Lesley Gore – Off and Running / California Nights

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Lesley Gore, appearing on Batman

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Listen – Lesley Gore – Off and Running – MP3

Listen – Lesley Gore – California Nights – MP3

Greetings all.

I hope the end of the week finds you all well.
Things are tip top hereabouts, with some new mixes in the offing, and lots of other groovy stuff in the wax silo waiting for delivery to you.
The tunes I bring you today are by an artist that – had you asked me if they would ever be featured here – I would have rolled my eyes and then kicked you out of my house for sullying the air with a suggestion so patently absurd.
But, as you well know, things change, and one cannot know all there is to know (at least not all at once), and new things find their way to my earholes all the time, some of them decidedly unexpected.
Thus, I bring you a couple of tracks by Lesley Gore.
Yes, you heard me, Lesley Gore.
It all started a short while back when I posted a couple of tracks by the Mindbenders, both from the soundtrack of the film ‘To Sir With Love’. One of those tracks, ‘Off and Running’ was – as pointed out to me by a reader – a cover of a song that had been recorded by Lesley Gore. This factoid caused me to raise my eyebrows, making just enough room inside my head to file it away where I figured I’d never use it again.
However…while I was on vacation, I made an unexpected (there it is again) stop to dig for vinyl in New Hampshire (?!?!), in a store that turned out to be a gold mine of unusual pop stuff, including (and who didn’t see this coming) the Lesley Gore album that featured her version of ‘Off and Running’.
So, I get the record home, drop the needle on the wax and discover that the LP in question ‘California Nights’ was something of a transitional record for Gore, including material recorded with her original mentor Quincy Jones, as well as with Bob Crewe, some of which included arrangements by none other than Jack Nitzsche.
Her recording of ‘Off and Running’ (one of the Quincy Jones produced tracks), while not as hot as the Mindbenders version, is very cool, with elements of Gore’s girl group vibe mixed in with a harder edged rock sound. I especially dig the footstomps/handclaps during the verses.
There were other tracks on the album along these lines, one of which will be included in an upcoming edition of the Iron Leg Digital Trip.
The second track featured today is the title track from the album. ‘California Nights’, co-written by Marvin Hamlisch was one of Gore’s last big hits (Top 40, Top 10 in many markets in early 1967). Though there’s a ‘show tune’ vibe creeping in, if you listen closely the opening chords of the arrangement are right out of the Brian Wilson code book, and the chorus of the song takes a couple of interesting turns, proof once again that in the mid-60s, everything was, through some mysterious form of musical osmosis, getting a little bit groovier.
While it’s not going to make me run out to get myself a copy of ‘Judy’s Turn To Cry’, it will cause me to open my ears a little bit wider.
I hope you dig it, and I’ll be back on Monday with something groovy.

Peace

Larry

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some Hammond groove.

PSS I just heard that Vern Gosdin of the Gosdin Brothers just passed away. Make sure you check out the post I dod about their work with Gene Clark

Yes – Everydays

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“Look!” said Jon. “An elf on a hollow log!”

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Listen – Yes – Everydays – MP3

Greetings all.

I hope the beginning of a new week, in which we appear to have been gifted by some (so far) lovely and unseasonably toasty weather, finds you all well.
The tune I bring you today is something that I ought to have known, but didn’t hear for the first time until very recently.
If you follow the goings on hereabouts, you’ll already be familiar with the fact that I’m a huge fan of the Buffalo Springfield (my favorite US 60s band next to Arthur Lee and Love). My favorite tune from their unfortunately brief discography is a hazy little bit of sunshine called ‘Everydays’.
I featured the BS version in this space a little less than a year ago, at which time a regular reader hepped me to the fact that the song had been covered on one of the early Yes albums.
If you’re not already aware, Yes recorded a few interesting psych on the way to prog albums before they jettisoned Peter Banks and Tony Kaye and replaced them with Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman for that full on, sequined cape, Escape to Wizard Mountain vibe so beloved of a generation of the more pretentious members of the stoner community.
Well, after ingesting the Yes/Buffalo Springfield factoid, it was shuffled away into one of the many cobweb infested corners of my memory, where it sat idly until a month or so ago, when something (which I have since forgotten) led me to check out the Yes LP ‘Time and a Word’ (it was probably something to do with the Byrds/Beatles covers from their 1969 debut), where I discovered that they had in fact covered a Buffalo Springfield tune. I went out onto the interwebs, picked up a cheapo copy of the Yes album in question, digi-ma-tized the song, and here we all are today.
The Yes version of ‘Everydays’ manages to remove a certain amount of the SoCal sunshine from the original, replacing it (successfully, I think) with a sort of delicate, UK hippies in a cathedral nave feeling, in which the group sound is layered with a string section. Naturally, this being Yes (and more importantly 1970), things take a sudden turn into the stormy seas of unusual time signatures, and for a moment veer dangerously close to ‘Spinal Tap in Jazz Fantasy’ territory. It’s an especially jarring transition when you consider the gentle feeling at the beginning of the song. However, the bombast only lasts for about two minutes, returning once again to the land of hashish and unicorns at the 4:40 mark.
I suppose you’re affinity for the track may have a lot to do with your tolerance for Yes. I happen to like a lot of their stuff, going as far as to have listened to most of ‘Yessongs’ while reading the other night. No matter, it’s a wonderful song, and you can always edit it down if you’re feeling creative.
I hope you dig it, and I’ll be back later in the week with something very unusual.

Peace

Larry

 

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some funky soul.

The Barbarians – Are You a Boy Or Are You a Girl

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The Barbarians (Moulty on the left)

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Listen – The Barbarians – Are You a Boy Or Are You a Girl – MP3

Greetings all.

Friday is here, and as always, it’s fine time to head back to the old school.
In a strange twist, I was aware of the Barbarians years before I heard their music, or had developed a taste for all things Nuggets-y.
Back in my teen years, the local record store was a Music Den at the Steinbachs Mall. If you wanted something to listen to, it was either that, or a trip to the flea market on the weekend.
I was conflicted in my feeling about this store for two basic reasons.
First, about half their stock consisted of cut outs and remainders, so there was always something interesting and cheap to be had when the coffers were almost empty.
Second, the clerks (20 something deadbeats to the last) always gave me the stink-eye when I was browsing, terrified that I was filling the pockets of my overcoat with purloined merchandise.
It should come as no surprise to anyone who digs for records that when I go into stores like that – to this very day in fact – I rarely have something specific in mind, other than the extremely general idea of “something/anything” music. I do the same thing in book stores, i.e. wandering the aisles waiting for something interesting to catch my eye.
Unfortunately, when you’re a long-haired teenager walking around in an Aqualung-ish overcoat (inherited from my grandfather), covered in rock badges and a fake sheriff’s star (I was nothing if not a fashion plate), wandering aimlessly in a record store sets off all kinds of alarms in regard to potential thievery (something I assure you I never engaged in, unlike some people who shall remain nameless…ahem..).
Anyway, I only drag you down this back alley of Memory Lane because one of the prominent features of the cut out bun at Music Den in those days (say 1978/79-ish) was a compilation (German I think…) of a band called the Barbarians, one member of which sported a hook-like appendage where his hand ought to have been. I probably browsed past this particular record a hundred times, completely unaware of the gold hidden in its grooves.
This was after all the 70s, an era in which record companies were so deep into cocaine consciousness that they would literally release ANYTHING (like countless solo albums by the various and sundry keyboard players from Yes and the Moody Blues), with an elaborate gatefold/die cut package.
I can’t say for sure, but it’s likely that I saw that one-handed gent on the album cover and assumed that it was just another insane late-70s gimmick.
Little did I know.
It was probably another five or six years before I realized who the Barbarians were, and then regretted not having purchased that record while Music Den was still open (instead of Steve Miller’s Greatest Hits and at least two copies of the ‘All This and WW2’ soundtrack boxed set).
The Barbarians rolled out of Cape Cod in Massaschusetts in 1964 with their be-hooked drummer (?!?) Moulty, armed (no pun intended)  with a taste for the grittier side of the British Invasion.
The story goes that Moulty (Victor Moulton) had become separated from part of his arm during a fireworks accident (pay attention kids!!). Fortunately his handicap did not prevent him from learning how to abuse a drum set, and the Barbarians crafted a couple of very tasty proto-garage 45s like ‘Hey Little Bird’ (which they performed at the T.A.M.I. Show) and today’s selection, the heartwarming tale of anti-rocker prejudice, ‘Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl’.
The tune is something of a missing link in the cranky old bluesman > UK R&Beat > US Garage Punk continuum, with the Barbarians borrowing liberally from their T.A.M.I. show castmates the Rolling Stones (referencing ‘Off the Hook’ rather liberally). The whole fuzztone, screamo, sexual confusion of prime 1966 garage punk has yet to fully form, with Moulty and his pals keeping one foot securely on Eel Pie Island and the other on the curb on Snot Street (never committing completely to either side).
When you come down to brass tacks the sound of this record isn’t even its most important aspect, that being the lyrics in which the preternaturally hairy Barbarians (their locks approaching Dave Davies/Pretty Things levels of 1965 social unsuitability) are taunted by an unnamed source in what is clearly preamble to a fist fight, during which they are compared to monkeys and Beatles. Of course the whole thing comes off as a primitive treatise on homophobia, especially when the taunters take extreme notice of the Barbs “skin tight paaaaaaaannnnnntttttts”, which is, I mean REALLY.
It all makes me wonder if the Shades of Knight’s snotty, extremely defensive garage punk classic ‘Fluctuation’ wasn’t an “answer record” of some kind, picking up the gauntlet and descending into a frenzy of hyper-masculine chest thumping.
No matter. The history of garage punk – American and otherwise – is riddled with juxtapositions of wailing music, over which packs of just post-teenaged goons roll their eyes and pronounce themselves the baddest, razor toting, hard loving thing since Muddy Waters combed a handful of Dixie Peach into his mighty conk. In the end that’s kind of what makes garage punk so groovy, with countless aficionados (and imitators) of the sound missing out on the joke by a country mile. No matter how ridiculous the “artists” were, if they didn’t mean it, the music wouldn’t be half as interesting, with the whole genre (at least in its original form) being some kind of postmodern excercise, i.e. artifice and posing taken to the extreme.
The best garage punk records are the musical equivalent of great junk food. Not really good for you in any meaningful way, but delicious and packing a sugar rush will leave you with both a splitting headache and a lust for more of the same.
In that spirit, think of the Barbarians as a kind of UR, proto-Yodel (or Ring Ding, or Ho Ho or whatever…).
That said. Have a fuzzed out boner of a weekend, and I’ll be back on Monday to field the hate mail and whip something on you from out of left field.

Peace

Larry

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some solid New Orleans soul.

Graham Bond – Love Is the Law b/w The Naz

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Bond. Graham Bond

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Listen – Graham Bond- Love Is the Law – MP3

Listen – Graham Bond- The Naz – MP3

Greetings all.

I’m back from the road with a bellyful of lobster and a stack of new (old) vinyl.
The digging aspect of our journey was especially fruitful for the coffers of Iron Leg, with the acquisition of a fair amount of pop, rock and psych stuff, including a couple of want list items that will surely be featured in this space as soon as I get it all digi-ma-tized.
The tune I bring you today is something I picked up years ago because of the label.
Pulsar records was a California based imprint that was a home away from home for a number of New Orleans expatriates like Mac Rebennack (aka Dr John) and Jesse Hill.
When I saw a Graham Bond* 45 on Pulsar, my first instinct was that it might contain within its grooves a helping of Hammond Heat. Bond was one of the first wave of UK R&Beat organ masters with the Graham Bond Organisation (which included a young pair by the names of Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker) recorded some true heat, including one of my all time faves, the scorching ‘Harmonica’.
Bond’s early work is truly deserving of a wider audience, lacking in his own time likely due to his own anti-rockstar persona – Bond was a portly Oliver Hardy lookalike – and today to a lack of proper representation on the reissue market.
After tearing it up with R&B and the blues, Bond immersed himself in the occult (a devotee of Aleister Crowley) and moved to the US, where he met (and later married) singer Diane Stewart (also an occultist and the composer of today’s selection) and recorded two LPs for Pulsar.
The tune I bring you today , ‘Love Is the Law’ takes its title from one of the main precepts of Crowley’s cosmology, which he called Thelema.
The tune itself is a vaguely psych-y number with a typically wailing vocal by Bond. The music itself is atypical for those familiar with Bond’s earlier work. Though Bond does work the Hammond here, the most prominent sound is that of the Mellotron (which I’ve seen a reference which claims Bond was the first rock musician to use one), and the overall vibe is a lot more hippy and trippy. I’ve read that Bond played all of the instruments on this album, aside from the drums which were played by session master Hal Blaine.
The flip side of the single, and instrumental entitled ‘The Naz’ (one would assume that Crowley was borrowing from the mighty Lord Buckley) is a touch jazzier, with Bond doubling on organ and saxophone**.
After his time in the US Bond’s drug and psychological problems worsened. His life ended in 1974, an apparent suicide under the wheels of a train.
I hope you dig the tune(s) and I’ll be back later in the week with some proto-garage.

Peace

Larry

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*I don’t know why, but the Pulsar 45s have his name spelled with an “e” at the end…

**Like the great Charles Earland, Bond was initially a sax man before moving on to the Hammond

PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some soul.

Iron Leg Digital Trip #23 – Turned On Vacation

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Playlist
Baker Knight & the Knightmares – Hallucinations
Manfred Mann – 5-4-3-2-1
Rattles – Come On and Sing
Del Shannon – Little Town Flirt
Dave Berry – Don’t Gimme No Lip Child
Herman’s Hermits – No Milk Today
Turtles – Outside Chance
Jacques Dutronc – Et Moi Et Moi Et Moi
Yardbirds – Over Under Sideways Down
Peter Lee Stirling – 8:35 On the Dot
Thane Russal – Drop Everything and Run
Changin’ Tymes – How Is the Air Up There
Choir – I’m Going Home
This mix can be heard in the Iron Leg Digital Trip Podcast Archive

Greetings all.
The week of the vacationing is upon us (or at least ‘me’), so in the spirit of all things space-holding, like the jelly that keeps a donut from caving in, I have quite literally slapped a mix together so that we all might have something to groove to until I get back in the saddle.
This is not to say that anyone depends on what they find here to keep their ears filled, but that the presentation of an additional option to do so, especially with groovy sounds, is why the Iron Leg exists, so mix I shall.
That said, I must begin with a caveat, that being that there are a couple or three tunes herein which I do not posess on original vinyl sources, but since they make my ears tingle, and ought to do the same for you all, I figured it couldn’t hurt (and it won’t). It helps that the whole stew is glued together with a series of vintage commercials.
The first of those (and the first song in the mix) is the brain bendingly cool ‘Hallucinations’ by Baker Knight and the Knightmares. Aside from the obvious sonic power of the song, it’s cool when you find out that Baker Knight had a long and varied career, making rockabilly, pop (including writing hits for Dean Martin) and this awesome slice of Californ-a-delica.
Next up is the song that is not only one of the finest things the Manfreds ever laid down, but waqs also for a time the theme song to ‘Ready Steady Go’. I remember quite well how my mind was blown when I first realized how much R&Beat was there underneath stuff like ‘The Mighty Quinn’ and ‘Pretty Flamingo’. Not to mention what an amazing singer Paul Jones was…
The version of Kraut-punkers The Rattles ‘Come On and Sing’ that I include here is from a soundtrack to a German TV movie. It sounds like a weird mix, but I’ll have to depend on those more versed in Rattle-iana to fall by with the facts on this one.
Things take a brief detour into my all-time favorite slice of proto Merseybeat, Del Shannon’s ‘Little Town Flirt’, before running head on into the nasty flip side to ‘The Crying Game’, Dave Berry’s ‘Don’t Gimme No Lip Child’, long rumored to feature a certain Mr. Page on lead guitar.
Say what you want about Peter Noone’s leaping, buck-toothed, innocent appeal to a whole generation of twelve year old girls, but Herman’s Hermits weren’t all ‘Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter’. They – like many of their peers – had access to the golden pen of Graham Gouldman, and used this access to create true brilliance like ‘No Milk Today’, still one of my favorite UK 60s tunes.
Over here in the US, probably down the street from Baker Knight, were the Turtles, who started out working the Bob Dylan cover-go-round and morphed into one of the truly great pop bands of their era. Back in the day when I hammered the drums with the Phantom Five we often whipped out ‘Outside Chance’ as a combination Chesterfield Kings/Turtles tribute.
I felt the mix wasn’t redolent enough of garlic butter, so I brought back the previously posted, and always brutal, Franco-garage of Jacques Dutronc’s ‘Et Moi Et Moi Et Moi’. I think you’ll agree that it is a song worth hearing again.
Despite the fact that it is currently being used to sell a Seth Rogen movie, the Yardbirds ‘Over Under Sideways Down’ will always be one of the greatest, fuzzed out bits of freaky, beaty, proto-psychy, wanna be a sitar-y goodness to ever come down the pike. That opening guitar riff still makes my hair stand on end, nearly forty years since I first heard it.
I know almost nothing about Peter Lee Stirling, other than that he seems to have released a number of poppy 45s before ending up fronting Alan Hawkshaw’s supergroup Rumplestiltskin. ‘8:35 On the Dot’ is a fine bit of late 60s UK pop.
Coming from th every same comp is a song that I’ve been chasing on vinyl for years (unsuccessfully), ‘Drop Everything and Run’ by Thane Russal and Three. Russal recorded a bunch of much harder-edged Mod stuff before this, but there’s a certain pop naivete in the grooves of this number that I find appealing in an underappreciated mid-period Rolling Stones-y way.
I’ve already gone into depth describing the blood-curdling, 1965-ish, awesome-osity of the Changing Tymes’ ‘How Is the Air Up There’, which is record of unique power and fuzz.
The last cut here is one that has appeared in this space before, in a post dedicated to spanking the Choir for the unabashed thievery herein (with apologies to the Nashville Teens). That said, ‘I’m Going Home’, yet another record I first heard via the Chesterfield Kings (aka Rochester’s Newest Hitmakers) is still a killer.
I hope you dig the mix, and with any luck I will return to you in a week, stuffed to the gills with lobsters and fresh New England air.

Peace
Larry


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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for a jazzy/funky edition of Funky16Corners Radio.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too…

Philamore Lincoln – The North Wind Blew South

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Philamore Lincoln

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Listen – Philamore Lincoln – The North Wind Blew South – MP3

Greetings all.

I hope all is well with you as the week draws to a close.
I’d like to start by noting that I’ll be away next week, so I’ll be posting a new mix for your delectation during that period.
The tune I bring you today is a vaguely trippy number by a cat with a the vaguely trippy name of Philamore Lincoln.
I first heard of Lincoln when one of his early 45s was included on one of the Rubble comps back in the 80s. It was around the same time that I was fortunate enough to score a copy of his 1970 album at a record show.
Not much is known about Lincoln, though if you get your Google on you’ll see that the album from which today’s selection comes has long been rumored to have featured the talents of a couple of 1968-era Yardbirds, including a certain Mr. Page on guitar. I don’t believe this rumor has ever been fully substantiated, though Yardbirds rhythm guitarist/bassist (and professional photographer) Chris Dreja took the front and back cover photos for the album.
Today’s selection, the album’s title cut ‘The North Wind Blew South’ is an airy, eerie tune with a baroque underpinning and a vaguely sinister sounding chorus. It’s a great example of where pop-sike was heading at the turn of the decade, right before it fell off the edge of the earth into the prog-volcano. There are touches of the sound there, but the Hobbits and unicorns have yet to arrive (or at least step out into the lyrics). There’s a groovy bagpipe-like sound (which sounds like some kind of woodwind, oboe, cor anglais???), and Lincoln’s breathy vocals remind the listener what a long shadow Donovan cast. One of the other tracks on the album, Lincoln’s ‘Temma Harbour’ was a huge UK hit for Mary Hopkin (apparently before Lincoln’s album was released).
I hope you dig the tune, and I’ll be back (eventually).

Peace

Larry

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some funky prog.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider, updated 2/18

The Mindbenders Meet the Lulu (and Sidney Poitier)

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Judy Geeson and Lulu step it up for the Mindbenders

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Listen – The Mindbenders – It’s Getting Harder All the Time – MP3

Listen – The Mindbenders – Off and Running – MP3

Greetings all.

The 45 I bring you today is one of those things that was hanging around in the asteroid belt of my want list for years, eluding me – as it turns out – only by virtue of my own ignorance (but we should all be used to that by now..).
I probably saw ‘To Sir With Love’ for the first time more than 30 years ago, but it wasn’t until the garage/psych/beat years of the mid-80s that I finally took notice of the band playing at the school dance in the film. It was around that time that someone (probably Mr. Luther) hepped me to the fact that what I was seeing was no ordinary fake-movie-band, but the newly Wayne Fontana-less Mindbenders working it out for Sidney, Lulu and the Gang.
I fell in love with one of the songs the Mindbenders played in the movie – ‘It’s Getting Harder All the Time’ – and always wanted a copy, which for some reason I thought was only available on the soundtrack LP from the film (which I never found).
So, a while back I’m on my little DJ excursion to DC and Virginia, and I’m out digging and I happen upon the Mindbenders section in a 45 rack. Now, the first thing I’m looking for (and sure I’m never going to find) is that band’s freakbeat masterpiece ‘The Morning After’. So, in I dive, and though that particular 45 was not to be found, what I did find made me just as happy, that being a 45 with the two Mindbenders songs from ‘To Sir With Love’ (the other being ‘Off and Running’). Oddly enough this 45 does not appear to have been issued in the UK.
While neither of the songs has the kick of ‘The Morning After’, they are both quite good. ‘It’s Getting Harder All the Time’ is a fantastic pop song with just a touch of freakbeat around the edges. Eric Stewart’s guitar solo definitely shows signs of the jagged edge of ‘The Morning After’.
Where ‘It’s Getting Harder…’ is forward looking, ‘Off and Running’ has its stylistic feet planted firmly a few years back in the Beat boom. Following the vaguely arty minuet-like opening section, the tune drops down into a fast stop-start pattern. It’s not as sophisticated a tune as ‘It’s Getting Harder…’ but it’s groovy nonetheless. Interestingly it would appear that both songs come from sources outside the group, with ‘It’s Getting Harder All the Time’ credited to Charles Albertine and Ben Raleigh* and ‘Off and Running’ to Carol Bayer (later Sager) and Toni Wine.
I hope you dig the tunes, and I’ll be back on Friday.

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In other news – Last night I watched a fantastic radio history documentary called ‘Radio Revolution: The Rise and Fall of the Big 8′. The film’s writer/director Michael McNamara wrote me and asked if I’d be interested in checking it out, and fortunately I relplied in the affirmative.
The film is the story of legendary Windsor, Ontario radio powerhouse CKLW which was for many years a huge force in Detroit radio (the Motor City sitting just across the river from Windsor).
The film brings to life one of the great stories of the Top 40 era, though CKLW was much more than your run of the mill pop radio outlet. Thanks in large part to their trendsetting program director Rosalie Trombley, CKLW featured a healthy dose of black music in their playlist (which should be obvious if you’ve ever picked up one of those CKLW LPs in the field).
Though the music is obviously the most important part of the story, it’s worth the price of admission just for the tales of CKLWs “20/20″ news team.
I’m a huge fan of the classic days of rock radio, and if you are too this film is highly recommended. There are interviews with Mitch Ryder, Brother Wayne Kramer, Dave Marsh, Martha Reeves and Alice Cooper among others.
You can purchase it via the Markham Street Films website.

Peace

Larry

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* Albertine and Raleigh both appear to have been working pop songwriters as far back as the mid-50s (Raleigh wrote the lyrics for Johnny Mathis’ ‘Wonderful Wonderful’)

PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some soul jazz.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider, updated 2/18

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