Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Song of the Week: The Daily Flash - Green Rocky Road

Today we have The Daily Flash performing their original song, Green Rocky Road. The band was Seattle-based but the lads soon made the trek to Los Angeles and San Francisco to find their illusive glory. Green Rocky Road was the Flip-Side of their final of three two singles (actually 3, as their previous single was released two different times). At the time of recording the band was Doug Hastings, Steve Lalor, Don MacAllister, and Jon Keliehor. After this record they called it a day and moved on to other things in life.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Video Diary: Lucius perform on NPR's Tiny Desk Concert

Four songs from the newly formed Brookly-based band, Lucius: Go Home, Don't Just Sit There, Turn It Around, Genevieve. I'm most struck by Turn It Around, which can be found at 8:11. Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig are on vocals. Danny Molad and Peter Lalish are on the cheap 60's era Sears Silvertone guitars (one made by Danelectro and the other made by Harmony) and Andrew Burri is on drums. Enjoy.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Busker Days: The Jonah Kit - Pancho and Lefty

The Jonah Kit was playing down in the BART station on Thursday. The band, for today consisting solely of Jonah Watchman, caught my attention with an upbeat, raucous take on the Jim Carroll tune People Who Died. The Kit also has an upright bass and drums. Jonah who grew up in San Francisco's Mission district and now resides in Oakland, was nice enough to let me record him even though I told him I didn't have the requisite, self-imposed $5 per recorded song. The sign in his guitar case stated No One Turned Away For Lack Of Funds, so....

Listen above to his strong rendition of Townes Van Zandt's great, enigmatic Pancho and Lefty.

Interestingly, The Jonah Kit has recorded with Craig Ventresco and two songs on the Kit's cd feature his masterful guitar work.  I gotta pick up a copy of that cd! You can hear a couple Busker Days recordings of Craig here and here. Also, all Busker recordings can be accessed on this site's handy Jump Station.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Album: Here Are The Chesterfield Kings - Side 2

Today brings us the original versions of the songs that grace side 2 of Here Are The Chesterfield Kings. The first installment, side 1, can be seen here.

The Chesterfield Kings knew these garage masterpieces intimately and understood the period that gave birth to them, and in compiling this diverse blend of nascent and obscure rock and roll, they created a kind of cross-section garage masterwork that never did, never could, materialize in the heyday of this music. It was the fate of any number of excellent acts that rose to the top and produced an album, such as The Chocolate Watch Band or The Sonics, that their album's integrity would become compromised as a result of some pressure to record a popular song or two, or an overzealous manager with studio musicians on the side, or any of the other multitude of pitfalls that assailed these productions. And the obscure acts, like today's The Mourning Reign or The Exotics or yesterday's Painted Ship or The Rogues, who all released seminal garage creations worthy of close study, had to settle with the publishing one or two singles, if they were lucky. So, with an exceptional ear and uncanny taste, The Chesterfield Kings mined this quarry and infused their findings with craftsmanship and attention to detail -- infused it with their own sound -- and served it all up on Here Are.

I hope you enjoy!

The Chocolate Watch Band - No Way Out

The Exotics - Come With Me

The Shades of Night - Fluctuation

The Mourning Reign - Satisfaction Guaranteed (see more here)

The Moving Sidewalks - 99th Floor

The Harbinger Complex - Time To Kill

Little Phil and the Night Shadows - 60 Second Swinger

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Album: Here Are The Chesterfield Kings

Sometime in the fall of 1984, while spending a year in England, I was thumbing through a record store in Guilford, south of London, when to my astonishment I came across a copy of Here Are The Chesterfield Kings.  Having just been introduced to this album – and 60’s garage in general – by a friend back in the States, I knew this album was gold.  Isolated from my friend’s and my collection of records back home, I found myself studying this and a few other albums in my lonely little high-schooler bedroom.  The songs Little White Lies, Sixty Second Swinger and Come With Me got special attention.  They gave insight into this other kind of music - unruly, menacing vocals set to a raw pounding beat and inventive instrumentation.  Other songs such as You Better Look Now, Time to Kill or Outside Chance showed the more melodic side to the mid-‘60s music I craved to hear.  As a whole the music on this album was so charged that at times I literally couldn’t believe what I was hearing; and the album was so faithfully presented in the vein of a mid-‘60s era release, from the actual recordings to the picture of the band on the front of album, right down to the images and layout on the back of the album, that I must admit to not knowing for some time in which era this was initially recorded.  This just added to the allure.

The Chesterfield Kings formed in 1979 in Rochester, New York, and were one of the earliest ’60s revival bands as they rode that first crest that included The Lyres out of Boston and The Crawdaddys out of San Diego. In the next few years the Chesterfield Kings – Greg Prevost, Doug Meech, Rick Cona, Andy Babiuk and Orest Guran – released several singles and played locally, and all the while several influential garage-specific compilations – Pebbles and the Pebbles offshoot Highs In the Mid-Sixties - entered the mix. By the time of the Chesterfield King’s 1982 release of “Here Are”, ‘60s garage or otherwise ‘60s-inspired music had a foothold, albeit a distinctly underground foothold, on both coasts and the garage revival was well on its way.  While many of these early acts embraced the ‘60s garage ideal with a zeal, and some frankly nailed it – see The Unclaimed’s Primordial Ooze EP or The Tell-Tale Hearts' eponymous LP – if you wanted the blueprint at a granular level it was Here Are Chesterfield Kings.

Today we look not at Here Are but at the original versions of the songs behind the album.  The album is all covers, something I didn't really get only until recently, such was their ownership of the material. Although the ‘60s garage comps were hitting their stride by 1982, as of the date of release of this album as far as I can tell only one song on it had been comped.  In the pre-internet, pre eBay days, the general awareness and availability of some of these songs, let alone the actual wax, must have been pretty slim indeed, which makes this album all the more stunning.

The SonicsThe Hustler
The Rogues - You Better Look Now
The Turtles - Outside Chance
Painted Ship - Little White Lies
Zakary Thaks - Won't Come Back
The Choir - I'm Going Home
The Chocolate Watch Band - Expo 2000

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Song Still Remains the Same: the unauthorized etymology of Led Zeppelin songs. "Since I've Been Loving You"

Led Zeppelin, Since I've Been Loving You

Moby Grape, Never

Here it is, the much anticipated third installment of The Song STILL Remains the Same: the unauthorized etymology of Led Zeppelin songs. In our first installment, exactly a year ago, we looked at how Jimmy Page put Jake Holmes' song, Dazed and Confused, in Page's own jacket pocket and strolled on to the bank. (Take a look at that post for an over-arching introduction to the series)In our second installment, posted in February of 2010, we looked at how the lads not only took a Muddy Waters tune, but how they emulated the vocals and production style of their countrymen, The Small Faces, to create Zep's mega hit, Whole Lotta Love. Today we look at one of my personal favorite Led Zep tunes, Since I've Been Loving You.

Since I've Been Loving You appeared on Led Zeppelin's third album, the aptly titled, Led Zeppelin III. The song was recorded June of 1970 in London, England. Musically, Since I've Been Loving You owes a bit to The Yardbirds' New York City Blues, which Jimmy Page learned from Yardbirds' lead guitarist, Jeff Beck. In fact, the opening riff is exactly the same. Further guitar riff connections can be drawn from B.B. King's version of Five Long Years and Albert King's Blues Power. Now, that said, I think there needs to be an asterisk here. I don't think that pulling a guitar riff in an opening of a song, or in a lead, qualifies as flat-out plagiarism. I see it more as a tip of the hat, a reference or, at most, "nicking a riff". Unlike in Dazed and Confused, where Page just flat out stole the entire song structure, Since I've Been Loving You incorporates a standard song structure and uses riffs from King, King and Beck to get his song going. "So", you ask, "why the hell are we exploring this song's etymology then?" Good question. Because it is interesting to do so, is my answer.

The lyrics of Since I've Been Lovin' You are taken almost word for word from an excellent, and fairly rare, Moby Grape song called Never. The San Francisco quintet released Never on a 1968 EP LP for Columbia records called Grape Jam. It's a blues number, much as is Since I've Been Loving You, but with a bit more of a jazz tone than Page's more aggressive blues. In the Moby Grape number, songwriter, Bob Mosley sings:
Working from 11 to 7 every night/ought to make life a drag, yeah, and I know that ain't right. Thinking about those bad times, I wish you really knew how happy I would be if I were living with you.

Just months later, Robert Plant would later sing in the Page/Plant/Jones composition:
Working from 7 to 11 every night/it really makes life a drag, I don't think that is right. I've really, really been the best of fools, I did what I could. Cause I love you baby, how I love you darling, how I love you baby/But since I've been loving you, I'm about to lose my worried mind.
It would seem that Robert Plant had a much shorter work night than did his American contemporaries. In Zep's version, Plant only has to work 4 hours compared to Moby Grape's more typical 8 hour work day (or in this case, work night). Doesn't seem such a drag, Mr. Plant. There's more as far as nicked lines go, but you can listen for yourself. And more than just the lyrics, it's the melody of the lines as well.

So what? I'm not trying to throw Led Zep under the bus here as I did with Dazed and Confused and Whole Lotta Love. In fact, I have read Robert Plant talk about how his lines were an homage to a group he greatly admired. I think that is fair enough and I prefer to file this under the, "hey, isn't that interesting" category.

I hope you also think it is interesting and I hope that you will comment on this post or all of the Zep etymology posts. You can leave comments below.

As a bonus, here is Albert King performing Blues Power.

The Song Still Remains the Same: the unauthorized etymology of Led Zeppelin songs. "Whole Lotta Love"

Led Zeppelin, Whole Lotta Love
Small Faces, You Need Lovin'
We return today for Chapter 2 of the The Song Still Remains the Same: The unauthorized etymology of Led Zeppelin songs. Frequent readers will recall our post a few weeks back where we explored the etymology of Dazed and Confused. Take a look at that post for an over-arching introduction to the series.

Today we explore the roots of Led Zeppelin's monster of a song, Whole Lotta Love. Whole Lotta Love is perhaps Led Zeppelin's second most recognized song behind only the anthemic Stairway to Heaven. Whole Lotta Love was originally released in October of 1969 as the first song on Zep's roller-coaster-of-quality Led Zeppelin II and as that album's first single (US 45-2690). The song is credited to each of the band's members. But, as you may have guessed by now, Whole Lotta Love is not wholly original. The song started as a Willie Dixon composition entitled You Need Love as recorded by blues giant, Muddy Waters for Chess Records in 1962.

A few years later a young Mod group out of London began covering the number on stage. That group was The Small Faces which featured singer and guitarist Steve Marriott front and center. In February of 1966, the Small Faces entered IBC Studios to record the number for their debut album, The Small Faces. While the title changed ever so slightly, the music changed and some of the lyrics changed, at it's heart it was clearly the Muddy Waters song You Need Love. However, the Small Faces failed to give Dixon his due credit, instead giving writing credit to Marriott and bassist Ronnie Lane.
It was fantastic, I loved it, Muddy Waters recorded it but I couldn't sing like Muddy Waters so it wasn't that much of a nick. I was a high range and Muddy was a low range so I had to figure out how to sing it. So I did and that was our opening number for all the years we were together. Every time we were on stage that was our opening number. (All Too Beautiful, Steve Marriott. p78).
Then, in a story eerily reminiscent of the introduction of Dazed and Confused into the Led Zeppelin set list, The Small Faces opened for The Yardbirds which presently sported Jimmy Page on guitar. Page caught the opening act and focused in on the Small Faces opening number.
We did a gig with The Yardbirds....Jimmy Page asked what that number was we did. "You Need Lovin'," I said, "it's a Muddy Waters thing", which it really is. (The Small Faces: Young Mods Forgotten Story, Paolo Hewitt).

But the story doesn't stop there. In 1968, Jimmy Page, now holding onto the tattered flag that had been The Yardbirds, approached John Entwhistle and Keith Moon of The Who and Steve Marriott of the Small Faces with a proposition of forming a new band. Moon responded that the proposed band was doomed to go over like a Led Zeppelin. Marriott also had rather harsh rejection words, according to Jimmy Page:
It came down to Marriott. He was contacted, and the reply came back from his manager's office: "how would you like to have a group with no fingers, boys?" or words to that effect. So the group was dropped because of Marriott's other commitment, to the Small Faces. (1977 Jimmy Page interview, Modern Guitar Magazine. Steven Rosen).
But Marriott had a suggestion for another singer. A young mod from Halesowen, England named Robert "Percy" Plant.

Percy used to come to the gigs whenever we played in Kidderminster or Stowbridge, where he came from. He was always saying he was going to get this group together. He was another nuisance. He kept coming into the dressing room, just another little Mod kid. We used to say, "that kid's here again." (The Small Faces: Young Mods Forgotten Story, Paolo Hewitt).
So now Page had his big throated singer in young Robert Plant whose voice bears more than a passing similarity to that of Steve Marriott.

And now, finally, we can turn our focus to Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love. The music of the song bears only the faintest resemblance to the Small Faces You Need Lovin' or Muddy Waters' You Need Love. Lyrically, however, the song is very similar to those earlier versions. It is in fact, the song. But more than that, the vocal delivery is a clear and blatant imitation of that of Steve Marriott's portrayal of You Need Lovin': "A-woman, a choooo need, love."
After we broke up they [Led Zeppelin] took it and revamped it...old Percy had his eyes on it. He sang it the same, phrased it the same, even the stops at the end were the same, they just put a different rhythm to it. For years and years I would hear it come on the radio while driving in America, and I would think, "Go on, my son," until one day I thought, "fucking hell, that's us, that is." The bastards!" (ibid)
It's an imitation so blatant that one can't help but smile wryly when you hear it. In the end Led Zeppelin may have successfully wrested the song away from The Small Faces, but they didn't get it away from the original author of the song. Willie Dixon wasn't going to let the matter rest so easily. According to author Will Shade, the October 8 edition of the Los Angeles Times reported that in 1985, Dixon sued Led Zeppelin for royalties and then settled out of court "with a generous settlement to Willie Dixon" who now shares writing credit on all modern printings of the song.

Willie Dixon died of heart failure in 1992. Steve Marriott died in 1991, the victim of a house fire.

Enjoy. We'll see you soon for more of The Song Still Remains The Same, the unauthorized etymology of Led Zeppelin Songs here on the flip-side.

The Song Still Remains the Same: The Unauthorized Etymology of Led Zeppelin songs - Dazed & Confused

Picking up a guitar lick here or referencing a lyrical phrase there is as old as music itself. Heck, rock-n-roll itself was born out of a fusion of country and blues -- essentially borrowing from two music styles to create one anew. But somewhere there is an invisible line that a musician may cross which takes him from referencing or borrowing to flat out plagiarizing. It's that line that we explore today -- and will occasionally revisit over the coming weeks, months and years -- in an ongoing series exploring the musical roots of Led Zeppelin's songs.

Perhaps more than any other major rock act, Led Zeppelin blurred the line dividing a reference and flat out plagiarism, often claiming credit for entire songs, guitar riffs, lyrics, and even imitating vocal styles. And it wasn’t just old blues numbers that were themselves cops on earlier blues songs, as many apologists contend. The stunningly talented Jimmy Page was heavily influenced by folk music and often found “inspiration” in traditional Renaissance era folk songs which ended up with his writing credit. Perhaps most surprising, however, is the fact that Led Zeppelin also lifted from their contemporaries, as we will explore in today's post.

These postings will trace the etymology of many of Led Zeppelin’s most famous songs. In some instances the derivation was only an innocent and totally above-board musical or lyrical reference. For example, the opening percussion machine gun attack on Rock-n-Roll. I’ve included these not to indict Led Zeppelin but rather to chronicle the references for sake of interest. Other instances, such as today's posting, are less innocent and are noted as such. These postings are by no means comprehensive and I welcome your additions and corrections or flat out arguments against my subjective musings. My hope is that, at the very least, the listener (particularly Zep heads) will put down their defenses and prejudices and allow themselves to be exposed to some great and rare music which they may not have otherwise had the opportunity to hear. Ironic, isn’t it? Who would have heard of Kansas Joe if it weren’t for Jimmy Page and Robert Plant?


Now on to today's posting and certainly one of the three most recognizable "Led Zeppelin songs" ever. The song is from Led Zeppelin I and is called Dazed and Confused. Here’s how Dazed and Confused came to be known as one of Jimmy Page’s greatest songs he never wrote.

On August 25, 1967, The Yardbirds (of which Page was now a member) performed at the Village Theater in New York. A little known folkie named Jake Holmes was touring in support of his 2 month old album, The Above Ground Sound of Jake Holmes on Tower Records, and was the first act on that bill. The Yardbirds' drummer, Jim McCarty was the only member of the Yardbirds to catch the act that night. According to McCarty, he purchased Holmes' new record the next morning at the House of Oldies Record Store in Greenwich Village and suggested to his bandmates that they cover Holmes' Dazed and Confused (1967 ASCAP copyright, 340119544). The Yardbirds collectively did a slight arrangement change for the song -- adding a middle bridge and Keith Relf rewriting some of the lyrics -- and the song became a staple of the Yardbirds' set in their waning days. They performed it on their never released Yardbirds Live at the Anderson Theatre album, on the BBC and on a French TV show called La Bouton Rouge (see video below).

According to Jake Holmes' he had no idea that the Yardbirds had been covering his song and learned about the Led Zeppelin version only when it appeared on wax with the writing credit going singularly to Jimmy Page (ASCAP copyright, 1968 340128276). Holmes: "Yes, yes, and that was the infamous moment of my life when Dazed and Confused fell into the loving hands of Jimmy Page." (source: Greg Russo. Yardbirds: The Ultimate Rave-up). Jimmy Page was pressed on this matter sometime in the 70's and then claimed that he never knew of Holmes' version and that the deceased Yardbirds singer Keith Relf had claimed to have written the song and gave Page permission to claim it as his own. McCarty: "He's [Page] a fibber. We'll have to bust him on that one." (ibid)

Rumors have swirled for years that Jake Holmes was quietly compensated many years later by Page's Swan Song Publishing as they fended off legal action. Neither Holmes or Page have, to my knowledge, spoken publicly about the matter since. Rumors have also swirled for years that Jimmy Page and Atlantic Records purchased the rights to The Yardbirds Live At Anderson Theatre album and had it withdrawn from publishing. Ostensibly to suppress the earlier version of Dazed and Confused which credits Holmes and thus would prove Page's knowledge of the song's origination.

Things haven't been all bad for Jake Holmes. He went on to be one of the most successful advertising jingle writers in America, penning such tunes such as Be a Pepper, Alka Seltzer's Plop, Plop Fizz, Fizz and the Army’s Be All You Can Be.

So sit back and listen to the original recording of Dazed and Confused by Jake Holmes and then listen to Led Zeppelin's "original", Dazed and Confused. And watch the video below to see the intermediary version of Dazed and Confused as performed by The Yardbirds.

Enjoy and keep an eye and ear out for more submissions on the etymology of Led Zeppelin songs in the coming weeks and months and years.

Until next time, we'll see you on the flip-side.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Song of the Week: The Litter - I'm A Man

From Minneapolis, we have here The Litter performing I'm A Man. This was their second of 4 1/2 singles and was the Flip-Side of their cover of Somebody Help Me. It was released in 1967 on Warick Records. The band was Jim Kane on bass, Tom Murray on drums, Dan Rinadi on guitar and vocals, Bill Strandlof on lead guitar and Denny Waite on organ.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Friday, February 8, 2013

Song of the Week: The Byrds -- It's All Over Now, Baby Blue

We close today with not one, but two -- that's right, TWO - versions of The Byrds performing It's All Over Now, Baby Blue. The blue version is an unreleased recording by the original line-up of The Byrds (Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, Chris Hillman, Gene Clark and Michael Clarke). It was recorded in Los Angeles in 1965, about the same time the Beckett Quintet recorded the song in the same town, and was slated to be the perfect pitched band's 3rd single on Columbia Records. The Byrds and their manager, Terry Melcher, were unsatisfied with the recording as a single and instead turned to another song which Roger McGuinn had been arranging, Turn, Turn, Turn. Somehow the Byrd's early version of It's All Over Now Baby Blue never got past a preview showing on a local LA radio station. Never even made it to an album. D'oh!

Roger McGuinn returned to Bob Dylan's song four years later in 1969. But this was a very different Byrds band. David Crosby was now a founding member of Crosby, Stills and Nash (yuck), Chris Hillman and Michael Clarke left to found The Flying Burrito Brothers with interim Byrds-alum, Gram Parsons. And Gene Clark was making some striking records with Doug Dillard. The version of the The Byrds who recorded this song were Clarence White, John York, Gene Parsons and, of course, McGuinn. This version did see the light of day in both the film and soundtrack for Easy Rider. Much slower, and much more countrified. It's still pretty cool and this line-up of The Byrds showed they could harmonize just about as well as the original line-up. 


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Song of the Week: 13th Floor Elevators - It's All Over Now, Baby Blue

Day four of our celebration of Bob Dylan's It's All Over Now, Baby Blue. Austin Texas' 13th Floor Elevators released this very unique version of Baby Blue on the Easter Everywhere album in November, 1967. It was also released as the flip-side of their 4th single, She Lives. This is one bitchin' version if you ask me. Slow, brooding and as trippy as they come. All that without getting to the more cartoonish aspects of psychedelic music. The double lead guitar builds throughout the song and Roky Erickson, as always, is perfect in his vocal delivery. Interestingly, Tommy Hall's jug playing seems to be absent throughout the song -- even in the long musical close of the five minute song.

Flip-Side Trivia -- The 13th Floor Elevators were the first ever post back in October of 2008 at On The Flip-Side. It was even a song from this same album. The song was I had To Tell You. This same album also produced this post about the song Levitation back in 2010. Three posts from one album is without question a Flip-Side record. 

One of my favorite music blogs, Derek's Daily 45, has also done three posts on the Elevators. Here is a link to their post about Slip Inside This House.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Song of the Week: Them - It's All Over Now, Baby Blue

Day two celebrating Bob Dylan's 1965 composition, It's All Over Now, Baby Blue. Today we turn our attention to the single most influential cover of the song. It is by Van Morrison's first group, Them. The band (or more likely was the case with this band, the studio musicians) recorded and released this in 1966. The production is stellar and the electric piano run through a Leslie Speaker set the standard for this song. Van Morrison is, as was always the case in these days, spot on perfect. Almost every version of the song you hear, will be derived from this original arrangement. Few, if any, surpass it, however. 

To demonstrate this version's influence, we give to you, today, a bonus. It is Beck's 1996 song, Jack-Ass. It won't take you long to listen to this to figure out why I included it with this post. 

Enjoy, comment, have fun. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Song of the Week: Bob Dylan - It's All Over Now Baby Blue

Today is the first day of our celebration of Bob Dylan's 1965 release of his song, It's All Over Now Baby Blue. Each day this week we will feature another version of this beautiful song. So...stay tuned.

RIP Reg Presley of the Troggs

These memorial posts happen way too often these days.