Saturday, 12 March 2011

I thought losing an hour, may make you feel a bit desperate.......

The Motels - Take The L

The Motels - Only The Lonely

I don't know where he went, but he left in a hurry Sayin' something about a mission of mercy.....

“Take the ‘L’ Out of Lover”, “Only the Lonely”, and “Mission of Mercy” The Motels ‘All 4 One’ (1982)

There was a desperation about the way Martha Davis sang. The songs were troubled and you knew there was something up. Martha wrote most of the Motels songs actually. When a singer feels deeply about a song it is felt by the listener – we know somebody-done-somebody-wrong in Martha’s case from the minute she opens her mouth. No one would really believe that you are singing the blues if you don’t have the blues.......Martha’s hurtin’ is genuine.

Martha looks sultry, pouty and well, quite stoned on the inner sleeve of the album “All 4 One” This may be partly due to the fact that they had to share rehearsal space with the Go-Go’s in the early days.  Take the L and Only the Lonely were more pop-friendly than the more rockin' “Mission of Mercy” which is my favourite song on the album.

With a few different line-ups before they had any real success it was not till the Motels enlisted the producer Val Garay1 for this, their third album that they really hit the big time. The release of this album coincided with the introduction of MTV, so two videos were made, one for “Take the L”, and one for “Only the Lonely” some of the very first viewed by this new curious TV audience. .

Their next album in 1983 entitled “Little Robbers” (still Val Garay produced) spawned the hit “Suddenly Last Summer”. My favourite off this album is the title track – 'Little Robbers'. Other more obscure Motels songs I like are “Icy Red” (from Shock, their last album), and "Forever Mine” off their second album - great songs from this ‘So L.A.’ band.

1) Val Garay produced Kim Carnes, Bonny Raitt, Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor and Ringo Starr to name a few.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Friday afternoon listening..............

Maxi Priest - Man With a Plan
Gillian Welch - Revelator
Nick Lowe - Jesus of Cool

Stevie Wonder - Innervisions

Don Henley - Boys Of Summer Music Video

You got your hair combed back, sunglasses on baby........

“The Boys of Summer” by Don Henley (1984)

Pick of the Week 

So I am pining for warmer weather and I am pawing through my albums. What will make me feel like it will actually be summer here again........hmmm........

After leaving one of the most successful bands in history, former “Eagle” Don Henley, put out his first solo album “I Can’t Stand Still”. When it first came out I thought this is one of the best solo albums I have ever heard by someone that left a very successful group – and he proceeded to get better Sure you have Peter Gabriel, Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins all doing very well from Genesis, but generally it is quite an exception I have found.

I tried to learn “Johnny Can’t Read” on the piano that long summer and drove my family crazy. I just somehow related to these quirky tunes. “Dirty Laundry” also got pretty good radio play that summer.

Henley has a very broad spectrum of insightful emotional experiences in his songs and is not surprisingly a very adept song-smith. He of course had a lot of practice with the Eagles and has been exposed to some of the best, but you don’t necessarily get this good just by osmosis. He builds clever story lines and description that are reminiscent at times of Paul Simon’s song writing – although tends to have a perspective that is more social commentary than specific individual experience.  My favourite Don Henley lyric is from a song called “If Dirt Were Dollars” where he says “...she looked at me, uncomprehending me, like cows in a passing train...” Musically the songs pay a lot of attention to the expression of percussion as Don of course was the drummer in the Eagles.  

The album itself was not to be Don’s best by any means, as he went on to do a number of better works. 1984’s “Building the Perfect Beast” spawned “The Boys of Summer”, “Sunset Grill” and “All She Wants to Do is Dance”. His most mature effort, “End of the Innocence”  (1989) , gave us “New York Minute”, “Last Worthless Evening”, “Heart of the Matter” and the title song itself.

Henley became a serious advocate for recording artists rights in the early ‘90’s after his serious legal issues with Geffen (remember that name?) Records would not let him out of his agreement with them.
So a long pause and we got the 2000 effort “Inside Job”, which is a solid album, but had no real chart success.  

I have always liked and recently relistened to all these albums. My favourite Henley songs are still “Johnny Can’t Read” of course, but also “Talking to the Moon” (I Can’t Stand Still), “If Dirt Were Dollars” “I Will Not Quietly” (The End of the Innocence), “Miss Ghost” and “Annabel” (Inside Job).  

“... and I can tell you my love for you will still be strong after the boys of summer have gone.”

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Kiss - Rock Bottom [Legendado PT-BR]

Quick Hit for Hump Day

"When you hit rock bottom and you're there to stay......."
Mike this one’s for you............

In the seventies when things were starting to get a bit stale, a funky little group out of Detroit changed all of that. The original line up Starchild (Stanley), The Demon (Simmons), Spaceman or Space Ace (Frehley), and Catman (Criss) were about the stage show. 

Kiss first performed in 1973 and rose to prominence in the years 1975-78 when they were at their height. Resurgence in interest in the 1990’s once again had the Kiss Army getting the boots and spikes out of the closet.

The debut album “Kiss”, than “Hotter than Hell” and then “Dressed to Kill” were released as a 3 record set called “The Originals” that arguably saved Casablanca records from falling off the map. This is now a valuable collector’s item and included all 3 albums, stickers, and the coveted kiss army patch. 

Being all about theatrics and the stage show, the first three albums would not go down in history as the greatest songs of all time – but there are some classics now. 

One of the songs that showcase the growing talent in Kiss was “Rock Bottom:” When the craze was on for acoustic acts in the 1990’s there was a lot of 'unplugged’ albums made live. Kiss was ‘unmasked and seated’ for this one. 

Commercial success improved for Kiss after The Originals in the form of producer Bob Ezrin (long time Alice Cooper producer) who helped them to great success with my favourite Kiss album ‘Destroyer” in 1976. 


Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Are you ready to Rumble? Head-to-Head: Go-Go’s vs. Bangles! First the Go-Go’s -

And now the Bangles -

Songs Everyone Should Know

 Are you a Girly-girl?

I put the Go-Go’s and the Bangles head- to-head so you can tell me who you like better. I have tried to make it fair by having them both be live performances of their first big hit singles. The Go-Go’s were slightly earlier than the Bangles but you tell me what you think......

Checking the used record bins the other day I found a mint-condish “Andrew’s Sisters Greatest Hits”. Being a huge girl-group fan (and only having this in digital form), I bought it for $1. You may say “That is so way lame dude!” but hey there is historical significance to this!

The genre if you will, of girl groups seemed to start back in war time with the Andrews Sisters. “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” was a big hit for them, but they had many others. The first few listens I admit I thought this sounded dated, but it kind of grows on you. There are some pretty good songs, like “Rum and Coca-Cola”, “Bei  Mir Bist du Schon” (means: ‘To me you are beautiful’ in German). Clearly I have to be in the mood or have some older people over for dinner.........huh.........did I say that.......gawd look who’s talking!

The boom came for girl-groups in the late 1950’sm early ‘60’s, and very little in the ‘70’s with bands such as:

The Crystals – Da Do Ron Ron, Then He Kissed Me
The Shirrelles -  Baby It’s You, Mama Said
The Ronettes – Be My Baby
The Marvellees – Please Mr. Postman
The Dixie Cups – Chapel of Love, Iko Iko
The Shangrilas – Leader of the Pack
The Supremes – Stop! In the Name of Love, Baby Love, Love Child, Reflections, Where Did Our Love Go

In the ‘80’s:
Bananarama  - Venus, I Heard a Rumor,Cruel Summer
The Go-Go’s – We Got the Beat, Our Lips are Sealed.
The Bangles – Walk Like an Epyption, Manic Monday, Eternal Flame, In My Room

The torch had been passed and more recently: The Spice Girls, Dixie Chicks,  Salt ‘N Pepa,
B*Witched, Destiny’s Child, Atomic Kitten, and on we go.

Certianly the two circa- 1980’s favourites were the Go-Go’s and the Bangles:
The energy and enthusiasm of these groups is contagious.

If you start digging, you will find that there are many, many more. Other Girl Groups I like and are worth check out include: Shonen Knife, and The Donnas.

Older stuff worth checking out in the hey-day of the genre include - The Angels, The Paris Sisters, The Murmades, The Exciters, The McGuire Sisters, Ruby and the Romantics, and Rosie and the Originals. Also excellent is Shelly Fabres (although technically not a girl-group). *Caution* Younger people will consider these lame for sure! I mean they don’t even play this stuff as muzak in elevators anymore!)

(There is an excellent series called “Early Girls” that is 5 volumes in total -  a bit pricy but quite comprehensive)

So what's it going to be:“Bangles” or “Go-Go’s?

Monday, 7 March 2011

Fortune Teller - Krauss and Plant

I put a spell on you, 'cause you're mine!

"Fortune Teller", Robert Plant & Alison Krauss (2007, produced by T.Bone Burnett)

O.K. if you have never heard of Led Zeppelin, fuhgeddaboudit......close this blog and go back to sleep. If you look up the definition of classic rock this band would be front and center. But that is not what we are talking about today. 

Probably the most famous fortune teller song was 'Love Potion #9' done by the Clovers in 1959 (written by Leiber and Stoller). This has been done by Herb Albert and even ACDC - a very solid pop tune.

I like “Devil Woman” by Cliff Richard (1976) and “Gypsy Woman” by Brian Hyland (1970), written by Curtis Mayfield).  Other fortune teller/gypsy songs include: of course ‘Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves’ by Cher, ‘Gypsy’ by Fleetwood Mac, ‘Witch Queen of New Orleans’ by Redbone, and of course ‘I Put a Spell on You’, Credence Clearwater Revival (C.C.R.).

Superstition, black magic, gypsies and fortune tellers are popular themes in music. For some reason we romanticise with this stuff – why are Stevie Nicks and Horoscopes so popular after all?

Written by Allen Toussain, and originally done by Benny Spellman (good name for a song like this, but who?), this song has also been recorded by the Stones, The Who, The Merseybeats, and The Hollies The version I first heard was on the Who’s ” Live at Leeds” – a very excellent album in its own right.  (Canadian Bobby Curtola did a very lame song called ‘Fortune Teller” in the ’60 – if you need to remove the contents of your stomach for some reason, look that one up!)

This version has a haunting middle-eastern sound with Allison Krauss’s beautiful voice showcasing a pretty good fortune teller story. The elegant T. Bone Burnett production emphasises reverberating percussion that gives a good pop song some punch! Robert Plant is not  innocent enough for us to believe he is the dude seeking the fortune teller’s help, but his instantly recognizable and well-loved mature voice helps to redeem him from any indiscretions he may have ever perpetrated – o.k. well not really.  

Sunday, 6 March 2011

What is Davo-rama listening to? Music for a Sunday afternoon....

Neil Diamond - Hot August Night
The Kinks Choral Colleciton

The Who - Live at Leeds

Moby Grape - Moby Grape
Bettie Serveert - Palomine

Does Evil Grow in You?

70's Pick of the Week

“Where Evil Grows” by the Poppy Family (1971)

My friend Glen had this black net like a spider’s web hanging from his bedroom ceiling when we were teenagers. I remember his Mom coming downstairs (kind of like Wayne’s Mom in Wayne’s World), and saying something like, “Geezus’ Glen what the hell is all this crap hanging from the ceiling? Someone’s gonna hurt themselves.”

Glen pretty much had every Alice Cooper album that had come out at that point – and loved playing the sounds of the dentist drill on “Unfinished Sweet” on the ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ album. You have to remember that Alice was sort of the Marilyn Manson/Goth Metal of the time.

O.K. so we put away the Alice Cooper and he slaps on this funky 45 with a funny look on his face - “Where Evil Grows” by the Poppy Family. (I would like to know if anyone has any idea of how many 45’s were worn out because you could keep the arm up on the turntable and play them over and over into the ground – really.)

 Chyaaa evil produced by a band called the Poppy Family! Oh no! Run for the hills! It’s an episode of the ‘Walking Dead’ with special guests Terry and Susan Jacks.

You may have heard of “Which Way You Goiin’ Billy”, “Seasons in the Sun”, “Concrete Sea”, “If You Go Away”, and “That’s Where I Went Wrong” by Terry Jacks and/or  the Poppy Family. These are all great songs that kind of belong in the “Hip to Be Square” category as they are  all squeaky-clean, wholesome Canadian pop songs that enjoyed good radio play in Canada (largely due to CanCon1)

Don’t get me wrong; hey I’m not one to put down music created in this country and in fact am thinking of introducing it as a category here. Actually “Which Way you Goin’ Billy” was the first ever million seller made in British Columbia. How about them apples Tim?

You know the weird thing is something happen in the crypt of Glen’s bedroom that day - I drank the red  Kool-Aide or something – to this day I love this stupid little pop ditty. Thanks Glen!

1)      Canadian Content laws did, and do require radio stations to play a certain amount of music that was at least partly written, produced, presented, or otherwise contributed to by Canadians. The controversial law of 1971 has been modified many times since – but actually requires more Canadian content than it originally did.