Saturday Single No. 178

Well, as our Saturday list of things to do is lengthy – and that’s not all bad; one of the items on the list is “Go Out For Dinner” – I’m going to once more ramble through the library on random and see what we find at the end of a thirteen-step journey:

First off is “Where Do The Girls Of Summer Go,” a piece of confectioner’s sugar from Marc Eric’s 1969 album, Midsummer’s Day Dream. It’s light, bubbly and a little breathy, and very clearly influenced by the Beach Boys. It’s a good way to start the day.

Things get a little more determined if not exactly tougher: Tom Petty takes off “Running Down A Dream” from his 1989 album Full Moon Fever. Until recently, I’ve never dug too deeply into Petty’s catalog, which is surprising, considering his links to Bob Dylan and George Harrison through the Traveling Wilburys. I like what I’m hearing as I explore Petty’s work, but I have a ways to go.

Third stop this morning is a Turkish tune called “Buda” by a vocalist named Sertab; I found it on one of the Putumayo collections, this one from 2006 entitled Turkish Groove. Both the Texas Gal and I enjoy – as a change of pace – much of the music of the eastern Mediterranean.

“Dancin’ with you, baby, really turns the soul shake on,” sing Delaney and Bonnie. “Groovin’ with you, baby, really turns the soul shake on.” What a great record! Pulled from 1970’s To Bonnie From Delaney, “Soul Shake” is one of those records that never fails to bring a grin to my face. And it’s kind of a shame we have to move on. After all, “there ain’t nothin’ ’bout you, baby, that I don’t approve.”

From there, we get more horn-accented R&B, as Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes launch themselves into “Talk To Me” from 1978’s Hearts of Stone. The track was one of two written for the album by Bruce Springsteen, but nevertheless, most listeners thought that Hearts of Stone was when John Lyon and his band stepped out of the significant shadow of their fellow Jerseyite.

Staying with the blue-eyed R&B groove for at least one more song, the player takes its sixth random jump of the morning and lands on Rod Stewart’s 1972 take on “I’d Rather Go Blind.” From Never A Dull Moment, the track is pretty good, which is – I acknowledge – faint praise, but for me, Etta James’ take on the song remains the standard.

And we head to the Walkabouts and their moody, dark and compelling visit to New West Motel in 1990. The track is “Break It Down Gently,” with its swirling effects and bleak vocals. “Black rain will come to break it down gently,” the Walkabouts sing, “to wash it down slow, goin’ straight to the bottom.” That’s a little bleak, but boy, does it sound good.

Things lighten up a lot after that. In fact, I’m not sure I can think of anything that contrasts more than switching from the Walkabouts to a John Denver song as delivered by Olivia Newton-John. Her take on “Follow Me” comes from her 1975 album Have You Never Been Mellow, and after a breathy intro, the banjo and the drums come in for the chorus, which helps. But it’s still pretty airy and well, insubstantial. It didn’t hit the Top 40 back in 1975, but it’s not a lot different from those singles by Newton-John that did.

Magic Carpet’s only album, a 1972 self-titled release, says All-Music Guide, “fused Indian ragas and singer-songwriter folk in a manner suggestive of Joni Mitchell playing with the Incredible String Band.” Well, maybe. Listening to the track “Father Time,” I’m not sure that Mitchell has ever sung lines like “There’s only one you, and there’s only one me. We’re all just a part of the fish in the sea.” The sitar and other Indian instruments sound cool, though.

Our tenth stop is “Oh, Pretty Woman” from blues giant Albert King’s 1967 classic Born Under A Bad Sign. This is not the Roy Orbison song but a much tougher song by A.C. Williams. (According to Second-Hand Songs, a database of cover versions, King might have been the first to record the song, but I’m not sure.) Backing King on the track – on the entire album, in fact – were Booker T and the MG’s along with the Memphis Horns.

I wrote once that Rick Danko’s 1977 self-titled solo album was one I’d wish I’d had when it came out, as it would have been one of those records I listened to for some consolation during my first months out in the working world, living in a different city than did almost all of my friends. And when “Once Upon A Time” pops ups this morning, that thought holds true: This is music that comforts.

Number Twelve this morning pulls us back to San Francisco in 1968: “Pride of Man” from Quicksilver Messenger Service’s first, self-titled album. So much of the music from that time and place has become so familiar – stuff by the Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead, especially – that the music has become divorced from its origins. This Quicksilver track still has an unmistakable vibe to it, summoning images of Haight-Ashbury and Golden Gate Park, self-conscious hippies and the impending doom that always seems to threaten the gentle and gullible.

And our last stop this morning keeps us in that era of hippies and flowers. Donovan’s sometimes wispy ballads occupied one extreme of the sonic landscape of the time, and taken one-by-one, they provided an airy counterpoint to the heavier sounds of the time. Any more than one at a time, and Donovan’s songs were a little too light for me, and they still are. But having taken a circle from the starting point of Marc Eric’s confectionary tune, perhaps Donovan’s “Isle of Islay,” from his 1967 album, A Gift from a Flower to a Garden, is a good place to wind things up. So that’s today’s Saturday Single:


One Response to “Saturday Single No. 178”

  1. […] I included it in a post remembering Delaney Bramlett. I also praised it when it popped up during a random search for a Saturday Single in early 2010, so my regard for the track is pretty well […]

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