Friday, February 28, 2014

Don't look back, you can never look back (Don Henley) #126

Don Henley The Boys Of Summer/ A Month Of Sundays (Geffen Records, GEF 29141, 1984)

Don Henley is a multi-talented member of the singing drummer fraternity. He shot to fame as part of the Eagles, of course, but for me his End Of Innocence album is better than most Eagles' albums. The album before that (Building The Perfect Beast) contained the A side of this single.

It was really the video that won me over initially and the, albeit critical, reference to Grateful Dead fans (Deadheads). That video is something! It has a feeling of authenticity even though it's clearly a Hollywood style production. I like the theme of the song too - the examination of rear view living.

I aim to be here now but the lure of a nostalgic gaze is a real one for us all.

Hidden gem: The B side eventually made its way to the CD versions of the parent album so no rarity value.  The song is Don's attempt to do a Springsteen or a Mellancamp but it still sounds like a rich boy singing a song to me. The A side however - now that's a song!

Friday, February 21, 2014

She's a vampire in the night (Hello Sailor) #125

Hello Sailor Blue Lady/ Lucy's Leaving Home (Key, K 83, 1977)

I've always thought that Hello Sailor was a perfect name for this decadent bunch of wannabes from Auckland. 

Wannabes is a bit tough. They were good (sometimes great) in Nu Zild but nowheresville in America and Aussie.

Taking a dose of the Stones and a pinch of Velvet Underground as their two cornerstones, Graham Brazier and the boys, instead, became an omnipresent part of Auckland's rock scene in the late seventies.

Blue Lady was easily their biggest hit during that time. Written and sung by GB (my students tell this also stands for 'good bitch' which I'm sure Graham would embrace).

It's one of those songs that immediately takes me back to 1977 - first year at varsity - going to the Windsor Castle with Greg Knowles and his brother and having a ball.

Hidden gem: The B side, also written by GB, is rare - it didn't appear on the parent album (called Hello Sailor). It's got a great Stones vibe (Stones of Black and Blue era), some tasty harmonica from Brazier, driving Ricky Ball drums and a fab bassline from Lisle Kinney. A winner!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I brought you satin and herbs from the places I been (Heart) #124

Heart Even It Up/ Pilot (Epic, ES 435, 1980)

There's something about girls who are inspired by Led Zeppelin. They have attitude. Take Heart - they've been there.

I remain a fan of rock bands with female rawk musicians with attitude like The Runaways, Fanny, Jefferson Airplane's Grace Slick, Patti Smith and, yes, Heart.

Heart were big in the eighties and this song was a top 40 hit for them. It's certainly not their best song or even my favourite Heart song (Barracuda has that killer riff) but it's a great slice of American rock from sisters Anne and Nancy Wilson.

The guitars (by Nancy) are what win me over here - a great guitar riff is a great guitar riff whether it's played by Frank Zappa, Ali Farka Toure, Keef Richards, Jimmy Page, or Nancy Wilson.

Hidden gem: the softer, more melodic side of the sisters is on display on the B side. A lovely B side actually!

Friday, February 14, 2014

It's a rainbow full of sound (The Grateful Dead) #122-123

The Grateful Dead The Music Never Stopped/ Help On The Way (United Artists, K6169, 1975)

The Grateful Dead Johnny B. Goode/ Elvin Bishop Group So Fine (Warner Bros. Records, B 7627, 1972)

The Grateful Dead and singles don't really go together and, lo and behold - here are two of the beasts in my collection.

The strangest one is definitely their version of Johnny B Goode. A more unlikely rock and roll band you'd be hard pressed to find. If I think about great versions of this I can never go past Jimi Hendrix and his incendiary blast on Hendrix In The West. But The Dead? Why O why Garcia?

The Music Never Stopped is different - a brilliant mid period Dead song  from one of my favourite albums. But a single?

Hidden gem: Elvin Bishop doesn't have much in common with the Dead musically so, aside from cynical record company marketing, I have no idea why they'd be paired up on this single. It's an okay song but it's hard to recall it 5 minutes after you've heard it.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Last night in Little Rock put me in a haze (Grand Funk Railroad) #121

Grand Funk Railroad We're An American Band/ Creepin (Capitol, F 3660, 1973)

Grand Funk Railroad are one of my eldest son's favourite bands. I'm surmising but I think it's the unpretentious earthy dumbness he appreciates.

Somehow this bluesy Cream style trio of boys from Flint Michigan were huge in the late sixties, early seventies.

By the time We're An American Band went to the top of the charts the band had added a fourth member and became more pop rock oriented. Having Todd Rundgren producing didn't hurt as this and the next single both went to number 1.

Hidden gem: Creepin is a longish track from the album (elsewhere The Railroad, also on the parent album, was used). It's quite tasteful - a mid tempo bluesy song with some nice organ - the antithesis of the A side's bluster.