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Archive for September, 2011

Going out of my mind!

September 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Dusty, eat your heart out!  At least that’s what I think when I hear this track, which would have been right in her pre-Memphis wheelhouse – in fact the group shared some musical lineage with Her Dustyness, it would seem.

According to Spectropop, this was the Chantelles last single, was issued in 1968, and, intriguingly, wasn’t issued in the UK.  It’s a shame – the great galloping beat and hooks would surely have given it a great chance at the charts.  As it stands their only chart action was during the Radio London pirate era – this would have been a good choice for THE BOAT THAT ROCKED soundtrack, actually.

As far as the song is concerned: it sounds like the producer got a real rock rhythm section to back the girls up, although I personally think the production is a bit weedy.* If only it had the Phil Spector wall of sound.  Not many guitars, but there is piano during the track, and the organ at the end is pretty fantastic, though not Auger-esque.  If they had let the bass stay out front for the whole track like they do in the intro, and turned down the woodwinds, this could have been a classic and unique hybrid of freakbeat and blue-eyed soul.  As it is, it’s still plenty good.

[audio http://www.divshare.com/direct/15764007-26c.mp3]

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*Given that this is a German pressing, it could just be mastering – or more precisely, the production WAS weedy, and they fixed it in mastering on the US pressing, but not here.  Just speculation.

Categories: Pop, Rock

How to succeed in rock and roll.

September 18, 2011 Leave a comment

I find this song fascinating.  Artie Wayne, for whom Neil Sheppard was a pseudonym, is a sometime songwriter and performer whose largest influence was in his work as a song plugger for a variety of publishing companies.

As an apparent one-off, he wrote a tribute to rock and roll that musically channels Buddy Holly, name-checks Ringo Starr (arguably making him the butt of a joke in the process), imitates Keith Richards, Ray Charles and the Beatles for brief moments, and begins with a total Beach Boys lick.

Somehow it exceeds its ingredients, however – in part because it is so clearly written from the perspective of Artie Wayne, professional song plugger.  When he sings about Elvis, it hasn’t much to do with his artistic merit or lasting influence, instead referencing how he made a million bucks after driving a truck – and let me tell you, after reading some books about early rock and roll guys, we should not underrate the profit motive in their career choices.

Most of the rest of the song glorifies, again, not the music – but actually the tool by which it is produced (the guitar) itself, without which success (and girls) will elude you.*  If there’s one thing craftsmen are always thankful for, it’s the right tools for the right job – at least that’s what Sears and Scotty have been telling me my whole life.  I would argue Artie is a skilled craftsman, and that’s a noble profession indeed.

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*yes, yes, unless you’re a drummer named Richard.

Categories: Pop

Cochran

September 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Wayne Cochran was possessed of one of the most ridiculous haircuts in history and may well have invented the moonwalk.  He was also the writer of the infamous “Last Kiss,” which has polluted our airwaves for far too many decades (couldn’t Eddie Vedder have picked something else?).  But the most important part of his history in the context of this post is the Blues-Brothers-inspiring R&B/Soul revue era, and COCHRAN, album that documented it.

Remember Morty Sline and the Blues Brothers steam room scene?  Inspecting the inside gatefold of the COCHRAN album, I think it’s safe to say that Jake and Elwood were on the right side of history in not taking his advice.  They did, however, cop plenty else from Cochran: that huge horn section, playing “I Can’t Turn You Loose” in a movie*, and of course the cover of “Goin’ Back To Miami.”

They say ol’ Wayne was the white James Brown.  I say, other than Georgia birth, he was nowhere near that level, but is enjoyable on his own merits.  All of the clips linked to above are great.  From his last album, there’s also this end-of-side-A throwaway, entitled “Boogie,” which could certainly be a spear, if not a sword, in a DJ’s arsenal.  There are probably better tracks on the album, but none of them have the kitsch value of a honky explaining the black man’s music to his (likely) white audience.

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*J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS

Categories: Funky