Week 11 - Fri 12 Mar
Welcome to another edition of the mind expanding musical extravaganza that is the RPM Seven Day Soundtrack, week ending Friday 12th March. Let's dive straight in; over to......
"Hi RPMsters. Here are three tracks from the folk world to distract you for a minute or two. I do hope that everyone is well and looking forward to bright days ‘acoming’......"
Cutthroats, Crooks and Conmen by Little Johnny England -
"Seems over the last few weeks there's been a Byrds-y kinda thing going on (all your fault Tim!!) (More to come as well, in a bit, Tim.) so it's perhaps time to add my six penneth to the thread.
Strangely, for such an influential band, in my opinion they still seem somewhat undervalued by the great unwashed. July 24th 1971 saw the Byrds (along with some of the best folk and blues acts around) pitch up in a field a few miles outside Lincoln, with yours truly and four friends also pitching up to watch. By 1971 the Byrds were probably viewed as pretty much a spent force in commercial terms but live, that was another matter. The line up, still led by Roger McGuinn, had been stable for around two years and featured Clarence White, Skip Battin and Gene Parsons, the same line up which featured on the previous years excellent 'Untitled' album. The Byrds were the only band to play an electric set that day (check out McGuinns remarks at the end of the final choice), despite it being billed as an acoustic concert on the programmes. They had played an acoustic set at the Bath Festival in 1970 and almost stole the show from the headliners but they decided at short notice to switch to a predominantly electric set. And what a set it was but, probably due to the late finish, we were not treated to the usual 20 plus minute 'Eight Mile High' concert finale... shame.
Along with a couple of intimate McGuinn solo gigs in Mansfield and Newark (yep, you heard that right) the set is one that still burns bright in my memory 50 years later. So, to follow on from everyone else, here's two scarce Byrds performances and, to kick off, one Byrds related track."
Ivory Tower by The Long Ryders (from 'Native Sons' album, released October 1984. Zippo label.) - "Led throughout their career by Byrds fanatic Sid Griffin, this band were never afraid to show their allegiance to the jingle jangle sound popularised by the Byrds. They would show great proficiency on their debut EP which included the mightily psychedelic '10-5-60' and the pure country of 'You don't know what's right....' before releasing the outstanding 'Native Sons' debut album. Music mag Trouser Press described the album as "a stirring dose of memorable and unpretentious country-rock that incorporates Highway 61 Dylan, paisley pop, Kingston Trio balladry and wild rock'n'roll." whilst Uncut felt that the album's production was kept "authentically raw" without "any hint of '80s sweetener", to produce an album which was "urgent, primal, like a new breed of country-garage band." Following the disbanding of the Long Ryders in late 1987 Griffin formed the long running Coal Porters, initially to play the music of the Byrds, Gram Parsons, Buffalo Springfield and the International Submarine Band before it morphed into an acoustic folk/bluegrass combo until it's dissolution in late 2018. In addition, Griffin turned out two books, 'Gram Parsons-A musical biography' and 'Bluegrass Music- Know the players, play the music', recorded four solo albums and reconvened the Long Ryders before authoring a further two books about Bob Dylan, writing extensively in both the music and popular press and co-authoring a BBC documentary on Gram Parsons (phew!!)! In 2010 he was honoured by both the Americana Music Association and Nashville's Museum of Country Music for his services to the genre for over 30 years. The sleeve for 'Native Sons' is based on an unreleased sleeve for a Buffalo Springfield release ('Stampede') and, to cement their love of the Byrds, 'Ivory Tower' features the great Gene Clark on shared vocals.
One final note: Way back in the, errrr, late seventies I think, one rainy December night Gene was advertised to play the Pheasant Inn, Moor Top, Sheffield. So we piled into the Skoda Estelle, donned our winter woolies (Sheffield in December!!! double Brrrrrr), braved the elements and, without the aid of a sat-nav, eventually found our way to the Pheasant (home to Sheffield's legendary Frank White) and were faced with..... a totally empty rain whipped car park!!! Stepping inside we espied a bemused looking barman. 'By 'eck, what are thee doin' out on a neet like this?' he queried. 'Come to see Gene Clark' we answered dubiously, 'Have we got the right place?' (we're much better spoken in Harworth!). 'Aye, rate place!' he answered helpfully. 'But din't tha' see't Star?'. 'No' we gulped, 'Why? 'Cancelled............ doctor wun't let him fly, bad ears like'. 'Put it in't Star toneet' he offered. 'But we don't get the Star where we live' we spluttered helplessly. 'Where'll that be?' was the response. 'Harworth????' we said. And cue blank look!!!! 25 miles was a LONG way in the seventies!!!!"
One Hundred Years From Now by The Byrds (Out-take for 'Sweetheart of the Rodeo' album, released 1968. Columbia label. Released on 'The Byrds' box set 1990. This from 4 cassette version # see below) - "And speaking of Gram Parsons.......... Born Ingram Cecil Connor III to a citrus magnate's daughter and a second world war flying ace, Parsons developed an interest in music after seeing Elvis Presley in 1956. He formed his first group in 1961 before joining the Shilos in 1963 and relocating to Greenville, South Carolina. The band gigged extensively, including at New York World's Fair in 1964, and were scheduled to be signed by Albert Grossman until he found that many of the group were still classed as minors. A short term at Harvard University piqued his interest in LSD and country music and, in 1966 he formed the International (Silver) Submarine Band, now recognised as one of the earliest 'country rock' bands which, over the next two years went through many line-ups. The group recorded several singles, two albums (one 'lost') and appeared in Roger Cormans 'The Trip' starring Parsons new 'best friend' Peter Fonda. Delays in the band's debut album release saw Parsons leave to join the Byrds in February 1968, a decision which led to ISB's producer Lee Hazlewood to take out an injunction to stop Parsons vocals appearing on many of the tracks for the bands newly recorded 'Sweetheart of the Rodeo' album.
This proposed double album was initially to be McGuinns long fabled history of American music, encompassing everything from bluegrass, folk, jazz and r&b to electronic avant garde until Parsons (still officially only a 'sideman' in the band) exerted his burgeoning interest in country music and steered the band towards what is now considered the first bona fide country rock album. His time with the Byrds was short lived as, in 1968, Parsons befriended Keef Richards whilst on a UK tour and left the band, citing the upcoming dates in apartheid era South Africa as the reason. His time with Richards would be spent sampling the finest cocaine and heroin available whilst playing obscure country tunes, an influence which would become apparent when their friendship was rekindled in 1971 whilst the Stones were recording their next album, 'Exile on Main Street'. By this time Parsons had passed through the Flying Burrito Brothers, signed a solo deal, recorded another lost album and was on a downward spiral which would lead to his early death in late 1973. His reputation, however, continued to grow thanks to his early pioneering work, the two solo albums recorded close to his demise and the championing of Emmylou Harris. Today's choice is an out-take from 'Sweetheart of the Rodeo' with a complete vocal by Parsons, string bender Fender courtesy of Clarence White and a lack of vocal harmonies which allows perhaps one of Grams best vocal performances to shine."
Antique Sandy by The Byrds - (Unreleased, this from Youtube 'In concert' recording from Tupholme (Lincoln) Folk Festival 24/7/71) - "OK, having 'bigged up' the Byrds at Tupholme/Lincoln Folk Festival, here's the only recording I can find from their set, a pretty 'unspectacular' song recorded for the maligned 'Farther Along' album which was recorded in London between the 22nd and 27th July, with just the one day break to play Tupholme. The album was a return to a more basic Byrds sound, following the ill advised orchestration on the previous album 'Byrdmaniax' but, despite this, the album was universally criticized and failed to reach the Top 150 in the US album charts and was totally unplaced in the UK charts. The song is a 'unique' band composition (plus percussionist Jimmie Seiter) regarding Seiters forest dwelling, antique collecting girlfriend. I'm just sorry that there are no other recordings available online from the set which featured 'Mr Tambourine Man', 'So you wanna to be a rock and roll star', 'You ain't goin' nowhere', 'Mr Spaceman' and a dozen others. The only other items I've found regarding the Festival are CD's of (ahem) dubious origin of the Byrds and Sandy Denny and the Happy Blunderers, plus a pricey package of 8 CD's, T-shirts, programmes, handbills etc for their appearances at Bath in '70 plus the Lincoln Festival from Cambridge's Rock Music Memorabilia, but no sign of them being (legitimately or otherwise) for sale."
Bonus track: "Here's one to add to Joni's 'Woodstock' and Eric's 'Monterey'....."
# "This four cassette version of the box set 'The Byrds' was also released as a CD set. I had entered a competition in the NME to win a copy and, being a Luddite, I had requested the cassette issue as, at that time, I had promised myself I would not buy any CD's until the Beach Boys released the legendary 'lost' album 'Smile. Safe in that knowledge I insisted on the cassette issue when the NME advised they would have to import it from the US. This took several months (!) and, of course, pretty soon after, whilst browsing at Oldcotes Car Boot I chanced upon a bootleg of the Beach Boys 'Smile' album of German/Japanese origin......... and cue a hasty purchase of a portable CD player that very day!! This is probably as definitive a set as you could wish for, comprising 90 tracks with many rarities including the 'Roy Orbison' tribute songs featuring Dylan on 'Mr Tambourine Man', the 1990 'Nashville Sessions' and a slew of unreleased/alternative recordings. It's just a pity that due to disputes and/or jealousy between McGuinn and the very wonderful Gene Clark that there does appear to be a distinct lack of Gene's songs."
"This week I'm forming a little theme with my selections - I noticed this when going through my list of 'reserves'. The theme is protective dads - hope you like 'em. Best wishes to all RPMers with thanks and appreciation for continued great selections. "
18 Yellow Roses by Bobby Darin - "This self-penned song is by one of my very favourite 50's/60's artists. So sad that he was taken at much too young an age."
Wolverton Mountain by Claude King - "This is a reworking of a song originally recorded by Merle Kilgore and was a big crossover hit in 1962 for Claude King. The fatherly subject of the song turned out to be a real person and the mountain can be found in Arkansas but the song doesn't reveal whether there was a happy ending to this musical tale."
High Sheriff of Calhoun Parrish by Tony Joe White - "This track underlines the fact that young men shouldn't upset any young lady whose dad has guns and prison cells at his disposal."
"As it’s close to St Patrick’s Day........."
Soul Limbo performed by Duckworth Lewis Method feat. Matt Berry - "Some days this week have been stormy, but there has been a hint of spring, and spring leads us to the season associated with the game invented during Saxon or Norman times by children living in the Weald. Cricket! My first track this week is a less than oblique reference to the sport, which I admit I no longer have any great interest in, but it is a great tune."
Songs of Love by Divine Comedy - "Yes! I am still watching Telly! (Mainly Star Trek in the current absence of Scandi-Noir!) And this band supplied the theme for one of the most enduring comedy shows ever…."
Norman and Norma by The Divine Comedy - "I truly regret never having seen them live, so these will have to do for a bit. I hope that the references to Cromer don’t make Tim and Jackie regret their move…. But there is plenty of cricket up there I guess…"
"They really do have a song for every occasion...."
"Hi RPMers, hope you are well . Here’s my 3."
"Greetings to all RPMers... I've had my first jab on Monday this week. Painless, no side effects. Awaiting Mr. Gates' first instruction. Nothing so far.
Seriously though, it's a relief to have had it.
As to the music, my first selection this week is a response to Jean's choice of "Wanna Be Starting Something" last week. Here's where MJ and Q got the inspiration for that vocal hook........Best wishes to all, once again."
Jackie Wilson Said (I'm In Heaven When You Smile) by Van Morrison - "Vastly superior to Dexys' cover version, this was the opening number on "St. Dominic's Preview," issued in 1972, one of Van's finest."
(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher by Jackie Wilson - "Here's something else Jackie Wilson said. It struck me that in all the time I've been coming to RPM, and in all the submissions to the Isolation Room and the 7DS, I do not recall anyone selecting anything by Jackie Wilson. If I'm right, I think it's about time this oversight was corrected. One of the greats."
"Fond greetings to all RPMers, spread far and wide across this sceptred isle.... (steady on!). Anyway, here are my three for this week."
"Hi folks, Hope you're all keeping well. No blurb, just tunes, it's been a folk-y kinda week....Take care all. Till next week. Cheers!"
"Songs running through my head this week.........and the last of the Byrds-ian influenced songs.......also a coincidence running alongside Alan's selections this week."
I See You performed by Yes - "Better than the Byrds original, in my opinion, and found upon the first Yes LP."
Emma in The Morning by Daisy House - "I chose this track.....well, ages ago when RPM met at the village hall, for the What's In a Name? theme, I think..........and here it is again, as I can hear a heavy Byrds influence but mixed with a slice of Fairport on the side."
Mr. Tambourine Man performed by The Byrds - " Gonna let the guys themselves have the last word doing the definitive version of Dylan's song."