It’s Pledge Drive Time

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Greetings all.

It’s time for the yearly Pledge Drive, which, although rooted over at the motherblog, Funky16Corners, benefits all the satellites in the Funky16Corners empire, Iron Leg being the most prominent.
I do have something planned for Iron Leg, but preparations over at Funky16Corners, coupled with an insanely busy week (and weekend) have pushed that back until at least Tuesday.
Bear with me, and if you dig what I do here (or there, or in both locations) and you can afford it in these trying economic times, toss a couple of bucks in the hat (by heading over to Funky16Corners and clicking the donate buttons) so that I can keep on doing what it is I do.
And, if you dig funk and soul, make sure to fall by Funky16Corners for no less than eight new mixes in celebration of the opening of our new feature, the Funky16Corners Soul Club.

Peace

Larry


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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for the opening ceremonies of the Funky16Corners Soul Club!!.

The Tradewinds – Mind Excursion

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The Trade Winds

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Listen – The Trade Winds – Mind Excursion – MP3

Greetings all.

I hope the end of the week finds you well.
This has been a weird week, running the gamut from chilly, fogbound mornings to blazingly hot afternoons, i.e. a typical New Jersey spring, during which almost any kind of conditions can be expected. I wouldn’t be all that shocked to look out the window and see fluffy snowflakes drifting toward the ground.
The tune I bring you today is a light, breezy, sunshiney bit of pop with just the finest bit of psychedelic filigree pasted around the edges.
I only heard ‘Mind Excursion’ by the Tradewinds in the last year, but loved it from the very first. It took a little while before I realized that this was the same group that recorded ‘New York’s a Lonely Town’, the New Yorkiest Brian Wilson cop of all time, recorded for Leiber and Stoller’s Red Bird label.
‘Mind Excursion’ grazed the outside of the Top 40 in the fall of 1966. A pure pop confection, the song is only tangentially psychedelic (most via the lyrics) sounding like a cross between the Lovin’ Spoonful and the Cowsills. The arrangement by Jimmy Wisner (who worked on so many great Philly records) manages to use harp and glockenspiel as the perfect complement to the sweet melody without ever going over the top. The song is ‘light’, but in a perfectly balanced way. The lyrics, namechecking ‘Keds’ and ‘injuns’ (?!?) are naïve but not stupid, paving the way for a lot of what would later be known as ‘sunshine pop’.
Oddly enough ‘Mind Excursion’ – like Gary Lewis and the Playboys equally innocuous ‘Green Grass’ – was banned by overly cautious programmers in some markets. In retrospect this seems insane, but the airwave were a much more sensitive place in 1966.
I hope you dig the tune as much as I do, and I’ll be back on Monday.

Peace

Larry

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some soul jazz.

Van Dyke Parks – Vine Street / Palm Desert

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Genius at work…

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Listen – Van Dyke Parks – Vine Street / Palm Desert – MP3

Greetings all.

I hope all is well in your corner of the universe.
Things are pretty good in mine (so far).
The tune’s I bring you today are the result of one of those decade-long reappraisals, in which the addition of a certain amount of maturity allowed me to shed my youthful prejudices and truly appreciate something very cool.
I first heard Van Dyke Parks’ ‘Song Cycle’ album back in the 80s. I borrowed (or had it taped for me, I can’t quite recall) it mainly because it was one of those records that seemed firmly wedged in the outer reaches of the 1960s zeitgeist, lauded by many, lip service applied to its classic status by most, who also attested to the genius of its creator.
I mainly knew of Parks via his associations with a number of Los Angeles artists with whom he worked, or was friendly, first and foremost being Brian Wilson, with whom he tried to create the aborted ‘Smile’ LP.
As you might have already guessed, I sat down to listen to ‘Song Cycle’ and my immature, unseasoned brain reacted poorly to it, unable to get a handle on exactly what was going on. The record was neither purely poppy – in the mid 60s Sunset Strip manner – nor was it traditionally psychedelic. That I didn’t ‘get’ it doesn’t really tell the whole tale. My reaction was less quizzical than repulsed, but it is important to mention that at the time I first heard this record, I was pickling my grey matter in a brine composed largely of snotty garage punk.
So, circa 1986, ‘Song Cycle’ gets shelved (or placed in the circular file) and I push Van Dyke Parks right back to the periphery and leave him there for a good long time.
Flash forward twenty-odd years and things are no longer as they once were, my brain newly inflated with all kinds of sounds that I didn’t used to understand, so much so that I was verily starving for more of the same. Those years since I first heard ‘Song Cycle’ were packed solid with jazz, avant garde, sunshine pop, classical music, country and pretty much anything else, up to and including a rapprochement with the music of the aforementioned Brian Wilson and his garcons sur le plage, whom I had never really taken seriously (much to my own detriment).
Part of this new understanding was a bit of serious reading about Wilson, during which I learned a lot more about Van Dyke Parks, so much so that I was compelled to seek out ‘Song Cycle’ and take it out for another test ride.
Once again, as you probably already figured out, the sounds on that particular album found purchase on the rocky shores of my brain in a way that they couldn’t (and didn’t) two decades previous, and my mind was good and truly blown.
‘Song Cycle’ is – however difficult for the uninitiated – is a true work of genius. An odd, eclectic genius, but genius nonetheless.
In a time where most of his contemporaries were getting high and far out, Parks was at work in his lab, blending ragtime, Tin Pan Alley pop, show tunes, modern classical music like Copland and Ives, country and folk into a remarkable, truly original mixture.
It’s important to remember that at the time every so-called ‘genius’ was throwing all kinds of odd sounds at the wall to see what would stick, but very few placed the disparate parts side by side, with enough knowledge and insight to see where the interlocking parts lined up. Parks did that, and then some.
‘Song Cycle’ was an early concept album, tapping into a lost (or fading) Americana, traveling deep into types of music that others merely dabbled with.
Sadly, though ‘Song Cycle’ is the work of a singular, highly developed mind, Parks’ sensibility was unique and far beyond the understanding of the pop audience. It’s like the books of James Joyce, consistently difficult, but ultimately rewarding to those that take the time to plumb their depths. What seems on the surface to be a tangle of oddly assembled bric-a-brac is, after the proper consideration revealed to be a window onto an entirely new approach to seeing things.
This is not to say that ‘Song Cycle’ is not pleasing to the ear, which it is, but rather that it comes at the listener from so many different places, at first listen it seems like some kind of musical slide show.
It is psychedelic, but in a way that opens and expands the mind – via the ears – in ways outside of the standard operating procedure, and one must be immersed, and allowed to soak in its wonders before all is revealed.
The medley I bring you today ‘Vine Street’ and ‘Palm Desert’ are the opening tracks of ‘Song Cycle’. ‘Vine Street’ was composed by Randy Newman – no slouch himself in the Americana department – with ‘Palm Desert’ penned by Parks himself. The ‘song’ actually opens with a snippet of tape with Parks playing bluegrass with an early group of his, morphing into ‘Vine Street’ with a sound like stepping through a time machine into an earlier version of the same scene.
Park’s thin, high voice narrates the song as if it were the first page of a novel, letting you know what you’re hearing, then fleshing out the story with string filled wonder that seems to quote Scott Joplin and Beethoven at the same time (with a little Charles Ives thrown into the mix as well). It really is suite-like, with even the smallest bits of connective tissue endowed with mystery. There’s a twenty second transition that starts around 1:42 that might as well be the musical illustration of the scene in the ‘Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy regains consciousness and first steps out the door into Munchkinland. It sounds like the narrators eyes, and general perception are adjusting and bringing a new scene into focus.
Parks then switches gears into ‘Palm Desert’, one of the finest (in every sense of the word) little musical vignettes you’re ever likely to hear. It is both an ode to the old story of the magical, silver screen Hollywood, and another part of the narrative where you feel you’re with Parks, driving into, and marveling at the sights and sounds of the city, though if you dip into the poetic lyrics, there seems to be the tiniest bit of Nathaniel West-esque tarnish and venom peeking in around the edges of the gilded snapshot.
It really is a remarkable beginning to an equally impressive album, that draws you in to the point where you might find yourself attempting to give it closer and closer listens, so that all of its facets are revealed.
It’s heavy like that.
If you haven’t heard the album, grab yourself a copy. If you don’t like what you hear, file it away and come back to it later. You never know what time might do to your ears.
See you later in the week.

Peace

Larry

 

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some Chicago funk.

Chad Mitchell – For What It’s Worth

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Chad Mitchell

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Listen – Chad Mitchell – For What It’s Worth – MP3

Greetings all.

I hope the end of the week finds you well.
The tune I bring you today is something I dug up at the last Allentown All-45 show. The last trip to the storied maelstrom of 7-inch vinyl was a rewarding one, the spoils of which were at least as Iron Leggy as the were Funky16Cornered (i.e. lots of great pop and rock alongside the funk and soul).
While I was there I managed to stop by a number of favorite dealers, some who I hit up for big ticket items, and others who just seem to always bring boxes of good cheap(er) stuff as well. One of these guys always manages to have a little of both, i.e. a few small boxes of heavy stuff (garage, psyche and soul) and several crates of unsorted, less expensive but always interesting stock that I love digging through whenever our paths cross.
This time was no exception, and I left his table with a nice fat stack of pop, rock and psyche stuff, some of which has already appeared in this very space.
Today’s selection was part of that stack.
I’m always on the lookout for interesting cover material, and when I flipped past the familiar name (Chad Mitchell) doing an interesting cover (the Buffalo Springfield’s ‘For What It’s Worth’) I pulled it out and tossed it on the keeper pile.
Mitchell is best known for his years leading the popular commercial folk act the Chad Mitchell Trio. He left the group in 1965, after which he was replaced by a young up and comer named John Denver. The group continued on for a few years (as the Mitchell Trio), and Mitchell went on to a somewhat less successful solo career.
He headed west and recorded with a heavy group of LA sessioners. The results were the single you’re going to hear today (from 1968) and a full album a year later.
Mitchell’s version of the Springfield’s oft covered, biggest (only) hit would register as fairly run of the mill folk rock, were it not augmented by extra-heavy, era-appropriate fuzz guitar courtesy of Al Casey and Jerry McGee.
If the power chords during the chorus weren’t jarring enough, wait until the years ahead of their time twin lead guitars pop up!
I haven’t been able to track down a copy of the 1969 LP, which features some interesting cover material (Tim Buckley, Joni Mitchell, HP Lovecraft (?!?), but I’ll definitely keep my eyes peeled.
I hope you dig this track, and I’ll be back next week with something cool.

Peace

Larry

 

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for a soulful reggae 45.

The String Bending Genius of Clarence White aka Bad Night at the Whiskey

Example Clarence White and his gee-tar… Example Listen – The Byrds – Bad Night at the Whiskey – MP3 Greetings all. How’s by thee? I figured I’d get the week off to a big start with a record that- after the first time I heard it, decades ago – quite literally blew my mind. Like any self respecting music nut, I’ve been a Byrds fan for most of my life. When I was a kid it was all about the well-known jingle jangle of ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ and ‘Turn Turn Turn’, and a little further down the line, when my hair was longer and my mind bent just enough to see around corners (courtesy of chemical indulgences), I got all up inside ‘Draft Morning’ and such. However – big however – when my brother passed along a copy of ‘Dr Byrds and Mr Hyde’ an album that I had not previously known of, I dropped the needle on the record and by the time it skated off into the runoff grooves on side two, NOTHING, especially in relation to the Byrds, was as it had been before. And you can thank one man for this tectonic shift, the mighty Clarence White. By late 1968, the Byrds, having transformed once already (into the country gentlemen of ‘Sweetheart of the Rodeo’) found themselves mutating yet again when Chris Hillman and Gram Parsons bolted to form the Flying Burrito Brothers, leaving Roger McGuinn the sole original member of the band. McGuinn had good taste to bring Clarence White into the band as lead guitarist, and despite what any number of Byrds fans will tell you, created the work of genius that is ‘Dr Byrds and Mr Hyde’. White, like Hillman, got his start playing bluegrass music, but by the time he hooked up with the Byrds the lysergic sunshine of southern California had seemingly permeated every cell in his body (or at least his fingers) turning him into one of the most formidable guitarists of his day. In fact, I would gladly line up White’s playing on ‘Dr Byrds..’ against any of the accepted masters of the day, with the possible exception of Jimi Hendrix. One need only slap on their headphones and listen to today’s selection ‘Bad Night at the Whiskey’ to understand that I am not engaging in hyperbole. Following the opening drum roll, Clarence White’s guitar literally explodes, bringing a sound that is equal parts Nashville and Owsley acid. There are two leads competing for ear-space, the first a mind boggling psychedelic cry that bounces through your head from ear to ear and back again, the second a fuzzed out country twang, all banging up against McGuinn’s lead vocal and a chorus of singers. It seems almost unfair to refer to ‘Bad Night at the Whiskey’ as psychedelic, because as mind-bending as it is, it includes almost none of the accepted signifiers. This isn’t collapsed on the couch with a smile on your face music (i.e. pot). This something much closer to how Grace Slick once described an STP trip, i.e. like being shot out of a cannon. In the space of less than three and a half minutes, McGuinn and White pop open your head, grab your brain and take it for a ride through the smog, brush fires and psychedelic chemistry of fin de decennie Los Angeles. I’d even go as far as to say that ‘Bad Night at the Whiskey’ may be too strong a quaff for some. So potent is White’s guitar, that every time things settle down for just a second, leading the listener to think that maybe, just maybe things are going to be fine, Clarence and his Telecaster swoop down like some kind of mad eagle, sinking his claws into your ears yet again and carrying you up above the clouds. Though ‘Sweetheart of the Rodeo’ is usually spoken of as the watershed LA country rock album, I’d say that that title really belongs to ‘Dr Byrds and Mr Hyde’, in which country and actual rock (something is rather short supply on ‘Sweetheart…’, on account of country music played by longhairs isn’t automatically ‘rock’) are blended quite confidently. There in the grooves of that album resides the true admixture of shiny LA modernism, LSD and the sound of privileged rock stars, dressed in cowboy drag, getting high in their Laurel Canyon backyards. ‘Dr Byrds and Mr Hyde’ is the sound of a brief tipping point within the zeitgeist, before which McGuinn was in danger of losing his band to Gram Parsons, and after which the whole lot of them grew their hair way too long and started looking like stray members of the hippie love cult. There’s film of the Dr Byrds-era band playing on Playboy After Dark where you can get a look at Clarence White, and listen to him work his magic on ‘This Wheel’s On Fire’. Clarence White would stay with the Byrds until 1973, and was just getting started on his solo career when he was killed by a drunk driver. You need only listen to this song, over, and over, and over again, to realize how big a loss that was. See you later in the week. Peace Larry

 

Example PS Head over to Funky16Corners for a game changing soul 45 by Wayne Cochran.

The Hassles – You’ve Got Me Hummin’

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The Hassles – Mr William Joel on the left…

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Listen – The Hassles – You’ve Got Me Hummin’ – MP3

Greetings all.

I hope all is well on your end.
I was going to write up today’s selection a few weeks back, but when I sat down to work I rrealized that I had forgotten to take a picture of the label. This problem was compounded by the fact that by the time I figured this out, the 45 in question had already been swallowed by the record room. Having just completed the renovation of said room, I was in no mood to go looking for it, so I moved it to the back burner and figured I’d dig it out some time when I had the energy (physical and intellectual) to devote to the search,
Then, as is often the case, chance stepped in and while I was pulling records for my Funky16Corners radio show, I came across a stack of 45s, several of which needed to be photographed for Iron Leg, and adjusted the schedule accordingly.
The record in question is ‘You’ve Got Me Hummin’ by the Hassles.
If the song is familiar, that’s probably because it was originally recorded by the legendary Sam and Dave.
If the group name rings a bell, it’s because this record represents the very first recorded evidence of the musical talent of a minor recording artist of the 70s, 80s, 90s and the new century, a certain Billy Joel.
That’s right kiddies…the heretofore unthinkable has happened, that being the intersection of Iron Leg and the Piano Man.
This isn’t to say that I haven’t listened to and appreciated the music of Billy Joel, because I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t. While I wouldn’t describe myself as a big fan, his music was a huge part of the zeitgeist of my youth, and despite having created a handful of songs I NEVER need to hear again (including all of his “list” songs, like ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’ and its ilk), he is undeniably talented and a man with a knack for crafting memorable melodies.
By the time Billy Joel joined the Hassles in 1966, he had already played in a number of Long Island bands. He was a replacement keyboardist/vocalist for the band, and while I have no idea what they sounded like before he came aboard, one can only imagine him kicking the talent quotient up a notch or two.
Already a popular local act, the Hassles signed to United Artists and recorded their first album in 1967. ‘You’ve Got Me Hummin’ grazed the national Top 100 in the Fall of that year, making a much more substantial impression on local New York radio.
The Hassles version of the tune featuring co-lead vocals and organ by Joel is a pretty nice version of the tune, adding in light touches of psychedelic lead guitar to the whiteboy soul vibe. I’ve seen the Hassles compared to the Rascals, but I’d say that’s more likely due to the accident of geographic proximity, with their sound drawing much more from the garagey side of things.
If you get the chance, line this one up between the Sam and Dave original (which, naturally cannot be fucked with on any level, especially the Isaac Hayes piano line) and the cover from a few years later by Lydia Pense and Cold Blood, which makes for an interesting comparison, as well as a testament to the quality (and flexibility) of the Hayes/Porter composition.
It’s important to consider the depth and breadth of white acts covering contemporary soul material, looking at acts that approached these songs from a more reverent angle (i.e. those, like the Rascals that were trying to be soulful) and those, like the Hassles and Vanilla Fudge (a band that spent a lot of time reworking soul songs) who were rock bands grappling with soulful material and taking it down new avenues. The results may not have been transcendent, but I’m not inclined to hold them to a higher standard either. ‘You’ve Got Me Hummin’ may have started out as a ‘soul’ song, but at the end of the day, it was still a great song and open to all kinds of interpretation.
I hope you dig the tune, and I’ll see you all on Monday.

Peace

Larry

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for both sides of a Pennsylvania funk 45.

Two by the Humblebums

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Messrs Connolly and Rafferty

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Listen – The Humblebums – My Apartment

Listen – The Humblebums – All the Best People Do It

Greetings all.
I return to you following a weekend of non-wellness, in that it was spent in the company of physicians, nurses and whatnot, part of the time devoted to me figuring out how quickly I might get in and out of the hospital (for yet another procedure) and back to my lair where I might cavort with my wife, kids, and eventually, records…

That said, I set out to pick a selection for today and discovered once again that I had forgotten to photograph the record, so I dipped back into the reserves and grabbed something else.

Today’s selections are by the same group, which would seem obvious until you listen to them and realize that they were clearly the work of two divergent stylists.

That they happened to be in the same band, and both went on to a significantly higher level of fame and fortune is where we get started.

I first heard/heard of the Humblebums maybe 20 years ago when I happened upon one of their tracks on a compilation of UK folk rock and discovered that among their ranks were Billy Connolly (the world famous comedian who has since become a fave of mine) and Gerry Rafferty (he of the 70s AM gold).

That first tune didn’t make much of an impression, but I was always intrigued by the concept of a band that included both of them. It wasn’t until last year, as I was digging down in Washington, DC that I actually happened upon one of their albums.

When I had the chance to give it a listen I was pleased to discover that it wasn’t a mass of comedic novelties, but rather a satisfying intersection of Connolly’s wry, folkie vibe and Rafferty’s pure pop.

Rafferty was not an original member of the group, joining after their first LP. The roots of his later hits are clearly visible in ‘All the Best People Do It’, with his pleasing voice, Beatle-y hooks and arrangements. I really dig the electric piano on this track.

Connolly’s track, ‘My Apartment’ reveals that he was a pretty good singer, shedding much of his thick brogue for an American accented style, no doubt honed playing country and folk in Scottish bars.

The rest of the album is similarly divided stylistically, which goes a long way to explaining why the band broke up by 1971, with Rafferty moving on to Stealer’s Wheel and Connolly to a hugely successful career as a stand-up and actor.

I hope you dig the tracks, and I’ll be back later in the week with something cool.

Peace

Larry

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for the original version of a big UK R&Beat classic.

Lynn Redgrave RIP

Greetings all.
This week we got the sad news that the great actress, Lynn Redgrave had passed away after a battle with breast cancer.
Though she had a long and illustrious resume, she is fondly remembered to Iron Leg habitues and their ilk as an icon of Swinging London as the star of ‘Georgy Girl’ and ‘Smashing Time’.
I’m reposting this track (from the ‘Smashing Time’ OST) in her memory, and because it’s a really amazing tune, an odd, one-off kind of thing that really ought to be heard.
I’m taking the rest of the week off to take care of some stuff, so I’ll see you all on Monday.
– Larry

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Illustration from the cover of the ‘Smashing Time’ OST

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Listen – Lynn Redgrave – While I’m Still Young – MP3

Greetings all.

This weeks ‘end of week’ post is coming a bit early on account of it’s a holiday and I’m taking the rest of the week off, on account of that’s how I roll on Thanksgiving.
The tune I bring you today is something I dug up onmy recent trip to the Berkshires.
I should start by informing you that the song you are about to hear is nothing less than a demented work of genius, and should be covered by a punk band (garage or otherwise) as soon as humanly possible.
The strangest thing of all is that ‘While I’m Still Young’ is basically a parody to start with, composed to be sung by Lynne Redgrave’s character ‘Yvonne’ in the 1967 film ‘Smashing Time’.
‘Smashing Time’ was always a touchstone of sorts back in the mod days, mainly because it was packed wall to wall with Carnaby Street type scenery, and that it provided an odd little snapshot of the short lived ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ fashion craze in the UK, AND (dig this) a cameo by no less a band than Tomorrow (Keith West, Twink, Steve Howe et al) as a band called the Snarks.
The main thrust of the film is Yvonne and Brenda (Rita Tushingham) heading into the big city in search of stardom, where the former, discovered as a “typical teen” is taken and injection-molded into attempted pop stardom by a cynical record industry.
Today’s selection’While I’m Still Young’ is the highlight of the soundtrack, with a bright, brassy 1967-centric vibe (as seen through the prism of middle aged showbiz types) and an absolutely insane lyric.

I can’t sing but I’m young
Can’t do a thing but I’m young
I’m a fool, but I’m cool
Don’t put me down
I don’t read but I’m young
I’m built for speed cause I’m young
I’m a fool, but I’m cool
I’m not a clown
Don’t give a fig if you don’t dig
That I’m around
I don’t walk but I’m young
I never talk cause I’m young
I won’t cry, if I die
While I’m still young

Yeah baby I’m so young
Yeah baby I’m still so young

The lyrics were written by English satirist/surrealist (and jazz singer) George Melly, and they’re really amazing. ‘While I’m Still Young’ reads like the long lost bridge between raw 1966 punk and snotty 1976 punk, all delivered through Lynne Redgrave’s shrill vocal, laid on top of a cool, sitar tinged arrangement.
I dig it a lot, and I hope you do too.
Have a great holiday and I’ll see you all next week.

Peace

Larry

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for heavy bit of Latin funk.

Neil Young – The Loner

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The first solo LP (I forgot to take a picture of the label…)

Listen – Neil Young – The Loner – MP3

Greetings all.
The new week is dawning, and in a surprise twist that nobody (especially not me) saw coming, all of a sudden it’s summer in New Jersey.
I just came in out of the heat, while my two sons soaked themselves in the sprinkler.
This is the time of year when I enter into one of the great conflicts of my life, wherein my extremely pale, Irish/Swedish self wants to crawl into a chaise lounge and bake in the sun, the catch being that were I to do so, I’d be trading a week in a burn unit for a few moments of delicious sunshine.
So, I bake under an umbrella, watching everyone else have fun in the sun, keeping a close eye on my equally transparent children so that they don’t end up little Irish briquettes, repeating a cycle that probably goes back to the very day some Viking savage stepped off of his longboat and grabbed himself a lovely Irish girl to take back to the fjords.
That said, I sit here now, comfortably ensconced in the air conditioning, tapping away at the ole laptop, feeding the blog again.
The tune I bring you today is by an artist who at first glance would seem a little too “big” for Iron Leg (though he’s occupied this space a few times before inside of other bands).
The man I speak of is the mighty Neil Young.
I’ve said it here before, but to reiterate, aside from Arthur Lee and Love, no American band looms as large for me as the Buffalo Springfield, and next to Stephen Stills, no member of that band was more responsible for its greatness than Neil Young.
Young’s self-titled solo debut was recorded in 1968 and released at the beginning of 1969. ‘Neil Young’ is, like much of his first few solo records a direct stylistic continuation of the foundation he put down with the Buffalo Springfield, mixing an acid-tinged brand of country rock, Laurel Canyon sunshine and Young’s special brand of Canadian bitters.
The track I bring you today has been a favorite of mine for literally decades, a cornerstone of my stoner mix tapes and still near the top of the list years after the last tendrils of weed smoke blew out the window.
That may be one of the reasons Young’s music is so enduring for me, in that while he was always – to a point – of his times, he was also consistently far ahead of the pack.
While bits and pieces of the Sunset Strip were still bobbing in his wake, he was charging ahead, the lonesome whine of a steel guitar winding in and out of his fuzzed out leads and overmodulated organ. Though he employed elements of a ‘country’ sound, compared to the kinds of things Richie Furay was doing in the Springfield, it was clear that he was wrestling with something else entirely.
‘The Loner’, opening with an organ fanfare almost immediately drops down into a what sounds like a slower version of ‘Mr Soul’, firing his leads out in every direction, dueling with the Hammond, grooving alongside some tight drums. The strings – arranged by Jack Nitzsche – manage to augment the track in an almost cinematic way, never softening the impact of the electric guitar as well as providing a bed of sorts for the acoustic guitar as well.
If you haven’t heard the entire ‘Neil Young’ LP, grab yourself a copy. Though ‘The Loner’ and ‘The Old Laughing Lady’ were included on ‘Decade’, it remains one of Neil Young’s worst selling albums, which is a shame since it’s uniformly excellent.
I hope you dig the track, and I’ll be back later in the week.


Peace

Larry

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for a Ray Charles cover of a Stevie Wonder song.

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