Friday, August 30, 2013

Love is like a stove - burns you when it's hot (Jim Capaldi) #78

Jim Capaldi Love Hurts/ Sugar Honey (Island K 6201,  1975)

Let's hear it for the working drummer!

Jim Capaldi was multi-talented (he died in 2005): a singer, song writer, pianist and drummer (for Traffic most notably, a group he co-founded with the awesome Steve Winwood).

Love Hurts is not an original song by Jim though. It was written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant who wrote some great songs for The Everly Brothers back in the day. The Everly's actually recorded the song first in 1960 but plenty of others have had a go over the years. Nazareth's great rock version is notable but Roy Orbison, Emmylou Harris with Gram Parsons, Cher and Rod Stewart have also given it a whirl.

Jim had the biggest success of them all with a #4 position in the UK charts in 1975.

Hidden gem: The B side is a Jim original. His singing voice is a dead ringer for John Lennon's at times and that's the case on this pleasant little rockabilly number. The song does not appear on Short Cut Draw Blood (the parent album to Love Hurts in 1975) so it's reasonably rare as well.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Don't blame it on the sunshine...blame it on the boogie (The Jacksons) #77

Canned Heat On The Road Again/ Boogie Music (Liberty LYK 2471,  1968)

And so we move on the C's with some timeless music from Canned Heat.

Who were they?

Canned Heat was a band launched by two blues enthusiasts, Al (Blind Owl) Wilson and Bob (The Bear) Hite, who took the name from Tommy Johnson's 1928 "Canned Heat Blues".

After appearances at Monterey and Woodstock, at the end of the 1960s the band acquired worldwide fame. Ask any sixties casualty who was supposedly at Woodstock about Canned Heat and the big bearded/ pony tailed vision of The Bear is bound to come up (maan).

On The Road Again was lifted from their second album - 1968's Boogie With Canned Heat. The line up at this time was Bob Hite, vocals, Alan Wilson, guitar, harmonica and vocals, Henry Vestine on lead guitar, Larry Taylor on bass, and Adolfo de la Parra on drums.

It's a great song that is credited to F Jones and A Wilson - meaning that Blind Owl 'borrowed' an old blues song by Floyd Jones (who, as is the way with the blues, had borrowed it from elsewhere). Al sings the song in his distinctive way with a drone instrument securely anchoring the song (in the sixties).

Hidden gem: Boogie Music was not originally on the parent album (it's been added as a bonus track to CD editions). It's a manifesto song - boogie music has a pleasant sound etc.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Won't somebody tell me what Diddy Wah Diddy means? (The Blues Band) #76

The Blues Band  1 Maggie's Farm 2 Ain't It Touch (sic) / Diddy Wah Diddy 2 Back Door Man (Arista AEP 1,  1980)

More crap misspelling of a title by sloppy NZ EMI people. How could they mislabel Ain't It Tuff with Ain't It Touch? Weird.

The Blues Band contains Paul Jones (you'll remember him as the voice on those old Manfred Mann hits). He's great. Really Paul Jones could sing any old tosh (Ain't It Tuff - a Blues Band original which doesn't work) and it would sound amazing - he has that great a voice - so imagine the quality if he's given some Dylan and some Willie Dixon to sing.

Having said that - in this instance the choice of Dylan song is a little weird. I've never really rated Maggie's Farm as a song. It seems to me to be a minor Dylan song that has been invested with more meaning than it possesses. It's the Rolling Thunder era Dylan recasting of the song as a shambolic romp that works the best for me. Here The Blues Band take a light  hearted approach that gives the song a lighter, different, sheen.

Hidden gems: The B side is mos def the better side. The EP's covers recipe is complete if we throw in an old Blind Blake song (Diddy Wah Diddy) and then round it off with some Willie Dixon genius. Back Door Man is done low down and dirty with some genuine menace. Creepy in a groovy kind of way.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Hey, psst psst, here she comes now (Blondie) #75

Blondie  Rip Her To Shreads (sic)/ X Offender (Chrysalis K 6973,  1976)

Another example of sloppy NZ production as they misspell the A side title which is almost appropriate as Blondie came surfing in on the punk wave. Almost, but Deborah Harry and the blokes in Blondie were no punks. Check out the snazzy suits in the video below.

They were a pop outfit whose commercial and creative peak came two years after this single in 1978 with the Parallel Lines masterpiece.

Back in '76 though they were just starting out. As far as I can tell Rip It To Shreds (to give it its correct title) was paired with two songs outside of NZ (In The Flesh and X Offender) - so we were short changed here.

Never mind eh. Rip It... is a great slice of attitude from Debbie Harry and Blondie. Apparently about gossip columnists but who knows?

They wisely don't go beyond their abilities and try for a full on snarl. Instead it's a tongue in cheek glide.

Hidden gem: X Offender was an A side in its own right so it is a quality Blondie moment as well. Good value for money, although both songs were from their first album - Blondie.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Dance with the birds and the music (Blerta) #73 and 74

Blerta Dance Around The World/ Freedom St. Marys (HMV HR 466,  1972)

Iconic NZ actor Bruno Lawrence's finest musical moment came on this fantastic slice of NZ rock.

Blerta was a communal collective of wannabe Merry Pranksters/Hog Farmers. They had a musical bent and released these two great singles. The one above and:

Blerta Joy Joy/ Rain Song (EMI HR 536,  1975)

Bruno was the drummer and quasi leader in the collective (Blerta stands for Bruno Lawrence's Electric Revelation and Traveling Apparition) with Geoff Murphy and others performing along side him.

For a bunch of actors, film makers and musicians they gelled incredibly well on these tracks. Joy Joy zips by on an adrenaline rush and Dance Around The World is a NZ classic. The voice over is a trip in itself.

Hidden gems: Both B sides have their charm with a jazzy jamming kind of vibe going on, very appropriate given the band's rationale.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

You look tired love, let me turn down the light (Cilla Black) #72

Cilla Black Step Inside Love/ I Couldn't Take My Eyes Off You (Parlophone R 5674,  1968)

Dear old Cilla. Just goes to show how minimal talent can be parleyed into a lifetime career in entertainment. I bet the Brits call her a national treasure or some such tosh.

Don't get me wrong - I love the original girl made good idea of Cilla but not the media construct she has been for the last...what..forty or so years, I guess.

If you said, "Cilla Black" to someone and asked them to name one song - Step Inside Love would be it. Actually I'm struggling to think of another one.

Lennon and McCartney knew what they were about when they gave this to her. No way were they EVER going to record this themselves. Dear old George Martin produces and it screams hit without any trouble in the quality stakes.

Hidden gem: Well, no but the B side gives an idea of future directions for our Cilla.


Friday, August 9, 2013

Whatcha tryin' a do to my heart? (Pat Benatar) # 71

Pat Benatar You Better Run/ Out-A-Touch (Chrysalis K 8018,  1980)

Déjà vu coming around again -'s the eighties, again.

Pat Benatar is/was a rocker and a roller with a great rock chick name (Patricia Mae Andrzejewski doesn't quite have the same ring so no wonder she ditched it) with a nifty rock 'n' roll attitude. 'Was' because you can't carry all of those things into middle age (she's four years older than me so she's over 60 now). I'm sorry but you can't have the same rock attitude in black leather pants at age 60 that you had as a teenager. The men don't know but Grace Slick understands.

You Better Run is a classic slice of early eighties rock and does feature the wonderful guitarist Neil Giraldo who has appeared on all of Pat's albums.  It's a cover of The Young Rascals song but Pat makes it her own. It was the second song ever on MTV and was perfectly suited to MTV's raison d'être.

Hidden gem: The B side is another great rock song. Pat sounds a little like a rock version of Blondie's Deborah Harry on this song and that can't be a bad thing.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Don't tell me things will work out fine, cos I know the truth and I'm running out of time (Marty Balin) #70 of 300 ish singles

Marty Balin Hearts/ Freeway (EMI F 8084,  1981)

Arr - the eighties.

Not a very forgiving decade to the Jefferson Airplane alumni like Starship and Marty Balin.

Marty is a colourful character: an original member of the Airplane, he's floated in and out of the Paul Kantner dominated picture during the years but the eighties was largely an unsuccessful attempt at a solo career.

In 1981, things looked okay for a start. He released his first solo album, Balin, featuring two Top 40 hits, Hearts (#8) and Atlanta Lady (#27). This was followed in 1983 by a second solo album, Lucky, along with a Japanese-only EP called There's No Shoulder. Lucky did not match the performance of Balin; it suffers from the worst kinds of eighties synth(etic) excess and his contract with EMI ended.

Hearts though is a nice melodic stab at the charts and deserved its success. Marty has such a great voice it's really unfortunate that his solo attempt coincided with the plastic decade.

Hidden gem: Freeway doesn't appear on the album Balin for some utterly bizarre reason. It's a great rocker. Hearts is a ballad so gets the A side obviously, that was what he had become known for, but Freeway is the better side. Yes it has the dreaded synths but it also has, shock horror, a GUITAR SOLO!!!!! 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Well, I thought that fifteen was gonna be a breeze (Alice Cooper) #69

Alice Cooper Teenage Lament '74/ Hard Hearted Alice (Warner Bros B 7762,  1973)

Yep - I have a couple of singles out of alphabetical order. Sorry 'bout that chief.

I remembered that in a fit of enthusiasm many years ago I put a lot of singles into album sleeves. The idea was that if an A side was featured on an album I'd put the two together to create a more unified package.

I know, I know. Anal. But there you go.

Half way through the Beatles' singles run down I remembered this and went through my albums to separate the two again.

Which brings us to Alice Cooper - the man and the band and their 1973 album Muscle Of Love (both A and B side are from the album).

1973 was a stellar year in rock generally but a great one for Alice Cooper - they managed to produce the brilliant Billion Dollar Babies and Muscle Of Love.

Teenage Lament '74 is certainly an album standout but it makes an even better single.

Teenage angst: Alice gets into the teenage mind to a frightening degree in two of his biggest hits - I'm Eighteen and this song. The whole thing is a shtick but it's done in such an over the top yet tongue in cheek way that it works. Helps that the music is terrific!

Hidden gem: The B side is also from the album and a nice line in self mythology. I'm a sucker for the twice shy stuff.