RIP Jerry Leiber b/w Peggy Lee – Is That All There Is

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Miss Peggy Lee

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Listen/Download – Peggy Lee – Is That All There Is

Greetings all.

Last week was an especially sad one, considering that we lost both Nick Ashford (of Ashford and Simpson and co-composer of many soul classics) and one of my personal idols, Jerry Leiber of the team of Leiber and Stoller.

I’ll go ahead and assume that most Iron Leg readers are familiar with at least some part of the Leiber and Stoller oeuvre, from their work with the Coasters and the Drifters in the 50s and 60s, their time running the Red Bird/Blue Cat/Tiger labels or later stuff like their producing Stealers Wheel in the early 70s.

I consider the pair to be one of the greatest songwriting/record-crafting teams of the classic era, making music of extraordinary energy and excitement.

As soon as I heard that Jerry Leiber had passed, though there was certainly work to be done at Funky16Corners (If you get a sec drop on by the mothership at Funky16Corners and check out my tribute to the man from last week) it also occurred to me that tribute had to be paid here at Iron Leg as well.

Though the vast majority of the L&S legacy is rooted in R&B and soul, there is a lesser-known chapter in their later years that has held a certain fascination for me.

Allow me to head back many decades to my youth, when my old man brought a certain Peggy Lee 45 into the house.

Though I listened to a lot of my Pop’s records, most of them were jazz or classical.

There was very little contemporary pop in our house, aside from the odd Simon and Garfunkel or 5th Dimension album, or 45s like Joan Baez covering ‘The Night the Drove Old Dixie Down’.

My Pop had been a Peggy Lee fan since her days as a big band singer and had kept up with her career as a pop and jazz singer, often playing her early 60s collaborations with George Shearing.

However, by 1969, Miss Peggy Lee had been without a hit since 1963 and ‘I’m a Woman’, a tune written by none other than Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.

Lee, Leiber and Stoller came back together in the late 60s.

Pieced together from sessions recorded between mid-1967 and early 1969, the album ‘Is That All There Is’, and the single of the title song were both huge hits for Lee.

Now, I know the idea of a 7-year old kid becoming enamored of such an unusual song might seem odd, but that’s the kind of kid I was (and sometimes still am).

When I played my Dad’s 45 of the song over and over again in 1969, I had no idea who Leiber and Stoller were. I also had no inkling of Weimar cabaret and theater, nor of the music created by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht.

I mention Weill and Brecht (who’s music I would become fascinated with as an adult) because ‘Is That All There Is’ is a song created out of the zeitgeist of their catalog. One need only hear ‘The Threepenny Opera’, ‘The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahoggany’, ‘Happy End’ or later Weill work like ‘Knickerbocker Holiday’ (source of ‘September Song’) to realize what Leiber, Stoller and the arranger of ‘Is That All There Is’, a young fellow by the name of Randy Newman, had in mind.

Though the song was initially performed by British singer Georgia Brown, it was first recorded by a New York City disk jockey named Dan Daniels in 1968 (I’d love to hear that!).

It was also recorded by Leslie Uggams prior to Peggy Lee’s version, but it was Lee who took it to the Pop Top 40, and to Number One on the Adult Contemporary charts.

It is a work of singular genius, unusual even for the late 60s, haunting, and especially apt coming from a survivor like Peggy Lee.

If you looked at the label and wondered about ‘International Wrestling Match’, it was the title of an off-Broadway play that Leiber and Stoller were planning on turning into a musical, in which they were planning to include ‘Is That All There Is’. It never came to fruition, making the label credit an obscure but interesting footnote.

She would go on to record another album with Leiber and Stoller, 1975’s ‘Mirrors’ which was written entirely by L&S and arranged by Johnny Mandel. Though none of it rises to the level of ‘Is That All There Is’, it’s still quite interesting and if today’s selection is up your alley (or in your wheelhouse) you ought to pick it up.

I hope you dig the tune, and I’ll be back next week.

Peace

Larry

 

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some soul.

Two Tastes of Moog from the Electronic Concept Orchestra

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Moog and his monster.

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Listen/Download – Electronic Concept Orchestra – Rock Me

Listen/Download – Electronic Concept Orchestra – Grazing In the Grass

Greetings all.

I hope all is well in your part of the world, and that you all had a chance to pull down the ones and zeros on last week’s edition of the Iron Leg Radio Show. It has – as the previous three episodes – been moved to the ILRS Archive (see tab in blog header…).

The tune I bring you today is something unusual and cool that I grabbed recently.

While I’m always on the lookout for easy/kitsch stuff, especially when it treads (warily or not) into what we record people might describe as ‘legitimate’ territory, i.e. rock, psyche or even soul and funk.

I’ve found Enoch Light and his various and sundry offshoots to be a rich source of extra groovy sounds, from unusual takes on 60s rock to serviceably funky versions of James Brown tracks.

One segment of the easy/kitsch/exploit world that I’ve never been a huge fan of is Moog records.

Though I dig the Moog when used as an accent on rock (or other) records, I’ve always thought that as a featured instrument it lacked a certain musicality. It’s novelty in the space age 60s made it a favorite addition to soundtracks, but with rare exception (like Dick Hyman’s epic take on James Brown’s ‘Give It Up or Turn It Loose’) was it ever used to create anything I’d want to listen to more than once in an irony-free environment.

That said, when I do find Moog albums in the field, I grab them because first and foremost I am an inveterate vinyl junkie, and on the off chance that they might turn out to be worth a couple of bucks and could be flipped.

When I ‘Moog Groove’ by the Electronic Concept Orchestra I recognized it right away as something I’d seen listed in crate diggers ‘finds’ posts on a soul/funk board I frequent, and since the price was right I grabbed it, tossed it on the keeper stack and took it home.

Good thing too, since once I dropped the needle on the record (and took a look at the back cover) I realized that this was no ordinary Moog set.

First off, ‘Moog Groove’ was pleasing to the ears in a way that a lot of Moog albums aren’t, i.e. it was clearly recorded by musicians with a modicum of taste and enough skill with the synthesizer to apply it fairly tastefully, i.e. it never ended up sounding like a 23rd century robot orgy.

Secondly, while perusing the back cover I was very pleased indeed to discover that the drummer on the session was one of my favorites, that being Morris Jennings Jr., a longtime member of Ramsey Lewis’s band and a fixture on Cadet Records sessions in the 60s and 70s. Why he was practically the only musician mentioned on the album is a mystery. He wasn’t particularly well known, nor – though it has a couple of nice breaks on it – is the album a drummers tour de force.

I have found a reference that seems to indicate that there were other Cadet sessioners involved in the sessions, including keyboardist Eddie Higgins (who plays the Moog on the ECO’s records) and guitarist Phil Upchurch. This may indicate that these albums were recorded in Chicago, but I can’t say for sure.

What it does have going for it is a nice amalgamation of late 60s pop with the synthesizer worked into the mix as organically as possible.

The selection of covers is both appropriate (i.e. no country Moogification) and interesting.

The two tracks I bring you today are my favorites from the album.

You get to hear a nice take on Hugh Masekela’s ‘Grazing in the Grass’, with the Moog applied with an organists touch, as well as a cool take on Steppenwolf’s ‘Rock Me’. Both tunes also give you a taste of Jennings’ talents as a percussionist.

The Electronic Concept Orchestra released at least two other albums between 1969 and 1973.

I hope you dig the sounds, and I’ll be back next week.

Peace

Larry

 

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some soul.

Iron Leg Radio Episode #4!!

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Beep beep beep beep…..

Playlist

Opening – Action Scene – Hawkshaw/Mansfield (KPM)

Jacques Dutronc – Et Moi Et Moi Et Moi (Vogue)
Ian and the Zodiacs – Na Na Na Na Na (Philips)
Rotary Connection – Burning of the Midnight Lamp (Cadet Concept)
Living Strings – Somebody To Love (Camden)
Litter – My Little Red Book (Probe)
Jethro Tull – Fat Man (Reprise)
Clear Light – Think Again (Elektra)
American Breed Alone Phone Spot

Glenn Campbell – Guess I’m Dumb (Capitol)
Brenda Lee – The Crying Game (Decca)
Colin Blunstone – Caroline Goodbye (Epic)
Enoch Light and the Glittering Guitars – You Showed Me (Project 3)
Linda Ronstadt – She’s a Very Lovely Woman (Capitol)
Love – The Red Telephone (Elektra)
Monkees – Porpoise Song –  45 edit (Colgems)
Pearls Before Swine – I Saw the World  – 45 edit (ESP Disk)
7-UP Commercial

Ascots – Sookie Sookie (Super)
Barbarians – Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl (Laurie)
Changing Times – How Is the Air Up There (Philips)
Music Machine – Trouble (Original Sound)
Peanut Gallery – Out of Breath (Canterbury)
Kingsmen – Trouble (Wand)
Kitchen Cinq – Determination (LHI)
Wayne Logiudice – Come On Lets Get a Little Action On (Philips)
Lindy Blaskey and the Lavells – You Ain’t Tuff (Space)
Guilloteens – Hey You (HBR)
Vanilla Fudge Coke Commercial

Listen/Download -Iron Leg Radio Show Episode 4 – 149MB/256kbps

Greetings all.

The middle of August is here, and that means it’s time again for the Iron Leg Radio Show.

This time out we have even more of the groovy stuff that you’ve come to expect from Iron Leg, with the garage, and the Euro punk, and the sunshine pop, kitsch, freaks (beaten well), sophisticated musical musings, pa-sike-o-modelica and of course anything else that pops.

So, pull out your ears, prepare them for liftoff and pull down the ones and zeros.
See you next week.

Peace

Larry

 

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners

Two By Sonny Curtis

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Sonny Curtis

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Listen/Download – Sonny Curtis – The Straight Life

Listen/Download – Sonny Curtis – Love Is All Around

Greetings all.

I hope all of you are doing well.

I have – after a couple of extraordinarily busy weeks – finally gotten all of my ducks in a row, at least the ones that show up on the interwebs.

The tunes I bring you this fine day are a little on the softer end of the spectrum, at least compared to what normally gets posted here at Iron Leg. They are however, fine examples of late 60s/early 70s pop music, as well as the work of one of the more interesting and prolific songwriters of the last 50 years.

If the name Sonny Curtis isn’t familiar, his music surely is.

Curtis was a boyhood friend and bandmate of the one and only Buddy Holly, and helmed the Crickets after Holly’s untimely passing.

During the 60s he recorded under his own name, but made his living as a songwriter, penning classics like ‘Walk Right Back’ for the Everly Brothers and most famously ‘I Fought the Law’ for the Bobby Fuller Four.

Though he recorded an album of Beatles songs on flamenco guitar (huh??) his first efforts as singer/songwriter were for Snuff Garrett’s Viva label in 1968 and 1969.

The first song I bring you today has long been a favorite of mine in a version recorded by Glen Campbell on his 1968 ‘Wichita Lineman’ album.

‘The Straight Life’ is a whimsical, summery bit of daydreaming that I stumbled across years ago while listening to the Campbell album. The song was immediately familiar, but a little checking seems to indicate I might have been remembering Bobby Goldsboro’s Top 40 recording of the tune from 1968.

If you haven’t explored Glen Campbell’s late 60s albums, do yourself a favor and grab them the nest time you’re out garage-sale-ing. Though he went on to a career as a country star, Campbell had excellent taste in material and his late 60s Capitol albums (like ‘Gentle On My Mind’ and ‘Wichita Lineman’) are filled with all kinds of cool singer/songwriter material, including covers of Donovan, Nilsson and Bee Gee’s tunes, all delivered with the singer’s crystal clear tenor and backed by a who’s who of LA sessioners.

That said, after discovering lo those many years ago that Sonny Curtis had written ‘The Straight Life’, I wondered if he had recorded a contemporary version of the song, and set out in search it. As it turns out he waxed it on the 1969 LP ‘The Sonny Curtis Style’ (though it was released as a single in 1968 and just missed the Country Top 40).

Curtis’s version of the song is a little more laid back (and less produced) than Campbell’s, and though he was a much less powerful singer, I still dig his version.

Interestingly enough (there’s always a footnote, isn’t there) the best known thing Sonny Curtis ever wrote or recorded was the theme for ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’. ‘Love Is All Around’ – the version here seems to be different from the recording used on the show – was released as a single in 1973 and doesn’t appear to have charted at all. It’s kind of cool to hear it outside of the context of the show, as well as surprising that it didn’t have more success on the radio.

Curtis went on to success as a country singer and songwriter and is still touring with a version of the Crickets today.

I hope you dig the sounds, and I’ll see you all next week.

Peace

Larry

 

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some soul.

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