Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Let's fight for people's rights (Bill Elliott etc) #112

Bill Elliott and The Elastic Oz Band God Save Us/ Do The Oz (Apple, APPLE 36, 1971)

A Lennon side project this one. Bill Elliott would later spend time as a Dark Horse recording artist as part of soft rock duo Splinter but here he's the vocal replacement for John. Former Beatle roadie, Mal Evans, had suggested Bill and John's guide vocal was replaced with Bill's.

John and Yoko are co-credited with Mal Evans AND Phil Spector with production!!!! What the hey? This must be one of the most unique production credits ever. In case you're wondering what Mal brought to the party - he recorded/produced Bill's vocal.

The Oz of the song refers to a radical underground newspaper published in London that was targeted by the man at the time. There was an obscenity trial and John wanted to show his support. Hence the single.

I quite like it (I'm a Lennon completist so I would say that) - it's got spunk and spirit and heart and it's nicely played (Ringo on drums, Klaus Voormann on bass, John guitar) and sung. It was never going to be a hit but nevermind. Everyone's hearts were in the right place.

Hidden gem: The B side and A side were swapped around at the last minute and so the more general God Save Us became the A side with the specific Do The Oz support becoming the B side. It's Ono influenced in it's directness and reminds me of Scumbag on the Zappa collaboration.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Dance with the man with the mongoose on his back (Elephants Memory) #110-111

Elephants Memory Liberation Special/ Madness (Apple, APPLE-10095, 1972)

Elephants Memory Power Boogie/ Liberation Special (Apple, APPLE 45, 1972)

There are many things I love about these two singles. Here's a partial list:
  • They were released in 1972
  • They are on Apple Records
  • The band is from New York City
  • They were produced by John and Yoko
  • John plays guitar
  • There are more guitars
  • They rock!!
The band often gets a bad press, if they are remembered at all. 

Okay they were REALLY lucky to be in the right place at the right time to meet the Lennons and appear on both their Approximately Infinite Universe and Sometime In New York City albums and have John/Yoko produce their own album. 

I bought other Elephants Memory (yes, no apostrophe folks) albums and trust me - this was easily their best album/ set of songs.

Hidden gem: All tracks are from the parent album so there is no rarity value. Apple 45 provides great value as a single with a double A side combo and the best sampler of the band's wares.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Jukebox blowin' a fuse (ELO) #109

Electric Light Orchestra Roll Over Beethoven/ Manhattan Rumble (49th Street Massacre) (Harvest, HAR 5063, 1972)

I admit it - ELO were a guilty pleasure that I denied for a while but eventually I capitulated and outed myself.

Early ELO has a different feel to the more commercial version that would have all the great hits, which I also love. For one reason, Jeff Lynne plays some hot guitar on those early tracks such as this standout guitar wig out (and others on ELO 2 which featured an 8 plus minute version of Roll Over Beethoven).

The song itself is, of course, a remodeling of the Chuck Berry original with a great great intro (the fragment of Beethoven's fifth symphony gives way to that awesome guitar riff).

Hidden Gem: The B side is a weird off kilter instrumental work out for the band. All disjointed and jagged strings and piano. It's probably quite clever and makes allusions to all sorts of classical or musical stuff that I've heard of before. I don't like it much.

Friday, December 6, 2013

I told you way back in '52 that I would never stay with you (Dave Edmunds) #108

Dave Edmunds I Hear You Knocking/ Black Bill (Decca, DEC 525, 1970)

According to someone (on Wikipedia):

""I Hear You Knocking" is a popular rhythm and blues song with emphatic syncopation, written by Dave Bartholomew and Earl King (under the pen name Pearl King) and published in 1955. The original recording was made by Smiley Lewis, reaching #2 on the Billboard R&B singles chart in 1955".

I'll take their word for it but I have no clue what 'emphatic syncopation' means!

When I first heard Dave Edmunds' version I thought he was an old blues guy. I had no idea who he was. At the time I had no access to Top Of The Pops, but I'd been alerted to him by John Lennon, who told Rolling Stone magazine that I hear You Knocking was his favourite new recording.

That was good enough for me so I bought a copy and you know what? Dr. Winston O'Boogie was spot on. And do you know what else? The song holds up.

The heavily treated vocal is what conveys the deception - making him sound like a haggard old bluesman; I understand that now that I've heard Dave on other things. 

The slide guitar would also have appealed to Mr Lennon, I'm sure.

Hidden gem: The B side is an okay instrumental named in honour of Bill Black - bassist for Elvis in the early years. It's relatively rare in that it didn't appear on Dave's subsequent album Rockpile, but it has turned up as a bonus track on reissues.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

We make it harder than it has to be (The Eagles) #107

Oh how we larffed.
The Eagles I Can't Tell You Why/ The Greeks Don't Want No Freaks (Asylum, E 46 608, 1979)

The group Eagles (to give them their real name) had a lot of hits but I only have this one single by them and I think I must have picked it up cheap while working at Marbecks, in a moment of weakness, at gunpoint. 

They had better songs and bigger hits but I'm not what you'd term a big fan. 

I like some of their early songs and I do own Desperado (I'm a sucker for faux western imagery) and I bought an early, pre mega success, version of their Greatest Hits album but I must be one of the few who never felt tempted to buy Hotel California! And I still don't!

When Bernie Leadon left he took any country rock authenticity the band ever had with him. Alas. 

Same thing, to a lesser extent, when Randy Meisner departed. Randy is cool because he played in Rick Nelson's band!

I Can't Tell You Why is definitely at the sappy end of the continuum. I can't tell you why I own it. I really can't.

It's sung by Timothy B. Schmit. Ye gods - that name! That hair! That ever so cosy pose! That earnest puppy dog expression! That languid 'cool' bass style that makes me wanna strangle him!

Hidden gem: Eagles try to rock out on the B side and it just doesn't wash. They go for a garagey feel (the organ and spider guitar sound) but Don Henley does not have the kind of voice to pull that off. No rarity value - both songs appeared on The Long Run.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

I'm gonna get some concrete mix and fill your back door up with bricks (Dr. Feelgood) #105, 106

Dr. Feelgood Roxette/ Keep It Out Of Sight (United Artists Records, K 6601, 1976)

Dr. Feelgood See You Later Alligator/ I Love You So You're Mine (Stiff, K 193, 1986)

Ten years separates these singles and it shows. While the live version of Roxette from Stupidity still blazes a trail, See You Later sounds like a pale imitation of the band.

The difference is personnel. The only original member on the '86 version is Lee Brilleaux. The band sound is completely different without Wilco Johnson's idiosyncratic guitar style. Gone is the original raw R'n'B sound!

I have a soft spot for the original band; I lived in Leigh-On-Sea and taught students from Canvey Island at King John School in Benfleet, and knowing the area helps.

Canvey is such a weird place - anyone coming from there (Wilco was born on Canvey Island and the band started life there) is going to be touched by the tough environment. It was a pretty dire place when I lived in Essex in the early 2000's so I can only imagine how rough it was in the early seventies.

Sadly Lee died at an early age from cancer and Wilco is on his way out - having refused treatment for his cancer. A great story about him appeared in Mojo recently.

Hidden gems: Keep It Out Of Sight is great - a gritty song from one of the studio albums (Down By The Jetty). All muscle guitar from Wilco and attitude from Lee. What a combination. It's the real deal - they mean it man!

I Love You blah blah is complete garbage. Hard to know why they thought this was a good idea - maybe they didn't care!

Anyway - forget that - remember them this way: