Posts Tagged ‘Crow’

From The Castaways To . . .

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

So I glanced at the Billboard Hot 100 from November 13, 1965, a date that slid past while I was busy seventh-grading, perhaps even as I was making a mouse out of paper mache while my pal Brad made a kangaroo that he named Aloysius. (The mouse never got a name, turning out more as an abstract idea of a mouse than anything like a real mouse. Neither did the mouse get put on display for parents night while Aloysius did. Such were the stakes in the seventh-grade Paper Mache League.)

But as we papered and mached in November of 1965, Minnesota’s Castaways were trying to follow up their No. 12 hit of late summer, “Liar, Liar.” The Minnesota label Soma released “Goodbye Babe,” and forty-nine years ago today, “Goodbye Babe” showed up in Billboard for the first time and was bubbling under at No. 125.

The record bubbled under for another five weeks and got as high as No. 101, and that was the last the Billboard charts saw of the Castaways. But the group’s drummer, Dennis Craswell, started calling himself Denny and wound up behind the kit for the Twin Cities band Crow, which had a No. 19 hit with “Evil Woman Don’t Play Your Games With Me” in early 1970. “Evil Woman” was one of the highlights of my 1970 radio listening although I’ve read many times that the members of Crow were mighty pissed after the folks at Amaret buried Crow’s sound under a lot of added horns.

“Evil Woman” sat at No. 19 for two weeks in January 1970, and the upper portions of the Hot 100 for both of those weeks look like lists I could have made if I had been keeping track of the sounds that came out of the old RCA radio on my nightstand. By that time, Aloysius and the mouse no longer mattered; junior year of high school found me with other concerns, at least one of them quite lovely as she played her violin. Many of the records I heard during the first months of 1970 spoke to that specific concern. Other records, romantic though they might have been, left me with no specific object in mind. Eddie Holman’s “Hey There Lonely Girl” was one of those, and it was No. 20 during the second of the two weeks “Evil Woman” sat at No. 19.

I heard Holman’s record often as it climbed to No. 2, having no idea that it was a cover of Ruby & The Romantics’ version from 1963, which went to No. 27. I also had no idea that during the same weeks when I heard Holman’s plaintive single, there was a girl in Texas a little more than three years younger than I who heard the same record and wondered who would offer to ease her loneliness, and when. She found out, eventually.

Rolling, Tumbling, Snarling & Hissing

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Well, we stayed home, and it was probably just as well.

As I reported last Thursday, the Texas Gal had told me to be ready to depart on Friday morning for a secret destination. She’d dropped hints about a special event in St. Paul, but she’d said nothing more than that. (I did some online sleuthing and could find nothing going on in St. Paul over the weekend that seemed to fit our tastes, but I mentally shrugged, figuring she knew what she was doing, and let it go.)

I got the full tale when she came home from work that afternoon. She’d been planning for us to spend the weekend with our friends jb – proprietor of The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ – and his Mrs. at the Green County Cheese Days in Monroe, Wisconsin. It was a trip we’d talked about during the summer; we’d set those plans aside then, and the Texas Gal had secretly resurrected them. But, she told me tearfully, some unexpected obligations had arisen that day, and we were going to have to cancel our Cheese Days plans once more. 

Disappointed, pleased and surprised all at the same time, I sat with her on the sofa, and we talked about other things we could do with an already scheduled four-day weekend. The dinner hour approached, and I headed downtown to bring us home a meal. And when I walked back into the house, I walked into a crisis.

The Texas Gal was at the bottom of the basement stairs with Clarence, our oldest cat. He looked unhappy. The door to the kitchen, to my right, was closed. I opened it, and I saw our other three cats gathered near the door, craning their necks to look down the stairs. As I placed the take-out bags on the counter, Clarence came bolting up from the basement, running through the kitchen and into the dining room. Three-year-old Little Gus took off in pursuit.

Clarence wheeled and hissed, and Gus, who outweighs Clarence by a fair amount, pounced. The two of them took off across the front rooms in a rolling, snarling ball of fur. Four-year-old Cubbie Cooper, who tips the scales at about eighteen pounds, jumped into the fray, and all three of them disappeared behind the couch, spitting and wailing. The Texas Gal and I followed, and we managed to separate the three and get Clarence and Gus into separate rooms.

“That’s the second time that’s happened since you left,” the Texas Gal told me. “I don’t know what started it, but Gus and Clarence have been spatting ever since, and Cubbie joined in. I had just managed to get Gus and Cubbie upstairs and get Clarence calmed down when you came in and opened the kitchen door.”

Oops.

“You didn’t know,” she said, “and I was hoping it was over. But I guess not . . .”

We kept Clarence and Gus separated that night. The few times they saw each other, Clarence – who tends to hold a grudge – snarled and hissed. Gus returned the favor the first time or two but then subsided. Cubbie was jumpy, as was five-year-old Oscar (who’d watched both squabbles from close range but had not been involved).

We were lucky that no one was seriously hurt. Cubbie had a scratch on his tail that was a little bloody, and Clarence had a small scratch on his ear. It could have been far worse. Still, it took until late afternoon Friday for us to be sure that Gus and Clarence weren’t going to get into it again, so – as I noted at the top – it was probably just as well that we stayed home this weekend. And, you know, there’ll be another Cheese Days Festival in two years.

In closing, here’s a 1971 tune from the Twin Cities band Crow whose title pretty well sums up the way things were here Thursday and Friday.

‘Just Say I’m Gone . . .’

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

A hint that a reader named Larry left in a comment the other day falls into the category of good ideas I should have thought of a long time ago. I’d mentioned the difficulty of sorting versions of different songs with the same title – in this case, covers of Phil Ochs’ “Changes” – while using the information at All-Music Guide. Larry suggested using the online databases at ASCAP and BMI, the institutions that keep track of such things.

It sounded like a good idea, so I gave it a shot this morning, looking up versions of “Gone, Gone, Gone,” the Everly Brothers’ single that entered the Billboard Hot 100 on October 17, 1964, forty-seven years ago yesterday. I’d already scrummed around a bit at AMG and I’d come across four cover versions of the tune, but I was thinking there might be more. And the AMG listings were crowded with other songs with the same or similar titles, including tunes by Carl Perkins, Chet Atkins, Joe South and the trio of George and Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward.

But BMI, for whatever reason, lists only three of those four cover versions of “Gone, Gone, Gone.” So I would hope that the four cover versions I found complete the field. First, though, let’s take a look at the original.

“Gone, Gone, Gone” was the Everly Brothers’ next-to-last Top 40 hit, getting to No. 31 in December 1964. (Their last Top 40 hit was “Bowling Green,” which barely made it, sitting for two weeks at No. 40 in 1967.) I wanted to share a video of the single, but the copyright holder evidently doesn’t allow videos of the studio version of the song. I found, however, a live performance of “Gone, Gone, Gone” from a 1964 episode of Shindig!

That performance, I think, took place on October 14, 1964, evidently just as “Gone, Gone, Gone” was released. The brothers performed “Gone, Gone, Gone” twice as part of the Shindig! opening medley – once in the autumn of 1964 and again in June of 1965 – but from what I can tell, the only time they performed the song in its entirety was on the October 14, 1964, telecast.

Now, on to the covers: The first to cover the tune, evidently, were the Ventures, the instrumental group that had twenty-five records in or near the Hot 100, including Top Ten hits in 1960 and 1964 with two versions of “Walk – Don’t Run” and then in 1969 with “Hawaii Five-O.” The Ventures’ version of “Gone, Gone, Gone” showed up as an album track in 1965 on The Ventures Knock Me Out! It’s a typical Ventures track, which means I like it.

The cover version not listed at BMI came next, when the British folk-rock group Fairport Convention performed the tune live on the BBC’s show Top Gear hosted by the famed John Peel. The show aired on August 26, 1968, and the track eventually showed up on the album Heyday, subtitled “BBC Radio Sessions 1968-69.”  I think the duet on the performance is by Sandy Denny and Ian Matthews (before he changed the spelling of his first name), and it’s also one I like very much.

That last statement should, I suppose be annotated: I like very much all five versions of “Gone, Gone, Gone” that I’ve dug up this morning. Do I have a favorite? Yes, and we’ll get to it shortly. First, though, we’ll look at the most unlikely cover I’ve found of the song. In 1970, the Minneapolis group Crow got hold of the Everlys’ song and transformed it from a sprightly pop folk song with rockabilly hints into a lengthy blues-rock jam that slides its way along, stopping for a guitar solo and an odd choral segment backed with an ethereal wordless vocal and some organ chords. By the time the eight-minute track finds an ending, it hardly seems like the same song.

And that brings us to the most recent version of the song (and my favorite cover): Performers Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, along with producer T-Bone Burnett, added a subtitle and included “Gone, Gone Gone (Done Moved On)” on their Grammy-winning 2007 album Raising Sand. Returning the song to its rockabilly roots, Plant and Krauss share the spotlight with drummer Jay Bellerose.