Friday, June 28, 2013

Just take what you need and leave the rest (Joan Baez)

Joan Baez The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down/ When Time Is Stolen  (Vanguard, VRS 35138 1971)

A Joan Baez hit! Well, yes, although hard to believe, Joan made the top five in the pop charts with this copy of The Band's song about Old Dixie. It peaked at number three I think. You couldn't invent this stuff.

It's the only Joan Baez record I own if you discount her performances with Bob Dylan (The Rolling Thunder Revue) and at Woodstock, and I'm not quite sure how it has escaped the various purges of singles I've had over the years. It's not like I love it to bits or it has sentimental value. I bought it in 1971 and it's never been played much but there it is - still in the singles racks.

It's a catchy song and a great sing along. Well done to J. Robbie Robertson who wrote it. Their version is vastly superior to Joan's but she had the hit with it. Weird ole world innit.

Hidden Gem: The B side is a Baez original and done in her trilly folky voice which doesn't move me really. I DO love her Woodstock performance - maybe not Joe Hill so much but Sweet Sir Galahad is a genuine work of art.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

For you now my heart goes out (Badfinger)

Badfinger Love Is Easy/ My Heart Goes Out  (Warner Brothers, B 16323 1973)

The eagle eyed will note that the last Badfinger single on Apple records (featured in my last posting) came out in 1974 but they had moved to Warner Brothers before Apple issued Apple Of My Eye, so this song, issued as a single prior to their first Warners Bros album (called Badfinger), came out in 1973.

Life at Warners was not peachy keen for the band. As a fatal consequence Pete Ham ultimately committed suicide.

The actual Badfinger album is okayish but not a patch on their Apple albums or their final album as original Badfinger - the wonderful Wish You Were Here.

This single is pretty dire though. the A side is sluggish and dull with a terrible mix. It probably goes without saying that it failed to chart. Neither side is by Pete Ham, but the B side is a...

Hidden Gem: It's sweet song written by Mike Gibbons, the drummer! That was the thing with Badfinger - everybody wrote songs but they became recognisably Badfinger songs. This one was included on the album so no rarity value but it is a worthy album track all the same.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

No matter what you do, I will always be around (Badfinger)

Badfinger No Matter What/ Better Days (Apple, Apple 31 1970)

Badfinger Day After Day/ Sweet Tuesday Morning (Apple, Apple 40 1972)

Badfinger Baby Blue/ Flying (Apple, Apple 42 1972)

Badfinger Apple Of My Eye/ Blindowl sic (Apple, Apple 60 1974)

These four singles have a lot of things in common. They are all on Apple, all by Badfinger, and all the A side hits were written by their rhythm guitarist Pete Ham.

I love Pete Ham and I am still extremely sad that he is no longer with us to share his gifts.
Tragically he killed himself in 1975 at the age of 27 (yes - another of the 27 club although not as well known as some other members).

Although Pete is best known for co-writing Without You, that song was never released by Badfinger as a single.

These four singles in the list above are the goods though. Each one a classic slice of pop.

I remember when I first heard Day After Day in particular because it was a song on Solid Gold Hits Vol 2, released in 1972. I bought that album and listened to it a lot in 1972.

Especially the Badfinger song. It had a creamy pop sheen that drew me in. It was like nothing I'd heard up to that point (even though it is Beatlesque thanks in part to George Harrison's guitar, it's still an original Badfinger sound).

Day After Day was the highest charting song of the four.

Baby Blue (like Day After Day, it's featured on their 1972 Straight Up album) is another great song. It has a harder rock edge to it but a soft centre - it's about his then girlfriend Dixie.

Apple Of My Eye was his love song (and farewell) to Apple Records. Badfinger were the last band to leave the label and they were reluctant to go. All things to their credit.

Pete sings lead on all of the A sides and his vocals are brilliant; exactly right for the songs. The Joey Mollard guitar sound is another fantastic feature of these four songs, and the production, the soundscape, is timeless.

Hidden Gems: All the B sides are album tracks so there's nothing rare on offer. My favourite of these B sides is Sweet Tuesday Morning: a great soft rock ballad. There is a bathos at work that isn't easy to achieve (I wouldn't think).

Friday, June 14, 2013

If you feel like reminiscing, walk off into the midnight sun (Badfinger)

The Iveys Maybe Tomorrow/ And Her Daddy's a Millionaire (Apple, Apple 3 1968)

Before they were Badfinger they were Buddy Holly/ Hollies fans as well as Beatle fans - they were The Iveys!

Maybe Tomorrow was one of the famous first four Apple releases along with Jackie Lomax, The Black Dyke Mills Band, Mary Hopkin and a nifty little combo who put out a groovy little pop song called Hey Jude.

I have a soft spot for Maybe Tomorrow. It should have been a hit and it was in Europe but it did nothing much anywhere else.

My theory is that the Pete Ham factor and the Joey Mollard factor was yet to come and so this was a last gasp by The Iveys. It's still a groovy little number worth a revisit.

Hidden gem - And her a rockier song which was a pointer to their future direction. It was only a B side, didn't make the original Maybe Tomorrow album or the soundtrack to Magic Christian (Badfinger redid some Ivey's material including Maybe Tomorrow for that album but not And Her Daddy's...).

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Did I hear you say that there must be a catch? (Badfinger) ;#4 of 300 singles

Badfinger Come and Get It/ Rock Of All Ages (Apple, Apple 20 1969)

I love Badfinger. I love everything about them - but I especially love Pete Ham's songwriting and voice, the Beatles connection via Apple, and their love of Apple (Apple Of My Eye will be coming up in this count down).

However, this single contains very little of Pete Ham's input as it is pretty much a Paul McCartney solo single (the A side sounds identical to his demo as we can hear on Anthology 3; they even clock in with the same time) and the B side is a co-write with fellow Badfingers. We'll have to wait until the next post to sample his particular genius.

Still it was my first taste of Apple back in the day. I bought the first Badfinger album Magic Christian Music from Marbecks in the Queen's Arcade and Come and Get It is track one side one.

Hidden gem: Rock of All Ages is a pretty good rocker but it's on the album so not so much a hidden gem as a different look.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The sheriff said, "Hey, are you Billy Thorpe?", in a really deep voice. (The Aztecs) #3 of 300 singles

The Aztecs Most People I Know (Think That I'm Crazy)/ Regulation 3 Pufff (Havoc H 1012, 1972)

Billy Thorpe was an original rocker bless him. Although he passed away in 2007 he has a solid couple of big footprints in Aussie Rock History.  As I said - he was one of the big Aussie rock and rollers in the sixties but I only know him for his hard rock hirsute version of The Aztecs in the early seventies.

Aztecs Live! At Sunbury from 1972 is a classic double live album. It REALLY rocks and includes a seven plus minute wig out on their then current single Most People I Know Think That I'm Crazy.

I used to buy GoSet magazine in the early seventies. It was like an Australian version of Sounds and had good articles on Aussie bands and the glam acts from overseas.  So I was able to keep up with the news on Sunbury festivals (Australia's Woodstock) and all of the popular Aussie bands like The Aztecs.

I became aware of the Most People I Know single via the charts printed in GoSet. It peaked in the Australian Top 40 Singles Chart at number 3 in May 1972.

Hidden gem - the B side (yes 'Pufff' really has three f's, at least it does on my version) is a nifty piece of jazz rock fusion. It's an instrumental and largely a vehicle for some horn players to show their chops. Nice.

Laying in the park, jamming in the dark (Attitudes) #1 and 2 of 300 singles

My old buddy Gregarious sent me a link to a blogger who is writing about the 3000 albums he owns in 3000 different posts. A great idea huh (a link is under Expert Texpert down the left hand column if you want to check it out).

I like the freedom to write about whatever strikes my musical imagination at the time, rather than being tied down to a format like that, although from time to time in the blog I've used an arc, such as posts on record covers or lists of various sorts.

The basic concept of writing about your collection is interesting though.

I thought I'd write about the largely forgotten format of 45s for a while. I have nowhere near 3,000 of them so I'll concentrate on 300 instead. To keep it interesting I'll be judicious in my selection of Beatle and solo Beatle singles.

I loved singles - they were cheap when I started out listening to music and they were usually the cream of the crop. Funny how itunes has reinvented the single but with a 45 you got two songs and the B side was often a quirky and interesting avenue for bands.

As singles fell out of favour over 20 years ago this will mainly be a trip into the sixties and seventies.

Being me I have them in alphabetical order on my shelves. Some I've posted on already, like America's Sandman, so I'll leave them out when they crop up.

First up then is a pair of singles by Attitudes - Ain't Love Enough/ The Whole World's Crazy from 1975 and Sweet Summer Music/ Being Here With You from 1977.

You what?


They were a band made up of session musician friends of George Harrison (Jim Keltner, Danny Kortchmar, Paul Stallworth and David Foster) who played on his dire solo album Extra Texture, and so he plonked out some of their singles and albums on his Dark Horse Records label. Hey he was rich!

As you know I love George and I love Apple Records.
I thought he might have the same magic touch he had at Apple (Jackie Lomax, Doris Troy, Billy Preston, Radha Krsna Temple, Badfinger etc) with Dark Horse. Sadly lightning didn't strike twice. Jiva are exhibit one m'lord.

Like Jiva, Attitudes were terrible. Slick soulless sessioners sounding sensationally sad. Boring boring boring in other words.

Sweet Summer Music was the more successful of the two singles, charting at number 94, but it's still a weirdly unappealing song. See if you can stick it out for the duration.

Didn't think so.

Hidden gem? Ha ha - you're having a giraffe aincha?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Here in this prison of my own making (Deep Purple)

Mojo had a special feature on the 100 best music movies recently and The Warehouse was having a huge sale of DVDs. I managed to pick up a load of music DVDs, many of which overlapped with the Mojo list, for very reasonable prices.

Some like Deep Purple's Come Hell Or High Water will never be on a best of list. It's the 1993 reunion band filmed in England. The set list is skewed towards the album they were touring behind - the bombastic The Battle Rages On but Ritchie is there with the rest of the Mark II purps. Jon Lord is in fine form, as is Ian Paice on the drums.

Ritchie is in a moody mood - for some reason he has a spazz during the opening number Highway Star and upsets the applecart. For the rest of the concert he plays with a grim intensity, only moving from his stage right position to duck backstage whenever the opportunity arises. At the end of the show he exits quickly stage right while the rest of the band take their time and all exit stage left. All very bizarre. Having said all that he still sounds brilliant and no one plays like he does. Steve Morse is a gifted guitarist but Ritchie is stone cold original, even when he's packing a sad.

The band interviews are interesting (Ritchie is naturally NOT featured). Each band member selects their favourite DP album. Ian Gillan goes for Fireball, Paicey goes for Made in Japan but the rest highlight In Rock. I prefer In Rock to Fireball but for me Machine Head is the ultimate DP album.