Welcome to another week here at Iron Leg.
I hope you all had a chance to pull down the ones and zeros on Episode #8 of the Iron Leg Radio Show, and if you have not, that you take the opportunity to do so.
The tunes I bring you today are from an album I found a few months ago during an unexpected digging opportunity.
While I was certainly familiar with the early, big hits of Bobby Vee, like ‘Rubber Ball’ (1960) and ‘Take Good Care of My Baby’ (1961) with the latest thing I’d ever heard being 1967’s ‘Come Back When You Grow Up’.
I had no inkling that he’d done anything after that, assuming (incorrectly, of course) that he had gone out to pasture like any number of oldies acts, playing state fairs, revues and the like.
So, when I happened upon the album ‘Gates, Grills and Railing’, and took a look at the song titles I was suitably intrigued, forked over my three dollars and took it home.
Now, early-period rockers making a stab at late-period relevance is certainly nothing unusual.
Things evolved and styles changed so rapidly in the 1960s that anyone that didn’t keep up with the flow was often left behind, and many of them, whether out of record company hopes or simple self-preservation, tried to step back into the zeitgeist.
I haven’t been able to nail down the release date of ‘Gates Grills and Railings’, but it includes Vee’s 1968 single ‘(I’m Into Lookin’ For) Someone to Love Me’, so it’s a pretty safe bet that the LP came out around the same time.
What’s really groovy about this album, is that it shows that Vee was an artist with taste and imagination, and unlike so many others from the early 60s, really had something to offer a more mature and sophisticated listening audience.
The album features a variety of era-specific style points, but its finest moments arise when things edge up against baroque pop with just the tiniest hint of psychedelia.
The first track I bring you today is especially interesting because it was penned by a pre-Bread David Gates. ‘The Passing of a Friend’ is a fantastic bit of chamber folk, with moments that almost anticipate the sounds that Nick Drake would soon be working with.
The second cut is an interestingly arranged (by Artie Butler) cover of Harry Nilsson’s ‘One’. I’m always game for any Nilsson covers (more coming I assure you) and this one is especially nice.
While I wouldn’t go as far as to label ‘Gates Grills and Railings’ as some kind of a lost classic, I would say that it was unjustly ignored and certainly deserves reappraisal.
It has been reissued on CD paired with 1972’s ‘Nothing Like a Sunny Day’ which he recorded under his full name, Robert Thomas Velline.
I hope you dig the sounds and I’ll see you all next week.
Oh, and Merry Christmas!