Archive for the ‘ca. 1970’ Category

An Answer & New Questions

Thursday, November 30th, 2017

When someone posts a comment here, I’m supposed to get an email. It works like that maybe half of the time. Sometimes a comment sits out there for a while before I notice. That’s why I fill the occasional idle moment here by going back through the blog’s archives, checking for comments on posts of months and years gone by.

I did that one evening about a year ago, and found a comment by a reader by the name of Irene Greulich. I’d written a couple of posts a year earlier than that – during the summer of 2015 – pondering what I’d been listening to during the summer of 1975 when Bruce Springsteen released Born To Run and I didn’t buy it.

The second of those posts found me telling the tale – more aptly re-telling the tale – of how I came to own Paul Williams’ 1971 album Just An Old Fashioned Love Song during that summer of 1975:

An evening in July, my bedroom windows open to gather what breeze there might be, me on my bed reading, and the radio playing softly, tuned to WCCO-FM. The disk jockey played a portion of an interview with Paul Williams, probably done while the singer was in the Twin Cities for a concert, and the interview segment closes with Williams talking about his song “Waking Up Alone.”

And after that, the deejay cues up Williams’ sorrowful “Waking Up Alone.” I’d never heard the record, and the sad story, the quiet arrangement and, yes, the saxophone solo called to me as I listened. I’ve learned since that “Waking Up Alone” was released as a single in early 1972 and got to No. 60 in the Billboard Hot 100, and as I’ve said many times before, it deserved better.

I found the album the next day, and it went into regular rotation on the rec room stereo on Kilian Boulevard. And many years later, “Waking Up Alone” was one of the 240 tracks I listed in my Ultimate Jukebox, noting that as heartfelt and sad as the lyrics are, the best part of the record is the “saxophone that comes in late . . . hanging around long enough to take a nice solo and then walk us home.”

I’ve wondered for years – probably not since 1975, but certainly since 1990, when I began amassing vast quantities of records and reference books – who played the saxophone on “Waking Up Alone.” The record jacket gives no clues; the CD insert might, but I don’t have it. (I note this morning that the CD is available in a standard release; for several years, when I looked for it, it was available only in a Japanese release and was quite pricey.)

I’d run through the names of L.A. session players, wondering, and finally came down to guessing that the sax solo came from either Tom Scott or Jim Horn. The question actually came up at a gathering of friends the other day, and two other music geeks and I decided that those two names were the most likely.

It turns out that I wasn’t the only one wondering. Irene Greulich – remember her? – came by the post about finding Williams’ record about a year after I wrote it, and left me a note:

Hello! I’ve been trying to find out who is the musician who plays the saxophone solo at the end of “Waking Up Alone”. If you have the album (CD?) and the musicians’ credits are listed in the liner notes, can you please tell me the sax player’s name? Truly a very beautiful and moving song – always been one of my favorites. Thank you!

I’m pretty sure I answered her, telling her that there was no information on the jacket or the sleeve and telling her, as well, that my best guess was either Tom Scott or Jim Horn.

And you know what? I was wrong. About a week ago, I got an email about a comment left at that post, a note from a Marcia Fisher. She wrote: “The sax solo at the end of ‘Waking Up Alone’ is Gene Cipriano (“Yo, Cip!”), famous guy, long history in music. This song was my first exposure to Paul Williams, sent me looking for more, and I’ve loved his work ever since.”

Cipriano’s was a name I hadn’t considered, but it certainly makes sense, though I’ve run across his work less than I have Scott’s or Horn’s. And a quick check at All-Music finds both Cipriano and Scott credited for tenor sax on the album. (Over time, I’ve found myself using All-Music as a source less and less frequently, as the site is slow and, to me, very clunky. So when the saxophone question came to mind I never checked there. Mea culpa.)

As it turns out, Marcias information was in error; as the comment below by Yah Shure indicates, Cipriano played oboe on “Waking Up Alone,” and Tom Scott played saxophone.

Anyway, thanks to Marcia Fisher for the note, which does leave me wondering what brought her to a post two years old. But then, there’s always another question to ask.

And that’s true of a track I found this week as I wandered around YouTube thinking of Williams’ song “Waking Up Alone.” I found a version of the tune credited to the Fleetwoods, the same group that hit No. 1 in 1959 with “Come Softly To Me” and “Mr. Blue.” At least, that’s what it says:

I’ve found this track listed online as one of two on a 2012 set titled Unreleased. The other track is “Stay With Me.” The vocalist, for what it may matter, does sound a lot like Gary Troxel, who was the male member of the Fleetwoods more than fifty years ago. But when was it recorded? I have a vague idea that it comes from the early 1970s, but nothing more than that.

 

“How Deep The Dark . . .’

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

The Texas Gal’s broken fibula has healed enough now that she’s back to riding the bus to and from her job downtown. It still aches after a day on her feet, and she says the skin over the fracture point and the bone at that point – just above her ankle – are oddly sensitive.

I nodded the first time she said that, and I reminded her that the same thing holds true for me with the six ribs on my right side that I broke in that long-ago traffic accident in 1974. “Some stuff never goes away,” I told her. I didn’t expect that to be comforting news, and it wasn’t.

Anyway, her healing to this point means that I no longer drive her to and from work, and that means my afternoon routine of pulling CDs off the shelf to listen as I wait in the car has come to an end. One of the last CDs I played as I waited came from the most recent addition to the library here: Back To Your Heart, a 2006 two-CD package from Joy Of Cooking, the Berkeley-based band from the early 1970s that was fronted by two women, Terry Garthwaite and Toni Brown.

I’ve long had the vinyl and CD releases of the band’s three 1970s albums, and I’ve searched a little bit for a copy of the fourth release, 1973’s Same Old Song And Dance; some accounts online tell me it was released only in Canada and other accounts tell me it was released only for listening on airplanes. I only know for sure that I have not yet found a copy. And I’ve collected over the years some early and mid-1970s releases by Brown and Garthwaite solo and together. (I’ve written about a few of those post-Joy Of Cooking releases; those long-ago posts are here and here.)

So I was pretty pleased when the mail carrier dropped Back To Your Heart in our box the other week. The first CD is a collection of demos and studio recordings the band put together mostly between 1968 and 1973; there is one tune from the 1990s. Some of the seventeen tracks on the first CD have the full band; others have only the two women, and still others have various combinations of band members and friends helping out. It’s not a polished collection, but it carries with it the sense I’ve always had about Joy Of Cooking, the feeling that this is living room music, tunes that musicians could play at home.

The second CD in the package is a live performance recorded in 1972 in Berkeley, California. I’ve not listened to that one as much as the first, but I can say that Joy Of Cooking was one tight band.

What I’m offering this morning is my favorite track from the disc of studio recordings: “How Deep The Dark.” The spare notes in the CD package tell us that Garthwaite took the lead vocal and that although there’s bass and percussion on the track, there’s no guitar. The notes add, “Another deep dark song from Toni’s dreamscape.”

A Couple Of Notes
In a pleasant note on last week’s post about Boz Scaggs’ long version of “Loan Me A Dime,” reader David Young reminded me that the tune was originally the work of bluesman Fenton Robinson, who first recorded the song for the Palos label in 1967. I probably should have mentioned Robinson’s authorship in the post, but anyway, David’s note reminded me of the 2009 post in which I discussed that and other things related to “Loan Me A Dime.”

And then, I heard from Ted Leavitt, the CEO and owner of Ry-Krisp, the Minneapolis-based company about whose crackers I mused when the company’s closing was announced in March. The company is still alive, it turns out, and someone there must have the job of scouting the world of blogs to see if anyone mentions Ry-Krisp, because Leavitt stopped by here yesterday morning and left a message. He said, “We will be coming back with the product you love. Please sign up for updates as we move forward at http://www.rykrisp.com” That’s very good news.

Saturday Single No. 352

Saturday, August 3rd, 2013

The game “Song Pop” is one of my recent fascinations at the massive time-stealer that is Facebook. The premise of the game is simple: You listen to snippets of music and try to identify either the title or the artist – from among four choices – faster than your competition will. Five pieces of music make a game, and once you’ve completed a game, a challenge is sent to your opponent.

In short order, generally, your opponent does his or her thing with that game and you receive the results of the completed game and his or her work on a new game. You respond, and on and on it goes until each Sunday evening, when the week’s games are totaled and the results for the week are set to zero.

I’m playing with about twenty folks from around the U.S., most of whom seem to be similarly aged. I have available about twenty playlists, or categories. The ones I play most often are (and none of this will surprise anyone who knows me even a little): The Fifties, the Sixties, the Seventies, Seventies Albums, Seventies Love Songs, Sixties Folk, Folk Rock, Classic Rock, Classic R&B, Motown, Soft Rock, Blues and Bruce Springsteen.

My opponents generally hang around in those same categories (though I am the only player I know of with a Springsteen playlist in his kit). I get challenged occasionally in Eighties, Nineties Alternative, Christian Gospel, Show Tunes, Classic Country, Seventies Country and in categories that offer current country and current hits. I do okay with the Eighties, better with Nineties Alternative than I might have thought, and I do all right with the older country. As might be expected, I struggle with the gospel tunes, the show tunes, current country and current hits.

Most of the performers’ names have been familiar to me, even those in genres where I’m not particularly well-versed, but two that have kept popping up in the folk and folk rock genres puzzled me. One, Vashti Bunyan, I perhaps should have known. Or maybe not. Wikipedia tells me that she was born Jennifer Vashti Bunyan in Newcastle, England, in 1945 and released the album Just Another Diamond Day in 1970. Wikipedia continues: “The album sold very few copies, and Bunyan, discouraged, abandoned her musical career. By 2000, her album had acquired a cult following; it was re-released and Bunyan recorded more songs, initiating the second phase of her musical career after a gap of thirty years.”

I haven’t followed up yet (although I plan to), so Bunyan’s music remains unknown to me. Given my musical tendencies, which include a soft spot for British folk from the period 1967-1972, I’ll probably like it.

The other name new to me, Sibylle Baier, offers a more interesting story. She’s a German-born actress and musician who quit acting and recording to raise a family. Wikipedia tells us: “The songs that went on to make up her album Colour Green were home reel-to-reel tape recordings Baier had made in Germany between 1970 and 1973. Some thirty years later her son Robby compiled a CD from these recordings to give to family members as presents. He also gave a copy to Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis, who in turn passed it along to the Orange Twin label. Orange Twin released the album in February 2006.”

At her official website, her son writes, “Sibylle will most likely never see this site . . . She is really quite perplexed by all the attention that her album ‘Colour Green’ has gotten. My father keeps telling her about all the pages and articles that are out there, but she, though smitten, prefers to hear about her accolades through the eyes and ears of her family. The web makes her dizzy, I think.”

As to the album, All Music Guide – with which I agree more often than not – gives it four of five stars:

“A wistful rendering of Vashti Bunyan, Leonard Cohen, and Joni Mitchell, Baier’s conversational voice can be both tragic and comforting, turning the simplest task (“Driving”) into a sepia-toned snapshot of longing. Each track is like a field recording of the highest quality, with every whisper of the locale present, yet unintelligible. Like Anne Briggs with a guitar or Nico without all of the junkie baggage, Baier, who would silently haul out the tape machine and press record late at night when her family was asleep, conveys the purest of intimacies with the kind of confidence only secrecy can afford. From the opening cut, when she sings “tonight when I came home from work/there he, unforeseen sat in my kitchen,” the listener can’t help but be transported behind the soft closed eyes that grace Colour Green’s basement-scavenged, yellowing cover.”

I’ve not yet heard the entire album. I’ve managed to hear a few pieces at YouTube, and I like what I’ve heard, so Colour Green is on my steadily lengthening list of CDs to buy. Here – sweetened by strings somewhere along the way, an augmentation that works – is Sibylle Baier’s “Give Me A Smile,” today’s Saturday Single.

From The Bookshelf, Again

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

I’ve spent some time here in the past weeks digging into the new reference books on my shelf. Well, I have one more to dig into for a post: Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Albums, described on the cover as the “55-year history of every album and CD that made the Billboard 200 Albums chart”

So we’re going to make a list of albums and see if we can find a tune from those albums that we find pleasing. We’ll use today’s date – 3/27 – as a guide, heading to every page that ends with “27” and then look at the third charted album listed. By the end of our voyage, we should find something that all of us here in Odd & Pop’s Workshop will want to listen to. Or at least that’s the theory.

On Page 27, the third entry is And the Music Speaks, the 1995 debut album by All-4-One, a male inter-racial vocal group from Los Angeles. The album went to No. 27 and was the source of the No. 5 hit “I’m Your Man.” The group had two other albums make the Billboard 200, one of them a Christmas album that twice made the Top 20 in the magazine’s Christmas chart.

The rock group Cake, which my pal Mitch Lopate likes very much, shows up on Page 127, where the third album listed is the second of the Sacramento band’s four charting albums, a 1998 offering titled Prolonging the Magic. The album went to No. 33 and threw off three singles that hit various charts. “Never There” was the most successful, reaching No. 78 on the Hot 100, No. 40 on the Mainstream Rock chart, No. 29 on the Adult Top 40 and No. 1 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart.

We’re in the world of Dixie when we get to Page 227, with the third listed album on the page being the Dixie Chicks’ 2002 entry Home, which spent four weeks at No. 1 and topped the country chart as well. Several singles came off the album, the most successful of which was the cover of Stevie Nicks’ “Landslide,” which went to No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart,  to No. 2 on three other charts (including the Canadian singles chart), to the Top 10 on two more charts, and to No. 13 on a seventh.

The late Andy Griffith shows up on Page 327, and his 2003 album The Christmas Guest: Stories and Songs of Christmas is the third listed album on the page. It went to No. 141 on the Billboard 200 and went to No. 27 on the magazine’s 2003 Christmas chart. It was Griffith’s third album on the chart; the first two – in 1996 and 1998 – were collections of favorite hymns.

Faith Hope Love by King’s X is the third album listed on Page 427. The 1990 album, the third charting album by the trio from Houston, Texas, went to No. 85. A single from Faith Hope Love, “It’s Love,” went to No. 6 on the Mainstream Rock chart. Only one other album by King’s X did better: Dogman went to No. 88 in 1994. (In 1989, having just finished a novel that takes place in large part in Nebraska, I was bemused by the title of the group’s second charting album, Gretchen Goes to Nebraska. I scanned the record jacket for a few moments and then put the album back into the stacks, pretty sure I wouldn’t like it. I suppose I should listen to it someday.)

On Page 527, we run into Bette Midler, and the third listed album on the page is her third charting album, 1976’s Songs for the New Depression. The album went to No. 27, kind of a bring-down after her first two albums went to No. 9 and No 6. One single from the album made one chart: Midler’s discofied cover of “Strangers in the Night” went to No. 7 on the Dance Music/Club Play Singles chart. The album is better known in some circles as the source of Midler’s duet with Bob Dylan on Dylan’s “Buckets of Rain.”

Primitive Radio Gods, a group headed by Californian Christopher O’Connor, show up on Page 627 with their 1996 album Rocket, which went to No. 36. Popularized by its inclusion in the Jim Carrey movie The Cable Guy, the band’s “Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand” placed on four separate Billboard charts, including No. 1 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart and No. 7 on the Top 40 Mainstream chart. The hypnotic track is studded with samples of B.B. King proclaiming “I’ve been downhearted, babe,” from his 1963 record “How Blue Can You Get,” a lyric O’Connor sings at the end of the track.

One of my favorite records from the 1990s – and I don’t know why it didn’t end up in my Ultimate Jukebox project of a few years ago – is Soul Asylum’s “Runaway Train,” which came off the band’s Grave Dancer’s Union, the Twin Cities group’s first charting album and the third album listed on Page 727. The 1992 album was the group’s sixth album; five more have come since, and three of those made the Billboard 200, with 1995’s Let Your Dim Light Shine going to No. 6. As to “Runaway Train,” it showed up in the Top 5 on three different charts (including No. 5 on the Hot 100) and in the Top 20 on two more charts.

The group War first came to attention in the early 1970s for its three-album partnership with Eric Burdon, better known as the lead singer for the Animals. The third of those albums is a 1976 issue called Love Is All Around, which is the third album listed on Page 827. The album’s lineage is sorted out by Wikipedia: “Love Is All Around is an album by Eric Burdon and War (credited as ‘War featuring Eric Burdon’ on the original edition). Released in 1976 on ABC Records, it contains tracks recorded during the band’s brief existence from 1969 to 1971, but not found on their two albums from 1970.” War, of course, went on to have a lengthy recording career. As to Love Is All Around, no tracks from the album seem to have made any singles charts; the album itself went to No. 140. The album’s most interesting track is likely the eleven-minute version of the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life.”

Our last stop this morning is on Page 927, in the Christmas albums section of Top Pop Albums. The third album listed on the page is a 1995 release by various artists titled Jazz to the World, which went to No. 95. Some prominent musicians took part in the project, including Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Holly Cole, Cassandra Wilson, Lou Rawls and Stanley Clarke. The most interesting track listing, though, is the closer, with Dr. John taking on the French carol, “Il Est Né, Le Divin Enfant,” a carol I remember tackling on cornet during a high school French class. The track sounds exactly like you’d expect of a French carol sung by Dr. John.

Well, there’s a lot to choose from. I’ve been sorting in my head as I write, and there’s a huge temptation to share the Bette Midler/Bob Dylan duet on “Buckets of Rain,” which is a very cool take on a familiar tune. And I’m fascinated by the Primitive Radio Gods’ “Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand.” But I find I cannot ignore the epic take by Eric Burdon and War on “Day in the Life,” so here it is: