Saturday, June 16, 2012

Teen Idols Of The 60s

Since I have been flooding the pages over at my other site, I decided to move this one over here at the Consortium site.

Growing up, my parents were into music, I think my mom more than dad due to a rough life and playing 45s seemed to be a way of out things.  Certainly Elvis figured into there although the majority of records came from the teen idols of that time.  Ricky Nelson for one, Paul Anka the other, night and day, the angel and the antichrist so to speak.  Growing up as a kid whose never strayed far from the Woolworth's record section back in 63 (or never left) buying 45s came from word association or labels.  Mostly ABC Paramount to which that logo seemed to hypnotize me into buying just about everything that came out of the label (and explains why the Ginny Come Lately 45 came home with me a few weeks ago, never underestimate the power of the ABC Paramount Logo.  Don't believe me let it hypnotize you then.

Which is probably the reason why Paul Anka figured into this.  I'm sure the logo got Mom or her sister to buy about 5 copies of his hits.  I've seen his 15 big hits that ABC put out years ago and while Anka isn't rock and roll, he was more lounge,  I did like Something Has Changed Me (B side to It's Time To Cry) and the urgency of Lonely Boy which I consider his high point.  I'm guessing my mom also bought his 1963 RCA revisit of the hits 21 Golden Hits to which Anka runs through his hits in Ramones like fashion, most are around 2 minutes and Lonely Boy sounds more assured than the ABC version and The Longest Day was a  nice ending, but the rest of the album hasn't held up over time.  Since I have the CD perhaps I'll return it to my mom, I think she'll enjoy it more than me.  Or maybe not.

Anka recorded for a while for RCA and wrote My Way to which became a big staple for Frank Sinatra but he also wrote It Doesn't Matter Anymore for Buddy Holly to which 21 Golden Hits actually is more rocking than Buddy's if you can believe that.  For me, his 1973 Buddah single Jubilation to which I'm guessing was a gospel song managed to pop in the KCRG super 30 for a couple weeks and the first three and half minutes or part one really cooked till Anka entended it to a overbearing 6 and half minutes of strings and a bizarre wah wah throughout the song.  I found the LP for 2 bucks and bought it and although his cover of Let Me Be The One is tolerable the rest of the album sucked.   And then the next year Anka may have penned the all time worst song ever in You're Having My Baby for United Artists and he lost all credibility after that. He had a couple of top 20 hits after that (I Don't Like To Sleep Alone, Times Of Your Life come to mind) but the only thing I remember was his Rock Swings CD a few years ago to which he takes Smells Like Teen Spirit and turns it into a big Vegas showstopper number.  Rhino Records collected the best and worst of Anka into 30th Anniversary Collection  which has the ABC singles rather than the RCA remakes, plus Jubilation and of course, You're Having My Baby.  The cream of the crop and the chaff.

One of the more interesting albums that in my folks collection was Johnny Tillotson It Keeps Right On A Hurtin for Cadence. (Available on ACE as an import) to which Johnny sang country songs and had some of the finest Nashville session players backing him up (Floyd Cramer comes to mind).  This is where I discover songs like Fool number 1, Lonely Street, Send Me The Pillow That You Dream On and even Willie Nelson's Hello Walls.  In my opinion, one of the best teen idols doing Nashville albums ever made.  Tillotson had a big hit with Poetry In Motion but later bargain hunts found Without You, his 1961 top 40 single that is before It Keeps Right On A Hurtin and A Worried Man for MGM in 1964.  Varese issued 25 All Time Greatest Hits which combines the Cadence/MGM years.

Bobby Rydell, another dude that isn't exactly rock and roll.  I think Mom had this album of Bobby's Biggest Hits and I'm surprised Dad never broke that album like he did with the Johnny Mathis albums.  But for pure camp, Kissing Time was later covered by KISS if you can believe that.  The B Side You'll Never Tame Me was wicked cool genius but the folks at ABKCO didn't think it was worthy of a spot on the best of that they put out.  Wild One gets some airplay on the radio and it does bring a smile to my face when I hear it but I'm sure Bobby's version of Volare is remembered as the scene that Robert Wahl's character on Hollywood Knights is that he farts when he hears it.   I'll never heard any of the Capitol singles.

For the other idols of note, Frankie Avalon was too cheesy most of the time and Fabian was even more cheese but one of my earliest singles that I ever got from word association was De De Dinah or Ginger Bread but the rest was too corny for me to partake even at 5 years old (Boy Without A Girl, Bobby Sox To Blue Jeans) Fabian, the Asphalt Elvis from Philadelphia as one mag called him had Hound Dog Man to which if you sped it up to 78 RPM it sounded like Hot Dog Man and probably the inspiration for Hot Dog Hell by Old Skull.  I did buy Got The Feeling for 10 cents at some place years ago and didn't care much for it but in the end the best song he ever did was Tiger, a fun song and the only time I ever want to hear Fabian. Collectibles put out a best of years ago that pretty much captures all his highlights if you can find it. Varese Sandabande   rumoured to put out a 10 song best of but I have yet to see it.  This Is Fabian! (Ace UK) has all the hits and b sides for the curious.

Which leaves us the best for the last. The Everly Brothers.  Four singles and the 15 Biggest Hits that came out Cadence remains the best of the teen idols that I grew up listening to.  Four more singles came from Ricky Nelson to which It's Late was one of the first 45's that I ever bought. Rhino has kept the Everly's All Time Greatest Hits in print and EMI has always had a best of Ricky Nelson as well, but I tend to favor the Ace Rockin' With Ricky which with James Burton in tow, Nelson made some real rocking records and prove the be the best of teen idols right up to Elvis.  But for perfect harmonies, none were better than the heavenly sound of the Everlys.  Nuff said.

Records Of Note: (45's only)

Johnny Tollitson-It Keeps Right On A Hurtin, Without You, Talk Back Trembling Lips
Frankie Avalon-Ginger Bread, De De Dinah, Just Ask Your Heart, Boy Without A Girl
Tommy Roe-Carol, Everybody
Fabian-Hound Dog Man, Got The Feeling, Tiger
Ricky Nelson-Poor Little Fool, It's Late, Believe What You Said, Hello Mary Lou
Everly Brothers: Wake Up Little Susie, Problems, Since You Broke My Heart, Poor Jenny
Bobby Rydell: Kissin' Time/You'll Never Tame Me, Wild One
Chubby Checker:  Popeye The Hitchhiker, The Twist
Paul Anka-Dinah, Lonely Boy, It's Time To Cry/Something Has Changed Me, Don't Gamble With Love
Elvis Presley: A Big Hunk O Love, Teddy Bear, Anytime You Want Me/Love Me Tender

Saturday, June 9, 2012

CD Reviews:Chicago Hot Streets

Chicago-Hot Streets (Friday Music) 1978

One of the most played albums during my high school years, Columbia reissued this as a cheapo cheapo Collector's Choice Series to which the horns sounded bizarre but for years I kept the cd simply of the fact I didn't have the album anymore, I had a scratchy LP bought used.  Rhino reissued the CD in the late 90s and now Friday has reissued Hot Streets with a bonus track, a Donnie Dacus version of Love Was New, a more MOR and jazzier take than Robert Lamm's version.

Chicago was at a crossroads, after Terry Kath shot himself.  They not only got a new guitarist but also a new producer, Phil Ramone (Billy Joel) to replace longtime James William Guercio.  And with the start of Alive Again, Chicago comes charging out with a very rocking track which sets the tone for Hot Streets.  The Bee Gees add their harmonies to Little Miss Lover and Ain't It Time borders on hard rock with Dacus' beginning guitar.   Still a band effort, Peter Cetera did the majority of vocals, sans one by Donnie Dacus (Take A Chance)  and three from Robert Lamm (Love Was New, Hot Streets and Show Me The Way).  The new direction didn't set too well with the Chicago faithful, although No Tell Lover and Alive Again did get radio airplay, Gone Long Gone flopped as a single which surprised me since it was one of my favorite tracks.  Show Me The Way with the strange end chorus a runner up.   Still it remains a high B plus in my book, likewise the followup, the unlucky Chicago 13 to which Dacus would leave and 14 which did even worse chartwise.  Friday Music will reissue those albums at another time.

The new remaster corrects the problems of the Columbia Cd and has a more fuller bottom sound.  The bonus track is a curio but you can live without it.

Grade B+

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Animals

For me, rock and roll started when I first heard The Animals than The Beatles.  Not because of name association but rather the first 45 I ever known was Gonna Send You Back To Walker to which as a 3 year old I played the record and then broke it thus beginning a 40 year search of getting another copy and did so.  When you're 3 years old the world revolves around Cricket Records and or Peter Pan to which nursery rhyme songs were commonplace.  But then again I think that came from my liberal minded mom who would go get these cheap records to amuse and keep her little brat out of trouble. And she did come up with some interesting titles although the little brat loved those ABC Paramount labels and MGM.

The Animals broke big with the next single House Of The Rising Sun a song that has been overplayed to death on classic rock radio to which they still play House on a full time basis and ignore the rest of the Animals catalog.  There's more to The Animals than what radio plays.

The original lineup featured Alan Price on organ/keyboards, Chas Chandler on bass, Hilton Valentine-guitar, John Steele-drums and a vocalist that sounded black at time Eric Burdon who would go on to have one of most uneven careers in music.  The original Animals were produced by Mickie Most and the singles, like Herman's Hermits came out on MGM in the US although in the UK they were under the EMI banner.  The Animals were more blues driven then The Rolling Stones, Burdon having a big love for John Lee Hooker and Ray Charles and to me more dirty sounding than the evil Stones.  Hits like I'm Crying and Talking About You to which they employ the call and response sound and sometimes the B sides to the singles were just as good as the hits, I'm Going To Change The World for one was a statement of purpose, just like We Gotta Get Out Of This Place or It's My Life, but somehow the statement of purpose was wearing thin on Price and he and Burdon always had a very oil and water relationship anyway to which Price left and John Rowberry came on board.  John Steel left, and Barry Jenkins (Nashville Teens) took over on drums.

A change of producers, Tom Wilson in, Most out, resulted in a more heavier sound which is features on my 2nd favorite all time Animals song, Inside Looking Out, a single that I wore the grooves down to the nubs.  The B Side You're On My Mind remains one of the best loved ballads that Burdon ever written but by then the original Animals were leaving to which by then Eric Burdon was the last person standing.  The New Animals era made some of the most dated hippy dippy psychedelia ever recorded beginning with Winds Of Change to which Burdon became way too much into the San Francisco hippy scene (as you can tell on San Franciscan Nights or the his telling of Monterrey's pop festival in the failed hit Monterrey).  By then, Burdon gave up on what made The Animals sounded great, old blues standards done rocking in favor of hippy dippyness.  The last great single was Sky Pilot one of the better protest songs of the 60s.  But the rest of The Twain Shall Meet was boring, as well as Every One Of Us and what people considered to be their worst over all  album, the 2 album Love Is, complete with River Deep-Mountain High to which a segment pays tribute to Tina Turner with the Tina tina tina chant.  By then they lost their fanbase and Burdon retired The Animals to start up a new endeavor with War which gave him a top ten hit with Spill The Wine and either he left or War fired him to form The Eric Burdon Band which made 2 albums for Capitol to which I have never heard.

The original Animals got back together to recreate old times with Before We Were Rudely Interrupted, an album of mostly blues covers and it sounds like they were having a good time.  Five years later they return, signing a new recording contract with IRS and the promise of better things to come.  But Ark turned out to be a big snooze, too many subpar Eric Burdon numbers and not enough Alan Price and then the bottom fell out with the awful Rip It To Shreds, a live album that showed Burdon's vocals shot.  And then Price left again and the band splintered to ashes once again.

The best Animals album out there is a greatest hits collection, Retrospective (ABKCO) which contains just about everything they released as singles up to Spill The Wine but thankfully no IRS stuff to contend with.  All of the MGM albums are out of print, Polydor in the 80s reissued Animalization and Greatest Hits Volume 2 to which has more selected B sides (You're On My Mind).  The Polydor CD of Eric Burdon/The Animals 1966-1968 is a mess and adds way too much filler to make it a worthwhile compliation.  The original Abkco best of had the UK version We Gotta Get Out Of The Place which made it even more frustrating but since the arrival of Retrospective that has been corrected.  Hip O Select released Animalism as a limited edition and is best known for having Frank Zappa arranged The Other Side Of This Life and the rocking Hey Gyp.

There's plenty of imports out there, and some work and some don't.  For myself it's The Singles Plus (EMI) which is as advertised.  Inside Looking Out (Sequel) is the other and showcases The Animals at Decca (UK) Records for the 2 years prior to going out to San Francisco and forever alternating and alienating their sound.  The Complete Animals (EMI) is not but it shows most of the Alan Price era.  A uninspired Sonny Boy Williamson shows up on The Night Time Is The Right Time (Pizzazz) that has been reissued time and time again but In The Beginning (Wand) has the 7 minute Story Of Bo Diddley which has to be heard to be believed.

You can live without Ark or Rip It To Shreds but Rudely Interrupted is actually a good listen and the Repitorie Records did a fine job remastering it, sounds much better than the Jet/UA album that came out in 1977.  ABKCO has put out the barebones Very Best Of The Animals (10 songs Five dollars) and has the Price era hits.

The New Animals (John Wieder/Barry Jenkins/Vic Briggs/Danny McCollugh/Eric Burdon) may have been the better band but with the material they had, their albums have dated badly after the Age Of Woodstock. But then again St. James Infirmary may have been Burdon's best blues take on that song ever.  But then again that's up to the ears of the listener.  The grades issued for these albums might seem harsh, especially Love Is, and new guitarist Andy Summers does help a bit as well as Zoot Money's work but it still doesn't hold up over repeated listens.  The IRS reunion of the original band is a reminder that sometimes it's best to not reunite for any kinds of money.  It does have a habit of tarnishing the rock solid bad boy early years.  And both Ark and Rip It To Shreds both are bad, especially on the latter album, which sounds like a bad oldies band.

Since the breakup of The Animals, John Steel has retained the rights to that name over Burdon and the rest and did play on the banner of Animals 2. And gave us a very crappy K Tel best of, to three songs are original recordings (When I Was Young, House Of The Rising Sun, San Francisco Nights) and the rest piss poor new recordings that were dated even before they were recorded.  Hilton Valentine sometimes plays in Burdon's band. Eric Burdon returns to ABKCO with a new album called Before Your River Runs Dry.  Not a bad album but the problem is that Burdon's vocal still sounds shot.  A good but not great album. McCollugh passed away in 2014.

Discography (all over the place but this is the albums that I bought)

The Singles Plus (EMI Import 1988) B+
Inside Looking Out-the 196501966 Sessions Sequel 1991) B+
The Original Animals-Before We Were So Rudely Interrupted (Jet/United Artists  1977) B+

US Stuff
Animalization (Polydor 1986 reissue) B+
Best Of Eric Burdon & The Animals Volume 2 (MGM 1967) A-
Best Of Eric Burdon & The Animals 1966-1968 (Polydor 1992) B-
Animalism (Hip O Select 1966)  B+
Winds Of Change (One Way)   B-
The Twain Shall Meet (One Way) C
Every One Of Us (One Way)  C+
Love Is (One Way) C-
Ark (IRS 1983) C+
Rip It To Shreds: Animals Live (IRS 1984) C-
K Tel Presents The Animals (BCI 2006)  D+
Retrospective (ABKCO 2008) A
Very Best Of The Animals (ABKCO 2012) B