Judy Geeson and Lulu step it up for the Mindbenders
Listen – The Mindbenders – It’s Getting Harder All the Time – MP3
Listen – The Mindbenders – Off and Running – MP3
The 45 I bring you today is one of those things that was hanging around in the asteroid belt of my want list for years, eluding me – as it turns out – only by virtue of my own ignorance (but we should all be used to that by now..).
I probably saw ‘To Sir With Love’ for the first time more than 30 years ago, but it wasn’t until the garage/psych/beat years of the mid-80s that I finally took notice of the band playing at the school dance in the film. It was around that time that someone (probably Mr. Luther) hepped me to the fact that what I was seeing was no ordinary fake-movie-band, but the newly Wayne Fontana-less Mindbenders working it out for Sidney, Lulu and the Gang.
I fell in love with one of the songs the Mindbenders played in the movie – ‘It’s Getting Harder All the Time’ – and always wanted a copy, which for some reason I thought was only available on the soundtrack LP from the film (which I never found).
So, a while back I’m on my little DJ excursion to DC and Virginia, and I’m out digging and I happen upon the Mindbenders section in a 45 rack. Now, the first thing I’m looking for (and sure I’m never going to find) is that band’s freakbeat masterpiece ‘The Morning After’. So, in I dive, and though that particular 45 was not to be found, what I did find made me just as happy, that being a 45 with the two Mindbenders songs from ‘To Sir With Love’ (the other being ‘Off and Running’). Oddly enough this 45 does not appear to have been issued in the UK.
While neither of the songs has the kick of ‘The Morning After’, they are both quite good. ‘It’s Getting Harder All the Time’ is a fantastic pop song with just a touch of freakbeat around the edges. Eric Stewart’s guitar solo definitely shows signs of the jagged edge of ‘The Morning After’.
Where ‘It’s Getting Harder…’ is forward looking, ‘Off and Running’ has its stylistic feet planted firmly a few years back in the Beat boom. Following the vaguely arty minuet-like opening section, the tune drops down into a fast stop-start pattern. It’s not as sophisticated a tune as ‘It’s Getting Harder…’ but it’s groovy nonetheless. Interestingly it would appear that both songs come from sources outside the group, with ‘It’s Getting Harder All the Time’ credited to Charles Albertine and Ben Raleigh* and ‘Off and Running’ to Carol Bayer (later Sager) and Toni Wine.
I hope you dig the tunes, and I’ll be back on Friday.
In other news – Last night I watched a fantastic radio history documentary called ‘Radio Revolution: The Rise and Fall of the Big 8’. The film’s writer/director Michael McNamara wrote me and asked if I’d be interested in checking it out, and fortunately I relplied in the affirmative.
The film is the story of legendary Windsor, Ontario radio powerhouse CKLW which was for many years a huge force in Detroit radio (the Motor City sitting just across the river from Windsor).
The film brings to life one of the great stories of the Top 40 era, though CKLW was much more than your run of the mill pop radio outlet. Thanks in large part to their trendsetting program director Rosalie Trombley, CKLW featured a healthy dose of black music in their playlist (which should be obvious if you’ve ever picked up one of those CKLW LPs in the field).
Though the music is obviously the most important part of the story, it’s worth the price of admission just for the tales of CKLWs “20/20” news team.
I’m a huge fan of the classic days of rock radio, and if you are too this film is highly recommended. There are interviews with Mitch Ryder, Brother Wayne Kramer, Dave Marsh, Martha Reeves and Alice Cooper among others.
You can purchase it via the Markham Street Films website.
* Albertine and Raleigh both appear to have been working pop songwriters as far back as the mid-50s (Raleigh wrote the lyrics for Johnny Mathis’ ‘Wonderful Wonderful’)