Archive for the ‘2000’ Category

‘Thunder’

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

Well, it’s seven in the morning and the weather forecast calls for a sunny day with no chance of precipitation. But it’s darker than December outside, the thunder is rumbling, and the weather radar shows a green blob with yellow highlights heading this way from the northwest.

But that’s not ruining my day. Instead, it moves me to offer a random selection from the RealPlayer, where the tracks on the digital shelves now total more than 89,000. (I have about the same amount of music from various sources – friends, libraries, dark corners of the ’Net – sitting unsorted in folders on my external hard drive. If I were so inclined, I could work on sorting and tagging that for days.)

Anyway, here are three about thunder:

First up is “Drive Like Lightning (Crash Like Thunder)” from the Brian Setzer Orchestra. One of the first CDs I owned – obtained through a record club in 1999 – was the group’s 1998 effort The Dirty Boogie, which featured a cover of Louis Prima’s “Jump Jive an’ Wail” that went to No. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100. (The album itself went to No. 9 on the Billboard 200.) After a while, I tired of the group’s work and traded the CD for something else; Setzer’s approach to the jump blues he so obviously loves didn’t – for some reason – settle into my system well. “Drive Like Lightning” is from the group’s 2000 album Vavoom!, and it’s got a sound more rooted in a mythical late 1950s aesthetic (with some 1960s surf guitar tossed in), and like 1940s jump blues, that’s another interesting place to be. But even though I have a fair amount of music by the former Stray Cat front man and his group on the digital shelves – including another copy of The Dirty Boogie – Setzer’s work remains only of passing interest to me. Whenever I listen to more than one track at a time, I get the sense that Setzer and his mates are more interested in mugging at the audience than focusing on the groove.

From there, we bounce back to the late 1970s and some sessions that Bobbie Gentry did, evidently, for Warner Brothers. “Thunder In The Afternoon” and a few other tracks wound up on an early 1990s best-of release in the United Kingdom and were the subject of some discussion on a music board I stumbled upon about a year ago while putting together a post about Gentry’s version of Patti Dahlstrom’s “He Did Me Wrong But He Did It Right.” Likely recorded in 1977, “Thunder In The Afternoon” fits in nicely with the rest of Gentry’s oeuvre, though perhaps with a little less tang than her Delta-tinged early stuff. The question of what happened to Bobbie Gentry is one that music fans and writers return to from time to time. One of the latest writers to take on the topic was Neely Tucker of the Washington Post. Tucker’s piece, from June of this year, includes this teasing passage near the top: “Gentry spoke to a reporter, for this story, apparently for the first time in three decades. We caution you not to get too excited about that. It’s one sentence. Could be two. Then she hung up.”

The track that made me focus on “thunder” in this morning’s exercise instead of “rain” is, happily, our third random track today: “You’ll Love The Thunder” by Jackson Browne. Found on Browne’s 1978 live album Running On Empty, the track has long been one of my favorite Browne tracks, certainly my favorite from the live album. I think I just got tired of hearing “Running On Empty” and “The Load-Out/Stay” when they were overplayed on radio back in 1978. (The title track went to No. 11, and “Stay” – with “The Load-Out” on the B-side – went to No. 20.) The track still seems fresh almost forty years after I first heard it, and – as happens every time one of Jackson Browne’s early pieces pops up – I think briefly that maybe I should dig more deeply into the music he’s done in recent years. But even minor excavations into Browne’s later work always seem to leave me luke-warm. Why? I dunno, and I no longer try to figure out why. I have better ways to spend my time, like cuing up “The Late Show” or “Here Come Those Tears Again” or even “That Girl Could Sing.” Or “You’ll Love The Thunder.”

Saturday Single No. 470

Saturday, November 7th, 2015

Autumn chores – as alluded to yesterday, some remain undone in the gardens; others not mentioned remain to be finished elsewhere as well – are on today’s agenda. Once the coffee is ready and we’ve both had breakfast, we’re headed outside.

On top of the agenda is changing the two screens to storms; weather and health have so far conspired to keep us from getting that done. As I may have noted earlier, I could – and have, in the past – done it on my own, but these days, I prefer to have the Texas Gal around if for no other reason than to have someone available to call the ambulance should the ladder and I not get along.

And while we have the ladder out, we’re going to inspect and likely clean the nearby gutter where weeds grew this summer in what must be a nice patch of compost that’s no doubt the result of a couple years of ignored leaf clutter.

So, windows and gutters and a few other less worrisome chores. I was reminded as I cooked dinner this week that it’s past time, given the temperatures outside these days. As I ran the dishwasher and boiled pasta on the stove, the window at the kitchen table – exposed to the outside temperature by its screen – was steamed over completely, making the view of the two cars and the garage look like an Impressionist painting.

Here’s a suitably titled track from Shemekia Copeland, though she has far different reasons for being unable to see through the windows. From her 2000 album Wicked, here’s “Steamy Windows,” and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 449

Saturday, June 6th, 2015

Entropy, as the word is used informally, means that things deteriorate. Things change and not – in terms of their usefulness – for the better.

(If you’re interested in what the word means in formal use, go ahead and Google it, or look it up on Wikipedia. Unless physics is your deal, you’ll be lost. As for me, I’m no physicist, and I don’t even play one on TV, which is why I went with the informal use of the word.)

We’ve had, in the past few weeks, several examples of that informal use of the word “entropy” right here: My folding chair here in the EITW studios gave a creak and a groan the other day, and then tilted rapidly to its right as its leg separated from the rest of it. I found myself on the floor, slightly dazed but not at all damaged. The same, of course, could not be said for the chair, which had entropied itself into an appointment with the dumpster across the way.

I pulled the old kitchen chair – part of a set of four purchased, according to family lore, by my dad’s sister and mother for my parents shortly after their wedding in 1948 – out from its place by my keyboard, and I used that at the computer for a few days until I could get to one of the discount retailers here on the East Side. I got that done the other day and now use what I believe is Folding Chair No. 3 for my follies here and elsewhere online.

Another chair, the green recliner on which the Texas Gal rests in our living room, provides another example of entropy at work, and that’s perhaps not surprising: She bought the chair shortly after she moved to Minnesota from Texas in the autumn of 2000. It was intended for my use, but it and I never matched well, so it became her chair by default. A few months ago, the bolt that supported the back of the chair came loose, and the chair listed rapidly to the left, shearing off a small screw as it did.

I took a look at the damage, and I was able to put the offending bolt and its nut back in place, but the absence of the small screw left the chair leaning permanently left, an appropriate position for the Texas Gal politically but one not so comfortable for such mundane matters as watching television or stitching pieces for a quilt. That was a few months ago. In recent weeks, the chair has been making an odd groaning noise when the Texas Gal sits down (and sometimes even when she’s not in the chair, a fact that startled Oscar the cat the other day). And last evening, as she watched television and went through the mail, something poked her. She and I agree that it’s time for a new chair.

We hope that we can take care of that quickly, but you know how things go. Yesterday afternoon, I headed out to pick up the Texas Gal after work so we could make a quick trip to the big discount emporium across the river and north of the city, and as I did, the car – a 2007 Nissan Versa that’s given us few problems – rumbled louder than it ever had. I listened to it pensively as I drove downtown, and then we both listened as we made our way north. There’s a rumble and a rattle, which makes us think that a bolt holding a clamp has come loose, a problem that can be solved easily and cheaply.

That’s what we hope to hear, anyway, when we take the Versa up to our nearby auto shop this morning. (The shop’s main business is tires, but we’ve brought both of our vehicles there for other repairs and have been pleased with both the cost and the quality of the work performed.) We’ll do that this morning, not long after this piece is finished. And if our hunch about the cost to repair the rumble and rattle is accurate, then our plan is to head to one of the nearby discount stores and look for a recliner that the store’s website says is on sale this week.

If we get more expensive news about the car than we’re hoping for, well, we’ll regroup and figure things out. And all we can do is hope that we replace the Texas Gal’s chair before something else around here breaks down and needs replacing.

And here’s a pertinently titled piece of music: For his 2000 album, Delta Crossroads, Robert Lockwood, Jr., took on several of the songs written by his quasi-stepfather and mentor, Robert Johnson. Here’s Lockwood’s take on “Stop Breakin’ Down,” and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 443

Saturday, April 18th, 2015

I’ve never been to a baby shower. They’ve always been the domain of women. But that changes today.

In a little while, the Texas Gal, my mother and I will head to the Twin Cities’ suburb of Plymouth for a baby shower for my niece and her husband, who are expecting their first child this summer. The baby will be the first grandchild for my sister and her husband and my mom’s first great-grandchild.

And the organizers of the shower – long-time friends of my sister’s – made the shower inclusive, so the menfolk were invited as well. There will be a brunch, gifts and all the other stuff that makes for a joyous gathering. It should be fun.

To mark the occasion here, I went looking for a song with “baby” in the title, and found more than a thousand of them on the digital shelves. So it took a little bit of searching, but I eventually found “Didn’t Leave Nobody But The Baby” a track from 2000 – from the soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou – by Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

‘I Hold My Tongue . . .’

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Trying to make sense of a couple of days that defy sense-making, I was wandering through the mp3 shelves looking at tracks with the “sad” in their titles. And I came across “Sad Eyes” by Bruce Springsteen, a track recorded in Los Angeles in 1990 and released in 1998 on the four-CD box set Tracks. And I looked a little closer and found two covers of the Springsteen tune sitting on the shelves. One is by Elliot Murphy & Iain Matthews from their 2000 album La Terre Commune, and we may get to that one someday.

The other cover is from Trisha Yearwood, who included the Springsteen tune on her 2000 album Real Live Woman. I don’t know that Yearwood’s version of the song can erase the days’ concerns (which will pass, I’m sure), but her take on “Sad Eyes” makes the day a little brighter.

‘White’

Friday, January 31st, 2014

And so, after several delays, we land on “White,” the last of nine chapters in Floyd’s Prism, looking at songs whose titles feature the seven colors of the spectrum plus black and white.

As with nearly all of the previous entries, when we sort the tracks in the RealPlayer, we get a total of 766. That’s many more than we need, but many of them, we cannot use. Some show up, as I noted the other day, because they’re tagged with the notation, “Ripped from vinyl by whiteray.” But others, equally unuseable, show up for other reasons.

Some have words in their titles that are close to “white,” including eleven versions of “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” And we’ll also pass on “Whitestone Bridge,” a 1973 tune from the Irish band Tír na nÓg; “Whitewash,” a 1976 outing by the Gin Blossoms; and two versions of Curtis Mayfield’s 1971 offering, “Mighty Mighty (Spade And Whitey).”

Out goes everything by the Average White Band, Tony Joe White, country singer Joy Lynn White, vintage singers Bukka White, Josh White and Georgia White, harp legend Charlie Musselwhite, Edgar Winter’s White Trash, current performer Jack White and country singer Lari White. We also dismiss the great “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” by McFadden & Whitehead, a few vintage tracks by Paul Whitehead & His Orchestra and two tracks from Lavelle White, one on Duke from 1958 and the other from her 2003 album, Into the Mystic. And we pass by every track in the collection by Barry White; we could have kept his “Rhapsody in White,” but we decided against it.

What else? Three albums titled Black & White, by the BoDeans, the Pointer Sisters and the previously mentioned Tony Joe White, fall by the wayside, as do Shawn Phillips’ 1973 album Bright White (we posted the title tune here the other week), Michael Omartian’s 1974 effort White Horse, most of David Gray’s 200 album White Ladder and Gene Clark’s 1971 offering White Light. We also pass by the Cowboy Junkies’ 1986 album Whites Off Earth Now!! and numerous singles on the White Whale label.

So we take what’s left, which turns out to be plenty for our purposes this morning.

I mentioned David Gray’s 2000 album White Ladder above. It’s a CD that’s truly not strayed far from our player during the years since it came out, a tuneful and literate album. The best-known track on the record is no doubt “Babylon,” which made seven different Billboard charts, reaching No. 57 on the Hot 100 and No. 8 on the Adult Top 40. While the title track is nowhere near as well-known (and doesn’t have nearly as great a hook as “Babylon,” to be honest), “White Ladder” is still a good track from an artist whose body of work has sometimes been uneven (and sometimes gets a little repetitive, to be honest).

Nearly seven years ago, during the first weeks of this blog’s existence, I told the tale of my grandfather and his buying a birthday present for my sister, a 45 rpm record that turned out to be the tales of the Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood written by Steve Allen and then told by Al “Jazzbo” Collins in early 1950s jazz and hipster lingo. The 1953 record was an unlikely hit, and it spun off more such performances. Today’s selection is “Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs” as told by Collins later that same year. The story came from the pen of Douglas Jones, whose ear for the hipster argot was, to my own ears, not as sharp as was Allen’s. Still, it’s a fun trip through the woods to the dwarves’ rib shack.

There’s not a lot more for me to say about the late Levon Helm. Today’s sorting brought up Helm’s take on the Carter Stanley tune “White Dove,” from Helm’s 2009 album, Electric Dirt. The album went to No. 36 on the Billboard 200 and was awarded a Grammy as the Best Americana Album in 2010.

From 2009 we drop back sixty-eight years to what is certainly the most sentimental song in this set of six. But then, wartime can do that, and “(There’ll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover” is one of the quintessential songs of World War II. Written in 1941 by Walter Kent and Nat Burton, the tune reflects the unease of Britons facing Nazi Germany alone and expresses hope for a return to normal life after the war. Though other versions might have become better known on this side of the Atlantic, especially the version by the Glenn Miller Orchestra, the version by Vera Lynn – the original, I believe – is the one that the Brits loved, despite the sad fact that bluebirds are not indigenous to the British Isles and have never flown over the tall white cliffs. Lyricist Burton, notes Wikipedia, was an American who seemingly didn’t know any better, but no matter: Since 1941, “(There’ll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover” anyway.

Chad Mitchell was, as his name reminds us, the founder of the Chad Mitchell Trio, a folk group that placed eight albums in the Billboard 200 between 1962 and 1965 (the last two charting after Mitchell left and the group was renamed just the Mitchell Trio (and included among its members at that time John Denver). Mitchell at that point embarked on a solo career, and one of the artifacts of that rather unsuccessful effort is the 1969 album Chad. The album, writes Richie Unterberger at All Music Guide, was “an odd match of Mitchell’s crooning folk vocals with covers of then-recent folk-rock-ish songs by Joni Mitchell (‘Both Sides Now’), Dino Valente (‘Let’s Get Together’), and far more obscure titles like Tim Buckley’s ‘Goodbye & Hello,’ H.P. Lovecraft’s ‘The White Ship,’ Jim & Jean’s ‘What’s That Got to Do with Me,’ and the Association’s ‘Bus Song’.” It’s the Lovecraft tune that draws us in this morning. The album-opener, “The White Ship” is, in its weird and unmarketable (but oddly compelling) way, 1969 summed up in three minutes and thirty-eight seconds.

From 1969’s folk-rock self-indulgence, we head to 1957 and a concise country anthem, “A White Sport Coat & A Pink Carnation” by Marty Robbins. The tale of the young fellow all spiffed up for the dance only to have his gal waltz off with someone else was No. 1 on the Billboard country charts for five weeks in mid-1957. It was one of a remarkable eighty-three records Robbins placed in the country Top 40; the record also went to No. 2 on the Hot 100, where Robbins had thirty-six records in or near the chart over the years.

A Landmark Preserved

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

A few times over the past five years, I’ve written about the building at 508 Park Avenue in Dallas, the building where Robert Johnson spent two days recording in 1937. I’ve written about the possibility that the building – dilapidated and in a difficult neighborhood – might be torn down. I’ve written about the sessions that Eric Clapton conducted there in 2004, recording several of Johnson’s songs in the same room where Johnson recorded them in 1937. And I’ve written about my two visits to the building, about standing at its doorstep and standing in the same place where both Robert Johnson and Eric Clapton had been.

But I’m not sure I ever shared here the very good news that, through a project headed by the Stewpot – a homeless shelter across the street from 508 – and the First Presbyterian Church of Dallas, the building at 508 Park will be preserved and will become the centerpiece for what’s being called the Museum of Street Culture. The vacant building on the north side of 508 has been razed to create a space that will include an amphitheater, and a now-vacant lot on the south side of the building will become a community garden.

The plans for the museum and its programs are available at the website for the Museum of Street Culture, a website that includes a photo of Steven Johnson, the grandson of Robert Johnson, standing in front of the building where his grandfather recorded some of the most influential songs in blues history.

Here’s my photo of the door of 508 from one of my trips to Dallas.

And here is a selection – offered once before, in 2009 – of covers of some of the songs that Robert Johnson recorded during his two sessions in 508 Park Avenue in 1937:

A Six-Pack of 508 Park Avenue
“Stop Breakin’ Down” by the Jeff Healey Band from Cover To Cover [1995]
“Malted Milk” by Eric Clapton from Unplugged [1992]
“Traveling Riverside Blues” by John Hammond from Country Blues [1964]
“Love In Vain” by the Rolling Stones from ‘Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!’ [1970]
“Stones In My Passway” by Chris Thomas King from Me, My Guitar and the Blues [1992]
“I’m a Steady Rollin’ Man” by Robert Lockwood, Jr. & Carey Bell from Hellhound on My Trail: Songs of Robert Johnson [2000]

‘Ten’

Friday, May 31st, 2013

Sorting for the word “ten” in the titles of the 68,000 mp3s is a difficult process, perhaps the most difficult so far in our March Of The Integers. The RealPlayer lists 1,632 mp3s with that letter combination somewhere in the indexed information. And few of those titles in that listing can be used.

Johann Sebastian Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos as recorded by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment? Gone, just like the Allman Brothers Band’s album Enlightened Rogues. Any music tagged as easy listening is also dismissed, which wipes out entire catalogs from artists like Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, the Baja Marimba Band, Ray Conniff & The Singers, Ferrante & Teicher, Percy Faith and of course (in a double stroke), my entire collection of Hugo Montenegro’s music.

Anything with the name of the state of Tennessee in its title has to be set aside, from the Dykes Magic City Trio’s 1927 version of “Tennessee Girls” to the Secret Sisters’ 2010 track “Tennessee Me.” We also lose anything tagged as having been recorded in the state, from Clarence “Tom” Ashley’s 1929 recording of “Coo Coo Bird” to Johnny Cash’s 1974 take on “Ragged Old Flag.” And we eliminate as well several albums: The Tennessee Tapes by the Jonas Fjeld Band, Easin’ Back to Tennessee by Colin Linden and Tennessee Pusher by the Old Crow Medicine Show.

Marc Cohn’s 2010 album of covers, Listening Booth: 1970 is gone, as are the single tracks “Lisa, Listen To Me” by Blood, Sweat & Tears, “Listen to the Wind” by Jack Casady, “Listen to Me” by Buddy Holly, “Listen Here” by Richard “Groove” Holmes and “Listen To The Flowers Growing” by Artie Wayne, among many others.

We’ll also have to avoid everything with the word “tender” in it, including the Bee Gees “Fanny (Be Tender With My Love),” Blue Öyster Cult’s “Tenderloin,” all of Jackson Browne’s album The Pretender, Trisha Yearwood’s “Bartender’s Blues,” and six versions of the classic song “Tenderly,” including Sam “The Man” Taylor’s sweet 1960 saxophone cover.

Lastly, we must pass over the marvelously titled 1945 R&B number “Voo-It! Voo-It!” by Marion (The Blues Woman) Abernathy. As well as having a great title, it’s a decent record that showed up in the list only because an appended comment noted that it was co-written – there’s the “ten” – by Buddy Banks and William “Frosty” Pyles. I am now determined to feature it in this space someday soon.

So what are we left with? Well, there are likely several tracks with the word “ten” hidden in the middle of their titles, but we’ll go the easy route from here and land on six tracks that start with the word. And we have about twenty to choose from, so we should come up with something interesting.

We have covers of a Gordon Lightfoot tune by Tony Rice and Nanci Griffith. We’ll go with Griffith’s version of “Ten Degrees and Getting Colder” from her 1993 album of covers, Other Voices, Other Rooms. The album is well worth finding; the highlights also include Griffith’s takes on John Prine’s “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness” and Bob Dylan’s “Boots of Spanish Leather.” Griffith reprised the idea in 1998 with Other Voices, Too (A Trip Back to Bountiful), an album that starts with a Fairport Convention bang: covers of Richard Thompson’s “Wall of Death” and Sandy Denny’s “Who Knows Where The Time Goes.”

The Miller Sisters – Elsie Jo Miller and Mildred Miller Wages – were actually sisters-in-law from Tupelo, Mississippi. After performing with Elsie’s husband Roy Miller (being billed then as the Miller Trio), the women auditioned for Sun Records in Memphis. According to Wikipedia, “Producer Sam Phillips believed that the Millers’ vocal harmonies, complemented by the steel guitar solos of Stan Kesler and the percussive electric guitar of Quinton Claunch, would translate into significant record sales,” and the duo released a few country singles without much success. Those singles included “Ten Cats Down” from August of 1956, a rockabilly romp that features some nice harmonies. I found the track on the 2002 British compilation The Legendary Story of Sun Records.

We’ll stay with rockabilly for another record: “Ten Little Women” by Terry Noland. A Texas native, Noland – according to the website BlackCat Rockabilly – “attended the same school as Buddy Holly, and like Holly, most of his Brunswick records were produced by Norman Petty in Clovis, New Mexico.” Brunswick released “Ten Little Women” in 1957 and followed it with “Patty Baby.” The latter sold well in New York, says BlackCat Rockabilly, which led to Noland’s appearing “at the bottom of the bill on Alan Freed’s 1957 Holiday of Stars show at the Brooklyn Paramount.” The flip side of “Ten Little Women” was a tune called “Hypnotized,” which the Drifters covered and took to No. 79 in 1957. I found “Ten Little Women” in the massive That’ll Flat Git It collection of rockabilly released about twenty years ago.

One of the highlights of 2000 – around here, anyway – was the release of Riding With The King, the album that brought Eric Clapton and B.B. King into the studio together. The album’s highlights include takes on King classics like “Help the Poor” and “Three O’Clock Blues” and a shuffling duet on Bill Broonzy’s “Key to the Highway,” a take that’s shorter and less intense but just as pleasurable as the legendary version Clapton recorded in 1970 with Derek & The Dominos. Today, however, it’s “Ten Long Years” that draws our attention. The version King recorded for the RPM label in 1955 went to No. 9 on the R&B chart; the version from Riding is longer but, again, no less pleasurable.

Led Zeppelin was never high on my list of favorite bands; I imagine the band’s excesses – in all ways – put me off. These days, the group’s music is more accessible (and no doubt my tastes have broadened), and there’s no doubt the band’s legendary misbehaviors are far less shocking when viewed from the perspective of today’s libertine culture. So I’ve heard more Zeppelin in the past fifteen years than I likely did in the years way back, but there are still surprises: The aching “Ten Years Gone” from 1975’s Physical Graffiti is one of them. The track was tucked into the second disc of the two-LP album, but I came across it after finding two concise anthologies – Early Days and Latter Days – at a garage sale a couple of years ago. And it’s a pleasant interlude as we wander toward our last stop of the morning.

I don’t know a lot about the Canadian group Steel River. The group was from the Toronto area and got a deal in 1970 from Canada’s Tuesday Records, according to Wikipedia. “Ten Pound Note” was the group’s first single; the record ended up reaching the Canadian Top Ten and was No. 79 in Canada for the year of 1970. I found the single a few years ago when I came across a rip of the group’s only album, Weighin’ Heavy. It’s a decent single, and, given that songs with “eleven” in their titles are rare – I have only four of them among the 68,000 on the mp3 shelves – it’s not a bad place to end the March Of The Integers.

‘Eight’

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

The integers march again . . .

Sorting the 67,000-some mp3s on the digital shelves for the word “eight” brings up 194 titles, most of which we cannot use. Anything about a freight train goes by the wayside, as does Nanci Griffith’s “White Freight Liner.” The entire output of a 1970s band named Jackson Heights is crossed off our list, as is Michel Legrand’s soundtrack to the 1970 film Wuthering Heights.

And we also have to discard twenty-nine versions of the Robbie Robertson song, “The Weight.”

Still, we’re left with enough tunes to be able to pick and choose a little bit, starting with one of eight versions – how appropriate! – of the Byrds’ “Eight Miles High.” The one I settled on is a 1969 cover of the tune from the Canadian band Lighthouse. Still two years away from having a hit with “One Fine Morning” – it went to No. 24 in 1971 – the band covered the Roger McGuinn song on its first, self-titled album, and an edit was released as a single. As far as I can tell, Lighthouse’s take on “Eight Miles High” never showed up on any chart anywhere although I’m not sure about Canada. Nor am I certain the video to which I’ve linked is the single. I think it is. In any case, it’s a decent enough cover but nothing amazing.

The Walkabouts’ “Train Leaves at Eight” is the title track of an album released in 2000 by the sometimes dark but always intriguing Seattle band. The album serves as a tour of European music, and “Train Leaves at Eight” takes the listener to Greece: The song was written by Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis and came from Ta Laika, or The Popular Songs, a project Theodorakis and Greek poet Manos Eleftheriou completed in 1967 but which went unreleased after a military coup in Greece that year. The work was released in 1975 after the military government fell.

David Castle’s 1977 single “Ten to Eight” was the first single released on the Parachute label and went to No. 68 (No. 45 on the AC chart). That was the first of two times Castle broke into the Billboard Hot 100: “The Loneliest Man on the Moon” went to No. 89 in early 1978. Both singles were pulled from Castle’s 1977 album Castle in the Sky. Castle’s website says a third single, “All I Ever Wanna Be Is Yours,” made the Easy Listening chart, but I can find nothing about the record in Joel Whitburn’s Top Adult Songs. “Ten to Eight” was originally recorded by Helen Reddy and released on her 1975 album No Way to Treat a Lady, leaving Castle in the well-populated but nevertheless interesting position of covering his own song.

Steve Goodman’s “Eight Ball Blues,” is not a blues at all, at least in its musical construction. Pulled from his self-titled 1971 album, it’s nevertheless the plaint of a man who wishes he and life were different and does so with regret: “I wish I had the common sense to be satisfied with me.” And the chorus tells us a bit more:

Is this the part where I came in?
I’ve heard this song before.
Had a couple too many
But I think I can find the door.
And I do not know your name, my friend
But I’ve seen that face before.
Well, I saw it in the jail house
And I saw in the war,
And I saw it my mirror,
Well, just a couple of times before.

This was 1971, and the war was in a place called Vietnam, but it could just as well be 2013 and places called Iraq and Afghanistan.

O.V. Wright came out of the gospel music circuit before going secular in the mid-1960s, eventually ending up in the 1970s with Willie Mitchell at Hi Records in Memphis. That’s maybe where Wright did his best work, but his mid-1960s singles for Backbeat are superb. “Eight Men, Four Women” from 1967 is likely the most atmospheric. It went to No. 4 on the R&B chart – one of eight singles Wright placed in the R&B Top 40 between 1965 and 1974 – and to No. 80 on the pop chart.

On its third album, 1990’s A Different Kind of Weather, the English trio Dream Academy included a tune called “Twelve Eight Angel.” A year later, the group released its final single before disbanding. That single was “Angel of Mercy,” and from what I can tell, the single was simply “Twelve Eight Angel” renamed. The single failed to chart, and the band called it quits. Dream Academy is best-known, of course, for the shimmering “Life in a Northern Town,” which went to No. 7 in 1986. (Those sharp of ear might notice the voice of the single’s producer, David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, in the background during the instrumental break.)

‘In A Thousand Ages . . .’

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Poking around in the Billboard charts from March 23 over the years, I came across a listing in 1968 for a record by a group called the Orphans. The record, “Can’t Find The Time,” was sitting at No. 118 in the Bubbling Under portion of the chart, up from No. 122 the week before. Interesting, I thought. The song title rang faint bells, but I didn’t think it was by the Orphans.

At YouTube, I learned why I didn’t recall the Orphans. It’s because they weren’t the Orphans. The group’s name was Orpheus, and whoever transcribed my copies of the weekly Billboard charts in my files got it wrong for the entire seven weeks the record was Bubbling Under, peaking at No. 111.

The record was re-released a year later and went to No. 80. As I listened, I thought that it would have been a better story if the band had actually started out as the Orphans and then, as 1967 and 1968 came along, decided to go with something a little more hip and trippy (as Minnesota’s Underbeats did in the late 1960s when they became Gypsy). But no, the group was Orpheus from the start.

The band released a few albums during the late 1960s, and a revamped version of the band released one LP in 1971. The only other success on the singles chart came in 1969, when “Brown Arms in Houston” went to No. 91.

There have been a few covers of “Can’t Find The Time” over the years. Among them were a version by Rose Colored Glass that went to No. 54 in 1971 (which was the version I recalled, though its arrangement wasn’t all that different from the original), and a cover by Hootie & The Blowfish that was used in 2000 in the Jim Carey movie Me, Myself & Irene. Here’s the Hootie version, which doesn’t stray a lot from the original, either.