Week 12 - Fri 20 Nov
Welcome to the RPM Seven Day Soundtrack, week ending Friday 20th November 2020. Here we go with another aural rummage through the week's soundtrack from the record decks, CD players, cassette players and laptops of RPM Club members. In the order in which selections arrived in my "in box" this week, it's over to.......
"Well, what a funny old week! Two new vaccines at great expense and then it turns out that ordinary mouthwash kills Covid 19 dead!!! Trump threatens to nuke the Iranians, has second thoughts (for the moment) and pulls his troops out of Afghanistan instead, leaving everyone else in the lurch. One week 'til all the deadlines for a Brexit agreement expire, Nissan threatens to pull out of the UK (wonder what all the 'new' Tory voters in the Northern 'blue belt' think about that?) and, suddenly, Tata finds that their South Wales steelworks is not economically viable and will have to 'stand alone'............ tick/tock, tick/tock.
Oh Well!!!!!!! Keep safe everyone, loving all the selections and, Tim, looks like a big year end job if you're going to include all these artists in the A-Z section!!! Good luck on that one..............
So, time for a little light relief methinks, here's three cheerful ditties from the old vinyl collection:
Transfusion by Nervous Norvus (taken from original US 7" single released May 1956. Dot Records label) - "Nervous (AKA Jimmy Drake) was already in his 40's when the rock and roll boom hit the US charts but his musical career (such as it was) had started out a few years earlier as a hopeful composer/demo singer known as Singing Jimmy Drake. In 1951, having 'mastered' the art of both stamping his foot and playing the banjo (well, almost!), he bought a reel to reel tape recorder and signed up to a 96 lesson correspondence course on musical notation. Ten lessons later Jimmy deemed his knowledge was enough for him to advertise his wares as a budding singer songwriter in the Songwriter's Review magazine. Hundreds, allegedly as many as 3000, of aspiring singers requested his songs, recorded them and watched as they plummeted into oblivion. Rumours abound that the Paris Sisters (of 'To know him...' fame) were the beneficiaries of one of his songs but that release remains unconfirmed. Drake was a fan of station KCBS Red Blanchard's comedy show and sent in a demo of 'Transfusion' in the hope that Blanchard may record it himself. Blanchard, however, was so struck by the 'uniqueness' of Drake's voice and the songs skewed similarity to Chuck Berry's lyrics that he pressed up a further demo with additional sound effects of a skidding car, taken from the 'Standard Sound Effects' record library 78rpm disc, and placed it in his show. Somehow it came to the attention of Dot Records president, Randy Wood, who asked if the disc was available for release. And so, in May 1956 they issued this early death/disaster disc, around four years before the brief period of popularity of that genre thanks to the recordings of Ray Peterson, the Shangri Las and others. Drake, however, was so embarrassed about the disc that he concocted the Nervous Norvus character for live appearances but his career collapsed when, with the disc at number 8 in the charts, he turned down an appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. There were a further two singles ('Ape Call' hitting a credible number 24!) before he returned to 'composing' for others and releasing singles under his own name but there were no further brushes with fame.
Ten Years After on Strawberry Jam by The Scaffold (B-side to 'Liverpool Lou' 7" single, released May 1974. Warner Bros label) - "A humorous tale, parodying a fictional meeting between members of a perhaps failed Merseybeat band some years after the 'beat-era' has passed. The song is 'composed' by Paul and Linda McCartney, produced by Paul and features an unreleased Wings backing track featuring some fine guitar from the under-rated Jimmy McCulloch. Originally part of the 'Liverpool One Fat Lady All Electric Show' revue group, the trio of John Gorman, Roger McGough and Mike McGear (you know who!) formed the Scaffold in 1964 and were signed to Parlophone shortly after. Hit singles followed, including three top tens, as well as several albums which included musical assistance from Jack Bruce, Graham Nash and Melting Johns. There was also a 1968 McGough and McGear album which featured both Mitch Mitchell and Jimi Hendrix on several fiery rock work-outs and later recordings as Grimms featured many of the Bonzo Dog Band. The late sixties/early seventies saw the band diversify into film, stage and TV work until, after a series of live tours, the band split in 1973. The trio reformed in 1974, leading to the release of the number seven hit 'Liverpool Lou' based on a Dominic Beham poem, and further albums and tours until they finally disbanded amicably in 1977."
Off The Record by The Troggs (Originally from 'Mixed Bag' LP, released 13th December 1968 Page One label. This from 'The Troggs Vintage Years' compilation released 1976) -"'Mixed Bag' truly lived up to its name, a rag-bag collection of previously released US and UK singles 'bolstered' by four additional unreleased tracks. Tucked away is this early taster for the initially bootlegged 'TheTrogg Tapes' swear-a thon album, recorded in 1970 and finally released in 1976. Here the profanities are 'bleeped' and there is a wonderful sense of (chemically enhanced?) bon homie about Pete Staples and Ronnie Bonds good natured attempts to fashion a new 'song' from the carnage which ensues during the session, which is the direct opposite to the fractious recording captured on 'The Trogg Tapes' album. That album became a tour bus go-to for many bands in the seventies and is acknowledged as a direct influence on the 'Derek and Clive'/ Moore and Cooke album and the 'This is Spinal Tap' movie."
"Hi Folks...........Since this selection of tracks for the listening booth started, I have been very impressed with the music that you have all chosen, especially recently. You have all excelled yourselves. Superb and unexpected loveliness. Please keep it up! I hope you are all continuing to remain relatively healthy. It seems that you probably are, as apparently, worldwide, the comparative figures for ‘normal’ seasonal infections flu, and coughs and colds, are very much down at the moment due to people acting sensibly due to Covid 19! Stay well! (Influenza report - https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk)
Despite that, and probably the same as you lot, I have been getting a bit bored with this second lockdown. As a result I have been comforting myself by listening to some very familiar tracks, along with some, completely new to me, by the same artists and of the same era. For instance, this week, along with new, second hand CDs by Aly Bain and Dave Swarbrick I have recently added a couple of more obscure CDs of early recordings by Moondog, to those that I am already quite fond of. I know that his music is not to everybody’s taste, as I admit that my appreciation only came with time and repeated hearing. After a while I came to love it, and listening to Moondog also brings back fond memories…
Back in the day, with money that I received for my paper rounds, (Two every morning, one in the evening delivering ‘The Evening Standard’, and two or sometimes three of a Sunday morning!) I bought vinyl. In those days, 6/8 bought a 45rpm single 11/9 an EP 32/6 an album.
Starting with the early Beatles, I got my fix from ‘Kelly’s Electrical’ a shop on Southend High Street. Through the plate glass doors with their rhomboid mosaic handles, past the Echo Radios, Morphy Richards hair dryers, Moulinex coffee grinders, Electrolux vacuum cleaners, and the Kenwood Chefs, on past the appliances, Twin Tubs, Frigidaires, and Rotisseries, and down the modern spiral staircase, deep into the basement where the pastel painted record department, had a row of (perhaps 6) open fronted, individual, headphone equipped, ‘listening booths’. But the end of the room, where record players could be bought, was an enclosed Hi Fi ‘studio’ and behind folding glass doors, between banks of speakers was a red vinyl covered bench. long enough to seat three or four teenagers.
Over the next few years I got to know Helen, the beehived teen assistant pretty well. As well as seeing her in the basement, it turned out that we had mutual friends, and we met socially too. She certainly learned my taste in music, and I, hers. We both started with British ‘pop’ but Helen’s taste swiftly veered from Goldie and the Gingerbreads, to the more avant garde East Coast US performers, and eventually ‘3rd wave’ classical, and she took me with her!
I would go in and listen to a new album by Cannonball Adderly and she would introduce me to Albert Ayler. I would ask her to put on The Holy Modal Rounders, and she would follow my request with The Fugs.
When the shop was ‘quiet’ Helen would come and sit with me in the big end booth, where together we would enjoy weird and wonderful tracks that she had kept behind the counter for me. Amongst many others she delighted in opening my ears to the first album by the Velvet Underground, early Terry Riley and Sandy Bull, Pierre Henry, Pauline Oliveros, (if you don’t know it, check out her ‘Deep Listening’! It is sublime), Larry Austin, (Oh God - No! Don’t go there!!!!) and recordings of poetry and spoken word by Jackson Mac Low, Allen Ginsburg and even Timothy Leary!
A couple of years older than me, Helen and I were never more than friends, though having a friend who worked in a record shop was always fun…
Three tracks I first heard in Helen’s company…. "
"And hell, I will request a bonus track too… that one I mentioned earlier. Cover the clock. Turn out the light. Breath deep, press go…. "
Pauline Oliveros - Deep Listening
"Best wishes to everyone as always- I hope all RPMers are keeping safe and well.
No doubt we're all pleased to see Mr. Cummings' exit from Downing Street, somewhat belated though it is. Does it presage a retreat from toxic right-wing dog-whistle extremism under the guise of "populism" (where that is defined as "pretending to be on the side of the people against a corrupt and out-of-touch elite")? Pardon me if I doubt it... I'm not sure if one-nation Conservatism exists any more...it's all divide and rule now.
Sorry if that's too much politics, but I've got to rant to somebody!
Message to Tony: Are you aware that Gretchen Peters is due to appear at The Apex next June? Here's hoping...
Meanwhile, on the CD player, it has come to my attention that there is one song of which I have more versions than any other.
"Life can never be exactly like we want it to be." Has any lyricist ever come up with a line so simple yet so profound? I have six versions of "Dedicated to The One I Love." There's the original by The 5 Royales, then there's The Shirelles, The Mamas and Papas, The Temprees, a reggae version by Bitty McLean, and the version from Steve Cropper's 2011 tribute album to The 5 Royales. It seems that the video for The Mamas and Papas version is blocked in this country,and I think the Bitty McLean version is pretty mediocre, but can I get away with selecting all the other four this week?...........................I love all of them."
The 5 Royales - ".....Featuring the co-writer of the song, who also happens to be one of the greatest guitarists of his era, Mr. Lowman Pauling"
The Shirelles - "I know Alan will love this one."
The Temprees (on Stax, from 1972) -
Steve Cropper - ".......with vocalists Lucinda Williams and Dan Penn (NOT Steve Winwood as shown in the video. Steve appears on the album but not on this song). The backing vocalists are Dylan LeBlanc, Lee Roy Parnell, and Keb Mo."
"Best wishes to you wonderful RPM collaborators. Here are three duos to divert you for a few minutes….Remember it’s only just over 4 weeks to the winter solstice, then the days start to get longer again!"
Looking For a New England performed by Kirsty MacColl with Billy Bragg -
Peace In The Valley by Gillian Welch, with Dave Rawlings of course -
"Here's my 3 for the week. Best wishes to all who contributed to a cracking selection last time."
Hotel Hapiness by Brook Benton - "I've always been a big fan of this particular crooner. I discovered him when pursuing a young thing in my early teens whose dad had all the singles. Brook had a couple of decent touches when he teamed up with Dinah Washington and on his own most notably with "Kiddio". This track has a decent backbeat and shows off his fine style really well."
I Think I Love You Too Much - "I managed to get a ticket to see the Hillbillies when they came to the UEA. The laconic Mr. Knopfler oozed onto the stage and just said "Here it is" before launching into the first song. They only produced one album and a handful of singles but they still sound good to me. I don't think this track made it to vinyl either with this band or Dire Straits, although they did perform it live often."
Let Me Down Easy by Bettye LaVette - "I chose a track by Bettye during the first lockdown and thought that it would be good to showcase another track by this fine underrated songstress."
"Hi RPMers. Hope you're all keeping safe and well. I've been listening to quite a variety of music this week - Steamhammer, Neil Young, Black Roots (very much a current favourite), Cosmic Rough Riders, King Tubby, Sigur Ros, Bob Marley & The Wailers, Nick Drake, Crosby Stills & Nash, Vivaldi's Concerto for Mandolin and Alan Price's Soundtrack to the film 'O Lucky Man' to name but a few. It was a difficult task trying to pick just three tracks... but here they are...."
Oh I Have Hit The Ground by St. Thomas - "This is from the first LP from Norway's St. Thomas. In Norway it debuted at No.8 in the national charts! It was released in the UK in 2002.... I don't think it troubled the British chart compilers too much. Shame - great album."
The Open Ground by Pussy - "From the LP 'Pussy Plays'......"
Serenade To A Cuckoo by Roland Kirk - "This amazing performance was on BBC Four's Jazz Horns Gold programme last Sunday. Still available on the iPlayer - worth a look. Some of you will be familiar with this tune via Jethro Tull's debut LP, This Was."
"This week I’ve listened to all 5 of my England Dan and John Ford Coley Albums and it’s been very enjoyable. My first choice is............."
Running After You (from ‘Dr Heckle and Mr Jive’ released 1979) -
Rage On (Live on Nashville Now 1987) - "My second choice is a Dan Seals solo. From 1984-90 Dan was perhaps the most over-looked and under-rated artist in Country Music.
Despite that he was dominant having 16 songs reach the Top 10 Country charts – 11 of which were no 1 hits. He continued in the music business but, sadly, was only 61 when he died from cancer in 2009."
Cottonmouth Grove (live concert recorded in Israel) - "My third choice is a John Ford Coley solo. John wrote most of the ED + JFC songs and since going alone he has written many TV and films themes. He’s produced some country artists and even done some acting. He still tours and has had time to write a book about his years in the music business. He released a CD of acoustic/Americana material in 2016 called ‘Eclectic’. Here’s a track from that."
"Keep happy and safe RPMers. I miss you all."
"Listened to Keir Starmer on Desert Island Discs last weekend, he had a Northern Soul track to start....but it all went downhill from there! Here's some tracks I like......"
"Hi RPMers........hope you are all well; here are my 3 off the week."
"Hi folks. Hope you're all keeping well. My choices this week are inspired in equal measure by:
Iggy Pop's Friday night programme on radio 6.
Jean's funky Zumba numbers last week. Online salsa dancing is my preference, but anything that helps us move through this is fab.
Continuing my niece's musical education while jumping around like a loon during our video calls.
Take care & stay safe. Cheers!"
“My three this week have inadvertently evolved into a musical nature walk……so come on; off we go………oh look, what’s that bird over there….? (he seamlessly links…..)”
The Cuckoo performed by Pentangle – “The start of a 4 part series called My Albion on Radio 4 last Tuesday sent me digging out some Pentangle. Their rendition of the Cuckoo featured in the programme and it’s one of those Trad tunes, of which there are many versions and interpretations, that is hard to get out of your head once heard……so here it is…………so you can get it stuck inside yours as well.”
And here’s the link to the first My Albion programme, if you fancy an interesting listen later on….
“…….and just be careful where you’re stomping with those big ol’ walking boots and spare a thought for one of the most important creatures on….and actually….in, earth………”
Big Fat Earth Worm (Lumbricus Terestris) by Richard Durrant – “Richard’s new album is just out….and I think it’s great. Entitled Rewilding, it continues in the same “un-classical guitar”, English-folk-prog-whimsy vein that the second half of his previous album, Stringhenge, saw him developing (see week 7 of the Isolation Room). Inventive music sparked by the Knepp Wildland in West Sussex and the book Wilding by Isabella Tree (yes, that really is her name), amongst other things.”
“………..and almost faster than the eye can catch, like a wind-up toy in overdrive, what was that small creature that just ran across the woodland path………?”
One Brown Mouse by Jethro Tull – “Some of the instrument interplay on Rewilding brought to my mind the way Jethro Tull used to use acoustic guitar and organ so effectively on their early to mid -70s albums. Out came Heavy Horses for a spin, this song being one of my favourites on the LP.”
“….whew, we must’ve walked for miles……….back home now to light the wood burner and settle down with a bottle of beer…………I think we deserve it. Cheers.”