Saturday, November 29, 2014

There once was a time (The Rumour) #334

The Rumour L'Amour Est L'Enfant De La Liberte/ Nobody Knows (Polydor, 2069011, 1971)

This was huge in 1971 on the New Zealand music charts, thanks to Television exposure on Studio One (a NZ's Got Talent of it's day). Deservedly, they won the competition.

On the back of that win, this single stayed at #1 in NZ for four weeks!!! 

Now, you know- I'm a harmony man and The Rumour were NZ's Beach Boys, Shade Smith our Brian Wilson.

I instantly fell for their charms.

Like The Beach Boys, The Rumour had some seriously talented brothers at its core: songs were written by lead guitarist John (Shade) Smith with Gerard Smith taking care of the vocals and rhythm guitar, with their schoolmates and neighbours Jacques Koolen- drums, and Ross Hindman on bass. 

Hidden gem: a genuine gem on the B side - Nobody knows has some great harmony vocals and nice pop feel. 

By the way: you'll note that the photo shows it cost me $1.00- bought from an electrical appliance store in Greenlane, Auckland.

The first video is a reunited Rumour playing a snippet to a backing track, I guess. The full version is below it. Sadly, there is no clip of the Studio One performance on youtube.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

You're so young but your feelings are deep (Linda Ronstadt) #330 - 333

Linda Ronstadt When Will I Be Loved/ It Doesn't Matter Any More (Asylum Records, F 4050, 1974)

Linda Ronstadt Back In The U.S.A./ White Rhythm and Blues (Asylum Records, E 45 519, 1978)

Linda Ronstadt How Do I Make You/ Rambler Gambler (Asylum Records, E 46 602, 1980)

Guilty pleasure alert: I have a thing for Linda Ronstadt. I take comfort in the fact that I'm not the only one.

Somehow she sits alone atop the female vocalist section of the rock pantheon.

An interpreter, not a composer, Linda could sing stuff by The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, and J.D. Souther (as she does over these three singles) and make them Linda Ronstadt songs.

She took on a variety of musical genres in her career and never sounded out of place. As one critic noted, Ronstadt is "Blessed with arguably the most sterling set of pipes of her generation ... rarest of rarities – a chameleon who can blend into any background yet remain boldly distinctive ... It's an exceptional gift; one shared by few others".

She's a Parkinson's disease sufferer now and having retired from singing she leaves a giant empty but classy space in the musical world. 

Forget guilty pleasure - everybody loves Linda. And these songs endure.

Hidden gems: I love her delivery on White Rhythm and Blues, the J.D. Souther song. There's a lovely purity and innocence to her voice.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Have you guessed my name? (The Rolling Stones) #327 - 329

The Rolling Stones Brown Sugar/ Bitch (Rolling Stones Records, XRS 19100, 1971)

The Rolling Stones Tumbling Dice/ Sweet Black Angel (Rolling Stones Records, XRS 19103, 1971)

The Rolling Stones Sympathy For The Devil (Remixes)/ Sympathy For The Devil (Remix) (ABKCO? DECCA 12", 2003)

What can I tell you about these singles that you don't know, or haven't heard a million times before?

Nothing really right? But have you heard and thought about the lyrics to Brown Sugar? Ever? They are down right nasty! Slavery and sex and violence and weird denials (I'm not a schoolboy) - nasty!

But The Stones are The Stones! These are stone cold classics (pardon the pun)- instantly recognisable from Keef's first chord, from Mick's first snarl, from Charlie's first kick.

Tumbling Dice is off the peerless Exile On Main Street set and Sympathy gets a 21st century reboot with a variety of unnecessary remixes. I wonder whose idea that was.

Hidden gems: Like Brown Sugar, Bitch is a wonderful song off the great Sticky Fingers. What a terrific single full stop. 

Sweet Black Angel is a nice complement to Tumbling Dice - a kind of mini side 1 and side 2 of the album.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

This foolish boy - his head is in a whirl (Alastair Riddell) #325 - 326

Alastair Riddell Wonder Ones/ Oh Ron (Mandrill, M 10005, 1977)

Alastair Riddell What Good Does It Do Me/ The Last Time (Mandrill, DRILL 3, 1978)

Space Waltz were iconclasts in the New Zealand music world. Everyone of my generation will still remember their wonderful/brave/shocking/exciting 1974 television performance on 'New Faces' - the NZ's Got Talent of its day.

Alastair Riddell was the principle writer and the lead singer of that band and after that great eponymous album he went solo. 

Both these A sides come from his 1978 album (called Alastair Riddell - his imagination went into the songs rather than his album titles!).

Wonder Ones and What Good Does It Do Me are terrific tunes, displaying varying aspects of his vast talent.

Hidden gems: Oh Ron is a great (Ron is his brother)  slab of glam Bowie style pop - definitely a gem!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

I'm a-walking in the rain, tears are falling and I feel a pain (Del Shannon) #324

Bonnie Raitt Runaway/ Louise (Warner Bros., WBS 8382 25, 1977)

Bonnie Raitt has a wonderfully rich vein of authenticity running through her. 

When she tackles this cover of the Del Shannon song she puts her heart and soul into it, pretty much as she does everything she tries. 

That voice is full of so much honest emotion. Bravely, she is not afraid to take an iconic song and give it a rootsy treatment with guitars and blues harp to the foreground. 

Hidden gem: Louise is another cover - this time from Paul Siebel. It's a real country weepie that Bonnie again manages to bring a freshness to. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Krishna Krishna Hare Hare (Radha Krishna Temple) #322 - 323

Radha Krishna Temple (London) Hare Krishna Mantra/ Prayer To The Spiritual Masters (Apple, APPLE 15, 1969)

Radha Krishna Temple Govinda/ Govinda Jai Jai (Apple, APPLE 25, 1970)

I am not a devotee of Hinduism but I respect their worship of the deity Krishna. I also respect and admire the interest George Harrison took in the London version of the Radha Krishna Temple.

That interest translated into producing a couple of singles and a great album of Krishna inspired devotional music for The Beatles' Apple Records label in 1969/1970.

I realise they are of minority interest but here's something hypnotically appealing about the chanting going on in these songs. Let them wash over you and I'm sure you'll be doing the mantra with me in no time.

Govinda is my personal favourite - the musical backing is more fully formed than the rather rudimentary and now over familiar Hare Krishna Mantra. Govinda is a terrific song- George's sympathetic production and a joyous chorus that speeds up to as close to a frenzy as the RKT can get to make this a repeated listening treat.

Hidden gem: Prayer... is not from the album so there's some rarity value attached to that. Govinda Jai Jai (Govinda Jaya Jaya on the album) is a repeated chant that also is not without charm. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Flash a-ah - savior of the universe (Queen) #321

Queen Flash's Theme (AKA Flash)/ Football Fight (Chrysalis, E 47092, 1980)

Oddly, this is the only Queen single I own. All those massive hits and perversely - this is what's in my collection.

I do remember loving this song, the hugely camp movie it came from, and the Queen soundtrack as a whole, but I remain ignorant as to why I own this single. 

I recall seeing the film a number of times and had it on video as well back in the day (recorded off the TV - this is before the days of video/DVD cash ins).

Those special effects in this eighties updated version of the old Flash Gordon serial are so ridiculously done that they become iconic, and even more so when thrown into the single.

Queen are perfect for all of this. Freddie does his best emote over an electronic pulse and surging Brian May guitars. The Queen harmonies are present and correct.  

Hidden gem: The B side continues the soundtrack from the film when Flash bowls over baddies during a mock American Football game (with Dale as a cheerleader). Huge fun!

Friday, November 7, 2014

I don't particularly like New York City (GNP) #320

Graham Purdy Live In New York/ - (Mutoscope, 1967)

Well, it's a single, and it's in my collection so it occupies its rightful position in the countdown at number 320.

My dad recorded this direct to disc in a voice-o-graph booth on the 86th floor observation deck, at the top of the Empire State building (then the world's tallest building) in 1967. I was 9, going on 10.

Why was he in New York? It was part of his big overseas trip to Canada, America, England and Europe when he was working for Burroughs Wellcome - the famous biomedical drug company. He was away for months, I recall.

GNP and his boys
a few years before his trip
During the record he says 'don't worry about me, I'm having the time of my life' but he generally hated this kind of overseas travel. This was a big but necessary sacrifice on his part.

My mother, younger brother and I stayed home at 18 Korma Ave., Royal Oak and eagerly soaked up dad's only method of communication which was by post. We received this record as part of a package he sent us during the trip.

It's weird hearing his voice again from nearly fifty years ago. He was young and sounds it. During the message he tells us that he got some sneakers for me and my brother, and 'a wiglet' for my mother in Woolworths.

This was exotic fantasy stuff beyond compare. Sneakers? That was on our shopping list for him but we didn't dare to hope he'd actually get them for us.

I remember when we got them finally on his return. High top sneakers from America!!! Who would have thought it.

Anyway here's dad from the Empire State building in 1967:

Hidden gem: No B side on this item.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Let's get nuts (Prince) #319

Prince and The Revolution Let's Go Crazy/ Erotic City (Warner Bros 12", 20246-0, 1994)

Prince divides opinion. Some love him; some don't.

I can understand why. 

Sometimes he's ridiculously lewd, he's so prolific that oftentimes he has problems with quality control, he's reclusive, he can be weird (name changes and 'slave' facials don't help), he seems to have a skewed idea of Christianity, appears to court controversy, and he's annoyingly talented.

I boarded the Prince train with 1999 (1982) and got off around the time of The Love Symbol album in 1992. During the decade long journey Let's Go Crazy provided an early peak.

This song kicks off Purple Rain (movie and album) with an almighty 'let's go nuts' adrenalin rush. Prince is at his fiery Hendrix style guitar wig out peak on this track.

Hidden gem: The B side is a curious thing - it didn't appear on Purple Rain and the lyrics guaranteed controversy. It's a catchy but minor player in the Prince canon.