Archive for the ‘1971’ Category

Saturday Single No. 552

Saturday, August 5th, 2017

I was reminded this week of one of the briefest jobs I’ve ever had. My pal j.b. asked folks on Facebook about their short-term jobs, and I was one of a few people who responded. And as I thought about the job in question, I realized it was not only the briefest but one of the strangest.

From mid-1996 into the summer of 1998, there was some chatter among folks I knew that some opportunities to play music full-time (and get paid for it) might come my way. So I was temping just to keep my options open, mostly in various offices for a bank that did business from the Midwest on out to the West Coast. It didn’t pay all that well, of course, but it was enough to squeeze by. (I sold a lot of books and ate a lot of macaroni and cheese.)

Anyway, by the time the autumn of 1998 came sliding into view, I could see that the music opportunities were not going to be there, and I made my way to a collection agency to become a skip tracer. I got hired but learned that there would be a two-week gap as they found enough new skip tracers and collectors to make up a training class. So I took one final two-week assignment from the temp agency.

I ended up working for the same large bank in its mortgage operations, located in a building in Northeast Minneapolis, across the Mississippi River from downtown. There were about ten of us temps starting on the same Monday, each of us at a desk that was empty except for a pile of file folders. Each thick folder, our supervisor explained, was the paperwork for a pending mortgage. Our job was to go through each file and make certain that all the places that required signatures actually had signatures on them. The supervisor suggested that we should be able to get through about eight of the applications an hour.

I lasted a week and a couple of hours. It wasn’t the dreariness of the work that caused me to leave early (although the work was stupefyingly boring, leafing through files of thirty pages or more to see if fifteen or so signatures were in their proper places). What got to me was my back.

My chair was uncomfortable, my desk was awkwardly sized, and I could not find a good match for the two, so I ended up hunched over my desk to go through the files. By the time I got to Friday, I had a painful knot in my spine just below the shoulder blades. I thought maybe with a weekend of rest, I could get through the next week. After that, I’d be off to the collection agency.

But by the time of our morning break on that following Monday, my back hurt worse than it had when I went home on Friday, so I told my supervisor that I just couldn’t stay. And I left, took four days off, which pinched the budget but eased my pain, and went off to work at the collection agency the next week.

I hadn’t thought much about that six-day gig for a long time, and then j.b.’s question the other day brought it to mind. I certainly never connected that gig to the cascade of mortgage fraud that came to light about eight to ten years later. But I remember looking at the carts full of folders of mortgage applications that we temps were reviewing, and I recall thinking that it was odd for so many mortgages to be flowing through that temps were needed to make sure the papers were signed. And I thought it odd that we temps had what seemed to be a responsibility that would be better handled by permanent staff.

I now suspect that elsewhere in that building were one or more rooms set aside for the wholesale approval of those mortgage applications that we ten were reviewing. The banking corporation was in fact one of the banks that was caught up in the mortgage crisis that set in around 2006. It wasn’t one of the largest offenders, but it was involved. And if my suspicion above is correct, that means that for five days and two hours, I unwittingly played a role in the 2006-2008 meltdown of the American economy.

So what tune do I have for that? Well, I dug around looking for tunes about fraud and thievery and even turning a blind eye. I thought about the 5th Dimension’s cover of Laura Nyro’s “Sweet Blindness,” but then my thoughts fell on a different Nyro tune. So here’s Barbra Streisand’s cover of Laura Nyro’s “Hands Off The Man (Flim Flam Man).’ It’s from Streisand’s 1971 album Stoney End, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

‘Oh, Ain’t You Glad . . .’

Friday, June 30th, 2017

It’s time to revive the project we called “Covering Cocker” after a long time away from it. So we resume pulling together covers of the ten tracks on the 1969 album that’s long been one of my favorites, Joe Cocker!

When I started digging around on the Intertubes for covers, the vast majority of the songs on the record provided riches: Most had been covered many, many times, often leaving me with difficult decisions (some of which I have still put off). I was, however, concerned about one of the tracks on the album: “That’s Your Business,” written by Cocker and keyboard player Chris Stainton. How many covers of that tune would I find? Would I find any?

Well, I found one, a single by an Australian group called Hot Rocket released on the Festival Label in 1971. There’s not a lot of information out there about the group, a fact that also hampered the writer of the blog Ozzie Music Man during the writing of a post eight years ago. I’ve done some editing, but here’s what the blog reported:

Hot Rocket is a Sydney honky-tonk rock band who only released one single . . . “That’s Your Business.” They are another one of those bands that are hard to find any info about. But who knows? Maybe one day a producer, band member or even the tea lady might stumble over this blog and leave me some more details . . . you never know. The band members were Paul Coates (vocals), Jan Dezwaan (keyboards) Dave Gibbons (vocals & [producer of] this single) Phil Layton (sax, flute) John Swanton (drums) John Taylor & Rod Webster.

In the comments section below that 2009 post, a reader tells Ozzie Music Man that Hot Rocket actually released another single, “Bottle Of Red Wine b/w Rock And Roll Hootchie Koo.” And a few comments down, as the writer anticipated might happen, a member of Hot Rocket – Dave Gibbons – chimes in with some comments about the band’s line-up.

Beyond that, I know nothing about Hot Rocket except that the band’s cover of “That’s Your Business” made it possible for me to cover Joe Cocker! Here’s the single:

The earlier installments of “Covering Cocker” can be found here.

One Survey Dig & A Note

Friday, May 19th, 2017

I’m guessing that as my senior year of high school wound down in the spring of 1971, I wasn’t listening much to KDWB out of the Twin Cities. Here’s the top fifteen from station’s “6+30” survey during this week in May 1971:

“Sweet & Innocent” by Donny Osmond
“Brown Sugar” by the Rolling Stones
“Me and You and a Dog Named Boo” by Lobo
“It Don’t Come Easy” by Ringo Starr
“Chick-A-Boom (Don’t Ya Jes’ Love It)” by Daddy Dewdrop
“Love Her Madly” by the Doors
“Put Your Hand In The Hand” by Ocean
“Want Ads” by the Honey Cone
“Treat Her Like A Lady” by the Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose
“Power To The People” by John Lennon
“Me And My Arrow” by Nilsson
“Never Can Say Goodbye” by the Jackson 5
“If” by Bread
“Rainy Days & Mondays” by the Carpenters
“Be Nice To Me” by Runt-Todd Rundgren

Why am I thinking that KDWB wasn’t a major part of my listening habits? For a couple of reasons. First, much of my listening was late evening (from 9 p.m. to whenever I fell asleep, probably about 10:30), and that came from either WJON down the street or WLS in Chicago. I think KDWB had been relegated to daytime listening at home – and there wasn’t much of that during the school year – and to whatever time I spent driving, and that wasn’t a lot, as I didn’t yet have my own car.

And then, there are two records in that top fifteen that I don’t recall hearing as much would have been likely had I been listening to the Big 63. Even though it was a national hit (No. 7 in the Billboard Hot 100), I don’t recall hearing the Donny Osmond single a lot. Maybe I just tuned it out. And then there’s the Runt-Todd Rundgren record, “Be Nice To Me.” Having listened to it at YouTube this morning, I can only say that it’s not at all familiar (and that’s possible, as it went only to No. 71 in the Hot 100 and I’ve never dug deeply into Rundgren’s catalog.)

And there’s one more bit of evidence that KDWB wasn’t getting much airplay around our stretch of Kilian Boulevard: Sitting at No. 21 in the “6+30” from forty-six years ago this week is Boz Scaggs’ “We Were Always Sweethearts,” which seems to have peaked at KDWB at No. 17.

The record’s popularity on KDWB was an anomaly, as the record, which was Scaggs’ first to hit the Billboard chart, peaked at No. 61 in the Hot 100. I don’t remember hearing it back then. If I had, I would think I would have remembered it when I got around to hearing it on the Moments album in later years.

It doesn’t matter, really. But “We Were Always Sweethearts” is still a good record, and it’s a good way to close this little bit of survey digging.

A note . . .
I’d planned for some time for this week to have been the week when I resumed a regular schedule here. That plan went away Tuesday when Mom went to the hospital with what turned out to be a couple of small strokes. Things seemed pretty dark Wednesday, but by Thursday morning, she was sitting in a chair, eating on her own, telling my sister and me things we had to remember to take care of, and singing along to a playlist of Lutheran hymns I pulled up from YouTube on my phone.

As I write, the plan is for her to return this afternoon to her place at Prairie Ridge. (That’s the memory care facility attached to Ridgeview Place; she’s been in memory care for about a month.) We’ll have some hospice protocols in place for her; more strokes are likely, and she doesn’t want to go back to the hospital and undergo the ensuing tests. She’s ninety-five and she’s tired, but she was entirely present yesterday as she and my sister and I talked about her care with some staff members from the St. Cloud Hospital.

And strokes or not, tired or not, she made it very clear to us that she intends to keep her appointment to have her hair done today.

A ‘Who’ Preview

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

The Texas Gal headed off to work a few moments ago, sniffling and wheezing from a mid-winter cold that’s been plaguing her for a few days, and I have a feeling I’m not far behind her. (As I typed that sentence, I barked out two or three dry coughs similar to those she began with early this week.)

So I’m going to go take it easy on the couch for a good portion of the day and get back in here tomorrow. But first, I thought I’d mention an idea for a series of posts that I hope to get to very soon. As readers know, I’ve found a number of ways to sort track titles over the years. Two that seemed to work were March of the Integers, looking for numbers in song titles, and Floyd’s Prism, seeking colors. Follow the Directions ignored Horace Greeley’s advice and failed to go west, but that may happen yet.

And I realized as I was pondering the news the other day that my long-ago training in journalism offers me a list of words that should be good sorting material. I think we’ll call it Journalism 101, and we’ll sort for:

Who
What
When
Where
Why
How

As I noted above, I’m going to take the rest of the day off (thought processes are already beginning to get a little gummy), but first, I’m going to offer a preview of the eventual post that will be titled “Who.”

When we sort the 90,000-odd mp3s in the RealPlayer for “who,” we get 714 tracks. (Babe Ruth!) And of course, lots of them aren’t going to work. Everything in the player by the Guess Who goes by the wayside, as do twenty-some tracks by a group called 100% Whole Wheat. And so on. (A more detailed list of what’s lost will be included in the full track, which will run sometime next week, I hope.)

But, as I’d expected, there will be plenty of tracks left with the word “who” in their titles. And we’ll preview the new feature with one of those tracks, a single from a New Jersey group called the Glass Bottle. I don’t recall hearing the single when it came out in late 1971; not a lot of people did, as the record got only as high as No. 87 in the Billboard Hot 100, but I know that if I had heard it, I would have loved it.

Here’s the Glass Bottle with “The Girl Who Loved Me When.”

Saturday Single No. 524

Saturday, January 21st, 2017

It’s been a while since we looked at the book that offers the weekly Top Ten album charts from Billboard. So here’s the Top Ten from this week in 1972, forty-five years ago:

American Pie by Don McClean
The Concert for Bangla Desh
Music by Carole King
Chicago at Carnegie Hall
Led Zeppelin IV (untitled)
Teaser & The Firecat by Cat Stevens
Tapestry by Carole King
There’s a Riot Goin’ On by Sly & The Family Stone
Madman Across The Water by Elton John
Wild Life by Wings

During that distant week, three of those albums would have been in the box next to the stereo in our basement rec room on Kilian Boulevard. The Concert for Bangla Desh was there, as I’d gotten it for Christmas just weeks earlier. And my sister had copies of Tapestry and the Cat Stevens album. She did, however, take them with her when she got married, so by August of that year, the only one of those albums in the house was the massive concert document.

Over the years, all but one of the other nine made their ways to my shelves, but it took some time to get started and to finish:

American Pie, February 1989
Madman Across The Water, February 1989
Chicago at Carnegie Hall, February 1989 & June 1990
Led Zeppelin IV, March 1989
There’s A Riot Goin’ On, September 1989
Teaser & The Firecat, November 1995
Music, November 1998
Tapestry, November 1998

(Two notes: I have never owned a copy of Wild Life, and by the time I got around to the four-LP Chicago album, it was being offered as two sets of two LPs each.)

I’m not sure what conclusions can be drawn from that timeline, but the question that popped into my head as I pulled that listing together was: Are any of those albums essential listening for me in 2017?

Well, making that question hard to answer is the fact that the way we listen to music in 2017 is far different than the way it was back in 1972. We have playlists in our devices, pulling individual tracks from disparate sources. It’s a rare thing, I think, for us to listen to an album – whether current or from our youths – from start to finish. I try to do that in the car at least once a week, popping a CD in and letting it roll from the first track through the last; since it generally takes several trips to get through a CD, it’s not quite the same, but it’s a close approximation, I think.

As it happens, one of the two albums that I heard in the car this week was The Concert for Bangla Desh. It was as enjoyable this week as it was during January of 1972, and I made a mental note to see how much of its music I have among the 3,700 tracks in the iPod. As it turns out, I had pulled only four tracks from that album into the device: Leon Russell’s medley of “Jumping Jack Flash” and “Young Blood,” Billy Preston’s “That’s The Way God Planned It” and George Harrison’s performances of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Bangla Desh.”

So I guess I could say that those four are the essential tracks from that album, and maybe we should alter our question, asking instead: Which of those albums in that long ago Top Ten have tracks that are, based on the contents of the iPod, still essential to me today?

Well, almost all of them. Tapestry leads the way with six tracks in the iPod, and there are three from Music. The device has four tracks from the Led Zeppelin album, and I’ve pulled two each from the Don McLean, Elton John and Cat Stevens albums. Which leaves unrepresented from that January 1972 Top Ten the albums by Chicago and Sly & The Family Stone, meaning that – approaching our question from the other end – those two albums have for me nothing essential.

None of that accounting is surprising, of course (except maybe that four of the Zep tracks landed in the iPod). But it tells me that there twenty-three tracks that I evidently see as essential from those albums in that January 1972 Top Ten. And here’s the one that back in 1972, I would have deemed least likely to be among my essential listening. It’s “When The Levee Breaks” by Led Zeppelin, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single 516

Saturday, November 5th, 2016

I wrote here last Saturday about the cabaret performance that two friends and I have been rehearsing and polishing since late July. Today’s our dress rehearsal, and I have butterflies to a degree I’ve not felt in years.

I imagine I’ll be fine, that once the suite of tunes we’ve selected as our seating music ends and I begin our opening monologue, the butterflies will have taken a seat along with those who have come to see our rehearsal, and the show will go on and will go relatively smoothly. I don’t expect perfection, but I think all three of us will do well.

That said, I was nosing around today in the goodies at oldiesloon, which offers many of the surveys that the Twin Cities’ KDWB put out from the years 1959 through 1972. (I’m sure the surveys lasted much longer than that; the site focuses on those years.) And since one of the tales I’m telling in Cabaret De Lune looks at the contrast between late autumn 1971 and late autumn 1972, I thought I’d look today at KDWB’s “6+30” for this week in 1971, a survey dated November 8.

And we’ll take care of November 1972 in some fashion next week.

The top ten on KDWB forty-five years ago this week holds a few surprises:

“One Tin Soldier” by Coven
“Imagine” by John Lennon
“It’s A Cryin’ Shame” by Gayle McCormick
“Peace Train” by Cat Stevens
“Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves” by Cher
“Theme from ‘Shaft’” by Isaac Hayes
“Long Ago and Far Away” by James Taylor
“Two Divided By Love” by the Grass Roots
“Everybody’s Everything” by Santana

Maybe the most surprising entry there is the single by McCormick, previously the lead singer for Smith. The highest “It’s A Cryin’ Shame” reached in the Billboard Hot 100 was No. 44. I also noticed that the James Taylor single did better in the Twin Cities than it did nationally; it went to No. 31 in the Hot 100. But I do recall hearing those tracks and the rest of KDWB’s top ten from that week, though the Santana track is a little less sharply defined in my memory.

As I’ve noted in this space before, my listening habits began to evolve during my freshman year of college. My Top 40 listening was limited pretty much to the daytime or when I was visiting friends in the dorms. During evenings at home, I was generally listening to the album rock offered by St. Cloud State’s KVSC-FM or to my own LPs, which was still pretty Beatles-heavy (though Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s Déjà Vu was in heavy rotation, as were Stephen Stills’ first solo release and Janis Joplin’s Pearl, and I added a Doors hits album and Jethro Tull’s Aqualung to the playlist in early November of 1971).

So it doesn’t startle me that I don’t recognize all the records listed on that week’s 6+30, but I think a few of them still qualify as surprises.

Maybe the biggest is sitting at No. 29: “He Will Come” from the album Truth of Truths, a rock opera offering tales from the Bible. I recall seeing the album in the stores and always thought it was a blatant attempt to piggyback on the success of Jesus Christ Superstar. It didn’t work; Jesus Christ Superstar spent three weeks at No. 1 in the Billboard 200 and stayed in the chart for 101 weeks; Truth of Truths was in the album chart for seven weeks and peaked at No. 185. And listening to “He Will Come” this morning – and I don’t at all recall hearing it forty-five years ago – I thought for the first ten seconds or so I was hearing a mistakenly labeled cover of the Beatles’ “Let It Be.”

(A side note about Truth of Truths here: Having never heard the entire album, I was unaware until this morning that – according to Wikipedia – the voice of God was provided by Jim Backus, perhaps best known for playing the role of Thurston Howell III on Gilligan’s Island and for providing the voice of the cartoon character Mr. Magoo.)

Getting back to KDWB’s 6+30 from November 8, 1971, I noticed a couple of other unfamiliar records that went higher in the Twin Cities than they did nationally: “Long Ago Tomorrow” by B.J. Thomas was at No. 33 on KDWB but peaked at No. 61 in Billboard. Mason Proffit’s “Hope” was sitting at No. 27 on KDWB in November 1971 but only bubbled under the Hot 100 at No. 108. Bob Seger’s “Lookin’ Back” was at No. 35 on KDWB but peaked in Billboard at No. 96. And Martha & The Vandellas’ “Bless You” was at No. 34 on KDWB but peaked nationally at No. 53.

There are likely a few others in the 6+30 from forty-five years ago this week that did better in the Twin Cities than in the national chart, but those are the ones that jumped out at me. Well, that’s not quite true. The first record I noticed as an anomaly in KDWB’s 6+30 from that long ago week was a Beatles cover that I don’t recall: “It’s For You” by a Detroit band called Springwell was at No. 25 on the KDWB survey for November 8, 1971.

That far outpaced its overall performance, as it peaked in the Hot 100 at No. 60. More interestingly, it was Springwell’s only charting single ever. And more interestingly yet, the record – recorded in Toronto, for what that’s worth – offers a harmony vocal stacked on top of a backing track that sounds to me like something that Rare Earth might have put together.

All of that is enough to make “It’s For You” by Springwell today’s Saturday Single.

A Hard September

Friday, September 30th, 2016

Boy, as much as I generally love September – and those who know me know I do – I will not be unhappy to see this particular September end. Laden with my depression, Mom’s pneumonia and my sinus infection, this month has been rough.

There have been some good times, certainly, and I’ve mentioned a few of them here, but for the most part, it’s been hard times. So to close the month and put forward the hope that October is better, here’s a track whose title echoes the month’s feel but whose energy gets me up and moving.

“Hard Times” is a track from a 1971 album titled Jellyroll, recorded by a group led by Roger “Jellyroll” Troy. The late bassist, singer and producer – he died in 1991 – was also a member of the Electric Flag, and worked over the years with artists like Mike Bloomfield, Maria Muldaur, Mick Taylor, Lonnie Mack, Nick Gravenites, and Jerry Garcia.

I’m not at all sure where I got the album, but pretty much everything I know about it came from a piece by Dave Widow offered about a year ago at the blog Rockasteria. (Here’s a link to the post about Roger Troy and Jellyroll.)

See you tomorrow as October starts.

‘New Jersey . . .’

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

With September here this morning, and considering the prospect of a 45-year high school reunion later this month, I thought about the long-ago month of September of 1971. As the month started, I was ready to go back to school, to get started on my freshman year at St. Cloud State.

But the fall quarter didn’t begin until sometime after September 20, leaving me three more weeks of scrubbing floors on campus during evening shifts with my friend Mike. The quarter’s late start was disconcerting; it felt odd to see the neighborhood kids head off to Lincoln Elementary, South Junior High and Tech High while I spent my daytime doing chores around the house and listening to the radio.

Here’s some of what I was hearing during those odd days, the top ten on the Twin Cities’ KDWB during this week in 1971:

“Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” by Paul & Linda McCartney
“Wedding Song (There Is Love)” by Paul Stookey
“I Just Want To Celebrate” by Rare Earth
“Liar” by Three Dog Night
“Sweet Hitchhiker” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Beginnings/Colour My World” by Chicago
“Smiling Faces” by the Undisputed Truth
“Stick-Up” by the Honeycone
“Won’t Be Fooled Again” by the Who
“Bangla-Desh” by George Harrison

I liked all of those, some more than others, of course. I knew the Chicago B-side and the McCartneys’ record well by then, as Ram and Chicago were regularly on the turntable in the rec room. And as I looked this morning at the rest of KDWB’s 6+30 from that week, things were pretty familiar, too, until I got to No. 31: “New Jersey” by England Dan & John Ford Coley.

I knew the artists, of course. Their “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight” is one of the records that brings back in an instant the summer of 1976 and my departure from Kilian Boulevard. But “New Jersey”? In 1971? I didn’t remember that from 1971 although something about the record was tickling my memory. So I went digging.

The record got some airplay on KDWB, but not a lot: It was in the 6+30 for about eight weeks and peaked at No. 22. How did it do elsewhere?

Well, the massive collection of Top 40 surveys at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive shows little love for “New Jersey” anywhere except the Twin Cities. The record shows up on four other stations’ lists: It was listed as an “Instant Preview” in mid-August on the Music Guide offered by KRCB in Omaha/Council Bluffs. A week earlier than that, KAFY in Bakersfield, California, tagged the record “hit-bound” in its “Big 55.” In September, the record went to No. 12 on KSPD in Boise, Idaho, and to No. 7 on WLON in Lincolnton, North Carolina.

Sadly, ARSA doesn’t have any surveys from stations in New Jersey during September 1971, nor are there any surveys there that came out of Austin, Texas, the duo’s home base, during that month. Maybe the record did better in those places, but I don’t know. In any case, even though ARSA doesn’t have complete archives, it seems to me that being listed on surveys from only five stations is a pretty slender showing.

Finally, we’ll go to the big book: Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles, where we find that “New Jersey” pretty well flopped: The A&M release bubbled under the Hot 100 for all four weeks of September 1971, never rising higher than No. 103.

For all that, it’s not a bad record, even though a first-time listener might think from the introduction that he’s listening to Joe Cocker’s version of “With A Little Help From My Friends.” And with that in mind, I finally recalled where I’d previously heard “New Jersey” by England Dan & John Ford Coley. The track was on a collection of the duo’s early work given to me about a year ago by pal Yah Shure. So here it is:

Saturday Single No. 499

Saturday, June 4th, 2016

So, as high school ended in early June 1971 and the summer stretched ahead, offering what turned out to be hours riding lawnmowers and wielding mops, what was I listening to?

Well, the first survey of June 1971 offered by the Twin Cities’ KDWB had this Top Ten:

“Brown Sugar” by the Rolling Stones
“Treat Her Like A Lady” by Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose
“Rainy Days & Mondays” by the Carpenters
“Want Ads” by Honey Cone
“Sweet & Innocent” by Donny Osmond
“Indian Reservation” by the Raiders
“It Don’t Come Easy” by Ringo Starr
“Albert Flasher” by the Guess Who
“It’s Too Late” by Carole King
“Chick-A-Boom” by Daddy Dewdrop

The only one of those I do not recall is the Donny Osmond record. I listened to it the other day, and I don’t think I need to hear it again. Seven of the rest are on my iPod this morning; the two absentees are “Indian Reservation” and “Chick-A-Boom.”

By the time the summer drew to a close – and it was the longest summer break of my school days, as St. Cloud State did not begin its fall quarter until sometime around September 20 – here was KDWB’s Top Ten:

“Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” by Paul & Linda McCartney
“Wedding Song” by Paul Stookey
“Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers
“Go Away Little Girl” by Donny Osmond
“I Woke Up In Love This Morning” by the Partridge Family
“Stick Up” by Honey Cone
“The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” by Joan Baez
“Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep” by Mac & Katie Kissoon
“Do You Know What I Mean” by Lee Michaels
“Superstar” by the Carpenters

Wow. Only three of those are among the more than 3,000 tracks on the iPod: The Bill Withers, the Lee Michaels and the Carpenters. Was it just an odd stretch on KDWB, or was it my changing tastes? Probably a little of both,

I got some records for graduation and added a few that summer. We may take a look at those acquisitions sometime soon, but for now, we’ll find a single among the twenty records that at least in a radio sense framed that long summer of 1971. And out of the ten of those twenty I still listen to today, one has never even been mentioned in more than nine years of filling up white space here.

That makes “Albert Flasher” by the Guess Who today’s Saturday Single.

Hail, Princess Ælfthryth!

Friday, May 20th, 2016

Well, checking out the history of May 20 at Wikipedia, I learned something. Or rather, I learned a number of things, most of which don’t have any application here today. Those can wait.

My useful bit of learning is that it was on this date in 794 that King Æthelberht II of East Anglia visited the royal Mercian court at Sutton Walls, hoping to marry Princess Ælfthryth. The reception he got was less than cordial. He was taken captive and beheaded, though sources differ as to whether King Offa’s decision to execute the visitor was his alone or was influenced by – as Wikipedia characterizes her – “Offa’s evil queen Cynethryth.”

Wikipedia notes that the tale of Ælfthryth’s betrothal to Æthelberht II is “a late and not very trustworthy legend,” though the tale of his death at the Mercian court seems to be true. And I imagine one has to question as well, then, the tale that after Æthelberht’s death, Ælfthryth – as Wikipedia tells it – “retired to the marshes of Crowland Abbey,” where she was built into a cell about 793 and lived as a recluse to the end of her days.

Why does that matter? It really doesn’t, except that I love old English names with their odd vowels and odd consonantal combinations. And I remain thankful that none of the parents of the women I courted when I was young – or in later years, for that matter – decided that I’d be more useful without my head.

And then, learning of the tale of Princess Ælfthryth gives me a chance to offer here another of my favorite long-form pieces of pop rock: “Tie-Dye Princess” by the Ides of March. The long track, running 11:31, was the closer to Common Bond, the 1971 follow-up to Vehicle, the group’s 1970 debut, the title track of which had been released as a single and had gone to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album itself went to No. 55.

Common Bond didn’t fare nearly as well. The singles “Superman” and “L.A. Goodbye” went to No. 64 and No. 73, respectively, and a single edit of “Tie-Dye Princess” bubbled under at No. 113. (Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles shows “Tie-Dye Princess” as the A-side of Warner Bros. 7507, while the site Discogs.com shows it as the B-side. I’m inclined to agree with Whitburn.) And Common Bond bubbled under the Billboard 200 at No. 207.

I’m pretty sure that a princess at the court of Mercia wouldn’t have worn tie-dye in 794, but I don’t care. Here, in honor of Princess Ælfthryth and in honor of the possibly true tale of the ending of her courtship 1,222 years ago today, is “Tie-Dye Princess” by the Ides of March.