Month: March 2018

The Prisoners – Hurricane: The Best of the Prisoners

ARTIST: The Prisoners                 R-2612519-1398136963-2932.jpeg

TITLE:  Hurricane: The Best of the Prisoners

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Hurricane, There’s a Time, Whenever I’m Gone, Shine on Me

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Oh, no.

LINEUP: Graham Day, James Taylor, Allan Crockford, Johnny Symons

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: UK retro-garage / mod band didn’t have much success but had influence and a true retro sound.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Jam had mined a neo-mod sound when they first arrived on the scene, and the Prisoners followed a few years later, planting themselves firmly in the 60’s garage-mod scene with the use of a Vox Continental and a retro feel to their originals.

They didn’t find a lot of success in the record shops, but they were leaders of a scene that influenced quite a few later bands, due to their sharp sounds, organ work, and melodies.

The Prisoners weren’t as mannered or pretentious as some of the US revivalists, and this sincerity helps their records.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They released two of their records on their own label, and they weren’t happy with the results of their other two albums

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: There’s a version not streaming with four extra tracks. 

GRADE: B+: This collection has made me want to explore their entire catalog in full. So those reviews will happen in due course.

 

Little Richard – The Little Richard Collection 1951-1962

ARTIST: Little Richard

TITLE:  The Little Richard Collection 1951-1962 Little Richard collection

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Top 10: Tutti Frutti (#17 US, #2 R&B, #29 UK), Long Tall Sally (#6 US, #1 R&B, #3 UK), Slippin’ and Slidin’ (#33 US, #2 R&B), Rip It Up (#17 US, #1 R&B, #30 UK), Reddy Teddy (#44 US, #8 R&B), Heeby-Jeebies (#7 R&B), She’s Got It (#9 R&B, #15 UK), The Girl Can’t Help It (#49 US, #7 R&B, #9 UK), Lucille (#21 US, #1 R&B, #10 UK), Send Me Some Lovin’ (#54 US, #3 R&B), Jenny, Jenny (#10 US, #2 R&B, #11 UK), Miss Ann (#56 US, #6 R&B), Keep A-Knockin (#8 US, #2 R&B), Good Golly Miss Molly (#10 US, #4 R&B, #8 UK), Baby Face (#41 US, #12 R&B, #2 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Hey Hey Hey, Kansas City, Ooh! My Soul, True Fine Mama

LINEUP: Little Richard and a lot of session players

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The singles from Little Richard’s prime period, starting with his first sides on RCA, going through to his ‘comeback’ in 1963.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Yeah, yeah, Elvis, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis. Sure, they’re influiential. But Little Richard? My goodness me. Take a look at the list up there in singles, and other songs you know, and think about how many artists covered them. He was a wild child on stage and in the studio, and was a consummate performer.

This collection nabs all the Little Richard most everyone needs, and more. It’s got some of his religious singles, and some of the numbers he did early in his career and as a singer with some bands (those are bit more restrained). But the meat of the package are those wonderful sides he cut for Specialty in just three years – enough rock and roll to fuel bands evermore.

Yeah, you gotta have this. It’s hot, steamy, sexual, and true rock-and-roll.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: In 1962, he toured Europe with Sam Cooke. That’s when he met the Beatles and advised them on how to do his songs.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No. 

GRADE: A+: Hey Hey Hey Hey!

The Impressions – Their Complete Vee-Jay Recordings

ARTIST: The Impressions          impressions vj

TITLE:  Their Complete Vee-Jay Recordings

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Charting: For Your Precious Love (#11, #3 R&B), Come Back My Love (#29 R&B)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not really, no

LINEUP: Jerry Butler, Curtis Mayfield, Sam Gooden, Richard Brooks, Arthur Brooks

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Early work from the long-standing soul vocal group – this features original lead singer Jerry Butler and focuses mostly on their ballad work.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: “For Your Precious Love” was one of the classics in the doo-wop era, and rightfully it propelled the Impressions and Jerry Butler’s career. It’s sublime and elegant, and doesn’t focus on many tropes that vocal groups relied on in that era.

Still, follow-up records didn’t do much, and Butler got an offer to split, so he did. Curtis Mayfield helped Butler with his solo career, made some bank, and got the Impressions back on track with his vision of 60’s soul.

Had the Impressions not been such an important group, I probably would have made this a quick hitter. Nothing else really stands out and they do get formulaic after a while, though Mayfield’s guitar work does stand out a bit. For a non doo-wop junkie, you can pass on most.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They were originally The Roosters.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No. 

GRADE: C: They really get formulaic and stuck in the sleepy ballad mode for a long time. I exiled most of this.

Frank Zappa – We’re Only in It for the Money

ARTIST: Frank Zappa / The Mothers of Invention          220px-Zappamoney1

TITLE:  We’re Only in It for the Money

YEAR RELEASED: 1966

CHART ACTION: #30 US, #31 UK

SINGLES: Lonely Little Girl

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Let’s Make the Water Turn Black, Take Off Your Clothes When You Dance, What’s the Ugliest Part of Your Body?

LINEUP: Frank Zappa, Jimmy Carl Black, Roy Estrada, Billy Mundi, Don Preston, Bunk Gardner, Ian Underwood, Motorhead Sherwood. Eric Clapton speaks a couple of sentences. No, really, he does.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A tour-de-force put down of the hippie culture from a cynical social commentator. The music is the first hint of Zappa’s advanced sense of composition.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Musically, this is an incredible record – especially given the limited technology in 1968. The pastiches of voices, sounds, and instruments, along with the sophisticated arrangements of tracks like “Mom & Dad”, show Zappa as an innovator on par with the Beatles and Brian Wilson.260px-Zappamoney2

The tracks take direct aim at the hippie and liberal culture of the 60’s, and in retrospect most of it is spot on criticism of the movement. It was one of the first albums that featured curse words in the lyrics and spoken word parts, and Verve Records was not having it. They asked Frank to change some lyrics, and then censored the album after it was delivered (and even more on subsequent pressings). This enraged Zappa, and he never let a company do that again. Thankfully, you can find the uncensored versions out there now.

There are a few really weird noise tracks using the studio as an abstract art canvas. This was probably off-putting to very casual fans, but by now most people who bought the record expected weirdness like “The Chrome Plated Megaphone of Destiny”

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Zappa and his band were filming a movie (not finished until 1987) and worked on recordings for an large-scale project that spun off four albums.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No. 

GRADE: A+: It’s a shame that Verve decided to censor this in 1968 – even then it was known as a master work of satire.

The Rolling Stones – Aftermath

ARTIST: The Rolling Stones                           220px-RSAftermathUK

TITLE:  Aftermath

YEAR RELEASED: 1966

CHART ACTION: #2 US, #1 UK

SINGLES: Paint It Black (#1 US, #1 UK) (US Version), Mother’s Little Helper (#24 US) (UK Version), Lady Jane (#24 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Under My Thumb, Stupid Girl

LINEUP: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts with Jack Nitzsche and Ian Steart

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: No longer a strict blues band, and with no covers, the Stones explore some musical territory, but its marred with misogyny.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Brian Jones comes to fore in many tracks here (“Mother’s Little Helper”, “Paint It Black”, “Lady Jane”, “Under My Thumb”, playing many instruments that added a great color to the Stones tracks. (The marimba on “Under My Thumb” is one of the hookiest hooks, ever). 220px-Aftermath.rollingstones.usalbum.cover

Recording with a longer lead time than normal, and away from the UK, the Stones had time to work out the arrangements in the studio and perfect them. It’s quite noticeable and a great leap forward. Many of the album tracks are rooted in the blues – so they didn’t abandon the blues entirely. However, it’s not the predominant musical idiom.

Of course, there are different US and UK versions. The US version cuts four songs and adds “Paint It Black”, saving the fantastic “Mother’s Little Helper” for later use. They didn’t cut the 10 minute jam “Goin’ Home”, unfortunately.

Listening to this now, “Under My Thumb” and “Stupid Girl” makes one cringe with the misogyny. It gives one pause now.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: It’s unfortunate “Stupid Girl” is lyrically cringy, since that’s one of the best tracks musically. Also, the original  version of the single “Paint It Black” added a comma after “IT”

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No. 

GRADE: A-: A downgrade for the lyrics, and for why they didn’t cut “Goin’ Home” and add “Paint It Black” in the UK, and a couple other tracks in the US.

Duane Eddy – Have ‘Twangy’ Guitar Will Travel

ARTIST: Duane Eddy                        220px-Have_'Twangy'_Guitar_Will_Travel

TITLE:  Have ‘Twangy’ Guitar Will Travel

YEAR RELEASED: 1958

CHART ACTION: #5 US, #6 UK

SINGLES: Moovin’ N’ Groovin’ (#72 US), Rebel Rouser (#6 US, #19 UK), Ramrod (#27 US), Cannonball (#15 US, #22 UK), The Lonely One (#23 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Nah

LINEUP: Duane Eddy, Al Casey, Steve Douglas, Corki O’Dell, Buddy Wheeler, Bob Taylor, Mike Bermani, other session musicians

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A whole album (career even) made from a cool guitar sound. It gets real old real quick.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: You know “Rebel Rouser” even if you don’t know the name. The low, echoey, twangy guitar, backed by a band with a prominent saxophone. It’s iconic.

Yet, over an entire album? Well, “Cannonball” and “Ramrod” are pretty good 50’s rock numbers, and the rest sound like generic movie instrumentals that they use before the radio comes in with ‘BREAKING NEWS”.

Duane Eddy’s guitar sound got him a long career, and he can play. It’s just that over an album, it’s not sustainable.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: There’s not a good, solid collection of his work on Jamie that I trust. Many could be re-recordings. Pick and choose from his records (This is the only one I’m going to review). “Peter Gunn”, from his second, is probably his best track.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, B-sides. 

GRADE: C: A good overview of his Jamie material would be nice. If it’s there I didn’t find it.

Elvis Presley – Command Performances: The Essential 60s Masters II

ARTIST: Elvis Presley              Commandperformancesset

TITLE:  Command Performances: The Essentials 60’s Masters II

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Top 40: Flaming Star (#14), Can’t Help Falling in Love (#2), Rock-a-Hula Baby (#23), Follow That Dream (#15), King of the Whole Wild World (#30), Return to Sender (#2, #5 R&B), One Broken Heart for Sale (#11, #21 R&B), Bossa Nova Baby (#8, #20 R&B), Kissin’ Cousins (#12), Do the Clam (#21), Puppet on a String (#14), Frankie & Johnny (#25), Spinout (#40), Clean Up Your Own Backyard (#35)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Long Legged Girl (with the Short Dress On), A Little Less Conversation

LINEUP: Elvis with beaucoups session players

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A follow up to the comprehensive 60s Masters collection, this focuses on the ‘good’ songs from his movies.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: If you ever want a document of the decline and fall (and slight rise) of Elvis, this is for you.

Most people know that as the 60’s moved on, Elvis was mostly a movie star that made soundtrack albums. And those soundtrack albums were much like the movies – slapped together and featuring a disinterested Elvis.

It wasn’t until the NBC Special in 1968 that he snapped out of his torpor, and his work with songwriters Mac Davis and Billy Strange were better than the glop he sang on most of his album soundtracks.

This is good for history, as most of the songs you really know and want you can find elsewhere.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: For some reason this was deleted from streaming, but each and every movie soundtrack is out there, in case you wanted to hear some of the others, like “(There’s) No Room to Rumba in a Sports Car”

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: C: Remember, these are the ‘good’ songs from his movies

Bill Lloyd – Feeling the Elephant

ARTIST: Bill Lloyd

TITLE:  Feeling the Elephant cover_elephant

YEAR RELEASED: 1987

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Er…no

LINEUP: Bill Lloyd with some help from David Russell, Scott Sullivan, Marc Owens, Jim Hodgekins, and Kim Richey

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A set of power-pop demos recorded over a four year period is a hidden gem for a singer-songwriter who was about to break big in country.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: In a few months after this was released, Bill Lloyd would become famous in the country music as part of Foster & Lloyd, but these songs were firmly in power-pop territory, and they hold up a lot better than that country duo’s tracks.

Most of these tracks are self-recorded as a one-man band, and date from a four year period. Yet they sound cohesive, tight, and very much like a self-contained album project.

Lloyd’s sense of melodies and arrangement are demonstrated on each track, and he’s well known as a rock and country guitarist and that’s also in evidence here. The only drawback is some of the production – very 80’s sounding at times. Still, it’s a must for power-pop lovers.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: He’s an in-demand session guy and also tours as a sideman besides his solo work.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: A: It’s surprising how good this is. A very much hidden power-pop gem.

BB King – King of the Blues

ARTIST: BB King                                       MI0003917886

TITLE:  King of the Blues

YEAR RELEASED: 1960

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Partin’ Time (#8 R&B), Got a Right to Love My Baby (#8 R&B)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I’m King, Good Man Gone Bad

LINEUP: BB King and session players

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: More sides from what seemed like an inexhaustible supply of blues songs from BB King.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: This is more ‘big band’ type blues tracks from King, as he’s playing and singing before a combo with horns. This time, though, King’s songs and his guitar playing carries the band, and it doesn’t sound as dated as before.

There were two top 10 R&B tracks, and other sides that demonstrate the versatility and virtuosity of King during this period. There are a couple of skippable songs, but most are right in the blues pocket.

BB King’s deep cuts were just as fine as some of his hits (“I’m the King” for one), and each of these early albums have some gems that should be heard more often.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: These sessions were recorded over time in the 1958-60 era.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: B+: A good blues album from a great bluesman.

Rock City – Rock City

ARTIST: Rock City            rock city

TITLE:  Rock City

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: An early version of the Big Star songs My Life Is Right, Try Again, and Feel

LINEUP: Chris Bell, Terry Manning, Jody Stephens, Tom Eubanks. Alex Chilton’s on a track.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Early recordings from Chris Bell and his studio friends, before he formed Big Star. There’s quite a bit here worth listening to.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The first track on this collection from Chris Bell’s first band is a lost power-pop classic: “Think It’s Time to Say Goodbye”. Written by Thomas Dean Eubanks (a collaborator that was in the Memphis and was the bassist here), the track is just a magical mix of rock and pop that was a bit before (or after) its time.

The magic found in Big Star was present in some of the tracks, as three of these songs were soon to be on Big Star’s first album. Yet, some of the songs aren’t quite that good (the ballads, mostly, are the ones that fall short) and some really ape the Beatles a bit too much.

Rock City’s material wasn’t released during its time, as soon Alex Chilton would be asked to join and the formation of Big Star was nigh. This group had its charm, with Bell’s voice and production and Eubanks’ songs.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Two of the tracks come from a solo single by Eubanks, and the last is credited to Icewater, a different name for basically the same bunch.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: B+: Sometimes these archival releases aren’t that great, but this one is and it could have been released as an album in 1970 or 1971 and not be embarrassing at all.