Monday, January 30, 2017

Week In Review: H P B 45s, John Wetton

Tad has been keeping very busy with some really bad prog rock (as he says) and for somebody who was going to cut back, here's the 11th installment of the Record World Blog and Half Price Books had a few of them. For finding 45s this month I have been lucky to find some good stuff.  However, we take the good with the bad and I'm sure that some of these gems will be donated back somewhere. Since Tad was gracious enough to include this link, I thought I return the favor on his latest of reviewing really bad prog rock.  In terms of theory, I could never get much into the Strawbs and the only Kayak I ever heard was Royal Bed Bouncer.  Out of all the Tull albums, I never did buy Aqualung.  I just didn't feel the need to buy it, although if I find a cheap copy somewhere then I might.

The Artisan Sanctuary is moving from their Czech Village quarters (Used to be the Salvation Army site) to downtown Marion next to Campbell Steele. Jim Jacobmeyer says that the new place has a bigger stage and a basement and more potential to help out the starving artist and upcoming bands. 

I finished January with the second highest views, under 8800, a drop from the big December 12,000 views. The top six blog stories came from last month.  That causes a red flag and perhaps examples of Blogspot inflating the stats. First time ever I averaged 200 views a day ever, for the past thirty days.  If your not a robot or spambot and actually read these blogs, I thank you.  And thank you Tad for your comments.

Bobby Freeman, who was the main piano player in the Capitol era Johnny Otis Show and of course best known for Do You Wanna Dance and Cmon And Swim passed away on Jan 28.  He was 76 years old.  My first known single from Bobby was Sinbad.

Deke Leonard, guitarist for Man passed away on Wednesday.  He was 72.

From Robert Christgau
Neil Young:  Peace Trail (Reprise) Anything but "predictable," these political ditties rank among the strangest songs of his career, as in "Hope that was confusing, looking like a bright light/Blinding you forever with its power" ("My Pledge," "Glass Accident") *** B+

Singles Going Steady Medley-Half Price Books 45s  Or continuing to hoard 45s with a wide variety of styles.

1)  Stand By Your Man-The Mirettes  (UNI 55110) 1969

They popped on the charts with a version of In The Midnight Hour (#45 in 1968) but somebody decided that the time was right to do a soul version of the Tammy Wynette hit.  I think Clarence Paul (best known for being a Motown Arranger) is behind most of the arrangements  I'm not a fan of the don't yell at me soul singer on this song, which isn't out of line like The Emotions Best Of My Love.  Turns out that nobody needed a soul version of this song.  45 Cat mentioned it was a promo only but my copy is a stock version, with a drill hole indicating a cut out 45.  B Side If Everybody Help Somebody is a throwaway too.  Uni would issue three more singles before cutting them loose. Vendetta Fields might have been the lead vocalist.

2)   It Is No Secret-Red Foley And The Andrews Sisters (Decca Faith Series 9-14566) 1951

Red Foley was one of the early country music greats, The Andrews Sisters were big pop stars of the 1940s and Decca paired them up on this gospel number.  Back then you can always tell it was a gospel number when a hammond organ would start the whole thing off.  Decca in 1949 started up the Faith Series with Bing Crosby with What A Friend We Had In Jesus but by 1953 they pulled the plug and any gospel number would be on the Decca label.  Basically a who's who of artists recorded for the Faith Series, The Jordanaires, Anita Kerr Singers, even boxer Jersey Joe Walcott did a single of inspiration songs.
Still, there's really not a lot of interest of songs like these anymore, unless you're interested to hear what you're grandparents may have been listening to on a Sunday Morning.   That is if they had record players.

3)  It's All Over Now-Charlie Rich (RCA PB-10256)  1975

Recorded in 1964 as RCA 8478, but RCA trying to capitalize on Rich's success with Behind Closed Doors emptied the vaults in search of a hit and came up with more misses though.  It's All Over Now was the B side to There' Won't Be Anymore.  Rich went to RCA after his tenure with Phillips International and they stuck him on the Groove subsidy label.  The 1963-1965 sessions would have later hits in the 1970s for RCA, My Mountain Dew was a country top ten hit in 1977.  Out of all the Chet Atkins produced stars, Rich was by more the most R and B sounding of them all, even to the point that he recorded for Hi Records before signing with Epic and hanging on for another five years before his massive number 1 hit Behind Closed Doors.   I tend to favor Rich's R and B more than the bedroom ballad of Behind Closed Doors.

4)  Give It To The People-The Righteous Brothers (Haven 7004)  #20 1974

Followup to the number 3 Rock And Roll Heaven in the comeback year of 1974, it would be a short-lived comeback.  After hanging with Phil Spector long enough to compile Spector soundalikes, The Righteous Brothers would hit a dry spell before the production team of Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter signed them to their Haven/Capitol label for a trio of top 40 singles, the last being Dream On (later covered by the Oak Ridge Boys).  This song is typical Lambert/Potter, urgent verses, over the top chorus with some sort of preaching cliche.  B side Love Is Not A Dirty Word, continues the peace and love stuff but the chorus is half assed.  Might have been a hit single had Lambert and Potter worked a bit more harder on this song.  After that, The Righteous Brothers would remake Unchained Melody, which would hit the top 40 twice  (the original #13, the remake #19 in 1990, due to the popularity of it being used in the movie Ghost.

5)  Somebody's Been Beatin'  My Time-Eddy Arnold (RCA Victor 47-4273)  1951

I guess Heart Strings was the hit but I prefer this yodeling uptempo number from the Tennessee Plowboy.  In 1949 he did the first version of The Cattle Call, his theme song till he went for the MOR country sound, somewhat like Ray Price did when Ray did Danny Boy after years of honky tonkin.   But on Somebody's....he shows off a Hank Sr type of honky tonk.

6)  Straight Shootin Woman-Steppenwolf (Mums ZS8-6031)  #29 1974

The last time Steppenwolf would make the top 30.  Back in the 60s and 70s, they and their label mates 3 Dog Night would chart single after single but in 1972 Steppenwolf broke up, only to reunite a scant year and half later and signed with Epic Records which assigned them to the Mums label.  While critics tend to be harsh on their albums I did like Slow Flux, or most of it anyway, they did have three singles taken off the album and showed enough buyer interest that they were promoted to Epic for two forgettable albums, The Hour Of The Wolf and Skullduggery, the latter with a cool funky number written by Bobby Cochran.  But John Kay has never been much of a songwriter himself, his protest songs tend to lose focus as evidenced by B side Justice Don't Be Slow.  Straight Shooting Woman is a 3 minute hatchet job of the album track.   Thus proving that sometimes buying singles are not dollar wise but penny foolish.  Not a hatchet job as say Maggie by Redbone or Green Grass And High Tides but The Outlaws, but you'll notice the difference if you buy Slow Flux or Steppenwolf All Time Greatest Hits, to which MCA did throw a few dollars at Sony Music for the use of Straight Shooting Woman.   After the failure of Skullduggery, Epic cherry picked the best (and worst) of the songs for something called Reborn To Be Wild, to which not surprisingly has not been reissued on CD as of late.  But I did have the 8 track to that best of.  John Kay would reform Steppenwolf with hired hands and even less interesting albums.  Better to stick with Born To Be Wild I gather.

Sad note:  John Wetton, bass player for the likes of Asia, King Crimson, UK, Uriah Heep has died from colon cancer, he was 67.  Some tributes are now shared from his friends and bandmates.


“With the passing of my good friend and musical collaborator, John Wetton, the world loses yet another musical giant. John was a gentle person who created some of the most lasting melodies and lyrics in modern popular music. As a musician, he was both brave and innovative, with a voice that took the music of ASIA to the top of the charts around the world. His ability to triumph over alcohol abuse made him an inspiration to many who have also fought that battle. For those of us who knew him and worked with him, his valiant struggle against cancer was a further inspiration. I will miss his talent, his sense of humor and his infectious smile. May you ride easy, my old friend.
Carl Palmer.
Jan.31, 2017.”

 Very sad to hear about the death of my good friend and fellow musical explorer John Wetton. We had so many fun times together its difficult to comprehend that he wont be around to share our experiences. His extraordinary talent as bass player, singer and composer was a wonder to behold .it was a joy and privilege to know him. We will all miss him. RIP.  Phil Manzenera


"It is with great sadness and a heavy heart, that I have to report we have lost my dearest friend, brother, bandmate and long term musical collaborator, John Wetton, who has passed away after a long and tenacious battle with cancer. He will be remembered as one of the world’s finest musical talents, and I for one of many was wholly blessed by his influence. It was a massive privilege for me to have worked with this genius so closely on our numerous projects together over the years. His bass playing was revolutionary. His voice was from the gods. His compositions - out of this world. His sense of melody and harmony - unreal. He was literally a 'special one'.

But John was much more than a gigantic and unique musical talent. He was a supremely intelligent man, marked with his great observations and wisdom about life; all couched within his wicked sense of humour. The wit was dark and deep, only fully perceptible to those on his same wavelength. I was fortunate enough to be able to be on that wavelength, and discover that we had much in common. Many of his personal life experiences were reflected in his lyrical contributions to the songs. His heart was always in the music. That was John, through and through. It was always about - the music.
As a person, he was fiercely loyal, loving and generous, particularly to those he cared about. But he could be as stubborn as a mule or as gracious as a nobleman, depending on the mood that grabbed him on any particular day. There were some who couldn't read his brilliant mind and complex personality. Some found him charming, others infuriating. But however you found John, there was no denying his rare talent as a musician and songwriter was second to none.

Both of us having been brought up with similar backgrounds in provincial England, we shared a love of many things - sport, and in particular - football, English church music, current affairs, comedy, literature, you name it....pretty much everything that 2 kids from the sticks were exposed to in our youth.

Our planets seemed to be immediately in alignment when we first met in early 1981. There was a laddish camaraderie that grew between us as we became as close as two non-related brothers could be. He was an avid reader and film enthusiast, something he pursued with great interest. This helped inspire him to some wonderful lyrics to the literally hundreds of songs we composed together. Back then, we immediately hit the ground running as we composed much of the debut ASIA album together and forged a formidable partnership which lasted right up until now. It was a wholly natural process for us, whereby we could knock out 2 or 3 songs in an afternoon. They were always greeted with our gentlemanly handshake and smiles once we had wrapped up another one in the bag.
Above all else though, his passion for life was to the fore. The battles he endured throughout were immense and well documented. Firstly with alcohol, which he so resolutely overcame, then open heart surgery and finally cancer, which sadly was to take his life in the end. He once observed to me that this disease is a "merciless assassin". Just another example of his perception and the descriptive language that he was so richly blessed with. He took all of these battles on board with great bravery and almost a 'laissez-faire' attitude, tinged with his inimitable wry wit.

To say I will miss my him greatly is beyond understatement. He was such an inspiration to me. We were planning another album, but sadly he was not well enough to complete it. I feel heartbroken about this, as I knew John thought it was to be one of our finest albums to date. I remain as proud as ever of our Wetton/Downes writing partnership. I am hoping one day that I will be able to finish it, and that it will be appreciated by all those who loved his and our music, and most importantly, a legacy he would have been proud of.

Life will not be the same without him. And words are not really enough to describe the loss I feel right now, and the many friends and fans all over the World will also be feeling. It is the end of an era for all of us. But we will soldier on - the music of John Wetton needs to be heard loud and clear from the rooftops.

Dearest John, may you rest in peace brother.


Please join me in sending our sincerest thoughts and prayers to Lisa, Dylan and the entire Wetton family at this difficult time


TAD said...

Hey Crabby -- Thanks for the shout-out, and too bad about John Wetton, the statements you collected here are testimony to the talent he had. I never liked Asia much, but the other bands he was with were all pretty great, and he helped elevate them -- King Crimson, U.K., Roxy Music, etc. Haven't heard much of his work with Family, I'll have to take another listen. Haven't heard anything he did with Uriah Heep, but.... Bob Fripp said Wetton was the best bassist of his generation. Been a bad few months for Prog musicians....

R S Crabb said...

Hi Tad,
I'm going to leave the Trump bashings over to you since you do a better job of smacking him around. He's POTUS FRS.

I don't think Wetton was in Uriah Heap long enough to make a recording. While Wetton got famous for his tenure in Asia, I think his best work was with King Crimson, particularly Starless and Bible Black and most of all Red, which remains their high water mark. Critics have never liked Asia much, they were more Prog Pop than rock anyway. U.K. I thought was more pompous than Asia, Danger Money album number 2 I didn't like when I first heard it in 1978 I am more interested in the Wishbone Ash album Number The Brave, the album that Wetton played on. I used to have his 1986 album with Phil Manzenera on Geffen with Alan White (YES) on drums but from I recall it really did sound like ASIA.

But with Wetton's passing it all goes to show that we're all getting older each day and I'm sure we'll lose a few more folks along the way. The Story of life I gather.

TAD said...

Hey Crabby -- You can have my copy of AQUALUNG. It skips during the title song, but who cares? I'm sure there must be something decent on there, on the lighter acoustic "break" songs maybe. But I don't know if I have the patience to find them. But I'll keep trying....
I thought U.K.'s first album was pretty good. DANGER MONEY mostly sounded pretty desperate to me, even back in '78, but there are a couple good songs on it: "Rendezvous 6:02," and "Nothing to Lose" which was an obvious try at a hit. Could have been an Asia song.
Thanks for the link -- I'll let you know how many of your 200 readers per day I get....

R S Crabb said...

I'll pass Tad.

I sold off The Very Best Of Jethro Tull to Half Priced Books a week ago. From what I recall of Aqualung the album, I wasn't that fascinated by it. I have M.U. if I needed to hear "sitting on a park bench...."