Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Singles Going Steady 22-Classic Rock

Perhaps the most blatant and condescending attempt to go commercial, this edition of long running Singles Going Steady series takes a bigger look at the 45s that came into view this weekend and really took shape during my time up in Madison and trying to find the keepers from the crap. Knowing all the time, that some of the mentioned costs more than the actual Cd the songs came from.  The references of some of the songs come courtesy of Strictly Discs in Madison.  Basically it's all rock and roll this time out.

1.  Please Please Me-The Beatles (Vee Jay 498) 1963  I don't need to rehash the story of The Beatles being on EMI and Capitol in the US had a very passive interest in them till I Want To Hold Your Hand broke big and then they decided that maybe they did have a band that could make them lots of money in the long run but before that various Beatles songs did make on various independent labels (Tollie, Swan, even Atco got into the fun before Capitol recalled all masters for their own keeping). Perhaps the oddest pairings was being on a R and B label like Vee Jay and certainly Vee Jay took advantage of that by offering the single in different configurations, most notably the rainbow edge label that bared some similarity to Capitol's LP rainbow label. I did find a reference copy at Savers (see Week In Review: Madison) but the record seen much better days and I didn't feel compelled to just pick it up.  Kinda like finding  All Shook Up by Elvis in a thrift shop.  Unplayable but it might make a okay wall fixture to show off just to say you have a copy.

2.  TVC 15-David Bowie (RCA PB-10665)  1976  The bicentennial year was a bumper crop of outstanding and classic songs made into 45s but the big problem of most of these were in edited form.  I'm sure if Marion TV and Records would have had a copy I'd probably buy it but be pissed off at the 3:30 edit and not the full 5:30 version.  The best part of the song is the chorus ending.  Half of the time, radio played the edited version and we missed out on the full version and had to get the album in the first place.  Bowie to me has been one of the most erratic artists of the classic rock era, never got into his Ziggy Stardust persona all that much but I actually think that Station To Station was his best studio album of all time. But that's just my observation.

3.  Candy Store Rock-Led Zeppelin (Swan Song SS-70110) 1976  Another 45 that our local record store didn't stock and hard to believe since anything Led Zeppelin could sell.  However, this song didn't chart at all and basically for some idiot reason Marion TV and Records couldn't get a copy.  Not a lot of thought on the lyrics but that band can cook up some bitching heaviness.   And further proof that John Paul Jones was the secret weapon of L.Z.

4.  The Shout-Robin Trower (Chrysalis CHR-2429)  1980  Robin Trower's classic years was on Chrysalis and having James Dewar being the lead singer.  The lesser known 45s (Man Of The World, My Love) would sound just as great on classic rock radio with the overplayed but since Corporate rock radio doesn't play that way, the hell with anything else not Foreigner.  Of course in my lifetime, Bridge Of Sighs was a must have album but Trower started tinkering with the formula for more of a funk and soul feel on In City Dreams and Caravan To Midnight but the album Victims Of The Fury returns Robin and James back into a gritty hard rock sound but the catch was the songs were now shorter and on The Shout a nod to punk rock if you can believe that.  The lyrics are all Keith Reid though, a bit more wordy than Johnny Rotten or The Clash.  One of those songs that KRNA played in 1980 that made me took notice between the Billy Joel and Journey stuff they touted and I did find a cutout cassette of that album. And then bought the vinyl...and the CD.  But never the single, couldn't find it anywhere.

5.  A Horse With No Name-America (Warner Brothers WB 7555) 1972  I think I was in fifth grade, home from school being sick with the flu when I first heard this off a fading radio station in the afternoon.  My mom worked at Sears at that time, and once she left for work I had free rein to turn the radio on and listen to the songs out there.  It's overplayed to death now but it was one of those songs when you hear the first time it grabs your attention. In some ways America was no different than Crosby Stills and Nash or Loggins And Messina, it was folk rock with some jamming off and on, especially on B side Everyone I Meet Is From California which didn't make it to the first America album, a head scratcher for the omit.  Out of the CSN and LM bands, America was the weakest of the bunch and their albums have been uneven at best and even slid into a MOR ballad band although they hit number 1 with the overplayed Sister Golden Hair a big 1975 hit but if given the choice Horse wins out.  But then again once they lost Dan Peek, they really did become a MOR band.

6.  Mother Freedom-Bread (Elektra EKS-45740)  1971  People loved those David Gates ballads but if he turned out a rocking 45 such as this song the chart position were not as high.  Don't laugh but Bread was a very capable rock band if they wanted to be, James Griffin wrote more of the rockers, Gates' "bread" (pun) and butter was the ballads.  I come to find I can handle the ballads more now than I used to but this surprise rocker I did buy when I went up to the Lincoln Woolworth's visiting my Grandma when she was still alive (good times). 1971 was a nice watershed year for great 45s and that trek did continue up to 1976 before disco and rap and corporate rock sucked all the inspiration out. Mock me all you want but Bread was a very good rock band when they wanted it to be.

7. Come Up The Years-Jefferson Airplane (RCA 47-8848) 1966   The strange case of Jefferson Airplane is how classic rock radio plays Somebody To Love or White Rabbit every chance they get but the failed 45s you won't hear at all.  But the failed singles probably had too much of a sound too similar to the Mama's And Papa's or Simon And Garfunkel.  It didn't help that they had one of the biggest assholes managing them, one Matthew Katz who co produced their first album.  Grace Slick was still in The Great Society and Skip Spence was playing drums for The Airplane even though he was a guitarist by trade.  This song was too folky to make an impression on the charts, B side Blues From An Airplane would hint for the sound they were searching for, but Jefferson Airplane Takes Off remains a stellar first album.  However the Airplane would manage to excrete themselves from Matthew Katz and go on to bigger things,  Spence would form his own band Moby Grape but unfortunately would retain Katz for his management skills.  And the rest would be history.

8.  I Wanna Go Back-Eddie Money (Columbia 38-06569)  1986  We know the money man and his first album which Two Tickets To Paradise and Baby Hold On are still in regular rotation over the years and somehow I managed to score a vinyl copy of The Sound Of Money which sold boatloads of CDs in the late 80s but this song has always struck a chord with me.  While going from shit job to shit job in my five months being in Arizona, this song was really my expression of being homesick  and since I was about to be kicked out of the house by my loving Aunt Virginia it was either go home or go homeless.

9.  Something Lacking In Me-Nigel Olsson (Rocket PIG-40455)  1975  Nigel has always been one of rock and roll most underrated drummer, he drummed in Uriah Heep for a spell before joining up with Elton John for a off and on 40 plus year career but Nigel had an eye for a solo career which he got further with hackster Paul Davis co producing him rather than his boss.  Something Lacking, is not much different than Philadelphia Freedom, even has Gene Page arranging the strings on this song.  One of the co-writers on this song is none other than David Foster, who would later turn Chicago into mush.  One of 45s that I found in Davenport that I took noticed after all the scavengers bypassed this record.

10. Shakin Street-MC5 (Atlantic 2724) 1970   In this day and age we tend to take certain band records more seriously than we used to back when they were still around and The MC5 were no exception. They didn't do themselves any favors by using F bombs to stores that wouldn't sell Kick Out The Jams using the Elektra label and they certainly didn't do themselves any favors by having Jon Landau producing their album, which Lars Ullrich must have took to heart on Metallica's And Justice For All.  A very tinny and no bass mix whatsoever.  Which tends me to think that Landau is about as overrated as his previous employer Jann Wanner.  On the plus side he got to produce the MC5.  Interesting to note that Landau wanted Fred Smith to sing this rather than Robb Tyler, Smith would rather not but in the end, not only this song remains MC5's best overall song, it influenced a lot of the up and coming garage punk bands at that time.  Not bad at all. 


TAD said...

Crabby -- I'm right with ya on Bread, I think their rockers are pretty great, and most of their ballads bore me. Don't know why "Mother Freedom" (one of the first dozen singles I ever bought) and "Let Your Love Go" didn't do better, or why "Been Too Long on the Road" was never a huge hit. Only ballad of theirs I ever really liked was "Everything I Own." Keep rockin....

R S Crabb said...

I think Bread was a very good rock band as well. Their first two albums did have a bit of rock to them, but their "bread" and butter was David Gates' ballads. But I did like a few of James Griffin's songs as well (Call On Me, Truckin').

Perhaps they should be in the rock and roll hall of fame? ;)