Top to Bottom – Steve Duboff, Artie Kornfeld, Kornfeld & Duboff
Performing on Shivaree in 1965
Listen – The Changin’ Times – How Is The Air Up There – MP3
Today’s selection is an object lesson in why a record fiend (such as myself) relishes the opportunity to hit record shows (as opposed to random digs in the field).
While I love the feeling of happening upon a gem in a dusty box full of crap in a thrift store back room, sometimes there’s just no substitute for quality, and when it’s quality records you seek (sold at a premium , of course) then it is to the record shows ye must go.
Look at it this way: You may stumble upon a plate full of culinary wonderment at your local greasy spoon, but sometimes you just have to hit a fancy restaurant to get that high quality, free-range, grass-fed steak that will set your tongue alight and leave you with a nice warm glow in your breadbasket.
That’s what it’s like going to a (decent) record show. Instead of wading through countless copies of the Firestone Christmas Album, you get to hit a box labeled ‘garage’, or ‘funk’ or whatever, and the records before you are generally rare, in decent quality and profuse.
Now, as I said before, you’re paying a premium, but sometimes it’s worth it to do so (no matter what some nickel-and-dime malcontent might say).
It was on a recent expedition to one of these record shows that I sat down behind a table, grabbed a few 45 boxes and in about ten minutes time made four serious dents in my want list, as well as a similar gouge in my wallet.
And you know what? It was worth it.
There is no feeling like pawing through a box of 45s and pulling out a nice, clean copy of a record you never (EVER) thought you’d find. That day, I bagged a couple of LONGTIME soul, garage and freakbeat wantlist items and I’m happy to say that the – how do you say – cumulative price of that small stack allowed me to bargain for a much larger stack (which contained a couple of woefully underpriced gems), with the dealer throwing the whole pile in for nothing.
I belabor the point because the tune I bring you today was part of that score and as I said before was a part of my want list for almost 25 years.
That tune, ‘How Is The Air Up There’ by the Changin’ Times has an interesting history.
The first time I heard the song was via a cover by the Bangles on their 1982 IRS EP. It wasn’t until I heard the 1960’s recording by the La De Da’s (three or four years later) that I realized that the tune was a cover. It wasn’t until some time later that I found out that the La De Da’s version was itself a cover of a tune by a group called the Changin’ Times.
Flash forward once again, to the era of the interwebs wherein I discovered that the Changin’ Times were none other that the recording entity of the songwriting partnership of Steve Duboff and Artie Kornfeld.
If those names are vaguely familiar, consider the impressive list of songs written by the pair including, “Pied Piper’ (covered by Crispian St Peters, though I’ll feature the Changin’ Times OG in coming weeks), and ‘The Rain the Park and Other Things’ (Cowsills) , as well as tune the two composed either by themselves or with others like ‘Out of Sight Out of Mind’ (Duboff) and ‘Dead Mans Curve’ (Kornfeld).
Kornfeld and Duboff paired up as the Changin’ Times in 1965 – touring with Sonny and Cher that year – and went on to release several singles for the Philips label before parting ways in 1968. That the fuzzed out punk of ‘How Is The Air Up There’ dates from 1965 was a shock to me and all things considered I’d have to say that the Changin’ Times OG is my favorite version.
Kornfeld went on to be one of the first “longhairs” hired for an A&R position at a major label (Capitol) and was one of the people responsible for putting on the Woodstock Festival (he’s featured prominently in the movie).
Duboff, who passed away in 2004 continued to write and produce, as well as working as a video game designer.
I hope you dig the tune.
Stay tuned, because next week marks the one-year anniversary of the Iron Leg blog, and I have a special two-part mix lined up for the celebration.
That said, have a great weekend and I’ll see you all on Monday.