo' album in the '70s. He's actually not playing drums on this, but singing in that deep voice of his. This is a slow funky rock track with a nice horn section and good backing vocals.

Song : "Low Ridin' Man" by Geronimo Black
From the LP "GERONIMO BLACK" (MCA) 1972

Jimmy Carl Black : vocals
Danny Walley : guitar, backing vocals
Tom Leavey : bass, backing vocals
Andy Cahan : drums, piano
Bunk Gardner : tenor sax
Tjay Contrelli : tenor sax, baritone sax

Get it here : Low Ridin' Man

Saturday, December 13, 2008

JACKIE ORSZACZKY : Friends Of Mrs. S (1976)

R.I.P. Jackie Orszaczky (Jun. 8, 1948 - Feb. 3, 2008)

From the Sydney Herald:
JACKIE ORSZACZKY, a renowned bass guitarist and one of the nation's most influential band leaders of the past 25 years, has died after a long illness.
Orszaczky, 60, died in Royal Prince Alfred Hospital on Sunday from complications in his treatment for lymphoma. He had been admitted after collapsing at home.

Born in Hungary, Orszaczky moved [to Australia] in 1974 and soon became an in-demand session bass player and band leader, fronting Marcia Hines's band in the late 1970s. As a muso, arranger and producer he contributed to albums from artists including the Whitlams, Tim Finn, Savage Garden, You Am I, Hoodoo Gurus, Grinspoon and Leonardo's Bride. Orszaczky remained popular in Hungary and attracted 30,000 people at his annual Budapest concerts.

Orszaczky got his start in the Hungarian progressive rock group, SYRIUS, before heading to Australia to live and record. This track is from his first solo album in the '70s. The song is ultra-funky, and has a sloppy laid-back groove. His bass playing is spot-on, with a great tone. He may have recorded this in Sydney, but it would sound quite at home with much of the Eastern European jazz-fusion of the time period.

Song : "Friends Of Mrs. S"
From the LP "Beramiada" (Real) 1976

Jackie Orszaczky : bass
John Robinson : guitar
Peter Jones : keyboards
Graham Morgan : drums

Get it here : Friends Of Mrs. S

Saturday, December 06, 2008

YMA SUMAC : Taki Rari (1954)

R.I.P. Yma Sumac (Sep. 13, 1922 - Nov. 1, 2008)

From LA Times:
Yma Sumac, the Peruvian-born singer whose spectacular multi-octave vocal range and exotic persona made her an international sensation in the 1950s, has died. She was 86.Sumac, who was diagnosed with colon cancer in February, died Saturday in an assisted-living facility in Silver Lake, said Damon Devine, her personal assistant and close friend.

Bursting onto the U.S. music scene after signing with Capitol Records in 1950, the raven-haired Sumac was known as the "Nightingale of the Andes," the "Peruvian Songbird" and a "singing marvel" with a 4 1/2 -octave (she said five-octave) voice."She is five singers in one," boasted her then-husband Moises Vivanco, a composer-arranger, in a 1951 interview with the Associated Press. "Never in 2,000 years has there been another voice like hers."

Sumac had one of the most unique voices I have ever heard, you have to listen to believe it. This is rich Latin music, short n sweet.

Song : "Taki Rari"
From the LP "MAMBO!" (Capitol) 1954

Get it here : Taki Rari

Saturday, November 29, 2008

TED NUGENT : Workin' Hard, Playin' Hard (1977)

R.I.P. Clifford Davies (1948 - Apr. 13, 2008)

Police are investigating the apparent suicide of a former drummer for Michigan rocker Ted Nugent. Corporal Brandon Gurley with the Paulding County Sheriff's department says 59-year-old Clifford Davies was found dead from a gunshot wound in his suburban Atlanta home Sunday.
Reed Beaver, who owns Equametric Studio in Marietta where Davies was a chief engineer, confirmed Davies was a drummer for Nugent and played on his trademark recording "Cat Scratch Fever."
Beaver says Davies called him Saturday "extremely distraught" over medical bills.
: Ted Nugent's band circa 1977, Cliff is 2nd from right :

So Clifford Davies was best-known as the drummer for Ted Nugent during the '70s. But he also did stints in the underrated jazz-rock group, IF, as well as playing on Grand Funk Railroad's last album. This track is typical Nugent rock, with lowbrow double entendres. But musically, it has a driving rhythm, solid guitar work, and good singing!

Song : "Workin' Hard, Playin' Hard" by Ted Nugent
From the LP "CAT SCRATCH FEVER" (Epic) May 1977

Ted Nugent : lead vocals, lead & rhythm guitars
Derek St. Holmes : rhythm guitar, lead & backing vocals
Cliff (Clifford) Davies : drums, backing vocals
Rob Grange : bass

Get it here : Workin' Hard, Playin' Hard

Saturday, November 22, 2008

GRUNTRUCK : Shot (1996)

R.I.P. Ben McMillan (April 1, 1961 - Jan. 26, 2008)

From the Seattlest:
Before there was Soundgarden or Mudhoney or Alice in Chains, there was Skin Yard and Gruntruck, two late-80s-spawned bands that foretold and influenced Seattle's grunge phenomenon. Ben McMillan, who died of complications stemming from diabetes, fronted both bands.

After an eight-year battle with diabetes, Ben Scott McMillan, legendary vocalist for GrunTruck and Skinyard died in his hometown of Seattle, Washington, U.S.A. at age 46. Complications from a related blood-clotting disease are said to have worsened his diabetic condition, which was severe. The survivng members of Gruntruck, as well as other Seattle rock luminaries are planning an assortment of tributes and memorial projects in his name.

Although not the most popular of the grunge bands, Gruntruck did get some success and airplay in the early-90s. This song was off their last recording in 1996, and showcases McMillan's great rock vocals, and heavy guitar work.

Song : "Shot"
From the EP "SHOT" (Betty Records) 1996

Ben McMillan : vocals, guitar
Tom Niemeyer : Lead Guitar
Alex Sibbald : Bass
Josh Sinder : Drums

Get it here : Shot

Saturday, November 15, 2008

JEFF BECK : Shapes Of Things (1968)

R.I.P. Micky Waller (Sep. 6, 1941 - Apr. 29, 2008)

L to R : Rod Stewart, Ron Wood, Micky Waller, Jeff Beck

Mickey Waller, who has died of liver failure aged 66, was a ubiquitous face on the 1960s music scene in London, a superb drummer who played with a merry-go-round of bands, was much in demand as a session musician, and eventually became Rod Stewart's sticksman of choice. He also worked with the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, the Jeff Beck Group, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Chuck Berry and Little Richard, and, in 1968, was involved in staging the rock musical Hair in London.

Reserved and unassuming but quietly tough and always his own man, Waller was sought after for his individualist heavy drumming style, known as the "Waller wallop". Always willing to try something different, he would often simply stop in the middle of a song - a legacy of his jazz training - and would also play melodies on the tom-toms. A highly intelligent man, he later took a law degree in his spare time and used his knowledge to win claims for various unpaid royalties. But he was pleased to say that he always made his living through music.

The rest :

: This is your brain on drugs, kids :

Micky Waller was best known for his work with Rod Stewart, but was also the first drummer for the Jeff Beck Group in 1968. This is the first track from Beck's first solo album, and it's a cover of The Yardbirds' "Shapes Of Things" (the group that Beck had recently left). A typical choice, but the song is almost completely re-imagined for a hard rock audience. The entire album was instrumental in launching the hard-rock/heavy metal genre, and also catapaulted Rod Stewart's career. Interestingly, future Rolling-Stones member Ron Wood is here, but on BASS...

Song : "Shapes Of Things" by Jeff Beck
LP "TRUTH" (Epic) Aug. 1968

Jeff Beck : guitar
Rod Stewart : vocals
Ron Wood : bass
Mick Waller : drums

Get it here : Shapes Of Things

Saturday, November 08, 2008

BILLY JOEL : Get It Right The First Time (1977)

R.I.P. Hiram Bullock (Sep. 11, 1955 - Jul. 25, 2008)

From the NY times obit:

Hiram Bullock, a soulful and adaptable jazz and rock guitarist who wasa member of the original band for “Late Night with David Letterman,”died last Friday in Manhattan. He was 52. The cause is pending, said Jennifer Armstrong, his partner of 16years. Mr. Bullock was found to have cancer of the tongue last fall, she said.

Mr. Bullock played on some blockbuster pop albums, including “TheStranger” by Billy Joel, Steely Dan’s “Gaucho” and the soundtrack to“A Star is Born” by Barbra Streisand. His best-known solo was on the 1987 Sting album “Nothing Like the Sun,” in a version of JimiHendrix’s “Little Wing. But Mr. Bullock was always more than a session ace. He made his biggest impact in the realm of jazz-rock, funk and fusion, and his own albums, which often featured his singing and songwriting, never strayed far from that base. His last one, released on BHM in 2005, was“Too Funky 2 Ignore.”

He had substantial and productive relationships with other jazzmusicians, including the composer and arranger Gil Evans, who served as a kind of mentor, and the bassist Jaco Pastorius, who taught him and employed him in multiple bands.

Mr. Bullock was largely open about his struggle with substance abuse. “It’s not hard to spiral down,” he sang on a song called “After the Fall,” released in 2003.

More :

Here is a track from one of his first sessions, on Billy Joel's massively successful album "The Stranger". Surprisingly funky at times, with that juicy dated late-'70s feel to it, Bullock was on electric guitar on this one.

Song : "Get It Right The First Time" by Billy Joel
From the LP "THE STRANGER" (Columbia) Sep. 1977

Billy Joel : piano, vocals
Doug Stegmeyer : bass
Liberty DeVitto : drums
Richie Cannata : flute
Hiram Bullock : electric guitar
Hugh McCracken : acoustic guitar
Ralph MacDonald : percussion

Get it here : Get It Right The First Time

Saturday, November 01, 2008

THE FOUR TOPS : Bernadette (1967)

R.I.P. Levi Stubbs (Jun. 6, 1936 - Oct. 17, 2008)
R.I.P. Earl Palmer (Oct. 25, 1924 - Sep. 19, 2008)

On Levi Stubbs:
Levi Stubbs, the lead singer with Motown band the Four Tops, has died at his home in Detroit. He was 72.
Stubbs died Friday after a battle with cancer and a stroke.
Stubbs was the powerful voice who drove Four Tops' hits such as Baby, I Need Your Loving, I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) and Ain't No Woman (Like the One I've Got.)
"He had one of the most prolific and identifiable voices in American history," Billy J. Wilson of the Motown Alumni Association said in an interview with Billboard. "It's a deep loss, to the entire Motown family and to the world."
On Earl Palmer:
Earl Palmer, the session drummer who provided the drums for such classics as Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti,” Smiley Lewis’s “I Hear You Knockin’,” Fats Domino’s “I’m Walkin,”‘ Ike and Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High,” Sam Cooke’s “Twistin’ the Night Away,” The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” and so many more, has died. He was 84. Palmer died Friday (Sept. 19) at his Los Angeles home after fighting a lengthy illness, his spokesman Kevin Sasaki said. Born in New Orleans in 1924 and later moving to Los Angeles, Palmer worked extensively in both cities, recording with some of the music world’s all-time greats on thousands of tracks.
Palmer left New Orleans for Hollywood in 1957. For more than 30 years, he was to play drums on the scores and soundtracks of many movies and television shows. His drum work was featured as well on a number of movie themes…like 1961’s Judgment at Nuremberg, Hud, and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World…and popular television themes…including “I Dream of Jeannie,” “The Odd Couple,” “77 Sunset Strip,” and “The Brady Bunch.”
His career as a session drummer included work with Frank Sinatra, Phil Spector, Rick Nelson, Ray Charles, Eddie Cochran, Ritchie Valens, Bobby Day, Don and Dewey, Jan and Dean, Larry Williams, Gene McDaniels, Bobby Darin as well as jazz sessions with Dizzy Gillespie and Count Basie, and appearing on blues recordings with B. B. King. Earl Palmer Trio pianist Ed Vodika said he met Palmer about 10 years ago and was asked to join the trio. The pianist said he spent the next five years playing weekly gigs in Los Angeles that attracted a host of big-name musicians, from Bonnie Raitt to Ringo Starr.

Two big losses here. Levi Stubbs was the lead vocalist to one of the greatest R&B groups, The Four Tops, who surprisingly had NO lineup changes while all the members were alive.
Earl Palmer was one of the most prolific session drummers of all time. So much so that it is almost impossible to tally all the songs he actually played on.
This track is a classic Four Tops tune, and I THINK the Palmer is playing on it. Motown rarely credited the musicians on their recordings at the time.

"Bernadette" is a 1967 hit song recorded by The Four Tops for the Motown label. Written and produced by Motown's main production team, Holland-Dozier-Holland, the song is one of the most well-known Motown tunes of the 1960s. Depicting a man's excessive desire for and jealousy over his girlfriend, the song reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was The Four Tops's final Top 10 hit of the 1960s. The song was also a request from one of the group members, who wanted it to be written for a young lady named Bernadette, whom he had met during his visits to the UK.

Song : "Bernadette" by The Four Tops
Single A-side (Motown), Feb. 16, 1967
Also on the LP "REACH OUT" (Motown) Jul. 1967

Levi Stubbs : lead vocals
Abdul "Duke" Fakir, Renaldo "Obie" Benson, Lawrence Payton, and The Andantes : background vocals
The Funk Brothers : instrumentation

Get it here : Bernadette

Saturday, October 25, 2008

RUDY RAY MOORE "DOLEMITE" - Flatland (1975)

R.I.P. Rudy Ray Moore (Mar. 17, 1927 - Oct. 19, 2008)
Rudy Ray Moore, whose standup comedy, records and movies related earthy rhyming tales of a vivid gaggle of characters as they lurched from sexual escapade to sexual escapade in a boisterous tradition, born in Africa, that helped shape today’s hip-hop, died Sunday in Akron, Ohio. He was 81. The cause was complications of diabetes, his Web site said.

Mr. Moore called himself the Godfather of Rap because of the number of hip-hop artists who used snippets of his recordings in theirs, performed with him or imitated him. These included Dr. Dre, Big Daddy Kane and 2 Live Crew. Snoop Dogg thanked Mr. Moore in liner notes to the 2006 release of the soundtrack to Mr. Moore’s 1975 film, "Dolemite", saying, “Without Rudy Ray Moore, there would be no Snoop Dogg, and that’s for real.”
Most critics refrained from overpraising “Dolemite,” with the possible exception of John Leland, who wrote in The New York Times in 2002 that it “remains the ‘Citizen Kane’ of kung fu pimping movies.” The film, made for $100,000, nonetheless became a cult classic among aficionados of so-called blaxploitation movies — films that so exaggerate black stereotypes that they might plausibly be said to transcend those stereotypes.

DOLEMITE! One of unsung foul-mouthed funky poets of our time! This track is from the soundtrack to Moore's best-known film, and everything about it is dripping with sleaze and groove.

Song : "Flatland" by Rudy Ray Moore (with Ben Taylor)
From the LP "DOLOMITE : The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" 1975

Get it here : Flatland
Also get a classic Rudy rant :
Dolomite rant

Saturday, October 18, 2008

JERRY REED : When You're Hot, You're Hot (1971)

R.I.P. 1937 - 2008
Jerry Reed, whose roles in three "Smokey and the Bandit" Southern comedy films opposite Burt Reynolds often overshadowed his gifts as a prolific country singer-songwriter and virtuoso guitarist, died Monday Aug. 31 at his home outside Nashville of complications from emphysema. He was 71."He was still recording right up until he couldn't any more," his booking agent, Carrie Moore-Reed, who is not related, said Tuesday. "He had been ill for some time."

Reed gained widespread fame as Reynolds' wisecracking foil starting with "W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings" in 1975, followed the next year by "Gator" and then, in 1977, the first of three "Smokey and the Bandit" movies in which he played Cledus "Snowman" Snow. In his last major film role, he played a harsh football coach in the 1998 Adam Sandler comedy "The Waterboy."

But before he made the jump to Hollywood he had established himself as one of the most sought-after guitarists in Nashville, a songwriter who wrote hits for Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Brenda Lee and many others. He became a regular presence on the pop and country charts in the '70s and '80s with humorous hits including "When You're Hot, You're Hot," "Amos Moses," "East Bound and Down" and "She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)."

This novelty country song was quite a hit for Reed. Mainly because of how goofy and catchy it is! But he DID win a Grammy for it that year for Best Male Country Vocal Performance.

Song : "When You're Hot, You're Hot"
From the LP "When You're Hot, You're Hot" (RCA Victor) 1971

Get it here : When You're Hot, You're Hot

Saturday, October 11, 2008


R.I.P. Brian Davison (May 25, 1942 - Apr. 15, 2008)
R.I.P. Graham Bell (Apr. 24, 1948 - May 2, 2008)

Brian Davison obit:
Brian Davison was in at the birth of “prog rock” as the drummer with the Nice, a group that in many ways summed up the progressive genre and its philosophy of fusing rock music with elements of jazz and symphonic composition.
The classical influence was supplied by the keyboard virtuoso Keith Emerson. The jazz leanings came from Davison, whose style was influenced by drummers such as Max Roach and Art Blakey. He added a driving beat to Emerson’s arrangements of material by composers such as Sibelius, Bach and Tchaikovsky, as well as the group’s party piece, a melodramatic and political onslaught on Leonard Bernstein’s America from West Side Story.
After the Nice broke up in 1970 Davison’s career was dogged by bad luck and for a time he drifted out of music altogether, returning to the spotlight only when the Nice briefly but successfully reunited in 2002.
Brian Davison was a drummer active in the late-60s/early-70s, most popular in The Nice. After the split, he released this 'solo' album with some mates, including singer Graham Bell. This track uses the common rock chord progression (a la "White Room" by Cream), with some good jamming, albeit a bit long. At least a decent showcase for Bell's vocals, and Davison is willing to play for the band, and not for his own sake.

Davison went on to join Jackson Heights, prog-rock group Refugee, and later Gong. He died of a brain tumour.
Bell had previously played with UK psych group Skip Bifferty, and would later play in bands such as Bell + Arc, Carol Grimes, and release a solo album. He died of throat cancer.

Song : "All In Time"

Brian Davison : drums and percussion
Graham Bell : vocals, acoustic guitar
Geoffrey Peach : reeds, backing vocals
Alan Cartwright : bass guitar
John Hedley : lead guitar

Get it here : All In Time

Saturday, October 04, 2008

THE TRAMMPS : Disco Inferno (1976)

R.I.P. Jack Hart (1941 - 2008)
John "Jack" Hart Jr., 67, of West Philadelphia, an organist and one of the original members of the Grammy-winning soul group the Trammps, died of heart failure Apr. 11 at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Their biggest hit was "Disco Inferno," which was featured in the 1977 movie Saturday Night Fever. The movie soundtrack won a Grammy in 1978.
To bring in more money to support his family, Mr. Hart became a welding instructor in the mid-1970s at the former Airco Technical Institute at 46th and Chestnut Streets.
Mr. Hart stopped touring with the Trammps in 1978, when he and his family moved to New Orleans, where he worked as a welder for NASA until he returned to West Philadelphia in 1986. Mr. Hart continued working as a welding instructor and played as many gigs as he could until he had to have a leg amputated because of diabetes in 2007.
Here's a blurb about the track:
The song was originally performed by the Trammps in 1976 and released as a single. Although it topped the U.S. Disco chart, it was not a significant success at pop radio, peaking at number fifty-three on the Billboard Hot 100. According to famed mixer Tom Moulton (who mixed the record), the levels had been set wrong during the mixdown of the tracks, resulting in a much wider dynamic than was commonly accepted at the time. Due to this the record seems to "jump out" at the listener.
"Disco Inferno" gained much greater recognition once it was included on the soundtrack to the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever. Re-released by Atlantic Records, the track peaked at number eleven in the U.S. during the spring of 1978, becoming the Trammps' biggest and most-recognized single. Later, it was included in the Saturday Night Fever musical, interpreted by the 'DJ Monty' in the "Odissey 2001" discotheque.

OK this is a no-brainer, a classic disco track from a classic soundtrack with a classic backbeat from Mr. Hart.

Song : "Disco Inferno"
From the LP "DISCO INFERNO" (Atlantic) Dec. 29, 1976

Get it here : Disco Inferno

Sunday, September 28, 2008

THE TEMPTATIONS : Papa Was A Rolling Stone (1972)

R.I.P. Norman Whitfield (1940 - 2008)

The producer for the Temptations and the writer of such hits as 'I Heard It Through the Grapevine' had long struggled with diabetes and other ailments.

Norman Whitfield, the Grammy-winning songwriter and forward-thinking producer who helped shape the direction of R&B and soul music at Motown Records in the 1960s and '70s, died Tuesday, September 16. He was 67. Whitfield, the co-writer of dozens of Motown hits, including Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” and producer of most of the Temptations' recordings, died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, reportedly of complications from his long struggle with diabetes. He also had a history of heart and kidney ailments.

"Norman Whitfield was one of the most prolific songwriters and record producers of our time," fellow Motown veteran Smokey Robinson said in a statement Wednesday. "He will live forever through his great music."Whitfield wrote, usually with Barrett Strong, and produced such era-defining hits as "Grapevine," “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” "Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)" and “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.” The latter earned Whitfield one of his two Grammy Awards as a songwriter and composer.His ambitious production work helped move Motown from the catchy love songs that typified the label's output in the early and mid-'60s into social commentary reflecting volatile issues that were at the heart of the civil rights movement.
"Of all the brilliant writer-producers that Motown has given to the world, I believe none was more brilliant than Norman Whitfield," the Temptations' longtime manager, Shelly Berger, said in a statement Wednesday.
Here's the Wiki blurb about the song:

Beginning with an extended instrumental introduction, each of the song's three verses is separated by extended musical passages, in which Whitfield brings various instrumental textures in and out of the mix. A solo plucked bass guitar part, backed by hi-hat, establishes the musical theme, a simple three-note figure; the bass is gradually joined by other instruments, including a blues guitar, wah-wah guitar, Wurlitzer Electric Piano notes, handclaps, horns, and strings; all are tied together by the ever-present bass guitar line and repeating hi-hat rhythm. A very unusual thing about this song is that it uses only one chord throughout the entire song -- B-flat minor.

Vocal duties are performed in a true ensemble style: Temptations singers Dennis Edwards, Melvin Franklin, Richard Street, and Damon Harris alternate vocal lines, taking the role of siblings questioning their mother about their now-deceased father; their increasingly-pointed questions, and the mother's repeated response ("Papa was a rollin' stone/wherever he laid his hat was his home/and when he died, all he left us was alone") paint a somber picture for the children who have never seen their father and have "heard nothing but bad things about him."

Friction arose during the recording of "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" for a number of reasons. The Temptations didn't like the fact that Whitfield's instrumentation had been getting more emphasis than their vocals on their songs at the time, and that they had to press Whitfield to get him to produce ballads for the group. In addition, Dennis Edwards was angered by the song's first verse: "It was the 3rd of September/That day I'll always remember/'cause that was the day/that my daddy died". Edwards' father had died on that date, and although the song wasn't originally written for the Temptations, Edwards was convinced that Whitfield assigning him the line was intentional. Although Whitfield denied the accusation, he used it to his advantage: he made Edwards record the disputed line over and over again until Whitfield finally got the angered, bitter grumble he desired out of the usually fiery-toned Edwards (it was, however, one of the reasons Whitfield was eventually fired as the group's producer).

Here are both versions of the hit song "Papa Was A Rollin' Stone" by The Temptations; the single version and the full-length version. I don't know how much it helps, because the single alone is 7 minutes long! A great example of funky music that builds with each passing verse, allows plenty of breathing room for the groove, has a serious message, and even a well-placed string section!

Song : "Papa Was A Rollin' Stone" (written by Norman Whitfield)
From the LP "ALL DIRECTIONS" (Motown) Jul. 27, 1972
Single version released Sep. 28, 1972 (36 years ago today!)

Dennis Edwards : vocals
Melvin Franklin : vocals
Richard Street : vocals
Damon Harris : vocals
Otis Williams : vocals

Get it here : Papa Was A Rollin' Stone (single edit)
Get it here :
Papa Was A Rollin' Stone (full-length version)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

RICHARD WRIGHT : Holiday (1978)

R.I.P. 1943 - 2008

Pink Floyd founding member and keyboardist Richard Wright died on Monday (Sep. 15) following "a short struggle with cancer" at the age of 65, according to a note posted on the official Pink Floyd website.
"I really don't know what to say other than that he was such a lovely, gentle, genuine man and will be missed terribly by so many who loved him," read a note posted on the blog of bandmate David Gilmour, who joined Pink Floyd in 1968. "And that's a lot of people. Did he not get the loudest, longest round of applause at the end of every show (during his tour with Gilmour) in 2006?"
The self-taught pianist and keyboardist will be missed. Listen below to four Pink Floyd songs featuring his work: "Astronomy Domine," with lead vocals by Wright; "Us and Them" and "The Great Gig in the Sky," both written by Wright; and "Fearless" from the album Meddle, believed to feature his compositional skills.

This track is from his first solo album, recorded when Pink Floyd was on hiatus (and of course Roger Waters was busy writing "The Wall", basically by himself). The song exemplifies the textures that Wright had brought to the band, and showcases his mellow voice (which sounds surprisingly like bandmate David Gilmour's).

Song : "Holiday"
From the LP "WET DREAM" (Harvest) Sep. 15, 1978

Richard Wright : Piano, keyboards, electric piano, Hammond organ, Oberheim Synthesizer, vocals
Snowy White : Guitars
Larry Steele : Bass guitar
Reg Isadore : Drums, percussion
Mel Collins : Saxophone, horns, flute
Hipgnosis : Album cover design and photography

Get it here : Holiday

Saturday, September 13, 2008

NEU! : Isi (1975)

R.I.P. Klaus Dinger (1946 - 2008)
One of the founders of the Kraut-rock band Neu! died of heart failure on Mar. 21, 2008.
Here's some of the obit:
In the Seventies heyday of German experimental rock – a once-maligned genre dubbed "Krautrock" – the musician Klaus Dinger pioneered a hypnotic, robotic style of drumming which became known as the "motorik" beat.
Dinger drummed on Kraftwerk's eponymous début album in 1970 before co-founding the group Neu! with the guitarist Michael Rother, who had briefly been a member of Kraftwerk. Dinger also played guitar and keyboards and formed La Düsseldorf in the mid-Seventies. The recordings of Neu! and La Düsseldorf inspired the soundscapes of Low, Heroes and Lodger, the trilogy of albums recorded by David Bowie in the late Seventies with Brian Eno, who said: "There were three great beats in the 1970s: Fela Kuti's Afrobeat, James Brown's funk and Klaus Dinger's Neu! beat."

This track shows the pulsing 'motorik' beat that Dinger was known for. The song is more 'easy-on-the-ears' compared to some of the group's other sonic experiments, but the sound seems almost modern even by today's standards.

Song : "Isi"
From the LP "NEU! '75" (Brain) Feb. 1975

Klaus Dinger : Japanese banjo, drums, guitar, voice
Michael Rother : guitar, deh-guitar, bass, double bass

Get it here : Isi

Sunday, September 07, 2008

JOHN'S CHILDREN : Desdemona (1967)

R.I.P. Chris Townson (1947 - 2008)
Chris Townson was the drummer for Marc Bolan's (T.Rex) first band, John's Children. He later did stints in glam-rock/proto-punk groups Jook, Jet, and Radio Stars (in that order). He died on Feb. 10 2008 from cancer.

Here's a snippet of the Times Online obit:
Drummer, artist, illustrator and social worker Chris Townson’s musical career began in the 1960s with so-called “sonic terrorists” John’s Children, who also featured a nascent Marc Bolan on guitar. Townson’s subsequent career included replacing Keith Moon on a Who tour, jamming with Jimi Hendrix, becoming a sought- after illustrator and, later in life, a highly thought-of and much-loved social worker.
“A ghastly racket” was how Townson later referred to John’s Children, but they made their mark thanks to their outrageous stage performances which involved chains, fake blood and feathers. Their provocative recordings — their single Desdemona was banned in 1967 by the BBC for its risqué lyric — and their ambiguous image, often being photographed naked with their fundamental parts covered by garlands of flowers, also contributed to the band’s status. Their manager at that time, Simon Napier-Bell, honing his skills for his later protégés Wham and George Michael, procured them a support slot on The Who’s 1967 German tour, but they were ejected mid-tour for being “too loud and violent”, in Townshend’s words (presumably he was being ironic). He nonetheless requested Townson as a replacement for Keith Moon on a UK tour later that year when Moon proved “unavailable”. Signed to Who manager Kit Lambert’s label Track Records, Townson had inevitable encounters with label-mate Jimi Hendrix, with whom he performed at the notorious London rock hangout the Speakeasy.
Following the departure of Marc Bolan to calmer pastures in 1968, John’s Children called it a day. Townson’s aggressive drumming led him to join faux-skinhead band Jook in 1972; they were demobilised in 1974 when half of them were seconded to oddball Californian teen-combo Sparks. Townson joined forces with Martin Gordon in the glam super-group Jet, which featured a variety of rock luminaries of the day.
He returned to drumming for pleasure in the 1990s — a reformed John’s Children performed in the US and Europe and Townson would make an annual trip to Berlin to perform on former bandmate Gordon’s albums.

This track was the A-side of Marc Bolan's only single with the group. You can hear his warbly vocals quite clearly. This is also a good showcase of Townson's creative drumming, instilling dynamics in an otherwise simply-arranged song. This was an underground psychedelic classic of the times. Bolan left the group within months to start Tyrannosaurus Rex...

Here's the wiki blurb:
"Desdemona" is a song by the British cult band John's Children. It was released in 1967 and failed to chart in Britain, possibly due to the fact it was banned by the BBC for a "controversial" lyric (lift up your skirt and fly). However, the song was a minor hit in Europe. The song was composed by Marc Bolan, at the time a member of John's Children, and is considered to be one of the greatest songs the group recorded, or indeed, one of the greatest early Bolan songs.

Song: "Desdemona"

Single A-side (Track records) May 1967

Andy Ellison : vocals
John Hewlett : bass
Marc Bolan : guitar, vocals
Chris Townson : drums
Get it here : Desdemona

Saturday, August 30, 2008

THE DAVE CLARK FIVE : Glad All Over (1963)

Mike Smith 1943-2008
Mike Smith, the singer and keyboard player for '60s British rockers the Dave Clark Five, died of pneumonia this morning (Feb. 28) outside of London. According to a statement from his manager, the infection was "a complication from a spinal cord injury he sustained in September, 2003 that left him a tetraplegic (paralyzed below the ribcage with limited use of his upper body)." Sadly, Smith will now have to be posthumously inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame with the rest of the Five in less than two weeks, an event he was still planning to attend despite a four year hospitalization and ongoing medical problems stemming from his injury. The Dave Clark Five shook their mops through a memorable 18 month run on the American Top 10 between the spring of 1964 and December of 1965, scoring at least six smashes during the high moment of the British Invasion and enjoying success on both sides of the Atlantic through the late '60s before breaking up in 1970. Smith was 64.
Mike Smith is on the right:
Here is one of the tracks that made the group famous, a hard-hitting rocking number. For a time were competing with with The Beatles for the top UK act.

Song : "Glad All Over"
From the LP "GLAD ALL OVER" (Epic) Mar. 1964

Mike Smith : keyboards, vocals (R.I.P. 2008)
Dave Clark : drums, vocals
Lenny Davidson : guitar, vocals
Rick Huxley : bass, vocas
Denis Payton : sax, harmonica, guitar, vocals (R.I.P. 2006)

Get it here : Glad All Over