A midweek interlude, the instrumental ‘Flying’ is one of the handful of tracks credited to all four mop tops. It first appeared on the 1967 LP Magical Mystery Tour, full of mellotron, guitar, bass, maracas, drums and tape loops. Far out.
On this day (20 April) 50 years ago, Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell released ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’. The song had been held back by writers Ashford & Simpson from the likes of Dusty Springfield as the their strongest case for entry to Motown. They knew they had a gold-plated disc on their hands. And they were right; they secured a contract with the Detroit-baed label and the song’s success led to a string of more Ashford & Simpson-penned duets (including ‘Two Can Have A Party‘, ‘You’re All I Need to Get By’, ‘Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing’, and ‘Your Precious Love’). Bliss.
Good morning Monday people! I give you the trippy, playful sounds of the Stones’ album Their Satanic Majesties Request. Led Zeppelin’s very own John Paul Jones arranged the distinctive string section on standout track ‘She’s A Rainbow’, two years before he joined Led Zeppelin. This was May 1967 and The Rollings Stones were singing a love song for the Summer. Have a great week.
50 years ago last month, The Doors released their incredible debut album. The self-titled collection of songs was slow-burning its way through the early part of 1967 as fans of their hitherto blues rock were adjusting to a new fusion of rock, jazz, poetry and organ riffs. The hypnotic ‘Light My Fire’ would not emerge as their signature tune until Elektra Records and producer Paul Rothchild released a shorter single in April 1967. Inspired by some grade-A touch points (The Rolling Stones’ ‘Playing With Fire’, Fats Domino’s ‘Blueberry Hill’ and John Coltrane’s ‘Olé’), this descendent would climb even greater heights. Have a great week.
Never mind the debate about how much greater Sgt Pepper might have been had Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields had made the cut. What about the Small Faces’ concept long player Ogdens´ Nut Gone Flake, should Itchycoo Park and Tin Soldier have made the pressing? Without the hypothetical, the album sat on top of UK charts throughout the summer of 1968. No mean feat at that time. Look at Steve Marriott on lead vocals and guitar on ‘Tin Soldier’. It was the same confidence that led him to disband the following year to form Humble Pie with Peter Frampton and pals.
Pin Ups was the seventh studio album by Bowie that provided him with some respite during his prodigious, creative early 1970s run of albums. Reflecting how far he had stretched himself in such a short period time, his pin ups were mainly a handful of 1960s British invaders. However, Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd did not quite fit that bill. Bowie said that Barrett was the first man he saw wearing make-up on stage. On listening to Bowie’s cover, you can hear the respect that he and Mick Ronson pay to this psychedelic original.
This wekend, I was chatting to a pal about the best debut albums ever, as you do. The Doors eponymous debut would set the bar high. ‘Break on Through’, ‘Light My Fire’, ‘Alabama Song’ and ‘The End’… come on, there can’t be more. Oh but there is… ‘Crystal Ship’ was The Doors on full tilt hedonism, man. “The crystal ship is being filled. A thousand girls, a thousand thrills.” A midweek transportational vibe.
The summer seems to be taking hold in Blighty and “The light’s shining through on you”. Off the album Disraeli Gears, ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ was Cream’s first true single. The song made the band, the album and Eric Clapton fixtures in 1967, which is no mean feat at a time that must have been one of the highest tides in popular music. Have a great weekend.
And now for the real thing… Recorded by The Beach Boys for their 1967 album Wild Honey, ‘Darlin” is one of the classic pop anthems, no doubt. But every time I hear Carl Wilson’s vocals, I cannot help but smile and think it as the greatest tribute to a “drink and dial”. It’s all a bit too desperate. Have a great week.
While The Beatles were on their Magical Mystery Tour, Brian Auger was doing this. In 1967, the keyboard innovator was fusing jazz and rock to create a fabulous Hammond B3 sound. ‘Black Cat’ is a smokin’ hot psych funk mod belter. Oh yeh baby! And as for the video…
Link Wray’s experimentation sounds like child’s play by the time you get to 1967 and the psychedelic explorations of Pink Floyd. The Piper at the Gates of Dawn was the band’s only album with Syd Barrett. Half way through the album, the improvised ‘Interstellar Overdrive’ scrambles the brain of listeners for just under ten minutes. Syd Barrett must have been listening intently.
Last night, I went to see the new movie Northern Soul. It was a nostalgic evening of label, track and cameo spotting. (Lisa Stansfield, where have you been?) One label, Cameo-Parkway Records gets a special mention. I know the label because it pressed Yvonne Baker’s 1967 single ‘To Prove My Love Is True’. While Baker had had limited success as a soul singer with The Sensations, her voice would live on, because that single’s B-side ‘You Didn’t Say a Word’ would become a stomper on the floors up north. Keep the faith.
Before Isaac Hayes became the recording artist we know, he was one of the masterminds behind the southern soul music label Stax Records. In 1966, he hand-picked the band The Charmels, signed them to the label Volt Records, an R & B subsidiary of Stax Records, and oversaw their recording of ‘Please Uncle Sam’ and then ‘As Long As I’ve Got You’. 25 years later, the latter track’s opening would be given a new audience when selected by Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA as the lead sample in their own anthem ‘C.R.E.A.M.’ The chorus isn’t shoddy either.
‘Song to the Siren’ was written and performed by Timothy Charles Buckley III (father of Jeff Buckley) and first released on his 1970 album Starsailor. However, the song had already become notable for Buckley’s performance as Micky Dolenz’s guest on the final episode of The Monkees in 1968. The song had been written a year earlier 1967 and Buckley was still singing it as a folk song. By 1970 and the Starsailor release, progressive reverb-filled guitars had entered stage left. But the song is probably better known nowadays for Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie’s 1983 cover in collaboration with This Mortal Coil. Take your choice – a great song is a great song.