Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band – Diddy Wah Diddy b/w Who Do You Think You’re Fooling

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Captain Beefheart (2nd from right) and the Magic Band circa 1966

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Listen/Download – Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band – Diddy Wah Diddy

Listen/Download – Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band – Who Do You Think You’re Fooling

Greetings all.

I have something very special for you today.

Captain Beefheart has always been something of a mystery to me (and a whole lot of other folks, too).

For most of my adult life, the good Captain was but a cipher to me, known only as the wild, mysterious musical being responsible for that album with the fish on it (Trout Mask Replica).

I didn’t know his music, nor did I know anyone who did.

There were some Zappa devotees in my orbit, who might have been acquainted with Beefheart’s more challenging sounds via their close association but none of them ever shared any of it.

The first actual Beefheart I heard, was the deranged and amazing ‘Abba Zabba’, which had been included on an import psych comp I picked up in the late 80s.

That piqued my curiousity, which made me seek out his 1967 LP ‘Safe As Milk’.

It was there that I had my skull split open by the mighty ‘Zig Zag Wanderer’, and thusly dipped my toe, ever so gently into the Beefheartian universe.

I made the requisite run at ‘Trout Mask Replica’, and was unable to breach its weirdness, but have since tunneled my way in a bit, working my way through some of his more approachable stuff, hoping that someday the molten core of his art would reveal itself to me.

I didn’t realize that Beefheart had ever done anything truly “conventional” until someone played his version of the old Bo Diddley classic ‘Diddy Wah Diddy’ for me.

That Beefheart and an early incarnation of the Magic Band had recorded actual, bluesy garage rock (with David Gates producing, no less!!) was at first stunning. Eventually I was able to see/hear how this 45 – recorded in 1966 – was a logical first chapter in the Captain Beefheart story.

The touchstone for me – with Beefheart – has always been the sound of Howling Wolf, someone who the good Captain had clearly digested fully.

Of course what Beefheart did with that sound, i.e. spit it back out like some kind of cubist mindfuck, like Rahsaan Roland Kirk and the Monks having a drunken battle of the bands in a back alley somewhere, was something else entirely.

Much like the Mothers of Invention on ‘Freak Out’, Captain Beefheart’s sound on ‘Diddy Wah Diddy’ is the sound of a sonic maverick with one foot in conventional pop and the other on a psychotic banana peel. While this is much more evident on ‘Safe As Milk’, there is no denying that it is here as well.

The sound of ‘Diddy Wah Diddy’ is rooted in the UK R&B of the day, yet if you listen closely it also sounds like a busload of mental patients rolling down a hill playing tubas (dig that morbidly obese fuzz bass).

There’s enough 66-era skronk, and the harmonica, to tie it into the SoCal garage thing, but if you had any idea of the journey that Beefheart was about to embark on, it’s not hard to see it take root here.

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The Cap’n amongst a star-studded line up in Hollywood

The flipside, ‘Who Do You Think You’re Fooling’ (credited on the label to ‘Don Vliet’ before he added the ‘Van’) is even a little bit more mainstream than the A-side, and is very groovy indeed.

Beefheart and the Magic band recorded one more 45 for A&M, featuring the David Gates-penned ‘Moonchild’.

You should take a gander at Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band working it out 1966 style on ‘Where the Action Is’.

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.

Iron Leg Radio Show Episode #24

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Beep beep beep beep…..

Playlist

Opener – Action Scene – Hawkshaw/Mansfield (KPM)
Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart – Sometimes She’s a Little Girl (A&M)
Bobby Goldsboro – Little Things (UA)
McCoys – Like You Do To Me (Bang)
Paul Revere and the Raiders – SS396 (Columbia Special Products)
Left Banke – Lazy Day (Smash)
Robbs – Bittersweet (Mercury)
Love Generation – The Love In Me (Imperial)
Don and the Goodtimes – Little Sally Tease (Dunhill)
The Equals – My Life Ain’t Easy (President)
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls Movie Spot

The Cowsills – All I Really Wanta Be Is Me (Joda)
The Cowsills – What’s It Gonna Be Like (Philips)
The Cowsills – Most of All (Philips)
The Cowsills – Gotta Get Away From It All (MGM)
The Cowsills – I Need a Friend (MGM)
The Cowsills – Make the Music Flow (MGM)
The Cowsills – Ask the Children (MGM)
The Cowsills – Can’t Measure the Cost of a Woman Lost (MGM)
The Cowsills – Paperback Writer (MGM)
The Cowsills – Good Time Charley (MGM)
The Cowsills – Anything Changes (MGM)
The Cowsills –Milk Ad

Hollies – King Midas In Reverse (Epic 45 Mix)
Balloon Busters – Alcock & Browne (Chess)
Changin’ Times – Free Spirit (She Comes On) (Bell)
Aerial Landscape – Proposition 13 (RCA)
The Banned – Goodbye Groovy Goodbye (Fontana)
Chris and Peter Allen – My Silent Symphony (Mercury)
Baker Street Philharmonic – Tycho (World Pacific)
The Cyrkle – Camaro (Columbia Special Products)
The Fashions – Baby That’s Me (Cameo)
Bonzo Dog Band – I’m the Urban Spaceman (Imperial)
Who Coke Spot

Listen/Download -Iron Leg Radio Show Episode 24 – 172MB/256kbps

Greetings all.

Welcome to this month’s episode of the Iron Leg Radio Show.

This time out you get a grip of stellar new arrivals, as well as the first part of survey of one of the truly underrated groups of the 60s, the Cowsills.

This month you get some early rarities and non-hit album sides.

Next month you’ll hear some of their later material, Bill Cowsill solo stuff as well as some other related rarities.

As always, I hope you dig the show, and I’ll see you all next week.

Peace

Larry

 

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners

Iron Leg Radio Show Episode #19

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Beep beep beep beep…..

Playlist

Intro/Action Scene – Hawkshaw/Mansfield (KPM)
Byrds – Bad Night at the Whiskey (Columbia)
Brian Auger and Julie Driscoll – Save Me (Polydor)
Captain Beefheart – Who Do You Think You’re Fooling (A&M)
Chris Farlowe – Out of Time (Immediate)
Chris Farlowe – Baby Make It Soon (Immediate)
The Coopers – Didn’t I (White Whale)
The Hassles – You Got Me Hummin’ (UA)
Standells – Why Did You Hurt Me (Tower)
The Yardbirds – No Excess Baggage (Epic)
Yardbirds – Great Shakes Commercial

Hardy Boys – Here Come the Hardys (RCA/Dunwich)
Tradewinds – Mind Excursion (Kama Sutra)
Small Circle of Friends – Kind of Wasted Without You (A&M)
Pleasure Faire – Morning Glory Days (UNI)
Puppet – Best Friend (Date)
James Griffin – Miracle Worker (Viva)
Fun and Games – Don’t Worry Baby (White Whale)
Free Design – Bubbles (Project 3)
Brian Hyland – The Joker Went Wild (Philips)
Grin – White Lies (Spindizzy)
Blades of Grass – I Love You Alice B Toklas (Jubilee)
I Love You Alice B Toklas Movie Promo

Beaver and Krause – People’s Park 45 (WB)
Ananda Shankar – Light My Fire (Reprise)
The Fire Escape – The Trip (GNP Crescendo)
Cher – Hey Joe (Imperial)
Holy Mackerel – Scorpio Red (Reprise)
Living Strings – San Francisco Nights (Camden)
Mickey Newbury – Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) (RCA)
Peggy Lipton – The Lady of the Lake (Ode)
Mars Bonfire – Lady Moonwalker (UNI)
Scott Walker – Mrs Murphy (Philips)
Terry Reid – Stay With Me (Epic)
Van Dyke Parks – Datsun Commercial

Listen/Download -Iron Leg Radio Show Episode 19 – 176MB/256kbps

Greetings all.

I hope all is well in your part of the world.

It’s time once again for the Iron Leg Radio Show, episode 19!

This time around we have a great one for you, with three long sets of very groovy music.

We get things started with a bunch of garage and other rock, roll on into a set of sunshine and lighter fare, and close things out with a long, trippy grouping of sounds.

As always, I hope you dig it, and I’ll be back next week with something cool.

Peace

Larry

 

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners

The It Don’t Matter To Me Variations

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Bread (L-R Royer, Griffin, Gates)

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Listen/Download – Bread – It Don’t Matter To Me (LP Version)

Listen/Download – Bread – It Don’t Matter To Me (45 Version)

Listen/Download – Josie and the Pussycats – It Don’t Matter To Me

Listen/Download – Petula Clark – It Don’t Matter To Me

Greetings All…

Whether or not those of you that fall by Iron Leg on the reg ever expected to see the music of Bread here (if you were paying attention I suspect that you did, but whatevs…) I think you will dig the tracks I bring you today.

I have certainly made reference to Bread as a group (via covers of their songs) and component parts (by posting the early sounds made by members David Gates, Robb Royer and James Griffin), and have mentioned before that ‘It Don’t Matter To Me’, a significant hit for the band in 1970 (their second big single after ‘Make It With You’) is one of my favorite songs.

I have long since passed the point where I give a shit whether someone thinks me an apostate for professing my admiration for a band like Bread.

This is for two basic reasons, the main one being that despite their lingering (and sometimes deserved) rep for cranking out maudlin mush, they made some great music (the other being that having turned 50 I am now officially too old to give a shit).

As a youngster with my ear attached securely to the AM radio, Bread were a frequent fixture on the airwaves for just about all of the 1970s.

They formed in 1968 after Gates, who had worked as a producer, composer, arranger and performer for everyone from Pat Boone to Captain Beefheart decided to form a group with James Griffin and Robb Royer, both of whom he had produced in previous groups (the Pleasure Fair and the Morning Glories).

The group was initially drummerless, with the drums on their debut album provided by Ron Edgar of the Music Machine and Jim Gordon (of everything else).

It’s important to note what a departure Bread was for Elektra records.

From the label’s earliest days when it concentrated on folk and world music, through the mid 60s when they were signing and recording some of the most progressive pop and rock bands in the world, Elektra had a reputation for treading the margins. The late 60s saw Jac Holzman working that angle even moreso, adding bands like the Stooges and the MC5 to the line-up.

Bread were not only light years more ‘conventional’ than most of their labelmates, but also more successful.

The were all over the Hot 100 between 1970 and 1973, when they broke up for the first time (the friction between Gates and Griffin – over who’s songs got to be singles – getting to be too much).

Though I cannot say for sure, my suspicion is that what made the group interesting was that very friction.

Gates was a consummate craftsman, but also seemed to lean in a “softer” direction.

The tracks I bring you today explore the various interpretations – inside and outside of Bread – of one of their best (and my favorite songs), ‘It Don’t Matter To Me’.

Released in mid-1969, ‘Bread’ is – like many 1960s anchored debuts by bands that went on to success in the 1970s – still marked by the sounds of the earlier decade. That first album displays the influence of groups like the Beatles, but also most of the musical strains floating in the southern California zeitgeist.

‘It Don’t Matter To Me’ (written by Gates) has an interesting history.

The weak spot for me – as far as Bread are concerned – were their lyrics, which like many of the artists of the day seemed to emit the patchouli-soaked aroma of the softer, self-actualization end of the hippie experience.

It’s not that they didn’t make sense when Gates wrote ‘It Don’t Matter To Me’, but that they contain an odd, time-specific philosophy/sentimentality that did not age well.

The very idea of a character that is so deeply enamored of a woman that he will fight a lengthy war of romantic attrition until, after long last she realizes the error of her ways and finds her way back to him, might have had much to offer for the ladies in the audience, yet I’m still left wondering who – outside of someone afflicted by the deepest unrequited love – on the male side of the equation this was supposed to appeal to (maybe no one??).

All of which I can (and will) overlook, if there are melodies to be had, and when you’re talking about Bread, they are many and of an exceptional quality.

Though it is one of the group’s best known songs, it wasn’t issued as a single when their debut LP was released (‘Dismal Day’ and the excellent Griffin/Royer composition ‘Could I’ being the A-sides from ‘Bread’).

This could have a lot to do with the fact that the version of ‘It Don’t Matter To Me’ is markedly different than the one that made it into the Top 20 almost a full year later.

The version that appears on the first album is a more rustic, folk-rock effort. The vocals, guitars and tempo are all different, the pace a touch faster.

The song, which Gates wrote prior to the formation of Bread was rerecorded/rearranged for the single release (a full year after its appearance on ‘Bread’) with a slower tempo, string section, more complex guitar and brighter, fuller harmonies. The beauty of the song’s chord changes and melody seem much better framed by the later arrangement.

The Bread catalog has never wanted for outside interpretation, even on the soulful side of things.

The Friends of Distinction covered ‘It Don’t Matter To Me’, and there are excellent versions of ‘Make It With You’ by Ralfi Pagan (epic) and Ronnie Dyson, as well as a very nice take on ‘Everything I Own’ by Oscar Toney Jr.

Though Josie and the Pussycats are best known as an animated (cartoon) commodity, there was an album (and several single-only tracks) recorded to accompany their Saturday morning show in 1970.

The vocalists included Cheryl Ladd (later of Charlie’s Angels), Patrice Holloway (sister of Motown legend Brenda) and Cathy Douglas.

The album included a number of original songs (many written by Danny Janssen and Bobby Hart) as well as a number of contemporary covers, including ‘It Don’t Matter To Me’.

The Josie and the Pussycats version of the song features a fairly faithful arrangement (featuring a band of familiar West coast session musicians) and aside from some awkward harmonizing in the first verse, nice vocals.

Later the same year, Petula Clark ( a few years past her last big hit) traveled to Memphis (a la Dusty Springfield) to record an album with the American Studios crew.

I had this album for years before I realized that the track listed as ‘It Doesn’t Matter To Me’ on the label was in fact ‘It Don’t Matter To Me’.

Clark’s version is really well done. Though she was known for a brassier, showbizzy style, she was also capable of subtlety, which she displays here.

The arrangement is laid back and the production – by no less a light than Chips Moman – is spot on.

More recently, there were covers of the song by Matthew Sweet (on the soundtrack to the film ‘Ash Wednesday’) and Josh Rouse.

I hope you dig the tracks, and if you shied away from Bread before, maybe take a minute to dig into their early stuff.
See you next week.

Peace

Larry

 

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some soul.

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