Summer In The City By The Lovin’ Spoonful

July 21, 2019

The Lovin’ Spoonful’s entrance into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame was based on their series of smooth and polished fusion of folk and pop singles. Top ten songs such as “Do You Believe In Magic,” “You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice,” “Daydream.” and “Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind” were perfect radio fare during the mid-1960’s. The last two songs reached number two on the Top 100 Chart.

The band went in a different direction with their fifth single. “Summer In The City” was a gritty, mostly rock song complete with traffic sounds. It proved to be their most popular song and only number one.

“Summer In The City” reached the top of the charts August 13, 1966, and there it remained for three weeks. It is a half-century plus song that holds up well.


Blues By Willie Jackson

July 5, 2019

It’s always good to have a plan B in life. When an accident ended Willie Jackson’s day job; music was his plan B.

There has always been a close relationship between gospel music and the blues. Willie Jackson began his career singing in church. As he became serious about a career in music, he progressed to the blues, while retaining some of the roots of his gospel past.

Jackson has just release a six-song EP titled Blues. Backed by bassist Jon Willis, guitarist Dillon Young, drummer Paxton Eugene, and harmonica player Ace Anderson; he has issued an album of personal, self-composed blues tracks.

This is the blues without a lot of frills.  He has a big voice but does not overwhelm his backing band. “Just An Old Dog,” “Big Boned Woman,” “Diggin’ My Shovel,” and “Sleepin’ On The Job,” are good examples of his personal style.

Blues contains music for late at night with the headphones on. Sometimes plan B works out just fine.


Blue Steel By Joe Goldmark

July 5, 2019

I have always had a soft spot for guitarists and especially steel guitarists, which brings us to Joe Goldmark. Now four decades into his career, he has emerged as one of the better steel guitarists working today. Wile his technical ability is first rate, it is the sound he can coax from his instrument that sets him apart.

His new album, Blue Steel, is a combination of original tunes and covers. He also uses guest vocalists Glenn Walters and Dallas Craft on a number of tracks but the instrumental tracks are the heart of the release.

The album opening “Night Flight” and a cover of Bob Marley’s “Natty Dread” feature his unique approach of having his steel guitar as the lead instrument. “I Want To Be With You Forever,” with guest guitarist Jim Campilongo, has nice interplay between the two and creates a wonderfully plaintive sound.

Blue Steel may not have mainstream appeal but within its niche, it shines.


Carter Stanley’s Eyes By Peter Rowan

July 5, 2019

Peter Rowan was born in Massachusetts, which is not a state you usually associate with a bluegrass legend. At the age of 20, he auditioned and won the position of lead guitarist/vocalist in Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys.

During the late 1960’s and early 1970’s he played rock and roll as a member of Earth Opera, The Rowan Brothers, Seatrain, and for a short spell with Jerry Garcia. His solo career has incorporated a number of styles but he remains a bluegrass artist in his soul.

His new album returns him to his roots. The Stanley Brothers, Carter and Ralph, were early influences and Carter Stanley’s Eyes is a heart felt tribute to them. While he records two of their tunes; Carter’s “A Vision Of Mother” and Ralph’s “Ridin’ On That Midnight Train,” he channels their style through the 14 tracks.

Rowan is now in his mid 70s and a number of songs deal with mortality. “Drumbeats On The Watchtower” is a song of aging and acceptance that only a person of his age could compose. The Carter “Will You Miss Me” is partly sung without instruments as he ruminates about the world without him in it.

There are a couple tunes where he fuses different styles to bluegrass. The gospel song, “The Crown He Wore,” connects the two closely associated disciplines. Ledbelly’s “Alabama Bound” has a nice blues feel within the parameters of bluegrass instrumentation.

The Carter Brothers helped Rowan to hone his bluegrass skills and in many ways the direction of his life. Carter Stanley’s Eyes is a payment for lessons well-learned.


Clippity Clop By Holy Golightly And The Brokeoffs

July 5, 2019

Holly Golightly and The Brokeoffs, (which is actually only her long time partner Lawyer Dave), have returned with a new album titled Clippety Clop. She has always taken the road less traveled as each album is different, bordering on the odd at times.

She basically has two careers. By day, she operates a horse rescue facility. By night, she is one of the more eclectic musicians working today. Her latest album manages to connect these two very different occupations.

The song titles connect their passion for horses and music. “Mule Skinner,” “Black Horse Blues,” “I Ride An Old Paint,” “Carpet Of Horses,” “Strawberry Roan,” and on it goes through the 12 tracks. The music ranges from country, to blues, to Americana, to rock and roll. There sound it fairly primitive as it is just the two of them but Lawyer Dave is adept on a number of instruments.

Holly Golightly and The Brokeoffs are about 12 years into their career. I’m not sure their approach is going to generate huge commercial appeal but their music is always interesting.

Each of their albums is a unique stop and Clippety Clop is no exception. A little different but a good listen for anyone who wants to push the envelope a little.


Wild Thing By The Troggs

June 2, 2019

 

“Wild Thing” is one of those songs that is so simple that thousands of local bands have included it in their sets. Even Reg Presley, the lead singer of the British band, The Troggs, thought it was overly simplistic.

The Troggs quickly found out that simple is best, at least in America, as “Wild Thing” reached number on the Billboard Top 100, July 30, 1966, and remained there for two weeks. Their only other top ten hit was the beautiful ballad, “Love Is All Around,” which proved they were not a one track pony.

The oddity of their number one song was both the Fontana and Atco labels had the band signed to contracts, so both released the song as a single. It was the only number one song to be released on two different labels.


Hanky Panky By Tommy James And The Shondells

May 12, 2019

“Hanky Panky” was written by the legendary song writing duo of Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich as a throwaway B side in 1963. Tommy James and The Shondells released the song while in high school and it became a regional hit in the upper mid-west during 1964. It never broke out nationally and the band members went their separate ways.

The lights went back on in 1966 when a Pittsburgh disc jockey found an old copy of the record and began playing it regularly and the rest is, as they say, history. James had to form a completely new version of the Shondells.

It reached number one July 16. 1966 and remained at the top of the charts for two weeks.

It may have been an amateurish release but better times were ahead for Tommy James and The Shondells and they went on to become one of the better singles bands of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.

The band did make one mistake as they turned down an invite to perform at Woodstock, although “Hanky Panky” being performed at the festival boggles the mind.