Posts Tagged ‘Cate Brothers’

Happy Labor Day!

Monday, September 3rd, 2018

I wasn’t in the world of work long compared to most of my contemporaries, just until I was 49, when some major health issues confronted me. And – except for some janitorial work the summer after high school – I never did much manual labor. My work came at a desk or in front of a classroom.

So Labor Day isn’t really mine. It belongs to the folks who work harder jobs than I ever had, and to the people who organized the unions, giving time and sometimes blood to help working folks thrive.

Here’s “Union Man” by the Cate Brothers. It went to No. 24 in 1975.

Well, it’s six a.m., I’m out on the job
Working like a fool for my pay
A big man walks by with a smile
Says you got to go on strike today

Hey, hey, Mr. Union Man
How am I gonna pay my dues?
Or the landlord or the doctor?
How am I getting new shoes?

Well, I know I need to help to get that raise
There’s one thing I don’t like
Tell me how can I feed my hungry family
If you say I’m going on strike

Hey, hey, Mr. Union Man
How am I gonna pay my dues?
Owe more money than I can pay
Looks like I’m bound to lose

Well, I don’t see how I’m going to get ahead
Seem like there ain’t no way
Well, he said don’t worry, ’cause I understand
Won’t you try to see things my way?

Hey, hey, Mr. Union Man
Thank you for the helping hand
Hey, hey, Mr. Union Man
So glad you understand

Saturday Single No. 194

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

Well, it’s time to see what treasures – or dross, for that matter – we can find in a brief random jaunt through more than 46,000 mp3s.

The first track comes from my small collection of classical pieces: the first movement of the Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 in B flat major, a 1721 (I think) composition by Johann Sebastian Bach. In my years in orchestra in junior high school and high school, we played one of the Brandenburg Concerti, and pretty much since then, I’ve had a recorded version of the works available to me. They – along with the rest of my classical library – come in very handy when I’ve had a day so bad that I do not want any lyrics with my music.

In 1968, Gary Walker and the Rain released a record – evidently in Japan – called Album No. 1. As far as I can tell, the group never released a second album. According to All-Music Guide, Gary Walker – whose real name was Gary Leeds – was the least prominent of the Walker Brothers: “[N]ominally the drummer, he apparently played on few if any of the group’s records.” Among the members of Gary Walker and the Rain, AMG notes, was Joey Molland, future member of Badfinger. The group’s sound was a pleasant if unmemorable pop-rock, pretty well demonstrated by the track that pops up this morning, “I Can’t Stand To Lose You.” (Like many such rarities from that era, the album is now available on CD.) And on we go.

I suppose that Daylight Again, the 1982 album from Crosby, Stills & Nash, wasn’t as dire as I sometimes think it was. I wrote the other day about the heavy expectations that confronted the members of Jefferson Airplane as their recording career moved into the mid-1970s. One could write the same thing about CSN: The trio’s opening albums – the second with Neil Young – were so stellar that anything that came after was going to seem slight. Taking that into consideration, Daylight Again isn’t a bad album, and I’ve always thought that “Southern Cross,” one of the singles pulled from the album, had some charm. This morning, the player stops on the album track “Into the Darkness,” which is pretty good on its own.

“The world today is in a bad situation,” sings Candi Staton at the opening of “Clean Up America,” a track from her 1974 album Candi, her first album for Warner Bros. It’s a pretty good record and a decent track, but my first thought after hearing those opening words was, “When hasn’t it been?”

Then it’s time for some horn rock: “Superman” by the Ides of March from the group’s 1971 album Common Bond. The most disconcerting thing about the track is that it starts with a muscular version of the introductory riff from Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower,” a device that shows up between verses as well. I’m not sure if it’s a sly acknowledgement of Dylan’s influence or simple laziness. Either way, the song rocks along and also includes a few flourishes that sound pulled from the group’s 1970 hit, “Vehicle.”

Then, sing the Cate Brothers like some kind of rerun, “The world today is in a desperate situation.” It’s a line from the track “Friendship Train,” which is included in Arkansas Soul Siblings (The Crazy Cajun Records), a collection of work the Cate Brothers recorded before being signed to Asylum Records, where their first release came in 1975. I like the collection, as did Bruce Eder of AMG, who wrote, “The sounds are melodic yet raw, and very, very soul-oriented, with a lean and muscular edge to the playing and singing alike — overall, the music is reminiscent of the Band in its prime years, only smoother when they need to be.” The song is in the same vein as many others, using a train as a metaphor for social progress, but it’s also a song that takes off and actually drives. I’m thinking it’s from 1972 or so, and it’s a nice place to light. Here’s “Friendship Train,” today’s Saturday Single:

Cate Brothers – “Friendship Train”