Fair Use disclaimer

All music presented on this site is shared under the premise of "fair use"; this site is solely intended for the purpose of education and critique. If you are a rights holder to any of the music presented and wish for it to be removed, simply contact me directly and it will be taken down.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

THE VEL-VETS - I GOT TO FIND ME SOMEBODY


(originally posted 11/10/09)

When I originally wrote about this record (nearly ten years ago? WOW. Can't believe how time slips away), there was little to no information out there about the group or the record, and the same rings true today (although we do know that this was a Los Angeles record). At the time, I had the UK reissue from the mid 70s and for years I've casually searched for an original copy, as this is truly one of my favorite soul singles. Thanks to a good friend and a great deal, this well loved (but still great sounding) OG copy is now in my stash.

Many of these mysterious records have seen information come to the surface in the internet age, and one of the coolest aspects of writing this blog was that many of the relatives of the artists would come forward, and in a few occasions the artists themselves did, more often than not touched that anyone still could be excited about records they made many years ago. Sadly, no more info has come to light on this amazing one-off record.

They don't come more exciting than this quick rush of energy! Kicking off with a guitar riff that could have stepped straight off of a psych record from the same year, a swirl of strings and then a POUNDING four on the floor drum beat, we're then graced with the glorious, powerful vocals of the Vel-Vets, with all of their infectious 'WOO's' and a lead vocal that captures the yearning of the lyrics. They don't come any finer.



from 1967...

THE VEL-VETS - I GOT TO FIND ME SOMEBODY

Friday, January 18, 2019

LOS SHAKERS - ADORABLE LOLA


(originally posted 1/25/10)

Los Shakers were from Uruguay, and brothers Hugo and Osvaldo abandoned a budding successful career in jazz when they heard the Beatles. These guys were YOUNG when they started (they were teens when they became professional jazz musicians) and the original lineup released three INCREDIBLE albums and a handful of singles (this is one of their non-LP tracks). Their 1968 album (which is essentially an answer to the Beatles Sgt Pepper LP) titled "La Conferencia Secreta Del Toto's Bar" is simply the best relatively unknown rock n roll (although it incorporates strong South American elements and even a few jazzy passages) album of the sixties. I would argue 'til I'm blue in the face about that! Los Shakers took a strong Beatles influence and didn't merely copy, but used their love for the Beatles to unlock their own creativity.

Beatle-esque harmonies over a tropicalia sound; it doesn't get any better than 'Adorable Lola".

from 1968...

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

BARBARA LYNN - MELLOW FEELING (part 1)


(originally posted 3/18/09)

Barbara Lynn is certainly no stranger to this blog!

Seems as though I have featured more of her singles on this blog than any other artist. No way for me to hide how much I love her.

I am very happy to say that after a long period of either being outbid on ebay for it (and also thinking GASP do I really want to pay THAT MUCH for this record????) I'm now the proud owner of this 45 that is said there are about 20 known copies of. It's NEVER been reissued or included on any comps (I'd like to fix that- if anyone who produces reissues is reading, please email me. I would love to see this get reissued somehow). (Update - I provided a dub of my copy that was used on the Jazzman compilation).

Of course, just because something is RARE doesn't mean I want to listen to it! This infectious record absolutely slays me!

This record was cut after Barbara Lynn moved to L.A and was comfortably settled into motherhood and only gigging locally, occasionally. There was a LONG period (about 5 years) where she didn't record anything, and there was a gap of another 4 years or so after this.

from 1979...

BARBARA LYNN - MELLOW FEELING (PART 1)

Sunday, December 23, 2018

BETTY LLOYD - SNOWFLAKES


(originally posted 12/24/2011)

One of the prettiest, yet little known soul Christmas singles.

I'm not sure if this Betty Lloyd is the same singer who was a member of the east coast girl group The Percells; Thomas Records was a Chicago label (an offshoot of Curtis Mayfields' Curtom label), and this track certainly has an indelible Chicago stamp on it.

The lyrics brilliantly capture the feeling of being alone at Christmas, but without self pity. Oozing with quality, this song should truly be a holiday standard.

from 1969...

BETTY LLOYD - SNOWFLAKES

Thursday, December 20, 2018

THE MONKEES - CHRISTMAS IS MY TIME OF YEAR b/w WHITE CHRISTMAS



(originally posted 12/24/2013)

Christmas arrived early this year, in that I found a copy of this record (that I've been chasing for many years) back last July.

Issued both in 1976 (to the fan club in limited numbers) and again in 1986 (this copy), this single hardly ever turns up for sale because both pressings were so limited, and most people tend to hang onto them. I have no idea where the '86 release was even SOLD, as I was both a Monkees fan and reading Goldmine magazine as a youngster during this era and I never remember seeing it for sale, and certainly have never seen it in any record stores. Perhaps producer Chip Douglas repressed it for the fan club only, I'm simply not sure. I've had both sides of this 45 on a lo-fi bootleg LP for over 20 years, but nothing beats having this copy with the uber-cool picture sleeve showing the fellas in the studio, reunited.

Chip Douglas and (Turtle) Howard Kaylan wrote the song back in 1968, and it was issued as a single by a group calling themselves The Christmas Spirit, which was made up of several Turtles and Linda Ronstadt. While the song was revisited for The Monkees version, it was completely re-arranged in a far superior way for their track, which is pure magic.

The group was unable to use the name Monkees due to legal restrictions, so the record was cleverly released as We Three Monkees. Michael Nesmith chose not to participate, but the rumor mill claims that it's none other than Nez playing pedal steel guitar on both sides. Micky and Davy take turns on the lead vocal, which is heartfelt and lovely, and the song itself is a wonderful thing. What's in the grooves makes it obvious that everyone involved was having a ball when they made the record. Davy takes the lead for a very moving, country flavored version of "White Christmas" on the flip side, which shows how this man could croon with the best of them and how missed he is.

The words written on the back of the picture sleeve, "An expression of friendship and togetherness to make the holidays a little brighter for all of us" couldn't be more spot on.

Whatever it is that you celebrate, I wish you peace, love, and happiness today, tomorrow and everyday.

from 1976...

THE MONKEES - CHRISTMAS IS MY TIME OF YEAR b/w WHITE CHRISTMAS

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT - WILL YOU STILL BELIEVE IN ME



What happened when (Monkees producer and Turtles member) Chip Douglas, Linda Ronstadt, Gram Parsons, Gene Parsons, Howard Kaylan, Henry Diltz, Cyrus Faryar, and (probably) Micky Dolenz' Moog synthesizer got together in '67? This beautiful piece of folk-rock melancholy holiday sound was born.

Unjustly obscure, in a perfect world this is the type of record that would be heard everywhere during the holiday season.

Peace and love to all.

from 1967...

THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT - WILL YOU STILL BELIEVE IN ME

Thursday, October 18, 2018

THE OPPORTUNITY PLEASE KNOCK CHORUS - ALL THIS TALK ABOUT FREEDOM


This song has been continuously playing in my head recently, as every damn day brings a new level of disgust with what is happening in the US. Square one: stop calling the police on black folks who are simply trying to live their lives, and start treating fellow human beings with dignity and respect - everybody has their own personal struggles and stories, and what bonds us is the fact that we are all just trying to get thru this thing called life. Very simple concepts. 

(originally posted 9/2/13)

I've had this record sitting in my stack of potential 45's of the day for years, and I had forgotten how AMAZING it is; thankfully, it popped up on shuffle play on the ipod during a long road trip I took last week. Until this morning, I had no idea the story behind it and how HEAVY it actually is (a BIG thank you to Ayana @ darkjive.com and her research on the group).

I strongly recommend reading the whole story at the above link, but, in a nutshell, songwriter/ musician/ civil rights activist Oscar Brown Jr (composer of "Work Song" among other classics) contacted the notorious Chicago gang The Blackstone Rangers in 1967 about the possibilities of life beyond gangs. It turns out that the gang was full of talent, and Brown created a show call Opportunity, Please Knock that showcased the talents of these young people that didn't really have much of a chance in life. The show was a success and there was even a performance from the troupe on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

As for the record, it's extremely powerful stuff even without knowing the back story. Learning what I did this morning makes it even more extraordinary.

from 1968...

THE OPPORTUNITY PLEASE KNOCK CHORUS - ALL THIS TALK ABOUT FREEDOM

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Salute to Geoff Emerick: Chris Bell - I Am The Cosmos b/w You And Your Sister




The tragic story of Chris Bell is well told elsewhere; through personal darkness came transcendent art. Thanks to the support of his brother David Bell, in 1974, the brothers took a trip to England and the European continent that was designed to both help lift Chris out of depression (and the hell of drug and alcohol abuse), and to record some of Chris’ new songs. As a Beatles fanatic, it must have been a dream come true for Chris to work with (Beatles engineer) Geoff Emerick for his masterpiece ‘I Am The Cosmos’. Geoff and Chris achieved a massive, hypnotic, swirling sound that captures the anguish and emotional torture of on/off love that are portrayed so honestly and directly in the lyrics.

The flip side ‘You And Your Sister’ (with no Emerick involvement) found Bell reunited with fellow Big Star co-founder Alex Chilton. While Alex himself may have also been wrapped up in his own madness of (in his own words) ‘bad drugs’, he contributes a tender and downright angelic harmony with Chris here.

Sadly, David Bell was not able to get a record deal for his brother, and his album wasn’t released until 1992. Thankfully, musician Chris Stamey (himself a massive Big Star fan, and Alex Chilton band member) released this single on his label in 1978, just a few short months before Chris’ death.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

OTIS RUSH - HOMEWORK



It's sad to hear of the passing of Otis Rush; he was truly one of the last of a very special breed. It's a tragedy that Otis was unable to play guitar for the past 15 years due to a stroke, as he was one of the greatest electric blues guitarists in history.

(originally posted on 3/13/2013)

After the city laid out the foundation of electric blues in the late '50's thru the 1950's, Chicago blues of the 1960's turned into a whole new thing. Influenced by the budding soul music scene, the so-called "West Side" sound of Magic Sam and Buddy Guy introduced a new type of intensity and a hard swinging rhythm into a reverb drenched stew that was unique, propulsive and (in this writers opinion) the last gasp for the sound before it veered into cliche after cliche.

Otis Rush was only 27 at the time of this recording, but his career at the time had slid into a nadir after several r&b hits starting in 1956.

While it's merely speculation on my part based in no small part by my love of where the music "went" during this era, I honestly believe that these great Chicago musicians realized that in order to appeal to a younger generation it was crucial to modernize their sound, and the result was a sophistication in the music that is heard brilliantly on this side (just LISTEN to what the organ does throughout the track, not to mention the horns). If Otis' "Oh Baby's" (especially the one heard at :32) doesn't send a shiver down your spine, you may have landed at the wrong place by mistake.

from 1962...

OTIS RUSH - HOMEWORK

Sunday, September 16, 2018

MAJOR LANCE - SOMETIMES I WONDER

originally posted 3/7/2009

Understated in its elegance, 'Sometimes I Wonder' is one of those tracks that epitomize the Chicago soul sound.

Major Lance may have been a bit lacking in vocal strength, but his delivery and charisma (and top notch material) push his best records into greatness. This may well be my favorite of his; a superb Curtis Mayfield composition, with Curtis and the Impressions providing glorious backing vocals, and a typically superb string-laden (but still kinda raw and very exciting sound) that Mayfield- (co-producer) Carl Davis and (arranger) Riley Hampton excelled at.

from 1964...


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

THE ODYSSEY - LITTLE BOY LITTLE GIRL


LA's The Odyssey released one of THE great nods to the English freakbeat sound on this pulverizing record.

Not only did this band take a cue from the feedback driven sound of The Who, The Yardbirds, and The Creation, but they also incorporated it into the melodic content of the song in a way that is flat out mesmerizing as it howls and drones away, completely in tune, and fully controlled (NOT easy to do). On top of that, the drums are manic, and the vocals bring those kinda harmonies that are SUCH an LA thing. The song also captures the feeling of one of those passionate, toxic on/off relationship that takes us to heaven and hell better than any other. Absolutely perfection.

While this was the only record released as The Odyssey, several (perhaps all?) members were part of The Looking Glass (aka The Looking Glasses, aka The Clouds) that released the disturbing bad trip psych 45 'Visions' the previous year. They went on to release a very subdued cover of the Beatles 'Two Of Us' in 1970 as Shake. Guitarist Louis Maxfield had a European hit (as Daddy Maxfield) in 1973 with 'Rave N Rock', and also did a fair amount of session guitar work thru the 70s-80s.