News for September 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 10/1/13 – “Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy” by Chick Corea and Return To Forever

45 adapterchickcoreahymn

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy” by Chick Corea and Return To Forever

Pianist extraordinaire, Chick Corea, got his professional start playing with the likes of Cab Calloway, Blue Mitchell, Herbie Mann, Willie Bobo and Mongo Santamaria. He went on to replace Herbie Hancock in Miles Davis’ band, and played with him from 1968 through 1971 during a crucial time when Miles was moving away from straight-ahead jazz, and toward a more psychedelic rock sound. He appeared on Davis’ seminal albums Filles de Kilimanjaro, In A Silent Way, Bitches Brew, Black Beauty and Miles Davis At Fillmore.

After leaving Miles’ ranks with Dave Holland, he formed the group Circle with Anthony Braxton and Barry Altschul before forming Return To Forever in 1971. The first two Return To Forever albums featured husband and wife Flora Purim on vocals and Airto Moreira on percussion, plus Joe Farrell on flute and soprano sax and Stanley Clark on bass. This group released their self-titled debut album, and 1973’s Light As A Feather. Both albums had a Latin-tinged ethereal sound, highlighted by Purim’s distant vocal style.

For Chick Corea’s second album of 1973, Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy, Flora Purim, Airto Moreira and Joe Farrell were out, and Lenny White (drums) and Bill Connors (guitar) joined Corea (synthesizer, piano) and Stanley Clarke (bass) for an all-instrumental collection that pushed the boundaries of jazz by adding more rock instrumentation to the mix.

The album was recorded twice. The first version featured Steve Gadd on drums who didn’t want to tour with the group, so the complete album was cut again with Lenny White on drums. The unreleased tapes of the Gadd version have been lost to the ages.

Hymn refined Miles Davis’ blueprint for jazz rock by moving it more into the mainstream with electric instrumentation and the sounds of funk, psychedelia, Latin jazz and instrumental prog rock, highlighted by the interplay between Corea and guitarist Bill Connors.

Today’s Song Of the Day is the album’s title track which has become a cornerstone of Corea’s repertoire. The album also features Corea’s “Captain Señor Mouse,” “The Game Maker,” “Theme To The Mothership” and Stanley Clarke’s “After The Cosmic Rain.”

After this album, Al DiMeola would replace Bill Connors and Return To Forever would release best-selling records throughout the 1970s like Where Have I Known You Before, No Mystery, Romantic Warrior and Musicmagic.

Edited: September 30th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 9/28/13 – “Shining Star” by Earth, Wind & Fire

45 adapterearthwindfirethats

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Shining Star” by Earth, Wind & Fire

As a pimply-faced Jewish teen growing up in a predominantly white New Jersey suburb, my exposure to the black experience was extremely limited. Sure there was Soul Train on TV and disco music on the radio, but the few African-American kids in my middle school mostly kept to themselves.

At the same time, I volunteered at a hospital in predominantly black Newark, New Jersey where my mother was a nurse, and most of the African-American people I came into contact with were much older than me. Being a sheltered 14 year old, I was intrigued by their seemingly hip lifestyle, but knew little about their history or the way they experienced the same world that we shared.

Earth, Wind & Fire gave me an early inkling into the black experience with their Afro-centric kalimba-soaked mélange of jazz, funk and soul, combined with their use of astrological imagery and the funky threads they sported on their album covers. They were the real deal, and a great musical group to boot!

I remember purchasing That’s The Way Of The World when it was a new release in 1975 from Vogel’s Records in Elizabeth, New Jersey, which had the best selection of urban records anywhere in my area. I was already keenly aware of today’s Song Of The Day, “Shining Star” from hearing it on the radio and had to have it.

The album topped the U.S. pop charts for three weeks and the R’n’B charts for five weeks in 1975, however, most people aren’t aware that the album was actually the soundtrack to a film of the same name, starring Harvey Keitel as a record producer and Earth Wind & Fire as the group he produced. The film was a complete flop, but the album was a huge hit. In fact, it was Columbia Records’ biggest selling album of 1975.

The group at this time featured the classic front line of Maurice White, Philip Bailey and Verdine White on vocals, with Larry Dunn on keyboards, Fred White and Ralph Johnson on drums and percussion, Verdine White on bass, Andrew P. Woolfolk on reeds and Al McKay and Johnny Graham on guitar. Their sound was typified by Philip Bailey’s soaring soprano and White’s soulful tenor, a dynamic horn section that injected the funk into their tunes, dazzling instrumental jazz workouts and lots of Kalimba (African thumb piano) interspersed throughout. Their albums also had interesting instrumental interludes between the songs as well.

“Shining Star” was written by Maurice White, Larry Dunn and Philip Bailey, and it won a Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. It was one of the group’s funkiest recordings with its flying horns and tightly wound rhythm guitar patterns, but the song’s end is the real grabber as the band repeats “Shining Star for you to see, what your life can truly be” three successive times, each one with instruments dropping out leaving the last time completely a cappela bringing it to an abrupt cold dry ending.

On the album, the song immediately bumps up against the beginning of the title track to the album, which is one of their all-time greatest ballads. The whole sequence conjures the type of drama and excitement that only EWF were capable of. (“Shining Star” also holds the distinction as the song used in the classic Seinfeld episode where Julia Louis Dreyfus’ Elaine unleashes her spastic dance.)

Another incredible track on this album is “Reasons” which was a vehicle for Bailey’s soaring falsetto, especially on the live version from the Gratitude album. While it never charted as a single, it is considered one of EWF’s signature songs and appears on several of their Greatest Hits albums. The horn-pierced funk of “Yearnin’ Learnin’” and “Happy Feeling” keep the good times going, while “All About Love” features a wigged out instrumental interlude at the beginning and end of this deep soul ballad. “Africano” is a jazz-funk instrumental similar to what the band cut its teeth on in their earlier albums, featuring a blazing sax solo courtesy of Andrew Woolfolk.

The group went on to release a string of indelible singles throughout the 1970s including “Sing a Song” (#5 pop/#1 R&B), “Can’t Hide Love” (#11 R&B), “Getaway” (#12 pop/#1 R&B), “Saturday Night” (#4 R&B), “Serpentine Fire” (#13 pop/#1 R&B), “Got To Get You Into My Life” (#9 pop/#1 R&B), “Fantasy” (#12 pop), “September” (#8 pop/#1 R&B), “Boogie Wonderland” (#6 pop/#1 R&B) and “After The Love Has Gone” (#2 pop/#2 R&B), and over the years they’ve sold over 90 million albums, performed at The White House, have won numerous Grammy and American Music Awards and are members of The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.

But it was their jubilant sound that gave me insight into a world I barely knew existed back in 1975. Earth, Wind & Fire still continue today and just released a brand new album last week called Now, Then and Forever.

Edited: September 27th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 9/27/13 – “Harper Valley P.T.A.” by Jeannie C. Riley

45 adapterJeannieCRiley

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman - “Harper Valley P.T.A.” by Jeannie C. Riley

Today’s Song Of The Day goes out to all of those “Harper Valley hypocrites” who scorn mini-skirts, casual sex and casual drinking.

Jeannie C. Riley’s recording of “Harper Valley P.T.A.” sold six million copies worldwide in 1968 and catapulted her to instant notoriety, earning her a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance and the Country Music Association Single of the Year award.  The Tom T. Hall-written ditty topped both the Country and Pop charts in 1968, a feat that would not be repeated by a song until Dolly Parton did the trick with “9 To 5″ in 1981.

Jeannie C. Riley had been a receptionist at Passkey Music on Music Row in Nashville before recording the song. She came to the attention of Plantation Records chief Shelby Singleton from a demo she recorded called “Old Town Drunk.”  Singleton thought that Riley would be perfect for another demo he was sitting on called “Harper Valley P.T.A.” written by a then-unknown Tom Hall.

The song was literally recorded in 15 minutes right after Riley left work at Passkey and walked into the studio that just happened to be next door. After it was recorded, it was suggested that Riley change the song’s final line from “the day that momma broke up the Harper Valley P.T.A.” to “the day my momma socked it to, the Harper Valley P.T.A.” The line sealed the deal on the song, as well as Jeannie C. Riley’s fate as the notorious vixen of Harper Valley.

Before the song got to Riley, it was originally given to Skeeter Davis who passed on it. In the meantime Billie Jo Spears and Margie Singleton also recorded versions of the song, but Riley’s recording not only topped the charts, but gave her a TV variety show of her own to star in. Later, it was turned into a 1978 major motion picture and a 1981 TV series, both starring Barbara Eden.

While Riley went on to have hit records with “The Girl Most Likely,” “There Never Was A Time,” “The Rib,” “The Back Side of Dallas,” “Country Girl,” “Oh Singer” and “Good Enough to Be Your Wife,” she will always be remembered by today’s Song Of The Day.

Edited: September 26th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 9/26/13 – “Wake Me Up” by Elvis Costello & The Roots

45 adapterelviscostelloandtheroots

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Wake Me Up” by Elvis Costello & The Roots

After the release of Elvis Costello’s last two T. Bone Burnett-produced albums, he was ready to throw in the towel on his recording career seeing no point in going back into the studio to create new records that nobody would hear. And as a long-time Costello fan of 36 years who suffered through those albums, I was beginning to sadly think that it might’ve been the right decision.

Fortunately, inspiration struck in the oddest of places while guesting on the Late Night With Jimmy Fallon TV show where The Roots have been the house band since the show’s inception. With a college of musical knowledge and a mutual love and thirst for all things sonic between Costello and Roots drummer, ?uestlove, a collaboration between the two seemed to be a match made in hipster heaven.

So, is this Costello’s hip hop album? Is it The Roots’ foray into punk rock?

Neither is true, but with his fedora tipped oddly to one side, Costello and The Roots have fashioned a narcotized, off-beat and off-kilter record drawing on both artists’ signature sound, while creating a groovy new sonic palate for all to taste.

Elvis: “It seemed like a good playground, a fabulous ride, to go in and play with a great band that has a broad-minded view of music. It felt like anything was possible.” ?uestlove: “We recorded a lot of it in our tiny little dressing room at 30 Rock, not a traditional studio, but Elvis had no hang-ups about that.”

In the spirit of sampling no doubt influenced by The Roots, Costello revisits his back catalog and repurposes lyrics from past songs for Wise Up Ghost’s tune stack. Once the novelty of playing spot the reference wears off, you’re still left with one of his strongest collections of songs in over a decade.

Today’s Song Of The Day (shown here from a the album’s kickoff concert in Brooklyn last week) plunders Costello’s 2004 track “Bedlam” from The Delivery Man and mingles it with the 2006 title track from his collaboration with Allen Toussaint The River In Reverse. “Stick Out Your Tongue” revisits the 1983 Imposter single “Pills And Soap” while incorporating “Hurry Down Doomsday (The Bugs Are Taking Over)” from his overlooked 1991 collection Mighty Like A Rose.

In the song “Refused To Be Saved” Elvis spits out lyrics from Mighty Like A Rose’s “Invasion Hit Parade,” as he approaches a rapper’s cadence accented by sharp horn blasts, and the stunningly beautiful urban doo wop of “Tripwire” hearkens back to the song “Satellite,” from Costello’s 1989 album Spike. One of the most beguiling tracks on the collection is “Cinco Minutos Con Vos,” a sinuous horn-infused duet with singer La Marisoul of the band La Santa Cecelia.

Elsewhere, The Roots’ influence shines through on the woozy funk of “Sugar Won’t Work” and the Princely soul of “Viceroy’s Row.” Their use of string arrangements to create a sonic tension in “Refused To Be Saved” and “Wise Up Ghost” create a symphonic funk sound reminiscent of classic Isaac Hayes.

And if to reassert his influence on the proceedings,  ?uestlove’s drums introduce many of the album’s songs including “(She Might Be A) Grenade,” “Walk Us Uptown,” and  “Viceroy’s Row,” exposing The Roots’ penchant for building songs up from the rhythm tracks first.

Costello and The Roots have created a soulful socially conscious musical bouillabaisse with Wise Up Ghost; a kind of a What’s Goin’ On and Superfly for the twenty-teens…and a record for the ages by both artists.

Edited: September 25th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 9/24/13 – “Easy To Be Hard” by Lynn Kellogg

45 adapterHair

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman - “Easy To Be Hard” by Lynn Kellogg

Most rock fans know this song by Three Dog Night’s hit version, but here’s the original recording from the 1968 Broadway Cast of the musical HairThe American Tribal Love-Rock Musical.

The show introduced the hits “Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In,” “Good Morning Starshine” and the title song which were brought to the charts by the likes of The Fifth Dimension, Oliver and The Cowsills respectively. All of the songs in the musical were written by Galt MacDermot, Gerome Ragni and James Rado.  MacDermot also wrote the music to the 1971 musical Two Gentlemen Of Verona and released several influential funk and instrumental jazz albums that are currently the rage amongst those “in the know” of the hipster cognoscenti.

I’ve been listening to this record since I was seven years old…way before I knew the meaning of “Sodomy,” “Hashish,” “Colored Spade,” “Walking In Space” and the numerous other titillating-for-their-time songs in this musical. It is indeed part of my musical DNA.

The cast album to Hair has managed to stand the test of time and the musical has enjoyed numerous successful revivals and tours around the world. The musical was taken to the big screen in 1979 by director Milos Forman with choreography by Twyla Tharpe, introducing it to numerous later generations.

While I was too young to catch the musical on Broadway in its original incarnation, I did manage to see a revival on Broadway during the 1980s.

Edited: September 23rd, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 9/23/13 – “Midnight At The Oasis” by Maria Muldaur

45 adaptermariamuldaur

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Midnight At The Oasis” by Maria Muldaur

You either loved it…or you completely loathed it, but there’s no doubt that if you were around in 1974, you could not avoid Maria Muldaur’s “Midnight At The Oasis.”

Today’s Song Of The Day was released on Muldaur’s eponymously titled first solo album which soared all the way to the #3 position on the Billboard charts on the wings of this David Nichtern-penned top-ten single. Yet, most people don’t know much about Maria Muldaur before she sent her camel to bed in back in 1973.

Muldaur’s maiden name was Maria D’Amato and she got her start performing as a member of the Even Dozen Jug Band alongside future Lovin’ Spoonful member John Sebastian, David Grisman and Stefan Grossman. The Jug Band was part of the same Greenwich Village folk scene that spawned Fred Neil, Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan. D’Amato then went on to join the Jim Kweskin Jug Band where she met her future husband Geoff Muldaur. After Kweskin’s outfit split up, Geoff and Maria went on to release two marvelous down-home old-timey albums for Reprise records. The first one called Pottery Pie was released in 1968, and a second called Sweet Potatoes followed in 1971.

Muldaur went solo after their marriage split up in 1972 and released her first album the following year. On the album, Muldaur wraps her precious pipes around the songs of Dolly Parton (“My Tennessee Mountain Home”), Dr. John (“Three Dollar Bill”) and Jimmie Rodgers (“Any Old Time”). It was also a springboard for several then-unknown songwriters including Wendy Waldman whose “Vaudeville Man” and “Mad Mad Me” were both included, as well as Kate McGarrigle’s wonderful “Work Song.”

Producers Joe Boyd and Lenny Waronker assembled a who’s who of the current rock and jazz scene for backing support on the album,  including Clarence White, Ry Cooder, David Lindley, David Grisman, Dr. John, Jim Dickinson, Spooner Oldham, Chris Ethridge, Klaus Voorman, Freebo, Ray Brown, Dave Holland, Jim Keltner, Bettye LaVette and Jim Gordon. But it was the lyrical and languid guitar solo of the great Amos Garrett (who also played on the Geoff & Maria records) that lights up the album’s signature song.

During the late 70s, Muldaur sang backing vocals with The Jerry Garcia Band. She’s released over 30 albums over the years and continues to release folk and gospel albums to this day.

Edited: September 22nd, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Hold On Longer” by John Legend

45 adapterjohnlegendlove

This spectacular piece of song craft and mood comes from John Legend’s latest album “Love In The Future.” I’ve literally played this song over and over since it came out several weeks ago, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the best Stevie Wonder song that Wonder never wrote.

Yet, in two minutes and thirty-nine seconds of splendor, Legend manages to match the seemingly unmatchable level of artistry of classic Stevie Wonder.

The song lists amongst its writers John Stephens (aka John Legend), Kanye West who also gets an executive producer credit along with Legend and Dave Tozer. Like Legend’s other albums, his latest is a stone-classic in the making.

Edited: September 22nd, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 9/21/13 – “We Can Work It Out” by Stevie Wonder

45 adaptersteviewondersignedsealed

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “We Can Work It Out” by Stevie Wonder

He was no longer little…but he was not yet big either…

By 1970, Stevie Wonder had grown restless with the constraints that Motown Records put upon his creativity. Rather than continue to create commercial fodder that was sure to climb the charts, Wonder wanted to dig deeper by addressing social concerns with his music, and exploring different instrumentation on his records. On his 1970 album Signed, Sealed & Delivered, he began to spread his musical wings and display a newfound maturity in his songwriting and his singing, particularly on songs like “I Can’t Let Heaven Walk Away,” “Something To Say” and “Never Had A Dream Come True.”

Sure, he still had the ability to give Motown what they wanted, but Wonder craved more control over his recordings, and for this album he wrote or co-wrote seven of the tracks and received full production credit for the first time. (In reality, he actually only produced two of the tracks and co-produced three more.)

Along with the hit title track (#1 R&B, #3 Pop), the album also featured the singles “Heaven Help Us All” (#9 Pop), “Never Had a Dream Come True” (#11 R&B) and Wonder’s cover of The Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out” (#13 Pop). Wonder’s version of the Beatles classic announces its intention right from the get-go with one of the most succinct and exciting organ intros ever to grace the Motown label. From there, it’s a non-stop soul fest compete with Wonder’s exuberant lead vocals over funky harmonica riffing flying around the mix. The recording earned Wonder his second Grammy Award nomination, for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance, while the album hit #25 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart and also climbed to the #7 spot on the R&B Albums chart.

The song was credited to Lennon and McCartney; however the lyrics were primarily written by McCartney and were about his relationship with then girlfriend Jane Asher. The Beatles’ recorded it during the sessions for Rubber Soul, and released it as one side of a double A-sided single with “Day Tripper” on the flip.

Wonder’s version was heard playing over the closing credits of the 2005 film Kicking And Screaming. He also performed his version of the song at The White House to honor Paul McCartney in 2010 when McCartney was awarded the Gershwin Prize by the Library of Congress.

While the release of “Signed, Sealed & Delivered” was a somewhat tentative step toward full-blown maturity and artistic control on vinyl, it did bring Wonder one step closer creating world class albums like Music Of My Mind, Talking Book, Innervisions, Fulfillingness’ First Finale and Songs In The Key Of Life.

Edited: September 20th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 9/19/13 – “Hot Stuff” by The Rolling Stones

45 adapterrollingstonesblackblue

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Hot Stuff” by The Rolling Stones

Today’s Song Of The Day comes from the Rolling Stones’ 1976 album Black And Blue. Next to Goats Head Soup, the album stands as one of the most maligned Rolling Stones releases of the 1970s. That assessment is totally unfair since the album actually is one of the most varied and forward looking records in their catalog, featuring two superb ballads, two terse rockers and several songs that add reggae, soul, funk and disco into the mix.

Many of the record’s songs stemmed from studio jams that were recorded while trying out new guitarists to replace Mick Taylor, and guitarists Wayne Perkins and Harvey Mandel turn up on half of the tracks. The record is also Ron Wood’s first album as a member of the Stones and his guitar is heard on the other half of the tracks. (Steve Marriott and Peter Frampton also auditioned for the band; however they do not appear on the record at all.) It is also Billy Preston’s most visible album as a Stones sideman and his vocals and piano playing turn up on most of the tracks, especially on “Melody” which carries the credit “inspiration from Billy Preston.”

The marketing campaign leading up to Black And Blue’s release included a controversial billboard on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood depicting model Anita Russell black and blued and tied up with the caption “I’m Black And Blue from the Rolling Stones — and I love it!” The billboard attracted protests from Women Against Violence Against Women, and was ultimately taken down. The billboard’s central image was also the focal point of the album’s print campaign, and it turned up in magazines and newspapers all over the world.

Today’s Song Of The Day, “Hot Stuff” was the second single from the album and one of the band’s first forays into funk and disco. The track features lyrically effervescent soloing courtesy of Harvey Mandel, and the tail end of the track features some of Jagger’s greatest vocals ever. (In the video, Wood is seen playing Mandel’s solo.)

The album also includes two of the band’s most sturdy ballads, the super melodic top-ten “Fool To Cry” featuring wonderful falsetto vocals by Jagger, and “Memory Motel” which features dueling vocals by both Jagger and Richards. Both songs received deserved radio airplay, and are the only two songs on the record that were formally written and less the result of studio jams.

Richards gets his reggae on with a cover of Eric Donaldson’s 1971 classic “Cherry Oh Baby,” and the two rockers “Hand Of Fate” and the album’s closer “Crazy Mama” stand head and shoulders tall with some of the group’s very best.

Elsewhere, the band tries their hand at gnarly funk on “Hey Negrita” (which is credited with inspiration from Ron Wood) and some very loose pseudo lounge jazz on “Melody.”  Both songs show their jam-based roots more than the others on the record.

After its release, the album spent four weeks at #1 in U.S., and the single “Fool To Cry” reached the top ten on the charts. While certainly a transitional effort, the album paved the way for the band’s 1978 mega comeback record, Some Girls and its chart-topping single “Miss You.”

Edited: September 18th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 9/17/13 – “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive

45 adapterBTONotFragile

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” by Bachman-Turner Overdrive

In 1971 the rock godz gave us Fragile by Yes…and three years later, they bestowed upon us the riff fest known as Not Fragile by BTO!

There’s something to be said about what I call “big dumb rock records.”  They’re the riff-crazy tracks that make you grab for your air guitar whilst rocking your head back and forth…oh, and don’t forget the obligatory pain-ridden facial expressions a la Carlos Santana.

We’ve all been there and I still go there today from time-to-time.  Anybody who’s been to a concert with me can attest to this fact.  It ain’t pretty…but it’s the rock abandon that tracks like the title track to BTO’s Not Fragile (written by C.F. Turner) conjure that makes it all happen. Simply put, the track is the consummate air guitar song and probably the band’s most riff-heavy moment.

The Not Fragile album was BTO’s most popular (non-compilation) album, reaching number one on the LP charts in 1974. The record was their first album with Blair Thornton on guitar, giving the album its twin lead guitar heaviosity, and it contained two of the group’s best-loved singles, the freewheelin’ “Roll On Down The Highway,” and today’s Song Of The Day, the chart-topping “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.” The rest of the BTO line-up consisted of Randy and Robbie Bachman on guitar and drums respectively, plus C.F. Turner on bass.

And today’s Song Of The Day, and the group’s biggest hit ever wasn’t even intended for the album! “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” was born out of a jam and originally recorded as a scratch track to get levels in the recording studio. Randy Bachman added the song’s signature stutter as a joke for his brother Gary who stuttered. When the band presented the album to Mercury Records for release, the suits didn’t hear a surefire hit single on it and asked Bachman if he had anything else. Bachman reluctantly dug up the scratch track and, of course, they loved it.

Even so, Bachman only agreed to add the song to the record if he could re-record the vocals without the stutter. Bachman: “I tried to sing it normal, but I sounded like Frank Sinatra. It didn’t fit.” Ultimately, it was the original stutter version that had all the magic, and that is what we hear on the album.

Bachman, however, didn’t want it released as a single and the band went with “Roll On Down The Highway” as the album’s first single which peaked at #14 on the U.S. singles charts. Meanwhile, radio DJs started playing “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” as an album cut and it began to gain popularity. As a result, the song was finally released as a single and went on to sell over a million copies and top the charts.  It was, in fact, BTO’s only chart-topping U.S. hit.

The Who had already set the precedent for the use of stuttering on a rock record with their single “My Generation,” but The Who similarities didn’t end there. Many people believe that the chord progression of “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” is indeed a rip of The Who’s “Baba O’Reilly.”

Meanwhile, stuttering has gone on to become a popular element in songs like “Bennie And The Jets” by Elton John, “Changes” by David Bowie, “Bad To The Bone” by George Thorogood & The Destroyers, “My Sharona” by The Knack, “Welcome To The Jungle” by Guns N Roses and “Check It Out” by The Beastie Boys, to name but a few. What other stutter songs can you name?

Edited: September 16th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 9/16/13 – “Freeway” by Gerry Mulligan Quartet

45 adapterGerryMulligan

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Freeway” by Gerry Mulligan Quartet

Here is some of the greatest the West Coast had to offer, from the very first release by Pacific Jazz Records! I scored an original 1952 10” pressing of this one (Pacific Jazz catalog number PJLP-1) on heavy microgroove vinyl in a garage sale many years ago!

Not only did this record signal a bright new beginning for a Jazz record label that would become a force to be reckoned with, but it introduced the stellar line up of Gerry Mulligan on the tenor sax, a young Chesney (Chet) Baker on trumpet, Chico Hamilton on drums and Von (Bob) Whitlock on the bass.

And the contrapuntal sound, featuring a give and take between Mulligan and Baker as they weave around each other: one minute they’re playing together, one moment they’re playing off of each other, offered a sound to Jazz fans of the fifties previously unheard of.

Three hours in the car today offered me the opportunity to play about half of European Label,  Jazz Dynamic’s five CD Complete Chet Baker & Gerry Mulligan 1952-1957 set, which I consider time very well spent.

The boys on this album cover look pretty strung out…but their playing couldn’t be tighter…

Edited: September 15th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 9/15/13 – “Haunts Of Ancient Peace” by Van Morrison

45 adaptervanmorrison

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Haunts Of Ancient Peace” by Van Morrison

Here we have one of Van Morrison’s most soulful pieces of music, originally from one of his most underrated albums. Common One was released in 1980 and features six deeply moving extended jazz meditations that hawked back to Morrison’s classic Astral Weeks album in sound and texture.

However, unlike Astral Weeks, this record’s release was met with unanimous derision from the critics who didn’t understand the literary and jazz underpinnings of the music and found it ponderous and boring. While the record does lack the kind of immediacy that grabs you on the first listen, it does reap generous rewards upon further listening.

The title of this song was named from a 1902 book by Alfred Austin (Poet Laureate 1896-1912). This version features the same band that played on the album, and was recorded at Montreux before the album’s release. The personnel featured new band members Mark Isham on trumpet, John Allair on organ and synthesizer, Pee Wee Ellis on saxophones and Peter Van Hooke on drums. The rest of the band is filled out with Morrison’s Caledonia Soul Orchestra members Jeff Labes on piano, John Platania on guitar, David Hayes on bass and Dahaud Shaar on percussion.

Edited: September 15th, 2013

Song Of the Day by Eric Berman – 9/14/13 – “Running On Empty” by Jackson Browne

45 adapterjacksonbrowne

Song Of the Day by Eric Berman – “Running On Empty” by Jackson Browne

Here’s a song for those who are doing what I should be doing right now…repenting on Yom Kippur.

I’ve momentarily interrupted my post Kol Nidre repentance to bring you this special Jewish-themed Song Of The Day…before I return to my regularly scheduled annual day of judgment.

Today’s Song is Jackson Browne’s “Running On Empty” which is what I will be doing before sundown comes around and I’m able to break my Yom Kippur fast.

To those who observe the holiday, and even if you don’t, have a safe and happy New Year…and may you all be sealed in the book of life.

(Oh, and incidentally, I wrote this before the holiday, so technically I should be ok with the man upstairs, hopefully…)

L’Shana Tova!

Edited: September 13th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 9/13/13 – “Sheila Take A Bow” by The Smiths

45 adaptersmiths

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Sheila Take A Bow” by The Smiths

The Who called them “odds and sods.”

These were the songs that didn’t fit on their proper albums. Typically, they were non-album singles, B-sides and stray tracks recorded for outside compilations, movie soundtracks and other projects that either didn’t fit, or were never considered for, inclusion on their proper albums. They were also songs that may not have been released all over the world, but were only released, for whatever reason in specific regions.

The “odds and sods” compilation album made for an easy stop-gap project between new albums, creating more revenue for the artist and new product for the labels to market. At the same time, the “odds and sods” compilation also satisfied the desire of die-hard fans who want everything they can wrap their ears around by their favorite artists.

Some great examples of the “odds and sods” compilation include The Who’s aptly titled 1974 collection Odds And Sods, Elvis Costello’s Taking Liberties The Beatles’ Past Masters and the album where today’s Song Of The Day hails from; Louder Than Bombs by The Smiths.

The Smiths consisted of Morrissey on vocals, Johnny Marr on guitar, Andy Rourke on bass and Mike Joyce on drums, and the combo of Morrissey and Marr guaranteed sharp lyric songs that were high in equal parts of drama and melody.

Louder Than Bombs has become one of the most essential of all The Smiths’ releases because it features so many of their classic hits, including “Shoplifters Of the World Unite,” “Ask,” “Panic,” “Shakespeare’s Sister,” “William It Was Really Nothing,” “Hand In Glove” and “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now.” And if that isn’t enough, many of the B-sides collected on the album are also of top-shelf quality including “London,” “Half A Person,” “Girl Afraid,” “Back To The Old House,” “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” and “Is It Really So Strange.”

The album was the counterpart to the UK compilations Hatful Of Hollow and The World Won’t Listen, however Bombs became so popular as an import in the UK, that Rough Trade (their British label) ultimately released it and it climbed to #38 on their album charts.

The jacket for Louder Than Bombs features an image from The Saturday Evening Post of British playwright Shelagh Delaney of Salford, Greater Manchester. Delaney’s play, A Taste Of Honey inspired many lyrics to several of Morrissey’s early songs including “This Night Has Opened My Eyes,” which is included on the album.

Today’s Song Of the Day, “Sheila Take A Bow” was originally released as a single and reached the #10 spot on the UK charts in 1987. Morrissey had intended for ‘60s pop vocalist Sandie Shaw to sing background vocals on this track (as she had previously done on “Hand In Glove” and “I Don’t Owe You Anything”), however on the day of the session Morrissey was out sick. Morrissey’s absence from the session apparently rattled Shaw and her vocals weren’t up to snuff and ultimately scrapped. Shaw later told the press that she thought the song was horrid anyway.

Several versions of the song exist. An early version produced by John Porter featured a prominent sitar line which was deleted from the Steven Street produced released version.  The single also featured two John Peel Session recordings on the flip; “Is It Really So Strange” and “Sweet And Tender Hooligan.” Both songs were ultimately released along with the A-side on Louder Than Bombs.

As with many Smiths singles and albums up to this point, the 45’s cover featured a still from a film. The cover star of Sheila Take A Bow was actress Candy Darling (who was a member of Andy Warhol’s Factory entourage and immortalized in the Lou Reed song “Walk On The Wild Side”), in a still from the 1971 film Women In Revolt.

Over its four sides, The Smiths’ Louder Than Bombs has become an essential addition to the group’s catalog, and holds up better than most of their regular album releases.

So for a little trivia and just to make sure people actually read my posts, what are your favorite “odds and sods” collections?

Edited: September 12th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 9/12/13 – “Rock On” by David Essex

45 adapterdavidessex

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Rock On” by David Essex

It was the era of T. Rex’s Electric Warrior, David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and Lou Reed’s Transformer. Glam rock was all the rage as were Roxy Music, Mott The Hoople and The New York Dolls. And there was also a new brand of power pop taking the charts by storm at the same time with hits like “Little Willie” by Sweet, “Go All The Way” by Raspberries and later “Saturday Night” by Bay City Rollers.

Enter David Essex…British actor and future glam rock pinup star. Essex had an acting career appearing in the musical Godspell in 1971 and later in the film That’ll Be The Day where he came to the attention of British and American audiences alike with today’ Song Of The Day.

So it was just a matter of time for him to take on the world of recorded music with this self-penned two-time hit from 1973. The bass player on this sinuous track is Herbie Flowers who went on to play bass for David Bowie on the Diamond Dogs album the following year.

This song is the ultimate glam-pop confection, a sticky piece of ear candy with a slicing string arrangement and echo-laden bass riff. It should be no surprise that the track made it into the U.S. top five by 1974. Such was the popularity of the song that it would eventually top the charts again in 1988, when it was recorded by TV soap opera star Michael Damien.

While Essex will forever be associated mainly with this song in America, and perhaps his appearance in Jeff Wayne’s musical interpretation of The War Of the Worlds from 1978, he has led a long acting career primarily in the UK, where he has performed in the musicals Evita (and scored the top-five British hit “Oh What A Circus.”), Aspects Of Love and Footloose.

Edited: September 11th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 9-11-13 – “Show And Tell” by Al Wilson

45 adapteralwilson

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Show And Tell” by Al Wilson

Today’s Song Of The Day is the signature hit by soul great Al Wilson. While Wilson is closely identified with the song, he wasn’t the first artist to record this classic hit. That honor went to none other than Johnny Mathis, who recorded it in 1972, a year before Wilson took it to the charts.

Al Wilson spent his formative years kicking around San Bernardino, California working odd jobs, singing in soul groups and developing comedy routines with an eye towards a career in entertainment, before joining the Navy and singing in the enlisted men’s chorus.

After two years in the Navy, Wilson relocated to Los Angeles and signed with manager Marc Gordon who got him an audition with Johnny Rivers who ultimately signed him to his Soul City record label. Rivers produced the session that resulted in the Northern Soul classic “The Snake” that made it up to #27 on the pop charts in 1968. Several other minor chart singles followed on the Soul City imprint including a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Lodi” which reached the #67 position on the charts.

By 1973, Wilson was signed to the Rocky Road record label, a subsidiary of Bell Records, where he released the album Show And Tell and its title hit single which sold over 2 million copies. The song was ultimately named the Number One Single Of the Year in 1973 by Cashbox. Most of the songs on the album (including the title hit) were written by Jerry Fuller.

Jerry Fuller was known for writing the Ricky Nelson hits “Travelin’ Man,” “A Wonder Like You,” “Young World” and “It’s Up To You.” He also discovered Gary Puckett & The Union Gap and wrote their hits “Lady Willpower,” “Young Girl” and “Over You,” plus he also wrote and produced hits for The Peanut Butter Conspiracy, O.C. Smith (“Little Green Apples”) and The Knickerbockers (“Lies”).

Wilson’s follow up single from 1974, “The La La Peace Song” made it into the top twenty of the R&B charts, but suffered by a competing version by O.C. Smith that was also climbing the charts at the same time. Two years later, Wilson scored a #3 R&B single with “I’ve Got a Feeling (We’ll Be Seeing Each Other Again)” which also made it into the top thirty of the pop charts. His final chart single was “Count The Days” in 1979.

Wilson continued performing in clubs and soul reviews for the next 25 years, long after the hits stopped coming.  In 1989, Peabo Bryson took “Show And Tell” to the top of the R&B charts, and in 2007 Wilson lost many of his original master tapes when his home recording studio burned down. Wilson died in April of 2008 of kidney failure at the age of 68.

I posted this ear worm of a song the other day sans commentary for laughs, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since…such is the stuff that makes a hit record, an everlasting hit record…

Edited: September 10th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Easy To Slip” by Bob Weir

45 adapterbobweir

I love the Grateful Dead, but I’ve never been a huge fan of Bob Weir. That might seem strange to say, since Weir was responsible for some of The Dead’s best-loved classics including “Estimated Prophet,” “Black Throated Wind,” “Jack Straw,” “Playing In The Band,” “Greatest Story Ever Told,” “Cassidy,” “Sugar Magnolia,” “The Music Never Stopped” and even a late-period entry like “Hell In A Bucket.”  More than that, Weir brought balance to the sound of the band, supplying the necessary ying to Jerry Garcia’s far superior yang.

While I truly like the above list of Weir songs, he was also responsible for some of The Grateful Dead’s lamest material, like the dreadful “Throwing Stones,” “Victim Or The Crime,” “Lazy Lightning,” “Looks Like Rain,” “Weather Report Suite,” “Lost Sailor/Saint Of Circumstance,” “I Need A Miracle” and “Picasso Moon.” On top of that, it is also hard to forgive his many years of over-singing, especially at the ending of songs in concert.

As far as his choices of covers go, Weir mostly got it right by introducing songs like “El Paso,” “Me & My Uncle,” “Me And Bobby McGee,” “When I Paint My Masterpiece,” “Mama Tried” and “Dark Hollow” into the Dead’s arsenal, however, you can also hold him accountable for many years’ worth of uniformly horrible version of “Little Red Rooster,” “Desolation Row,”  “Good Lovin’,” and “Wang Dang Doodle” as well.

Weir’s first solo album Ace from 1972 was basically a full-blown Grateful Dead record and introduced many of his finest tunes into the Dead’s repertoire. His second solo record, Heaven Help The Fool was released in 1978 during a break in Grateful Dead activity while drummer Mickey Hart recovered from a car accident. The record was produced by Keith Olsen, who also produced Grateful Dead’s Terrapin Station album the previous year, and many of the same flaws appear on both records: slick and soulless production and song arrangements that ultimately hamper much of the top material within.

A bevy of top-shelf session musicians participated in the recording of the album, including Waddy Wachtel on guitar, David Foster on keyboards, Bill Champlin (from Sons Of Champlin) on keyboards, Mike Porcaro on bass and David Paich on keyboards (both from the band Toto), Tom Scott from The L.A. Express on woodwinds and former Elton John sidemen Nigel Olsson on drums and Dee Murray on bass, however their performances come off somewhat flawed by the many questionable production choices made by Weir and Olsen.

It’s a shame too, because if you can get past the bad disco of “Wrong Way Feelin’,” the synth-laden faux reggae of Smokey Robinson’s “I’ll Be Doggone,” and the generic background vocals on almost everything else, you’ll find a clutch of worthy tunes written by Weir and his longtime writing partner John Barlow that are well worth your consideration, especially the album’s sturdy title track, “Bombs Away” and “Salt Lake City” (which subsequently made it into the Dead’s repertoire).

Today’s Song Of The Day was written by Lowell George and originally appeared on Little Feat’s 1972 album Sailin’ Shoes. Lowell George would hop aboard the Grateful Dead bandwagon to produce their next studio album Shakedown Street in 1979.

Ever since Jerry Garcia left this mortal coil, Weir has become the de facto leader of The Dead leaving his excruciatingly awful imprint all over their doings.  It just goes to show that sometimes it’s better for bands to pack it in and rest on their laurels rather than tarnishing their good reputation by staying on the road long after their mojo has left the building.

Edited: September 9th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 9/9/13 – “Punk Prayer” by Pussy Riot

45 adapterpussyriot1PussyRiot2pussyrioteric

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Punk Prayer” by Pussy Riot

Pussy Riot – what they lack in musical aptitude, they surely make up with unbridled punk rock spirit. The merits of their talent or lack thereof, are totally beside the point anyway. Pussy Riot return punk rock to its purest essence: protest, entertainment and fashion.

Pussy Riot formed in Moscow in 2011 with an ever-changing lineup of young women numbering up to twenty different members. In essence, Pussy Riot is more movement than musical outfit, and the aforementioned style comes down to the brightly colored balaclavas they wear during performance to obscure their real identities.

Pussy Riot’s brand of entertainment is known as guerilla performance, where the group members show up to perform in places specifically chosen to create outrage, in order to gain media attention and make a statement. Today’s Song Of The Day, “Punk Prayer,” is the performance that landed three Pussy Riot members in jail for the punk protest they staged in Moscow’s very conservative Cathedral Of Christ The Savior on February 12, 2012. The video mixes raw footage of the actual protest with their studio recording called “Punk Prayer – Mother of God, Chase Putin Away!”

The performance and publicity that followed didn’t play well in Putin’s Russia and landed two of the group members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, in jail in March of 2012, charged with the crime of hooliganism. A third member, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was also arrested several days later in March. The young women were denied bail and held in custody until their trial began in late July.

Pussy Riot said their protest was a political statement, but prosecutors argued that the band was trying to “incite religious hatred” against the Orthodox Church. On August 17, 2012, the three members were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, and each was sentenced to two years imprisonment.

Samutsevich was released from prison a few months later (in October of 2012) after her lawyer successfully argued that she didn’t actually participate in the demonstration because security did not permit her to enter the church. Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova remain in prison where they have been met with a fair amount of disdain by the prison population. (Two other Pussy Riot members managed to escape prosecution and left the country.)

Russian political rights activists see Pussy Riot’s imprisonment as politically motivated, and sentiment within Russia, and indeed the rest of the world, has been met with equal amounts of disdain for Putin’s Russia.

While in jail, members of Pussy Riot continue to stage guerilla performances and  most recently released a video called Like A Red Prison (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOM_3QH3bBw) filmed at a Russian oil refinery, although both Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova have denied that the video was an official Pussy Riot performance.

For more information on Pussy Riot, check out the excellent HBO documentary Pussy Riot; A Punk Prayer, directed by Mike Lerner and Maksim Pozdorovkin, or go to http://freepussyriot.org/about on line.

Edited: September 8th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 9/8/13 – “Was All Talk” by Kurt Vile

45 adapterkurtvilewakin

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Was All Talk” by Kurt Vile

I posted this piece several months ago when Kurt Vile’s latest album Walkin’ On A Pretty Daze was first released. I’m still listening to this record today, and have come to the conclusion that it is one of the year’s very best records. In case you missed it the first time around, I figured I’d change the song and rerun the piece again. (I’ll have something fresh and new for tomorrow to post.)

Kurt Vile’s lo-fi bedroom records from the past have given way to a more produced sound on his latest record called Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze.  While some of the edges have been smoothed out production-wise, the songwriting is as sharp as ever on his most assured collection yet, as he comes to terms with balancing life on the road and raising a family at home.

Vile is married and has two young children and more than on any of his previous albums, the overriding theme of homesickness pops up time and time again. Both “Pure Pain” – “well I want to be with you (when can I?) / I don’t know, well I’m workin’” and “Snowflakes Are Dancing” – “when I’m away out there/ I wanna go home/ when I am home/ my head stays out there,” touch on dealing with the rootless experience of touring versus the stability of family and home.

On the song “Too Hard,” Vile proclaims “I will promise not to smoke too much and/ I will promise not to party too hard” as a pledge of responsibility while away, then a few songs later on “Shame Chamber” he seems to do an about face; “It’s just another day / in the shame chamber / livin’ life to the lowest power / feelin’ bad, in the best way a man can.”

The album opens with a snoozy wake-up call “Waking On A Pretty Day.” There’s no rush in getting things going over this song’s nearly ten minute duration, while crystalline guitar work bolsters come-what-may lyrics like “I gotta think about what wisecracks/ I’m gonna drop along the way today.” And just when you begin to settle into the relaxed pace of the track, Vile jars us into reality with an appropriated riff from Deep Purple’s “Woman From Tokyo,” announcing one of the album’s few rockers “KV Crimes.”

Vile is an artist that gets put into the “low-fi” stoner bag due to his oh, so groovy long-haired appearance, and the fuzzy dreamscapes and mumbled vocals that dominate his recordings. But this record has real production value courtesy of John Agnello who also produced Vile’s last platter. So while he may not be able to fully shake the stoner label sonically, he does come right out and address the issue on the album’s pastoral sun-soaked ten minute closer “Goldtone”  –  “Sometimes when I get in my zone / you’d think I was stoned / but I never as they say ‘touch that stuff… I might be adrift but I’m still alert/ Concentrate my hurt into a gold tone.”

Vile’s band, The Violators is now down to a trio consisting of multi-instrumentalists Jesse Trbovich and Rob Laakso, due to the amicable departure of Vile’s longtime War On Drugs collaborator Adam Granduciel. They will be joined by drummer Vince Nudo and guitarist Steve Gunn on their upcoming tour in May.

Today’s Song Of The Day, “Was All Talk” reminds me of Don Henley’s “Boys Of Summer,” in the best way possible.

Edited: September 7th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 9/7/13 – “Rex Rhumba” by The Nat Cole Trio

45 adapterNatColeTrio

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Rex Rhumba” by The Nat Cole Trio

Sure we all know Nat “King” Cole could sing…and lord knows he surely could play piano too.

This Cole original highlights the guitarist in the trio, the great Oscar Moore, on a track from the essential 3-CD The Capitol Transcriptions recorded on March 20, 1946. Rounding out the trio was Johnny Miller on bass.

Edited: September 7th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 9/6/13 – “Who By Fire” by Leonard Cohen

45 adapterLeonardCohen

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Who By Fire” by Leonard Cohen

Today’s Song Of The Day is a track from Leonard Cohen’s fourth studio album New Skin For The Old Ceremony. The song derives from the Unetanneh Tokef prayer that is said on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Jewish High Holy Days. The song is sung as a duet on the album with fellow Jewish folk singer, Janis Ian.

Leonard Cohen: “That song derives very directly from a Hebrew prayer that is sung on the Day of Atonement…according to the tradition, the book of life is opened and in it is inscribed all those who will live, all those who will die for the following year…In that prayer is cataloged all the various ways in which you can quit this veil of tears. The melody is, if not actually stolen, is certainly derived from the melody that I heard in the synagogue as a boy. But, of course, the conclusion of the song as I write it is somewhat different…”who shall I say is calling”…that is what makes the song into a prayer for me. In my terms, which is who is it, or what is it that determines who will live or who will die.”

The album also includes the Leonard Cohen classics “Chelsea Hotel #2,” a song about a sexual encounter Cohen had at the Chelsea Hotel with Janis Joplin, “Take This Longing” and “Field Commander Cohen.”

Edited: September 5th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 9/5/13 – “He’ll Have To Go” by Jim Reeves

45 adapterjimreeves

They called him “Gentleman Jim,” but it wasn’t always that way.

When Jim Reeves began his singing career, he was a reedy-voiced country bumpkin who specialized in novelty songs like “Bimbo” and “Mexican Joe.” A shift came in 1957 during the recording sessions for the song “Four Walls.” Reeves decided he wanted to set the session up differently, leaving pedal steels and fiddles by the wayside in favor of a more uptown sound featuring smooth background vocals by The Jordanaires, tasteful slip-note piano fills courtesy of Floyd Cramer and spare guitar strumming courtesy of Chet Atkins.

But the real change came in Reeves’ approach to his singing. With his mouth up close to the microphone, he sang in a smooth, intimate whisper-deep croon more akin to Perry Como than Hank Williams. The result was a single that topped the charts and sold 750,000 copies. Along with his change in performing style, Reeves left the Nudie styled suits on the hanger, and adopted a new cosmopolitan look complete with business suit and tie.

Today’s Song Of The Day took Reeves’ new approach to even greater heights. “He’ll Have To Go” was written by Joe and Audrey Allison and was first recorded by singer Billy Brown. When Brown’s version failed to make waves, Reeves recorded it using a small studio group featuring Floyd Cramer on piano, Marvin Hughes on the vibraphone, Bob Moore on bass, Buddy Harman on drums, Hank Garland on guitar and the Anita Kerr Singers on the background vocals.

Reeves had his intimate way with the song’s intimate lyrics: “Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone/Let’s pretend that we’re together all alone/I’ll tell the man to turn the juke box way down low/And you can tell your friend there with you he’ll have to go,” genuflecting his voice way down low to match the lyrics.

The song was originally released as the B-side of a single with “In a Mansion Stands My Love” on the A-side, however DJs flipped it over resulting in a country hit that stayed at the top of the charts for 14 consecutive weeks! (The song also climbed to the #2 slot on the pop charts and #13 on the R&B charts.) Over the years, it has been covered by the likes of Elvis Presley, Tom Jones, Ry Cooder, Elton John, Mark Knopfler and Bryan Ferry, to name but a few.

Unfortunately, Reeves reign on the charts was short-lived; he died, along with his manager and pianist, in a plane that he was piloting in Brentwood, TN on July 31, 1964 at the young age of 40 years old. Reeves widow continued to work with RCA Records to supply a steady stream of recordings through the pipeline and onto a public who couldn’t get enough. Many of the records had re-recorded backing tracks including a few posthumous duets with Patsy Cline, resulting in more than fifteen top-ten hits well into the 1980s and long after his death.

Edited: September 4th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 9/4/13 – “Louisiana Woman Mississippi Man” by Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn

45 adapterconwayloretta

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Louisiana Woman Mississippi Man” by Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn

They were two of the biggest stars in all of country music during the 1970s, and together they made electrifying one-of-a-kind duets that spoke of the highs and lows of couples in and out of love. Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn sent countless duets to the top of the country charts including “After The Fire Is Gone,” “Lead Me On,” “As Soon As I Hang Up the Phone,” “Feelin’s,” “The Letter,” “I Can’t Love You Enough” and “Makin’ Believe.”

Today’s Song Of The Day is perhaps the duet they’re best known for and it topped the charts in 1973. The song was written by Becki Bluefield and Jim Owen, and it served as the title track from their 1973 chart-topping album of the same name.

Conway Twitty was born Harold Lloyd Jenkins, but took his stage name from two locations on a road map; Conway, AK and Twitty, TX. His earliest success was on the pop charts with his 1958 #1 single “It’s Only Make Believe,” which gave Elvis Presley a run for his money. He continued making pop records until 1965, when he found his calling in country music. He went on to score 55 number one singles on the Billboard Country Charts, a record that was broken by George Strait in 2006.

Some of his most indelible hits include “Hello Darlin’,” “I Love You More Today,” “How Much More Can She Stand,” “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” “She Needs Someone to Hold Her (When She Cries),” “You’ve Never Been This Far Before,” “I’m Not Through Loving You Yet,” “Linda on My Mind,” “Touch The Hand,” “I Don’t Know a Thing About Love (The Moon Song),” “I’d Just Love to Lay You Down,” “Tight Fittin’ Jeans” and “The Rose” to name but a few.

Loretta Lynn is the coal miner’s daughter from Butcher Hollow, Kentucky who has also scored countless country hits including the classics “Don’t Come Home A’ Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind),” “You Ain’t Woman Enough,” “Fist City,” and her signature song “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”

She released a string of singles dealing with women’s issues during the 1970s that met with resistance from country radio, including “The Pill” (birth control), “One’s On The Way” (women who repeatedly have children), “Rated X” (the double standards for men and women) and “Dear Uncle Sam” (women left behind by the Vietnam War). The songs established her as the poster child for the women’s movement, particularly within the conservative confines of country music.

Her autobiography was made into an Academy Award-winning film, Coal Miner’s Daughter, in 1980 starring Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones. Lynn’s most recent album is the Jack White produced Van Lear Rose from 2004. Conway Twitty died in 1993 while on tour from an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Edited: September 3rd, 2013

Song Of the Day by Eric Berman – 9/3/13 – “Foolin’ Around” by Patsy Cline

45 adapterpatsycline1

Song Of the Day by Eric Berman – “Foolin’ Around” by Patsy Cline

I wrote about this song no more than a month ago when Bakersfield, the Buck Owens tribute album by Vince Gill and Paul Franklin came out. However while barbecuing earlier this evening; I revisited the wonderful recordings of Patsy Cline. When her version of this Buck Owens classic came on, I knew I wanted to share Cline’s soulful version as well.

I can name only two, maybe three singers ever that could do Patsy Cline as well as Patsy Cline. I suppose this is a testament to how rare it is that a voice so pure and emotive comes along. Certainly k.d. lang instantly comes to mind, but to me, so do Linda Ronstadt and Karen Carpenter when it comes to the emotional depth and pure vocal tone it takes to even come close to Cline.

Buck Owens co-wrote today’s Song Of The Day with Harlan Howard and scored a #2 hit with it in 1961. Patsy Cline covered the Bakersfield classic while recuperating from her near-fatal car accident in 1961 and released it on her Patsy Cline Showcase album, and also on the four song Crazy ep in 1962.

For those interested, Cline’s studio band included Harold Bradley on 6-string electric bass, producer Owen Bradley on organ, Floyd Cramer on piano, Buddy Harman on drums, Walter Haynes on steel guitar, Randy Hughes on acoustic guitar, The Jordanaires on background vocals, Grady Martin on electric guitar, Bob Moore on acoustic bass and Hargus “Pig” Robbins on piano. This is the same aggregation of musicians who played on hundreds of country hits during the early 1960s.

Edited: September 2nd, 2013