Month: July 2014

Shotgun, get it done, come on, Mony

Steve Kline Ages of Rock

MONYJuly 31

1968: Tommy James and the Shondells hit #1 on U.K. charts with Mony, Mony. Of the song’s title, Tommy James tells Hitch magazine in 1995: “I had the track done before I had a title. I wanted something catchy like ‘Sloopy’ or ‘Bony Maroney,’ but everything sounded so stupid. So Ritchie Cordell and I were writing it in New York City, and we were about to throw in the towel when I went out onto the terrace, looked up and saw the Mutual of New York building (which has its initials illuminated in red at its top). I said, ‘That’s gotta be it! Ritchie, come here, you’ve gotta see this!’ It’s almost as if God Himself had said, ‘Here’s the title.’ I’ve always thought that if I had looked the other way, it might have been called ‘Hotel Taft’.” Mony, Mony tops out at #3 in the U.S. It’s #1 every time I hear it:

You make my heart sing

Steve Kline Ages of Rock

troggs-bofJuly 3

1966: The Troggs hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart with Wild Thing, knocking Hanky Panky by Tommy James and the Shondells out of the top spot. Because of a distribution dispute, Wild Thing is released on two labels, Atco and Fontana. Billboard combines sales for both and the Chip Taylor-written tune becomes the first and only single that charts at #1 for two companies. First recorded by the American band The Wild Ones in 1965, The Troggs cover is the only one you remember. It charts at #2 in The Troggs’ native U.K. Here you go:

I got some news this mornin’ from Choctaw Ridge

Steve Kline Ages of Rock

July 27

Bobbie Gentry 11944: Roberta Lee Streeter, who will become known professionally as Bobbie Gentry, is born in Chickasaw County, Mississippi. Her parents divorce soon after her birth, and she is raised on her grandparents’ farm, also in Chickasaw County. When Bobbie is 7 years old, her grandmother trades a cow for a piano. At school in Greenwood, Mississippi, Bobbie teaches herself to play the guitar, bass, banjo, and vibes. When she is 13 she moves to California to live with her mother. Best known for the haunting Ode to Billie Joe, she will lose interest in performing in the late 1970s and live a quiet private life in Los Angeles, where she remains to this day, her 71st birthday. Here’s to you, Bobbie:

That’s when my love begins to shine

Steve Kline Ages of Rock

July 24

Wilson Picket1965: Wilson Pickett hits #21 with In the Midnight Hour, a song Wicked Pickett composes with Steve Cropper at the historic Lorraine Motel in Memphis. That’s the motel where in 1968 Rev. Martin Luther King will be assassinated. In the Midnight Hour is destined to hit #1 on the charts in August and it will become Pickett’s signature song and a soul standard. Out of Ireland in the 1990s, The Commitments deliver a brilliant cover. Here’s the original and the cover. Those horns sound so good.

Psychedelic Strings

Rock the Day A Guest Post by my Good Friend & Music Maven Marc Lund

July 22: Kaleidoscope (originally The Kaleidoscope) was an American psychedelic folk and ethnic band who recorded four albums and several singles for Epic Records between 1966 and 1970. The group was formed in 1966. The original members were: David Lindley (b. March 21, 1944, Los Angeles, California); Solomon Feldthouse (b. January 20, 1940, Pingree, Idaho); Chris Darrow (b. July 30, 1944, Sioux Falls, South Dakota); Chester Crill (a.k.a. Max Budda, Max Buda, Fenrus Epp, Templeton Parcely) (b. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma); John Vidican (b. Los Angeles, California)

Lindley was an experienced performer on a variety of stringed instruments, notably the banjo, winning the Topanga Canyon Banjo Contest several years in a row. While studying at La Salle High School in Pasadena, he formed his first group, the Mad Mountain Ramblers, who performed around Los Angeles folk clubs. There, he met Darrow, who was a member of a rival group, the Re-Organized Dry City Players. Soon afterwards, around 1964, the pair formed a new group, the Dry City Scat Band, which also included fiddle player Richard Greene (later of Seatrain), but Darrow soon left to set up a new rock group, The Floggs. Lindley also began forming his own electric group. In the course of this he met Feldthouse, who had been raised in Turkey and, on returning to the U.S., had performed flamenco music and as an accompanist to belly dancing groups. Lindley and Feldthouse then began performing as a duo, David and Solomon, when they met Chester Crill. They invited him to join their band, and by the end of 1966 added Darrow and drummer John Vidican, so forming The Kaleidoscope.

The group was founded on democratic principles — there was no “leader”.

Their 1967 piece Stranger in Your City/Beacon from Mars, recorded live in the studio, was also influential, with Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page calling them his “favorite band of all time.”
It featured a solo by Lindley in which, on stage, he used a violin bow on electric guitar, probably inspiring Page to use the same effect later. Another influential guitarist, Eddie Phillips of UK psychedelic group Creation, was using a violin bow on a guitar as early as 1966. The album A Beacon from Mars was released in early 1968, to generally good reviews but poor sales. Liner notes to the CD reissue of this album claim the original title was Bacon From Mars but it was misprinted.

At the end of 1969, Kaleidoscope contributed two new songs (Brother Mary and Mickey’s Tune) to Michelangelo Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point, and supported Cream on their American farewell tour. The band split up soon afterwards. Here is Kaleidoscope with Banjo followed by Seven-Ate Sweet:

Perhaps it’s the color of the sun cut flat

Steve Kline Ages of Rock

rodstewart-neveradullmoment-lpJuly 21

1972:  Rod Stewart’s album Never a Dull Moment is released. Stewart has a way with a song. He plants it in your heart where it flourishes. Two perfect examples from this powerful good LP: A cover of Dylan’s Mama You Been on My Mind and the Maggie May clone (no disrespect — that is a compliment) You Wear It Well. Two songs on the same theme: It’s over. We know that. I am moving on. Just thinking about you.

You used to ride on the chrome horse with your diplomat

Steve Kline Ages of Rock

July 20

HWY611965: Like a Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan’s most successful popular hit, is reluctantly released by Columbia Records. The flip side is Gates of Eden. The cynical, confrontational, angry and vengeful-sounding Like a Rolling Stone is written after Dylan’s exhausting tour of the U.K. (documented in Don’t Look Back.) In later interviews, Dylan will say he is on the verge of quitting the music business altogether, but Like a Rolling Stone helps change his mind. Lucky for us. Columbia’s reluctance is due to the song’s length and bitter-sounding lyrics. It will hit #1 on the Cashbox chart and become a worldwide mega-hit. It is considered by some to be the greatest and the most influential piece of music written in the 20th Century. It transforms Dylan from folk singer to rock star and gives a rookie studio musician by the name of Al Kooper his shot at eternal rock fame: It is his organ riff that becomes this song’s signature, along with the angry-rant-vengeance lyric that is capped by a sneering “How does it feel?” The song has a difficult birth. Dozens of recording sessions. Differing tempos. Sweating it with guitarist Mike Bloomfield and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Then there is the 21-year-old Kooper, an unknown session guitarist who is just supposed to observe the session, intimidated by Bloomfield but with an idea for the organ. During a break or some such with musicians slipping in and out, Kooper sits down at the organ. When Dylan hears tape of the fast-tempo rock version with Kooper at the Hammond, he loves it. He wants volume up on that organ part. You can fill in the rest because this song is part of your life soundtrack right to this day. Topping it off: It is one of the tracks on what some consider Dylan’s greatest album ever, Highway 61 Revisited. It is #1 on Rolling Stone’s list of the top 500 rock songs. How does it feel?