Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Song of the Week: The Who and Mose Allison -- Young Man Blues

Day 2 of our look at the origins of The Who finds On The Flip-Side looking at Young Man Blues. The song was written and recorded as A Young Man by jazz pianists and Tupelo, Mississippi native, Mose Allison. But more on him and that recording later. It is this song, we should note, that was the inspiration for Pete Townshend's magnum opus, My Generation. It's not hard to make the connection -- a young man filled with frustration and searching for a voice of one's own, even if that voice stutters in the face of powerful oppression.
The Detours perform Young Man Blues at The Scene Club
The first recording we feature today is from a bootleg called Keep From Crying which I picked up when in high school (I bought it from my HS Psychology teacher!). The recording appears to have been made on February 9, 1964 at the Scene Club in London. The band was likely going under the name of The Detours that night. Sometime that month they would change their name to The Who (and then briefly to The High Numbers). The band is raw and young and the song, while changed from Allison's piano number, remains largely a jazzy piece. Note that the elder statesmen, Doug Sandom, is still on drums. Keith Moon wouldn't show up for a few months yet.
The Who perform Young Man Blues -- Studio
The second recording is almost as rare as the first. It is a studio recording of Young Man Blues which the boys laid down in October of 1968 as they entered the studio to begin recording their album, Tommy. Pete hadn't quite filled out the song list or even fully fleshed out the story line of Tommy at this point. As such, Pete considered trying to shoe-horn the beloved Young Man Blues into the story line of a frustrated and misunderstood boy bullied into a catatonic state. The arrangement is neither fully like the preceding recording, nor like the following. And, to be blunt, it's not very impressive. Ultimately the usage of the song would be shelved and it would appear only on the beyond-rare 1969 compilation album, The House That Track Built.
The Who perform Young Man Blues -- Live at Leeds
The Who were among the greatest live bands ever. Okay, I'll say it, in their heyday there was no band as good as The Who when they took to the stage. And that heyday was, luckily, caught on tape six years and five days after our first featured recording on this post. It was Valentines Day of 1970 and the four working class lads from Sheperds Bush UK took to the stage in the college town of Leeds. The second song from that set was Mose Allison's Young Man Blues. And how the boys had grown up. The song is no longer a laid back jazz number, but instead a testosterone fueled explosion. But the amazing thing is, Pete's original arrangement as captured that night at The Scene Club, remains largely intact. The song was slated for release as a single in the US on Decca in September of 1970. They pressed a small but unknown number of records and included a picture sleeve, but never formally released the single. A very few found their way into circulation, making it one damn hard to find 45rpm record.
Mose Allison performs A Young Man
Ahhhh, Mose the muse. Here is the original recording from the 23 year-old Mose Allison's first album, Black Country Suite, released on the Prestige label in 1957. Cool and laid back and only 1:26 long, it is the unlikely song that inspired a big-nosed kid from the West End of London to challenge the system and grow more confident in his own voice.

Until tomorrow, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Song of the Week: The Who and Otis Blackwell -- Daddy Rolling Stone

The Who perform Daddy Rolling Stone
Otis Blackwell performs Daddy Rolling Stone

A little something different for this week's posts. We're going to take a look at five songs by The Who and trace them back to the original composer...or at least, to the inspiration behind the song. Not easy as The Who dropped studio recording of covers pretty early on and, unlike The Yardbirds, the early days of The Rolling Stones, or Led Zeppelin, Pete Townshend wrote largely fresh material.

We start today with Daddy Rolling Stone. That song was never released by The Who in the US, but it did see release in Europe as the Flip-Side of their third single, Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere (the second under the name of The Who).

The Who's upbeat number was released on May 21 of 1965 on Brunswick in their native UK. Keith Moon's tin-can drum kit gets beaten to a pulp and Pete turns in some very fine single string lead work to make this a pill-infused mod raver. Roger is still in his "growl" phase and is supported nicely by John and Pete doing their best Marvelettes impersonation. From live recordings I've heard, I can say definitively, that this studio recording successfully captures The Who's live sound at this stage of their career.

Daddy Rolling Stone was written by Otis Blackwell and was his first release in 1953 for the Jay-Dee label. Blackwell's original is a slow brooding number with strong jazz undertones. Otis Blackwell was a prolific writer of many of the songs we consider standards. All Shook Up, Return To Sender and Don't Be Cruel for Elvis Presley, Great Balls of Fire and Breathless for Jerry Lee Lewis, Fever for Little Willie John are just a few of the notables.

Enjoy and we'll see you on the Flip-Side. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Song of the Week: George Jones -- Revenooer Man. RIP

The news just hit that George Jones died today. He was 81 years old. Here is an article we posted on the man and his music back in January of 2010. 

George Jones always scared me. Back in the '70s he was a dead ringer for cult leader, the Reverend Jim Jones. Dark glasses, overly sculpted hair, and an intoxicated swagger. Not cool. And his songs stank too (at least that was my opinion). Sometime when I was about 17, I ran across a Mercury Records release called George Jones: Rockin' The Country. For some unknown reason I picked it up and held it in my little hands and flipped it over a time or two. George Jones sure looked different here. He didn't have much hair, just a real geeky flat top. And he didn't have on those dark lens "mood maker transition" Foster Grant glasses that made him look like that creepy guy who hangs around the playground after school. For the low-low price of $3.00, I was able to carry it out of Barney's Records in Davis California and back to my not-so-swingin' pad.

It's a damn good record filled with upbeat rockabilly numbers and stellar production. It includes Jones' first (of many to come) #1 Country and Western hit, White Lightning (see video below). The standout on that record, however, is the fast paced Revenooer Man, our SOTW. I'm not sure of the history of the recording, but by the sound of it, I assume it was recorded in Bradley's Barn outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Moreover, I assume that my favorite Nashville session man, Grady Martin is on the baritone guitar here. Flip-side devotees may recall that we sang Martin's praises on his uncredited role on The Johnny Burnette Trio's mind blowing Train Kept-a Rollin' and on Johnny Horton's Honky Tonk Hardwood Floor.

On Revenooer Man, Jones and the session men, run through the tale of a G-man hot on the trail of moonshiners fleeing at a break neck speed. The tempo and the acoustic guitar intro are reminiscent of some of those early Everly Brothers songs, some of which were also recorded at Bradley's Barn. The baritone guitar harkens to early work of Johnny Horton. Jones' vocal style, like those of early Conway Twitty, clearly reveal his and the producers knowledge of the dominating presence of people like Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis who were taking away the younger audiences from the country stars.

In all my years of hitting clubs, I have never, ever heard anyone cover this song. White Lightning? A million times. Revenooer Man? Not once. What's up with that? Sit back and enjoy this scratchy recording of George Jones performing Revenooer Man.

See you on the Flip-Side.

Video Diary: Tommy Seebach - Apache

Happy Friday. Today we give you Tommy Seebach doing his Danish, disco version of the Shadows' Apache. It can't get any cheesier than this...or can it?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013

Vinyl Frontier - Happy 90th Birthday, Bettie Page

The greatest pin-up ever, Bettie Page, would have been 90 years old today.

Song of the Week: John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers -- Crawling Up A Hill

John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers get the same bum rap that The Yardbirds suffer through. Specifically, the comments akin to "I only listen to them because [insert famous guitarist name here] was in the band for 5 weeks." Yep, Eric Clapton and Peter Green both did time in the Bluesbreakers. So did John McVie and Mick Fleetwood. But, like The Yardbirds, the Bluesbreakers were better than just being a footnote in some guitar heroes resume. And this song proves it.

This live version of Crawling Up A Hill is the first song off of John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers' first album, John Mayall Plays John Mayall (aka Live at Klooks Kleek). The album came out in December of 1964 and features the aforementioned John McVie on bass and relative unknown Roger Dean on guitar and Hughie Flint on drums. An inferior studio recording was released as Mayall's first single five months prior to this release. 

It's a hell of a two minute song that I never tire of. The musicianship is really quite stellar. All of them, but, in particular, take a listen to Roger Dean's tasteful guitar work. He was months away from being replaced by Eric Clapton and falling into the shadow of obscurity. His work here -- and on the whole album -- is really quite good. Surprising to me that he didn't resurface elsewhere in a more famous band. Of course Mayall, on his own composition, is quite strong vocally, on organ and on harmonica on this song as well.

We'll see you on the Flip-Side!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Song of the Week: Dave Davies (Kinks) -- Love Me Till The Sun Shines

Sometime around 1967, Dave Davies began to grumble about the dark shadow cast by his brother, Ray. Dave had it in his mind that he would make a solo record to be able to show how bright his light was. And he would use The Kinks to make that record. Ray and the rest of the lads played along and Dave managed to record and release some really fine, quirky singles. The first was this double sided gem from July 1967. Today, we focus (of course), on the flip-side of his debut single. The song os Love Me Till The Sun Shines, and damn, it really is great.

Ultimately, Dave's solo project was shelved and his wonderful compositions were added to the next Kinks Album, Something Else. I would argue that it is the addition of Dave's stellar tunes to that album, combined with Ray's usual perfect array of songs, that makes Something Else the Kinks' best offering.

Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

RIP Scott Miller of Game Theory

Word just reached us that Scott Miller, the leader of Game Theory passed away yesterday. Scott was a music leader in the town of Davis, California, the town in which I grew up. He was a frequent visitor to the record store at which I worked, Barney's Records. Safe travels. We'll see you on the Flip-Side, Scott.

Video Diary: Bob Seger and The Last Heard -- East Side Story

We return today with the same song we featured yesterday, East Side Story. Here we have the original version, released just months before the St. Louis Union somehow came to the song. Here a beardless Bob Seger performs his first single, an original composed by Seger himself, on the local Detroit TV show, Swinging Time.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Song Of The Week: The St. Louis Union -- East Side Story

The other week we highlighted the Manchester mod group, The Toggery Five, and their excellent original from 1964, I'm Gonna Jump. Today, we return to Manchester and spin the third and final record from a sextuplet named The St. Louis Union. The song is the blue-eyed soul raver from October of 1966, East Side Story. East Side Story, it should be noted, was written and first recorded by Bob Seger for Hideout Records. (You may recall, this is the same label that hosted The Pleasure Seekers, whom we wrote about just last week.)

Not long after this recording, The St. Louis Union moved to a state of disunion and the members scattered to the wind. Those members were singer Tony Cassidy, guitarist Keith Millar -- who apparently played with Rod Stewart forever --  Saxophonist Lenni Zaksen, organ player Dave Tomlinson, Bassist John Nichols and drummer Dave Webb. I want to give special love to John Nichols who really lays down a beautiful sounding bass line.
Enjoy, we'll see you next time On The Flip-Side.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Song of the Week: The Crawdaddys - I Can Never Tell

Of all the garage revival records you can buy, for my money, the five songs contained on the Crawdaddys' 1980 EP, 5 x 4, is the best you can get. Apologies to The Tell-Tale HeartsToo Many Lovers/Promise single and The Chesterfield Kings' first album, Here Are The.... (check out a great song by song article about that album here and here.)

The Crawdaddys' 1979 debut album on Voxx records was amazing, but it was lacking in originals. That problem was remedied with the band's subsequent release in August of 1980. Four of the five songs contained on this EP are originals. Specifically, written by guitarists Steve Potterf and Ron Silva (far left and far right, respectively, in the sleeve above.) The lone cover on the EP, Pretty Face, is an excellent cover of The Beat Merchants 1964 song, which never saw a release in the US.

Today we'll feature the first song on the Flip-Side of the EP, I Can Never Tell. Kick-ass bass thumping along, wailing harmonica and a time change replete with yelps make this the standout on the perfect EP. The Crawdaddys would release one more single with this line-up and then the band would start changing line-ups and musical styles quicker than a teenage girl can go through emotions. Jack Lopez, Peter Miesner, Fred Sanders, Carl Rusk and Mike Stax would all appear in the band at some point. Ultimately, Ron Silva and Carl Rusk formed the Nashville Ramblers and Mike Stax (and later, Peter Miesner) formed the aforementioned Tell-Tale Hearts.

If you want to learn more about the Crawdaddys and the San Diego garage scene that spawned the Crawdaddys, Nashville Ramblers, Tell-Tale Hearts, Town Criers, Morlocks and Gravedigger V, check out the excellent blog, The Che Underground

Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Original Song Project: Jack Hayden - Long Time Comin'

Here's a song about redemption I wrote while I was living up on the South Yuba River in the little town of Washington. Recorded last week on the same digital recorder used on the busker recordings. I hope you enjoy.