The Zombies

Since the first time I heard this band, I loved their sound. I liked their hits but a few years ago I bought their album Odessey and Oracle and was blown away. The Beatles were big fans of them in the sixties.

They formed in 1961 by Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone. The hit big in 1964 with singles She’s Not There that went to #2 in American and the follow up Tell Her No that went to #6 on the charts. After that, they released some more singles but nothing hit.

They went into Abbey Road studio right after The Beatles recorded the Sgt Pepper album. When recording the album they even used The Beatle’s Mellotron they left there. They recorded it in Abbey Road and some in Olympic Studio in London.

By the time the album came out they had already broken up. In 1968 CBS records were not going to release it in America at all but a young  A&R man at the time named Al Kooper who worked for CBS told Clive Davis (President of CBS Records) that there were hit singles on the album. The album was released and the single “Time of Season” went to number 1 on the Cash Box Top 100 and number 3 in US Billboard Hot 100…

The album contains much more than that though. Personally, I think “Care of Cell 44” is one of the best pop songs I’ve heard. It’s as if mid-60s Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson had a baby…and Care Of Cell 44 is it.

A Rose for Emily is another good pop song. “This Will Be Our Year” is another one. This album is one of my favorite pop albums of all time. The songs have well-crafted melodies and the sound is wonderful. Time of Season is a classic and has a mood, unlike any other song.

Colin Blunstone has a unique voice all his own. He did have a few solo hits in the UK charts during the 1970s.

Rod Argent went on to form the band Argent… they had a hit with “Hold Your Head Up” and “God Gave Rock and Roll to You” later covered by Petra and KISS with modified lyrics.

The Zombies regrouped in the 90s and are still touring. Get a good pair of headphones and listen to Care of Cell 44.

From the Al Kooper book, Backstage Passes… Talking about Odessey and Oracle

I made an appointment with Clive Davis and put the album on his desk. “I really think we should purchase the master rights to this album for the U.S.,” I aggressively suggested. He took one look at the cover and replied, “We already own this album. I was just about to sign off on our option to release it domestically.”
Now, it got good to me—
“I think that would be a huge mistake Clive. Why there’s at least two hit singles here.” He told me he would sleep on it and thanked me for bringing it to his attention. Two weeks later I got an interoffice memo saying they were gonna put it out, with instructions to rewrite the liner notes and pick a single. Cautiously, Clive released it on a little subsidiary label CBS had called Date Records, in case I turned out to be wrong. But my lucky streak was goin’ strong and that is how the single “Time of the Season” by The Zombies came to be number one. The album Oddesey [sic] and Oracle had been out quite awhile in England. (In fact, the band had already broken up and metamorphosed into a new band called Argent that CBS had signed before “Time” was released.) A buncha Zombies crossed the ocean to take photos and get gold records. No one at CBS thanked me for this; I received no gold record or cash recompense. But The Zombies, who knew what really happened, made sure to come to my office and thank me profusely. That was worth it all to me at that time.

Jonestown

When I think of evil human beings…Jim Jones checks off every box. When people think of Jonestown or the Peoples Temple they probably remember the horrible images and disbelief that blanketed the news from Guyana. Interviews with people who happened to be out of Jonestown that afternoon or one of the very few who escaped (36) who started their day there.

The death toll kept rising daily on the news…200, 400, and then 800 or more. The reason was the bodies were on top of each other and the more they were moved the more they realized some were 3 deep.

918 children and adults died on November 18, 1978, in Jonestown, and most were murdered not suicide. Drink the poisoned Flavor-Aid or get shot or injected right after watching the kids poisoned. According to the Guyanese court which had jurisdiction in the matter, all but three of the deaths in Jonestown were ruled to be the result of murder, not suicide. Source: The New York Times, 12/12/78

The Peoples Temple was a microcosm of society.  Some people joined for socialism, religion (ironic since Jones was an atheist) or just to belong somewhere. There were young naive members, elderly vulnerable members, drug addicts, drunks, lawyers, doctors, rich, middle class, poor, black and white.

I always wanted to know more about what happened. There are some good books on this. The best one I’ve read is Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People by Tim Reiterman. Tim was there for two days including the last day when Congressman Leo Ryan was killed…Reiterman was also shot but survived.

The event, of course,  inspired the phrase “Don’t Drink The Kool-Aid”…although it was really a cheap knockoff…Flavor-Aid.

The more I read the more I was imagining being held prisoner in that jungle under his totalitarian rule…what a helpless feeling…and I was wanting the impossible to happen…a different ending.

It’s so puzzling that today with all the info we have there are still cult leaders out there playing by the Jim Jones playbook.

A good abbreviated version of Jonestown and Jim Jones can be found here at History Channel website. https://www.history.com/topics/jonestown

A documentary of Jonestown and Peoples Temple.

 

 

 

MatchGame 73-79

I’m not big into game shows but this one was my favorite. When I was at my grandmothers I would watch Match Game. This was the one I looked forward to. The questions were written for the dirty minded… you could see what the celebrities wanted to write down but they had to stay somewhat clean. Dick DeBartolo from Mad Magazine wrote most of the questions so it had that humor.

Mary liked to pour gravy over John’s ______

It was fun for the celebrities and from the documentries I’ve seen they would film 12 episodes over a weekend and drinks would be flowing at lunch and dinner. The styrofoam cups you would see them drinking from  would sometimes be vodka instead of water on air.

The regulars I remember were Brett Somers, Charles Nelson Reilly and Richard Dawson (until he left for his own show). The others that would be on the show occasionally were Betty White, Fannie Flagg, Joyce Bulifant, Nipsey Russell, Marcia Wallace, Patti Deutsch and more.

Sometimes the celeberties would have so much fun that I would feel sorry for the contestant trying to win money when the celebrities would write joke answers. Richard Dawson and Charles Nelson Reilly would usually be serious on the answers.

So many women would pick Dawson because he was the best player and because they wanted to kiss him if they won…or lost really…That was a glimpse to his future game show.

Gene Rayburn was the host and he would hold everything together barely. It really did seem Rayburn was having a great time.

I remember Richard Dawson’s last week on the show. He wore dark glasses and would not smile. He seemed bored (he had started to do Family Feud by this time) and serious. Turns out that he wanted off the show but they would not let him…After that final show of him being sullen and not smiling…he was gone.

The game was also changed because of Dawson. In the last round more times than not he was picked…well he was good… The producers changed the rules and  made people spin a wheel to see which celeb they would get in the final round.

They would push the censors as far as they could for the 1970s…I watch it whenever I can…

 

 

 

 

The Spirit of 76 movie

This movie is a B movie all of the way…and it plays up that fact… It was released in 1990 and if you are wanting to watch something that spoofs the 1970s… This movie is for you.

This movie stars David Cassidy, Lief Garrett, Carl and Rob Reiner, and Olivia d’Abo… Citizen Kane, it is NOT. It’s a fun film about the future where all is gray and they lost every record because of a magnetic storm including the US Constitution. Adam-11 (David Cassidy) has built a time machine because he wants to go to a beach…beaches don’t exist anymore in the future… so the government wants him to use the time machine to go into the past to 1776 and get a copy of the US Constitution so they can rebuild their society with it. To make it work he needs a chemical that’s rare in the future… tetrahydrozoline.

The government agrees to give him some tetrahydrozoline but sends two more travelers Chanel-6 (d’Abo ),  Heinz 57 (Geoff Hoyle) with Adam-11 to retrieve the document…but instead of going back to 1776 the time machine malfunctions and goes to 1976.

Devo makes an appearance as the “Ministry of Knowledge”…

It’s a corny movie but they have the 70s down in many parts of the movie. After meeting up with two teenage stoners (The group Redd Kross) they look for the constitution but lose the tetrahydrozoline.(the main ingredient to a very popular item in the 70’s… Visine).

If you are looking for a second Gone with the Wind…don’t watch this but it’s funny and silly enough to entertain you.

You have to know a little about the 70s to get some of the jokes…Like David Cassidy’s character looking around a garage in 1976 asking “am I going to be stuck here forever?” while looking at a Partridge Family lunch box.

If you are bored try this one.

The Last Waltz

The Band on Thanksgiving in 1976 at the Fillmore West. The film starts off with THIS FILM MUST BE PLAYED LOUD! A cut to Rick Danko playing pool and then it then to the Band playing “Don’t Do It”…the last song they performed that night after hours of playing. Through the music and some interviews, their musical journey and influences are retraced.

This film is considered by many the best concert film ever made. It was directed by Martin Scorsese. I love the setting with the chandeliers that were from the movie Gone With The Wind. The quality of the picture is great because it was shot with 35-millimeter which wasn’t normally done with concerts.

Before the Band and guests hit the stage, Bill Graham, the promoter, served a Thanksgiving dinner to 5000 people that made up the audience with long tables with white tablecloths.

The Band’s musical guests included

Ronnie Hawkins, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Dr. John, Paul Butterfield, Van Morrison (my favorite performance of a guest), Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton and Muddy Waters

The Staple Singers and Emmylou Harris also appear but their segments were taped later on a sound stage and not at the concert.

Robbie wanted off the road earlier and that is what the Last Waltz was all about…the last concert by The Band with a lot of musical friends. He was tired of touring and also the habits the band was picking up…the drugs and drinking. Richard Manuel, in particular, was in bad shape and needed time.

The rest of the Band supposedly agreed but a few years later all of them but Robbie started to tour as The Band again. Richard Manuel ended up hanging himself in 1986. Rick Danko passed away in 1999 at the end of a tour of a heart attack attributed to years of drug and alcohol abuse. Levon Helm died of cancer in 2012.

The Band sounded great that night and it might be the best version you will ever hear of The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.

The Last Waltz is a grand farewell to a great band and a film that I revisit at least twice a year… once always around Thanksgiving.

The Band

Any band that calls themselves The Band…better be great…this band most certainly was… Four Canadians with one American who wrote and sang Americana music better than anyone.

They started out backing up Ronnie Hawkins in the early sixties… From there they backed up Bob Dylan on his famous conversion to “electric” music. They toured all over the world with Dylan getting booed because of the folk purists hate of Bob’s new electric direction. Levon left at the beginning of that tour but came back when they started to work on their own music.

They were a band in the best sense of the word. the members were Robbie Robertson who played guitar and was the main songwriter. Levon Helm who was the drummer and one of the three singers. Richard Manual played piano and was probably the best singer of the Band. Rick Danko the bass player and also singer and great at harmonies. Garth Hudson the keyboard player extraordinaire. They all could play other instruments…

They would switch up instruments and record at times just to get a different texture to their music.

They rented a house in West Saugerties New York…a big pink house and started to set up in the basement. Bob Dylan would come over and they would record demos.

Bob Dylan was a big influence on The Band. The Band also influenced Bob Dylan in the basement. He had never recorded outside of a studio before and it freed him up a bit. Those recordings were meant to be demos for other performers to sing but were heavily bootlegged so they were officially released in 1975 as “The Basement Tapes” with songs by Dylan and The Band. The songs had pure raw energy and showed a sense of humor also.

They influenced everyone from Eric Clapton..who hid a secret desire to join them…to George Harrison and many more. Their first two albums (Music From Big Pink and The Band) were groundbreaking. They changed the musical landscape…the move from psychedelic to an older sounding looser type of music.

In 1974 Bob Dylan and the Band toured together again. The Band backed Dylan again but also played their own set. They released a live album of that tour called Before The Flood.

Some bands have great voices and tight harmonies. The Beatles, Beach Boys, Eagles to name a few but The Band’s harmonies were loose but at the same time just as tight in their own way. Their music sounded spontaneous but it was well crafted. They always left enough raw edge to keep it interesting.

Robbie Robertson’s words and melodies were Americana flowing through a Canadian who had part Jewish and Native-Canadian roots. He would read one movie screenplay after another. It helped him with his songwriting to express the images he had in his head. Robbie also took stories Levon told him of the south and shaped them into songs.

The Band was no frills…you were not going to see lasers or a Mick Jagger clone running about… they just played their music and did it well. They did not follow trends but they were not afraid to experiment especially Garth Hudson the keyboard player who was always playing with different sounds.

Songs like The Weight, Cripple Creek, The Shape I’m In, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, Rag Mama Rag, This Wheels On Fire, Stage Fright and the list goes on. The songs still sound fresh and fit perfectly on their respective albums.

You can’t go wrong with a Band album but the ones I would recommend would be Music From Big Pink (1968) and The Band (1969).

The Greatest Hits album has the radio songs you know but you miss some great songs by not getting the original albums. The ultimate would be the 2005 release of the box set called A Musical History. It has everything the original band recorded.

They broke up in 1976 and played their last concert with all of the original members in a film called The Last Waltz…

Their music was always uniquely their own. This band earned their name…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bedazzled 1967

This is one of my favorite comedies. Peter Cook and Dudley Moore were always a great team and this movie they work very well together. It’s the old story of selling your soul to the Devil for wishes…but as always the wishes are not exactly what the wisher has in mind.

Dudley Moore plays Stanley Moon who is a shy and pathetic figure who pines for a waitress (Eleanor Bron) who works at Wimpy’s Burger where is employed as a cook. Peter Cook is the devil… He is perfect for this part. He is a hilarious devil and at times likable but does the most annoying things like tearing the last page out of mysteries, scratching LPs and just petty things to aggravate people.

The movie is very British and very funny.

The chemistry is great between Moore and Cook and by this time they had been together for a while. There was a version of this movie released in 2000 but it is not as subtle as this the original version. This is an offbeat quirky film.

This film also features Raquel Welch appropriately as Lust. She is only in it for a few minutes but she plays Lust to the hilt. The film had no name at first and in an interview, Peter Cook said he wanted to name the movie “Raquel Welch”…when asked why he wanted to name it after the actress when it wasn’t about her he said because the Marquee would read “Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in Raquel Welch”… The producers didn’t like that.

Eleanor Bron plays Margaret the waitress and the object of Stanley’s desire was also in HELP! with The Beatles.

Check this film out if you can. Personally, I think it beats the remake.