Posts Tagged ‘Hollies’

Saturday Single No. 587

Saturday, April 21st, 2018

Set off kilter with an incipient cold – I can feel it coming on, like a weather system a few days out – and tasked later this morning with recording music at a friend’s home for a dance performance for another friend, I’m sort of punting today.

I’m going to head to the Billboard Hot 100 from this week in 1968 – fifty years ago – and play some quick games with numbers, adding today’s date – 4/21/18 – together to get 43. Then, whatever was No. 43 in that long-ago chart will be today’s feature.

And we run into a record that not only has never been mentioned in this space in more than eleven years of blogging but a record that I only vaguely remember hearing: “Jennifer Eccles” by the Hollies. It’s kind of frothy but that’s okay:

White chalk, written on red brick
Our love, told in a heart
It’s there, drawn in the playground
Love, kiss, hate or adore

I love Jennifer Eccles
I know that she loves me
I love Jennifer Eccles
I know that she loves me

La la la la la la la
La la la la la la
La la la la la la la
La la la la la la

I used to carry her satchels
She used to walk by my side
But when we got to her doorstep
Her dad wouldn’t let me inside

One Monday morning,
Found out I’d made the grade
Started me thinking,
Had she done the same?

La la la la la la la
La la la la la la
La la la la la la la
La la la la la la

One Monday morning,
Found out I’d made the grade
Started me thinking,
Had she done the same?

I hope Jennifer Eccles
Is going to follow me there
Our love is bound to continue
Love, kiss, hate or adore
Singing

I love Jennifer Eccles
I know that she loves me
I love Jennifer Eccles
I know that she loves me

La la la la la la la
La la la la la la
La la la la la la la

“Jennifer Eccles” didn’t do much more on the charts, edging up three more places to reach No. 40, becoming the seventh Top 40 hit of an eventual twelve for the Mancunian group. And all that makes it today’s Saturday Single.

Six at Random

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

My iPod currently holds a total of 3,930 tracks, which – as iTunes helpfully tells me – is enough for ten days of listening. We’ll not run that type of marathon here; instead, we’re going to let iTunes supply us with six random tracks of music this morning, and we’ll see what we know and think about those six tracks.

First up is a lilting clarinet tune by Mr. Acker Bilk that went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the spring of 1962. “Stranger on the Shore” was originally titled “Jenny” but was renamed for the BBC television show that used it as a theme. I have vague memories of hearing the tune in 1962: I would have been eight, and it’s the type of record that would have found a good home on the Twin Cities’ WCCO as well as on St. Cloud’s local stations. I’ve heard it (and liked it) so many times over the years since that it’s impossible to say if I heard it back then, but I do know that when I started during the late 1980s to dig into the music of the early 1960s, “Stranger on the Shore” was familiar.

Our second stop is a track I first heard across the street at Rick’s house in early 1971. “Two Years On” by the Bee Gees was the title track to the album that was home to their No. 3 hit “Lonely Days.” The album was also the first since Robin Gibb had reunited with his brothers after a spat of two or so years, and we speculated that the title track was a reference to that time. It’s a good track, one that reminds me of the pleasant hours I spent across the street listening to albums, playing pool and pinball, and generally cementing a friendship that remains a vital part of my life after more than sixty years. (I also recall the bemused smile I got from Rick maybe a dozen years ago when he discovered Two Years On among my CDs.)

And we stay in that era, listening to a record that puts me in my own room with the sound of the Hollies’ “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” coming from my old RCA radio. It’s probably an evening in early 1970 – the record went to No. 7 that March – and I’m holed up in my room after surviving another day of my junior year of high school. It’s a good record (despite the mournful intro) and not a bad memory, and I know it instantly, as I do most Top 40 hits from that season. But the record wasn’t a big deal to me then and it’s not now. Having come across it this morning, I’m likely going to pull it from iTunes and the iPod and replace it with a record that means something to me.

While restocking the iPod after last autumn’s external drive crash, I tried to include records from a wider time frame than I previously had. Since I’ve tended to slight the 1980s over the years, I consciously dropped more tracks from that decade into the playlist this time around. And this morning we fall on “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell, a one-hit wonder* that went to No. 8 in 1982. So I look at the other tracks in the iPod from 1982 and think that including the mechanical-sounding cover of Sharon Jones’ 1964 record was a mistake. And I realize that having to stop and think about the tracks as they come up, rather than just letting them roll by in the background as I cook dinner or do some other task, makes me a great deal more critical. There might have been a time when I liked the Soft Cell track, but that time is past.

And iTunes offers us the sharp and somewhat dissonant intro to “Home At Last” from Steely Dan’s 1977 album, Aja. Last September, noting the death of the Dan’s Walter Becker, I selected “Home At Last” as my salute to his passing: “I know that Steely Dan and a romantic notion seem as odd a pairing as cognac and Cheez Whiz, but it would be nice to think that Becker is – in whatever way he might have wished – home at last.” And my friend jb – who blogs at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ and understands more about Steely Dan than I ever will – left a trenchant comment:

“Home at Last” seems like a good choice for him, as it’s not so much about finding an idealized home with Mom and chocolate chip cookies as it is getting past the place with the monsters that want to kill you and into a somewhat safer harbor. And if you’re not as free as you’d like to be (“still I remain tied to the mast”), who is?

And we end with one of the records of my life, one of those whose introductions make me take a sharp, short breath as memories instantly cascade. With some of those – and there may be hundreds in that category of “Records of My Life” – it’s the record alone; there is no tale from my years attached to them. Most, though, have a connection with my times, with my joys or sorrows, my roads and my homes. Jackson Browne’s “Late For The Sky” is one of the latter. The title track of his 1974 album, the song depicts a pairing once filled with hope gone hopelessly awry, a scene sadly familiar to me (as it no doubt has been to most of the folks who’ve listened to that tune and the other sad songs the album offers). Even as I live now in a better and sweeter time, the memories of those other times are potent, and I sometimes need those memories to remind myself how far the grace of my life has brought me.

Baby Grand? ‘Lucy Cain’?

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

Looking for a radio survey from today’s date in 1972 – forty-five years ago – I came upon only two such surveys at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive: one from WMEX in Boston and another from WISM in Madison, Wisconsin. And the latter result amused me, as I’m pretty sure that one of WISM’s listeners in those days – at times, anyway – was my pal jb, who grew up on a farm not far away from Wisconsin’s capital and lives now in a small city adjacent to Madison.

So I took a look at the top ten records listed there:

“It Never Rains In Southern California” by Albert Hammond
“Something’s Wrong With Me” by Austin Roberts
“Papa Was A Rolling Stone” by the Temptations
“Clair” by Gilbert O’Sullivan
“I’m Stone In Love With You” by the Stylistics
“If You Don’t Know Me By Now” by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes
“Summer Breeze” by Seals & Crofts
“Me and Mrs. Jones” by Billy Paul
“Ventura Highway” by America
“You Ought To Be With Me” by Al Green

The top five has a couple of misses, at least to my ears – the records by Roberts and O’Sullivan never hit my sweet spot – but the other eight would make for a very nice half-hour of listening. The one I know the least is the Al Green tune, but listening to it this morning I’d be willing to put it in second place among those ten. (It would take a hell of a record to push “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” from the top of this heap.)

Even though – as I’ve noted before – my listening at the time was becoming more album-oriented as time went on, I still heard enough Top 40 around me that almost all of the records in the lower spots on the WISM survey were familiar as well. To be precise, as I scan the titles and artists listed in the thirty spots on the survey and the three hit-bound entries, there’s only one pairing that’s a mystery to me: “Lucy Cain” by Baby Grand, sitting at No. 23, up three spots from the week before.

I would guess that “Lucy Cain” would be a mystery to many: Out of the thousands of radio surveys cataloged at ARSA, WISM’s Music Guide from December 7, 1972, is the only one that lists the record. And it seems to have not yet been shared by any of the millions of folks who put tunes up at YouTube. (Although there are evidently three women with YouTube accounts by the name of Lucy Cain.)

So I googled. A copy of the record, which came out on the Hemisphere label, is available at Ebay, and a website titled That 70s Wisconsin Beat informs me that Baby Grand – as I suspected – was a local act. And the next entry in the googled results takes me to the lengthy comment section on a piece about the Wisconsin band Clicker by my pal Jeff at his blog AM, Then FM. A few commenters mention Baby Grand and “Lucy Cain,” but unless I missed something in the more than fifty comments, there’s no real info there.

Perhaps jb or Jeff can clue us in, or maybe our pal Yah Shure. Or someone.

Regrouping, I dropped to the bottom of the WISM survey and picked out the third listed of the three hit-bound singles. I remember hearing and liking the Hollies’ “Long Dark Road,” but I haven’t heard it for years. It’s not on the digital shelves here now, and I doubt that it was there before the recent hard drive crash.

It wasn’t one of the Hollies’ biggest hits, reaching No. 26 in the Billboard Hot 100, but it’s worth a listen today:

‘Stewball Was A Race Horse . . .’

Friday, December 27th, 2013

Now, about the song “Stewball.” We offered in this spot yesterday the version of the song recorded in 1940 by Lead Belly and the Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet for the Victor label. Pretty much a work song, that was the second of several iterations of the folk song that arose in England in the late Eighteenth Century.

Second Hand Songs notes: “Skewball, born in 1741, was a racehorse bred by Francis, Second Earl of Goldolphin. The horse, a gelding, was purportedly the top earning racer in Ireland in 1752, when he was 11. The song apparently originated as a ballad about a high stakes race occurring in the Curragh in Kildare, Ireland, in March 1752, which Skewball won.” The website gives a date of 1784 for the song, noting that the date “is for the oldest broadside identified of the ballad . . . held by the Harding Collection of the Bodleian Library of the University of Oxford.”

The webpage continues, “According to John and Alan Lomax in American Ballads and Folk Songs, the ballad was converted into a work song by slaves – which is supported by the version of the lyrics published in their book. ‘Skewball’ apparently became ‘Stewball’ after the song migrated to the United States.”

Beyond the work song version of “Stewball,” the original story-song continued to be recorded. A 1953 recording by Cisco Houston is the earliest listed in the on-going project at Second Hand Songs, but Woody Guthrie recorded the tale of the horse race in 1944 or 1945. His version was released in 1999 on Buffalo Skinners: The Asch Recordings, Vol. 4 on the Smithsonian Folkways label.

Then came along the Greenbriar Boys. A trio made up by 1960 of John Herald, Ralph Rinzler, and Bob Yellin, the group, says All Music Guide, was “[o]ne of the first urban bands to play bluegrass” and was “instrumental in transforming the sounds of the hill country from a Southern music to an international phenomenon.” The Greenbriar Boys released their first two albums of bluegrass tunes in 1962 and 1964, but of more import for us today is a tune that showed up on New Folks, a 1961 sampler on the Vanguard label. Herald, Rinzler and Yellin set the words of “Stewball” to a simple, folkish tune (written by Yellin, according to website Beatles Songwriting Academy) and recorded the song as their contribution to the album:

After that, covers of the new version followed: From Peter, Paul & Mary in 1963 (a single release went to No. 35 and is the only version to chart), from Joan Baez in 1964 and from the Hollies in 1966, according to Second Hand Songs. And I know there are many other covers. Most of those take on the Greenbriar’s Boys’ version (including one by Mason Proffit on its 1969 album Wanted), but there are other covers of the early folk version and the work song version as well. I didn’t go digging too deeply, though, because something else about the song grabbed my attention this week.

Now, I’ve heard the version of “Stewball” using the Greenbriar Boys’ melody several times over the years, notably the versions by Mason Proffit and Peter, Paul & Mary. Heck, I even sang it along with Peter Yarrow at a concert a year-and-a-half ago. But I’d never noticed or thought about the tune’s similarity to another famous song until this week.

Last Tuesday, I ran past Second Hand Songs while looking for an interesting cover of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s 1971 single “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”, and when the results came up that put the Lennon/Ono tune in the adaptation tree for “Stewball,” I did a mild double-take. And then I thought about it, running the two tunes through my head. And yeah, John (and Yoko, to whatever degree she was involved in the writing, listed as she is as a composer) lifted the melody and chord structure from the Greenbriar Boys’ version of “Stewball.” There were a few changes, notably a key change and the addition of the “War is over if you want it” chorus, but it was essentially the same song.

And I’m not at all sure why Herald, Rinzler and Yellin didn’t complain. Does anybody know?

Saturday Single No. 360

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

We’re going to stay in 1975 again this morning, but rather than just dabble with October, we’ll open up the whole year – singles and album tracks, hits and obscurities – and take a six-step random walk in search of a single for a Saturday morning. We’ll skip something only if it’s been featured here recently. Weirdness, if it rears its head, will be embraced.

So, let’s go . . .

Siren was the fourth charting album for Roxy Music, and while it didn’t do quite as well as its 1974 predecessor, Country Life (No. 37), it still went to No. 50. The track that pops up for us this morning is “End of the Line,” the album’s second track. Sounding far less sleek than the rest of the album, the track kind of thumps along with a well-defined piano part and rhythm section and a wandering fiddle part sliding around Bryan Ferry’s vocal. I like it much better than I like a lot of the Roxy Music catalog.

I’m not sure if the Hollies were the first to cover a Bruce Springsteen song, but they certainly were near the head of the line when they recorded “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” from Springsteen’s 1973 album, The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle. The Hollies’ version – titled simply “Sandy” – was released as a single on Epic and was included on their 1975 album, Another Night. The single went to No. 85 in the U.S. and to No. 12 in the United Kingdom New Zealand. The album got to No. 123 in the U.S.

From 1963 and I’ve Got A Woman through 2002’s McGriff Avenue, the late Jimmy McGriff – he passed on in 2008 – kept his Hammond B-3 busy. How many albums? I’m not going to count the list at All Music Guide right now, but a friend passed on a partial collection of McGriff’s works not long ago, and that totaled forty-five albums. We land this morning on “Stretch Me Out” from 1975’s Stump Juice, an album that AMG’s Jason Ankeny says “forgoes warhorse pop and soul covers in favor of original tunes – these tabulas rasa are the ideal canvas for [Sonny] Lester’s bare-essentials production and McGriff’s sinuous grooves.” And “Stretch Me Out” does indeed stretch.

The French group Folkdove released a couple of mid-1970s album in a sparse sound reminiscent – to my ears, anyway – of earlier work by the Incredible String Band (minus some weirdness) and a few other British folk ensembles. The track “Sylvie” comes from the group’s self-titled 1975 album, a work that I must have found at the blog Mutant Sounds, which calls Folkdove a “legendary French acid folk album . . . Simple in its form but yet great” in its simplicity. “Sylvie” is fine on its own, but there is a droning quality to it – and to the rest of the album – that makes more than one track at a time from Folkdove a bit of a listening chore.

Next up, we get Petula Clark and “I’m the Woman You Need” from her album of the same name. By 1975, Clark’s presence in the U.S. charts had dwindled – her 1960s hits included, of course, “Downtown” and “My Love,” both of which spent two weeks at No. 1 – and her records, if I read the data at Wikipedia correctly, were being released only in her native Britain. I picked up I’m The Woman You Need to get Clark’s version of “Eres Tu,” and that cover, like the title song that popped up this morning, was tasteful and professional but a little less than thrilling.

When the progressive band Crack The Sky released its self-titled debut in 1975, Rolling Stone magazine proclaimed it the “debut album of the year,” says Wikipedia, and the 1978 Rolling Stone Record Guide compared the group to Steely Dan. Listening this morning to “A Sea Epic” from the group’s debut, I hear more Strawbs and Humble Pie than Becker and Fagen. The track is not bad, but I find more interesting this morning the question of the band’s home town. Wikipedia says it’s Weirton, West Virginia, and Joel Whitburn, in Top Pop Singles, says Steubenville, Ohio (which has become well-known in the past year or so for something far less pleasant than a rock group). Since the two cities are separated only by the Ohio River, it really makes no difference, I guess. Nor, finally, does the band.

Well, those are our six options this morning, and this one’s easy. The Hollies’ record showed up here in 2009 as part of a selection of Springsteen covers, but that’s a long time ago in Blogworld, so here’s “Sandy” by the Hollies, today’s Saturday Single.