Thursday, November 28, 2019

THE ISLEY BROTHERS - "TELL ME WHEN YOU NEED ME AGAIN"

Tell Me When You Need Me Again (Parts 1 and 2) (Rudolph Isley - O'Kelly Isley - Ernie Isley  - Marvin Isley - Christopher Jasper) - 5:03  rating: ***** stars


Flashbook time - Brussels American High School class of '77 ...  

This was one of those albums that represent that special time in my life.  Yeah, most of my class was listening to Fleetwood Mac, or Journey (okay Mark Funk was listening to Robin Trower and all sorts of oddball sounds), but The Isley were the band that caught my ear.  And 'Tell Me When You Need Me Again' was amongst the cream of the Isleys' crop.  

The entire "Go For Your Guns" album was magical (I can't even begin to count the number of times I played it), but 'Tell Me When You Need It Again' managed to blend the very best of soul and hard rock into a five minute package.  Reflecting one of Ron Isley's most impressive vocals, Marvin Isley's fattttttt slap bass, Christopher Jasper's burping moog, Ernie Isley's Hendrix-inspired guitar, and a refrain as addictive as any Class 1 drug ...  what wasn't their to love about this one?

ANd if you haven't heard this track, here's a link to a YouTube clip: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSPwhpDqF3k&list=OLAK5uy_mvrBXNfhM_raXOkO2tbzeTDgOlNLln67k&index=3

Sunday, November 3, 2019

HOLLIES - "GIVE ME TIME"

Give Me Time (Allan Clarke - Terry Sylvester) - 3:06  rating: ***** stars


In December 2019 I decided I would update all my BadCatRecords sales listings to include LP cover photos.  When I originally put my record collection online, I did it quickly, only putting up photos for the really expensive items. Anyhow, a the time I thought it might take me six months to finish the project.  Here I am a year later and I've done "A" through most of "H" and "N" through "S".  

While adding "H" entries I discovered that I owned a ton of albums by The Hollies.  While adding the LP photos I started listening to some Hollies tunes and rediscovered what a great band these guys were.


Off of their 1975 "Another Night" album, 'Give Me Time' simply captured that special Hollies sound.  Allan Clarke's instantly recognizable voice; those to-die-for-harmonies, coupled with a wonderful "Irish bar" melody made it a track that could have been a massive radio hit had anyone at the label, or on radio been paying attention.  And that damn hook sets it's hooks in your head and won't let go ...  "give me time, give me, give me time ..."


And for anyone who wants to check it out themselves: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxIhQWbF49Y


Sunday, October 27, 2019

CHRIS HILLMAN - "CLEAR SAILING"

Clear Sailin' (Chris Hillman - Richard Marx - Rick Roberts) - 4:31  rating: ***** stars




Chris Hillman's always struck me as having been The Byrd's forgotten secret ingredient. That didn't do him much good surrounded by the likes of Gene Clark, David Crosby, Roger McGuinn, and Gram Parsons, but at least some of us noticed his talents.  

His solo work's uniformly good, but to my ears mid-'70s country-rock quickly starts to suffer from a sounds-the-same slickness.  That's certainly the case with much of 1977's "Clear Sailin'". Luckily, the title track is one of the exceptions.  Yeah, your life may not need another mid-tempo ballad, but this one had a beautiful melody and the lyrics were actually rather thought provoking.   Nice guitar solo from John Brennan.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

HARPER'S BIZARRE - "WITCHI TAI TO"

"Witchi Tai To" (Jim Pepper) - 2;55


While in college I heard this on some obscure radio station, but didn't hear who was performing it. Years later I heard a version of it on a Brewer and Shipley album that I bought at a yard sale. That let me track it back to the late Jim Pepper's original version, which in turn, allowed me to hear versions by Everything Is Everything and finally the "commercialized" Harpers Bizarre cover which was the one I'd originally heard.



The late Pepper was best known as a jazz musician. As a sax player he worked with an impressive array of jazz artists including Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry. A member of the Kaw and Cree tribes, in the late-'60s Pepper began mixing Native American music and jazz. Having supposedly learned the song from his grandfather, "Witchi Tai To" was a nice example of the jazz and Indian influences hybrid.


The Harper's Bizarre version didn't include the extended Pepper sax solo, but featured a young Ry Cooder on lead guitar and is simply mesmerizing ... Yeah, it's little more than an extended Indian chant, but it's one of those efforts that's get under your skin and simply won't leave.


YouTube has a clip o the song at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1L9RPEM634

HIGH MOUNTAIN HOEDOWN - "NELLIE"

Nellie (Jerry Williams)  rating: **** stars

Having stumbled across an interesting Jerry Lynn Williams solo album, I poked around and discovered his High Mountain Hoedown catalog.   Wish I knew more about the outfit.   What little biographical information I can find comes from a December 2006 article Nick Joe Patoski wrote for the Texas Monthly.   

"[Williams] tenure with Little Richard lasted nine months, and shortly after, he returned to Fort Worth, where he made it through a semester at Arlington Heights High School before snagging regular gigs at the Bayou Club and the Silver Helmet Club in Dallas, which was owned by several Dallas Cowboys players. “I was doing Otis Redding stuff three nights a week,” he remembered, “and within two weeks I had so many people in there that the fire marshal started showing up.” Then, in the late sixties, Williams discovered orange sunshine, tie-dye shirts, and the hippie lifestyle, so he formed a three-piece psychedelic blues outfit called High Mountain and went to L.A. to score a record deal with the ATCO label. It became another learning experience. The resulting album, High Mountain Hoedown, went nowhere, and the musicians got to split a paltry $10,000."


You can read the full article at:  http://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/he-writes-the-songs/ 


Produced by Charles Greene (best known for his work with The Buffalo Springfield), 1970's "High Mountain Hoedown" was one of those albums that deserved a fate better than the total obscurity it has fallen into.  While there's little biographical information on the the band, the line-up apparently featured Williams with support from drummer Rex Ludwick (who went on to support Willie Nelson) and bassist Jerry McDonald.  Williams was credited with most of the seven original tunes.  McDonald wrote the county-ish 'I'll finish My Song'.  Musically the set was quite varied, which might be one of the reasons the album didn't do very well.  The collection found the trio taking stabs at country ('I'll Finish My Song'), Poco-styled country rock ('Nellie'), and conventional hard rock ('Voodoo Woman'), Round it out with a pair of Chuck Berry tunes ('Nadine' and 'Brown Eyed Handsome Man').  Mind you, it wasn't a lost classic, but it's still a fun set to spin.  Shame Williams didn't turn in a couple of additional rock-oriented performances.  




As good as the first two tunes on 1970's "High Mountain Hoedown" were, 'Nellie' was even better.  To my ears, this was the kind of country-rock tune that nobody seems to write anymore.  The track had everything you'd expect from a major radio hit - killer melody; sweet vocals; tight drumming; and a refrain that simply wouldn't leave your head.   This one would have sounded dandy on a Poco albumm. 

Friday, October 18, 2019

STEELY DAN - "HOME AT LAST"

Home At Last (Donald Fagen - Walter Becker) - 5:35  rating: **** stars



The only band I've seen a dozen times, I'm surprised I haven't listed a Steely Dan track up to this point.

"Aja" came out when I was freshman in college.  Rob, my first roommate, bought a copy of the album and played it day after day after day ...  


I'll readily admit to initially finding the jazzy grooves less than overwhelming, but in time I fell under the Steely Dan spell and perhaps because I was living hundreds of miles away from my family, this bluesy ballad become one of my favorite performances.  


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NW59IsQkGmA&list=OLAK5uy_k1bmKyX3ZwpFftKrooQJyw9CN1l3H6S4c

Sunday, October 13, 2019

HEARTS OF SOUL - "IF I COULD GIVE YOU THE WORLD"

If I Could Give You the World (Carl Cutler - John Myers - Lyndsey Griffin - Floyd Lawson) - 3:10  rating: **** stars



Anyone who has poked around the BadCatRecords website will realize I'm a big Motown fan.  That said, Hearts of Stone were one of those groups I knew existed, but I had never stumbled across any of their releases.   Imagine my heart of joy when I scored a copy of their obscure 1970 album.

Hearts of Soul trace their roots back to the early 1950s when teenager John Myers and his brothers formed The Echoes. Still in high school, by 1955 The Echoes were veterans of the touring circuit, as well as having recorded some unreleased material and done backing vocals for a number of artists.   Their manager Fred Logan arranged for an audition with Atlantic Records, but they ended up signed to Savoy Records, which promptly insisted on renaming the group The 5 Pennies (a curious choice given there were six members).   With various line-up changes, Myers and The 5 Pennies also recorded material as The Chimes,  and The 4 Jokers.


By the mid-'60s Myers was living in Tampa, Florida where he formed The Larks.  The original line-up featured Myers, Clemon Davis (bass), Lindsey Griffin (tenor and baritone), Rudolph Hill (tenor), lead singer Floyd Lawson.  By 1966 the group was known as The 4 Pennies, featuring lead tenor Carl Cutler. 


By 1970 they were performing as Hearts of Stone, which led to a recording contract with Motown's V.I.P. subsidiary.  Teamed with producer/arranger/writer Henry Cosby, all hyperbole aside,1970's "Stop the World - We Wanna Get On" stands as one of the most overlooked albums on the Motown imprint.  Featuring a mixture of group originals (several co-written by Cosby) and an eclectic mix of covers, these guys were simply stunning.  Lawson may have been the lead singer, but the other three members were equally talented and their group harmonies were equally impressive.  


I'll readily admit it didn't have that instantly identifiable Motown sound, but the breezy, mid-tempo 'If I Could Give You the World' was still a wonderful performance.   More shag, than Motown, it isn't hard to picture yourself dancing to this one on a summer evening at a beach.  Besides, how many Motown acts can you think of who wrote their own material?  How many wrote material as good as this one?


Here's a link to a YouTube clip of the song:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwzacpePlRI