Shocking Blue with Mariska Veres

A few years ago I posted nothing but Shocking Blue songs the entire weekend…when I was doing 2-3 posts a day. I received great feedback on their material. Most people have only heard Venus and some Nirvana fans have heard Love Buzz that they covered.

This is a band that I found when I first started to blog. I always liked their hit Venus but their other songs are just as good or better to me. The stringy guitar song Mighty Joe and the melodic Never Marry a Railroad Man are great songs.

They were a band out of the Netherlands with a  sensational singer named Mariska Veres who hit internationally in 1970. She sounded like Grace Slick to me…maybe a little stronger. Robbie van Leeuwen was the guitar player who wrote the songs.

Shocking Blue successfully combined Beat music and R&B with psychedelic elements of the time like sitar and odd production techniques. Robbie didn’t mind if the band included a few covers, as it took the pressure off him to constantly come up with new material. “We wrote a lot of our own stuff and the radio DJs preferred us to do original songs, but we had so many albums to do the band had to fill in with a few covers. It was quite exhausting writing all the lyrics and song myself”.

They were together from 1968-1974. Shocking Blue was known as a one-hit-wonder with Venus but their other songs were big hits in the Netherlands.

They were not smooth…they were raw… hence why I like them. Venus is probably my least favorite…maybe because I’ve heard it too much and it’s been covered a few times by different artists.

I like finding artists that have been largely forgotten. I never knew about Shocking Blue…with the exception of Venus until 3 or 4 years ago. I do listen to some new music on Youtube but I like digging and finding good bands that deserve attention. To me they are new…

Mariska sadly died in 2006. With her voice, I’m shocked she didn’t have a more successful solo career.

Never Marry a Railroad Man

Mighty Joe

Love Buzz

Venus

Band – The Last Waltz

Happy Thanksgiving! Watching The Last Waltz is just as part of Thanksgiving as the meal with the family…that and Alice’s Restaurant which is coming.

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 a 35-millimeter camera 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), 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… 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 complete concert is at the bottom…without cuts.

Miss O’Dell: Hard Days and Long Nights with The Beatles, The Stones, Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton… by Chris O’Dell and Katherine Ketcham

I enjoyed this book immensely. It’s almost like a fantasy book. You are a fan and suddenly you get thrown into the world with The Beatles as friends and co-workers. You move from the Beatles to the Stones, CSNY, Bob Dylan and the list kept growing. 

I will say this… as a Beatle fan, this book gave me insight that I never had before. Chris O’Dell happened to meet Derek Taylor (press officer of the Beatles) in Los Angeles in 1968…she worked for him for a few weeks in LA as a PA. He told her she should come over to London to check out the new company that The Beatles were starting called Apple. He didn’t promise her a job but she took a chance and sold her records and borrowed from her parents to go to London. She was like Alice down the rabbit hole, O’Dell stumbled upon a life even she could not have dreamed of.

She took a chance and went over and that started her career working at The Beatles record company Apple. It took her a few months to get hired full time but after the Beatle’s inner circle knew she could be trusted she was there. She met Paul on her very first day. She said all of them were extremely nice and made her feel welcome. She spent the first few months showing up at the office and making herself useful and securing her place. She was especially close to George as a friend and later Ringo as a little more. 

Chris O'Dell George

After all was said and done…she had 3 songs written about her. Two by Leon Russell called Hummingbird, Pieces Apple Lady, and George Harrison’s Miss O’Dell. She was also the “Mystery Woman” on the Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street cover. She was in the Joni Mitchell song “Coyote” with the line He’s got another woman down the hall…the song about Sam Shepard who Chris O’Dell and Joni Mitchell were seeing. She ended up singing on the Hey Jude recording in the final Na Na chorus.

She was one of the first if not the first female tour manager in rock. The tours she worked on were The Rolling Stones, CSNY, Santana, Bob Dylan, Earth Wind and Fire, Jennifer Warnes, Fleetwood Mac, Linda Ronstadt, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Led Zeppelin, Phil Collins, Echo and the Bunnymen, ELO, and more.

We also get a glimpse into the personalities of Bob Dylan, Jagger and Richards, CSNY (and the disfunction), Eric Clapton, and more. 

Chris O'Dell's Rockstar Life Revealed

Like all of us through life…she made some cringe-worthy decisions. I’m not trying to play it down but most of the time everything worked out in the end. She was in the right place at the right time and took advantage of that. She remains close friends with Pattie Harrison, Ringo Starr (her son’s Godfather), and many of her old famous acquaintances.

This is not a kiss-and-tell book and she doesn’t trash people which made me happy. The only person to come out of this book bad at all is Eric Clapton who was admittedly jealous of Pattie and Chris’s friendship. After the Stones tour, she got into drugs really bad but managed to quit them only to start up again. She, later on, became a drug counselor and helped people. 

This book is for more than just Beatle fans…it gives you what life was like on the road in the 1970s. Some of the highlights in the book for me were: 

  • How the Apple Office worked including the Hell’s Angels visitors
  • How even the biggest stars had deep insecurities
  • Bob Dylan forgot his harmonicas before the Isle of Wight concert and Chris O’Dell arrived by helicopter to give them to him.
  • Keith Richards sending her to pick up a “package” in LA in the middle of a tour
  • Reading about David Crosby’s complaints of no “cross ventilation in his hotel room”
  • When Roger Taylor of Queen realized that she was Miss O’Dell from George’s song.
  • Insight into Pattie Boyd and Maureen Starkey who is hardly covered in Beatles books
  • Reading about how Bangledesh started and how George got his musician friends to participate. 
  • Being on the roof during Get Back brief concert

Chris O’Dell: I think being a Beatle became very difficult for them. They had a different set of problems than the Stones and CSN&Y.  They didn’t tour that much, they couldn’t go out of their hotel rooms, and they lived in a bubble. I think breaking up for them, and I can only guess, was a relief and very difficult at the same time.

Chris O’Dell:  It was like being let go in Disneyland. That’s what it felt like. It’s like here are the keys to Disneyland, go and enjoy yourself. And I was constantly aware that I was watching history in the making and that was exciting. So every day had some, or certainly every week, had something, a twist to it that made it really exciting

Chris O’Dell now: I am happily remarried to a wonderful man who supports me and accepts me as I am. My twenty-three-year-old son is amazing and gives me some credibility as a parent! I have a private practice in Tucson, specializing in addiction and mental health counseling.  My two dogs are happy and life is just better than I would have expected. 

Excerpt from the book: On being in a room with Mick and Keith before the 72 tour. 

“Listen to this fucking article in Rolling Stone about Harrison’s Bangladesh concert,” Keith said. He started reading from the article.
“The Concert for Bangladesh is rock reaching for its manhood.” Keith raised an eyebrow. “Under the leadership of George Harrison, a group of rock musicians recognized, in a deliberate, self-conscious, and professional way, that they have responsibilities, and went about dealing with them seriously.”
Keith looked at Mick and then at me. “Do you believe this shit? But wait, it gets better. Harrison is “a man with a sense of his own worth, his own role in the place of things… with a few parallels among his peers.”
“Bollocks.” Keith laughed, tossing the magazine on the coffee table. “What a fucking load of shit.”
I knew that Keith wasn’t really amused. He could be terribly insecure.
What a paradox Keith was- a sweet sensitive soul who wrote songs about needing love to be happy and yet he lived his life as if he couldn’t give a shit about anything.
But at that moment I wasn’t too interested in Keith’s feelings. I sat at the far end of the sofa, my legs and arms crossed, smoking a cigarette and drinking my Scotch and Coke as if it were straight Coke. I was pissed. Sure, I knew they were just being competitive, but I couldn’t stand listening to them make fun of George. I wanted to jump into the conversation and tell them to leave him alone. But what could I do? I worked for the Stones now, not the Beatles. This is weird, I know, and particularly strange in the context of the Stone’s remarkable longevity, but at that moment I had a sinking feeling that I was beginning my climb down the ladder. I’d started at the very top with the Beatles and now I was on the rung below. I found myself thinking at that moment that the Stones were sometimes a little too raw, too raunchy, too negative. I liked their music, and I liked each of them individually, but if I had to choose, the Beatles would win.
“You know,” I said, trying to smile but having a hard time of it,
“George is my friend.”
Mick looked over at me as if he had forgotten I was there. “Oh yeah, Chris, you’re a Beatle person, aren’t you? Sorry about that”
We let it go, then, but after I dropped Mick at his house and headed home through the dark canyons, I felt a sudden, intense longing to see Pattie and George. Mick was right. When it came right down to it, I was a Beatle person.”

Miss O’Dell

I’m the only one down here
Who’s got nothing to say
About the war
Or the rice
That keeps going astray on its way to Bombay.
That smog that keeps polluting up our shores
Is boring me to tears.
Why don’t you call me, Miss O’Dell?

I’m the only one down here
Who’s got nothing to fear
From the waves
Or the rice
That keeps rolling on right up to my front porch.
The record player’s broken on the floor,
And Ben, he can’t restore it.
Miss O’Dell.

I can tell you
Nothing new
Has happened since I last saw you.

I’m the only one down here
Who’s got nothing to say
About the hip
Or the dope
Or the cat with most hope to fill the Fillmore.
That pushing, shoving, ringing on my bell
Is not for me tonight.
Why don’t you call me, Miss O’Dell?

Why don’t you call me, Miss O’Dell?

Cream – Anyone For Tennis

It was my senior year in high school and I was listening to Cream’s greatest hits on a spring day. I had the greatest hits cassette in my car…I heard this song with the windows down and at first, I thought…no this can’t be Cream. It grew on me and I love the song. I like when a band does something different. After blitzing audiences with Crossroads, Whiteroom, Sunshine of Your Love, and Strange Brew…out comes this song. It’s not my favorite Cream song…that would be Badge but this one always makes me smile.

The song was recorded during the Wheels On Fire album sessions but not released on that album. Eric Clapton and Martin Sharp wrote the song for the film  The Savage Seven released in 1968. It peaked at #64 on the Billboard 100, #37 in Canada, and #40 in the UK and was released on that soundtrack and a single.

Cream released four albums in four years and called it a day in 1969. They would split with Clapton having the most successful career. They would reunite in 1993 for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They had a proper reunion in 2005 with four shows at Royal Albert Hall and three shows at Madison Square Gardens.

I remember the 40th Atlantic Anniversary concert held on May 11, 1988. It was rumored that Led Zeppelin and Cream were going to reunite. Led Zeppelin did, probably to their regret, but Cream didn’t attend. I watched it hoping that Cream would play.

Cream appeared on the Smothers Brothers and mimed this song. Who the hell knows what it means but when I heard “And the elephants are dancing on the graves of squealing mice. Anyone for tennis, wouldn’t that be nice?” I was hooked. It’s hard to get it out of your head once you listen to it.

Anyone For Tennis

Twice upon a time in the valley of the tears
The auctioneer is bidding for a box of fading years
And the elephants are dancing on the graves of squealing mice.
Anyone for tennis, wouldn’t that be nice?

And the ice creams are all melting on the streets of bloody beer
While the beggars stain the pavements with fluorescent Christmas cheer
And the Bentley driving guru is putting up his price.
Anyone for tennis, wouldn’t that be nice?

And the prophets in the boutiques give out messages of hope
With jingle bells and fairy tales and blind colliding scopes
And you can tell they’re all the same underneath the pretty lies.
Anyone for tennis, wouldn’t that be nice?

The yellow Buddhist monk is burning brightly at the zoo
You can bring a bowl of rice and then a glass of water too
And fate is setting up the chessboard while death rolls out the dice.
Anyone for tennis, wouldn’t that be nice?

Led Zeppelin: The Biography …by Bob Spitz

This is the second Led Zeppelin book I’ve reviewed in a row…hope you are not getting too tired of it. I’m moving on to something else with my next book.

This is a good book about Led Zeppelin by Bob Spitz. This book surprised me when I read it. The reason is that Spitz wrote a biography of the Beatles that felt uninspired with no new info…I was thinking this one might be the same. Well, I was wrong…this book is the best book I’ve read on Led Zeppelin and that includes Hammer of the Gods and others.

The book uncovered things I didn’t know and gave a different point of view on instances that happened. There are constants about the band that run through every book about them. John Paul Jones was the constant professional and multi-instrumentalist of the band. John Bonham was an incredible drummer but could flash in a violent rage at any minute. Robert Plant the optimistic never say die singer who would change after his family’s bad car accident. Jimmy Page was the absolute leader of the band until he couldn’t function in that role because of the different chemicals he was taking.

Below is a Swan Song band Detective with a weary Jimmy Page asleep on the couch behind them.

Detective Band
Detective… A Swan Song band with Jimmy Page fast asleep at the photo session.

One thing that was known about the band is that they had an inferiority complex about The Rolling Stones. This is explored more in this book. They couldn’t understand why the press and celebrities hung out and liked the Stones and not them… although Zeppelin outsold them. The answer to that was pretty obvious…other bands such as The Who could shrug off bad reviews and go on…Led Zeppelin would call the critics out from the stage. The press was also threatened by manager Peter Grant and touring manager Richard Cole to give good reviews. Zeppelin also barred the press for years…so it wasn’t a big mystery here except to them.

On the 1977 tour the press was given some rules by the band:

  1. Never talk to anyone in the band unless they first talk to you.
  2. Do not make any sort of eye contact with John Bonham. This is for your own safety.
  3. Do not talk to Peter Grant or Richard Cole – for any reason.
  4. Keep your cassette player turned off at all times unless conducting an interview.
  5. Never ask questions about anything other than music.
  6. Most importantly, understand this – the band will read what is written about them. The band does not like the press nor do they trust them.

Hmmm….wonder why they weren’t as liked as much as the Rolling Stones by the press and public? They also became more separated from their audience in the later 70s.

The book also focuses on their vanity label Swan Song. Drugs had taken over by that time and no artists were really cared for except Bad Company who was hot right out of the gate. Any questions from a Swan Song artist would fall on deaf ears because no one was really running the label. By this time, Grant carried a bag of cocaine and dipped it out with a bowie knife. He stayed secluded at his mansion surrounded by his security cameras… like in a scene out of Scarface.

The band was the top band in the world but in 1975 it all changed with Robert Plant’s car accident that left him recouping for months while his wife was hurt more seriously. In 1977 a guard that worked for Bill Graham stopped a kid from getting a Led Zeppelin sign off their door…all hell broke loose. That was Peter Grant’s son. Grant rounded up his “security” people and beat the guard and they almost popped his eye out.  After that happened they played what was to be their last show in America. A few days later Robert Plant’s son Karac died of a respiratory virus.

All in all, it was a good book and I would recommend it to any rock fan. I am a fan of the band, especially the albums between Led Zeppelin III and Physical Graffiti. I wasn’t a big fan of the bombastic blues songs as much as the light-heavy moments. The book tells you how management built walls around them while being surrounded by violence, threats, and later on drugs.

Raspberries – Go All The Way

I wrote this for Dave’s Turntable Talk at A Sound Day. Be on the lookout for that series at A Sound Day. He has some interesting topics. This one was on One Hit Wonders.

This song has a mixture of The Who, Beach Boys, and The Beatles… a pretty good mixture! I’m cheating a bit…The Raspberries had 4 top 40 hits but this was the only top ten hit and the song they are most known for. The song starts off with a strong Who-like loud riff then continues on with hooks galore.

When people think of The Raspberries this is the song most think of. Personally, I always thought Overnight Sensation was their best song but this one is great and the masses agreed.

The song peaked at #5 on the Billboard 100 and #5 in Canada in 1972. This song was on their self-titled debut album released in 1972. The American and Australian versions of this LP carried a scratch-and-sniff sticker with a strong raspberry scent.

They were one of the 3 great power pop bands of the early 70s. Badfinger, Big Star, and The Raspberries. Out of those three, Badfinger was the most successful but all were good. Many alternative bands that followed would list all three or at least one of them as an influence. The Raspberries released 4 albums in total between 1972 and 1975. They broke up after their last album Starting Over (#143) and the great single Overnight Sensation only charted at #18. After you listen to Go All The Way…check out Overnight Sensation…it’s an epic song.

I moved to a different town when I was 8 and in a new school (we would move back later that year) we went on a field trip to some college. Thinking back, it was a small college and the students there put on a small show for us kids. After the show, they showed us the grounds and I remember Go All The Way booming out of a room. It’s funny how music can send you back to a place and I can remember the smell also.

Eric Carmen said he was inspired by The Rolling Stone’s performance of “Let’s Spend The Night Together” on the Ed Sullivan Show when Mick Jagger had to sing it as “Let’s spend some time together.”

This was before Eric Carmen went solo and started doing ballads and songs on soundtracks such as Dirty Dancing. Carmen hit it big solo but personally, I think his music with the Raspberries was the best he did.

This song appears in the 2000 film Almost Famous but was not included on the soundtrack. It did make the soundtrack to the 2014 film Guardians Of The Galaxy, which went to #1 in America and revived many ’70s hits. My son got the soundtrack mostly for this song.

Fans of the band included John Lennon and Bruce Springsteen. They did reunite in November of 2004 and toured shortly until 2006.

Eric Carmen: “I knew then that I wanted to write a song with an explicitly sexual lyric that the kids would instantly get but the powers that be couldn’t pin me down for.”

Eric Carmen:  “I remember ‘Go All The Way’ vividly. The year was 1971. I was 21. I had been studying for years. I had spent my youth with my head between two stereo speakers listening to The Byrds and The Beatles and later on The Beach Boys – just trying to figure out what combinations of things – whether it was the fourths harmonies that The Byrds were singing on ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’ – I must have worn out 10 copies of that first Byrds album listening to it over and over, and turning off the left side and turning on the right side trying to figure out why these certain combinations of instruments and echo and harmonies made that hair on your arms stand up. I did the same thing with Beatles records, and I tried to learn construction.

Go All The Way

I never knew how complete love could be
‘Til she kissed me and said

Baby, please, go all the way
It feels so right (feels so right)
Being with you here tonight
Please, go all the way
Just hold me close (hold me close)
Don’t ever let me go

I couldn’t say what I wanted to say
‘Til she whispered, I love you

So please, go all the way
It feels so right (feels so right)
Being with you here tonight
Please, go all the way
Just hold me close (hold me close)
Don’t ever let me go

Before her love
I was cruel and mean
I had a hole in the place
Where my heart should have been

But now I’ve changed
And it feels so strange
I come alive when she does
All those things to me

And she says
(Come on) Come on
(Come on) Come on
(Come on) Come on
(Come on)
I need ya (come on)
I love ya (come on)
I need ya (come on)
Oh, oh, baby

Please, go all the way
It feels so right (feels so right)
Being with you here tonight
Please, go all the way
Just hold me close (hold me close)
Don’t ever let me go no

Favorite Rock Lyrics

Here are some cool lyrics to some songs. My all-time favorite is the first one…I’ve used this one over and over whenever at work and in our world. I could have filled this up with Dylan lyrics but I wanted to spread the wealth.

The Who | Music legends, Music pics, Rock and roll

Meet the new boss/same as the old boss…The Who (No truer words have been spoken)

What isn't shown in The Beatles: Get Back — Class A drugs, Yoko baiting and  the dodgy accountant | Times2 | The Times

And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make…The Beatles

Chuck Berry: 20 Essential Songs - Rolling Stone

I saw her from the corner when she turned and doubled back
And started walking toward a coffee-colored Cadillac… Chuck Berry

Jimmy Webb on John Lennon's Lost Weekend, Frank Sinatra - Rolling Stone

And I need you more than want you,
And I want you for all time…Jimmy Webb

How Peter Gabriel Conquered the World With 'So'

You can blow out a candle but you can’t blow out a fire…Peter Gabriel.

Grateful Dead - Wikipedia

Shake the hand that shook the hand of P.T. Barnum and Charlie Chan… Grateful Dead

Revolutions: Rolling Stones "Beggars Banquet" - YouTube

I wasn’t looking too good but I was feeling real well… Rolling Stones

Johnny Cash photographer reveals truth behind San Quentin Prison shot

But I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die… Johnny Cash

Bruce Springsteen – The Highlight Reel (1973-1975) – Pretty In Sync.

We learned more from a three-minute record, than we ever learned in school…Bruce Springsteen

Why Hank Williams Won't Be Reinstated in the Grand Ole Opry - Rolling Stone

The silence of a falling star lights up a purple sky… Hank Williams Sr.

The Band Shares Previously-Unreleased "The Weight" From Royal Albert Hall,  1971 [Listen]

I just spent 60 days in the jailhouse/for the crime of having no dough…The Band

lynyrd skynyrd - one more time

I drank enough whiskey to float a battleship around… Lynyrd Skynyrd

Jimmy Buffett

I blew out my flip-flop stepped on a pop-top/cut my heel had to cruise on back home… Jimmy Buffet

Bob Dylan

She knows there’s no success like failure and that failure’s no success at all… Bob Dylan

Bob Seger

Wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then… Bob Seger

TW

In Jersey, anything’s legal, as long as you don’t get caught… The Traveling Wilburys

Ricky Nelson

You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself…Ricky Nelson

Kinks

Because celluloid heroes never feel any pain and celluloid heroes never really die… Kinks

Pinkees – Danger Games ….Power Pop Friday

Aphoristical brought this song up to me a year or so ago and I have been waiting to write about it ever since.

Danger Games is a good dose of power pop and it reminds me a little of Squeeze. This song spent a total of 9 weeks on the UK charts peaking at #8 in 1982. The Pinkees career hit the skids amid a dispute between their label Creole Records and then High Street record store giant Our Price.

Guitarist Andy Price said: “People said our record had been hyped into the charts, after that nobody would touch us, Radio One refused to play our follow-up single ‘Holding Me Tight’, and the Pinkees sort of fizzled out.”

The Pinkees have a second life now. Jay Reynolds, son of Pinkees drummer Paul Reynolds, is a Grammy Award winner mixer and he asked his dad why his old band’s songs were not on Spotify.

Creole Records has gone through many ownership changes but now they are owned by BMG’s Sanctuary Records. A deal was made…now their album has been remixed by Jay Reynolds and released again. The Pinkees are not together anymore but Andy Price and Paul Reynolds are in a band together doing cover songs. They never did any Pinkee covers but they might now since their album was released again to the world.

Danger Games

Two lovers part
It’s just the start
Before too long they’ll be at war
Nobody phones their both alone
Just like they were before
Out on a limb more more suffering
It’s just a game that lovers play
Two broken hearts when love departs
It getting worse each day

It loves who love danger game we play
It drags you down throws your heart away

Love people say can, can change the way
They feel its just to late to try
Lights up a fag calls are a drag
A tear drops from her eye
She’s out in the car he’s drunk in the bar
They lead there lives in separate ways
We’re all the same we play the game

It happens every day
Its love who love
Danger game we play It drags you down
Throws your heart away

It love who love danger game we play
It drags you down throws your heart
It love who love danger game we play
It drags you down throws your heart
It’s love who love danger game we play
It drags you down throws your heart
It’s love who love danger game we play
It drags you down throws your heart away

Kinks – Set Me Free

The Beatles, Who, and Stones are the most famous bands that came out of the British invasion. The Kinks should have been one of them but an American ban on touring in a big chunk of the sixties hurt their career. Instead of sounding like their American influences like the Beatles and Stones…Ray Davies didn’t hide his roots at all.

They came back strong in the seventies and eighties though. On May 17, 1983, I was able to see The Kinks in concert. Ray Davies was 39 years old and was all over the stage like a 20-year-old. That remains one of the best concerts I ever attended. It’s up there with The Who, McCartney, and Stones…in fact maybe a little better because they were still in their prime and releasing new material.

Set Me Free peaked at #23 in the Billboard 100, #2 in Canada, and #9 in the UK in 1965. Set Me Free was heard in the Ken Loach-directed Up the Junction, this marked the first appearance of a Kinks song on a film or TV soundtrack.

When you listen to their discography it’s amazing the ground they covered. There are tons of different musical styles, which the group has explored throughout their career. Starting with the pre-punk rock of You Really Got Me, acoustic anthems like Victoria, the beauty of Waterloo Sunset, the concept albums, music hall influences, hard rock, and even some new wave in the 80s.

The band seemed to be always on the brink of breaking up but they stayed together until 1996. In 2021 it was reported that the Kinks were at work in the studio once again.

Ray Davies: “the trouble is, the two remaining members — my brother Dave and Mick [Avory, the original drummer] — never got along very well. But I’ve made that work in the studio and it’s fired me up to make them play harder, and with fire.”

Dave Davies: “This has really been going on for a couple of years, we keep going backwards and listening to a lot of old stuff. Some of that is very good, and some of it needs a bit of work.”

Set Me Free

Set me free, little girl,
All you gotta do is set me free, little girl,
You know you can do it if you try,
All you gotta do is set me free, free,
Free.

Set me free, little girl,
All you gotta do is set me free, little girl,
You know you can do it if you try,
All you gotta do is set me free, free,
Free, free.

I don’t want no one,
If I can’t have you to myself,
I don’t need nobody else,
So if I can’t have you to myself,

Set me free,
Set me free.

Oh set me free, little girl,
All you gotta do is set me free, little girl,
You know you can do it if you try,
All you gotta do is set me free, free,
Free, free.

I don’t want no one,
If I can’t have you to myself,
I don’t need nobody else,
So if I can’t have you to myself,

Set me free,
Set me free.

Oh set me free, little girl,
All you gotta do is set me free, little girl,
You know you can do it if you try,
All you gotta do is set me free, free,
Free.

Set me free,
Oh, set me free

Turn It UP! My years with Lynyrd Skynyrd…. by Ron Eckerman

Not long ago I had to fly somewhere and I’m a nervous flyer. I usually dread getting into a plane but I was determined I would enjoy this flight to Texas and then Colorado. We got into the air with my right ear-popping like crazy and I decided to listen to an audiobook once we were flying. I opened my audible library selection and just picked one at random. Well, needless to say, I picked this one. I was 30 minutes into the book before I discovered the irony of the situation. I quickly picked another book (Grateful Dead bio) and listened to that but…I finished this one on the way back while… driving safely on the ground.

This is not an autobiography of the band… it is an account of their mid to late-70s tours. The book was written by an insider (the road manager) book from 1974 to the 1977 plane crash. Lynyrd Skynyrd was a wild bunch who was ruled by lead singer Ronnie Van Zant with an iron fist. It was partly about babysitting a bunch of up-and-coming rock stars and yes…very entertaining. These guys learned from the best… they had opened for The Who on the Quadrophenia tour in 1973. Keith Moon showed them the path to destruction in hotels across the globe. They took it to a new level though…not only fighting with people who annoyed them…they fought each other. Contrary to popular belief…most of them were well-read and intelligent men but with a wild side. 

The band was managed by Peter Rudge who was known to be very cheap with bands. He also managed the Stones and The Who. It was Ron Eckerman’s (tour manager) job to collect the money and figure out the most economical way of traveling. In early 1977 he saw that traveling by plane would be cheaper than by bus. The band toured constantly and was rarely at home adding to the short tempers. They lost their guitar player Ed King in 1975 because of that plus madness exploding out of pure exhaustion. Keeping a road crew together while you are not touring was near impossible unless you play over 200 – 250 shows a year. 

Reading this book is truly like being transported in time back in the seventies rock world. It was back to a time when bands had to build up an audience. It didn’t happen with a youtube video or a Facebook page. There were no auto-tune or backing tracks to save you in concert. Lynyrd Skynyrd was one of the best live bands around. They played at Knebworth in 1976 and were heralded in the press as the next great band in league with the Stones and Who. They never got that chance and were different than most bands. They had no production values at all…just a mirror disco ball. Ronnie Van Zant did not dance around like Mick Jagger or Steven Tyler…he was more like a field general directing his troops to conquer the audience. 

After losing Ed King, a great California guitarist… they picked up Oklahoma native Steve Gaines who would have had a chance to be a huge star. Gaines was an absolute phenom on guitar and had he not died at 28 in the plane crash, he might well be a guitar legend now. The book is hilarious in places but you know what is coming. They climbed the rock ladder and the new album Street Survivors showed what they might do. The album was not a “southern rock” album…it was a rock album by a band from the south. 

They never would get a chance to fulfill their promise. The new album was their biggest yet and in two weeks’ time, they would have headlined Madison Square Garden for the first time. It really did look like they were about to be elevated to the top bracket of touring rock bands.

I was a kid when all of this was going on but I am amazed at how much the world has changed since then. If a band, no matter how successful, would do what they did in today’s world…the band would be in jail and shunned. Not only Lynyrd Skynryd but Led Zeppelin, The Stones, The Who, and a host of other rock bands. The book will truly transport you back to that time. Even if you are a fan or not…it’s worth a read. Ron Eckerman was in the plane when it crashed and his description is truly chilling. 

Eckerman took the blame for the crash but it wasn’t one man’s fault. A short while after releasing the book he died of acute myeloid leukemia. His wife said he never got over the guilt for the crash and he died three years after the book was published. 

So Many Roads: The Life and Times of the Grateful Dead …. by David Browne

I’ve read a few books about the Dead but this one is probably the best I’ve read. I just finished re-reading it after finishing it three years ago. It is their complete history from beginning to end. The book I enjoyed the most was Deal: by Bill Kreutzmann The Deads drummer. He has some great stories and Steve Parish’s book is good also…but as far as the history…this has been the best.

This is not like reading a book about the Beatles, Stones, Dylan, or even the Allman Brothers. The Grateful Dead were totally different in the way they came about and what path they took. They were such a hippy band but along the way they turned into a corporate organization…a different kind of organization but one all the same. Their crew was known to be loud and sometimes violent along with the Hells Angels by the mid-seventies and the craziness wore off on everyone around them.

I always thought of them as this loose ensemble that just loved playing. Yes, they loved playing but they weren’t above pointing fingers when something went wrong on stage. At one point Weir and Pigpen were “fired” although accounts differ on if they really were let go. In other words, they were human… like anyone else. They did however think differently and for a bunch of hippies…they were very ambitious.

Speaking of Pigpen (Ron McKernan)… that was a wonderful thing about this book…his importance is highlighted and you see how important he was to the Grateful Dead. Jerry wasn’t the key focus when they started…it was Pigpen. Although he looked like a biker…he was described as an incredibly nice and sensitive man. He was the showman of the band and Jerry commented that he was the best musician in the band in the beginning.

The book covers their entire career and along with the way, there are many twists and turns. They cover Garcia’s slide down until his diabetic coma in 1986 when he had to re-learn how to play guitar again. Less than a year later they were back on the road and then recorded the In The Dark album.

The band never had a big hit single and now…over 20 years of being together and touring they were suddenly huge with the song Touch Of Grey. They even agreed to play the game with the record company and they made a video. They were signed to Arista Records and the record company and band were at a meeting. Garcia suddenly asked, “I don’t have to do Dick Clark, do I?” With that, the executives laughed at the thought of the Grateful Dead appearing on American Bandstand.

There were points where it looked like Garcia would beat his addictions but the threat of him going back to heroin was always there. They also cover all the members rather well…Garcia wasn’t the only one with drug problems but his problem probably affected the band the most.

If you want to learn about their history…this is a really good read.

A Concert of The Mind…Fantasy Park

***Dave from A Sound Day has a new feature Turntable Talk…he will have an article by me today about Why the Beatles are still relevant…hope you get to read it.***

Fantasy Park: 1975 – Twin Cities Music Highlights

Imagine a concert in 1975 with The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Allman Brothers, Linda Ronstadt, The Rolling Stones, The Who, and more. Well, it happened! Sorta. Rod Serling did all of the radio promos. It would be one of his last projects…he would pass away before it aired.

It was a 48-hour-long rock concert (Fantasy Park) that was aired by nearly 200 radio stations over Labor Day weekend in 1975. The program, produced by KNUS in Dallas, featured performances by dozens of rock stars of the day and even reunited The Beatles. It was also completely imaginary, a theatre-of-the-mind for the 70s.

The “concert” was made up of live and studio recordings by the artists with live effects added to make it sound legit.

The show had college students hitchhiking all over America hoping to get to Fantasy Park. In New Orleans when the concert aired, the IRS came knocking on the doors of WNOE trying to attach the gate receipts to make sure the Feds got their cut! Callers were asking where they could get tickets to this amazing show.

The show was so popular in Minnesota that they played it again in its entirety the next year…now that people knew it wasn’t real and weren’t looking for tickets. The greatest concert that never was.  Fantasy Park had their own emcee and special reporters covering the weekend event giving you the play-by-play details along with some behind-the-scenes updates.

The concert would always be halted due to rain on a Sunday morning to allow the locals to get in their regular (usually religious) programming and the whole event always ended promptly at 6 pm on Sunday.

Now people look for the full 48-hour tapes of the show. They are a hot collector’s item. Rod Serling passed away on June 28, 1975.

Bands at Fantasy Park

Chicago
Elton John
Led Zeppelin
Joe Walsh
Cream
Shawn Phillips
Pink Floyd
Carly Simon
James Taylor (& Carol King)
Poco
Alvin Lee
Eagles
Linda Rondstadt
Dave Mason
Steve Miller
John Denver
Beach Boys
War
Grand Funk
Yes
Deep Purple
Rolling Stones
Cat Stevens
The Who
Rolling Stones
Moody Blues
Marshall Tucker Band
Allman Brothers Band
Seals & Crofts
America
Joni Mitchell
Doobie Brothers
Loggins and Messina
Crosby/Stills/Nash/Young
Bob Dylan
Beatles

Here is 10 minutes of it here.

Big Star – Feel ….Power Pop Friday

Happy Friday Everyone! Hope your week is going well. Lisa from Tao Talk did me an honor by posting an article I wrote on her site about Maria McKee from Lone Justice in her Women Music March series…she has had some great artists! Check it out if you can.

When Big Star comes up, when people think of a member…it’s usually Alex Chilton. That is not a bad thing but on their debut album Chris Bell was just as prevalent as Chilton. This song was off of their debut album named #1 Record. It’s the only album to feature Chris Bell along with Alex Chilton the entire album. They complimented each other perfectly.

After writing a post for Dave’s site about Badfinger (thanks Dave)…a band that I obviously like…I thought I would post about another band that is right up there. I hold Big Star’s music up with The Who, Beatles. and Kinks…they never had the sales but they did have a giant influence. They released this album as their debut in August of 1972. Whenever I write about this band, I always have to stop myself from gushing about them. Was it the mystique of them? Was it the coolness factor of liking a band that not many people know? No and no. It’s about the music. Mystique and coolness wear off and all you are left with is the music…We are fortunate to have 3 albums by Big Star to enjoy.

“Feel” leads off the album with a bang. Feel was written by Chris Bell and Alex Chilton and Bell takes the lead vocal. There are more hooks in this song than in a tackle box. This is what power pop is all about. If I had to introduce someone to power pop, I would ask them to listen to #1 Record by Big Star and Straight Up by Badfinger.

All three are in Rolling Stone’s top 500 albums of all time. For a band that never charted a record that isn’t too bad. When their albums were finally discovered by later bands, they influenced many artists such as The Replacements, REM, The Cars, Cheap Trick, Sloan, Matthew Sweet, KISS, Wilco, Gin Blossoms, and many more. They influenced alternative rock of the 80s and 90s and continue to this day.

Drummer Jody Stephens: “All of a sudden I’m playing with these guys that can write songs that are as engaging to me as the people I’d grown up listening to, so I felt incredibly lucky.” 

Paul Westerberg:  “I never travel far, without a little Big Star,”

Alternate Mix

Feel

Wondering what are you doing?
You’re driving me to ruin
The love that you’ve been stealing

Has given me a feeling

I feel like I’m dying
I’m never gonna live again
You just ain’t been trying
It’s getting very near the end

I feel like I’m dying
I’m never gonna live again
You just ain’t been trying
It’s getting very near the end

Wondering what are you doing?
You’re driving me to ruin
The love that you’ve been stealing
Has given me the feeling

I feel like I’m dying
I’m never gonna live again
You just ain’t been trying
It’s getting very near the end

I feel like I’m dying
I feel like I’m dying

Beatles – One After 909

A pure rock and roll song by The Beatles. It’s always a joy to listen to because it goes back to their roots They played this song live in the early days before Beatlemania. When they recorded the final version on the roof you could see they were having a good time. George’s guitar playing on this is perfect.

A song that was recorded in January of 1969 but was written by John and Paul  in the 1950s. Being a very early attempt at songwriting, John Lennon reluctantly brought it forward for The Beatles to record when they were looking for new material in early 1963. They recorded it but didn’t have a take that they liked.

In 1969 John pulled out “One After 909” from his memory and presented it again. On this occasion, it was reworked with enthusiasm and with a different feel and arrangement, the result becoming a cool presentation of early Beatlemania at their final live performance on the rooftop in 1969.

John, Paul, and George were talking about the song and John said he always wanted to change the words. Paul said no…it’s great like it is so they played the song on the rooftop. It would be included on the Let It Be album released in 1970

The song was about a lady who tells her boyfriend she is leaving on the train that leaves after train number 909. He begs her not to go, but she does anyway. He packs his bags and rushes after her and discovers that she is not on “the one after 909,” so he goes home depressed and goes into the wrong house.

John Lennon: “I wrote it when I was about seventeen, either right before or after ‘Hello Little Girl,’ and it was resurrected for (the ‘Let It Be’) album, probably for lack of material. Nine has always been around. I’m not sure why. I was born on the ninth of October, I lived at nine Newcastle Road, ‘Revolution 9.’ Numerologically, I’m apparently a number three or six, so I’m not sure where the nine comes from…but it’s all part of nine.”

Paul McCartney:It was a number we didn’t used to do much but it was one that we always liked doing, and we rediscovered it. There were a couple of tunes that we wondered why we never put out; either George Martin didn’t like them enough to or he favored others. It’s not a great song but it’s a great favorite of mine because it has great memories for me of John and I trying to write a bluesy freight-train song. There were a lot of those songs at the time, like ‘Midnight Special,’ ‘Freight Train,’ ‘Rock Island Line,’ so this was the ‘One After 909.’ She didn’t get the 909, she got the one after it! It was a tribute to British Rail, actually. No, at the time we weren’t think British, it was much more the Super Chief from Omaha.”

One After 909

My baby said she’s trav’ling on the one after 909
I said move over honey I’m traveling on that line
I said move over once, move over twice
Come on baby don’t be cold as ice.
Said she’s trav’ling on the one after 909.

I begged her not to go and I begged her on my bended knees,
You’re only fooling around, you’re fooling around with me.
I said move over once, move over twice
Come on baby don’t be cold as ice.
Said she’s trav’ling on the one after 909.

I got my bag, run to the station
Railman says you’ve got the the wrong location
I got my bag, run right home
Then I find I’ve got the number wrong

Well she said she’s trav’ling on the one after 909
I said move over honey I’m traveling on that line
I said move over once, move over twice
Come on baby don’t be cold as ice.
Said she’s trav’ling on the one after 909.

I got my bag, run to the station
Railman says you’ve got the the wrong location
I got my bag, run right home
Then I find I’ve got the number wrong

Well she said she’s trav’ling on the one after 909
I said move over honey I’m traveling on that line
I said move over once, move over twice
Come on baby don’t be cold as ice.
Said she’s trav’ling on the one after 9-0,
Said she’s trav’ling on the one after 9-0,
Said she’s trav’ling on the one after 909.