Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
(You Don't Have To) Paint Me a Picture yielded two Top 20 hits and one Top 25 chart-climber, but "My Heart's Symphony," along with the title track, and what would be the weakest of his first ten Top 40 songs, "Where Will the Words Come From," all deserved to be the first three of his chart singles not to enter the Top Ten, the majesty of "Green Grass" and "Count Me In" just missing from this work. Maybe the production team gathered by Snuff Garrett was just running out of creative ideas for the son of a movie star. Leon Russell and Glen D. Hardin arranged "My Heart's Symphony" and "Where Will the Words Come From," one of two other co-writes by Glen D. Hardin, and, despite their shortcomings, they work better than covers of "Barefootin'," "You're Sixteen," and a totally disposable version of Chip Taylor's "Wild Thing." Sure it can be easy to get lax when Top Ten success is yours seven times in over 17 months, but even Lewis' campy voice didn't have the aura of a Nancy Sinatra, or her appeal, though a duet with the two Hollywood showbiz kids would have been really nice. Nancy Sinatra was just taking off at this point, and maybe Dean Martin, who would eventually duet with her, had something to say about it all? Coming on the heels of Golden Greats, a compilation of the first seven hits and five additional tracks, this project feels a bit rushed. But with all the resources at their disposal, something more exciting could have been found than the watered-down Beatles "Till There Was You" that is "Tina (I Held You in My Arms)," or the Playboys emulating the Beach Boys on the adequate "Sloop John B," charting for Brian Wilson's young men just as "Sure Gonna Miss Her" was cruising through the Top 40. Is it John Wayne and other motion picture icons on "Looking for the Stars"? Probably not, and the singer waking up from his dream to find out that it is HE who is as big as the celluloid heroes, well, it's a stretch. The three hits aren't bad, they just aren't as magical as the first wave, and even Charles Koppelman, Don Rubin, and Gary Klein taking the reigns from Snuff Garrett couldn't revive the fantastic original formula. Their Nick DeCaro-arranged "Girls in Love" five months after this album's last song was fading from the radio only nicked the bottom of the Top 40. It was the weakest of his dozen AM songs. The cover photo is very clever, though, a photo of a sharp-dressed Gary Lewis in a portrait with paint box and brush beneath him. It's fun '60s pop with some additional nuggets, like a dreamy little "When Summer's Gone." There was just no need for all the filler -- the powers at play here certainly could have made this effort better with a bit more elbow grease.
01 - My Heart's Symphony
02 - Barefootin'
03 - Down On The Sloop John B
04 - Tina (I Held You In My Arms)
05 - String Along
06 - (You Dont Hove To) Paint Me A Picture
07 - Where Will The Words Come From
08 - You're Sixteen
09 - When Summer Is Gone
10 - Linda Lu
11 - Looking For The Stars
12 - Wild Thing
02 - Mister Memory
03 - Main Street
04 - Rhythm Of The Rain
05 - Turn Down Day
06 - Over You
07 - Apologize
08 - Turn Around, Look At Me
09 - Picture Postcard
10 - C.C. Rider
11 - Let's Pretend
12 - I Think We're Alone Now
Saturday, October 20, 2012
Little Eva Narcissus Boyd was a babysitter for Carole King and Gerry Goffin when the songwriting team was inspired to write "The Loco-Motion," a song based on a dance that Eva would do around the house. Eva also got to sing on their demo, which impressed Don Kirshner enough to release it as it was. One of the greatest girl group hits, "The Loco-Motion" hit number one in 1962; the follow-up, "Keep Your Hands Off My Baby," was also written by Goffin-King. Almost as good as her debut, it reached the Top 20, and was even covered by the Beatles on-stage in their early days (though they never recorded it in the studio). Unfortunately, Eva was then pigeonholed as a dance-craze singer and given inferior material. She never again reached the soulful heights of her first two singles; "Let's Turkey Trot" (1963) was her only other Top 20 hit, although she continued working until October 2001. She succumbed to cervical cancer in April of 2003.
Little Eva - The Complete Dimension Recordings The Loco-motion! (1997)
Little Eva Boyd was Gerry Goffin and Carole King's babysitter and ace demo singer. Together, the three of them came up with the mega-million-seller "The Loco-motion" and its attendant album, one of the finest moments in Brill Building girl-group music history. Those 13 or so transcendent moments of glory are gathered together with 15 or so others culled from non-LP B-sides and later singles, making this the single best overview of her years at Dimension Records available. In addition to her biggest hit and her first album in its entirety, this also features her other chart hits "Let's Turkey Trot," "Keep Your Hands Off My Baby," "Old Smokey Locomotion" and her duets with Big Dee Irwin ("Swinging on a Star," "The Christmas Song," "I Wish You a Merry Christmas"). And just to perfectly bookend this collection -- which begins with "The Loco-motion" by Little Eva -- the closing track is a rare tribute track recorded and released in the early '60s: "Little Eva" by the Loco-Motions! A nice piece of rock & roll history, Brill Building style.
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Pierwszym rodzimym (polskim) przebojem rockandrollowym była wykonywana w 1957 roku
przez Zbigniewa Kurtycza piosenka 'W Arizonie" (słówa Janusz Odrowąż,
muzyka Wiesław Machan). Pierwszym polskim utworem, w tytule którego
pojawiła się nazwa rock and roll była piosenka 'Tańcz i śpiewaj rock and rolla'
wykonywana przez Chór Czejanda.
Miastem, które stało się kolebką polskiego rock and rolla,
była Gdynia. Tam pojawiły się pierwsze płyty gramofonowe
z muzyką rockandrollową przywożone przez marynarzy,
a w gdyńskich klubach Piccolo, Fregata czy Interclub można
było usłyszeć pierwsze rytmy rockandrollowe na żywo.
W 1958 roku Franciszek Walicki, redaktor Głosu Wybrzeża,
w klubie Rudy Kot w Gdańsku zorganizował pierwszy konkurs młodych talentów.
Celem było wyłonienie muzyków i wokalistów do pierwszego polskiego
zespołu rockandrollowego. Niestety, te poczynania nie przyniosły
oczekiwanego rezultatu. Z grona wokalistów najwyżej oceniony przez organizatorów
został gdyński licealista Wojciech Zieliński (na gitarze akompaniował mu Jerzy Kossela).
W strukturach Estradowego Zespołu Marynarki Wojennej Flotylla z siedzibę w Gdyni-Oksywiu,
funkcjonował zespół o egzotycznej nazwie Hawajana Combo, który grał
między innymi na dansingach w Klubie Oficerskim. Zespół tworzyli
uzdolnieni muzycznie marynarze, odbywający służbę zasadniczą.
Wśród nich był gitarzysta Leszek (Bogdanowicz) Grzyb, wyróżniający się tym,
że posiadał czechosłowacką „patelnię"-gitarę elektryczną Jolana Grazioso
(w wielu artykułach prasowych poświęconych muzykowi, jak również początkom rock and rolla
w Polsce, twierdzi się, że był on pierwszym polskim muzykiem,
który posiadał gitarę elektryczną. Jest to bardzo wątpliwe,
ponieważ wspomniana gitara była w sprzedaży od połowy roku 1957).
Na początku roku 1959 w Jazz-Clubie przy Klubie Studentów Wybrzeża ŻAK w Gdańsku
rozpoczęły się pod kierownictwem Franciszka Walickiego próby zespołu muzycznego w składzie:
Andrzej Sułocki - pianino, Leonard Szymański - kontrabas,
Leszek (Bogdanowicz) Grzyb - gitara elektryczna, Jan Kirsznik - saksofon tenorowy,
Edward Malicki - perkusja oraz wokaliści-gitarzyści: Marek Tarnowski (Wojciech Zieliński)
i Bogusław Wyrobek. Inauguracyjny koncert odbył się 24 marca 1959 roku w klubie Rudy Kot
w Gdańsku. Konferansjerem był Franciszek Walicki, który przedstawił zespół o imponującej nazwie:
Rozrywkowy Zespół Gdańskiego Jazz-Clubu Rhythm and Blues. Należy dodać,
że w zastępstwie Andrzeja Sułockiego wystąpił podczas tego koncertu Władysław Krześniak.
Lokalne gazety (Dziennik Bałtycki, Głos Wybrzeża i Wieczór Wybrzeża)
w dość lakoniczny sposób odnotowały to wydarzenie. Powodem zapewne było to,
że na terenie Gdańska i Gdyni w tym okresie istniało wiele zespołów,
które grały muzykę zarówno rhythmandbluesową, rockandrollową, jak i jazzową.
Dopiero po kilku miesiącach, gdy zmianie uległa nazwa zespołu R&B (przypuszczać można,
że w nowym brzmieniu miała silniej oddziaływać na emocje młodych ludzi),
popularność i ranga grupy znacznie wzrosły. Muzyka prezentowana przez zespół doskonale
wpisywała się w oczekiwania publiczności. Popularność formacji nabrała wymiaru
ogólnokrajowego - na koncerty gdańskiego zespołu ciągnęły tłumy.
Na sopockich kortach 14 sierpnia 1959 roku odbył się pojedynek muzyczny
pomiędzy zespołami Rhythm and Blues z Gdańska a New Orleans Stompers z Warszawy,
który grał jazz tradycyjny. Koncerty (odbyły się dwa) zgromadziły ponad
siedem tysięcy wielbicieli jazzu, rhythm and bluesa, a przede wszystkim rock and rolla.
Podczas występu Rhythm and Blues publiczność śpiewała, tańczyła,
a na koniec na estradę rzucono imponującą ilość kwiatów.
Wreszcie tłum wdarł się na scenę i wykonawcy poszybowali w górę.
Porządek udało się zaprowadzić po apelach organizatorów i, ostatecznie, interwencji milicji.
Zaczęła się więc seria wspaniałych ogólnopolskich sukcesów zespołu.
Sukcesom tym towarzyszyły jednak tu i ówdzie awantury.
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Live in Europe (Otis Redding album) 1967
Live in Europe is a live album from soul singer Otis Redding. It was Redding's first live album as well as the only live album released during his lifetime, issued exactly five months before his death on December 10, 1967. The album was recorded during the Stax/Volt tour of Europe and Redding is backed by Booker T. & the MG's. Recorded at the Olympia Theatre, Paris; March 21, 1967.
The album is currently available on CD, digitally remastered by Bill Inglot and Dan Hersch as part of the Atlantic & Atco Remasters Series. In 2003, the album was ranked number 474 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
In Person at the Whisky a Go Go 1968
This album, released posthumously, captured Otis Redding's show at the Whisky A Go Go from April of 1966 in Los Angeles. What is essential here was that it captured Otis Redding's sound in a small club with his own touring band, as opposed to his work on stage with Booker T. & the MG's -- an ideal band, to be sure, which is why they were sent over to Europe with him and why they were at Monterey with him a year later, but not the group that Redding normally worked on stage with. This album is closer to how Otis Redding sounded in the years coming up and working his way to the top, and the way that his original audience on the chitlin' circuit heard him. The singer and his band (including a pair of tenor saxes, a trombone, and four trumpets, with James Young, Ralph Stewart, and Elbert Woodson pounding out the rhythm on guitar, bass, and drums, respectively, go through roaring versions of "Respect," "I Can't Turn You Loose," "These Arms of Mine," "Pain in My Heart," "Satisfaction" and "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" and four more, in Redding's only full-length recording in a small-scale setting. They may not have the musical elegance of Booker T. and company, but they create this intense, hypnotic sound that is spellbinding. The set itself lasts less than 40 minutes but the singer and his band are so energetic, that it doesn't feel short or lacking. This album was, in more ways than one, Redding's equivalent to Sam Cooke's Live At The Harlem Square Club, and just as essential.
One of the most influential soul singers of the 1960s, Otis Redding exemplified to many listeners the power of Southern "deep soul" -- hoarse, gritty vocals, brassy arrangements, and an emotional way with both party tunes and aching ballads. He was also the most consistent exponent of the Stax sound, cutting his records at the Memphis label/studios that did much to update R&B into modern soul. His death at the age of 26 was tragic not just because he seemed on the verge of breaking through to a wide pop audience (which he would indeed do with his posthumous number one single "[Sittin' On] The Dock of the Bay"). It was also unfortunate because, as "Dock of the Bay" demonstrated, he was also at a point of artistic breakthrough in terms of the expression and sophistication of his songwriting and singing.
Although Redding at his peak was viewed as a consummate, versatile showman, he began his recording career in the early '60s as a Little Richard-styled shouter. The Georgian was working in the band of guitarist Johnny Jenkins at the time, and in 1962 he took advantage of an opportunity to record the ballad "These Arms of Mine" at a Jenkins session. When it became an R&B hit, Redding's solo career was truly on its way, though the hits didn't really start to fly until 1965 and 1966, when "Mr. Pitiful," "I've Been Loving You Too Long," "I Can't Turn You Loose," a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction," and "Respect" (later turned into a huge pop smash by Aretha Franklin) were all big sellers.
Redding wrote much of his own material, sometimes with the assistance of Booker T. & the MG's guitarist Steve Cropper. Yet at the time, Redding's success was primarily confined to the soul market; his singles charted only mildly on the pop listings. He was nonetheless tremendously respected by many white groups, particularly the Rolling Stones, who covered Redding's "That's How Strong My Love Is" and "Pain in My Heart." (Redding also returned the favor with "Satisfaction.")
One of Redding's biggest hits was a duet with fellow Stax star Carla Thomas, "Tramp," in 1967. That was the same year he began to show signs of making major inroads into the white audience, particularly with a well-received performance at the Monterey Pop Festival (also issued on record). Redding's biggest triumph, however, came just days before his death, when he recorded the wistful "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay," which represented a significant leap as far as examination of more intensely personal emotions. Also highlighted by crisp Cropper guitar leads and dignified horns, it rose to the top of the pop charts in early 1968.
Redding, however, had perished in a plane crash in Wisconsin on December 10, 1967, in an accident that also took the lives of four members from his backup band, the Bar-Kays. A few other singles became posthumous hits, and a good amount of other unreleased material was issued in the wake of his death. These releases weren't purely exploitative in nature, in fact containing some pretty interesting music, and little that could be considered embarrassing. What Redding might have achieved, or what directions he might have explored, are among the countless tantalizing "what if" questions in rock & roll history. As it is, he did record a considerable wealth of music at Stax, which is now available on thoughtfully archived reissues.
Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul 1966
Otis Redding's third album, and his first fully realized album, presents his talent unfettered, his direction clear, and his confidence emboldened, with fully half the songs representing a reach that extended his musical grasp. More than a quarter of this album is given over to Redding's versions of songs by Sam Cooke, his idol, who had died the previous December, and all three are worth owning and hearing. Two of them, "A Change Is Gonna Come" and "Shake," are every bit as essential as any soul recordings ever made, and while they (and much of this album) have reappeared on several anthologies, it's useful to hear the songs from those sessions juxtaposed with each other, and with "Wonderful World," which is seldom compiled elsewhere. Also featured are Redding's spellbinding renditions of "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" (a song epitomizing the fully formed Stax/Volt sound and which Mick Jagger and Keith Richards originally wrote in tribute to and imitation of Redding's style), "My Girl," and "You Don't Miss Your Water." "Respect" and "I've Been Loving You Too Long," two originals that were to loom large in his career, are here as well; the former became vastly popular in the hands of Aretha Franklin and the latter was an instant soul classic. Among the seldom-cited jewels here is a rendition of B.B. King's "Rock Me Baby" that has the singer sharing the spotlight with Steve Cropper, his playing alternately elegant and fiery, with Wayne Jackson and Gene "Bowlegs" Miller's trumpets and Andrew Love's and Floyd Newman's saxes providing the backing. Redding's powerful, remarkable singing throughout makes Otis Blue gritty, rich, and achingly alive, and an essential listening experience.
Carla Thomas / Otis Redding King & Queen 1967
Otis Redding never recorded a lighter, more purely entertaining record than King & Queen, a collection of duets with Stax labelmate Carla Thomas. In all likelihood inspired by a series of popular duets recorded by Marvin Gaye -- indeed, "It Takes Two," Gaye's sublime collaboration with Kim Weston, is covered here -- the record serves no greater purpose than to allow Redding the chance to run through some of the era's biggest soul hits, including "Knock on Wood," "Tell It Like It Is,"and "When Something Is Wrong with My Baby," and while clearly not a personal triumph on a par with either Otis Blue or The Dictionary of Soul, the set is still hugely successful on its own terms. Redding and Thomas enjoy an undeniable chemistry, and they play off each other wonderfully; while sparks fly furiously throughout King & Queen, the album's highlight is the classic "Tramp," where their battle of the sexes reaches its fever pitch in supremely witty fashion.
Monday, October 15, 2012
B E A T I N S T R U M E N T A L
D E N M A R K
THE CLIFFTERS story started way back in 1960, only a few years before the Mersey Sound took the rest of Europe by storm. At this time, Cliff Richard and The Shadows were the best group that one could listen or dance to. The Cliffters made their sound very close to Cliff & The Shads, indeed their name seems to have been inspired by Cliff !
Django started it all. It was a self-penned tune by lead guitarist Mogens Petersen, who later took 'Django' as a nickname and continued using it as his professional name when making solo records up until he passed away in 1991.
Before Django, they made two vocal records, but it was this third single which was to be issued in Holland, Sweden, Norway, England and even in Japan where it was very popular.
Mogens picked this title from a western film of the same name and not from Django Reinhardt as has been written previously.Home latest news instro jukebox legacy sounds uk brit instros euro instros american instros instro linksby Ole VinterThrough the years 1961-64, The Cliffters made 11 singles for Philips Records in Denmark and they toured the country several times where they just about had a monoply of this kind of music. They started everything in Denmark with their mixture of instrumentals and vocals.
It seems funny to say now but all their records were made in a cinema with no overdubs. The studio was the cellar of the Islev Bio Cinema where they recorded when people left after the last show. Philips had no recording studio of their own at that time.
Founder members of the group were vocalist Johnny Reimar, Mogens 'django' Petersen (lead), Lars Kofoed (bass), Ole Rasmussen (piano & keyboards) and Jan Petersen (drums). This was the lineup from 1960 to 1963 - and the best one !
Django was covered by many other groups all over the world e.g. The Quivers from Norway, Les Fantomes from France and Terry & The Bluejeans from Japan. The rest of their singles however, were not as successful although the vocal Twistin' Patricia did hit the charts for them.The original lineup disbanded in 1963 when Johnny Reimar and Jan Petersen left to form another vocal/instrumental group, The Scarlets who went on to make many fine records, but that's another story.
The two new members were Bjarne 'de la 'Motte on rhythm guitar and Torben Sardorf on drums and this was the lineup for the last chapter of the group.
They toured Finland for some weeks in 1964 with this formation but they broke up later in the year after two unsuccessful singles.
Mogens joined rock & roll band Melvis from 1964 - 66 and Motte and Sardorf formed The Hitmakers.
The original band did however get together for some rock gigs in the late '60s and they were the support band for Bill Haley in 1968 at his concert in Copenhagen.
Mogens became a producer and studio musician, Jan Petersen a photographer and Johnny Reimer is the owner of Starbox Records in Copenhagen although he does still sing as a soloist.
Sunday, October 14, 2012
This bizarre, Alan Lorber-produced psychedelic album appeared originally in 1969 on Boston Sound. Bobby Callendar was an incredibly gifted poet and lyricist whose complex texts could only be compared to Scott Walker; the concepts of a U.K. artist of Indian heritage post-psychedelia were augmented by the lush arrangements of Paul Harris and Bob Gallo. The cast of musicians on this album included some of the highest-caliber sidemen of the time, most notably Richard Davis, the master bassist of Van Morrison's Astral weeks fame (not to mention a jazz musician in his own right), the guitars of Eric Gale and Hugh McCracken, and the astonishingly subtle Burnard Purdie on drums. The album is a rich and complex exploration of Eastern-inspired psychedelic rock and folk centered on the incredibly complex texts and vocals of Bobby Callendar. When reading the lyric sheet, it is most astonishing how such elaborate poetic evocations were somehow made to fit popular song forms. Sure, at these highly conscious times of the late '60s it was not uncommon for deeply poetic, socially conscious, or hallucinogenic themes to appear in the lyrics of pop music, yet this is album is absolutely brilliant for being one of the most ostentatious animations of the written word, yet absolutely vital and musical throughout. Fans of Scott Walker's solo material, Colin Blundstone, and Duncan Browne should give this album a few hours -- if not a week -- of their attention. This excellent Italian reissue from Akarma is packaged and remastered exquisitely.
Musee de l'Impressionisme - 1971
Saying Robert Callender's reputation was obscure even in the world of psychedelic collectors was understating the case, but even so his first two albums and occasional singles had been circulating around well enough. Turns out that he had a third and final one that had only been released in the Netherlands in 1971, and as a prime example of how the vinyl album format became the repository of all sorts of insane ideas during that decade, Le Musee de l'Impressionisme not only takes the cake, but probably spikes it. Fallout's liner notes for the 2006 reissue (which has some inaccurate track divisions on the CD, it should be noted) use the words "grandiose folly" and there's not much more to immediately add to that -- it's ridiculous, but in a compellingly bizarre way. When you hear Callender begin the album with "Nadars (The Baptism of Impressionism)" -- a five-minute history lesson on the birth of the artistic school in question, with brassy backing singers, horns, and a general arrangement of post-Otis Redding Southern soul/funk of sorts as redone by '70s Elvis -- then it's unclear whether the nearest point of comparison is Schoolhouse Rock or Monty Python. If it was just that, maybe the album would have recovered, but Callender -- writing all the music as well as the words, producing everything, co-writing the arrangements -- was out to live his dream. Dancing rapidly between fragmentary short pieces and "interludes" and a variety of French language performances, Callender creates something which feels, in retrospect, like a Euro-porn film scored by mid-period Stereolab jamming with Santana's rhythm section with a Quaalude-laden Tom Jones on vocals. There's all kinds of funky jamming and gasps and Sly Stone moves, even while Callender is painstakingly trying to sing the stories of Van Gogh, Gauguin and, to quote one memorable title, "Claude Monet (A Visionary of Time and Space and the Light)." It is, if nothing else, unique -- but not worth hearing more than once.
One of Italy's best-loved artists, Adriano Celentano has been equally successful in film and music. Whether singing Elvis Presley-inspired rock, as he did as a member of the Rock Boys in 1957, or romantic balladry, Celentano found a dedicated market for his music. Reaching the top of the Italian music charts with his debut single "Il Tuo Bacio e Come un Skirt" in 1959, he matched its success with the million-selling "24000 Baci (24,000 Kisses)" in 1961; "Il Ragazzo Della Via Gluck," which went on to be translated and re-recorded in 18 languages, in 1966; and Prisencolinensinainciusol in 1972.
Celentano's albums have been similarly embraced. His debut album, Non Mi Dir, reached the top position of Italy's charts in 1965. His album Soli spent 58 weeks on the charts in 1978-1979. Although he left music for nearly two decades to focus on his career as an actor, Celentano later recaptured the momentum of his early career. His comeback album, Mina + Celentano, was a major hit in 1998 while his second album, Francamente Me Ne Infischio, based on the television-variety show that he agreed to host in 1999, spent several weeks at the top of Italy's album charts. Esco di Rado -- E Parlo Ancora Meno, the third album since Celentano returned to music, sold more than 600,000 copies before its release.
Celentano continued to balance his music career with his work in Italian cinema. As an actor, he made his theatrical debut in such movies as Dai, Johnny, Dai!, I Ragazzi del Jukebox, I Frenetici in 1959, and Fellini's classic La Dolce Vita in 1960. His subsequent screen appearances included roles in such films as The Sin, Rugantino, Give Me Five, Il Bisbetico Domato, and Segni Parsticolari: Bellissimo. Having made his debut as a producer and director with the 1974 film Yuppi Du, Celentano wen on to direct such films as L'atra Meta Del Cielo and Geppo Il Folle. His first long-term experience with television came in late 1987 when he agreed to host the variety show Fantastico 8.
Fairyland has long been a favorite among fans of Larry Coryell's jazz-rock days. The stripped-down trio format allows Coryell plenty of solo space. He actually sings quite effectively on the first two tracks, but more effective are the torrents of 18th notes, mutated blues licks, and avant-garde sound textures that emanate from his guitar. "Further Explorations for Albert Stinson" is a later incarnation of "The Jam With Albert," which is a staple of Coryell jazz-rock compilations. A rewarding listen.
01 - Young Girl
02 - Sealed With A Kiss
03 - Windy
04 - What Am I Gonna Do
05 - I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight
06 - Pretty Thing
07 - Judy In Disguise
08 - Elusive Butterfly
09 - How Can I Thank You
10 - Sara Jane
11 - Sunny
from Lp Rhythm!
12 - Has She Got The Nicest Eyes
Gary Lewis was one of the very few American pop stars who was drafted and served in the military during the Vietnam War, and the slightly goofy but well-crafted pop/rock records that were his stock in trade were rapidly going out of style as Lewis entered the service in 1967. Listen!, recorded while Lewis was on leave, was intended to serve two purposes: to keep him in the public eye while he was overseas, and to update his sound and approach as psychedelia and heavy rock where becoming the dominant sounds in rock & roll. Listen! is a long way from psychedelia, but it's significantly artier and more ambitious than "This Diamond Ring," "She's Just My Style," or any of Lewis' other hits; "Happiness" is largely cut from the same cloth, but the Phil Spector-esque production was clearly on the grand side for Lewis. Producer Gary Klein selected some excellent material for Lewis, including two Tim Hardin numbers ("Reason to Believe" and "Don't Make Promises"), John Sebastian's "Six O'Clock," and three tunes by Alan Gordon and Garry Bonner of the Magicians (one of which, "She'd Rather Be with Me," was recorded around the same time by the Turtles and became a hit). Jack Nitzsche arranged the sessions (with session musicians taking the place of the Playboys), and he transforms these songs into stylish pop that's sophisticated, engaging, and more forward-thinking than anyone might have expected from a Gary Lewis album. And while no one ever described Lewis as one of the great singers of his generation, Klein and Nitzsche clearly worked with him on Listen!, and he sounds sure and confident on this album; the material doesn't stretch his range, but the where he often sounded clumsy on his hits, he approaches this material with aplomb. Listen! is something less than a lost classic, but for a guy who was never considered to be an artist of lasting importance, it shows that given the right material and careful nurturing, he had it in him to make a worthwhile album.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
Here's the cream of the Gary Lewis crop with a little filler added, and that's the only thing that detracts from this album's greatness. Gary Lewis and his Playboys actually look like pop stars here -- better groomed than the Beach Boys. The names of Playboys bandmembers outside of the lead singer are nowhere to be found. At least when Mary Wilson, Cindy Birdsong, and Flo Ballard took a back seat to Diana Ross the whole world knew who they were. Can anyone remember bassist Al Ramsey or John West, or guitarists Dave Costell and Dave Walker? Of course not! Heck, Blues Magoos producer Dave Hassinger gets more recognition as engineer here, so do Bones Howe, Henry Lewy, Leon Russell, and Snuff Garrett, and deservedly so -- they are the real stars behind the project. But Golden Greats is littered with little pop masterpieces, the addition of five songs which no one remembers or even ever wanted to play some kind of twisted joke. By placing an absolutely dreadful "Time Stands Still" next to the sublime "Green Grass" the producers embarrass their charge. The lords giveth and the lords clearly can take it away. This writer met the singer in 1976 and after saying hi he ran off to, in his words, "score some chicks." Sure he was being funny with the "Playboy" image, but it came off as tacky, like the B-sides which really throw this album's momentum. "I Won't Make That Mistake Again" is the most successful of the non-hits, but even it pales next to majestic essays like "Count Me In," "She's Just My Style," "Everybody Loves a Clown," "Green Grass," and "This Diamond Ring." By building impeccable sounds around a voice with such little distinction, Leon Russell and Snuff Garrett provide evidence of their genius which simply cannot be argued with. Play the difficult Beach Boys rip that is "Little Miss Go Go" next to Lou Reed's surf classic "Cycle Annie" to get an idea how a major personality can get the point across despite vocal limitations. You'll see why Reed is a bigger star with one Top 40 hit than a man who got a dozen or so gift wrapped and handed to him. Gary Lewis is forgiven, though, because the high points here are exquisite memories and he is the guy who helped provide them.
Gary Lewis & The Playboys - Same (More Golden Greats)
01 - My Heart's Symphony
02 - Where Will The Words Come From
03 - (You Don't Have To) Paint Me A Picture
04 - Sealed With A Kiss
05 - Ice Melts In The Sun
06 - Needles And Pins
07 - You're Sixteen
08 - Down On The Sloop John B
09 - Girls ln love
10 - The Loser (With A Broken Heart)
11 - Jill
12 - Lies