News for February 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #84 – Billy Preston: “Will It Go Round In Circle” b/w “Blackbird”– A&M-1411

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #84 – Billy Preston: “Will It Go Round In Circle” b/w “Blackbird”– A&M-1411

Welcome back my friends, to the series that never ends…

“The Jukebox Series” focused on the 80 records that currently inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within. Over the years, records have come and gone out of the ranks of the juke, but they were all at one time juke-worthy. I’ve decided to expand “The Jukebox Series” to include many of the “juke-worthy” records that are no longer currently in the mix, but at one time inhabited a coveted slot.

He truly was the fifth Beatle…he was also a Rolling Stone, and Billy Preston also did numerous sessions with a stellar cast of characters that included Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, The Beach Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Little Richard, Sly & The Family Stone, Peter Frampton, Joe Cocker, Eric Clapton, Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond and dozens of others. He also co-wrote Joe Cocker’s smash hit “You Are So Beautiful” and sent his own hits like “Space Race,” “Outa-Space,” “Nothing From Nothing,” “With You I’m Born Again” (with Syreeta Wright) and today’s jukebox classic, “Will It Go Round In Circles” up the charts.

The list of albums he’s appeared on reads like a history of classic rock ‘n’ roll including The Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers, Exile On Main Street, Goats Head Soup, It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll, Love You Live, Black And Blue and Tattoo You,  The Beatles’ Let It Be and Abbey Road, George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, The Concert For Bangla Desh, Dark Horse, Extra Texture, Thirty-Three & 1/3 and Gone Troppo, and Ringo Starr’s Ringo and Goodnight Vienna. He was, indeed the Forrest Gump of keyboards to the biggest bands in the land. And if that’s not enough, he was also the first musical guest on Saturday Night Live, he inspired Miles Davis who named a song after him on his Get Up With It album, and he also coined the phrase “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with” for Stephen Stills.

Preston first came into The Beatles’ circle back in 1962 when he was a sixteen year old touring member of Little Richard’s band. But it wasn’t until 1969 when George Harrison walked out on the Let It Be sessions, and returned with Preston in tow in an effort to get the other three fabs to be on their best behavior during the acrimonious sessions that led to their last two albums as a group. At one point, John Lennon suggested that they add Preston as the fifth member of the band to which McCartney quipped that four Beatles were bad enough. (The Beatles – A/B Road: The Complete Get back Sessions, January 24th via Wikipedia)

“George Harrison, a friend of Preston, had quit, walked out of the studio and gone to a Ray Charles concert in London, where Preston was playing organ. Harrison brought Preston back to the studio, where his keen musicianship and gregarious personality temporarily calmed the tension.” (Harrington, Richard (June 8, 2006). “‘Fifth Beatle’ Billy Preston Made the Greats Even Greater”. Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-10-02 via Wikipedia)

Preston was signed to The Beatles’ Apple Records label where he launched his solo career in 1969 with the gospel single “That’s The Way God Planned It” and the album of the same name that were both produced by George Harrison. After a second Apple LP release went nowhere, Preston signed with A&M Records where he found his greatest solo success.

Today’s jukebox classic was one of two chart-topping singles Billy Preston recorded (“Nothing From Nothing” was the other). The song was written by Bruce Fisher, who was working in the mail room of NBC-TV and Billy Preston. Inspiration for the song came after Preston walked into the writing session and told Fisher “I got a song that ain’t got no melody.” The song was originally released on his 1972 solo album Music Is My Life that featured the musicianship of The Brothers Johnson (George Johnson on guitar and Louis Johnson on bass), and a horn section that included Tom Scott and Jim Horn. The flip of today’s single is Preston’s gospel-flavored cover of the Beatles’ classic “Blackbird.”

During his later years, Preston served time in prison for tax evasion and suffered from kidney disease and high blood pressure. He died in June of 2006 after several months in a coma of malignant hypertension which caused his kidneys to shut down and respiratory failure.

Edited: February 27th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #83 – Lou Rawls: “Love Is A Hurtin’ Thing” b/w “Dead End Street”– Capitol/Collectables COL-6081

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #83 – Lou Rawls: “Love Is A Hurtin’ Thing” b/w “Dead End Street”– Capitol/Collectables COL-6081

Welcome back my friends, to the series that never ends…

“The Jukebox Series” focused on the 80 records that currently inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within. Over the years, records have come and gone out of the ranks of the juke, but they were all at one time juke-worthy. I’ve decided to expand “The Jukebox Series” to include many of the “juke-worthy” records that are no longer currently in the mix, but at one time inhabited a coveted slot.

Most people remember Lou Rawls for his silky-smooth vocal delivery and his disco era hit “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine,” but by the time he had that hit in 1976, Rawls had already been recording albums, and yes many hits, for 14 years.

Chicago-born Rawls got his start by replacing Sam Cooke in the Gospel group, The Highway QC’s. After a stint in the Army, Rawls joined another Gospel group called Pilgrim Travelers. While on the road with Sam Cooke and The Travelers, Rawls was in a serious car accident that left him pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. He was revived but was in a coma for five days before regaining consciousness. After he recuperated, Rawls began doing session work, most notably singing background vocals on Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me.”

He was signed to Capitol Records by staff producer Nick Venet (The Beach Boys, The Kingston Trio, Nat King Cole, Glen Campbell) and recorded his first album, Stormy Monday, for the label in 1962 backed by the Les McCann Trio. The Les McCann Trio was a stalwart of the Sunset Strip jazz clubs and was also signed by Nick Venet to Pacific Jazz Records. Their lineup included McCann on piano, Leroy Vinnegar on bass and Ron Jefferson on drums. Rawls’ early albums featured a mix of jazz and blues standards, but it wasn’t until Rawls cut a proper soul album in 1966 that his star began to rise in the industry.

That album was called Soulin’ and it featured the top side of today’s double-sided reissue jukebox single, Rawls’ first top forty hit “Love Is A Hurtin’ Thing,” which climbed to #13 on the pop charts, while topping the R&B charts in 1966. The song was written by Ben Raleigh and Dave Linden, and covered by several artists including The Temptations and Big Maybelle.

The flip of today’s single was one of Rawls’ patented soul monologue hits called “Dead End Street” which painted a bleak picture of Chicago ghetto life circa 1967. The song was originally on Rawls’ David Axelrod-produced 1967 album called Too Much.

The monologue or spoken recitation hit was not a new idea when Rawls brought it to the soul charts. Country artists had been doing spoken word records for years, whether by Hank Williams under the guise of Luke The Drifter, or songs like T. Texas Tyler’s “Deck Of Cards,” Jimmy Dean’s “Big Bad John,” Red Sovine’s “Phantom 49” and later on with songs like Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue,” Charlie Daniels Band’s “Uneasy Rider” and C.W. McCall’s “Convoy.”

The difference between these songs and Rawls’ take on the spoken hit is far more organic since Rawls’ recordings began as unprepared monologues that sprang up during concert recordings or recording sessions that in essence worked to set the songs up before launching into them properly.

Rawls: “I was working in little joints where the stage would be behind the bar. So you were standing right over the cash register and the crushed ice machine. You’d be swinging and the waitress would yell, ‘I want 12 beers and four martinis!’ And then the dude would put the ice in the crusher. There had to be a way to get the attention of the people. So instead of just starting in singing, I would just start in talking the song.” (http://www.lourawls.com/rawlsbio.html)

Rawls’ “Dead End Street” climbed to the #3 Position on the R&B charts (and #29 pop) and won him a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance in 1967. While the single was on the charts, Rawls performed at The Monterey Pop festival alongside such luminaries as Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, Simon & Garfunkel, The Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix.

He continued to record for Capitol scoring hits like “Tobacco Road” and “Your Good Thing (Is About To End),” plus many others. He also opened for The Beatles on their 1966 tour in Cincinnati. In total, Rawls recorded over twenty albums for the label before signing with MGM in 1970.

While he only recorded three albums for MGM, he did score his Grammy-winning hit “Natural Man” for the label. He signed to Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff’s Philadelphia International Records label in 1976, where he had his greatest successes releasing million-selling albums and the hits “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine,” “Lady Love,” “Let Me Be Good To You,” and “See You When I Git There.” Rawls died of cancer in 2006 and left behind a legacy of gritty blues and silky soul recordings.

Edited: February 26th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #82 – Reunion: “Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)” b/w “Are You Ready To Believe”– RCA PB-10056

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #82 – Reunion: “Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)” b/w “Are You Ready To Believe”– RCA PB-10056

Welcome back my friends, to the series that never ends…

“The Jukebox Series” focused on the 80 records that currently inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within. Over the years, records have come and gone out of the ranks of the juke, but they were all at one time juke-worthy. I’ve decided to expand “The Jukebox Series” to include many of the “juke-worthy” records that are no longer currently in the mix, but at one time inhabited a coveted slot.

The challenge was to memorize every word of this aural history/laundry list of musical groups, radio DJs, songwriters and record labels circa 1974, and be able to regurgitate every nuance at will. Many of my friends were up to the challenge and managed the seemingly impossible feat with ease. As for myself, I never was too enthralled with today’s Jukebox classic “Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)” by Reunion, and when it hit the airwaves in 1974 I never felt the need to rise to the challenge simply because I didn’t care.

So how did this genuine novelty that climbed to the #8 slot on the singles charts in 1974 end up joining the ranks of the jukebox if it is a track I couldn’t stand the first time around? I’ll tell you in one word: “plastics…,” actually the word is “nostalgia.” As I have opined before, oftentimes the worst, most cringe-worthy pieces of trivial trash that were incessantly played on the radio go on to become the songs that make us feel warm and nostalgic for simpler times, and today’s jukebox classic certainly fits the bill for me.

The song was written by Paul DiFranco and Norman Dolph several years before it was recorded by a studio incarnation called Reunion featuring Joey Levine on lead vocals. And if that name isn’t familiar to you, you’ll know some of the bubblegum classics his lead vocals have graced including “Chewy Chewy,” and “Yummy Yummy Yummy” by Ohio Express, “Quick Joey Small” by Kasenetz and Katz and “Run Run Run” by The Third Rail. When Levine joined the Reunion fray, he also received a writing credit on the record.

After his success with Reunion, Joey Levine got into the commercial business writing such memorable jingles as “Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut” for Mounds, “Gentlemen Prefer Hanes” for Hanes underwear, “Just For The Taste Of It” for Coke, “Heartbeat Of America” for Chevy, “You Asked For It, You Got It, Toyota” for Toyota and “This Bud’s For You” for Budweiser beer.

Today’s song has been covered by Tracey Ullman on her You Broke My Heart In 17 Places album and Rudy Crenshaw for the Disney album Mickey’s Dance Party. Chicago radio fans will also remember two versions of the song that were customized for local radio, including a version for WCFL with the late legendary Chi-town disc jockey Larry Lujack and one for WLS. The WCFL version “Life Is A Rock (But CFL Rolled Me)” was the last song played on the station in 1976 before it changed formats, and the WLS version was the first song played on the station when it returned to the airwaves in June of 2008. The song was also repurposed for a McDonalds commercial campaign with a recitation of menu items taking the place of the original lyrics.

And in case you were wondering, the lyrics to today’s jukebox classic are as follows:

“B.B. Bumble and the Stingers, Mott the Hoople, Ray Charles Singers

Lonnie Mack and twangin’ Eddy, here’s my ring we’re goin’ steady

Take it easy, take me higher, liar liar, house on fire

Locomotion, Poco, Passion, Deeper Purple, Satisfaction

Baby baby gotta gotta gimme gimme gettin’ hotter

Sammy’s cookin’, Lesley Gore and Ritchie Valens, end of story

Mahavishnu, fujiyama, kama-sutra, rama-lama

Richard Perry, Spector, Barry, Archies, Righteous, Nilsson, Harry

Shimmy shimmy ko-ko bop and Fats is back and Finger Poppin’

 

Life is a rock but the radio rolled me

Gotta turn it up louder, so my DJ told me (whoa whoa whoa whoa)

Life is a rock but the radio rolled me

At the end of my rainbow lies a golden oldie

 

FM, AM, hits are clickin’ while the clock is tock-a-tickin’

Friends and Romans, salutations, Brenda and the Tabulations

Carly Simon, I behold her, Rolling Stones and centerfoldin’

Johnny Cash and Johnny Rivers, can’t stop now, I got the shivers

Mungo Jerry, Peter Peter Paul and Paul and Mary Mary

Dr. John the nightly tripper, Doris Day and Jack the Ripper

Gotta go Sir, gotta swelter, Leon Russell, Gimme Shelter

Miracles in smokey places, slide guitars and Fender basses

Mushroom omelet, Bonnie Bramlett, Wilson Pickett, stop and kick it

 

Life is a rock but the radio rolled me

Gotta turn it up louder, so my DJ told me (whoa whoa whoa whoa)

Life is a rock but the radio rolled me

At the end of my rainbow lies a golden oldie

 

Arthur Janov’s primal screamin’, Hawkins, Jay and

Dale and Ronnie, Kukla, Fran and Norma Okla

Denver, John and Osmond, Donny

JJ Cale and ZZ Top and LL Bean and De De Dinah

David Bowie, Steely Dan and sing me prouder, CC Rider

Edgar Winter, Joanie Sommers, Osmond Brothers, Johnny Thunders

Eric Clapton, pedal wah-wah, Stephen Foster, do-dah do-dah

Good Vibrations, Help Me Rhonda, Surfer Girl and Little Honda

Tighter, tighter, honey, honey, sugar, sugar, yummy, yummy

CBS and Warner Brothers, RCA and all the others

 

Life is a rock but the radio rolled me

Gotta turn it up louder, so my DJ told me (whoa whoa whoa whoa)

Life is a rock but the radio rolled me

At the end of my rainbow lies a golden oldie

 

Listen–remember, they’re playing our song!

Rock it, sock it, Alan Freed me, Murray Kaufman, try to leave me

Fish, and Swim, and Boston Monkey,

Make it bad and play it funky.

(Wanna take you higher!)”

 

Several other Reunion singles were released with no chart action whatsoever, so the collective went their separate ways. They never even recorded an album. However for better or worse, the song seemingly did go on to inspire another chart-topping hit, “We Didn’t Start The Fire” by Billy Joel.

 

 

Edited: February 25th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #81 – Donovan: “Hurdy Gurdy Man” b/w “Teen Angel”– Epic 5-10345

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #81 – Donovan: “Hurdy Gurdy Man” b/w “Teen Angel”– Epic 5-10345

Welcome back my friends, to the series that never ends…

“The Jukebox Series” focused on the 80 records that currently inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within. Over the years, records have come and gone out of the ranks of the juke, but they were all at one time juke-worthy. I’ve decided to expand “The Jukebox Series” to include many of the “juke worthy” records that are no longer currently in the mix, but at one time inhabited a coveted slot.

If Donovan’s vibrato hum at the top of this track doesn’t gain your attention from the get-go, then you will certainly be sold down the road by the time the guitar solo grabs you by the nads. And who exactly is the mystery axe man on this track anyway?

A hurdy gurdy is a stringed instrument that produces sound by turning a crank attached to a rosined wheel, acting like a violin bow on top of strings. The instrument gained popularity during the Renaissance era and again became famous with musicians known as organ grinders who roamed the streets of London during the 1800s.

Donovan composed today’s jukebox classic in 1968 for a band called Hurdy Gurdy that included his friend and guitar mentor Mac MacLeod. Donovan had intended to produce the song for the group, but creative differences led to Donovan committing the song to tape himself affording him another top five single in 1968. The song does not include a hurdy gurdy in its instrumentation.

“Hurdy Gurdy Man” was recorded in early 1968 and the session (according to the liner notes of the Troubadour box set) featured Donovan on vocals, acoustic guitar and tamboura, Alan Parker and Jimmy Page on electric guitar, John Paul Jones on bass and John Bonham and Clem Cattini on drums. If the personnel listing is accurate (more on this later), this song gave us three-fourths of Led Zeppelin before there even was a Led Zeppelin.

However, exactly who played the ultimate guitar solo on the track is still in question.  According to Jones, it was Alan Parker who played the blistering guitar solo (and Bonham wasn’t on the session at all), but Donovan remembers it differently with Page performing the axe chores. Nevertheless, Donovan originally planned for Jimi Hendrix to play the guitar solo, but he was not available for the session.

Jimmy Page weighed in on the situation in the liner notes to the 2005 reissue of The Hurdy Gurdy album: “I know it’s rumored that I played on that, but I didn’t – and the most bizarre part about this whole story I heard about this story actually when I was in USA, it was about the time we were talking about the deal with Led Zeppelin. We were at Miami with Jerry Wexler. And I heard about the story by there and then, across from England, and on the shores over here. And what the story was – and it’s very true. That they had Jeff Beck go in, and Jeff Beck played on it, and the producer decided to wipe the track. And Donovan had asked for me to do it, but of course I wasn’t there. And they had a guitarist, he basically filled, you know. He went into the session – and I wouldn’t say filled my shoes – but he went in the door, and his name was Alan Parker. I mean, none of you even know of him. It’s not the film producer. But anyway, he’s the guy who played the guitar solo, so you know, as you say, some people might have thought Beck did it, or me, but it was neither of us. But I think it was tragic that Beck got wiped off. That was absolutely crazy. They just decided that they didn’t like what he did. And I mean, perish the thought, you know.”

The song originally had a third verse which was composed by George Harrison while Donovan and Harrison were in Rishikesh, India visiting with the Mahrishi Mahesh Yogi in 1968. Harrison’s verse went as such:  “When the truth gets buried deep / Beneath the thousand years of sleep / Time demands a turn-around / And once again the truth is found / Awakening the Hurdy Gurdy Man / Who comes singing songs of love.”

Donovan: “I was intrigued by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s teachings of transcendental meditation, which were also followed by The Beatles. I went with The Beatles and George’s wife, Pattie Boyd, Cynthia Lennon and Jane Asher to stay with the Maharishi in the Himalayas for 3 months. For a while, Mia Farrow and her sister Prudence, shared the bungalow next to mine. She inspired John Lennon to write “Dear Prudence.” “Hurdy Gurdy Man” was influenced by the sounds I heard there.” (London Daily Mail)

In order to keep the running time of the single below three and a half minutes, producer Micky Most opted for the guitar solo over the third verse. Today, Donovan performs the Harrison verse in concert when he plays the song. The tamboura that Donovan plays on the track was, in fact a gift from George Harrison from when they were both in India.

The song has been covered by the likes of Steve Hillage, The Butthole Surfers, Wild Colonials, L.A. Guns and Howard Stern. The hypnotic flip of today’s single is “Teen Angel” which was recorded during the sessions for the Hurdy Gurdy Man album, but was ultimately relegated to the B-side- of the single.

Edited: February 24th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #80 – Simon & Garfunkel: “Cecilia” b/w “The Only Living Boy In New York”– Columbia 4-45133 (U8/V8)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #80 – Simon & Garfunkel: “Cecilia” b/w “The Only Living Boy In New York”– Columbia 4-45133 (U8/V8)

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Before “The Boy In The Bubble” and “Graceland”…before “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” and “Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard”…and before “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “Sound Of Silence,” there was a multitude of early doo-wop infused recordings by the likes of Tom & Jerry, Jerry Landis, Tommy Graph, Artie Garr, True Taylor, The Mystics and Tico And The Triumphs. No matter what name they recorded under, they were still two teenagers named Art and Paul, and when their voices blended, they were undeniably Simon & Garfunkel.

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were childhood friends who grew up living three blocks from each other in Kew Gardens, Queens, New York. They met in elementary school in 1953 and attended Parsons Junior High School and Forest Hills High School together. Inspired by their heroes, The Everly Brothers, they began recording as Tom & Jerry in 1957 when they were 16 years old eventually hitting the charts with their single “Hey Schoolgirl.” Paul changed his name to Jerry Landis (taking the last name from a girl he’d been dating) and Art became Tommy Graph (taking his last name from his propensity to graph the hits on the weekly pop charts.)

Between 1957 and 1963, Simon and Garfunkel wrote and recorded songs around The Brill Building until early 1964 when they were signed to Columbia records by Clive Davis. From then on, they would be known as Simon & Garfunkel who gave us dozens of classic hits that have stood head and shoulders tall next to the likes of recordings by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan.

Today’s jukebox classic is from Simon & Garfunkel’s classic Bridge Over Troubled Water album from 1970. The song was written in the same house on Blue Jay Way in Los Angeles that George Harrison rented, and named a Beatles’ song after. “Cecilia” was the second single released from the album and peaked at #4 on the US singles charts in 1970.

The song features one of the most incredible and infectious percussive tracks, which was formed by recordings of Paul and Art slapping their thighs while others thumped on a piano bench, dropped bundled drum sticks in an echo-laden room and strummed guitars with slackened strings. From this, producer Roy Halee created the musical bed for one of Simon and Garfunkel’s most joyous and catchy songs.

Paul Simon: “Every day I’d come back from the studio, working on whatever we were working on, and I’d play this pounding thing. So then I said, ‘Let’s make a record out of that.’ So we copied it over and extended it double the amount, so now we have three minutes of track, and the track is great. So now I pick up the guitar and I start to go, ‘Well, this will be like the guitar part’ – dung chicka dung chicka dung, and lyrics were virtually the first lines I said: ‘You’re breakin’ my heart, I’m down on my knees.’ They’re not lines at all, but it was right for that song, and I like that. It was like a little piece of magical fluff, but it works.” (Rolling Stone via Songfacts)

The song was not a paean to an elusive love named Cecilia, but rather the Cecilia of this song was the patron saint of music in the Catholic tradition and the song was about the trials and travails of songwriting. Simon would revisit St. Cecelia again in his song “The Coast” from his 1990 The Rhythm Of The Saints album with the lyric “A family of musicians took shelter for the night in a little harbor church of St. Cecilia.”

The song has seen several covers by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Times Two (who’s version peaked at #79 on the charts in 1988), the ABBA tribute band Bjorn Again and Suggs of Madness. Suggs’ version of the song sold a half million copies and peaked at #4 on the UK singles chart in 1995. Most recently, the group Fun. heavily borrowed elements of “Cecilia” for their #3 hit “Some Nights,” and failed to give the duo credit.

The flip of today’s single, “The Only Living Boy In New York” is also from the Bridge Over Troubled Water album. The song was written about Art Garfunkel who went off to Mexico to make the movie Catch-22, leaving Simon behind to write songs alone for their last album as a duo.

In the song’s lyric, “Tom get your plane right on time. I know that you’re eager to fly now,” Simon refers to Garfunkel as Tom harking back to their Tom And Jerry days at the beginning of their career. Garfunkel’s absence during the album’s creation was one of the key factors that led the duo’s demise shortly after the release of the album.

This song also includes one of Simon’s most classic lyrics: “I get all the news I need on the weather report.” These were words I lived by for a time when I was much younger, and their innocence still holds much appeal for me today as well.

Musicians on the song and the rest of the Bridge album included the best of the Wrecking Crew including Joe Osborn on bass, Larry Knechtel on organ, Fred Carter Jr. on guitar and Hal Blaine on drums, plus Nashville Bluegrass dobro king Peter Drake. During the recording of the background ahhs in the song, Garfunkel remembers Bob Dylan stopping by the studio for a visit. The song has been covered by The Coolies (on their classic Dig album), Everything But The Girl and Marc Cohn.

Today’s single brings The Jukebox Series to a close, however over the years I have taken numerous singles out of the jukebox in order to settle on the collection of records that are in there now. As a result, I’ve chosen to extend The Jukebox Series to include the records that once inhabited my jukebox and have now been retired.  Stay tuned for more golden oldies to come over the next few months.

Thanks again for reading…

Edited: February 19th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #79 – Led Zeppelin: “D’yer Mak’er” b/w “The Crunge”– Atlantic 45-2986 (S8/T8)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #79 – Led Zeppelin: “D’yer Mak’er” b/w “The Crunge”– Atlantic 45-2986 (S8/T8)

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

I jumped onto the Led Zeppelin bandwagon after the release of Led Zeppelin IV (Zoso) and the single “Stairway To Heaven” in 1972 when I was eleven years old. You couldn’t escape “Stairway” on FM radio and, at the time, I had no notion that they had existed before that record. With further investigation, I came to discover the three records before Led Zeppelin IV, although that came much later.

So when the mighty Zeppelin (Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonham) delivered their fifth album Houses Of The Holy in 1973, I was firmly in their camp as a fan as was most of my peer group.  But for older, long-time fans of the band, the release of Houses was met with much derision and whisperings of selling out due to the album’s first single “Dancing Days,” which was the most radio-friendly track the band had ever released. When fans began playing the record, they found several other tracks to gripe about including today’s jukebox classic and second single from the album, “D’yer Mak’er” backed with “The Crunge,” which really made the die-hard rockin’ blues-based Zep fans really cry foul.

“D’yer Mak’er” is an awkward hybrid of reggae and doo wop that is loaded with charm, a term seldom used to describe Led Zeppelin, and an attribute that Led Zep fans didn’t find to their liking. Jimmy Page: “I didn’t expect people not to get it. I thought it was pretty obvious. The song itself was a cross between reggae and a ’50s number, “Poor Little Fool,” Ben E. King’s things, stuff like that.” (Schulps, Dave (October 1977). “Interview with Jimmy Page”. Trouser Press via Wikipedia)

It was one of the few in the Zeppelin catalog where all four members of the band shared writing credits since it sprang forth from a studio jam. The band was never serious about the track as it was initially conceived as a joke, and bassist John Paul Jones went out of his way on numerous occasions to let it be known that he never liked the song. As a result, it was never performed in its entirety by the band in concert, although it did occasionally feature in the medley of tunes the band would incorporate into “Whole Lotta Love” on stage. That said, it was a commercial track and Atlantic Records in America chose to release it as a single which climbed to #20 on the charts.

The title of the song has several meanings including a slang for the phrase “Did you make her” which loosely translates to did you get to have sex with her. Another interpretation of the title was derived from an old Jamaican joke that went like this: “My wife’s gone to the Caribbean.” “Jamaica?” (which in Jamaican patois is pronounced “D’you make her?”) “No, she went down on her own.” Yuk, yuk, yuk…Ba-da, bum!

The flip of today’s single finds the mighty Zep tapping into their inner James Brown with aplomb on an ultra-funky workout that evolved out of another studio jam session.  It is one of the greatest recordings the band ever committed to vinyl showing off just how tight they were while capturing a jerky groove with ever-changing time signatures. It is also one of John Paul Jones’ favorite Zeppelin recordings.

The song pays homage to James Brown with it’s ending line, “Where’s that confounded bridge?” The line is a reference to James Brown’s penchant for recording live in the studio and shouting out orders to the band on the fly, including “Take it to the bridge.” Since “The Crunge” doesn’t have a bridge, the line grinds the song to an abrupt halt. Additionally, the lyrics “Ain’t gonna call me Mr. Pitiful, no I don’t need no respect from nobody,” pay tribute to Otis Redding’s recordings of “Mr. Pitiful” and Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.”

Edited: February 17th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #78 – Stealers Wheel: “Stuck In The Middle With You” b/w “José”– A&M 1416 (Q8/R8)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #78 – Stealers Wheel: “Stuck In The Middle With You” b/w “José”– A&M 1416 (Q8/R8)

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Some songs are forever changed by the movies that they appear in. For instance, Roy Orbison’s rather innocuous “In Dreams” took on a more sinister tone when it was used by David Lynch in the film Blue Velvet, forever changing the hue of the song for all of those who saw the movie. And one can’t help but feel the pain and helplessness of the police officer in the sadistic torture scene of Quentin Tarentino’s film Reservoir Dogs when listening to today’s jukebox classic, “Stuck In The Middle With You” by Stealers Wheel.

Tarantino: “That was one of those things where I thought [the song] would work really well, and [during] auditions, I told the actors that I wanted them to do the torture scene, and I’m gonna use ‘Stuck in the Middle With You,’ but they could pick anything they wanted, they didn’t have to use that song. And a couple people picked another one, but almost everyone came in with ‘Stuck in the Middle With You,’ and they were saying that they tried to come up with something else, but that’s the one. The first time somebody actually did the torture scene to that song, the guy didn’t even have a great audition, but it was like watching the movie. I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, this is gonna be awesome!’” (Rolling Stone)

The song was written by Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan who formed the group Stealers Wheel in Scotland. The hand-clappy folk-bubblegum confection was released on Stealers Wheel’s 1972 self-titled debut album which was recorded at The Beatles’ Apple Studios at 3 Saville Row in England and engineered by Beatles’ engineer Geoff Emerick. The album and today’s jukebox single were produced by legendary songwriters Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller and the single reached the #6 position of the US Hot 100 charts in 1973, selling well over a million copies. The group consisted of Gerry Rafferty, Joe Egan, Paul Pilnich, Tony Williams and Rod Coombes.

Rafferty left the band a few months after the debut album was recorded and was replaced by Luther Grosvenor (of Spooky Tooth), but with the success of the single, Rafferty was persuaded to rejoin the group.  Rafferty: “I was going through a very strange period in my life right then, I’d got married, had a child, I was twenty-four, and one day it was like I’d been living in a dream for six or eight years and suddenly I woke up. It was a pretty scary kind of feeling. Perhaps I was on the edge of a nervous break-down — that’s how it felt, anyway. I just had to get away, away from groups, managers, record companies, the whole thing. So I picked up and moved [from London] back to Scotland to sort myself out.” (Rolling Stone 8/24/78)

The group then became just Rafferty and Egan and whomever they chose to back them since Grosvenor, Pilnich, Williams and Coombes left upon Rafferty’s return. In the loopy, stoned-out video, Joe Egan is seen lip synching the song, however it was Rafferty who handled the vocal chores on the track.

The lyrics were written as a parody of a Hollywood cocktail party using the vernacular of Bob Dylan, and the song has seen covers by Juice Newton, Jeff Healey, Susanna Hoffs, Michael Bublé, Keith Urban, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and many others. The flip of the single is the polar opposite of its top side. While “Stuck” is an incredibly infectious poppy confection, José is a lowdown, bluesy rocker that was also taken from the group’s debut album.

Rafferty stuck in the middle of Stealers Wheel for two more albums before taking off for a solo career that gave us the smash hits “Baker Street” and “Right Down The Line” from his second solo album City To City, which earned the distinction of knocking the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack out of the top slot of the album charts in 1978. Rafferty continued to record music throughout the ‘80s, ‘90s and ‘00s until his alcoholism got the best of him. He succumbed to liver failure in January of 2011.

Edited: February 13th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #77 – The Rolling Stones: “Honky Tonk Woman” b/w “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”– London 45-910 (N8/P8)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #77 – The Rolling Stones: “Honky Tonk Woman” b/w “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”– London 45-910 (N8/P8)

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within. And no jukebox is complete without a single by The Rolling Stones!

The first thing that grabs you is the cowbell, and if that doesn’t get your immediate attention, then you’re dead. Then comes Charlie Watts’ rim-shot snare attack that sets up one of the funkiest drum patterns this side of Memphis. Enter the hip-swaying guitar crunch of Keith Richards and Bill Wyman’s funk-infused bass playing that sets this track (and you the listener) into motion. The rest of the band kicks into the groove…yes, on this one, it’s all about the groove. And the groove of “Honky Tonk Woman” is as infectious as it is incessant.

It’s got all the makings of not only one, but two great tracks on a double sided single paired with “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” on the flip. It’s what made 45s great back in the day. Two great songs with the flip side of the single equally as strong as the top side. The Beatles’ did it with “Paperback Writer” and “Rain” cohabitating on the same seven inch. The Beach Boys also did it with “Wouldn’t It Be Nice and “God Only Knows.” The Monkees gave us “I’m A Believer” and “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” on one single, and then there was the pairing of “Till The End Of The Day” and “Where Have All The Good Times Gone” by The Kinks. The world of vinyl is littered with dozens of others. At the end  of this post, share some of your classic single pairings…anyway, back to the music at hand…

Several versions of “Honky Tonk Woman,” the top side of today’s jukebox classic, were recorded by The Stones in 1969. There was today’s single version that found its way onto the compilation album Through The Past Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2). The original was a country version that was based on Hank Williams’ “Honky Tonk Blues” and recorded before the electric version. It was later released on their Let It Bleed album under the title “Country Honk” with a much slower tempo with different lyrics. A third version was performed in concert and captured on Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! with a different second verse. Doesn’t matter which version’s your pleasure, they’re all superb! The single topped both the US and UK charts in 1969, and it’s been a staple of The Stones’ concerts ever since.

The “Country Honk” version was the group’s first attempt at the song and it is notable for being Brian Jones’ last recording with the band. According to Keith Richards, the electric take of the track was influenced by Jones’ replacement Mick Taylor. Richards: “… the song was originally written as a real Hank Williams/Jimmie Rodgers/1930s country song. And it got turned around to this other thing by Mick Taylor, who got into a completely different feel, throwing it off the wall another way.” (Crawdaddy via Wikipedia). However, since memory isn’t Mr. Richards’ strong suit, Mick Taylor says: “I added something to ‘Honky Tonk Woman’, but it was more or less complete by the time I arrived and did my overdubs.” (McPherson, Ian. Track Talk: Honky Tonk Women via Wikipedia) Over the years, Ry Cooder has also taken credit for inspiring the electric riff as well.

The original British single was released the day after Brian Jones death on the fourth of July, 1969, and copies of the record were given away free to those who stayed to clean the park up after the tribute concert they gave in Hyde Park in Jones’ memory. The song has been covered by the likes of Ike & Tina Turner, Waylon Jennings, Joe Cocker, Gram Parsons, Travis Tritt, Elton John, Billy Joel, Taj Mahal, Leslie West, The Meters, The Pogues, Tesla and Def Leppard.

On the flip lies the epic “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” another stone cold classic from Let It Bleed that broke boundaries of what an AM hit record could be. The album version of the song clocked in at seven and a half minutes and featured vocals on the intro and the long fade by the London Bach Choir. The single version which clocks in at a still-long-for-radio five minutes, eschews the choir intro. The song did not chart when it was first released, however it ultimately reached #42 on the charts in 1973 and remains one of their most popular songs in concert. Once Let It Bleed was released, The London Bach Choir unsuccessfully tried to have their name removed from the credits because of the album’s title and the inclusion of the song “Midnight Rambler” which was about a serial killer.

The group had a hard time recording “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” because Charlie Watts could not get catch the groove of the song. As a result, producer Jimmy Miller handles the drum duties on this track. Mick Jagger: “‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ was something I just played on the acoustic guitar—one of those bedroom songs. It proved to be quite difficult to record because Charlie couldn’t play the groove and so Jimmy Miller had to play the drums. I’d also had this idea of having a choir, probably a gospel choir, on the track, but there wasn’t one around at that point. Jack Nitzsche, or somebody, said that we could get the London Bach Choir and we said, ‘That will be a laugh.” (Loewenstein, Dora; Dodd, Philip (2003). According to the Rolling Stones. San Francisco: Chronicle Books via Wikipedia) The lineup on the song also featured Al Kooper, who played the organ and the French horn part.

This is another Rolling Stones classic that has seen its share of cover version by the likes of Bette Midler, Aretha Franklin, George Michael, Def Leppard, Luther Allison, Rusted Root, Steel Pulse, the cast of Glee and numerous others.

Edited: February 12th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #76 – Martha and the Vandellas: “Wild One” b/w “Dancing Slow”– Gordy 7036 (L8/M8)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #76 – Martha and the Vandellas: “Wild One” b/w “Dancing Slow”– Gordy 7036 (L8/M8)

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Today’s Song Of the Day is the second single in the jukebox by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. As a result, I will pick up some of the biographical information I wrote about the group from my piece on “Jimmy Mack” (Jukebox Series #23) for this article.

Martha and the Vandellas was one of the most successful girl groups to come out of Motown. Unlike The Supremes, the Vandellas’ sound was far grittier and more danceable than the sugary pop that catapulted The Supremes to fame. Their list of classic hits includes “(Love Is Like a) Heat Wave,” “Nowhere to Run,” “Come And Get These Memories,” “Quicksand,” “Live Wire,” “Jimmy Mack,” “My Baby Loves Me,”  “You’ve Been In Love Too Long,” and their signature single “Dancing in the Street.”

Today’s jukebox classic was not one of Martha and the Vandellas’ biggest hits, but it is one that has a distinctive uptown Brill Building sound to it, by way of Detroit. The song was written by William “Mickey” Stevenson and Ivy Jo Hunter who also were two of the three songwriters of the group’s defining hit “Dancing In The Street.” In fact, the backing track to this song was an alternate version of the backing track to “Dancing In The Street,” with the crucial difference of a heavily boosted drum track that sends the record into the dance floor stratosphere.

The song climbed to #11 on the R&B charts, but only placed at #34 on the Hot 100 singles chart. However, don’t let the somewhat anemic chart stats fool you; this song is every bit as potent as their biggest hits with its larger than life drum sound, tinny AM radio horn charts, and of course the sultry vocal talents of Martha Reeves. The song was a tribute to bikers and was inspired by The Shangri-Las’ “Leader Of The Pack” and The Crystals’ “He’s A Rebel.”

Personnel on the track included Martha Reeves on lead vocals, Rosalind Ashford, Betty Kelly, William “Mickey” Stevenson and Ivy Joe Hunter on background vocals, with instrumentation by various members of Motown’s session group The Funk Brothers, including Benny Benjamin on drums, James Jamerson on bass, Jack Ashford and Ivy Jo Hunter on percussion and Robert White and Eddie Willis on guitar.

The song was included on The Vandellas’ 1965 Dance Party album, as was the flip of today’s jukebox classic “Dancing Slow.” The album centered on a clutch of singles that were released during the previous year including the hits “Dancing In The Street” and “Come And Get These Memories,” plus the popular album track “Motoring.”

The flip of today’s single, “Dancing Slow” was a supper club ballad that was supposed to cast Martha Reeves in a new light as a nightclub performer. Around this time, Diana Ross and The Supremes scored three consecutive chart-topping singles, so Motown did not want The Vandellas’ to compete on the charts with the label’s new superstar group (even though Martha Reeves could sing circles around Diana Ross). As a result, the group was sent to the studio during the summer of 1964 to record a selection of MOR pop ballads, Broadway tunes and standards for a supper club album that never saw the light of day. Ultimately, The Supremes went on to become Motown’s biggest recording act, pushing Martha and the Vandellas to the side and ultimately off the label.

Edited: February 11th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #75 – David Essex: “Rock On” b/w “On And On”– Columbia 4-45940 (J8/K8)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #75 – David Essex: “Rock On” b/w “On And On”– Columbia 4-45940 (J8/K8)

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

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.

So it was just a matter of time for him to take on the world of recorded music with today’s self-penned jukebox classic and 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.

The flip of today’s Song Of The Day is “On And On,” a fine ballad that is also another self-penned track from Essex’s Rock On album.

Edited: February 10th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #74 – The Who: “I Can See For Miles” b/w “Mary-Anne With The Shaky Hands”– Decca 32206 (G8/H8)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #74 – The Who: “I Can See For Miles” b/w “Mary-Anne With The Shaky Hands”– Decca 32206 (G8/H8)

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

The Who have several masterpieces in their canon including Tommy, Who’s Next and Quadrophenia. However, one record that doesn’t get name-checked enough when it comes to their greatest masterworks is The Who Sell Out which is by far my all-time favorite of all of their albums.

Back in 1967, The Who managed to do what Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys couldn’t. The Beach Boys’ Smile was meant to create a painterly picture of Americana through music, and inject a broad sense of humor into the music. The Who’s 1967 album, was a quintessentially British album that was injected through and through with humor to burn.

The Who took their British concept one step further by building the album around a fake pirate radio station concept, complete with commercials and public service announcements between each song. The album’s release was met with a flurry of law suits because some of the fake jingles were for real products including Heinz Baked Beans and Odorono Deodorant.

Furthermore, the album cover depicted a photo of each band member advertising a product. Pete Townshend is shown applying Odorono Deodorant to his underarm, Roger Daltrey is shown sitting in a bathtub full of Heinz Baked Beans, Keith Moon is shown putting Medac zit cream on his face and John Entwistle is shown with a woman flexing his muscles and holding a teddy bear depicting the album’s Charles Atlas jingle. British first pressings of the album came with a psychedelic poster of a butterfly which was originally considered for the album’s cover art. Copies of the album with the poster sell for thousands of dollars on eBay.

The album includes the single “I Can See For Miles” which is today’s jukebox classic, and along with “Pictures Of Lily,” is amongst The Who’s very best singles. The song was written by Pete Townshend and remains the group’s biggest hit reaching #9 on the U.S. singles chart. The track was recorded in both England and the U.S., and the single version differs from the album version featuring an overdubbed second bass track.

The song was said to inspire Paul McCartney who read a review of “I Can See For Miles” that claimed it was one of the heaviest songs ever released. Not being the type to be one-upped, McCartney set out to write an even heavier song (even though he hadn’t heard “Miles”) resulting in “Helter Skelter.”

The song features a one-note guitar solo that was a reaction to the arrival of Jimi Hendrix on the scene. Townshend believed that he couldn’t possibly complete with the American axe man, so why bother trying. While the record was The Who’s best showing on the charts, Townshend was sure that the song would be their first number one single and was disappointed when it only climbed into the top ten. It has been covered by the likes of Tina Turner, Styx, Marty Stuart and Old Crow Medicine Show and Petra Haden who not only covered the song, but also covered the whole album a capella.

The flip of today’s single is an alternate mix of another Who Sell Out track, “Mary Anne With The Shaky Hands,” which is another essential psychedelic Who track. The song describes a woman who is afflicted with hand tremors, but many believe that the song is their second stab at creating a great song about masturbation (following “Pictures Of Lily”) because of the line “What they’ve done to a man, those shaky hands.”

Several versions of the song exist. The album version included an acoustic guitar part with a rhythmic percussion track, while a second version trades the acoustic guitar for an electric and features an organ solo courtesy of Al Kooper. The version on the flip of today’s single is a mono version with the electric guitar and without the organ solo.

Edited: February 9th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #73 – Aretha Franklin: “Day Dreaming” b/w “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” – Atlantic 45-2866 (E8/F8)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #73 – Aretha Franklin: “Day Dreaming” b/w “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” – Atlantic 45-2866  (E8/F8)

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Today’s jukebox classic is a self-penned nugget from Aretha Franklin’s classic Young, Gifted and Black album. The song features some of the most lilting and sensuous vocals Reethy ever captured on record. The album was Aretha’s most consistent platter and it captured her at her absolute prime in a year that saw the release of classic soul albums like Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book, Curtis Mayfield’s Super Fly, Al Green’s I’m So In Love With You and Let’s Stay Together,  Bill Withers’ Still Bill and Cymande’s self-titled debut.  Amongst its tune stack are the hit singles “Rock Steady” and “Oh Me Oh My (I’m A Fool For You Baby),” along with today’s song “Day Dreaming.” The album won Aretha her sixth Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Female Artist in 1973.

“Day Dreaming” was released in 1972 and climbed to #5 on the pop charts, while topping the Hot Soul Singles charts for two weeks and selling over a million copies. The track features Donny Hathaway on electric piano, jazz great Hubert Laws on flute, Chuck Rainey and Cornell Dupree on guitar and Bernard Purdie on drums. It was produced by the Atlantic Records supreme team of Jerry Wexler, Arif Mardin and Tom Dowd and it has been covered by the likes of Mary J. Blige, Natalie Cole, Will Downing, Corinne Bailey Rae and many others.

The subject of Aretha’s day dreaming was said to be Temptations singer Dennis Edwards, however Franklin has never disclosed who the man of her day dreams really was. Franklin: “’Day Dreaming’ was rather personal and I was thinking about someone who used to be a friend of mine. I’ll give you a hint. Used to be with one of the hottest groups in the country, tall, dark and fine. ‘OOOOwww wooo wooo wheee!” – he could sing!” (Aretha Franklin: The Queen Of Soul by Mark Bego)

The song was released during the height of the singer songwriter era casting Aretha Franklin in a new light as one of the most influential female singer songwriters of the day, along with Roberta Flack, Carole King and Carly Simon who composed and performed their own material.

The flip of today’s single is Aretha’s take on the Otis Redding classic “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” which originally appeared on his Otis Blue album in 1965. The song was written by Otis Redding and Jerry Butler, who also recorded his own version. Aretha’s cover was also included on Young, Gifted and Black. The song has been covered by a myriad of artists including The Rolling Stones, Percy Sledge, Ike and Tina Turner, Etta James, The Tindersticks, Joe Cocker and Seal.

Edited: February 6th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #72–Curtis Mayfield: “Freddie’s Dead” b/w “Underground” – Curtom CR-1975 (C8/D8)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #72–Curtis Mayfield: “Freddie’s Dead” b/w “Underground” – Curtom CR-1975 (C8/D8)

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

They called them “Blaxploitation” films. They were films that were created specifically for the African American urban market during the early 1970s. They weren’t known for their story lines or for the greatest acting, but they were chock full of action, and they were soundtracked by some of the greatest soul artists of all time.

No list of great Blaxploitation soundtracks would be complete without Across 112th Street by Bobby Womack, Shaft by Isaac Hayes and Trouble Man by Marvin Gaye. And then there were dozens of “second tier” films and soundtracks that were not as well known, but had their musical moments of potency including Black Caesar by James Brown, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadass Song by Melvin Van Peeples, The Mack by Willie Hutch and Together Brothers by Barry White. Perhaps the finest Blaxploitation soundtrack of them all is Super Fly by Curtis Mayfield, where not coincidentally, today jukebox classic comes from.

Super Fly was directed by Gordon Parks, Jr. and starred Ron O’Neal as an African cocaine dealer. It is one of the few Blaxploitation films where the soundtrack out grossed its parent film. The soundtrack was released in 1972 on Curtis Mayfield’s own Curtom record label and spawned two million-selling singles, including the title track which climbed to #8 on the pop charts and #5 on the soul charts, and today’s jukebox classic “Freddie’s Dead,” which placed at #4 on the pop charts and #2 on the black singles charts in 1972 before the release of the film. Additionally, the soundtrack also included the song “Pusherman” which also garnered significant airplay and would not be out of place on any Curtis Mayfield greatest hits collection.

Like Marvin Gaye’s colossal What’s Goin’ On from the same period, the album featured socially conscious lyrics that reflected the reality of inner city life which were an anomaly for the times. When it was released, record company brass at Buddah (which distributed Curtom Records) didn’t believe the record would sell, however the album ultimately topped the pop charts for four weeks and the black charts for six weeks.

Interestingly, the song was only featured in the film as an instrumental which kind of makes sense since the song’s stance is decidedly anti-drug use, while the film centers on the doings of a bad-ass drug dealer. As a result, it was not eligible for an Academy Award nomination because the lyrics were not heard in the film. The song was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rhythm & Blues Song, but lost out to The Temptations’ “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone.”

Personnel on the single included Curtis Mayfield on vocals and guitar, Joseph Lucky Scott on bass, Master Henry Gibson on percussion, Morris Jennings on drums and Craig McMullen on guitar. It has been covered by Fishbone, MFSB, The Derek Trucks Band and E.U.

The flip of today’s single features an atmospheric spoken intro that morphs into a scuzzy lowdown, sinister vibe with a spiraling guitar figure. It’s a sound that only Mayfield could pull together with his otherworldly falsetto. It was culled from his previous album, Roots which was released in 1971.

Edited: February 5th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #71–The Box Tops: “Cry Like A Baby” b/w “Soul Deep” – Collectables COL-3176 (A8/B8)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #71–The Box Tops: “Cry Like A Baby” b/w “Soul Deep” – Collectables COL-3176 (A8/B8)

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

Today’s jukebox classic was written by legendary songwriters Spooner Oldham and Dan Penn who also wrote such soul classics as “I’m Your Puppet” (for James & Bobby Purify), “A Woman Left Lonely” (for Janis Joplin)  and “It Tears Me Up” (for Percy Sledge). The song was recorded by The Box Tops, the purveyors of blue-eyed soul that took the pop charts by storm in 1967 with their debut single “The Letter.” The group’s lead singer, Alex Chilton was only 16 years old when he joined the group.

The Box Tops formed as The Devilles in Memphis, Tennessee in 1963. By 1967, the lineup included Alex Chilton on lead vocals and guitar, Gary Talley on guitar, Bill Cunningham on bass, Danny Smythe on drums and John Evans on keyboards. The following year, Smythe and Evans left the band because they were unhappy with Penn’s penchant for using studio musicians on their records instead of the band. They went back to school in order to avoid the draft and were replaced by Rick Allen (of The Gentrys) on bass and Thomas Bogg on drums.

The A-side of today’s single, “Cry Like A Baby,” climbed to the #2 slot on the pop charts in 1968. It was kept out of the top slot by Bobby Goldsboro’s “Honey.”

Dan Penn was producing The Box Tops and looking for a follow-up to their debut chart-topping hit “The Letter.” He called his friend Spooner Oldham up to help him write a song. The two got together and holed themselves up in a recording studio and worked all night, but alas, nothing came to them suitable for a follow up single.

After working all night to no avail, the two went across the street to a diner for breakfast. Oldham: “I remember I was putting my head on the table. There was nobody in there, I don’t think, but us and the cook. And I tiredly put my head on the table, my arms under my head, just for a few seconds. Then I lifted my head up and looked at Dan, and because I felt sorry that he needed another record and we were no help to each other that evening, I said, ‘Dan, I could just cry like a baby.’ And he says, ‘What did you say?’ And I said it again.” (Songfacts)

Penn: “I said ‘That’s it!’ I’m sure my eyes must’ve flashed. I said, ‘To hell with the food. Here’s some money—just keep it.’ By the time we got halfway across the street, I was already singin’, ‘When I think about the good love you gave me, I cry like a baby.’ And then the key was in the lock to open the studio back up, and I said, ‘Spooner, you run to the organ, piano or whatever you wanna play; I’ll get the lights on and the gear runnin’ again. So I got the lights on and he was crankin’ up the little organ. I had the mike open, I got one of the machines going, I put on a reel of tape, went out into the studio and we wrote it before that reel of tape was done. After we did that, it was just like we’d had eight hours of sleep. Alex was supposed to be there the next morning at 10 o’clock, so my back was against the wall, and it was just like it dropped out of the sky. They came in, I gave it to Alex, everybody loved it and we cut it in a few takes. So there’s nothin’ like right now. When you try your best, I think the Lord just gives you somethin’, you know?” (http://www.conqueroo.com/danpennandspooneroldhambio.html)

The song was recorded at American Studios in Memphis and features an electric sitar played by Reggie Young and Spooner Oldham plays keyboards on the track. It’s been covered by the likes of Cher, Betty Wright, Lulu and Kim Carnes.

The group’s final top 40 hit (and the flip of today’s single), “Soul Deep” was written by Wayne Carson Thompson who co-wrote Willie Nelson’s “Always On My Mind” and also wrote “The Letter and “Neon Rainbow” for The Box Tops. The song was the group’s final US Top 40 hit during the summer of 1969, peaking at #18 on the Hot 100. By 1970, the final original members Chilton and Talley left the band, however their record label kept releasing singles through 1971. The group did not own their name, so recordings followed under The Box Tops name through 1974 featuring studio groups with no original members of the band.

Chilton went on to form Big Star, one of the most influential power pop groups in music history with very little commercial success. After the demise of Big Star, he embarked on a solo career that saw the release of many quirky and inconsistently charming releases. The Box Tops reunited several times during the late 1980s and 1990s (as did Big Star) for tours and performances. They released the album Tear Off! In 1998.

Edited: February 4th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #70–The Beach Boys: “California Girls” b/w “Let Him Run Wild” – Capitol 5464 (U7/V7)

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Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – The Jukebox Series #70–The Beach Boys: “California Girls” b/w “Let Him Run Wild” – Capitol 5464 (U7/V7)

“The Jukebox Series” focuses on the 80 records that inhabit my 1963 Seeburg LPC1 jukebox. I’ve had my jukebox (or as I like to call it “the prehistoric iPod”) for a little over twelve years and in that time I’d like to think that I’ve perfected the mix of 45s within.

The A-side of today’s jukebox classic, “California Girls” has the greatest introduction to any record I have ever heard, and it’s a sound that slays me every time I hear it, even after all these years. It is indeed pure perfection from the pen of Brian Wilson. Brian Wilson: “I came up the introduction first. I’m still really proud of that introduction. It has a classical feel. I wrote the song ‘California Girls’ in the same key as the introduction. It took me some time. I wanted to write a song that had a traditional country and western left hand piano riff, like an old country song from the early ’50s. I wanted to get something that had kind of a jumpy feeling to it in the verses.” (Goldmine)

No matter how sublime that track is (and it totally is), it’s the single’s B-side that guaranteed it a slot in my jukebox. “Let Him Run Wild” is as close to perfection as it gets. Gossamer harmonies…incredible lyrics…music that superbly captures the mood of uncertainty. It’s hands down, one of their best recordings reflecting a simpler time for the band…and the world.

The 1966 release of The Beach Boys’ masterwork Pet Sounds ushered in a new mature era for the band. Gone were the simple, innocent paeans to girls, fun, sun and cars, and in their place was a new mature sound complete with lyrics reflecting feelings of ennui and uncertainty for the future, combined with complex musical arrangements and instrumentation.

Under closer inspection, the seeds of Pet Sounds were sown on the two previous Beach Boys album, Beach Boys Today! and Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!), where both of today’s jukebox classics were culled from, showing glimmers of the new mature sound and making those two platters every bit as potent and, dare I say it, as good as the coveted masterpiece that followed.

Beach Boys Today! was still pretty much steeped in that good old Beach Boys sound, especially on songs like “Do You Wanna Dance,” “Dance Dance Dance,” “I’m So Young” and “Help Me, Rhonda.”  These songs reflected the feelings of teenage innocence that put the band on the map in the first place.

However, behind the scenes things were changing. Certainly, drug use by the band members played a huge part in the maturation of their sound, but they were also beginning to outgrow the dominance of Murray Wilson (their dad), who was a constant impediment to the progress the group was making in the studio.

This can be heard in session tapes for “Help Me, Rhonda” (on the bootleg recording called Capitol Punishment) where Murray can be heard constantly badgering and inserting his influence into the proceedings, much to the chagrin of the band and especially Brian. This was not a new occurrence for the group; they had to put up with Murray’s presence at their sessions since their inception. But during this session you can hear the members of the group cracking wise behind Murray’s back about his suggestions.

Things finally come to a head when (probably) for the first time in his career, Brian has the confidence to tell his father off and sternly ask him to leave the studio. All of this is invisible when playing back the final product, but it is all captured on tape for posterity giving fans a taste of the underbelly of one of their most jovial performances.

Several of the songs on Beach Boys Today! (released in March of 1965) reflect a new mature sound, especially on the wondrous single “When I Grow Up (To Be A Man)” where Brian tackles his uncertainty about the future in the lyrics, while making it all seem easy with its tight intricate harmonies. You can also hear Wilson’s compositional sophistication in the arrangements of “In The Back Of My Mind” and “Don’t Hurt My Little Sister.”  In the plaintive “Please Let Me Wonder,” the aforementioned feelings of ennui that began to underpin Wilson’s entire being are perfectly encapsulated.

The first half of the follow up album, Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!)  (released in June of 1965), takes a giant step backwards with a clutch of songs that hearken back to the group’s more innocent sound including “Salt Lake City,” “The Girl From New York City,” “Amusement Parks U.S.A.” and “Then I Kissed Her.” And even though jubilance can be heard pouring forth from the record’s grooves the sounds on the flip side of the platter tell a completely different story.

The second side of the record acts as a fairly accurate precursor of what was to come the following year on Pet Sounds. By this point, The Beach Boys’ touring schedule was pretty much non-stop, and Brian felt intense pressure to come up with more hit singles and albums to meet the demands that Capitol Records put upon him. As a result, Wilson began having panic attacks on the road and found it harder and harder to deal with day to day life on the road.

 You can hear the pressures of being an in-demand Beach Boy wreaking havoc on him in the songs themselves. Sure, the group was still singing about relationships and girls, but the complex arrangements and instrumentation pointed the group in a new, stylistically bold direction that they would take once Brian Wilson pulled himself off of the road and camped himself inside the studio. You can hear it in the overall feeling of depression and dread inherent in one of their all-time greatest tracks (and the flip of today’s jukebox classic), “Let Him Run Wild.”

Wilson’s arrangements were becoming more sophisticated as heard in the spectacular orchestral intro to “California Girls,” and in “The Little Girl I Once Knew,” which has several false stops that confused DJs who ultimately took a pass on playing it on the radio. And the album’s one goof track “I’m Bugged At My Old Man” wasn’t really a joke after all.

“California Girls” climbed to #3 on the charts in 1965. The song’s inspiration came from an LSD trip of Brian Wilson’s. After initially feeling paranoid and running up to his room to hide, he came down and began to work on piano figure that runs through the song. Within an hour, he had the “East coast girls are hip” part of the song worked out. The following day, he and Mike Love finished writing the song together. (Beautiful Dreamer documentary via Wikipedia) The song was also Bruce Johnston’s appearance on a Beach Boys record.

The song was very influential at the time and, most notably, The Beatles’ paid homage to it with their song “Back In The U.S.S.R.” from The White Album in 1968. McCartney came up with the idea for the song while in India studying Transcendental Meditation with the Maharishi Yogi with Mike Love, the rest of The Beatles, Mia Farrow and her sister Prudence (of “Dear Prudence” fame). Mike Love: “Paul came down to the breakfast table one morning saying, ‘Hey, Mike, listen to this.’ And he starts strumming and singing, ‘Back in the U.S.S.R.,’ the verses. And I said, ‘Well, Paul, what you ought to do is talk about the girls around Russia, Ukraine girls and then Georgia on my mind, and that kind of thing.’ Which he did.” (Songfacts)

In the “originality” department, Katy Perry’s song “California Girls” initially grabbed the “I wish they all could be California Girls” line before The Beach Boys threatened her with a law suit. And in 1985, David Lee Roth brought the song back to the #3 position on the pop charts propelled by a hedonistic MTV video that was played in heavy rotation.

Musicians on the track featured the best of The Wrecking Crew including Hal Blaine on drums, Frank Capp on vibraphone, Jerry Cole on guitar, Al de Lory on organ, Carol Kaye on bass, Leon Russell on piano, Billy Strange on tambourine, plus a whole slew of horn players.

During the tour behind these albums, Wilson’s panic attacks became too much to bare, ultimately forcing him to leave the touring band for good. Glen Campbell was brought in as his replacement on the road and Brian Wilson set up shop full time in the studio to work. The results can be heard on Pet Sounds.

Edited: February 3rd, 2014