The Clash – Train In Vain

I’ve always liked the Clash. Love the London Calling album and really started to listen to them when Combat Rock came out. I’ve never known much about them. This was the first song I ever knew by the Clash when I heard it on the radio in 1980.

They started off as a punk band but The Clash, unlike some other Punk bands, could really play and sing well…and above all else write some great songs. This song was written by

The song was released in 1979 and reached #23 on the Billboard Charts. It is listed by Rolling Stone Magazine at 298 in the top 500 songs of all time. Train in Vain was written by Mick Jones and Joe Strummer.

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-lists/500-greatest-songs-of-all-time-151127/the-clash-train-in-vain-50718/

From songfacts about Train In Vain.

On the original vinyl copy of the album “Train Is Vain” isn’t listed on the tracklisting on the sleeve. The story is that the song was recorded for an NME promotional flexi-disc once the London Calling sessions were done, and the flexi-disc idea then fell through, leaving the song with no home. The band hastily tacked the song onto the end of the album just before vinyl pressing, but the sleeve had already been designed and there was no time to add it to the tracklisting. The only clue of it’s existence is in the run-out groove on Side 4, where the name is carved into the vinyl. On all subsequent releases (including the CD copy) “Train In Vain” is included on the tracklisting on the sleeve.

 

 

 

Rolling Stones – Before They Make Me Run

  • A great “Keith” song on the great Stone’s album Some Girls released in 1978. Some of the lyrics make me laugh because of how honest they are. Maybe one of the best lines in Rock “I wasn’t looking too good but I was feeling real well”… It doesn’t get much more straightforward than that.
  • Some of the others are not so fun such as “Booze and pills and powders, you can choose your medicine, Well here’s another goodbye to another good friend.” In the world where Keith was living, it rang true. I’ve read this line was about Keith’s good friend Gram Parsons who had died of a heroin overdose in 1973.

Keith recorded this song in 1978, a year after he was busted for heroin in Canada.

This and Happy are my favorite Keith Richards songs with the Stones. You Got the Silver is up there also.

Great raw Rock and Roll song.

The Beatle Cartoon Series

I have all 39 episodes taken from VHS tape but you can view most on youtube. The cartoon reminds me of the style of Rocky and Bullwinkle.  John and George were voiced by Paul Frees who did the voice for Boris Badenov on Rocky and Bullwinkle. They ran on ABC from 1965-1969 though only 65-67 were first run episodes.

The show was made on the cheap and the cartoon Beatles were put in usual cartoon situations like a jungle, haunted house, or on a boat. The main thing was to play a Beatle song in the background while our heroes got out or into a jam.

They were a rating success. I watch them now and think…why not get actors with real British accents to voice them? They are silly and fun but George especially had no accent at all. The Beatles had nothing to do with them and didn’t really like them at first when they were first on air. They started to appreciate them more as time went on.

With season 3 you start seeing more pop art being incorporating in the episodes. They have segments where flower power framed the newer songs. Some of the segments looked really good but then they would go back to their younger selves. Some of the episodes could be considered so bad they are good…but I like them.

I never got to see these until the 1980s.

Below is an episode in the 3rd season where at least they show updated pictures of the Beatles in the title sequence with a groovy background.

Below are the episodes descriptions from Wikipedia

Season 1 (1965–66)

1. A Hard Day’s Night / I Want to Hold Your Hand: The Beatles are in Transylvania rehearsing in a haunted house with “monstrous” visitors, including a vampire, a ghost, a werewolf, and a witch, with a parody of Boris Karloff; To hide from their fans, the Beatles run inside a diving bell which drops them into the ocean with a lovesick octopus. Sing Alongs: Not A Second Time / Devil In Her Heart

2. Do You Want To Know A Secret / If I Fell: The Beatles go to Dublin, Ireland for the weekend where they meet a leprechaun named Wilhelmina Morris; John is kidnapped by Dr. Dora Florahyde and Igor, both of whom want John’s brain for their monster. In the I Want To Hold Your Hand Sing Along, Ringo is shown inside a submarine. Sing Alongs: A Hard Day’s Night / I Want To Hold Your Hand

3. Please Mr. Postman / Devil In Her Heart: Ringo loses 15 rings he bought with all of the Beatles’ spendings and they are expecting a telegram from manager Brian Epstein for more money; Ringo wanders into the woods in Transylvania where he meets a witch who wants Ringo for a husband. Sing Alongs: If I Fell / Do You Want To Know A Secret

4. Not A Second Time / Slow Down: The Beatles abandon their flight and land in Africa while trying to get away from their fans, but three girls keep tracking them down. They later encounter a few crocodiles; The Beatles are on the way to the town Ringo Ravine (named after Ringo) until they encounter a donkey that smells gold named “Gold Nose”. Sing Alongs: Baby’s In Black / Misery

5. Baby’s In Black / Misery: Paul gets kidnapped by Professor Psycho who wants Paul to marry his creation Vampiress, half girl and half bat; The Beatles go to a wax museum where a vampire follows them. Sing Alongs: I’ll Get You / Chains

6. You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me / Chains: In Africa, Ringo asks a medicine maker named Jack to help fix the Beatles’ flat tire. He then turns a worm into a snake and it lusts for Ringo; After getting knocked out, Ringo dreams about himself as Captain William Bligh from the movie Mutiny on the Bounty (1962). Sing Alongs: Slow Down / Honey Don’t

7. I’ll Get You / Honey Don’t: The Beatles run into hunter Alan Watermain (a parody of Alan Quartermain) in Africa after escaping from their fans and go out hunting for a lion; Ringo is mistaken as a bull rider, and the cowboys send him to ride on a super-tough bull named Honey. Sing Alongs: You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me / Any Time At All

8. Any Time At All / Twist and Shout: The Beatles imagine themselves as the Three Musketeers (Plus One) while they are on a tour at a museum in France; The Beatles attend an art show where a girl tries to be like other artists. They inspire her with music. Sing Alongs: I’ll Be Back / Little Child

9. Little Child / I’ll Be Back: A Native American girl on a Texas Indian reservation wants to prove that girls are as good at trapping as boys are by trapping the Beatles; The mayor of a Texas town gives Ringo a golden guitar as a gift, only to be stolen by three men, prompting the Fab Four to hunt for the thieves and get the guitar back. (The song “Ticket to Ride” is heard at the beginning of this episode.) Sing Alongs: Long Tall Sally / Twist And Shout

10. Long Tall Sally / I’ll Cry Instead: The Beatles stay at a castle for the night during a fog. John and Ringo try on a couple of cursed armor suits and start to fight each other; After signing too many autographs in Japan, George’s hand gets swollen and suffers “autographitis”. His bandmates take him to a hand doctor but end up in a karate class by mistake. Sing Alongs: I’ll Follow The Sun / When I Get Home

11. I’ll Follow the Sun / When I Get Home: The Beatles’ car breaks down and they are captured by a highwayman who happens to be a car repair man; The Beatles explore the Notre Dame in France where they later meet its famous hunchback Quasimodo. Sing Alongs: I’ll Cry Instead / Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby

12. Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby / I Should Have Known Better: The Beatles, spending the night at a temple in Japan during a rainstorm, are mistaken for Japanese ancestors of four girls; The Beatles are in Rome trying to find a theater to rehearse. Their last resort is the Coliseum. Sing Alongs: I’m A Loser / I Wanna Be Your Man

13. I’m A Loser / I Wanna Be Your Man: In Hollywood, Ringo gets hired as a stuntman by Incredible Pictures Inc. and ends up in the hospital after getting pulverized in many scenes; In Rome, the Beatles buy a statue of the Goddess of Musica made from stolen gold coins melted down and sculptured. Sing Alongs: No Reply / I’m Happy Just To Dance With You

14. Don’t Bother Me / No Reply: In Rome, The Beatles are being followed by two spies who are after their songbook, “New Beatle Songs”, marked “Top Secret”. The Beatles movie Help! and Oddjob from the James Bond movie Goldfinger are spoofed; In Japan, The Beatles are warned by a Charlie Chanlookalike about a jewel thief named Anyface. Things become complicated when Anyface shows up disguised as Paul. Sing Alongs: It Won’t Be Long / I Should Have Known Better

15. I’m Happy Just To Dance With You / Mr. Moonlight: The Beatles are in a Roman Street Festival where Paul wins a dancing bear named Bonnie; The Beatles meet Professor Ludwig Von Brilliant who is on a mission to view an eclipse. After being adrift at sea, they escape from an island on a submarine. Sing Alongs: Don’t Bother Me / Can’t Buy Me Love

16. Can’t Buy Me Love / It Won’t Be Long: John is given a friendship ring from a Polynesian tribal chief, which means he must marry the chief’s New York-accented daughter who dislikes pineapples; While picnicking in Japan, John goes for a swim in a pond with shrinking potion in it and gets shrunk. The other Beatles think John is a Beatle doll and chase after him. Sing Alongs: Anna (Go to Him) / Mr. Moonlight

17. Anna / I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party: In Japan, Paul gets lured into a ghost ship called “Ah-Nah”. The other Beatles dash off to the rescue before they might lose Paul for good; Paul, George and Ringo sneak away from John and go to Greenwich Village for some fun time at a Beatnik party rather than going to a museum. Sing Alongs: Matchbox / Thank You Girl

18. Matchbox / Thank You Girl: In Hawaii, John buys a trailer for the group to stay in rather than staying at a hotel so many times. They later encounter a group of Hawaiians who are evacuating from a volcano; The Beatles sneak away from their manager to get something to eat at a French restaurant by enrolling in a cooking course. Sing Alongs: I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party / Help!

19. From Me To You / Boys*: In Hawaii, a surfer named Surf Wolf challenges George to a surfing duel; The Beatles participate in a Mr. Hollywood Contest in California. Sing Alongs: Please Mr. Postman / I Saw Her Standing There
Note: The opening title erroneously shows “With Love From Me To You”

20. Dizzy Miss Lizzy / I Saw Her Standing There: John and Paul secretly sign George up to an ice boat race, and he partners up with a girl named Lizzy; In Madrid, John and Paul visit a restaurant where John develops a hot foot with ashes in his boot. Rosita falls for John, and her boyfriend Jose challenges John to a duel. Sing Alongs: Ticket To Ride / From Me To You

21. What You’re Doing / Money*: The Beatles are on a fishing trip, and Ringo runs into gypsies. One of them falls for Ringo and wants to marry him. George comes in as a woman claiming he’s engaged to Ringo to get him back; John puts Ringo in charge to keep their money safe in his jacket pocket. Later Ringo is being followed by a mystery man at a carnival who is after the money. (The song “Help!” is heard at the beginning of this episode.) Sing Alongs: Dizzy Miss Lizzy / All My Loving

22. Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand* / She Loves You: The Beatles visit the Bavarian alps mission is to climb up a mountain with the dog Gunthar to put up their own flag on top; The Beatles are about to rescue a girl who they think is held as a prisoner on a ship. As a result, her boyfriend, a knife thrower, comes to her defense…with knives. Sing Alongs: Bad Boy / Tell Me Why

23. Bad Boy / Tell Me Why: The Beatles visit the Bavarian Alps. They encounter a runaway named Hans who wants to be a Beatle, prompting The Fab Four to run after him with their music (in which Paul plays the bass right-handed) and take him back home. (The song “Slow Down” is heard in the background); In Spain, Ringo is the jockey of a donkey that can run like a horse whenever she hears loud music. Sing Alongs: Please Please Me / Hold Me Tight

24. I Feel Fine / Hold Me Tight: Paul thinks Hollywood’s a phony. Actor Dick Dashing wants to prove Paul he is wrong by putting him in some different movie scenes; In New York, George and Ringo visit the Statue Of Liberty until they have spotted a man with a package which they think is a bomb. Sing Alongs: What You’re Doing / There’s A Place

25. Please Please Me / There’s A Place: In Madrid, a bull named El Taco gets knocked out, and the Beatles decide to help out with the bullfight with Ringo as the matador, and John and Paul as the bull; John’s sympathy helps a trained ape named Mr. Marvelous escape from the television studio and go out to explore the outside world. Sing Alongs: Roll Over Beethoven / Rock And Roll Music

26. Roll Over Beethoven / Rock and Roll Music: The Beatles are on their way home after visiting New York City until Paul gets grabbed by an elephant named Beethoven; The Beatles are invited to play at the Duke’s Palace, but they are mistaken for a string quartet. Sing Alongs: I Feel Fine / She Loves You

Season 2 (1966)

27. Eight Days A Week / I’m Looking Through You: A great movie lover named Lips Lovelace loses his ability to kiss. Paul decides to take his place in the studio with a leading lady who falls for him; The Beatles are in Egypt. They are wandering around in a pyramid until Ringo encounters a ghost who wants a body, and he chooses Ringo’s. Sing Alongs: Run For Your Life / Girl**

28. Help! / We Can Work It Out: Paul and Ringo go to a fashion show in Paris, but the designs are stolen by a thief named Jacques Le Zipper. Paul chases Jacques to the Eiffel Tower, and has trouble with heights; George becomes superstitious. The Beatles encounter the Lucky Wizard who is really a thief trying to give them bad luck and rob their money. Sing Alongs: The Night Before** / Day Tripper

29. I’m Down* / Run For Your Life: The Beatles are on a tour at a wine factory in France where Ringo accidentally knocks down a vat of wine. If it does not get fixed in two hours, the factory will go out of business; The Beatles are on a tour at the Palace of Versailles. Ringo gets knocked out by a statue, and dreams about the days of Marie Antoinette. Sing Alongs: Eight Days A Week / Paperback Writer

30. Drive My Car* / Tell Me What You See*: The Beatles help a young man and his girlfriend get their old jalopy running in a car race, the Popsville Hot Rod Race; While visiting “the man of a thousand faces”, The Beatles fool around with his makeup machine and change into different characters. (John briefly imitates Jimmy Durante and Swee’Pea from “Popeye” makes a cameo.) Sing Alongs: Yesterday** / We Can Work It Out

31. I Call Your Name* / The Word*: Ringo is convinced to release his pet frog Bartholomew in the swamp. Later a movie producer offers a filming deal to Ringo and the frog, and the Fabs have dashed off to find Bartholomew; The Beatles are being punished after gazing at the girls’ unveiled faces. The only way to get out of the situation is to say the password: “love”. Sing Alongs: She’s a Woman** (original broadcast, replaced with a repeat of I Feel Fine) / Wait

32. All My Loving / Day Tripper: The Beatles are in India where they learn how to charm an animal at an “Indian Charm Skool”. When the animal is revealed to be a tiger, they use music to tame it when it is about to claw John and Ringo (The song “Love You To” is heard in the beginning of this episode.); After watching the movie The Way Out Creatures From Planet Glom, the Beatles take a trip out into space with a beautiful woman who is actually an alien taking them on a one-way trip 23 billion miles from Earth. Sing Alongs: I’m Looking Through You / Nowhere Man

33. Nowhere Man / Paperback Writer: The Beatles walk into a cave for some exploring which is a home of a hermit who wants to be alone. He tries to get rid of them, but no luck; Each of the Beatles write fictional stories of how they met with Ringo as a theatre actor, Paul as a scientist, George as a secret agent, and John as a war pilot. Sing Alongs: And I Love Her** / Michelle**

Season 3 (1967)

34. Penny Lane / Strawberry Fields: In a spoof of James Bond, the Beatles are jealous of a detective named James Blonde who gets more attention from many women, so the Fab Four head to their hometown of Liverpool to stop a robbery on Penny Lane so they can be heroes; Traveling with their driver James, the Beatles use music to add color and happiness to the lives of the children at an orphanage, a reference to Strawberry Field in Woolton, a suburb of Liverpool. John sums up the experience with “It’s all in the mind, you know.” Sing Alongs: Good Day Sunshine / Rain**

35. And Your Bird Can Sing / Got To Get You Into My Life: The Beatles and a couple of hunters hunt for a rare bird called a green double-breasted tropical woosted that can sing anything, including “Hound Dog” and “She Loves You”; The Beatles are in India, learning how to escape from their bodies from Swami Rivers. It works, but the problem is that the souls’ bodies are moving by themselves, and they must get them before it’s too late. (“Love You To” is heard in the background) Sing Alongs: Penny Lane / Eleanor Rigby

36. Good Day Sunshine / Ticket To Ride: Ringo thinks he’s a jinx. When the Beatles arrive at Carney Island, it starts to rain. Their music turns the rainy day back into a sunny day which makes Ringo happy. (The song “Little Child” is heard at the end of this episode.); The Beatles each have their own hobby. Paul paints, George builds a three-eyed robot, John writes and Ringo collects “birds” which is an English slang term for girls. Paul releases the only one Ringo caught and he runs after her. Sing Alongs: Strawberry Fields Forever / And Your Bird Can Sing

37. Taxman* / Eleanor Rigby: The Beatles get knocked out while carrying tons of money to the bank, and dream about the days of Robin Hood. Paul exclaims: “It never happened”; A group of children claim that an elderly woman named Eleanor Rigby is a witch. The Fabs tell them the true story about Eleanor Rigby in a song. (The song “I Feel Fine” is heard at the end of this episode.) Sing Alongs: Got To Get You Into My Life / Here, There and Everywhere**

38. Tomorrow Never Knows*/I’ve Just Seen a Face*: The Beatles fall into a well and end up in the inner world with foreign natives. The chief wants the Fabs to marry his daughters, and they began to run away. (The song “Love You To” is heard during this episode.); Ringo loses his singing voice. For treatment, his three mates send Ringo to a haunted house to scare his voice back. Sing Alongs: She Said She Said** / Long Tall Sally (repeat)

39. Wait / I’m Only Sleeping*: The Prince of Krapotkin’s girlfriend is in grave danger. The Beatles help him to save her from the Prime Minister who wants to marry her; John falls asleep while telling a story to a couple of children. In his dream he volunteers to help King Arthur and Merlin slay a vicious dragon. However, John and his mates opt instead to play music to put the dragon to sleep. Sing Alongs: Penny Lane (repeat) / Eleanor Rigby (repeat)

 

 

Loyal Roadies

Roadies have always been an important part of a band. Occasionally some will be rise above and become well known and some will end up as an executive in the band’s organization. Some will burn out like their bosses and below are a few famous roadies.

Neil Aspinall – Beatles

The first roadie the Beatles employed. He started to help the Beatles out by driving their van from gig to gig. He was soon their road manager and personal assistant. He ended up being the Chief Executive of The Beatles company Apple Corps until 2007. He passed away in 2008.

He was a trained accountant and knew George and Paul when they were kids. He was well trusted by all members. He stayed neutral in all of the arguments while he continued to run a prosperous Apple Corps to the end.

Mal Evans – Beatles

He was hired to help out Neil Aspinall as a roadie. Mal became their personal assistant after they stopped touring. After the Beatles broke up he did some producing…he produced the Badfinger’s single “No Matter What”. He also produced Keith Moon’s first album “Two Sides of the Moon” but was replaced midway through.

In the seventies, he still did work for some of the Beatles accompanying them on trips and odds and ends. He then separated from his wife Lil and after that, he started to have bad depression. While depressed and reportedly using downers, he was shot by LAPD while holding an air rifle and refusing to put it down. He was thought highly of by all the Beatles…See George’s quote below.

George Harrison on Mal Evans

, “Mal loved his job, he was brilliant, and I often regret that he got killed. Right to this day, I keep thinking, ‘Mal, where are you?’ If only he was out there now. He was such good fun, but he was also very helpful: he could do everything…He was one of those people who loved what he was doing and didn’t have any problem about service. Everybody serves somebody in one way or another, but some people don’t like the idea. Mal had no problem with it. He was very humble, but not without dignity; it was not belittling for him to do what we wanted, so he was perfect for us because that was what we needed.” 

Red Dog – Allman Brothers

Duane Allman befriended Joe Campbell (Red Dog) a Vietnam vet and Red Dog stayed with the Allman Brothers for three decades. He gave the band his disability checks to help them stay afloat at the beginning. He soon became a trusted member of the team. His picture with all the roadies is on the back cover of the At Fillmore East album.

Here is a quote from Cameron Crowe on Red Dog when he published his book.

“I’ll admit it right now. I am a big fan of Red Dog, and have been even before he allowed me to interview him back in 1973 for a story in Rolling Stone. Hell, he was already legendary back then. But now I just have to say that I am extremely jealous of the Great Dog, because I’ve just finished reading A Book of Tails. True rock, the kind that lasts forever, is about honesty and humor and love and chasing the elusive buzz of greatness.

Ramrod – Grateful Dead

Lawrence Shurtliff (Ramrod) joined on the Grateful Dead in 1967 and in the seventies became the President of the Grateful Dead board of directors until Garcia’s death in 1995.

Bob Weir on Ramrod

“When he did join up, it was like he had always been there. I won’t say he was the missing piece, because I don’t think he was missing. He just wasn’t there. But then he was there. And he always will be. He was a huge part of what the Grateful Dead was about.”

 

 

The Lovin’ Spoonful

This band was huge in the mid-60s. They were famous for jug band music but would have pop/rock success. The members were John Sebastion, Zal Yanovsky, Joe Butler, and Steve Boone. They started in the folk scene in the early sixties. They were signed in 1965 to Kama Sutra Records and released “Do You Believe in Magic” which reached #9 in the charts.

After that, the hits kept coming…You Didn’t Have to Be So Nice (#10), Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind (#2), Daydream (#2), Summer in the City (#1), Rain on the Roof (#10), Nashville Cats (#8), Darling Be Home Soon (#15), Six O’ Clock (#18) and She Is Still a Mystery (#27). They had all of these hits between 1965-1968

In the 1980s I really got into this group. I purchased one of the many greatest hits of this band. I first heard of John Sebastion in the 70s when he wrote and sang the theme song of  TV show Welcome Back Cotter called “Welcome Back” that went to #1.

The Lovin’ Spoonful were considered by producers to be in a television show but they were dropped over a conflict of song publishing rights. It’s probably a good thing that happened or they would not have been taken seriously. The producers were the ones that a short time late started the Monkees.

Their songs are grounded in folk, jug music,  and blues. I don’t know if it is possible to be in a bad mood while listening to them. Their songs are now staples on oldies radio stations.

Zal Yanovsky left in 1967 after being dissatisfied with John’s more personal songwriting and a pot conviction. John Sebastion left the group on 1968 and with him gone the hits dried up.

A fun band to listen to. You won’t hear rock operas or rocking solos but you will hear a band that sounds like they are having a good time.

They reunited in once in 1979 and for their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2000.

 

Brian Jones: The Making of the Rolling Stones

A biography about Brian Jones who founded the Rolling Stones written by Paul Trynka. This is more of a sympathetic look on Brian than other books I’ve read. Trynka digs deep with meticulous research. He tries to be fair and Brian isn’t always shown as the nicest guy in the world but he also isn’t always the person that Mick and Keith seem to remember when they actually remember him at all.

This book is not just a rehash of the best-known things about Jones and the Stones. Some instances that Stones fans know like the period where Keith ran off with Brian’s girlfriend Anita Pallenberg, we get more information on what happened. He researched Brian’s childhood and adult life thoroughly and you feel like you know the man before the book is over.

This is not only a good book on Brian but also the birth of the Stones. After reading what I’ve read about Brian in past books, I had to wonder to myself, is this author trying to make Brian look better than he was? After reading more I didn’t think so. He interviewed over 100 people for this biography and many of them were either close friends or knew Brian. He was fair about the good and bad.

When you think of Brian Jones you can’t help but think of the way his life ended. Paul Trynka doesn’t miraculously find the definite answer to Brian’s death but he gives you the most recent events that have been uncovered and basic common sense answers to a mystery that probably will never be solved.

The Rolling Stones had three different lead/rhythm guitarists. Brian Jones, Mick Taylor, and Ronnie Wood. I make no secret of loving the Taylor period of the Stones. Saying that I will admit during the Brian Jones era they were more creative and tried different things. He was very important to their sound. Under My Thumb, Paint It Black, No Expectations, The Last Time, and Ruby Tuesday would not have been the same without Brian.

The book deals with the complicated relationship between Brian, Mick, and Keith. George Harrison and Brian Jones became friends and they had a lot in common. They were in a similar situation in their respective bands. The big difference was George had more of a support system than Brian did in his band. John and Paul had a monopoly on the songwriting but they would help George and he was given a chance to grow as a songwriter within the group. The Stones didn’t work that way.

Brian could be his own worst enemy and had a hard time handling fame but he was a very talented musician. Maybe the best musician in the band. Keith and Mick learned a lot from Brian. His musicianship, image, and outlook on life rubbed off on the more inexperienced Mick and Keith.

I would recommend this book to any Stones fan. You get a better picture of the earlier days. It is a reminder that it took more than Keith and Mick to get the Stones rolling.

 

A very good professional review of the book by Larry Rohter of the New York Times

Brian Jones is to the Rolling Stones what Leon Trotsky was to the Russian Revolution: organizer, ideologist and victim of a power struggle. Jones founded the group, gave it its name and recruited the schoolboys Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, who then marginalized him, eventually expelling him from the band. Since his death in 1969, a month after he was forced out, Jones has largely been airbrushed from the group’s history.

Paul Trynka’s biography “Brian Jones: The Making of the Rolling Stones” challenges the standard version of events, focused on Mr. Jagger and Mr. Richards, in favor of something far more nuanced. Though Mr. Trynka sometimes overstates Jones’s long-term cultural impact, his is revisionist history of the best kind — scrupulously researched and cogently argued — and should be unfailingly interesting to any Stones fan.

Specifically, “Brian Jones” seems designed as a corrective to “Life,” Keith Richards’s 2010 memoir. Mr. Trynka, the author of biographies of David Bowie and Iggy Pop, and a former editor of the British music magazines Mojo and Guitar, has interviewed Mr. Richards several times over the years and obviously likes him, but also considers his memory of events highly unreliable.

“History is written by the victors, and in recent years we’ve seen the proprietors of the modern Rolling Stones describe their genesis, their discovery of the blues, without even mentioning their founder,” Mr. Trynka remarks in the introduction. Without naming Mr. Richards, he also expresses his distaste for an assessment that appears in “Life,” that Brian Jones was “a kind of rotting attachment.”

The portrait of Jones that Mr. Trynka offers here is bifurcated. Though he is impressed with Jones’s “disciplined, honed sense of musical direction” and his dexterity on guitar and many other instruments, he does not hesitate to point out his subject’s more unpleasant personality traits: He was narcissistic, manipulative, misogynistic, conniving and dishonest about money. It’s not accidental that this book is called “Sympathy for the Devil” in Britain.

Mr. Trynka attributes Jones’s downfall to a conjunction of factors, some related to those character flaws but others external to him. Much has been written about the drug busts that swept up Mr. Jagger and Mr. Richards in the mid-1960s and their court battles, though Jones seems to have been even more of a target, because he was such a dandy and so successful with women.

But as Mr. Trynka tells it, Jones did not receive strong legal advice or fight charges as hard or as successfully as the Jagger-Richards team. After his first arrest, he pleaded guilty, which drove a wedge between him and other band members, who feared it would mean they could no longer tour abroad, all of which left him feeling crushed, isolated and vulnerable. That, in turn, increased his consumption of drugs and alcohol and made him less productive as a musician.

Nevertheless, Mr. Trynka demonstrates convincingly that the original Rolling Stones were Jones’s band and reflected his look, tastes and interests, not just the blues but also renaissance music and what today would be called world music. (He recorded the master musicians of Joujouka in the mountains of Morocco.) In “Life,” Mr. Richards describes his discovery of the blues-tinged open G guitar tuning, familiar from hits like “Honky Tonk Women” and “Start Me Up,” as life changing, and says it came to him via Ry Cooder in the late 1960s. But Mr. Trynka notes that Jones often played in that tuning from the band’s earliest days and quotes Dick Taylor, an original member of the Stones, as saying, “Keith watched Brian play that tuning, and certainly knew all about it.”

Some of Mr. Trynka’s account is not new, having appeared in “Stone Alone,” the often overlooked 1990 memoir of the Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman, or other books written by band outsiders. What makes Mr. Trynka’s book fresh and interesting, and gives it credibility, is the length he has gone to find witnesses to corroborate and elaborate on those stories.

It’s not just that Mr. Trynka has sought out those who worked with the band on the creative side, such as the singer Marianne Faithfull, the arranger Jack Nitzsche and the recording engineers Eddie Kramer, Glyn Johns and George Chkiantz. He has also interviewed those with more of a worm’s-eye view: drivers, roadies, office staff, old girlfriends and former roommates like James Phelge, whose surname the band would appropriate to designate songs that were group compositions rather than Jagger-Richard numbers.

“Brian Jones was the main man in the Stones; Jagger got everything from him,” the drummer Ginger Baker, who played in the band at some of its earliest shows and went on to become famous as a member of Cream, says in the book. “Brian was much more of a musician than Jagger will ever be — although Jagger’s a great economist.”

Citing those present at the creation, Mr. Trynka contends that Jones had a hand in composing some well-known Stones tracks, including “Paint It, Black” and “Under My Thumb.” He also claims that “Ruby Tuesday,” a No. 1 hit early in 1967, is actually a Jones-Richards collaboration — written not by Mr. Richards in a burst of inspiration and heartbreak in a Los Angeles hotel room, which is how the story is told in “Life” and elsewhere, but, according to Ms. Faithfull and Mr. Kramer, “labored over” by the pair in London for weeks.

“I used to say to Brain, ‘What on earth are you doing?’ ” Stan Blackbourne, the accountant for the Rolling Stones at their mid-1960s peak, recalls in the book. “ ‘You write some of these songs, and you give the name over as if Mick Jagger has done it. Do you understand, you’re giving ’em thousands of pounds!’ All the time I used to tell him, ‘You’re writing a blank check.’ ”

Mr. Trynka also looks into the circumstances of Jones’s death, on July 3, 1969, in the swimming pool at his home in East Sussex, once owned by A. A. Milne, but after all the Sturm und Drang that has come before, the subject is somewhat anticlimactic. In numerous books and in films like “Stoned,” it has been suggested that Jones was murdered, but Mr. Trynka painstakingly examines the flaws in each of the theories, and ends up close to the official verdict, “death by misadventure,” because of drug and alcohol consumption.

“The official coroner’s verdict on Brian’s death was perfunctory and lazy,” Mr. Trynka concludes. Nonetheless, “I’ve come to share their belief that Brian’s death was most likely a tragic accident” and to believe that “many of the existing theories that his death was in fact murder rely on unreliable witnesses.”

In the end, with the advantage of 45 years’ perspective, Mr. Trynka maintains, it is Jones’s music that matters. “It’s understandable why the survivors resent Brian Jones beyond the grave,” given his founder’s role, he argues, and also writes: “Brian Jones got many things wrong in his life, but the most important thing he got right.”

 

 

 

 

 

The Raspberries

A powerpop group from Cleveland Ohio in the early to mid-70s. They were influenced by the Beatles, Small Faces, The Who and The Beach Boys. They had some of the same problems as Badfinger, being too hard for pop and too soft for rock. Badfinger was overall more successful but the Raspberries had some top 40 hits.

“Go All The Way” (1972 #5),  I Wanna Be With You (1972 #16), Lets Pretend (1973 #35), and Overnight Sensation (1975 #18). They were too clean cut for rock fans to embrace. Matching suits and a teenybopper image. Unhip or uncool is what was many critics of that time wrote about them but their songs are melodic and fun.

Most bands have one song that is above the rest of their catalog. Many would probably say the Raspberries best song was Go All The Way but to me, it was Overnight Sensation. That song is their masterpiece. The song tells of the frustrations of trying to have a hit song on the radio with a heavy Who, Beach Boys, and Beatle sound.

After their album “Starting Over” in 1975 they broke up. If they could have stayed around a few more years they may have fit nicely with Cheap Trick, The Cars, The Knack, and Blondie.

Many artists list them as an influence and are fans such as KISS, Courtney Love, and oddly enough Bruce Springsteen and Axl Rose have mentioned them.

John Lennon was a fan of them and was in the studio when they made “Starting Over.”

Eric Carmen had a very successful solo career after the breakup but he stuck with pure pop in his music. He finally got the elusive hits he sang about in Overnight Sensation with All By My Myself, Never Gonna Fall in Love Again, and some songs off of the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. I never thought they were as good as his Raspberries songs.

The Raspberries reunited in 2004 and did a tour. I have watched some video of one of the shows and they were really tight.

If you want to get a cd that covers their career get “The Raspberries Greatest”

rasp great.jpg

 

The original members were

Eric Carmen (Volcalist, Guitar, Pianist, Bass)
Dave Smalley (Bass, Guitar)
Wally Bryon (Guitar)
Jim Bonfanti (Drummer)