Saturday, May 30, 2015

How can I tell you it wouldn't be the same? (Lon and Derrek Van Eaton) #414

Lon & Derrek Van Eaton Warm Woman/ More Than Words (Apple Records, APPLE 46, 1972)

These American brothers were signed by George Harrison and recorded one album for Apple Records (Brother).

Although George believed in the brothers and thought they would be huge, in reality the boys produced a pleasantly innocuous record much like later Dark Horse recordings by Jiva, Attitudes and Splinter that George would be involved in.

Few bought this single (a second track, Sweet Music, from Brothers was also released as a single with the same effect) and it's not hard to see why.

This music was so NOT what was happening on the charts in 1972 it's laughable.

Hidden gem: Well that may be stretching it but the B side is a better bet than the dirge like A side. I can hear why George liked it - it sounds like him!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I was lost I am found (U2) #412 - 413

U2 Gloria/ I Will Follow (Island, K 8510, 1981)

U2 The Three Sunrises; The Unforgettable Fire/ A Sort Of Homecoming; Love Comes Tumbling; Bass Trap (Island 12", L  20046, 1985)

Gloria was my first taste of U2. Specifically it was the video which established my interest and it still looks great: written and directed by Meiert Avis, it was filmed in October 1981 on a barge in Grand Canal Basin in Dublin near Windmill Lane.

The intangible heroic nature of the song was a hook but so were the charismatic lead singer and the enigmatic guitarist (cool pants Edge), and that barge was a genius idea. 

Straight away, I, of course, went out and bought the single (and then the October album).

To me, the song has an 'intangible' nature because I'm never sure whether Bono is talking about his love of a woman called Gloria, or exalting in God, or both at the same time (which is weird).

Weirdly also, it was a big hit in New Zealand (made the top 20) and Ireland only. We had good taste back in the day!

The 12 inch maxi single is an oddity. The Unforgettable Fire is the key track: the 12" is an expanded version of the single which had the live version of A Sort Of Homecoming on the B side. 

It's kind of a strange choice for a single. Much better suited to its place on the parent album.

Hidden gem: The live take of I Will Follow was recorded in Boston. It's inclusion on the B side did its job for me - after October I bought the debut album.

The 12" has a groovy live version of A Sort Of Homecoming - one of my favourite U2 tracks from the eighties period. It builds into a great euphoric anthem as only early U2 could do.

Love Come Tumbling is quite muted and all the better for it (the bombastic gets a bit much sometimes) and the instrumental Bass Trap continues the understated vibe nicely. It's even 'tasteful' (shock horror).

Friday, May 22, 2015

A holiday's complete (UK Squeeze) #411

UK Squeeze Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)/ What The Butler Saw (A&M, K7920, 1980)

On red vinyl too! Wahoo!

It rather sums up the infectious fun to be had here.

Weirdly, I'm not actually a huge fan of the band overall and I'm not sure why. 

In Tilbrook and Difford we had the eighties Lennon and McCartney; the musicianship was uniformly excellent: it was FUN (Jools Holland on keys was hilarious!) and the very Englishness of the band made the band cool for cats.

However, this is the only song of theirs that I own on vinyl. But wow - what a great song!

The word play is terrific - although I have no idea what's going on really aside from its picaresque Butlins holiday camp scenario - it sounds great!

But what the heck fire is 'And I feel like William Tell, Maid Marian on her tiptoed feet' all about? He feels like William Tell AND Maid Marian??????

Hidden gem: Not in this case - the B side doesn't move me.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Every word so finely placed (Judie Tzuke) #410

Judie Tzuke Stay With Me Till Dawn/ New Friends Again (The Rocket Record Company, 6079 675, 1979)

Judie is still going strong - still performing and still releasing albums, but this is the song she will be forever known for, therefore, she joins the ranks of one hit wonders.

Nothing takes away from the fact that it's a great song. She co-wrote it and sings it wonderfully. Somehow, it has that certain something that allows it to connect to a wider audience.

Let's call it 'vibe'. There's a real wistful feel to her delivery and that middle section with the strings lifts the song into the stratosphere.

She's done plenty of singles since but nothing has fired up the collective imagination like Stay With Me Till Dawn.

Hidden gem: The B side is so so. The money shot was the A side.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

One thing I can tell you is you got to be free (The Beatles) #408 - 409

Ike and Tina Turner Come Together/ Honky Tonk Women (Liberty, LYK-3557, 1970)
Ike and Tina Turner I Wish It Would Rain/ With A Little Help From My Friends (Liberty, LYK-3136, ?)

Couldn't find any reference to the I Wish It Would Rain single so I'm not sure about its specifics like the year it came out and I think it's the A side - if I'm wrong, then it should have been. It's a great song with a great groove but...

...listening to Ike Turner play now comes with that yuck factor. I have huge respect for Tina but having read her autobiography there is no way back for Ike.

Given that, I tend to concentrate on Tina in her early incarnation as a part of the Turner regime and she is, of course, a riveting performer and a one in a million vocalist. A force of nature - from her unique female position she delivers Come Together as the sexually charged stream of consciousness that The Beatles could never carry off - even given their omniscient fabness.

Hidden gems: Honky Tonk Women? Tina knew how that felt and her powerful performance makes this song her own and a million miles away from the lewd country honk of The Stones.

For some reason With A Little Help...never takes off. The pace maybe? Not sure, but where she's brilliant with Come Together, she seems unsuited to the quirkiness of the Ringo Starr vehicle from Sgt. Peppers.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Ain't that sweet (Doris Troy) #407

Doris Troy Ain't That Cute/ Vaya Con Dios   (Apple Records, APPLE 24, 1970)

Like Jackie Lomax and Billy Preston, Doris was able to draw on an amazing array of talent during her Apple experience. 

Apart from George and Ringo the following superstar musicians were involved: Klaus Voorman, Billy Preston, Stephen Stills, Peter Frampton, Eric Clapton, and Leon Russell are probably the most famous but plenty of others were also present.

Hard to make a bad record with that crew along for the ride. Doris, herself, is a top vocalist with a very distinctive soul voice.

Ain't That Cute (a Harrison/Troy composition) powers along thanks to the brass and in fact is the lead off song to her only Apple Records album - simply called Doris Troy.

I can't pretend I'm a huge fan though. I own it because of the Beatle George/ Beatle Ringo/ Apple Records connection. It's well done and everything - I just don't get it.

Hidden gems: Vaya wasn't on the original Apple album but has been added as a bonus track since. As with the A side, it's not a personal favourite; again, the feel of it doesn't connect with me. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The takers get the honey (Robin Trower) #406

Robin Trower Too Rolling Stoned/ Too Rolling Stoned (Part 2)  (Chrysalis, K-6431, 1976)

I can not sit still while listening to this. It's impossible. I go into full on rock star pose, throwing guitar shapes and howling along like a man possessed.

Can't help it, the boy can't help it.

Robin Trower is a guitar rock god, okay! Forget the Hendrix comparisons - Robin plays guitar in his own inimitable style and this track from his 1975 live album is the real deal.

Weirdly the song is split into two parts like Eric Clapton's Layla single and Fleetwood Mac's Oh Well. Part two appears on the B side but this is all about the rock and roll shenanigans of the A side.

Hidden gem: The B side doesn't cut it as its own entity; the whole song needs to be heard complete. 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

You've got the universe reclining in your hair (T Rex) #404 - 405

T Rex Get It On/ There Was A Time; Raw Ramp  (Parlophone, NZP 3405, 1971)
T Rex Jeepster/ Life's A Gas (Parlophone, NZP 3414, 1971)

Dirty and sweet!? Too much so for my dear old mum. When she heard this she knew it was a sexual healing that Marc Bolan was calling for. Me - not so much but even I knew what was going down on the raw ramp B side.

Get It On was, back in 1971, one of my first single purchases. That guitar hook had me instantly and the vocal tics furthered my interest. The slightly risque subject matter was also a draw card. Listening to it now I realise how amazing Tony Visconti's production was. Those drums!

Jeepster was more of the sexual same: "I'm going to suck you" doesn't leave a lot to the imagination. No wonder my mother frowned on this teenage pop stuff.

Hidden gems: More Bolan depravity on the B sides. There Was A Time is a great intro (those sweeping strings!) to the wonderful Raw Ramp - complete with a great false ending - let's get the electric boogie on indeed.

This is one case where the youtube video/sound fails to do justice to the magnificence of this sound. Dig out that old vinyl and turn it up!!