Posts Tagged: "Re-Reviewed"

UNCLE BRUCE’S BEST OF 2014: Mondo Phono: The Masked Marauders (1969)

Dave Clarke - - Music & Food
The London Yodeller

DAVE CLARKEmaskedThe Masked Marauders
by the Masked Marauders
Deity Records (1969)

With the prevalence of so called ‘super groups’ in the late 1960′s, as a hoax Rolling Stone magazine decided to review the super group album to end all super group LPs – the totally fictitious Masked Marauders album. The album saw Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Mick Jagger, and John Lennon getting together to record some cover tunes and some originals. Even though there were some pretty broad hints that it was a bogus review (the album was supposedly recorded on the shores of Hudson’s Bay in total secrecy and the reviewer went under the name T.M. Christian, as in ‘The Magic Christian’, really Rolling Stone writer Greil Marcus), the magazine was swamped with inquiries about where the general public could get this amazing LP. Continue Reading

Re-Reviewed: J. Geils Band, Atlantic (1970)

Dave Clarke - - Music & Food
The London Yodeller

J_Geils_Band_1973Before they were spoiled by the mega success of their albums Love Stinks and Freeze Frame, the J. Geils Band, had already put out ten albums worth of fantastic R&B and blues. All six members of the band were fine musicians including the charismatic frontman, vocalist Peter Wolf, great blues guitarists J. Geils and the frantic harmonica work of Magic Dick.

This self-titled debut set the template, with a bunch of rockin’ originals penned by Geils, Wolf and keyboard player Seth Justman, including the cool instrumental, Ice Breaker, the R&B sounds of What’s Your Hurry? and the Stones-ish ballad On Borrowed Time. They also showed exquisite taste in their choice of covers, putting their spin on John Lee Hooker’s Serve You Right to Suffer, Otis Rush’s Homework and Walter Horton’s Pack Fair and Square, with a touch of rockabilly echo.

They cover Motown with a rousing version of The Contour’s First I Look at the Purse which became a live concert favourite, and pull out all the stops on Albert Collin’s rockin’ instrumental Sno Cone.

After maintaining the same lineup for a dozen plus years, and after the success of the single Centerfold (six weeks in the number one spot on Billboard’s top 100), Wolf left for an unsuccessful solo career. The band soldiered on with Seth Justman taking over the vocal spot, and they finally disbanded in 1985. The band would reunite sporadically, the most nefarious time in 2012 without J. Geils, leading to a lawsuit.

Re-Reviewed: Johnny Rivers, Realization, Imperial (1968)

Dave Clarke - - Music & Food
The London Yodeller

coversWhy Johnny Rivers doesn’t have revered cult status like Lee Hazlewood, is beyond me. Starting his career in the mid 50′s and peaking in the mid 60′s with a slew of hits and live albums, that made the Whiskey a Go Go nightclub famous, he is a supreme interpreter of songs, many of his covers becoming the hit versions, as in the case of Memphis, Mountain of Love, Seventh Son, and perhaps the second best version of Tracks of my Tears. He has a unique, soulful voice that sometimes reveals his Louisiana roots and is a talented songwriter, co writing the classic, Poor Side of Town, his only number one record and a personal favourite of mine.

Realization from 1968, with its psychedelic album cover and Johnny’s new long hair and peace symbol look, saw him experimenting with more introspective songs as well as a collaborating with James Hendricks, songwriter and former member of the Mugwumps – a band that also included Denny Doherty and Cass Elliott, and John Sebastian and Zal Yanovsky before they would find fame in the Mamas and the Papas and the Lovin’ Spoonful.

The album opens with an eerie cover of the classic, Hey Joe, followed by Look to Your Soul written by Mr. Hendricks, a great ballad with a classic late 60′s arrangement. Next, The Way We Live, a Rivers’ original, and though it’s anti-war theme seems a bit dated Rivers delivers a great vocal.

Summer Rain another Hendricks tune was the big hit single from the album, replete with storm sound effects and Beatles’ song name-dropping. He finishes the side going baroque with a cover of Procol Harum’s Whiter Shade of Pale.

Side two opens with the Oscar Brown Jr. tune, Brother Where Are You?” which is soulful with great backing vocals. Next up is my fave on the album, a Rivers/Hendricks tune, Something Strange, another haunting ballad with a chill-inducing orchestral arrangement.

The album loses momentum with the next two tracks, the weakest on the LP – a cover of Scott “San Francisco” McKenzie’s What’s the Difference? and another Rivers’ original, Going Back to Big Sur with sadly dated hippie lyrics.

The album finishes with a fine cover of Dylan’s Positively 4th Street, with a fine vocal performance and some tasty dobro guitar. Rivers would continue to have hits like Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu in 1972 and Slow Dancing in 1977.

Re-Reviewed: Mink Deville, Return to Magenta, Capitol (1978)

Dave Clarke - - Music & Food
The London Yodeller

Mink DeVille Return To MagentaThough Mink Deville was one of the early house bands at CBGB’s during the rise of the New York City punk scene, their sound owed more to the Brill Building conclave of 60′s songwriters and the Latin Soul sound of the Drifters and Ben E King.

Return to Magenta their second LP saw the return of producer of Phil Spector cohort, Jack Nitzsche, twiddling the recording studio knobs as well as ace sax player and Spector session guy, Steve Douglas.

The album opens with Guardian Angel a fantastic opener very much in the Drifters style in sound and lyrics. Next the band rocks it up on Soul Twist. A Train Lady, a duet with songwriter David Forman has a sound that illustrates why Bruce Springsteen is such a fan of this band. Rolene, another rocker sees Willie Deville taking another tune from the extensive catalogue of songs written by Moon Martin. They recorded Martin’s Cadillac Walk on their debut, Cabretta. In this time period, it seemed every album presented a new take on reggae music, and the Deville guys take their turn with Desperate Days, which mixes its ska sound with good old New York soul.

Side Two’s opener Just Your Friend gets the full Phil Spector Wall of Sound treatment with a lush string arrangement, some out of tune harmonica and complementary castanets. Next up, Steady Drivin’ Man is a blues number with a beat to make Bo Diddley proud. On Easy Slider, the band takes a trip to New Orleans for some Crescent City soul, featuring Dr. John on piano for an extra note of authenticity.

The album heads to the home stretch with my favourite track, I Broke that Promise, a heartbreaking ballad bringing us right back into The Drifters’ Spanish Harlem territory. Confidence to Kill is a two minute throwaway track.

Return to Magenta sports liner notes by the great Doc Pomus, songwriter of many of the classics that inspired the album and a personal hero of vocalist Willie Deville, and who would join Willie to co-write many of the tracks on this album’s follow up, Le Chat Bleu.

Re-Reviewed: Elvis Costello, Get Happy, F-Beat 1980

Dave Clarke - - Music & Food
The London Yodeller

imageWhether it was to make amends for a rather racist flippant remark he made about Ray Charles to piss off Stephen Stills, or not, Get Happy, Elvis Costello’s fourth album sports a definite soul, R&B influence.

The album gives a pretty big bang for the buck, with the inspired Costello forcing producer Nick Lowe to cram 20 tracks onto one record. The cover even has a note from Lowe explaining that no fidelity was destroyed by the number of tracks. More killer than filler, the songs wear their influences well, such as the Stax sound (The Imposter, and Clowntime Is Over) Sam & Dave (who Costello covers with a fine version of I Can’t Stand Up for Falling Down,) Booker T. & the M.G.s (Temptation) and Isaac Hayes (I Stand Accused). Motown gets a nod on Love For Tender, Man Called Uncle, and High Fidelity – The Four Tops by way of The Supremes.

You can hear the influence of Elvis’ buddy, Burt Bacharach, on the ballads B-Movie, Riot Act and Motel Matches. With the classic line: “You threw away our love like motel matches”, Costello’s song writing is in top form.

More strong tracks include Opportunity with a Chicago soul sound, the smooth soul sound of Secondary Modern and King Horse with a New York sound ala The Drifters.

Mention should be made of the fine support Costello receives from his backing band, The Attractions – especially the manic organ work of Steve Nieve, with nice touches like the calliope sound on Clowntime is Over.

As much as I often site This Year’s Model as my favourite Elvis Costello, Get Happy runs a close second.

Re-Reviewed:

Dave Clarke - - Music & Food
The London Yodeller

rockon_sp4354Ah, the early 70′s – perhaps the only time the cream of the British Folk Scene could go to a record label and suggest that they do an album of 1950′s rock n roll covers and have the label go, ‘Right on’, or ‘Rock On,’ as it were, as various members of Fairport Convention, Fotheringay and Steeleye Span did exactly that. Rock On opens with Richard Thompson doing his best Jerry Lee Lewis on Crazy Arms – not a terrible version but to ears accustomed to these voices in a different vocal setting, it’s kind of like hearing the Beach Boys doing a hip hop album. Sandy Denny had one of the most beautiful voices and she’s here grabbing the lead on all three Buddy Holly covers, That’ll be the Day (not too well), Love’s Made a Fool of You (a bit better with a nice C&W feel), and Learning the Game (okay but not the big closer to the album I was hoping for). Linda Peters, soon to change her last name to Thompson (becoming Richard’s wife and in a brilliant bit of gene mixing the mother of Teddy Thompson) fares better on a spirited version of Little Eva’s Locomotion and joins Sandy Denny for some Everly-style harmonies on When Will I Be Loved.

Richard Thompson returns with Dion’s My Girl The Month of May. Realizing no one could do justice to Dion’s famous vocal pyrotechnics, Thompson shrewdly chose an obscure and atypical 1966 track that could almost pass as a Fairport Convention tune.

Two Chuck Berry tunes were covered. Ashley Hutchings, who spent time in both Fairport and Steeleye Span, talks his way through Nadine, (pretty much a throwaway track) and Richard Thompson does a fine job on Sweet Little Rock n Roller (though I could do without the obvious canned audience screaming).

There’s a New Orleans-style version of Don’t Be Cruel with Fotheringay’s Trevor Lucas on lead and Sandy Denny returns one more time for lead vocals on Johnny Otis’ Willie and the Hand Jive; both featuring the Dundee Horns, who would eventually become the Average White Band.

I’m quite sure all involved had a fine time revisiting the songs of their youth, but overall the album is only an interesting novelty.

Re-Reviewed: Carlene Carter, Blue Nun 1981 (F Beat)

Dave Clarke - - Music & Food
The London Yodeller

Carlene-Carter-Blue-Nun-445773The daughter of country and western royalty, her father is Carl Smith and mother June Carter Cash, Blue Nun is the second of two LPs produced by then-husband rock legend Nick Lowe. This and its predecessor marked a definite movement away from the country music of her roots and into the rock market. The album starts off well with Love is a Four Letter Verb. Penned by Carlene but with definite Nick Lowe influences especially with some distinctive guitar flourishes. There are two 60′s girl group sound updates with That Boy and Think Dirty, both a pleasant listen but not a totally successful homage. There are a couple of cover tunes, 300 Pounds of Hungry, a song by obscure swamp rocker Donnie Fritts and Born to Move from CCR’s Pendulum album. On Born to Move Carlene is joined by one of the best voices in rock, Paul Carrack, who also duets with her on Do Me Lover, one of the strongest tracks on the album. Other fine tracks include the Carter/Lowe penned Tougher Love an up-tempo soul number and Billy, a fine ballad written by Carter and Carrack. Unfortunately not all tracks are winners. I found Rockababy pedestrian and Carlene’s attempt at a Wilson Pickett type funky soul number, Home Run Hitter weak. Perhaps she just wasn’t at ease in a rock setting. At times I found her voice strained and struggling to stay in key. Surprisingly there’s not a country-tinged tune in the bunch and even with able backing from members of Rockpile, The Rumour and Squeeze, the album is pleasant but not a socks-knocker offer. Carlene would return to the comfort of country in her subsequent recordings.

Re-Reviewed: Willie Hutch – Havin’ a House Party, Mowtown Records (1977)

Dave Clarke - - Music & Food
The London Yodeller

Willie HutchOne of the unsung (pun intended) heroes of soul music, Willie Hutch was a songwriter, arranger, producer and solo artist, most notably for the Motown record label, where he co-wrote the Jackson’s mega hit I’ll Be There, and produced and arranged tracks for The Four Tops (Sexy Ways) Marvin Gaye (various tracks on the Let’s Get it On session) and works by The Miracles and Michael Jackson.

He wrote and produced two of the finest Blaxploitation soundtracks, for the movies The Mack (Brothers Gonna Work it Out) and Foxy Brown, both heavily sampled by numerous hip hop artists.

Continue Reading

Re-Reviewed: Roxy Music – Stranded

Dave Clarke - - Music & Food
The London Yodeller

Roxy Looking like juvenile delinquents from outer space, Roxy Music befuddled a music scene dominated by prog rock, with their mix of 50′s raunchy sax, snakey guitar work, strange electronic burps and tweets and a crooning 40′s style lead singer. Strange looking with even stranger music, they were lumped in with the current glam scene.

“Stranded” was their third album and the first after the departure of founding member Brian Eno, over Bryan Ferry’s dominance of the band. Eno would record a vindictive track Dead Finks Don’t Talk on his first solo LP Here Come the Warm Jets where he did a wickedly accurate imitation of Ferry’s crooning.

Stranded starts with the bombastic Street Life a number 9 hit in the U.K.

The waltz time ballad Just Like You isn’t up to much except for a Bowie-like chorus. Amazonia shows Velvet Underground influences, switches to a crooning second act and then goes to a guitar freak out in its third act.

Psalm lives up to its name; very hymn like with minimal orchestration save organ, piano and drumming fit for a dirge.

Side two starts with the grandiose Serenade with nice oboe work by Andy McKay. Next it’s a one/two punch of excellence with A Song For Europe, full of Jacques Brel/Serge Gainsbourg Gallic regret and wailing sax and Ferry’s anguished cries of “Jamais! Jamais!”, and Mother of Pearl, an aural nightmare of slashing guitars, with a never-ending fade out. The closer is a perfect ending as we and Stranded walk off into the Sunset.

Mondo Phono: Mrs. Miller’s Greatest Hits

Dave Clarke - - Music & Food
The London Yodeller

Mrs. MillerMrs. Miller’s Greatest Hits – Capitol Records (1966)

In the same year that Capitol Records would release the Beatles Revolver album, they would also find strange success with this release by a middle aged woman whose musical talents were somewhat suspect. Sporting an out-of-key style with an annoying vibrato, Mrs. Miller’s cover of Petula Clark’s hit Downtown sold 250,000 copies in three weeks, and led to the release of this album which saw her wrapping her vocal cords on such other groovy tunes as A Hard Day’s Night, These Boots Are Made for Walking and a perfectly torturous version of A Lover’s Concerto. Sadly, Mrs. Miller was oblivious to the fact her vocal ability was appreciated solely for its comedy and that her worse recording studio takes were purposely used. When she finally clued in, she stoically went along with the joke, releasing a couple more albums, but by that time the joke was stale and she left Capitol records in 1968. In vain she tried for a legitimate singing career on other labels, finally retiring in 1972.

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