Archive for the ‘Follow-Up’ Category

“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.

‘Shiver Softly, Summer Lady . . .’

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Something cool happened this week, in connection with the Echoes In The Wind Archives, the site where I’m collecting the blog posts published between early 2007 and early 2010, when the blog got its own space on the ’Net.

Three or four times a month, I head back into the archives – which currently end in late May of 2009, leaving about eight months of posts yet to be resurrected – and wander around. As was the habit back then, music included in the original posts was downloadable, leaving the archived posts with lists of song titles that don’t do anything but sit there. So I’ve taken to finding YouTube videos and linking them (as I do here) to those old posts. If there’s no video of a specific track available, I create one and see if YouTube allows it to be posted, and then either link or embed it.

The linking to existing videos is easy, but creating videos goes a little slowly and can be a little time-consuming, so I don’t do it often. And one day not long ago, as my computer was slowly chugging through the creation of a video, I wondered if it was worth my time to make videos specifically for the archives.

Well, yes, it is. At the end of August, I made and uploaded a video for the song “Do You Remember The Sun” by the San Francisco group It’s A Beautiful Day. The track was the closer to the group’s 1970 album, Marrying Maiden, and I’d included it in April 2007 in a Baker’s Dozen from that year. I didn’t write anything about the song; it popped up in a random draw and was one of those I didn’t know particularly well.

I listened more closely this week, because the other day, a man named Robert Lewis posted a message at the video on YouTube.

“I wrote this,” he said, “as a poem to my mother who suffered from great sadness.” He went on to say that he and Fred Webb, the keyboard player for It’s A Beautiful Day, “hammered out the concept of the music and the melody together, sitting at a grand piano in an old Victorian house in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood.”

See the sky
The celebrated rainbow,
In your eye
The concentrated moonglow,
In your eye

Mocking you,
The nickel-plated night-time,
Nice and new
You realize the right time

Shiver softly, summer lady
Cast a glance and tell me, maybe?
Do you remember the sun?
Do you remember the sun?

So a child,
The light is like a comet,
Going wild
The syncopated sonnet

Shiver lightly, lovely lady
Cast a glance and tell me, maybe?
Do you remember the sun?
Do you remember the sun?

He remembers you
He remembers you . . .

The Third King Of The Blues

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

When it comes to the three Kings of the blues – B.B., Albert and Freddie – my database runs the gamut. I know a fair amount about B.B. King, I have a decent acquaintance with Albert King, and until this week, I’ve known almost nothing about Freddie King.

Even though I’ve had a few tracks in the mp3 player for a few years, and even though I’ve got an LP of the best of his work in the early 1960s for the Cincinnati-based Federal label, I’ve never paid much attention to Freddie King. But a few weeks ago, as I poked around the CD stacks in the St. Cloud public library (to be precise, it’s the St. Cloud branch of the Great River Regional Library system), I came across a twenty-track CD on Rhino titled Hideaway: The Best of Freddy King.

The first thing I noticed was the variant in the spelling of King’s first name. The CD notes and All-Music Guide both say that the “Freddy” spelling was used during the earlier portions of King’s career. The first track on the CD that uses “Freddie” is one recorded in 1969 for the album My Feeling for the Blues. There were two other tracks on the CD that used that spelling. And when I used my magnifying glass to read the fine print about the session men for those last two tracks, I saw the names of Leon Russell, Don Preston and Duck Dunn, among others. At that point, things became much more interesting.

That’s because, as much as I love the blues itself, I love even more the music that resulted during the late 1960s and early 1970s when the blues re-intersected with rock: The sessions that Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and B.B. King recorded in London around that time are examples. And so, too, after doing some digging and then listening for the past few days, is the work that Freddie King did for Leon Russell’s Shelter label. (The same will likely be true, when I’ve listened to them more than I have so far, for the two late 1960s albums King recorded on Atlantic with King Curtis producing and the two 1970s albums King recorded for RSO, with Eric Clapton taking part on one.)

The Shelter albums – Getting Ready . . . from 1971, The Texas Cannonball from 1972 and Woman Across the River from 1973 – will have a familiar sound to anyone who’s listened to Leon Russell’s solo work from the same era. Leon’s arrangements and piano work don’t overwhelm King’s guitar or voice, but it seems to me that when listening to even the most basic of blues workouts from the three albums, it would be likely for a rock fan to think, “Gee, that sounds like Leon Russell back there.”

Of the three Shelter albums, Woman Across the River sold best, making it to No. 158 on the Billboard album chart. A single edit of “Going Down” was released from the first Shelter album, Getting Ready . . ., but it didn’t make the charts. It does, however, give an idea of what at least some of the Shelter sessions sounded like.

Freddie King, like B.B. and Albert and other bluesmen, was a pretty solid concert draw among the rock audience in the late 1960s and into the early 1970s. But King had his largest chart hit in 1961, when the instrumental “Hide Away” went to No. 29 on the pop chart and No. 5 on the R&B chart. Joel Whitburn notes in the Billboard Book of Top 40 R&B & Hip-Hop Hits that the single was titled after Mel’s Hide Away Lounge in Chicago. And at All-Music Guide, Cub Koda writes, “Throughout the ’60s, ‘Hide Away’ was one of the necessary songs blues and rock & roll bar bands across America and England had to play during their gigs.”

Just as interesting from this chair was King’s 1960 take on “Have You Ever Loved A Woman,” which, according to Second Hand Songs, was the first recording of the Billy Myles tune that would become a blues standard. Among the places the tune turned up, of course, was on Derek & The Dominos’ Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs in 1970. And in 1975, a live version would show up on King’s second album for RSO, Larger Than Life. Here’s the 1960 original:

And in the category of things I can’t resist, “The Bossa Nova Watusi Twist” was King’s next-to-last entry on the pop chart, a 1963 record that bubbled under at No. 103.

About That Concert
It turns out – despite Saturday’s post here – that we didn’t have to worry about getting to the Sunday afternoon concert by the Harlem Gospel Choir. We were in fact snowed in, with a total of about eight inches falling from Saturday night through Sunday afternoon. But we had misremembered the date of the concert; it’s this coming Sunday. I’ve rarely been so pleased to be wrong.

‘What A Strange World’

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

The WordPress software that powers this blog is supposed to send me emails when anyone leaves a comment on the posts here. I’ve noticed over the couple of years since I’ve had my own website that sometimes it doesn’t quite work that way.

On occasion in the past few months, I’ve checked on a post and have been surprised to see a comment to which I had not been alerted. So I’ve taken on slow evenings to dipping into the pool of older posts here to see if any comments have been left without my knowing about them. There have been a few, and the other week, I found one that was most interesting.

In late March of last year, I wrote about the fairly obscure late Seventies duo Deardorff & Joseph, digging a little bit into their 1976 self-titled album and noting that the CD release of the album has become a collector’s item, being regularly priced at more than a hundred dollars. I found and embedded a video of the duo’s cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Sentimental Lady” to go with the post.

Shortly after I published the post, I got a bit more information from friend and regular reader Yah Shure. He noted in a comment that Deardorff & Joseph might have avoided obscurity had Arista promoted them and their music with a bit more energy. He wrote, “The third single from the D&J album was ‘Nighttime Love’ (Arista 0263) and listening to it again made me wonder how Arista Records managed to mishandle some of the sublime ‘West Coast Pop’ product it had issued in 1976-77.”

That all happened, as I said, in late March of 2011, and about two weeks ago, during one of my night-time bits of wandering through old posts in search of lost comments, I came across a comment that Marcus Joseph of Deardorff & Joseph left last June, about three months after the post went up.

He said he’d “stumbled across” the blog and thanked me for my comments. Then he wrote:

“The main reason our album received very little promotion was because I quit the duo and Arista just as our version of ‘Never Have To Say Goodbye’ was climbing up the charts. [The record bubbled under the Billboard chart in March and April of 1977, peaking at No. 109.] No fault of Clive Davis [of Arista]. He is a wonderful man and deserving of his reputation as a master in the business. Just weeks after our LP’s release, I met with Clive and told him I wanted out, mainly because I had become a father and my priorities had changed. He understood my situation and kindly wished me well.”

Joseph went on to say that in 1978, he released a solo album, Things I Meant To Say (on the Big Tree label), “and wouldn’t you know, just upon its release, I quit again, only this time for good. The record was basically shelved and never promoted at all, though it got some FM airplay for a while.”

He added, “Amazingly, in 2002 it was re-packaged and re-released as a CD in Japan, and even more amazing, it seems I have a small cult following there and elsewhere in the East and also parts of Europe. What a strange world.”

(I checked this morning, and CD copies of Things I Meant To Say are going for upwards of $120.)

Lastly, Joseph noted Yah Shure’s mention of “Nighttime Love,” and he said: “[A]s a lark, I wrote ‘Nighttime Love’ as my rebuttal to ‘Afternoon Delight’,” the 1976 hit by the Starland Vocal Band. “Afternoon Delight,” Joseph noted, was a record “I didn’t much care for.”

I was tickled to hear from Marcus, of course, and I wish that I’d known about his comment much, much earlier. Anyway, here’s Deardorff & Joseph’s “Nighttime Love,” from 1976.

(Next week, I’ll write about a couple of comments I got in response to another post, comments from relatives who are working to keep alive the memory of a singer who has passed on.)

Edited slightly since first posting.

Roogalators, Quetzals & More

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Today’s a good day to follow up on a few bits and pieces, most of them from Friday’s post.

As I wrote Friday, one of the things that caught my eye when I dug into Johnny Rivers’ “(I Washed My Hands In) Muddy Water” was that it had a tune called “Roogalator” as its B-side. I wondered in that post about the connection between Rivers’ B-side – a jam punctuated with shouts of “Roogalator” – and the record that Bobby Jameson made with Frank Zappa, “Gotta Find My Roogalator.”

I got a chance to ask Bobby about it Monday, and he told me: “I got the name ‘roogalator’ from Johnny when we were riding motorcycles in ’66. . . . Don’t know where he got it from.”

I noticed as I was digging that there was also a mid-70s band named Roogalator with several videos posted on YouTube. The persistence of “roogalator” reminds me of the fascination that musicians – mostly on the West Coast, I think – had during the late 1940s and early 1950s with the word “voot.” My collection of mp3s, which doesn’t focus too much on that era, has six songs that use the word in their titles, one of which is “No Voot, No Boot” by Dinah Washington with Lucky Thompson’s All Stars.

In the midst of my thinking about all that over the weekend, I got an email from my pal Yah Shure, who wanted to know if I was aware of WXYG, the new album rock radio station in the St. Cloud market. I wasn’t, but I followed Yah Shure’s lead and checked it out.

The actual radio signal is 250 watts, which is pretty slender, and it turns out that we can’t get it on our radios inside the house because of the presence of WJON less than a block away. But it comes in fine through its website (click the blue “Play” button), and it’s great fun. I looked at the station’s playlist as I’m writing this, and the last five tunes the station has played are “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)” by George Harrison, “Tommy Can You Hear Me” by the Who, “I’m Not In Love” by 10CC, “Star” by David Bowie and “Empty Sky” by Elton John. And if I heard correctly over the weekend, the station is commercial-free all summer.

I found WXYG’s Facebook page and left a note saying that the station reminded me of the now-gone show titled “Beaker Street” that aired on KAAY out of Little Rock, Arkansas. And whoever takes care of the station’s Facebook page responded, saying “We like to think of it as ‘Beaker Street’ on steroids.”

“Give It To Me” by the J. Geils band was one of the tunes I listed last Friday, and I mentioned the single edit of the track, a version that edited out Magic Dick’s superb harp solo. In our exchange of emails over this past weekend, Yah Shure recalled that when he went to his local record store to purchase the single back in 1973, he found that some of the singles had the edited version of the track and some had the full-length version of the track. The two versions, Yah Shure said, were the products of two separate pressing plants. I wonder how often that’s happened.

And while Yah Shure told me he had no insight into the above-mentioned “roogalator” question, he said that he’d similarly wondered about the origin of Sonny Bono’s fascination with the word “quetzal.” (According to Wikipedia, “quetzal” refers to “a group of colourful birds of the trogon family found in the Americas. Quetzal is also often used to refer to one particular species, the Resplendent Quetzal.”) Yah Shure listed three titles in which Bono, as producer, used the word. Sadly – having deleted our email exchange – I can only recall one of them this morning. But here’s “Walkin’ the Quetzal,” a brief instrumental that was on the B-side of “Baby Don’t Go” both when it was released and went nowhere in 1964 (as Reprise 0309) and in 1965, when “Baby Don’t Go/Walkin’ the Quetzal” was released as Reprise 0392 and went to No. 8.

Continuing the quetzal quest, I found an interesting site called Probe is Turning-On the People! – evidently a catalog of webcasts, podcasts or actual broadcasts – and an entry there lists eight separate Sonny Bono “quetzal” records and says:

The so-called Quetzal records were a series of B-side instrumental throwaways created by Sonny Bono and his arranger Harold Battiste, in cooperation with Sonny & Cher’s managers Brian Stone and Charlie Greene. Quickly recorded and musically skeletal, the records were designed (in the manner of Bono’s mentor, Phil Spector) to compel radio attention to their respective A-sides. Although the songwriting was invariably credited to Bono, Greene and Stone, the general concensus is that the Quetzal sides were written (to the extent they were written at all) by Battiste.

The note adds, “[T]he word quetzal was an in-joke among Sonny and his friends, chosen most likely simply because they liked the sound of it.”