Archive for the ‘Saturday Single’ Category

Saturday Single No. 591

Saturday, May 19th, 2018

We’re off to the eye doctor!

Both the Texas Gal and I have noticed in the past couple of weeks that things are getting a bit blurry, especially when we’re driving and most especially when we’re driving after dark. So we checked our records, and for both of us, it’s been a few years since we had our eyes checked.

So later this morning, we’re off to the regional big box store on the East Side, where we’ve had our eyes checked since we moved to St. Cloud almost sixteen years ago. We’ll also likely look for a hose attachment we can use to clean the winter gunk from the garage floor and for a couple other necessities as well. And lunch at one of our former East Side haunts might be on the agenda, too.

But it’s our eyes that are the main part of the agenda. So here’s a tune that’s never shown up here before: “Meagan’s Gypsy Eyes.” It’s from Child Is Father To The Man, the 1968 debut album for Blood, Sweat & Tears, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 590

Saturday, May 12th, 2018

It started as one of those Facebook queries/challenges. A friend asked me to take ten days and display the jackets of ten favorite albums. I bit. And most of those ten would be familiar to anyone who’s read this blog regularly:

Honey In The Horn by Al Hirt (1963)
For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her by Glenn Yarbrough (1967)
Abbey Road by the Beatles (1969)
The Band by The Band (1969)
Second Contribution by Shawn Phillips (1970)
Den Store Flugt by Sebastian (1972)
Comes A Time by Neil Young (1978)
Tunnel Of Love by Bruce Springsteen (1987)
Evidence by Boo Hewerdine & Darden Smith (1989)
Riding On The Blinds by Danko/Fjeld/Andersen (1994)

Now, that’s not necessarily my list of the best ten albums; those are favorites, and I made sure that the list of ten included albums from the Eighties and Nineties. And then, just for fun, I kept going, up to twenty, then thirty, and then beyond. This morning, I put up a posting of a favorite album for the forty-eighth time: Déjà Vu by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (1970).

Is it my forty-eighth favorite album? Probably not. I think it likely would rank higher if I were actually trying to rank them. But all I’m doing is trying to share with my friends at Facebook albums that I love, offered in no particular order. So once in a while I throw in a curveball, just to remind folks that my musical universe is vast and strange. That’s how The Best of the Red Army Choir (2002) came to be listed on Day 31. (None of my 316 Facebook friends gave it a “like.”)

And I took a look this morning at the growing list – forty-eight albums long now – and wondered if I’d written about all of them. Most of them, I could say “yes” without digging into the blog’s archives. But I wondered about one of them: Mississippi Fred McDowell’s 1969 album, I Do No Play No Rock ’n’ Roll. It turns out I’ve mentioned McDowell and the album three or four times, but pretty much always in passing (though I have featured a track or two).

McDowell was found and first recorded in 1959 by Alan Lomax and Shirley Collins. He was living and working as a farmer near Como, Mississippi (though he still called Rossville, Tennessee, his home). He’s been styled as a Delta blues musician, but Wikipedia notes that “McDowell may be considered the first north hill country blues artist to achieve widespread recognition for his work. Musicians from the hill country – an area parallel to and east of the Delta region – produced a version of the blues somewhat closer in structure to its African roots. It often eschews chord change for the hypnotic effect of the droning single-chord vamp. McDowell’s records offer glimpses of the style’s origins.”

McDowell began recording commercially (though he continued farming), and in 1969, recorded I Do Not Play No Rock ’n’ Roll for the Capitol label, using electric guitar on a record for the first time. (Wikipedia notes that along the way, McDowell gave tips on slide guitar to Bonnie Raitt and notes as well that McDowell was pretty pleased with what the Rolling Stones did with his song “You Got To Move” on their Sticky Fingers album.)

My introduction to Mississippi Fred McDowell probably came in the studios of KVSC-FM at St. Cloud State sometime during my freshman year, almost certainly early in 1972. I seem to remember being in the tiny room that served as our lounge with music coming in from Studio B, but I suppose could have been at home, whiling time away in my room with my new clock radio tuned to KVSC. Wherever it was, the first sounds of the first track on I Do Not Play No Rock ’n’ Roll caught my attention: a few plucks on a guitar string and then a weathered voice saying, “My name is Fred McDowell. They call me Mississippi Fred McDowell . . .”

And after a little bit of talk, which includes the line that became the title of the album, McDowell moves into Big Joe Williams’ “Baby, Please Don’t Go.” I’d never heard anything like it before. And it would be nice if I could say I immediately became a blues fan, buying and listening to McDowell’s records and those of his contemporaries and predecessors and followers.

I didn’t, of course. I was still learning about rock and its various branches and styles. I began to catch up to the blues during the late 1980s and 1990s. Mississippi Fred McDowell popped up on a few anthologies, and in 2002, as I was creating my LP database, I noticed his name again and remembered that moment in early 1972. The Texas Gal and I were living in the Twin Cities suburb of Plymouth, with no easy day-to-day access to a decent record shop, so I went online, and in a few days the mail carrier brought me my vinyl copy of I Do Not Play No Rock ’n’ Roll.

I don’t listen to it often, but it is a favorite (if that makes sense), and when I was pondering the other morning which album cover to post at Facebook, McDowell’s album came to mind, and I thought I should follow up here. So here’s some talk from Mississippi Fred McDowell and his take on “Baby, Please Don’t Go,” all of it the first track of I Do Not Play No Rock ’n’ Roll, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 589

Saturday, May 5th, 2018

A search through the RealPlayer for tracks with the word “down” in their titles yields a result of 1,827 titles. That’s a lot of “down,” and that’s fitting, as a cold has settled in my head overnight and I’m going to be settling down for a good portion of the day.

I’ll be saving my energy, as we have a dinner with a friend this evening and then will attend a dance performance at the College of St. Benedict in the nearby burg of St. Joseph. So I’m going to sift through the “down” tracks and offer one of them for a tune this morning.

And I find one of my favorite tracks from Stephen Stills’ 1970 self-titled solo album, and a search tells me that somehow in more than eleven years of writing about the music I love, I’ve never once mentioned the track. I find that astounding, especially since I have at times written about the album, long one of my favorites.

So here is Stephen Stills’ “Sit Yourself Down,” today’s Saturday Single:

Saturday Single No. 588

Saturday, April 28th, 2018

Because I create and post videos at YouTube (mostly for this blog but sometimes just for the fun of it), I have a channel at the website. It’s called “whiteray1,” because “whiteray” was not available when I began to post videos back in 2011. And as of this morning, there are 385 videos available on my channel.

That’s not the stunning number. Given my tastes, the stuff available on my channel comes from a wide swath of performers and styles, ranging from Liberace (one video) to Levon Helm (many videos) with a lot of stuff in between. It’s not a mix I would think would appeal to a lot of people. Yet, YouTube notes that as of this morning, my channel has 6,026 subscribers. And my 385 videos have generated a total of 7,001,011 views. That, to me, is the stunning number.

And stuff happens fast. Just a couple days ago, I put up a piece with the audio of Toni Brown’s 1974 album Good For You, Too. (Brown was one of the lead singers of Joy Of Cooking, the early 1970s band from the Bay Area that’s been the topic of quite a few posts here.) A few years ago, I’d put up a track from Brown’s album – “Hold On To Your Happy Days” – and this week, I got a note from a listener, asking if I had any other tracks from the album.

It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to create videos the way I do them – the visual is almost always the album cover or a picture of the 45 – so I took a little bit of time and put together a video of Brown’s entire album and dropped it at YouTube. I haven’t yet heard from the young woman who left the note, but in less than forty-eight hours, Good For You, Too has gotten fifty-nine view. That seems like a lot of views in less than two days.

What are the most-viewed pieces? Well, generally the ones that have been up longer. My second video, offering “Bittersweet” by Big Head Todd & The Monsters, leads the way with 1,195,314 views this morning. (My first video, Al Hirt’s “I Can’t Get Started,” has been viewed 105,275 times, which is a decent total.) And the rest of the most-viewed videos are generally from the first couple years I was putting stuff up. Here’s the rest of the top five:

“Tangerine” by Eliane Elias, 325,674 views (November 2013)

“Misty” by Groove Holmes, 291,055 views (July 2013)

“Don’t Try To Lay No Boogie-Woogie On The King of Rock & Roll” by Long John Baldry, 264,938 views (July 2013)

“Nantucket Sleighride (Live)” by Mountain, 258,776 views (May 2014)

It’s an interesting mix. And to look at the other end, the least-viewed piece (out of anything that’s been up for more than a year) is Cat Stevens’ lovely meditation “Where Do The Children Play?” Since it went up in April 2014, it’s gotten only seventy-six views. I’m not sure that posting it here is going to bring about many more hits; nevertheless, “Where Do The Children Play?” from Stevens’ 1970 album Tea For The Tillerman is today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 587

Saturday, April 21st, 2018

Set off kilter with an incipient cold – I can feel it coming on, like a weather system a few days out – and tasked later this morning with recording music at a friend’s home for a dance performance for another friend, I’m sort of punting today.

I’m going to head to the Billboard Hot 100 from this week in 1968 – fifty years ago – and play some quick games with numbers, adding today’s date – 4/21/18 – together to get 43. Then, whatever was No. 43 in that long-ago chart will be today’s feature.

And we run into a record that not only has never been mentioned in this space in more than eleven years of blogging but a record that I only vaguely remember hearing: “Jennifer Eccles” by the Hollies. It’s kind of frothy but that’s okay:

White chalk, written on red brick
Our love, told in a heart
It’s there, drawn in the playground
Love, kiss, hate or adore

I love Jennifer Eccles
I know that she loves me
I love Jennifer Eccles
I know that she loves me

La la la la la la la
La la la la la la
La la la la la la la
La la la la la la

I used to carry her satchels
She used to walk by my side
But when we got to her doorstep
Her dad wouldn’t let me inside

One Monday morning,
Found out I’d made the grade
Started me thinking,
Had she done the same?

La la la la la la la
La la la la la la
La la la la la la la
La la la la la la

One Monday morning,
Found out I’d made the grade
Started me thinking,
Had she done the same?

I hope Jennifer Eccles
Is going to follow me there
Our love is bound to continue
Love, kiss, hate or adore
Singing

I love Jennifer Eccles
I know that she loves me
I love Jennifer Eccles
I know that she loves me

La la la la la la la
La la la la la la
La la la la la la la

“Jennifer Eccles” didn’t do much more on the charts, edging up three more places to reach No. 40, becoming the seventh Top 40 hit of an eventual twelve for the Mancunian group. And all that makes it today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 586

Saturday, April 14th, 2018

We’re in a pocket of quiet as I write, with only a few flakes of snow drifting past the downstairs window. According to the Weather Channel and the folks at one of the Twin Cities television stations, though, sometime soon the snow will pick up and we’ll be getting maybe an inch an hour for the rest of the day and on into the night.

But I wonder. All of the radar projections I see have us on the north edge of the storm. It might not be as heavy a load as those folks are saying. We may have escaped the wrath of Winter Storm Xanto.

Xanto?

Yep, that’s the name that the Weather Channel slapped on this storm. According to a piece at Wikipedia, the cable channel has been naming storms since the winter of 2012-2013. Since we’re down to “Xanto” for this winter, that means that the storm that’s swirling around the Midwest today and tonight and then heading east is the twenty-fourth named storm of the season.

And the list of this winter’s storm names looks to me – with a few exceptions – like the class list for a Kindergarten teacher five or six years hence: Aiden, Benji, Chloe, Dylan, Ethan, Frankie, Grayson, Hunter, Inga, Jaxon, Kalani, Liam, Mateo, Noah, Oliver, Polly, Quinn, Riley, Skylar, Toby, Uma, Violet, Wilbur, Xanto, Yvonne, and Zoey.

The only two of those I doubt will show up in a Kindergarten class somewhere are Wilbur and Xanto. Well, you never know. But Wilbur seems too . . . Well, it reminds me of our rat and of the 1960s television show about a talking horse, Mister Ed. I hated the show, and I loved our rat. And according to the chart at babycenter.com, it’s not that popular a name these days, ranking No.11,685 (in the U.S., I assume) among baby boys’ names in 2017 and No. 10,312 among baby girls’ names in 2016 (with no data listed for 2017).

Then, Xanto. The website babycenter.com has no information on the name. Over at Baby Names, we learn that “The meaning of the name Xanto is ‘Golden’. The origin of the name Xanto is Italian.” And the name is not ranked in lists of births in the U.S. Still, I imagine some parent somewhere in the U.S. has – or soon will – name a child Xanto.

And as I’ve wandered among the names of winter storms and babies, Xanto’s wind and snow has returned. It looks unpleasant out there. So let’s celebrate Xanto and look through the digital stacks for something Italian and golden.

Well, it’s a stretch, but sometimes we must be elastic. Wikipedia informs us that conductor and arranger Don Costa was of Italian heritage, and in 1964, Costa released an easy listening album titled The Golden Touch. And to my ears, the best track on the album is Costa’s cover of Gene Pitney’s “Town Without Pity.” So in honor of Winter Storm Xanto, from Don Costa’s album The Golden Touch, “Town Without Pity” is today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 585

Saturday, April 7th, 2018

So we’re seven days into April, and here in St. Cloud, we got about nine inches of snow in two bursts this week, the first on Monday during the day and the second running from late Monday night into Tuesday. (I think that’s right; things tend to blur right now.)

And we’re supposed to get more measurable and plowable snow tomorrow afternoon and evening.

We’ve been here on the North Side for almost seven weeks and for four substantial snowfalls, and one concern I have so far about our new place is the snowplowing service. Our driveway gets cleared just fine, but the service road/alley on which we front doesn’t seem to get very good attention. Today, four days after a major snowfall – six inches – the road is basically two grooves in a field of ice. I imagine that I’ll have to attend the next meeting of our homeowners’ association and find out why.

In the meantime, the only appropriate song for today is “Sometimes It Snows In April,” a tune written by Prince, Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman and first released on Prince’s album Parade in 1986.

The list of covers at Second Hand Songs offers names of artists like Native, Michelle Solberg, Montezuma’s Revenge, Sanne Salomonsen, the Knut Reiersrud Band, StarGate & Espen Lind and a few others. The name that grabs me most, though, is that of Meshell Ndegeocello, whose cover of the tune was released just three weeks ago on her new Ventriloquism. It’s sleepy and kinda trippy vibe makes it today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 584

Saturday, March 31st, 2018

A little bit more than two months ago, in my exploration of “When” for our ongoing Journalism 101 project, I wrote:

The short-lived British band McGuinness Flint managed one appearance in the Billboard Hot 100 when “When I’m Dead And Gone” went to No. 47 in early 1971, and as I listen today to that track and to “Malt and Barley Blues,” a 1971 Capitol promo single, I wish I had a lot more from the band on the digital shelves. I have Lo and Behold, a 1972 album by the group’s successor band, Coulson, Dean, McGuinness and Flint, and that’s fine, but I suppose I’m going to have to shell out some cash for the original group’s 1970 album. The group’s tangled history is best left to Wikipedia.

Well, as part of a minispree at Amazon this week, I now have more McGuinness Flint on the CD and digital shelves, as one of my selections was the CD titled The Capitol Years. It pulls together almost all of the group’s first two albums, the 1970 self-titled debut and the 1971 release Happy Birthday Ruthy Baby, along with two sides of a British single (released as a promo here, if I read the tea leaves correctly), and a couple of Brit B-sides.

Why did I say “almost all” in that last sentence? Because the 1996 CD fails to include the track “Brother Psyche” from the first album. I saw a note online somewhere – and I wasn’t bright enough to notice where – that the track had been left off due to time restraints. I snorted and thought to myself that the group would have been better served to leave off the two Brit B-sides, which would have left enough time to accommodate “Brother Psyche.” But I found the missing track elsewhere, so no harm and all that. But I found it an odd decision, and I found it even more odd that the decision wasn’t mentioned at all in the booklet notes, which were written by group founder Tom McGuinness.

So, how’s the music?

Actually, quite good, though I have to agree with Mr. McGuinness that the first album is better than the second. The reason for that, he says, echoing something I’ve often noted about many groups, is that the material on the first album was the result of an extended period of writing as the band coalesced, while the material on the second album was written in a brief time with the goal of recording a second album.

Even with that, it’s all a good listen, and the group has a rootsy sound, with sometimes adventurous instrumentation, that puts me in mind of The Band. Of course, it’ll take some time, some repeated listens, before I’ve absorbed the music (and I doubt whether I’ll ever again absorb music new to me these days the way I did when I was eighteen), but for now, I’m pleased with what I hear.

And we’ll leave you this morning with “I’m Letting You Know.” It’s from the group’s 1970 self-titled album, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 583

Saturday, March 24th, 2018

So what would I have heard if I’d turned on my radio during a quiet Saturday on Kilian Boulevard in late March of my junior year of high school?

Here’s the Top Ten from the Twin Cities’ KDWB for March 30, 1970, forty-eight years ago this week:

“Let It Be” by the Beatles
“The Rapper” by the Jaggerz
“Instant Karma (We All Shine On)” by Lennon/Ono with the Plastic Ono Band
“Give Me Just A Little More Time” by the Chairmen of the Board
“Come and Get It” by Badfinger
“Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum
“Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel
“Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” by Edison Lighthouse
“House of the Rising Sun” by Frijid Pink
“Walking Through the Country” by the Grass Roots

None of that, of course, would have surprised me, although I think I heard the Grass Roots’ record a little less frequently than I heard the other nine during that period of time. And there were some interesting records in the lower portions of that KDWB survey, including at least one record I do not think I have ever heard.

That would be “All In My Mind” by Pure Love & Pleasure. Neither the title nor the name of the group set off any small alarms. I went to YouTube and found no trace of the record, and the same is true at Amazon and iTunes. I suppose it might have been included in the couple of hundred K-Tel and Ronco compilations that used to gather dust on my shelves, but those are all gone now (and that saves me maybe an hour of sitting on the floor, scanning record jacket after record jacket).

All I know is that “All In My Mind” was at No. 32 on the KDWB survey, up from No. 34. It wasn’t a big deal nationally, either: The data at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive show the record being listed in the surveys of only three other stations: WTIX in New Orleans, KADI in St. Louis, and WFSO in St. Petersburg, Florida. The highest reported position for the record among the surveys listed for those four stations is No. 17 in New Orleans.

And Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles doesn’t offer much information. The record bubbled under the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks, reaching No. 104. It was the only record that Pure Love & Pleasure, a pop-rock group from Los Angeles, got near the Hot 100.

There are any number of online emporia offering copies of the 45 for sale, and we’ll see if I send any of my shekels to any of them, but anyway, I’m not going to be hearing the record this morning. Oddly, though, the record’s B-side, a chipper tune titled “What’cha Gonna Do” – a record that flirts so heavily with country pop rock that it might in fact be a joke – is available on YouTube as part of a collection called Lost Pop & Doo Wop 45s, Vol. 7.

Well, the universe works in strange ways, so I’ll yield to its whims and make “What’cha Gonna Do” by Pure Love & Pleasure today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 582

Saturday, March 17th, 2018

We’re going to double-dip here today for a couple of reasons: First, we have a friend coming over for dinner this evening, and we need to head out for comestibles. It will be the first entertainment-style visit to our new digs, and we’re excited.

(We’ve had a couple of friends pop by and take a quick look, and my sister and her family did the same last weekend after having attended another event in town, but that’s a little different than having dinner company.)

Second, I had a difficult night, dealing with the residue of a perfume insert in the copy of Rolling Stone I was reading just before bedtime. The residue made my throat start to swell shut, which called for: more medication than I usually take, rinsing my head in the kitchen sink, a nearly entire rebooting of my sleep clothes and a 1 a.m. session at the computer to unwind and encourage my sleep meds to kick in.

I know, TMI.

Anyway, along with popping for a Saturday Single today, we’re going to slot that single into a preview of an upcoming post, one we hope will show up this next week. In our series Journalism 101, our looks at tunes featuring in their titles the key words of reporting – who, what, when, where, why, and how – we’re up to “why,” and a quick look at the candidates on the digital shelves here showed riches beyond what could be offered in a four- or even five-song post.

So we’re going to give a quick preview of ‘Why” this morning, and to do so, we’re heading back to 1969. (We could have pushed it back to 1941-42 and a very early Muddy Waters recording, but we’ll see if we land on that one when we get to the main post.) That was the year that Eddie Floyd and the folks at Stax released “Why Is The Wine Sweeter (On The Other Side).”

It didn’t do much, getting to No. 30 on the Billboard R&B chart and struggling to No. 98 on the magazine’s Hot 100. But, man, it should have done better. Starting with what can only be a Duck Dunn bass groove, the record finds Floyd laying out his worries that his woman is going to sample some of the other side’s sweet wine, worries that only make sense if Floyd himself has at one time or another imbibed some of that sweet iniquity. Add horns and keys, and it’s as sweet as that wine.

All of that is why Eddie Floyd’s “Why Is The Wine Sweeter (On The Other Side)” is today’s Saturday Single.