She Loves You 45 by The Beatles

November 23, 2009

“She Loves You” was one of four Beatles singles to be released in The United States before the group became famous. It was released on the small Swan label. This September 1963 release was issued on a white label and remains tremendously rare.

In early 1964 “I Want To Hold Your Hand” spent seven weeks at the top of the charts in The United States and officially kicked off Beatlemania. “She Loves You” was quickly reissued on a black label and cashed in on The Beatles success as it topped the charts for two weeks.

It is one of their better early releases as it is simple and joyful uptempo rock ‘n’ roll. The “Ya Ya Ya” refrain remains memorable. Six months later a German edition, “Sie Liebt Dich,” would enter the lower regions of the top 100.

While sometimes this song gets lost in their vast catalogue I still prefer it over much of their material issued during this time period.

Windy 45 by The Association

November 23, 2009

The Association was formed in 1965 in Los Angeles, California. They burst upon the music scene in 1966 with the top ten rock hit “And Along Comes Mary” and their eternal love song ballad “Cherish” which topped The American singles charts for three weeks. After two more singles The Valiant label folded.

The Association signed with Warner Brothers and issued “Windy” which spent four weeks at number one during the spring of 1967 and remains their biggest hit.

“Windy” was a mid-tempo type ballad which featured their trademark harmonies. It represented the type of soothing light pop which would dominate the rest of their career.

Their hits would come to an end in 1981 but a version of the group continues to tour today.

To Sir With Love 45 by Lulu

November 20, 2009

Lulu (Marie Lawrie) has always been alot more popular in her native England than The United States. She began her career as a teenage rocker in the mid-sixties and has maintained a credible career for decades. She was married to Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees (1969-1973) and hosted her own televion show in 1968.

Her shining moment in The United States was the result of a small part in the film TO SIR WITH LOVE staring Sidney Poitier where she sang the title song.

“To Sir With Love” was a gentle ballad that spent five weeks at the top of The American singles chart in September of 1967. It went on to become the number one single of the year.

While she would ultimately place ten songs on the American charts she would never have another one reach the top ten.

Invasion Of The B-Girls by Josie Cotton

November 19, 2009

Josie Cotton had not crossed my mind for almost a quarter of a century. Two of her early albums are part of my vinyl collection and found their way to my turntable with some regularity in the early eighties. Convertible Music (1982) and From The Hip (1984) can be best classified as catchy country/rock and they produced a couple of minor hits, “He Could Be The One” and “Jimmy Loves Maryanne.”

Her greatest claim to fame—or infamy to be more correct—was the release of “Johnny, Are You Queer.” It featured controversial lyrics which seem tame by today’s standards, but in 1981-82 it was banned in a number of countries and limited in its airplay in the United States. It did become a huge hit in Canada, though, reaching number two on their singles charts. If you want to see her singing this tune in all its glory check out the old movie Valley Girl.

Josie Cotton has always taken the musical road less traveled. She is an excellent vocalist but her choice of material has, at times, bordered on the eclectic and her latest release, Invasion Of The B-Girls, certainly falls into that category. She has chosen to release an album of obscure movie tracks, none of which ever came close to an Oscar ceremony. Filmmaker John Waters, who produced the cult movies Pink Flamingos and Hairspray, summed this album up best in the liner notes where he wrote, “Josie Cotton may be singing B-list songs from C-list movies, but she’ll always be an A-list singer in my book.”

A song is a song even if it comes from such films as Ghidorah, The Three Headed Monster, Girl In The Gold Boots, Green Slime, and Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls. It may all appear odd but Cotton manages to transform these lost diamonds in the rough—the songs not the movies—into a very listenable and ultimately enjoyable album.

Highlights include “Goodbye Godzilla,” “Black Klansman,” “Run Pussy Cat,” and “Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls,”

Invasion Of The B-Girls is a fun ride though some of the kitschiest songs ever to appear in film. Her interpretations are at times tongue-in-cheek but always respectful. I recommend buying the album, but if you love your sanity avoid the movies.

Do What You Want Be What You Are by Daryl Hall and John Oates

November 19, 2009

Hall & Oates may not have earned the critical acclaim that was their due, but beginning in the mid-seventies and continuing throughout the eighties. You literally could not listen to the radio very long without one of their songs blasting out from the speakers.

They have released dozens of albums during the course of their career which has stretched nearly four decades and have sold tens of millions of albums, yet they are best known for a series of catchy pop singles that remain some of the best in music history. “Rich Girl,” “Kiss On My List,” “Private Eyes,” “I Can’t Go For That,” “Maneater,” and “Out Of Touch” all reached number one on the Billboard Magazine singles chart and that just scratches the surface as 28 more would also become hits.

Do What You Want Be What You Are is a four CD, 74 track box-set that spans their career from their pre-duo college days in the late sixties, down to the present day. There are 74 different tracks taken from their recordings for seven different labels. Rarities, hits, and 16 unreleased tracks all combine to make this the definitive Hall & Oates release.

Disc one is the most historically interesting. Daryl Hall was a member of the rhythm & blues influenced The Temptones and John Oates fronted the pop sounding The Masters. Tracks from both of these sixties groups show how the early proclivities of each would combine into their later fully developed sound.

There are also five unreleased live performances taken from their 1975 concert at The New Victoria Theatre in London. Their sound was in the developmental stage but was beginning to transition toward the smooth brand of R&B/Pop that would dominate their best work.

Discs two and three present the heart and soul of their extensive catalogue as hit follows hit. All their number one songs are present as are “You Make My Dreams,” “Say It Isn’t So,” “Adult Education,” “One On One,” “Rich Girl,” “Sara Smile,” and on and on and on seemingly ad infinitum. When all of their best material is clustered together it represents an impressive accomplishment.

Disc four contains a selection of their most recent material and is the weakest. Daryl Hall had a number of side projects during this period plus the music was just not of the same quality. The live material especially does not have the smoothness of their classic eighties releases.

One of the highlights of the set is the accompanying sixty page booklet complete with rare photos and comments about every track by either Daryl Hall or John Oates.

Do What You Want Be What You Are is seventies and eighties pop music at its best. All box sets ultimately stand on the music and Hall & Oates have a very large and firm foundation.

Heroes And Villains 45 by The Beach Boys

November 17, 2009

Brian Wilson released the chart topping “Good Vibrations” in the fall of 1966 just before his grand SMILE project fell apart. “Heroes And Villains” was issued about ten months later. It featured dense and layered vocals but an odd beat. It would reach number 12 on BILLBOARD MAGAZINE’S singles charts but would begin a downward trend in The Beach Boys popularity. It would be almost eight years before they had another top ten hit.

The picture sleeve shown above is one of the rarest of the 1960’s and is rarely seen for sale especially in good condition. It remains far more valuable than the record.

Also of note, “Heroes And Villains” was the first release on their Brother label and has the number 1001.

Riding With The King by Eric Clapton and B.B. King

November 16, 2009

Eric Clapton plus B.B. King equaled an outstanding blues album. Many people agreed with that assessment as Riding With The King reached double platinum status in sales and won a Grammy award for Best Traditional Blues Album.

Clapton has been a guest on countless albums down through the years, but here he formed a partnership with one of the great blues legends. They make an interesting and effective combination as King’s Delta Blues style meshes well with Clapton’s contemporary rock/blues fusion foundation.

Clapton assembled a nice tight band to provide support. Andy Fairweather-Low and Jimmie Vaughan are on board as basically rhythm guitarists and they lay down a nice foundation. The musical key is pianist Joe Sample who really pushes the music along which allows King and Clapton to take off on their solo excursions.

Both musicians have always been able to produce a crystal clear sound and accentuate each note. They both are also able to take a song and transform it so it travels in new and unexpected directions.

Three of B.B. Kings early compositions are resurrected for this album. 1951’s “Three O’Clock Blues,” 1954’s “When My Heart Beats Like A Hammer,” and 1955’s “Ten Long Years” are vehicles for them to trade a number of tasty solos and vocals.

Other highlights include a wonderful acoustic version of Big Bill Broonzy’s “Key To The Highway” and a blues rendition of the Sam & Dave hit “Hold On! I’m Coming” which includes some of the best guitar lines on the album.

This album was one of those ideas that sounded great and actually worked. It is the second of an excellent trio of blues albums that Clapton would produce and matches well with 1994’s From The Cradle and 2004’s Me and Mr. Johnson. Fans of B.B. King, Eric Clapton, the blues, and good music should all be pleased with this release. Riding With The King is a journey down a highway which is not traveled very often.