Friday, February 27, 2015

We ran along walking 'cross the roof-tops in my chair (Status Quo) #381 - 382

Status Quo In My Chair/ Gerundula (Pye, 7N-17998, 1970)
Status Quo Paper Plane/ Softer Ride (Vertigo, 6059 071, 1972)

Early Status Quo is like early The Who - they did some amazing singles without setting the world on fire with their albums.

In My Chair was only released as a single, Paper Plane was from the awesome Piledriver album.

Both songs made excellent singles. In fact the Paper Plane single would be right up there in my top ten of non Beatle related singles. 

Back in the seventies I boogied around my bedroom playing air guitar to both it and the B side countless times. That the record still plays on my stereo is a testament to the strength of vinyl!

The lyrics (as quoted in the post title) give you a clue as to the band's strength - the churning riffs from Rossi and Parfitt!

Hidden gems: Softer Ride (not included on Piledriver) completes the awesomeness of that single - a masterclass in groove and riff. 

Gerundula is almost a prototype for the boogie explosion to come (they redid the song for the next album - Dog Of Two Head).

Monday, February 23, 2015

No, no, no, no, I can't take it no more (Ringo Starr) #379 - 380

Ringo Starr Only You/ Call Me (Apple, NZP 3488, 1974)
Ringo Starr No No Song/ Call Me (Apple, NZP 3510, 1974)

And so we begin the long slow decline years until the All Starr Band relaunched Ringo as a nostalgia act (and yes, some would argue he started on that path with Sentimental Journey).

The Goodnight Vienna album isn't that bad - it's just not Ringo. Doesn't help that the FABs curated material for Ringo is much reduced (limited to John Lennon's input only) and even that feels a little forced.

BTW, I much prefer John's own party hearty version to Ringo's more laconic delivery, but that's just me.

Anyway - back to these two A sides: Only You is a golden oldie and smacks a little of desperation - a failed attempt to recapture the magic of You're Sixteen.

The No No Song is the kind of novelty number that Ringo can carry off without too many problems, but, being a novelty number, the appeal wears off pretty quickly.

Hidden gems: Call Me is not a gem, hidden or otherwise. Why he uses it twice as B side is like a bad dream, dear.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Eyes that sparkle and shine (Ringo Starr) #377 - 378

Ringo Starr Photograph/ Down And Out (Apple, A 10360, 1973)
Ringo Starr You're Sixteen/ Devil Woman (Apple, A 10430, 1973)

Ringo's solo album career begins (and some might say, ends) with 1973's Ringo album.

It's a great album because the boys were back! 

It's brilliant, of course, because the songs are great, but so is the production, and the support for Ringo's singing. The feel of the album, the vibe if you will, is light, positive and joyful!

What's his name?
These two songs are a great example of that vibe. Especially You're Sixteen which is exactly the right mix of froth and substance.

But Photograph is, for me, Ringo's best moment as a solo starr. There's a Ringo patented poignancy about the song (co-written with George - the only song ever credited as such) that he nails perfectly.

Whenever I've heard the song my thoughts have drifted towards my mother's passing
Now you're expecting me to live without you/ But that's not something that I'm looking forward to.
I listen to it now as also a memorial to John and George, rather than as any kind of love affair break up (which it was really about). 

That ability to universalise the song means perfection in my book.

It gets me in the same way every time. That's a great song!

I haven't even mentioned the playing - which is sublime btw. 

Hidden gems: Devil Woman is an okay song better suited to appearing on the parent album, Down And Out wasn't originally on Ringo but it's been added as a bonus track since.

I'm not that keen on bonus tracks actually (stop me if you've heard this before). They often detract from the original album - in this case Down And Out is a weak song and in no way enhances Ringo.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

I had me big plans (Ringo Starr) #374 - 376

Ringo Starr Beaucoups Of Blues/ Coochy - Coochy (Apple, A 9309, 1970)
Ringo Starr It Don't Come Easy/ Early 1970 (Apple, APPLE 9474, 1971)
Ringo Starr Back Off Boogaloo/ Blindman (Apple, R 5944, 1972)

Dear old Ringo! 

Being a Beatles completist can be testing: John Tavener, Harrison's Electronic Sound, some of JohnanYoko (Cambridge '69 tests me), and many of Ringo's 17 studio albums are my biggest hurdles at times.

Those times don't include his time as a FAB, nor the first few singles when he had George helping him out with writing (It Don't Come Easy) or producing, I hasten to add.

With no singles coming from his first solo album made up of schmaltzy standards (the, at times, plain embarrassing Sentimental Journey) it was second album (made up of schmaltzy country songs) Beaucoup of Blues that kick started the chart action. Except it didn't.

I guarantee most think that Ringo's solo career started with It Don't Come Easy or the RINGO album.

If he had, it would have been an epic start. Both IDCE and Back Off Boogaloo were near perfect pop songs - or at least - they were great for 1971 and 1972 respectively. I can easily hear these making a 1972 Beatles album!

There was no parent album so these were on off singles at the time.

Hidden gems: Coochy was left off the original album, although it's been added as a bonus track since. Not sure how much of a bonus it is though.

Early 1970 IS cool though - this self deprecating lovely Ringo postcard to the other FABS has since appeared on compilations.  

Blindman is weird - it's a tie in with the spaghetti western Ringo appeared in around this time. Interesting, but not a gem I'm sorry to report.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I'll take your sorrow if you want me to (Bruce Springsteen) #368 - 373

Bruce Springsteen My Hometown/ Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town (CBS, BA 3394, 1984)
Bruce Springsteen I'm On Fire/ Johnny Bye Bye (CBS, BA 223269, 1985)
Bruce Springsteen Glory Days/ Stand On It (CBS, BA 3305, 1985)
Bruce Springsteen I'm Goin' Down/ Janey, Don't You lose Heart  (CBS, BA 3350, 1985)
Bruce Springsteen War/ Merry Christmas Baby (CBS, BA 3504, 1986)
Bruce Springsteen War; Merry Christmas Baby/ Incident On 57th Street (CBS 12", 6501936, 1986)

This final selection of six Springsteen singles in my collection takes in just 3 years.

Born In The U.S.A. again supplies all of the A sides apart from War (which came from a five album set of live material released in 1986).

Scooter and the Big Man - bustin' the city in half.
The phrase I'm on fire sums it up as Bruce serves up a variety of styles, all effortlessly presented by the amazingly adaptable E Street Band.

There's the slow burn of I'm On Fire (ha ha); the nostalgic Glory Days (Miami Steve was leaving so this may have prompted the looking back that features in some songs); the social comment of My Hometown; and the rebuffed sexual overtures of I'm Goin' Down.

It all sounds pretty effortless (in a good way). 

Then there's the live take of War (What Is It Good For) - btw - that was Tolstoy's original title for his epic novel War And Peace.

In the eighties it sounded pretty current and heartfelt even. To my mind, it's aged a bit as a sentiment but the performance is still on the money.

Hidden gems: None of these B sides appeared on the parent albums - further evidence of Bruce's strict quality control and the fact that he had so much quality productivity going on.

Pick of the bunch may be Janey... but Johnny Bye Bye is pretty cool as well, then again the Christmas songs are fab. Maybe it's Stand On It - a rave up?

Actually they're all great!!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Deep in the dark forest (Bruce Springsteen) #362 - 367

Bruce Springsteen Born In The U.S.A./ Shut Out The Light (CBS, BA 223245, 1984)
Bruce Springsteen Born In The U.S.A. (Freedom mix)Born In The U.S.A. (Dub); Born In The U.S.A. (Radio)  (CBS 12", BA 223245, 1984)
Bruce Springsteen Dancing In The Dark/ Pink Cadillac (CBS, BA 223189, 1984)
Bruce Springsteen Dancing In The Dark (Blaster mix)Dancing In The Dark  (Radio); Dancing In The Dark  (Dub)  (CBS 12", BA 12093, 1984)
Bruce Springsteen Cover Me/ Jersey Girl (CBS, BA 223223, 1984)
Bruce Springsteen Cover Me (Undercover mix); Cover Me (Dub 1)/ Cover Me (Radio); Cover Me (Dub 2) (CBS 12", BA 12100, 1984)

Broooce was one of the mega selling four of 1984 (the year of Thriller, the Footloose soundtrack and Prince's Purple Rain).

Each of these three songs came from the Born In The U.S.A. album and got the full multi-mix treatment, as well as having non album interest on the B sides (more of that in hidden gems).

The Boss was everywhere in 1984 and one of those everywheres was MTV with that iconic impassioned lip sinc to Born In The U.S.A.

One from the 'Americans don't get irony' file: this is clearly a song about nowhere to run and nowhere to go, even though it's wrapped in an American flag on the cover. It's amazing that Ronald Raygunz thought it would make a snazzy campaign song. DOH!!!!

It packed a wallop then and its power is not too diminished with time. Bruce was as serious as a heart attack and is still razor relevant to life for many in 2015 - he ain't called The Boss fer nuttin!! 

[Those comments are directed mainly to the 7 inch single version - the one we all know and love. Remixes don't ever do much for me - I've mentioned this before.]

Dancing In The Dark is not one of my personal favourites - there's that video with Courtney Cox for a start and it's all a little too airbrushed and contrived for my liking. The big radio hit!

Cover me is along the same lines as DITD - still has that eighties pop gloss.

Hidden gems: Bruce's B sides usually contained amazing songs that somehow never made the albums. Either that or he gave them away to other artists (Pink Cadillac went to Aretha frinstance). Amazing. The things he never released (like on Tracks) would have been someone else's career!

Shut Out The Light is a great song - way better than some of the things on the album (and it's a great album).

Jersey Girl is, of course, the Tom Waits song. I guarantee loads of people hear this and immediately assume it's a Bruce song. It fits like a glove.

The B side remixes are never less that interesting but not essential. Mighty Max comes to the fore on the dub versions in particular. He brings the power (night after night after night after night after...). Warning: unfortunately the eighties production tricks are unleashed by the remixers so they've dated quite a bit.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

I took a wrong turn and I just kept going (Bruce Springsteen) #360-361

Bruce Springsteen Because The Night; Racing In The Streets/ Because The Night (Patti Smith); The Promise (Bootleg, 1978)
Bruce Springsteen Hungry Heart/ Held Up Without A Gun (CBS, BA 222748, 1980)

The Springsteen section of my vinyl singles collection starts with stuff prior to the Born In The U.S.A. blockbuster in 1984.

While Born To Run (the song blasted out of my radio in 1975) was my first point of contact, I didn't buy any Springsteen singles until this bootleg featuring material from the Darkness On The Edge Of Town sessions.

The single is actually titled Outside The Seven-Eleven Store and is a tiny taster of what went on in the murky world of Springsteen bootlegs in 1978.

My prized triple bootleg album Piece de Resistance set (Sept 19, 1978 at Passaic, New Jersey) and double Live at The Roxy, Hollywood (July 7, 1978) were also bought about the same time as this single.

I've already done an entry a few posts ago on Because The Night- not one of my favourite Smith or Springsteen moments. 

Hungry Heart was a strong single in 1980. Apparently Bruce intended it as a gift to The Ramones but his manager got him to change his mind. Hard to hear it as a Ramones song.

Parent album The River was a sprawling double and Hungry Heart, despite the dour fatalistic subject matter (father abandons his family for goodness sake!) it's a bright and bouncy song; a good choice for a single.

Hidden gems: The reason I bought Hungry Heart was for the B side - a song that didn't appear on The River. Weighing it at 1 min and change - it's a fast blast of Bruce branded energetic thrash.

The Promise is now available on the CD package (also called The Promise) which collects a vast amount on previously unreleased material from those sessions.

[A word about the video - I tried to find a good version with the E Street Band but sadly the sound quality is superior on this version - Bruce proving he's human with this mid career dalliance with non E-streeters]