Saturday Single No. 764

December 4th, 2021

I invested a few words two weeks ago answering some questions I found at Facebook:

Do you remember the first five albums you bought (or at least chose for yourself)?

Do you remember the next five?

Do you listen to any of those albums today?

In that post, titled “Saturday Single No. 762,” I dealt with the first five albums I chose for my collection in 1969 and 1970. Today, for what it’s worth, we’ll look at the next five, all acquired during the summer and autumn of 1970:

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles
Best Of Bee Gees
Hey Jude by the Beatles
Magical Mystery Tour by the Beatles
Déjà Vu by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

I was clearly catching up on things as well as beginning my quest to acquire all eighteen American Beatles albums in the next two years. (My pal Rick had challenged me to do so, timing the deadline with his entering his senior year of high school in September 1972.)

And even after fifty-some years, those are five very good albums. While Sgt. Pepper might have lost some of its luster – it was, course, widely considered at the time to be the best album ever released, a judgment that’s since moderated in many corners – it’s still a very good album, an evaluation that’s been supported by the remastered versions released in recent years.

Hey Jude (titled in some places as The Beatles Again) was a collection of singles from over the years that had never made it onto albums in the American market: From “Can’t Buy Me Love” through “The Ballad of John & Yoko,” it provided a (necessarily limited) primer on the Beatles’ career arc for the inexperienced listener that I was. I’d heard most of the tracks at least a couple of times before; I think, though, that Hey Jude brought me my first hearings of “Rain” and “Don’t Let Me Down.”

Of the three Beatles releases on that list of my second five, the lesser release is Magical Mystery Tour. The six tracks on Side One in the American configuration, the soundtrack to the group’s disastrous television special, aren’t entirely dismissible, but only two of them – “Fool On The Hill” and “I Am The Walrus” – have to me any historical weight (although for a time I loved “Your Mother Should Know” for its period campiness). Still, it’s hard to dismiss the album, as its real weight comes on Side Two, with the astounding and eternally pertinent 1967 double-sided singles: “Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever,” “All You Need Is Love/Baby You’re A Rich Man,” and “Hello Goodbye” (which had been backed with Side One’s “I Am The Walrus”). After the general froth of Side One, Side Two is a mother lode of musical genius.

Best Of Bee Gees is a good summation of the first two years of the long and eternally changing career of the Brothers Gibb, with hits ranging in time from 1967’s “New York Mining Disaster 1941” to 1969’s “First Of May.” It never got as much play in the basement rec room on Kilian Boulevard as Sgt. Pepper, Hey Jude or the second side of Magical Mystery Tour, but it wasn’t ignored, either.

The odd album out in that list of my second five is Déjà Vu. Not because it’s not good or because I didn’t listen to it regularly but because I acquired it when it was relatively current. (Well, I’d acquired Hey Jude not long after it was released, but the music it offered wasn’t current.) I’m not sure how I managed to make the leap to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Maybe hearing “Woodstock,” “Teach Your Children” and “Our House” on the radio in the past few months had led me to purchase the album in October of 1970. And I liked all of the album, especially Stephen Stills’ spare and haunting “4+20.”

So, how pertinent are those five albums to my listening life now?

I’d say they’re all pertinent, even though the only portion of Sgt. Pepper in my iPod (and therefore part of my day-to-day listening) is the final suite: “Good Morning, Good Morning/Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)/Day In The Life.” But the album is one of nearly three hundred I’ve ripped as part of my full album project, meaning that when I’m in full album mode, it’s one I’d like to hear. (And it crosses my mind as I write that I should pull George Harrison’s “Within You Without You” into the iPod.)

Ten of the tracks on Hey Jude are in the iPod, so all except “I Should Have Known Better” and “Old Brown Shoe” still matter. Also in the device are “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Penny Lane” and Hello Goodbye.” I should likely add “Fool On The Hill” and “I Am The Walrus.” I’m weary of “All You Need Is Love.” So, Hey Jude and MMT matter.

As to the twelve tracks on Best Of Bee Gees, the iPod is missing only “World,” “I Can’t See Nobody” and “Spicks & Specks,” so that album still matters, too.

And then, Déjà Vu. Seven of its ten tracks are in the iPod. I’ve skipped only the two Graham Nash songs, “Teach Your Children” and “Our House,” and the closer, “Everybody I Love You.” I’m likely to add the last of those three, but for some reason, I am not at all inclined to add the Nash songs.

Anyway, here’s likely my favorite track from Déjà Vu, the title track. It took me years, but I recall my “oh, of course” reaction and my widening eyes when I realized that David Crosby was singing about reincarnation. So, here’s “Déjà Vu,” today’s Saturday Single.

12/02/2021

December 2nd, 2021

Take a look at today’s palindromic date: 12/02/2021. One can’t just ignore it, but on the other side, I’m not entirely sure what to do with it.

As I ponder that, I’m wondering how often such a perfect palindrome occurs on the calendar. Last year, we passed by 02/02/2020, and I think that the last time before that would have been 11/02/2011. That’s using U.S. notation, of course, with the month coming first; in those places where the date comes first – making today’s date 02/12/2021 and not at all significant —palindromes are a little more likely as they’d come, in this century, anyway, in years whose last digit is 0, 1 and 2. February 20, 2002, would have been 20/02/2002; February 10 the year before would have been 10/02/2001.

So that’s kind of neat. But what to do with it? Games With Numbers, obviously, but how?

Well, during the years I’m most interested in, Billboard released a Hot 100 on December 2 – 12/02 – in 1967, 1972 and 1978. We dabble in 1972 a lot, probably more than any other years except the three years that preceded it, and there’s more interest here in 1967 than there is in 1978. But I think we’ll look at the Nos. 20 and 21 records on this date for all three years.

So, what were the No. 20 and 21 records on this date in 1967? Sitting at No 20 on this date fifty-four years ago was the Bee Gees’ “(The Lights Went Out In) Massachusetts,” and parked underneath it was Vicki Carr’s “It Must Be Him.” The Bee Gees’ record was on its way up the chart and would peak at No. 11. “It Must Be Him” was on its way down after peaking at No. 3 on the Hot 100 and spending three weeks at No. 1 on the chart then called Easy Listening.

Let’s go to 1972. Perched at No. 20 fifty-one years ago was a country crossover, Donna Fargo’s “Funny Face,” and just below that was “Convention ’72” by the Delegates, a comedy cut-in record that wasn’t particularly funny. “Funny Face” would peak at No. 5 on both the Hot 100 and the Easy Listening chart and was No. 1 for three weeks on the country chart. “Convention ’72” was on its way down the chart after peaking at No. 8.

On this date in 1978, the No. 20 record was “Sweet Life” by Paul Davis, while the spot just below was occupied by “Don’t Want To Live Without It” by Pablo Cruise. Davis’ record would go just a little higher and peak at No. 17 and would peak at No. 7 on the Easy Listening chart, while the Pablo Cruise record would go no higher in the Hot 100.

Five of those six were familiar to me; I had to go the RealPlayer to remind myself of the Pablo Cruise record, but I still don’t remember it. Certainly the most successful among them was Donna Fargo’s, but it’s not really my thing. I’m pretty sure none of the six has been mentioned very often here, but the records by Carr, Davis and the Bee Gees are fine records, and I suppose that if I recalled ever hearing the Pablo Cruise record, it would be fine, too.

But I waded through the archives to check on “(The Lights Went Out In) Massachusetts,” and I learned that I have mentioned the record only once in the nearly fifteen years I’ve been cobbling things together here, and that was in a listing of a radio station’s top five. I don’t know that I’ve ever mentioned either the Davis record or the Carr record any more than once each, but . . . well, here’s “(The Lights Went Out In) Massachusetts.”

Saturday Single No. 763

November 27th, 2021

Anything beyond basic mental functions still escape me as I wait for antibiotics to do their work. It’s supposed to be a run-of-the-mill infection, but if so, it’s a badly operated mill. And I’m still waiting for my new glasses.

Still, not wanting to punt entirely, I did a quick search to see which of the nearly 84,000 files in the RealPlayer were ever recorded on November 27 – a reminder: I have that information for maybe ten percent of the files – and I came up with a bunch.

That’s because eighty-five years ago today, Robert Johnson had the last of three recording sessions in San Antonio’s Gunter Hotel. Unless something new has come to light in the past few years, nine tracks from that session survive: “They’re Red Hot,” “Dead Shrimp Blues,” “Walkin’ Blues,” “Preachin’ Blues (Up Jumped The Devil),” “If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day,” and two versions each of “Last Fair Deal Gone Down” and “Cross Roads Blues.”

Of those, my favorite is likely “Last Fair Deal Gone Down.” Now, there’s nothing wrong with Johnson’s two versions, but I thought I’d see how many covers I have of the tune in the stacks. Turns out to be eight, with one version each from Eric Clapton, the Peter Green Splinter Group, Dave “Snaker” Ray, Dave Van Ronk, the Rising Sons, and Crooked Still (described as a neo-bluegrass band from Boston) and two versions from Rory Block.

Of all those, the approach by Crooked Still may be the most interesting, with Aoife O’Donovan’s vocals backed by a combination of banjo, cello and double bass. So here’s Crooked Still, from the 2004 album Hop High, with “Last Fair Deal Gone Down.” It’s today’s Saturday Single.

Time Out

November 24th, 2021

I feel crappy, and my eyes hurt, so I’m out of here until Saturday, at least.

Here’s the aptly titled “November Song” by the Trout, a trio made up by Cassandra Morgan – also at one time a member of the folkish group Morganmasondowns – and brothers Frank and Tony Romero. “November Song” comes from the trio’s only album, a self-titled release from 1968.

Have a pleasant Thanksgiving!

Saturday Single No. 762

November 20th, 2021

Parts of this post have likely shown up in bits and pieces over the years, but those bits all came together in a response the other week to, yes, another question at Facebook. Actually, it was three questions:

Do you remember the first five albums you bought (or at least chose for yourself)?

Do you remember the next five?

Do you listen to any of those albums today?

I’m going to add the words “pop, rock or country” into those questions because otherwise we’d spend time this morning talking about Al Hirt, the Tijuana Brass and John Barry’s James Bond soundtracks (all of which I still like but which likely have a less broad appeal to whatever audience I have here).

We start in the summer of 1969, probably right around the third week of August, when Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue” peaked on the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 2 and hit the Top Ten on KDWB. So Dad and I picked up a copy of Johnny Cash at San Quentin.

Here’s the next four of my first five. (The first two I selected but did not pay for; for the next two, I laid out my own cash, as I believe I’ve noted here before.)

The Age of Aquarius by the 5th Dimension
Abbey Road by the Beatles
Chicago (now called Chicago II)
Let It Be by the Beatles

That brings us into May 1970 and the end of my junior year of high school. Of those five, I listened most – back then and in the years since – to Abbey Road and the first two sides of the Chicago album.

Except for “25 or 6 to 4,” the third side of Chicago’s double album is inconsequential and the agit-prop of “It Better End Soon” on Side Four hasn’t aged well. (The thought occurs that it may become pertinent again, but it’s still ponderous.) Three of the four tracks on Side One, all of Side Two (including the monumental “Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon”) and “25 or 6 to 4” are in the iPod and thus are part of my day-to-day listening.

Almost all of Abbey Road is as enjoyable today as it was back in the autumn of 1969; I have less tolerance now for “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” than I did then, but when it pops up on random, I can click past it, and when I’m listening to the full album, it’s gone in 3:28. All of Abbey Road except “Maxwell . . .” is in the iPod.

As to the other three, well, I recently ripped the 5th Dimension album as a full album, but I haven’t listened to it yet. Memory tells me there are some things that work very well and others that don’t; I’m particularly interested in hearing the group’s take on “Sunshine Of Your Love” after at least a thirty-year gap. Two of its tracks – the “Aquarius” medley and “Wedding Bell Blues” are in the iPod.

There are some tracks from Let It Be that I like very much: “I’ve Got A Feeling,” “Two Of Us,” Across the Universe,” “One After 909,” “For You Blue,” and the title track (though I like the single version produced by George Martin more than I do the album version finished with the heavy hand of Phil Spector). But there’s too much dross and silliness, and I prefer the single version of “Get Back,” so the album isn’t essential although some of the tracks are. The five tracks mentioned at the top of this paragraph are all in the iPod, as is the single version of “Let It Be.”

As to the Johnny Cash album, I’ve got it on CD (as I do all four of the others mentioned here), but I can’t recall the last time I purposefully listened to any of it. I don’t click out of the tracks if they pop up on the RealPlayer on random, but I don’t seek them out, and none of them are in the iPod.

I was going to look at the second five albums, too, but this has turned out longer than I anticipated, so we’ll look at those next Saturday. As for something to feature, we may as well make the 5th Dimension’s cover of “Sunshine Of Your Love” today’s Saturday Single.

No. 52 Fifty-Two Years Ago

November 19th, 2021

It’s time for a game of Symmetry. Today, we’ll head into the last third of November 1969, when I was still learning about Top 40 radio, and check out which record was sitting at No. 52 fifty-two years ago this week.

We’ll be looking at the Billboard Hot 100 from the November 22, 1969, edition, but before we head to the middle portions of the chart, we’ll take a look at the Top Ten:

“Wedding Bell Blues” by the 5th Dimension
“Take A Letter Maria” by R.B. Greaves
“Something” by the Beatles
“And When I Die” by Blood, Sweat & Tears
“Smile A Little Smile For Me” by the Flying Machine
“Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” by Steam
“Come Together” by the Beatles
“Yester-me, Yester-You, Yesterday” by Stevie Wonder
“Suspicious Minds” by Elvis Presley
“I Can’t Get Next To You” by the Temptations

Wow. After that harvest, I kept scrolling down the Hot 100, wondering when I’d find a record that I didn’t care for or at least was unsure about. Down past Smith’s “Baby It’s You.” Past “Sugar, Sugar.” Past “Eli’s Coming.” Past “Tracy” and “Holly Holy.” And then I hit No. 30, Dionne Warwick’s cover of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” which I don’t recall.

I don’t think I’ve ever before come across a chart where I know well and truly like all of the top twenty and then the next nine as well. Well, I was sixteen during that long-ago season, and my old RCA – Grampa’s old radio – was one of my best friends.

As it happened, I had three of those top ten singles at home: “Wedding Bell Blues” was on the Age of Aquarius LP I obtained in late October or early November, and I had a cassette of Abbey Road, covering the two Beatles tracks.

As effusive as I am about that Top Ten, it’s worth checking to see it any of them have come along with me over the last fifty-two years. And as I suspected, every one of those ten is in my iPod and thus a part of my day-to-day listening. That’s not surprising, given that – between this site and the archives site – there are only two years to which I’ve paid more attention than 1969. Again, unsurprisingly, they’re 1970 and 1971.

So, I can only conclude that I’m held hostage by the music of my youth.

But let’s dip just a little bit deeper into that Hot 100 from November 22, 1969, and see which record was sitting in our Symmetry spot, No. 52. And we come across a record from a group that I never gave much attention: “Time Machine” by Grand Funk Railroad. I knew more about the group in the mid-1970s, what with “Bad Time” and “We’re An American Band,” but I was never really interested, not even during the days of vinyl madness in the 1990s: I’ve never owned any of the group’s albums.

And I doubt that I heard “Time Machine” on either KDWB from the Cities or WJON down across the tracks: The record spent eleven weeks in the Hot 100, peaking only at No. 48. Would I have liked it if I’d heard it? Maybe. I don’t care for the intro, but the body of the record has a decent groove.

‘If You Read The Papers . . .’

November 17th, 2021

One of the new arrivals on the CD shelves here is a minimalist box set collecting five of Carole King’s first six albums, a set I wandered upon by accident as I browsed at Amazon. The set includes Writer (1970), Music (1971), Rhymes & Reasons (1972), Fantasy (1973), and Wrap Around Joy (1974). It skips, as you can see, 1971’s Tapestry, perhaps because Epic figured anyone interested in King’s work already had it, or perhaps the label thought they might spur sales of that masterpiece by leaving it out of the box set.

It’s pretty basic: A slipcase and the five CDs in reproductions of the five original jackets (sans any gatefolds). But the music is all there, and I have a good magnifying glass for the fine print on the back. (Not all the jacket backs listed the session musicians, but I have some online sources for that info.)

Anyway, as I was ripping and tagging the CDs this week, something about the set kept nagging me. I’d read something about it a while back, and this morning, as I was sorting through posts here about King, I remembered: Back in the spring of 2011, when I added King’s “It’s Too Late” to my list of Jukebox Regrets – the brief list of records that should have been in my Ultimate Jukebox project of 2010 but were somehow missed – reader and friend Yah Shure mentioned the box set:

I recently obtained the collection of Carole’s first five albums (sans Tapestry) and had one “Oh, I remember this!” moment after another. Carole seems to be one of those artists who we take for granted, hovering below our everyday radar until the next refresher course beckons. One of her deeper cuts I’ve always liked is “Goodbye Don’t Mean I’m Gone,” from Rhymes & Reasons.

“Goodbye Don’t Mean I’m Gone” is a good track, one I’d not heard before this week. Having listened, I looked again at the comments on that ten-year-old post and found my pal jb’s pithy (and accurate) assertion that the piano figure that opens “It’s Too Late” is “the sound of the summer of ’71 distilled to a few seconds.” And I looked once more at the comments and found one by the regular reader who calls himself porky:

Like jb, the Tapestry singles instantly capture that era when I hear them . . . But give “Believe In Humanity” a spin, and it also captures that eerie early-to-mid ’70’s sense of doom that hovered over lots of records back then. Hearing them in the dark via a transistor radio only added to those vibes.

With the track now at hand, I followed porky’s advice, and he’s absolutely right: Despite the hopeful couplet at the end of each verse and despite the coda, that sense of doom in the two verses prevails (and could easily be applied to this era’s arc as well). The track – which went to No. 28 on the Billboard Hot 100 during the summer of 1973 – is at the bottom of the post. Here are the lyrics:

If you read the papers you may see
History in the making
You’ll read what they say life is all about
They say it’s there for the taking
Yeah, but you should really check it out
If you want to know what’s shaking
But don’t tell me about the things you’ve heard
Maybe I’m wrong, but I want to believe in humanity

I know it’s often true – sad to say
We have been unkind to one another
Tell me how many times has the golden rule
Been applied by man to his brother
I believe if I really looked at what’s going on
I would lose faith I never could recover
So don’t tell me about the things you’ve heard
Maybe I’m wrong, but I want to believe in humanity

Maybe I’m living with my head in the sand
I just want to see people giving
I want to believe in my fellow man
Yes, I want to believe

Saturday Single No. 761

November 13th, 2021

I’ve been feeling run-down and feverish for the past ten days, and I finally went to see Dr. Julie yesterday. She diagnosed an infection and prescribed a four-week course of some very large pills. She said I should feel better within a week, but to take all four weeks’ worth of the pills to discourage a repeat performance.

So, without much creativity present this morning, I spent a few minutes poking through old posts looking for ideas. When I do that, I sometimes find things I’ve missed. The blogging program supposedly sends me an email every time someone leaves a comment. That doesn’t always seem to work, though.

As I glanced this morning at a post from 2015 about versions of the Laura Nyro song “Stoney End,” I noticed that there were six comments there, far more than usual. I kind of blinked, and then checked the dates: Two of them came in within days of the post going up. But the others were eight months later, a year-and-a-half later, three years later and finally four years later.

Maybe I just missed the email notifications, but I don’t think so. That’s why I find it rewarding to sometimes just click from old post to old post, looking for comments I’ve missed. And one of the four later comments I found at the “Stoney End” post was pretty interesting (at least to me).

Christopher Bentley said that he noticed that as well as dealing with “Stoney End,” I had also uploaded a video to YouTube of Barbra Streisand’s version of Nyro’s “Hands Off The Man (Flim Flam Man).” Bentley writes a blog titled Girls Of The Golden East, focusing on – as he says – “mostly Seventies songstresses of the Soviet satellites,” and he suggested I might be interested in a Czech version of “Hands Off The Man (Flim Flam Man)” as recorded in 1972 by Alena Tichá.

Well, yeah. So, I followed the link he provided to his blog and found the video below. The Czech title actually translates to “I Give You The Cure,” which seems pretty apt for me this week. So “Dám Vám Lék” by Alena Tichá is today’s Saturday Single.

‘If Tonight Was Not A Crooked Trail . . .’

November 9th, 2021

There’s a little note on top of the file in which I write this blog. It’s been there a while, three years maybe. Long enough, anyway, that my eyes tend to slide right past it when I open the file to write a post.

It says, “Tomorrow Is A Long Time.”

I assume it’s a reminder for me to write about the Bob Dylan song, not just a pithy bit of wisdom meant to help me focus on today’s tasks. I further assume the post I had in mind when I typed that potentially enigmatic title – it’s in quote marks, so it has to be a title – was a brief examination of covers of the Dylan song. If so, it’s an example of poor institutional memory, since I did a post like that in 2013.

But that was eight years ago, and my rereading of the post tells me that the Dylan version I would have liked to share wasn’t available in good form at YouTube. (The audio was fine, but the visuals were portions of a show about zombies, which never made sense to me.) So, let’s just review some of the versions of the song I have here in my files.

We start with four versions by Dylan himself: One from around 1962, maybe 1963, included in the 2010 Bootleg Series release The Witmark Demos; one from a 1963 solo performance at New York City’s Town Hall (that would be the first official release of the song, coming out on Dylan’s second greatest hits collection in 1972); and two versions with a band from the 2021 Bootleg Series release 1970.

Here’s that 1963 performance as released on Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits, Vol. 2, this time without zombies.

Other artists jumped on it right away, of course, with Ian & Sylvia being the first, releasing it in July 1963 on their Four Strong Winds album. That one’s here, as are a few other covers from the Sixties by Odetta (1965), Elvis Presley (1966), the Pozo-Seco Singers (1966), Glenn Yarbrough (the first version I ever heard, from 1967), Dion (in a medley with Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin’,” 1968), an obscure group named Street (which included the Dylan song in a medley with a stentorian version of George Harrison’s “If I Needed Someone” in 1968), and by the country-rock duo of Levitt & McClure (1969).

My favorite of those is likely the Yarbrough simply because I heard it first, but I’m certain I long ago featured that one here. After that, I like the version by the Pozo-Seco Singers from their 1966 album Time. There are other, later, versions of the song, but we’ll close things today with the Pozo-Seco Singers.

Saturday Single No. 760

November 6th, 2021

With a minimum of time available – I slept very late – I’m just going to jump into the Billboard Hot 100 from fifty years ago today and see what’s sitting at No. 76, in honor of today’s Saturday Single integer.

And the No. 76 single from that long-ago chart is a record that would climb to No. 9 on the Hot 100, No. 10 on the R&B chart and to No. 24 on the chart then called Easy Listening. “You Are Everything” by the Stylistics is today’s Saturday Single.