Rick Nelson – Marshmallow Skies

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Rick Nelson in a still from his ‘Don’t Make Promises’ video

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Listen/Download – Rick Nelson – Marshmallow Skies

Greetings all.

I was rolling around in my iPod – much like Scrooge McDuck rolling around in hundred dollar bills – when what should I come upon but tracks I’d recorded from Rick Nelson’s 1967 ‘change of pace’ LP, ‘Another Side of Rick’.

My love for this record goes back to the mid-80s, when I was passed a bootleg VHS of 1960s music video, culled from various TV dance parties, variety shows and a few purpose-made, primitive rock videos.

One of the clips included was Rick Nelson performing my all-time favorite Tim Hardin song, ‘Don’t Make Promises’ (written up here was back in 2007).

Not long after that, I managed to find a copy of the album where that recording originated.

Rick Nelson is an interesting example of a guy who is much more musically interesting than many people would give him credit for, thanks in large part to his early years as a TV star/teen idol.

His early catalog is filled with quality rock’n’roll – and the occasional blinding bit of rockabilly – and his later years feature some of the best country rock of the era.

‘Another Side of Rick’ fell in between those two eras, during a time where Nelson, like so many of his contemporariesm was trying to stay relevant.

While he certainly wasn’t morphing into Jimi Hendrix, he was making some excellent mid-60s pop rock, and as you’ll see with today’s selection, dabbling in popsike.

Co-written by Nelson and his longtime sideman (and guitar whiz) James Burton, and arranged and produced by Jimmie Haskell and Jack Nitzsche, ‘Marshmallow Skies’ is a mellow, sitar-infused bit of Southern California pop.

Pushed along gently by nicely baroque orchestration and a subtly applied rhythm section, ‘Marshmallow Skies’ wouldn’t seem out of place on an LP by Donovan or late-period Chad and Jeremy.

There are those out there that don’t dig this album (or this song),but I think you ought to give it a chance.

I hope you dig it, and I’ll see you next week.

Peace

Larry

 

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some soul.

Ian McLagan 1945 – 2014

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Ian McLagan

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The Firm of Jones, McLagan, Lane and Marriott

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The Faces – Jones, Stewart, Wood, McLagan and Lane 

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Listen/Download – The Small Faces – Tin Soldier MP3

Listen/Download – The Faces – (I Know) I’m Losing You (Live at the BBC)

Listen/Download – The Faces – Oh Lord I’m Browned Off

Greetings all.

This week the world of music was stunned by the sudden death of legendary keyboardist Ian McLagan.

McLagan was lucky enough to have manned the keys in both the Small Faces (replacing Jimmy Winston in 1965) and then following some of his bandmates into the slightly larger Faces.

As someone who grew up in a house where the piano loomed large (thanks to my old man) I have always had a healthy respect for keyboard players, and Ian McLagan was among the best.

He was also – as were many of his ilk – cursed by his position in the band to fade into the woodwork.

Frontment, guitarists and bassists have the luxury of moving around the stage, playing the fool, and the drummer – in addition to often being the loudest goon on the bandstand, is usually right there in the middle of things.

The poor keyboardist (lead singers like Steve Winwood excepted) are often on the side of the stage, seated behind some huge appliance made of wood and wires, providing much of the musical texture, yet out of sight, and as usually follows, out of mind.

As you may already be aware, especially if you follow Funky16Corners, I am a certified Hammond organ and electric piano nut, so my ears have always been attuned to Mac’s prodigious skills.

At his very best, Mac was the epitome of the team player, eschewing the bombast of contemporaries like Keith Emerson, choosing instead to add layers, and more importantly, punctuation of a sort. He used the piano and organ to add texture and emphasis to songs.

The first track I’m featuring today appeared here at Iron Leg back in 2010, and is for me the finest thing the Small Faces ever did. ‘Tin Soldier’, recorded in 1967 is the perfect intersection of the group’s R&B roots and the more progressive direction things were moving in at the time.

‘Tin Soldier’ is a master class in rock dynamics, due in large part to McLagan’s electric piano, which sets the tone, and (with the organ) lays the foundation for the entire song. The electric piano break at 1:29 is as powerful as anything that ever appeared on a Small Faces record.

The Faces were another bag entirely. With Rod Stewart and Ron Wood (it took two regular humans to replace Steve Marriott) added to the mix things got a whole lot shaggier but the mix was every bit as potent as with the Small Faces.

I’m including two Faces tracks here, one that illustrates Mac’s power as a sideman, and the second an organ feature.

The Faces cover of the Temptations ‘(I Know) I’m Losing You’ – recorded by the band but released as part of Rod Stewart’s solo LP ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’ – is one of the band’s best known recordings. This version, recorded live for the BBC ‘Sounds For Saturday’ program in 1971, once again features McLagan’s electric piano as a prominent voice. As loud as Ronnie Wood’s guitar is, Mac’s piano is right there with him, and when you get to 2:05, and the band drops back (except to hum), and the piano comes in by itself, it’s a thing to behold.

The last track is ‘Oh Lord I’m Browned Off’, which appeared as the b-side to the single of ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’. A Wood/McLagan/Lane/Jones composition, the Hammond-led instro starts off like a distant cousin of the Turtles’ ‘Buzz Saw’, rolling out into a funky groove with plenty of solo time for McLagan and some bottleneck guitar from Wood.

Following the demise of the Faces, McLagan followed Wood into the New Barbarians, formed his own Bump Band, played for years with Billy Bragg, and recorded as a sideman for all kinds of people.

He had been living in Austin, TX for many years when he passed away.

He will be missed.

See you next week.

 

Peace

Larry

 

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners some soul

Hal Blaine (The Drummer Man) and the Young Cougars – Challenger II

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Hal Blaine

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Listen/Download – Hal Blaine (the Drummer Man) and the Young Cougars – Challenger II

Greetings all.

Here’s a groovy one pulled straight from the annals of chance encounters.

I was on the prowl for a certain 45 – (the original recording of ‘I’m Into Somethin’ Good’ by Earl-Jean) and found it sitting in the midst of a ‘lot’ of 45s.

The whole megillah only cost seven dollars, so I thought it worth the risk and pulled the trigger.

About a week later, the package falls through the mailslot, and alongside Earl-Jean (which was, as it turns out, in excellent condition) I got a couple of other groovy discs, including last week’s Strawbs 45 , and the disc you see before you today.

I have never been a connoisseur of ‘hot rod’ 45s, but I am certainly not averse to the potent mixture of fuzz, reverb and novelty.

The record in question – Hal Blaine (the Drummer Man) and the Young Cougars ‘Challenger II’ – is a particularly cool example of the genre.

Written by none other than Lee Hazlewood, and played by Blaine and his Wrecking Crew buddies, like Glenn Campbell, Leon Russell, Carol Kaye and Billy Strange, ‘Challenger II’ mixes a fuzz guitar lead with vibes and (of course) Blaine’s pounding drums.

The flipside, ‘Gear Stripper’ was written by David Gates (who arranged the LP), years before he morphed into a slice of Bread.

The tracks were included on the LP ‘Deuces, T’s, Roadsters and Drums’ released in 1963.

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

Peace

Larry

 

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some soul.

The Strawbs – Or Am I Dreaming

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The Strawbs, circa 1969

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Listen/Download – The Strawbs – Or Am I Dreaming

Greetings all.

As I mentioned a while back, quite by the luck of the draw, I ended up with the very groovy Strawbs 45 you see before you when I recently purchased a larger lot of records.

My previous knowledge of the band was limited to their connection with Sandy Denny (who was a member of the group before her tenure with Fairport Convention).

Much more popular in the UK than the US (they had a big hit in the UK in 1973 with ‘Part of the Union’), the Strawbs morphed from an acoustic folk group (in their earliest days) through popsike, folk rock and prog.

Today’s selection ‘Or Am I Dreaming’ was their first 45, recorded in 1968 and released in 1969.

At the time, they were signed to the Scandinavian label Sonet, and their single (but not their LP) was picked up by A&M in the US.

There’s a story on their website that recalls how they had been unable to secure a deal in the UK (with their 45s being picked up for distribution by the Pye label) and when they walked into the record company offices there they were assumed to have come from the West Coast of the US.

‘Or Am I Dreaming’ doesn’t bring to mind California, but rather prime, late-period UK popsike in the Moody Blues vein.

Produced by Gus Dudgeon and arranged by Tony Visconti, ‘Or Am I Dreaming’ starts out with acoustic guitar, bass and flute and the voice of Dave Cousins (who wrote the song) but soon the arrangement becomes more dense, with electric bass, percussion and strings. The best part of the record comes at 1:09 where the tempo picks up and rocks a bit.

While it isn’t blatantly psychedelic, it certainly is of the time, and I wouldn’t hesitate to drop it into a UK psyche mix.

I mean, dig these lyrics:

The fragile gentle butterfly with multi-coloured wings
Settles on the toadstools in the midst of fairy rings
Midsummer sounds of tinkle bells as sweet Titania sings.

If that doesn’t carry you away, I don’t know what to say.

So dig it, and I’ll see you next week.

Peace

Larry

 

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some soul.

Iron Leg Radio Show Episode #43

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Beep beep beep beep…..

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Playlist

Jack Bruce Tribute

Intro Action Scene – Alan Hawkshaw/Keith Mansfield
Graham Bond Organization – Harmonica
Graham Bond Organization – St James Infirmary (Ascot)
Graham Bond Organization – Wade In the Water (Ascot)
Jack Bruce – I’m Getting Tired (Or Drinkin’ and Gamblin’) (Polydor)
Manfred Mann – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (HMV)

Cream – I Feel Free (Atco)
Cream – NSU (Atco)
Cream – Sweet Wine (Atco)
Cream – Cat’s Squirrel (Atco)
Cream – I’m So Glad (Atco)
Cream – Sunshine of Your Love (Atco)
Cream – Tales of Brave Ulysses (Atco)
Cream – World of Pain (Atco)
Cream – SWALBR (Atco)
Cream – Dance the Night Away (Atco)
Cream – Falstaff Beer Commercial

Cream – White Room (Atco)
Cream – Born Under a Bad Sign(Atco)
Cream – Crossroads (Atco)
Cream – Politician (Atco)
Cream – Sitting On Top of the World (Atco)
Jack Bruce – Rope Ladder To the Moon (Atco)
Jack Bruce – Boston Ball Game 1967 (Atco)
Jack Bruce – Theme For An Imaginary Western (Atco)

Listen/Download -Iron Leg Radio Show Episode 43 – 189MB/256kbps

 

Greetings all.

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

The music world lost Jack Bruce back on October 25th, and I thought it fitting that we should pay tribute to him here at Iron Leg.

I’ve put together this month’s edition of the Iron leg Radio Show with tracks from his days with Graham Bond, Manfred Mann, Cream and his first solo LP, encapsulating his 1960s recordings.

When you listen you will here – interpersed with the songs – clips of interviews with Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker, and John Mayall.

I hope you dig the show.

See you next week.

Peace

Larry

 

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners

The Kaleidoscope – Elevator Man

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The Kaleidoscope (US)

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Listen/Download – The Kaleidoscope – Elevator Man

Greetings all.

The world of digging (into/for) music is – assuming that you’re always on the hunt, over the long term – full of surprises.

Back in the olden days of the 80s, when the mod/garage revival was in full swing, and pushed along quite nicely by a wide variety of reissue labels, we were exposed to new (to us) and interesting sounds on a regular basis.

One of the biggest influences in that direction was Edsel Records in the UK.

It was via Edsel, that I – and many of my ilk – first heard the sounds of the (US) Kaleidoscope.

I already knew of the group’s founding guitarist David Lindley, through his work with Jackson Browne, and his own band El Rayo X.

When I first read about (in some zine or other) the Kaleidoscope (I don’t recall is I was aware of the UK band of the same vintage yet) I was surprised that Lindley’s roots went back that far.

Picking up the Edsel comp of their Epic recordings, ‘Bacon From Mars’ was a revelation.

The Kaleidoscope mixed mid-60s California folk rock and psychedelia with all manner of world music influences, making for some of the coolest and most interesting music of the period.

The track that drilled its way the furthest into my head however, was one of their more conventional numbers, ‘Elevator Man’.

‘Elevator Man’ is as close as the Kaleidoscope came to channeling the garage sound of the time, with rolling electric guitar, combo organ, and a snarling vocal.

The thing is, I don’t think I ever had any idea where the song originally appeared.

I eventually found myself an original copy of their first LP ‘Side Trips’ (which featured the other side of this 45, ‘Please’), ‘Elevator Man’ and I never crossed paths.

Until recently, that is, when it turned up on a sales list, where I grabbed it forthwith.

It was released as a 45-only/promo-only track in 1967 (the same year as ‘Side Trips’), and despite ‘Please’ making a minor dent in Southern California and elsewhere in the southwest, went approximately nowhere.

Which is a shame, since it’s such a groovy track, but as I’ve said many times before, 1966/1967 was a period packed so densely with genius that a lot of otherwise memorable stuff went by the wayside.

So dig the goodness, and if you’re not hip to the Kaleidoscope, grab some of their stuff.

See you next week.

Peace

Larry

 

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PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some soul.

Allan Sherman – My Son the Vampire

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Allan Sherman

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Listen/Download – Allan Sherman – My Son the Vampire

Greetings all.

I don’t always have something ready for Halloween, but when I do, it’s a doozy.

I must preface this post by looking backward many years to the many enjoyable lunches I spent rapping with my old buddy Voger.

Though (sadly) we haven’t seen each other in years, for close to 20 years – when we both worked at a newspaper where neither of us works any longer – we took every opportunity possible to converse about pop culture of all kinds.

We weren’t  that far apart in age, but both of us had what might be described as an unhealthy obsession with the old, black and white years of showbiz, from decades before either of us was born.

There’s something special about the kind of bond that forms when you’re probably the only two people in a building holding hundreds that have any idea who Mr Fields and Stinky were on the old Abbott and Costello Show.

One of the cooler things he introduced me to way back when, was a bizarre movie called ‘Mother Riley Meets the Vampire’ aka ‘Vampire Over London’ aka ‘My Son the Vampire’.

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The movie, initially released in 1952 was one of series of flicks featuring an English drag performer named Arthur Lucan, who portrayed a character named ‘Old Mother Riley’.

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Arthur Lucan as ‘Old Mother Riley’, and Bela Lugosi as ‘Von Housen’

He created the character as part of music hall act with his wife Kitty McShane (who often played Mother Riley’s daughter), moving on to a successful series of films (Lucan was one of the UK’s biggest wartime movie stars) and even a comic strip.

The character was so beloved, that after Lucan’s death in 1954, another actor, Roy Rolland took over the role and continued to play it on stage and TV into the 1980s.

‘Mother Riley Meets the Vampire’ was not only the last ‘Mother Riley’ film, but also a late entry into the Bela Lugosi filmography. Lugosi plays a mad scientist with an army of uranium controlled robots,who also happens to believe he’s a vampire (I mean it’s Bela Lugosi, so what did you expect…).

The movie – which I saw thanks to my man Voger – is a bit of low comedy, of interest as part of the English drag continuum (see Python, Monty) and as Lugosi-ana.

However, the movie had a second life, thanks in part to the rise of Allan Sherman.

I’ll assume that most of you over a certain age already know/dig Allan Sherman, a kind of proto-Weird Al (with a healthy shmear of New York Jewish culture), who is best remembered these days for his big 1963 hit ‘Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh (A Letter From Camp)’.

Sherman recorded a series of very funny albums in the early-to-mid 60s, composed of song parodies. Admittedly, how funny you find them will have a lot to do with the breadth of your cultural grasp (and probably your age). Many of his funniest numbers tap into NY/suburban Jewish culture, and are based on older pop songs and classical pieces.

I love his records, but I was also lucky enough to have a 4th grade teacher (where are you now Mrs Teller??) who played his records for us. They made me laugh then back in 1971, and they make me laugh today.

I have no idea who had the idea to resurrect an obscure British film, have Allan Sherman create a theme song for it and rename it to tie it into Sherman’s string of album titles, i.e. ‘My Son the Folksinger’, ‘My Son the Celebrity’ and ‘My Son the Nut’, but thus was born ‘My Son, The Vampire’.

Opening with a bizarre percussive prelude, the song opens up into a pseudo-tango, with Sherman shouting either “BLOOD!” or “BLAAHHH!”, then launching into a fairly typical, fairly funny lyric.

The record went exactly nowhere (which is where the movie went, too), but it still makes for an interesting footnote in the Allan Sherman story, and a nice little Halloween treat.

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

Oh, and…Goodnight Voger, wherever you are.

Peace

Larry

 

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NOTE: Stay tuned for a tribute to the late, great Jack Bruce on the next episode of the Iron Leg Radio Show

 

 

PS Head over to Funky16Corners for some soul.

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