Alarm – Sixty Eight Guns

I saw The Alarm open up for someone and I think it was Dylan in the late eighties. At that time I didn’t know who they were but I liked them right away. I kept up with them after that concert. This song stood out from all the ones they did.

When they first started out…like most rock bands they were rebellious. “Sixty Eight Guns” was their battle cry, a call to arms against the establishment. This attitude was formed in their hometown of Rhyl, North Wales, where they grew up in bleak economic times and fought naysayers who saw no need for another rabble-rousing rock band.

The song was written by bass player Eddie Macdonald and lead singer Mike Peters. Many reviews at the time compared them to U2…also calling them U3 at times. The Alarm gained a huge audience by opening up for…guess who? They opened for U2 on a large 1983 tour. This song was released in 1983 and peaked a #39 on the Billboard Top Rock Tracks and #17 in the UK.

In 1991 The Alarm was doing a concert and lead singer Mike Peters suddenly said “We’ve shared some great moments in time over the last ten years and tonight I would like to thank all the people who have supported me from the beginning to the end. Tonight this is my last moment with the Alarm, I’m going out in a Blaze of Glory – my hands are held up high”…… It would have been nice if he would have shared this little bit of info with his bandmates before the concert!

They did regroup occasionally and they have switched up members but have continued to release albums in the 21st century under the name The Alarm MM++.

Mike Peters: “It was about young people at that difficult age where you’re too cool for school, but not wise enough or eligible enough for adult life, So, it’s about people like that – like I was, once. We hung around on street corners, we started bands, we bought clothes, we identified with each other, and we credit these very bonded groups of individuals. And that’s how the Alarm grew.”

“It was a gang that made The Alarm special, ‘Sixty Eight Guns’ is really the description of the feeling that you could make change for yourself and make your life a better place to be in.”

Sixty Eight Guns

And now they’re trying to take my life away 
Forever young I cannot stay
Hey
On every corner I can see them there
They don’t know my name they don’t know my kind
They’re after you with their promises
(Promises of love)
They’re after you to sign your life away
(Yeah, yeaoh)

Sixty-eight Guns will never die
Sixty-eight Guns our battle cry
Sixty-eight Guns
Sixty-eight Guns
Oh, the Sixty-eight

Living in the backstreets 
That’s our home from home
The painted walls were all we’ve ever known 
?he Guns Forever’ that’s our battle cry
It is the flag that we fly so high 
For every day they’ll try and drag us down
(Drag us down and down)
I cry with anger I have done no crime
No
(Yeah, yeaoh)

Sixty-eight Guns will never die
Sixty-eight Guns our battle cry
Sixty-eight Guns will never die
Sixty-eight Guns our battle cry
Sixty-eight Guns
Sixty-eight Guns
The Sixty-eight

Up on the terrace I can hear the crowd roar 
Sixty Eight Guns
And in the subway I can hear them whisper 
Sixty Eight Guns
Through all the raging glory of the years 
We never once thought of the fears 
For what we’d do when the battle cry was over . 
Nothing lasts forever is all they seem to tell you when you’re young 

(I, I do swear
To unbreak the promise
To unbreak the vow

Unbreak it)

When you’re young
Have no illusion, no disillusion

Unbreak the promise
Unbreak the vow
Uphold the promise

SIXTY EIGHT GUNS

Sixty-eight Guns will never die
Sixty-eight Guns our battle cry
Sixty-eight Guns will never die
Sixty-eight Guns our battle cry
Sixty-eight Guns
Sixty-eight Guns
The sixty eight guns
Sixty eight guns
The sixty eight guns

Fabulous Thunderbirds – Wrap It Up / Tuff Enuff

I couldn’t pick between these two songs from The Fabulous Thunderbirds so I thought we would have two songs today. I love the riff that kicks off Wrap It Up. It was a minor hit for The Fabulous Thunderbirds in 1986. The band featured Jimmy Vaughan on guitar who was the older brother of Stevie Ray Vaughan. This band helped a blues revival in the 1980’s that included Robert Cray and SRV.

I must admit when I heard these songs for the first time I liked them a lot. I thought the band would have more hits.

The Fabulous Thunderbirds didn’t just hit out of nowhere. They formed in 1974 with original members Jimmie Vaughan, Kim Wilson (singer), Keith Ferguson, and Mike Buck. Austin vocalist Lou Ann Barton also performed occasionally with the group during its early years.

These two songs were on their 5th album Tuff Enuff, produced by Dave Edmunds. The album peaked at #13 on the Billboard Album charts, and eventually went platinum. It was their breakout album and one they could not duplicate.

Tuff Enuff and Wrap It Up received heavy airplay on MTV. That was the secret of success in the 1980s…if you have MTV pushing… you would probably be alright.

Tuff Enuff peaked at #10 in the Billboard 100 in 1986 and Wrap It Up peaked at #55 in the Billboard 100.

They are still touring today with Kim Wilson (lead singer) the only original member left. Jimmie left the band in 1990 to work with his brother. Stevie and Jimmie made an album together that was released in 1990 called Family Style. It was released on September 25, 1990, and Stevie died a month before on August  27, 1990.

Art Honoring Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimmie Vaughan Planned for Dallas –  Billboard

Stevie Ray Vaughan talks about his older brother Jimmie:

“Jimmie would leave his guitars around the house and tell me not to touch ’em. And that’s basically how I got started. I actually wanted to be a drummer, but I didn’t have any drums. So I just go into what was available to me at the time.”

“I was little brother, especially then” 

“What happened was he was moving ahead a little faster than me and I guess I was dragging it down a bit, so that didn’t work out too well. But I think with any brothers there’s a period of time when the little brother always gets in the way. That’s just brother-to-brother shit. It wasn’t anything between us that lasted. Hell, now we can’t see enough of each other.”

After being told that Jimmie brags on him in interviews Stevie said…”Well, I think he’s the better guitar player – so there.”

Eric Clapton just announced a tour with Jimmie Vaughan later this summer in the US.

Wrap It Up

I’ve been watchin’ you for days now baby
I just love your sexy ways now baby
You know our love will never stop now baby
Just put your lovin’ in my box now baby

Wrap it up I’ll take it
Wrap it up I’ll take it

Well no more will I shop around now baby
I know I got the best thing in town now baby
I’ve seen all I want to see now baby
Bring your lovin’ straight to me now baby

Wrap it up I’ll take it
Wrap it up I’ll take it
Wrap it up I’ll take it
Wrap it up I’ll take it

Well I’m gonna treat you like the queen you are
Bring you sweet things from my candy jar
You’ve got tricks you ain’t never used
Give it, give it to me, it won’t be abused

I’ve been watchin’ you for days now baby
I just love your sexy ways now baby
You know our love will never stop now baby
Just put your lovin’ in my box now baby

Wrap it up I’ll take it
Wrap it up I’ll take it
Wrap it up I’ll take it
Wrap it up I’ll take it

Wrap wrap
Wrap wrap
Wrap

Wrap it up I’ll take it
Wrap it up I’ll take it
Wrap it up I’ll take it
Wrap it up I’ll take it

Wrap it up I’ll take it
Wrap it up I’ll take it
Wrap it up I’ll take it

Ramones – Judy Is A Punk

The Ramones played the most basic form of rock but it never gets old. I’ve heard them described as punk, bubblegum, rock, hard rock, punk/pop/rock, and everything in between. They were greatly underappreciated in their time.

This song was released in 1976 on the Ramones’ debut album. In that year you had disco and slick pop going on everywhere…on the other hand, you had the Ramones. They bucked the trend of radio at the time. They developed a reputation in 1975 for playing rapid sets in and around New York City, often blasting through about 12 songs in 25 minutes. By the time they recorded this, they had honed their songs during many performances and included it on the album.

I first heard this album in the early 80s…and I liked the simplicity of their sound. There was a reason for that. The Ramones had a very sparse budget at the time… The entire album cost just $6,400 to make.

They were no-frills and to the point. No long solos or instrumental breaks. Just 2-minute blasts full of energy.

Like many Ramones songs…it is not your typical song story. This song tells a very vague story of two adventurous girls… Jackie and Judy. We know that Jackie is a punk and Judy is a runt, and they’ve decided to join the SLA – the Symbionese Liberation Army. The SLA was a fringe political group that was in the news for kidnaping the heiress Patty Hearst in 1974.

Lead singer Joey Ramone wrote the song and we think it was purely fictional.

The Ramones recorded a sequel song… “The Return Of Jackie And Judy” on their 1980 album End Of The Century.

Sequel Version

Judy Is A Punk

Jackie is a punk
Judy is a runt
They both went down to Berlin, joined the Ice Capades
And oh, I don’t know why
Oh, I don’t know why
Perhaps they’ll die

Jackie is a punk
Judy is a runt
They both went down to Frisco, joined the SLA
And oh, I don’t know why
Oh, I don’t know why
Perhaps they’ll die

Bobby “Blue” Bland – Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City

When I listened to this for the first time, my first thought was… Damn this is good! When I read music books about artists…one artist will talk about another and they will talk about another. It’s like a river with all the twists and turns and you never know who you will hear about next.

If you listen to this song grab some headphones and listen to his wonderfully smooth-rough voice. Also, keep an ear out for the fuzz guitar doing runs in the background. When you hear someone like Gregg Allman say that Bobby “Blue” Bland is one of his singing idols…you know something great is there waiting to be heard. This I have heard before and was impressed even without Mr. Allman’s recommendation.

“Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City” was written by Michael Price and Dan Walsh, a pair of journeymen songwriters who wrote different kinds of music like The Grass Roots’ 1970 hit “Temptation Eyes.”

Bobby was the first to record this song and it was released on his 1974 album Dreamer. The song peaked at #9 in the R&B Charts and #91 in the Billboard 100.

Bland began his career in Memphis, Tennessee, with bluesman B.B. King and ballad singer Johnny Ace (all three were part of a loose aggregation of musicians known as the Beale Streeters). He had some hits in the 50s and early 60s but had some financial troubles in 1968 and had to break up his band.

His record company was then sold to ABC Dunhill and he started up his career again and continued to chart til the 1980s. Of all bands…Whitesnake covered this song in 1978 and it charted in the UK in 1980.

Boz Scaggs: “I made a point of getting to know him over the years, not that I knew him well. But he came down to the studio when we were making the Memphis record a couple of times. He sat in the control room and listened to the playback of some of the songs, and he was treating me very fatherly, where he’d say ‘Here’s where you’re going to go here,’ and he was singing to me as the track was playing back. Then we got a chance to talk.

“It was like a lot of that part of his life, his music, was intact, and he was very vivid about that, vivid in talking about his early influences, it was all there. He was obviously frail, and it was hard for him to get around, but when he settled down, he loved talking about his life and his craft.”

Gregg Allman: “We were doing “Turn On Your Love Light,” because we had heard Bobby “Blue” Bland do it, and, man, you talk about an original talent—there will be, and can be, only one Bobby “Blue” Bland.”

Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City

Ain’t no love in the heart of the city
Ain’t no love in the heart of town
Ain’t no love, and it’s sure ’nuff a pity
Ain’t no love, ’cause you ain’t around

When you were mine
Oh, I was feeling so good
‘Cause your love lit up this old neighborhood
And now that you’re gone
You know the sun don’t shine
From the city hall to the county line
That’s why I said

Ain’t no love in the heart of the city
Ain’t no love in the heart of town
Ain’t no love, and it sure is a pity
Ain’t no love, ’cause you ain’t around

Every place that I go
Oh, it seems so strange
Without you there
Things have changed
The night time calls
There’s a blanket of gloom
Another teardrop falls
In my lonely room

I said ain’t no love
In the heart of the city
Ain’t no love in the heart of town
Ain’t no love, ain’t any pity
Ain’t no love ’cause you ain’t around

And now that you’re gone
Oh, the sun don’t shine
From the city hall to the county line, I said

Ain’t no love in the heart of the city
Ain’t no love in the heart of town
Ain’t no love, it sure is a pity
Ain’t no love ’cause you ain’t around
‘Cause you ain’t around

Ain’t no love in the heart of the city
Ain’t no love in this great big old town
Ain’t no love, and ain’t it a pity
Ain’t no love ’cause you ain’t around

Ain’t no love in the heart of the city
Ain’t no love in the heart of this town

Led Zeppelin – D’yer Mak’er

I know some Zeppelin fans who hate this song with a passion. For me it showed the band had a sense of humor instead of just glowing red eyes, naked children climbing rocks, and symbols that looked like ZoSo.  Jimmy Page had an interest in the occult and Robert Plant often wrote mystical spiritual lyrics…so this one comes out of the blue.

Is this Led Zeppelin’s best song? No, not even in their top 50 but a fun romp through reggae or their version of it anyway.

I bought the single at a yard sale when I was around 10 and there was something wrong with it. On one side “The Crunge” was printed and on the other…D’yer Mak’er was there. The only problem was that the labels were reversed. This was before I knew anything about Led Zeppelin. For years I thought D’yer Mak’er WAS called The Crunge and the opposite. It was not until later when I got the album Houses of the Holy that I found out. I then thought they had the album listing wrong. I wish I still had that single!

The song was one of the few singles released by the band in America. They never released a single in the UK while they were still together. The song peaked at #20 in the Billboard 100 and #24 in Canada in 1973.

The title, frequently mispronounced as ‘Dear Maker’ or even ‘Dire Maker’, is actually meant to be pronounced “Jamaica” in a double-edged reference to the old joke that Robert Plant told in a Rolling Stone interview and also the way in which locals pronounce the name of their Caribbean island. I looked this up on the title… D’yer Mak’er (intended to be pronounced with a British non-rhotic accent as “jah-may-kah”)

Plant has confirmed that the title “D’yer Mak’er” does, in fact, come from a bit of Cockney humor, which usually goes something like this:
Cockney Man 1: My wife is going on holiday.
Cockney Man 2: D’yer make ‘er? [“Jamaica,” but pronounced quickly so that it sounds just like “Did you make her?”]
Cockney Man 1: No, she’s going on her own accord.
The allusion to Jamaica made sense for the song: “D’yer Mak’er” is Zeppelin’s reggae move.

John Paul Jones didn’t like the track and he said that Bonham didn’t like reggae period.

John Paul Jones: “John was interested in everything except jazz and reggae, he didn’t hate jazz but he hated playing reggae he thought it was really boring.”

JImmy Page: “I didn’t expect people not to get it. I thought it was pretty obvious.”

D’yer Mak’er

Oh oh oh oh oh oh,
You don’t have to go, oh oh oh oh oh
You don’t have to go, oh oh oh oh oh
You don’t have to go

Ay ay ay ay ay ay
All those tears I cry, ay ay ay ay
All those tears I cry, oh oh ah ay
Baby please don’t go

When I read the letter you wrote me, it made me mad mad mad
When I read the news that it told me, it made me sad sad sad
But I still love you so
I can’t let you go
I love you
Oh, baby I love you

Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Every breath I take, oh oh oh oh
Oh, every move I make
Oh, baby please don’t go

Ay ay ay ay ay ay
You hurt me to my soul, oh oh oh oh
You hurt me to my soul oh, oh
Darling please don’t go

When I read the letter you sent me, it made me mad mad mad
When I read the news that it brought me, it made me sad sad sad
But I still love you so
And I can’t let you go
I love you
Oh, baby I love you, oh

Oh oh oh oh oh oh
You don’t have to go, oh oh oh oh
You don’t have to go, oh oh oh oh
Oh, baby
Babe, please, please, please, please
Oh oh, oh oh, oh oh, baby
Oh oh, oh I really love you, baby

Tremeloes – Here Comes My Baby

This is a fun mid-sixties pop song by The Tremeloes. I like the live party atmosphere they created. Here Comes My Baby was written in 1966 by Cat Stevens. It was almost released as Steven’s first single, but “I Love My Dog” was thought to be stronger.

After “I Love My Dog’s” success, “Here Comes My Baby” was shelved for several months. The Tremeloes picked it up and it became their breakthrough hit in America and their first hit in the UK since their lead singer Brian Poole left them. The song’s success helped establish Cat Stevens as a songwriter and he included it on his first album Matthew And Son.

The Tremeloes had been a backup band for Brian Poole and when they split in 1966 after 8 UK hits, they looked to be another backing band set for junk pile. They bought in Len “Chip” Hawkes as their bassist and lead singer and their career took off.

Some trivia about the Tremeloes. Decca was looking to sign a guitar group in 1962 and the Tremeloes (at the time known as Brian Poole and the Tremeloes) and The Beatles auditioned… Decca picked The Tremeloes over The Beatles mostly because they were closer, based in London…while The Beatles were far away in Liverpool (Whoops!). That decision would haunt Dick Rowe (Decca Executive) for the rest of his life…He did end up signing The Rolling Stones though after a suggestion by George Harrison.

The song peaked at #13 in the Billboard 100, #4 in the UK Charts, and #7 in Canada in 1967.

This is one of those songs that I never get tired of and it always makes me feel good.  They did have some success after this song…Silence is Golden #13, Even the Bad Times Are Good #37, and several successful singles in the UK.

Cat Stevens version

Here Comes My Baby

In the midnight moonlight hour
I’ll be walking a long and lonely mile,
And every time I do,
I keep seeing this picture of youHere comes my baby, here she comes now,
And-a it becomes as no surprise to me
with another guy,Well, here comes my baby, here she comes now,
Walking with a love,
With a love that’s oh so fine
Never to be mine, no matter how I try,

You’ll never walk alone,
and you’re forever talking on the phone
I try to call you names,
but every time it comes out the same

Here comes my baby; here she comes now,
And-a it becomes as no surprise to me
with another guy,

Here comes my baby; here she comes now,
And-a it becomes as no surprise to me
with another guy

Here comes my baby.

Wilson Pickett – Hey Jude

It’s rare that I post a cover of a Beatles song but this one is worth it. This song was a groundbreaker in the world of R&B and Soul because of the song selection and Duane Allman. This is a great performance of a great song. For me, it’s up there with Joe Cockers With A Little Help from My Friends as one of the best Beatle cover versions.

Duane Allman was working at Muscle Shoals playing on records in 1968. He played on some Clarence Carter records and then in walked Wilson Pickett. The problem was they had no song for Pickett to sing at the booked sessions. Duane Allman brought up Hey Jude to cover in front of Pickett and Rick Hall the producer.

Wilson Pickett and Rick Hall said no they didn’t want to cover the song. Hall and Pickett had objections that the song was currently moving up the charts and  the length of the song made getting it played on the radio almost impossible if you were not the Beatles,

Rick Hall told Allman that it didn’t make sense…the Beatles were the biggest band in the world and their version was clearly going to number 1. He told Allman it would be crazy to do it. Allman shook his head and said no it wouldn’t be crazy. Yes, he said the Beatles are the biggest band in the world and yes it will hit number 1 but that is the reason we should do it. He said just think of the attention we will get having a black artist cover this new Beatle song. Hall thought about it and soon agreed with Allman.

Rick Hall: ‘Their single’s gonna be number one. I mean, this is the biggest group in the world! And Duane said, ‘That’s exactly why we should do it — because [the Beatles single] will be Number one and they’re so big. The fact that we would cut the song with a black artist will get so much attention, it’ll be an automatic smash.’ That made all the sense in the world to me. So I said, ‘Well, okay. Let’s do it.’”

Pickett was not as easy to persuade.  Allman was firm but gentle with Pickett and finally, Wilson relented and he recorded it. It turned out to be an R&B classic. The head-turner was when Pickett started to scream and in came this electric slide guitar of Allman. At that point, you didn’t hear much electric slide on records outside of the blues. After this record, R&B and soul producers started to bring in more rock guitars to compliment what they had.

This record changed Allman’s career in ways he couldn’t have known. One of Duane’s guitar heroes heard this version and called Atlantic records (Wilson’s record label) and asked who is that guitar player? I want to know now. That guitar player who asked was Eric Clapton.

Later when Clapton was recording the Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs album his producer Tom Dowd asked him if he would mind if Duane Allman dropped by and watch him play. Clapton turned and confirmed that Allman was the guitar player on Pickett’s Hey Jude and when Dowd said yes…Clapton said yes tell him to come by because I want to see HIM play. Allman would end up playing and contributing to most of the Layla album.

The song peaked at #23 in the Billboard 100 and #13 in the R&B Charts in 1969. The rhythm guitar player in Muscle Shoals Jimmy Johnson later credited Allman’s performance on Wilson Pickett’s album Hey Jude as the beginning of Southern Rock. This was recorded a few months before the Allman Brothers formed.

Eric Clapton: “I remember hearing ‘Hey Jude’ by Wilson Pickett and calling either Ahmet Ertegun or Tom Dowd and saying, ‘Who’s that guitar player? To this day, I’ve never heard better rock guitar playing on an R&B record. It’s the best.”

Wilson Pickett: “He stood right in front of me, as though he was playing every note I was singing, and he was watching me as I sang, and as I screamed, he was screaming with his guitar.”

As a Beatle fan…the ironic thing about this song is that George and Paul got into a big disagreement with the Beatle version. George wanted to add guitar fills in between lines to echo them…that is what Duane Allman did in this version.

Hey Jude

Hey Jude, don’t make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her into your heart,
Then you can start to make it better.

Hey Jude, don’t be afraid
You were made to go out and get her
The minute you let her under your skin,
Then you begin to make it better

And anytime you feel the pain, hey Jude, refrain,
Don’t carry the world upon your shoulders
For well you know that it’s a fool who plays it cool
By making his world a little colder

Hey Jude, don’t let me down
You have found her, now go and get her
Remember to let her into your heart,
Then you can start to make it better

So let it out and let it in, hey Jude, begin
You’re waiting for someone to perform with
And don’t you know that it’s just you, hey Jude, you’ll do
The movement you need is on your shoulder

Hey Jude, don’t make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her under your skin,
Then you’ll begin to make it
Better better better better better better, (make it Jude) ooh

Na na na nananana, nananana, hey Jude (Repeat)

Yeah, yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah

Ju- Jude-y Jude-y Jude-y Jude-y Jude-y oow-wow

Elvis Presley – Good Rockin Tonight

When I think of Elvis …I admire him on one hand and on the other I pity him for how he ended up. When the big E was coming out of the Memphis radios on Sun Records…there was not anyone around that could touch him as a live rock and roll performer. Then came Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis became a huge star but with a steep cost.

Roy Brown first wrote and released this song in 1947. Elvis covered it and released it in 1954. His release was his second Sun Record release and the B side was a song called “I Don’t Care if the Sun Don’t Shine.” I wish Elvis could have stayed on Sun a little longer. Soon he would be gone to RCA. Great records but he had a sound on Sun that he never got back. His band was Scotty Moore on lead guitar and Bill Black on the double bass. The song didn’t chart many places but it did peak at #10 in Sweden.

His first single for Sun was “That’s Alright Mama.” On June 7, 1954, WHBQ Radio in Memphis became the first station to play this song when their disc jockey Dewey Phillips aired it on his Red, Hot and Blue show the day after Elvis recorded it. It soon built up regionally after that.

A Sun Records Tribute Assembles Old Timers of Rock & Roll - Frank Beacham's  Journal

On November 20, 1955, Elvis signed with RCA and after that, his records were everywhere. RCA could give him distribution all over the world but I wish they would have kept recording the Sun Studios with Sam Phillips. Mr. Phillips owned Sun Studios since 1952 and he would have a star-studded roster of Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and more.

He was also an early investor in the Holiday Inn chain of hotels and an advocate for racial equality, helping to break down racial barriers in the music industry.

The B Side I Don’t Care if the Sun Don’t Shine

Good Rockin Tonight

Well, I heard the news, there’s good rockin’ tonight
Well, I heard the news, there’s good rockin’ tonight
I’m gonna hold my baby as tight as I can
Tonight she’ll know I’m a mighty, mighty man
I heard the news, there’s good rockin’ tonight

I said, meet me and a-hurry behind the barn
Don’t you be afraid ’cause I’ll do you no harm
I want you to bring along my rockin’ shoes
‘Cause tonight I’m gonna rock away all our blues
I heard the news, there’s good rockin’ tonight

Well, we’re gonna rock
We’re gonna rock
Let’s rock
Come on and rock
We’re gonna rock all our blues away

Have you heard the news, everybody’s rockin’ tonight
Have you heard the news, everybody’s rockin’ tonight
I’m gonna hold my baby as tight as I can
Well, tonight she’ll know I’m a mighty, mighty man
I heard the news, there’s good rockin’ tonight

Well, we’re gonna rock, rock, rock, rock
Come on and rock, rock, rock, rock
Let’s rock, rock, rock, rock
Well, let’s rock, rock, rock, rock
We’re gonna rock all our blues away

Cowboy – Please Be With Me

Beautiful melody and touching lyrics…this song is a lost gem. It would later be covered by Eric Clapton but I favor the 1971 original by Cowboy. If you don’t know this one…give the Cowboy version a listen.

Cowboy was a Southern folk-rock band formed in 1969 in Jacksonville, Florida, by singer-songwriters Scott Boyer and Tommy Talton.  The band also featured pianist Bill Pillmore, bassist George Clark, guitarist Pete Kowalke, and drummer Tom Wynn.

Please Be With Me was one of the last songs Duane Allman recorded before his tragic motorbike accident on October 29, 1971.  He played the dobro and it made the song. This song appears on 5’ll Getcha 10, the second record by Cowboy, a band that had landed a contract thanks to their friendship with Duane.

Please Be With Me — Cowboy | Last.fm

The band opened up for the Allmans on their 1970-1971 national tour. The album came out in October 1971. They would go on to release four albums in the early seventies.

Galadrielle Allman, daughter of Duane Allman, used this song title for her book title instead of one of many Allman Brothers songs. It’s a very good book.

Please Be with Me: A Song for My Father, Duane Allman - Allman, Galadrielle

Butch Trucks (Drummer for ABB): ‘A few weeks after Duane died, when I still hadn’t really let loose or accepted it, I put on Please Be With Me and the dam burst and I started crying and crying, just racked with grief. I was sitting there listening to the song over and over and crying. To this day I can’t hear it without getting choked up.’

Scott Boyer:“I was sitting in this motel room all by myself and just for busy work I grabbed a pad and pencil and started writing freeform. Whatever popped into my head. About 10 minutes later and I had like 10 verses and three choruses, but nothing rhymed and nothing made any sense. It was just right out of my head and onto the paper. And I started connecting things. Put the third line from the third verse with the fourth line in the eight verse. Not necessarily because they made sense but because they rhymed. And I put together like three verses and a chorus and I put the pad down and I rolled over and went to sleep. And Duane (Allman) came into town the next day and said, ‘I want to play on this record with ya’ll but I want to play something brand new.’ We started tossing things around. And I said, ‘Well I wrote this thing last night. There’s nothing much to it.” And I played the song for Duane and (producer) Johnny Sandlin was also in the room and when I finished it they both went, ‘Wow, you wrote that last night, man? That’s beautiful.’ It is? [Laughs.] But that’s how the song got recorded because Duane wanted to play something brand new and I had this thing I had tossed off the night before. And I loved what Duane played on it. That dobro he played on it just comes to life when that thing comes on, man.”

Gregg Allman: The group Cowboy was on Capricorn, and we played their album 5’ll Getcha Ten quite a bit at the Big House. Scott Boyer had been in the 31st of February with Butch, and Cowboy had a sort of southern-folk sound to them. 

Please Be With Me

Upon my word what does it mean?
Is it love or is it me
That makes me change so suddenly
From looking out to feeling free?

I sit here lying in my bed
Wondering what it was I said
That made me think I lost my head
When I knew I lost my heart instead

So won’t you please read my signs
Be a gypsy
Tell me what I hope to find deep within me
And because you can find my mind
Please be with me

Of all the better things I’ve heard
Loving you has made the words
And all the rest seem so absurd
‘Cause in the end it all comes out I’m sure

So won’t you please read my signs
Be a gypsy
Tell me what I hope to find deep within me
And because you can find my mind
Please be with me

King Harvest – Dancing In The Moonlight

This song was leftover from my AM Radio Gold week I had a while back. It’s one of those songs that take me back to when I heard it on the radio. It’s almost impossible for me to be unhappy when this song is on. Kinda like how I Can See Clearly Now affects me. It was unlike the origin of the song.

It was written by the keyboard player/songwriter Sherman Kelly in 1969 after a trip to the Caribbean island of Saint Croix, where he was attacked by natives and left for dead. While he was recovering from his injuries, he wrote this song as an alternate reality.

The first band to record this song was Boffolongo, which was fronted by Larry Hoppen. The group recorded their debut album in 1969, and for their next album, released in 1970, Sherman Kelly joined the band on keyboards and brought them his song “Dancing In The Moonlight.” Kelly’s brother Wells also joined the band; this original version of the song featured Hoppen on guitar, Sherman on lead vocals, and Wells on drums.

In 1971, Wells Kelly paid a visit to the band King Harvest, who was working on a new album in Paris (his former Boffolongo bandmate Dave “Doc” Robinson was in the band). Wells came armed with some albums from America and also a copy of Boffolongo’s “Dancing In The Moonlight,” which King Harvest decided to record, this time with a more keyboard-driven sound and smoother production. The single, with lead vocals by Robinson, was released in Europe but stiffed; it was rescued by an American label called Perception Records that issued the song Stateside.

King Harvest released this song in 1972 and it reached #13 on the Billboard Charts, #5 in the UK charts, and #5 in Canada.

British band Toploader had a #7 hit in the UK with a cover of this after it was featured in a Sainsbury supermarket TV advert.

Dancing In The Moonlight ended up being an enduring hit for the band, and their only song to make much of an impact (“A Little Bit Like Magic” made #91 a few months later) King Harvest were never The Who, Beatles, or the Stones but they contributed to the texture of the seventies. They did end up releasing 10 albums! The latest in 2015.

Songwriter Sherman Kelly: On a trip to St. Croix in 1969, I was the first victim of a vicious St. Croix gang who eventually murdered 8 American tourists. At that time, I suffered multiple facial fractures and wounds and was left for dead. While I was recovering, I wrote “Dancin In The Moonlight” in which I envisioned an alternate reality, the dream of a peaceful and joyful celebration of life. The song became a huge hit and was recorded by many musicians worldwide. “Dancin In The Moonlight” continues to be popular to this day.

The first band Boffalongo to record it. 

Dancing In The Moonlight

We get it almost every night
When that ol’ moon gets-a big and bright
It’s a supernatural delight
Everybody’s dancin’ in the moonlight

Everybody here is out of sight
They don’t bark, and they don’t bite
They keep things loose, they keep things light
Everybody was dancin’ in the moonlight

Everybody’s dancin’ in the moonlight
Everybody’s feelin’ warm and right
It’s such a fine and natural sight
Everybody’s dancin’ in the moonlight

We like our fun and we never fight
You can’t dance and stay uptight
It’s a supernatural delight
Everybody was dancin’ in the moonlight

Supertramp – Breakfast In America

On a far distant radio a few days ago I heard It’s Raining Again and then this one. Sometimes I forget how big Supertramp was in the 70s and 80s…especially after this album.

In 1979 the album Breakfast In America was huge. The album had 4 singles in the Billboard 100. The album peaked at #1 in the Billboard Album Charts, #1 in Canada, #1 in New Zealand, and #3 in the UK…and won 2 Grammys.

The title song peaked at #62 in the Billboard 100 and #9 in the UK in 1979.

This album was released in 1979 and it came at the height of new wave and disco. Its domination of the single and album charts, and the airwaves, had to be unexpected by all concerned. Breakfast In America eclipsed anything they had done before and skyrocketed the band into the commercial stratosphere. Supertramp was never a typical chart band or obvious stadium touring giants. After this album, everything changed.

When they came to record the album, all five members had relocated full-time to the West Coast and bought apartments or houses there, and it was decided that the Colorado (Caribou Ranch) studio had been too sterile and so a new headquarters was found for Supertramp and co in Burbank, a home-from-home that was promptly given the name Southcombe. There, throughout 1978, they rehearsed the material and prepared the demos that would eventually be recorded at the Village Recorder studio in Los Angeles.

Roger Hodgson and Davies wrote most of the songs. They sometimes shared credit on songs… but  Roger Hodgson wrote this song 8 years earlier. Davies and Rogerson had a disagreement over the first line in the song. Rick Davies didn’t like “Take a look at my girlfriend, she’s the only one I got.” Roger won the battle.

Roger Hodgson:  “He never liked the lyric to ‘Breakfast.’ It’s so trite: ‘Take a look at my girlfriend.’ He’s much more into crafting a song. He would have been happier if I’d changed the lyric to either something funnier or more relevant. I tried, but it didn’t work out, so I was stuck with the original.”

Roger Hodgson: “The line ‘playing my jokes upon you,’ I think that kind of sums up the song. It was just mind chatter. Just writing down ideas as they came – fun thoughts all strung together. And I do remember the Beatles had just gone to America, and I was pretty impressed with that. That definitely stimulated my dream of wanting to go to America. And obviously seeing all those gorgeous California girls on the TV and thinking, Wow. That’s the place I want to go.”

Roger Hodgson: “I think I was 17 when I found this wonderful pump organ – a harmonium that you pump with your feet. I found it in this old lady’s house in the countryside near where I lived in England. I bought it for £26, and when I brought it back I proceeded to write all these songs on it: ‘Breakfast In America,’ ‘Two Of Us,’ ‘Soapbox Opera,’ even the beginning of ‘Fool’s Overture’ and ‘Logical Song.’ It’s amazing what this instrument pulled out of me.”

Here is a good live version…you are bloody well right!

Breakfast In America

Take a look at my girlfriend
She’s the only one I got
Not much of a girlfriend
Never seem to get a lot

Take a jumbo across the water
Like to see America
See the girls in California
I’m hoping it’s going to come true
But there’s not a lot I can do

Could we have kippers for breakfast
Mummy dear, mummy dear
They got to have ’em in Texas
‘Cause everyone’s a millionaire

I’m a winner, I’m a sinner
Do you want my autograph
I’m a loser, what a joker
I’m playing my jokes upon you
While there’s nothing better to do

Ba-ba-ba-dow, ba-bow-dum-doo-de-dow-de-dow, de
Ba-ba-ba-dow, ba-bow-dum-de-doo-de-dow
Na na na, nana na na na na

Don’t you look at my girlfriend (girlfriend)
She’s the only one I got
Not much of a girlfriend (girlfriend)
Never seem to get a lot (what’s she got, not a lot)

Take a jumbo cross the water
Like to see America
See the girls in California
I’m hoping it’s going to come true
But there’s not a lot I can do

Ba-ba-ba-dow, ba-bow-dum-doo-de-dow-de-dow, de
Ba-ba-ba-dow, ba-bow-dum-de-doo-de-dow

Hey oh, hey oh, hey oh, hey oh,
Hey oh, hey oh, hey oh, hey oh

Na na na, nana na na na nana

Curtis Mayfield – Superfly

Love this song and movie. Back in 2018 my son and I caught the movie in an Art House movie theatre that is located in Nashville. It was cool seeing this 1972 movie on the big screen. On top of a great movie, we got to hear the Curtis Mayfield soundtrack with surround sound in the theater.

Quinten Tarantino was strongly influenced by this movie for Jackie Brown. The endings are very similar. This song popularized the word “fly,” which means unusual and exceptional, particularly when it comes to fashion.

Curtis Mayfield was working on the songs for the movie while it was shooting, and would often visit the set, bringing in demos so the cast and crew could hear how they would integrate into the film. He even appears in the movie, performing the song “Pusherman” in a bar scene.

After seeing the screenplay, Mayfield jumped into the project and was given complete creative freedom. He wrote the songs to suit the scenes, but he made sure they could stand on their own, telling the stories even without the visuals. “Superfly” works very well outside of the film, as the character Mayfield describes could relate to anyone trying to survive and thrive under difficult situations.

The song peaked at #8 in the Billboard 100 and #5 in the R&B Charts in 1972.

Curtis Mayfield: “It was a glorious moment for our people as blacks, Priest had a mind, he wanted to get out. For once, in spite of what he was doing, he got away. So there came ‘Superfly’ the song. He was trying to get over. We couldn’t be so proud of him dealing coke or using coke, but at least the man had a mind and he wasn’t just some ugly dead something in the streets after it was all over. He got out.”

Superfly

Darkest of night
With the moon shining bright
There’s a set goin’ strong
Lotta things goin’ on
The man of the hour
Has an air of great power
The dudes have envied him for so long

[Chorus]
Superfly
You’re gonna make your fortune by and by
But if you lose, don’t ask no questions why
The only game you know is Do or Die
Ah-ha-ha

Hard to understand
What a hell of a man
This cat of the slum
Had a mind, wasn’t dumb
But a weakness was shown
Cause his hustle was wrong
His mind was his own
But the man lived alone

[Chorus]

The game he plays he plays for keeps
Hustlin’ times and ghetto streets
Tryin’ to get over
(That’s what he tryin’ to do, why’all)
Taking all that he can take
Gambling with the odds of fate
Tryin’ ta get over [Repeat: x4]
Woo, Superfly

The aim of his role
Was to move a lot of blow
Ask him his dream
What does it mean?
He wouldn’t know
“Can’t be like the rest”
Is the most he’ll confess
But the time’s running out
And there’s no happiness

[Chorus]

Superfly [Repeat: x4]

“Tryin’ to get over” [Repeat: x9]

Thin Lizzy – Dancing in the Moonlight (It’s Caught Me in Its Spotlight)

I love listening to Phil Lynott sing. Thin Lizzy could give you a lot of different-sounding songs. In this song, it sounds like Phil was listening to the Moondance album by Van Morrison.

The record company added the (It’s Caught Me In It’s Spotlight) so people would not confuse this with the old AM hit Dancing In The Moonlight by King Harvest that I’ll be going over this week!

It’s the way Lynott phrased his lyrics that added to the experience. Thin Lizzy also had some great twin harmony lead guitar parts that made their sound. They were unique, to say the least. You had a black Irish bass player fronting a rock band and singing like a cross between fellow Irishman Van Morrison and American Bruce Springsteen. They were not just a hard blues band. They mixed rock, country,  blues, Celtic, and a little jazz in the mix.

The band’s name is a play on Tin Lizzie (“Thin” being pronounced “Tin” in an Irish accent). Tin Lizzie is either a reference to a robot character from The Dandy Comic or a nickname for the Model T Ford…

This song was on the Bad Reputation album released in 1977 and was written by Phil Lynott. It peaked #14 in the UK, #84 in Canada, and #4 in Ireland.

The album peaked at #39 in the Billboard Album Charts, #44 in Canada, and #4 in the UK in 1977.

Phil Lynott was the principal songwriter, but he encouraged the rest of the band to contribute their own material.

Scott Gorham (lead guitarist…one of them): “He taught us how to do this thing called ‘song writing.’ And until we got better and better at it and we could actually bring our own songs in, we brought in songs that were either partly finished or just ideas to put on one of his songs. We might bring in a song that was half finished, or a whole song minus the lyrics. And it was always minus the lyrics, because that was Phil Lynott’s domain. We knew that we weren’t ever going to touch or top his lyrics. So you just let him get on with it.”

Later on The Smashing Pumpkins covered “Dancing in the Moonlight (It’s Caught Me in Its Spotlight)” for various live performances.

Phil Lynott’s short life has been memorialized by a life-size bronze statue erected in central Dublin, just outside one of the famed bass player’s favorite pubs.

Phil Lynott, Thin Lizzy Lead Singer | Ireland Reaching Out

Thin Lizzy – Dancing in the Moonlight (It’s Caught Me in Its Spotlight)

When I passed you in the doorway
You took me with a glance
I should have took that last bus home
But I asked you for a dance

Now we go steady to the pictures
I always get chocolate stains on my pants
My father he’s going crazy
Say’s I’m living in a trance

But I’m dancing in the moonlight
It’s caught me in its spotlight
It’s alright, alright
Dancing in the moonlight
On the long hot summer night

It’s three o’clock in the morning
And I’m on the streets again
I disobeyed another warning
I should have been in by ten

Now I won’t get out until Sunday
I’ll have to say I stayed with friends
But it’s a habit worth forming
If it means to justify the end

Allman Brothers – Southbound

Just the opening licks to this song hook me for the rest of the way. Southbound was on the number 1 album Brothers and Sisters in 1973.

The Sound of Vinyl

The making of this album was anything but easy. On October 29, 1971, Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle wreck. He was the undisputed leader of the band and the source of their music. After he died it hit the members hard including his brother Gregg Allman. They all agreed to continue on though. They had just released Live At Fillmore East (selected for preservation in the Library of Congress)…along with Live At Leeds considered the top live rock album of all time.

It was just climbing up the charts and money started for once to roll in for the band. They were working on the follow-up album Eat A Peach when Duane was killed. They regrouped and finished the album. It was a hybrid of studio/live recordings. Dickey Betts the other guitar player took a crash course on slide guitar.

The one member that could not get over Duane’s death was bass player Berry Oakley. He was not just another bass player. His playing reminds me of Paul McCartney in a way because it was so melodic. After Duane died he pretty much gave up and was drinking constantly. The other band members tried to babysit him on tour but nothing worked. Gregg Allman said: Berry didn’t want to die but he didn’t want to live either. 

Remembering Allman Brothers Bassist Berry Oakley On The Anniversary Of His  Untimely Death [Videos]

Duane Allman and Berry Oakley

On November 11, 1972, three blocks from where Duane was killed, Berry ran straight into a City Bus with his motorcycle. Some say it was on purpose because there were no skid marks at the scene. Someone took him home after he refused to go to the hospital. Three hours later he was rushed to the hospital, delirious and in pain, and died of cerebral swelling caused by a fractured skull. The Doctors said even if he would have gone straight to the hospital after the accident…he couldn’t have been saved.

The Allmans again decided to carry on. They didn’t replace Duane at first with another guitar player…they replaced him with a piano player named Chuck Leavell who would later play with the Rolling Stones among others. Oakley was replaced by  Lamar Williams, an old friend of drummer Jaimoe. Lamar would die early also in 1983 of lung cancer. His doctors believed that the disease was derived from exposure to Agent Orange during his Vietnam service. The album sessions started in the Autumn of 1972 and Oakley’s bass can be heard on two songs… “Wasted Words” and their huge hit “Ramblin’ Man.”

Lamar Williams (Allman Brothers) | Know Your Bass Player

Lamar Williams

Lamar Williams plays bass on Southbound… Southbound was written by Dickey Betts with Gregg on lead vocals.

Southbound

Well I’m Southbound, Lord I’m comin’ home to you
Well I’m Southbound, baby, Lord I’m comin’ home to you
I got that old lonesome feelin’ that’s sometimes called the blues
Well I been workin’ every night, travelin’ every day
Oh, I been workin’ every night, traveling every day
Oh you can tell your other man, sweet daddy’s on the way
Aww, ya better believe
Well I’m Southbound
Whoa I’m Southbound
Oh you better tell your other man, sweet daddy’s on his way
Got your hands full now baby, as soon as I hit that door
You’ll have your hands full now woman, just as soon as I hit that door
Well I’m gonna make it on up to you for all the things you should have had before
Lord, I’m Southbound
Oh I’m Southbound, baby
Whoa I’m Southbound, yeah baby
Well I’m gonna make it on up to you for all the things you should have had before

TV Draft Round 5 – Pick 4 – Lisa Selects – Ray Donovan

Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Lisa at https://tao-talk.com/

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Liev Schreiber as Ray Donovan

Originally on Showtime
7 seasons, from 2013 – 2020 (and a movie in 2022)
82 episodes (12 in each of the first 6 and 10 in the 7th season)
Directors: with # of episodes: John Dahl (11,) Tucker Gates (9,) Michael Uppendahl (9,) David Hollander (6,) Allen Coulter (4,) Daniel Attias (4,) Colin Bucksey (4,) Guy Ferland (3,) Joshua Marston (3,) Michael Apted (2,) Lesli Linka Glatter (2,) Phil Abraham (2,) Liev Schreiber (2,) Ed Bianchi (2,) Robert McLachlan (2,) Daisy von Scherler Mayer (2,) Stephen Williams (2,) Zetna Fuentes (2,) and 1 episode each for Daniel Minahan, Jeremy Podeswa, Greg Yaitanes, Tricia Brock, James Whitmore Jr., Carl Franklin, Denise Di Novi, Tarik Saleh, Nick Gomez, Dash Mihok, and Kyra Sedgwick
Genres: drama, crime

Starring
The Donovan Family
Liev Schreiber is Ray Donovan, the central character in the series, the planet the rest of the satellites revolve around. Set in L.A., Ray is a fixer to the stars and star makers. Kill your mistress by mistake on a coke binge? No problem. Macho star in love with a trannie? No worries. There is Ray the professional fixer that never fails. Then there is Ray the second oldest brother of a severely dysfunctional family, where he can never seem to do right or fix anything.

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Eddie Marsan as Terry Donovan

Eddie Marsan is Terry Donovan. Terry is the oldest brother. He manages Donovan’s Fite Club, the family boxing club that always loses money but is a perfect front for Ray’s money laundering (that Terry knows nothing about!) Terry, who was a strong contender to be a top boxer, was put into a mismatch by his father and got a brain injury that has given him palsy in one of his arms. Terry is a serious sort that acts as a mentor/trainer to talented young boxers. He has a pattern of attracting women who, for one reason or another, leave. He has a lot of pent-up anger about a lot of things.

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Dash Mihok as Brandon “Bunchy” Donovan

Dash Mihok is Brandon “Bunchy” Donovan. Bunchy was molested for years as a kid by a Catholic Priest and has real intimacy issues because of it. When the series opens, Bunchy is part of a class action suit against the Catholic Church for his childhood sexual abuse. Bunchy also boxed as a kid and may have been hit in the head too many times, leaving a cognitive impairment and some impulsivity issues. Bunchy sleeps at the gym. Terry looks after him.

test4Pooch Hall as Daryll Donovan

Pooch Hall is Daryll, the Donovan brother from another mother. When the other brothers’ mother was dying of cancer, their dad went and shacked up with Claudette (Sheryl Lee Ralph) and together they had Daryll. When Mickey, their father and the patriarch of the Donovan clan, goes to prison, Claudette hooks up with Alan (Paul Michael Glaser,) a big movie producer, and moves to Palm Springs. As the story opens, Daryll has never met any of his brothers.

test5Jon Voight as Mickey Donovan

Jon Voight is Mickey Donovan, the patriarch of the family. As the story opens, Mickey is in Walpole doing a 20-year sentence for a murder he didn’t commit. While Mickey has been in prison, Ray has stepped into the patriarch role. Everyone is worried about when Mickey gets out of prison because he is a force of mayhem and chaos, one who is always scheming but one whose schemes always get f*cked up. Unfortunately, those around him are the ones who suffer because of his f*ckups. Mickey is the charismatic flim-flam man who could talk a leopard out of its spots. Ray seems to be the only one who can see Mickey for who and what he is, even when others who have borne the brunt of his mistakes again and again seem to have amnesia. Mickey is a lovable, but toxic, rascal.

Emily Richardson is Bridget, the oldest sibling and only sister of the Donovan brothers. As the story opens, we learn that Bridget committed suicide back in high school. The facts surrounding it are blurry, but over the seasons the pieces are put together.

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l.-r. Bridget, Conor, and Abby Donovan

Ray’s Family
Paula Malcomson plays Abby, Ray’s attractive, feisty, haranguing wife. Ray is a serial cheater and Abby turns a blind eye to it as much as she can. Ray’s work is his life and he’s away from home more than most. He also has his own private apartment downtown that the family isn’t welcome to visit. Abby has a beautiful home in the burbs of L.A., but often she’s lonely and bored. She’s been with Ray since the beginning, when the two were growing up in Boston. They each know that theirs is a forever relationship. Abby’s a decent mother, but often it seems she is preoccupied by what she feels is Ray’s emotional abandonment and what she doesn’t have, which leaves the kids with their own form of double parental abandonment.

Kerris Dorsey plays Ray’s daughter, Bridget Donovan, named after her long-departed aunt. Bridget is a brainy high school student with the best grades. She has a guitar and writes and sings her own compositions. She’s searching for something to fill the empty spaces in her world and sometimes makes poor choices. She loves her parents but has an uncanny knack of seeing through them, which makes her a little jaded when it comes to them. Ironically, she loves her uncles and her grandpa unconditionally.

Devon Bagby plays Ray’s son, Conor Donovan. Conor is 14 when the story opens. Devon is the typical 14 year-old who likes to play video games. Conor also has a violent streak. He is never one to start a conflict, but you can be sure he will finish it when it comes to bullies. Conor feels like the most alone one in the series. Bridget tries to advise him, as do his uncles and grandpa from time to time, but he doesn’t really seem to connect well with anyone.

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Steven Bauer as Avi

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Kathering Moennig as Lena

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Elliott Gould as Ezra

Ray’s Work World
Katherine Moennig plays Lena, who is often in the office making her magic happen, but she sometimes gets her hands dirty out in the field. Lena is a lesbian who is unlucky in love as it often turns to domestic violence. Her loyalty to Ray is unwavering. He’s a demanding but fair boss who gave her a chance when things were at a low ebb for her.

Steven Bauer plays Avi. Avi used to be in the Israeli Special Forces and is the man you want on the case to adjust/convince/neutralize and clean, as needed, under Ray’s direction. Avi lives at home with his invalid mother. Like Lena, Avi’s loyalty to Ray is unwavering. I think Ray met Avi through his first boss in the series, Ezra.

Elliott Gould is Ezra Goldman. Ezra is a potent mogul in L.A. He first met Ray as a young thug when Ezra was on a movie shoot in Boston and saw Ray’s potential. He convinced Ray to move to L.A. and become one of his main fixers. Ray potentially could have other clients he’s a fixer for, but Ezra and his realm keeps him pretty busy.

Guest stars
There are a plethora of stars that traverse the seasons. Usually they last a season, sometimes they carry over into more than one, and sometimes they don’t last but a few episodes. Just a partial list of well-known names: Susan Sarandon, Hank Azaria, Katie Holmes, Ian McShane, Alan Alda, Sherilyn Fenn, Lisa Bonet, Tony Curran, Rosanna Arquette, James Woods, Ted Levine, C. Thomas Howell, Paul Michael Glaser, Brent Spiner, Jake Busey, Ann-Margret, Stacy Keach, Bronson Pinchot, Dabney Coleman, Richard Benjamin, Cheryl Ladd, Diane Ladd.

Aside from them are dozens upon dozens more in the cast.

Non-human Characters
ALCOHOL saturates pretty much every scene of Ray Donovan. Thankfully the kids don’t take after their family members. Ray especially drowns himself in it to forget things. Everybody but the kids are guzzling the stuff. Sometimes other mind altering substances like powders show up – especially with Mickey – but mostly it’s the sauce that is the preferred poison.

Sexual addiction is a condition that drives Ray. As the series goes on, Ray’s addiction to alcohol, pain, and sex thread their way through his world. Since Ray is the “strong one” that everyone turns to for this and that, nobody’s really interested in suggesting he seek treatment for any of them, as perhaps their fear is that he won’t be so good at what he does if he stops doing them.

The baseball bat that Ray keeps in his trunk. He doesn’t pull it out very often, but when he does, you know the beat-down about to go down.

test10Ray with his bat

Linked closely to the baseball bat is violence. Ray will use everything aside from violence to fix work issues, but if those fail, he is ready, willing, and able to use it. He never lays a hand on Abby or the kids, yet he’s gotten into more than one drunken family brawl with his brothers and dad. Ray himself sometimes takes a beating; yet he has a curious relationship with pain. His tolerance for pain is very high. Even if he’s hurting, he shrugs it off, and there is a sense that he may feel that he’s earned his punishments on earth for his many bad acts. This stoic acceptance of physical damage combined with emotional numbness are certainly tied to his Catholic upbringing.

The phone – Ray is always on the phone. You know how they do a body count on John Wick movies? Or how many times Al Swearengen said f*ck in Deadwood? Seriously, someone needs to do a phone count on Ray. In the car, at home, in meetings, anywhere and everywhere.

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Donovan’s Fite Club

The boxing club is the one place in the series that truly feels like home base. Lots of the show is filmed at Ray’s family home, but honestly, it never feels homey there. It feels like so many strangers co-exist in it but seldom connect with each other.

The ocean and some homes near the ocean are settings for memorable events.

Synopsis: After reading the above information, you can pretty much guess what happens in Ray Donovan. Problems come up at work and at home; Ray finds a way to fix work problems and a way to deepen family problems. Ray has been a very criminal-minded individual for a very long time; yet at the same time he is passionate about giving his wife and kids every material comfort, price is no object. He seems well-aware how he disappoints them emotionally yet clueless as how to fix it. A crucial piece that has only been touched on so far is Ray’s relationship with his father, Mickey. Where Ray is the expert fixer, Mickey is the expert breaker. Ray hates his father and wishes he would go away, but he always worms his way back into things. Most of the seasons, Ray has a new “boss” that is his primary client, and all of them are high power players in their fields. The first several seasons are set in Los Angeles, so there are lots of directors, producers, actors, movie sets, filming, screenwriters, drugs, kinkiness, etc. going on in the episodes. They say Las Vegas is sin city, but my bet is on L.A.
Impressions: I love the show because I love Liev Schreiber as Ray. He’s like an Iron Man Energizer Bunny that never wears down. I like how strong he is. What makes him such a compelling character to me is that, despite his giving his all, rarely does anyone acknowledge or appreciate that fact. In many ways, he’s an object that is being exploited for his workaholic ways and his chronic religion-cultivated toxic guilt. I love watching his face, his expressions, the way he moves, his navigating through all of it like a shark in the water. I also love how Ray’s relationship with each of his family members plays itself out through the seasons, especially the one with Mickey. Jon Voight is exceptionally good as Mickey. Wow! I also like how the creators of the show try to give all family members fresh story lines to work with.
Grade: 10
Etc.: from imdb: The necklace Ray Donovan wears carries a Saint Genesius medallion pendant. Saint Genesius is considered the patron saint of actors, lawyers, barristers, clowns, comedians, converts, dancers, people with epilepsy, musicians, printers, stenographers, and victims of torture.
Awards: 4 wins and 42 nominations