Friday, May 30, 2014

The Plymouth Rockers - Don't Say Why

There were a number of bands in the mid-60s who went by the British Invasion-ish name, The Plymouth Rockers. I first came to this Don't Say Why on Valiant Records by a New England Garage comp. But it turns out that this band was not from any of the original colonies. These cats were apparently from Phoenix, Arizona. I don't know a whole lot more than that. I do know that it is one fine rocker with strong fuzz, great vocals (both lead and back-up) and a really nice melody that ends in a big crescendo. I love the way the lead singer starts off in a whispered hush. It plays to the tentative nature of the rather sexually suggestive lyrics (which tend to repeat and repeat and repeat).
Don't say "why?"
Don't say "when?"
Don't say anything
Just let it end. 
Then we move to a full group vocal repeating nearly the same exact line. It's not until about the :58 mark that we hear the Bob Seeger-like booming voice of one of the band members bellow out "I'm through with you, that's for sure." It's just a deep guttural growl of a voice that sticks out from the sweet harmonies like an intriguing mole on Marilyn Monroe's cheek. 

The song was written by Moore and Moore. Two brothers in the band? Could explain the taut harmonies. This was their second and last release on Valiant Records. They may also be the same Plymouth Rockers who released two tepid Chuck Berry covers on Warner Brothers in 1964. Surprising that not much more is known about them. If anyone has info on these guys, please leave us a comment below.

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

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Four Just Men - That's My Baby/Things Will Never Be The Same

Back in August we did a nice little Tower Records Spotlight. One of those featured in that two week spotlight was a band called Just Four Men doing their song, There's Not One Thing. Read that post here. We're back today with the same band, but here they are called Four Just Men. This double sider was the Liverpool quartet's debut single, released in the UK in November of 1964 on Parlophone Records. In the states it was released in February of 1965 on Tower Records.

The A-Side was composed by singer Dimitrius Christopholus and guitarist John Kelman. That's My Baby has a wonderful and unique whining guitar riff throughout the song. It lifts the ballad to new levels. The Flip-Side, Things Will Never Be The Same was composed by Christopholus and Kelman and bassist, Lawrence Arendes. The break-neck speed song features more great guitar work from Kelman and a chord transition reminiscent of an early Everly Brothers song. This song would have been prime for a screaming lead, and clocking in at a quick 1:48, would seem they would have had time to stick one in there. Both sides are solid all the way through.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

R.I.P. Bunny Yeager

You may not know the name but you assuredly have seen her work. Bunny Yeager, the model turned innovative pin-up model photographer, passed away yesterday at the age of 85.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Song Still Remains the Same: the unauthorized etymology of Led Zeppelin songs. Stairway To Heaven

Stairway To Heaven
We've brought you three articles on the history of Led Zeppelin songs and how some of their songs may just have been lifted from the works of others.

The song we first looked at was Dazed and Confused. We talked in-depth about how the song was taken from Jake Holmes' 1968 composition called, wait for it, Dazed and Confused. Read about and listen to both versions of Dazed and Confused here.

Then we wrote about Zep's Whole Lotta Love and how that was lifted, vocal style and all, from The Small Faces, who, in turn had lifted it from Muddy Waters. Read and listen to a side by side comparison of Whole Lotta Love here.

Most recently we talked about Led Zeppelin's Since I've Been Loving You and how that shares a more than passing resemblance to Moby Grape's 1968 composition, Never. Read about and listen to both Since I've Been Loving You and Never here. 

In the news today is the story of Led Zeppelin's signature song, Stairway To Heaven. The family members of the late Randy California, guitarist for the band, Spirit, have brought a lawsuit against Led Zeppelin and Atlantic Records alleging that the iconic opening riff of Stairway To Heaven was lifted from Spirit's 1968 song entitled Taurus.

Led Zeppelin, in both 1968 and in 1969, opened for Spirit numerous times and would have had ample opportunity to hear the number performed both live and on record.
"It was such a pretty moment, and it would typically come after a big forceful number and always got a good response," [founding band member, Mark] Andes told Bloomberg. "They would have seen it in that context.... It is fairly blatant, and note for note. It would just be nice if the Led Zeppelin guys gave Randy a little nod. That would be lovely."" [Los Angeles Times, May 22, 2014]
For the sake of brevity, we'll just say, you be the judge. We formed our opinion years and years ago. Now is your chance to play both Sprit's Taurus and Led Zeppelin's Stairway To Heaven back to back. And then ask yourself, does anyone remember laughter?

Enjoy, and let us know what you think.

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

The Raelettes - That Goes To Show You

The Raelettes were a revolving door of singers assembled to provide Ray Charles with a solid-to-the-core vocal back up. Who is singing on this 1970 release on Ray Charles' Tangerine Records label, I can not tell you. It's not the incomparable Margie Hendrix (pictured below), that's for sure. But I'm pretty sure that is Ray giving the occasional "hey" in the background of the charming That Goes To Show You. May also be him on piano too. But I don't really know.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Otis Redding - Hey Hey Baby

Otis Redding is quite well known. It's a fact. Look it up. But here we have Otis Redding before he had firmly found his own magnificent voice. Today's song is the Flip-Side! (gasp! shock! a Flip-Side!) of his third single, released November or December of 1962 on Volt Records. The song is the Redding penned Hey Hey Baby, and served as the Flip-Side of These Arms Of Mine, a more traditional sounding Redding number. 

Hey Hey Baby has a very young Otis Redding exploring a style that is more reminiscent of Little Richard's lightnin' fast, raspy holler. Enjoy the peculiarity. 
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Montanas - That's When Happiness Began

The Montanas hailed from Wolverhampton, England and released a myriad of largely forgettable records in their lengthy career. We feature today, their best recording. In fact, in my opinion, their only release of note. The song in question is the Don and Dick Addrisi composed That's When Happiness Began which was their first release in the US and their second in their homeland. In the US it was released on Warner Brothers in November of 1966.

That's When Happiness Began was originally recorded by the Los Angeles garage band, The Grains of Sand and released earlier that year in the US. The Montanas picked it up and added a heavy dose of fuzz. You can compare the two releases back to back by clicking here.

The Montanas were Will Howard, Graham Crew, Ralph Oakley and John Jones.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Dave Alvin - Perdido Street Blues

A few years ago a photographer friend of mine named Regis Lefebure turned me on to this wonderfully different song. And this week, it's our SoTW. The song is called Perdido Street Blues, a song first performed by Louis Armstrong back in 1926. In fact, the song is credited to Satchmo's then wife, Lil' Hardin Armstrong. But the version we are looking at today is by Dave Alvin.

Hipsters (and perhaps even you) may know Dave Alvin from his stint with his brother Phil Alvin in the rockabilly/Americana group, The Blasters who roamed this earth starting back in the early 80's. Or maybe you know him from his association with members of the punk band, X, in a loose affiliation band they called The Knitters. Or maybe you know him from that afternoon paper route you had in Downey, California back in the early 70's when he and his brother would throw water balloons at you as you rode by on your Schwinn Stingray. (Probably not. Now that I think about it, that would be real unlikely.) Or maybe you just know him. Whatever. Let's get to the song.

Dave Alvin's version of Perdido Street Blues really caught my attention for a number of reasons. First, it has a killer little stutter stop riff played on a National steel bodied guitar. Second, it has a peculiar sort of Russian flavored martial back beat. Third, it switches between major and minor chords more often than a frat boy downs a cheap beer. Last, the musicianship is knock your socks off. Well, heck, let's hear about from the artist himself:

I was 14 when I first heard his version and, besides being blown away by Dodds' clarinet virtuosity, what captivated me was the minor/major key modulations that make up the song structure. With its low down almost spooky groove and melody, "Perdido Street Blues" is definitely some old time, back-in-the-alley viper music.

To read more about Dave Alvin's take on recording this song, please click here to be taken to the Yep Roc site. In the meantime, sit back and listen to this wonderfully arranged and recorded song. And if that is not enough, Mr. Flippy is giving you a chance to see a Blasters video from back in the unforgiving 80's.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Friday, May 9, 2014

Mitch Ryder - Baby Jane (Mo Mo Jane)

Mitch Ryder (born Bill Levise Jr.) was full of potential that never seems to have been fully realized. Amazingly powerful voice and a strong presence on the stage never translated into a must-have catalogue of original material. But there is still great stuff out there to be had squirreled away on his records. 

The young Detroit, Michigan native hooked up with producer Bob Crewe in the Summer of 1965 for his first release under the name, Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels. But today we feature the Flip-Side of Mitch Ryder's second release. The song is the Crew/Levise Jr. composed Baby Jane (Mo Mo Jane) and it was released on New Voice Records in November, 1965. Baby Jane is the under side of Jenny Take A Ride, perhaps Ryder's most famous number. The understated song tells the tale of Mitch with his first experience smoking marijuana. It starts with a riff reminiscent of Bo Diddley's I'm A Roadrunner, but with the addition of the bopping bass it takes on originality. Great guitar work in this one with a very brief, but charming solo. And a rhythm section fade-out makes fade-outs almost acceptable. 
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Shadows of Knight - Bad Little Woman

Our last post focused on the rare 1965 single from Northern Ireland's The Wheels and their composition, Bad Little Woman. We return today with a recording of the same song from Chicago hipsters, The Shadows of Knight. We've written about the band extensively on this site so we won't rehash their history today. 

The Shadows of Knight, who first captured lightning in a bottle with a cover of Gloria by Northern Ireland's, Them, released Bad Little Woman in August of 1966 for our beloved Dunwich Records. They even got a picture sleeve for the release! They must have figured re-recording Northern Ireland based bands was the key to success. The Shadows of Knight's version is very different than either of The Wheels' versions. Gone is the harmonica and slide guitar opening/closing riffs and the random tempo changes. In it's place is some blistering guitar work by Jim Kelly and ethereal organ work. I'll let you decide which version works best. 
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Wheels - Bad Little Woman/Road Block

Bad Little Woman
Road Block
Welcome to Belfast in Northern Ireland. Belfast is perhaps best known (musically speaking) for producing Van Morrison's launch-pad of a band, Them. But in the same clubs and dance halls another quintet was raving it up for the kids of Belfast. A band that had quite a lot in common with Them. That band was known as The Wheels. The Wheels were Victor Catling, Rod Demick, Brian Rossi (aka Brian Rosbotham, Tito Tinsley and Herbie Armstrong. The Wheels produced three records for Columbia Records in a brief 11 month span starting in the Fall of 1965. All to poor sales.

We feature today, The Wheels' second single, released in the UK on February 4, 1965. The A-Side is a band composition called Bad Little Woman. It tells the tale of, well, a bad little woman. She goes for the man with the money, big shiny Cadillacs and she even smells like - gasp! - gypsy rose. No!!!!! The song is a beat stomping raver in the first order.

The Flip-Side is another raver composed by the whole band and is called Road Block. It shares more than a passing similarity to Them's Mystic Eyes. And the similarity doesn't end there. Both sides are co-produced by Tommy Scott, whom produced much of Them's finest work.

Rather surprisingly the Wheels actually saw a US release of Bad Little Woman on Aurora Records in January 1966. The Flip-Side is not Road Block, but rather the Tommy Scott penned, Don't You Know, also performed and recorded by Them. And here is the kicker, the US version of Bad Little Woman is very different than the UK release. Further confusing, it was released under the name The Wheel-A-Ways. The website Garage Hangover, suggests it is an earlier take. Take a look at that site for lots of cool info on The Wheels. Also look at the video below to hear the US release of Bad Little Woman
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Dr. Ross - Chicago Breakdown

(originally published, 6/10/11)
Dr. Ross originally hailed from Tunica, Mississippi and made many of his earliest recordings at the fabled Sun Records Studio in Memphis, TN with producer Sam Phillips. Today's SoTW, is the flip-side of Ross' second record (the first was for Chicago's Chess Records) and was recorded on October 3rd, 1952. Dr. Ross was known as the one man band as he often played guitar, harmonica, kick drum and sang all by his lonesome. This recording happens to have a guest musician, Reuben Martin, on washboard.

Doctor Isaiah Ross remains largely unknown, even to casual blues fans. Why? Well, his brand of blues was rough and droning and he lacked the sophistication that a Muddy Waters or Robert Johnson brought to the genre. Add to that the fact that Dr. Ross took a job in 1954 with GM in Flint, Michigan, which, in a huge understatement, is no music mecca. On top of that, Doctor Ross recorded for multiple labels and, like John Lee Hooker, to whom comparisons are obvious, recorded under multiple names and re-recorded his more popular songs multiple times. That all adds up to a hard to pin down musician and hard to break into a larger audience market.

Today's song is the Chicago Breakdown. While it is the flip-side of the single, it is the better known side. The droning open chord riff is complimented by Ross' guttural harmonica work that weaves seamlessly with Ross' hollerin' vocals. I think I would pass out if I was going between singing and blowing a harmonica like he does. Ross gives a little history of himself in the song and he sings it with quite a thick southern accent, y'all.
Below is a vid of him doing his one-man band thing in Germany circa 1965.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Lionhearted - Too Bad

A follow-up to yesterday's post on the 1966 release by The Bad Roads. Today we come back with an ultra low-fi cover of the Flip-Side of The Bad Roads' single, Too Bad. The band is The Lionhearted and the unreleased recording of Too Bad was made in a garage outside of Davis, California during the Summer of 1988. The brief-lived band was Greg Baxter on vocals and a 1952 Silvertone guitar, Jack Hayden on an Epiphone Sheraton guitar, Morgan Young on a 1967 EB2D bass and a guy named Greg on drums. Yeeha!

You can hear another Lionhearted recording from the same rehearsal, this time of The Yardbirds' Honey In Your Hips, here. 
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!