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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