Friday, May 30, 2008

THE BITTER SWEETS - What A Lonely Way To Start the Summertime / Mark My Words - Cameo - 1963

All the credit for my owning this amazing record goes to Tyler Robert Farren, who not only introduced this song to me, but is also directly responsible for my purchase of it.

He came over to my humble home shortly after he had bought One Kiss Can Lead To Another: Girl Group Sounds Lost and Found, the 4 disc Rhino collection that comes packaged in a vintage hat box, and skipped through some of the tracks that he liked the most, pointed out the Bitter Sweets song "What A Lonely Way to Start the Summertime." On surface value alone, this track sounds like a pretty typical girl group song with it's layered harmonies, pop stylings, and teenage melodrama subject matter, and even if it was a standard girl group track though, it's first rate, complete with stellar production and a looming darkness hanging above. But this track sets itself apart before it's finished. The song starts to build into a climbing crescendo, and just when you expect it to go back into the chorus, or some key change to happen, the song just cuts off, ending abruptly with just the slight reverberation on the track echoing after. It's a curious production decision, but the effect is quite amazing. Someone named Brute Force is credited as the writer, and I seem to recall him being responsible for the production as well, and I wish like hell that I could track down some more information about him. Seems like an interesting character.

The B-side, "Mark My Words," unfortunately lacks the unique production qualities of it's flip and pales in comparison. It's still a good listen, still sad and dramatic, but nothing to shit yrself about. Probably just as good as most other girl group stuff that came out around then, just no "Lonely Way."

Luckily Tyler searches ebay for records he already owns (for whatever reason) and came across a copy of this one, told me about it, and I got it for a fraction of what it's worth to me.
So, thank you, Tyler.

And.. If anybody has any more information about Brute Force, or 'Cave Sound Production,' PLEASE contact me. I gotta know what it's all about and I'm not finding anything.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

? AND THE MYSTERIANS - Can't Get Enough of You, Baby / Smokes - Cameo - 1967

Remember that shitty band Smash Mouth? They had a string of really regrettable, embarrassing hits in the late 90's? Basically summing up exactly what is wrong and fucked up about modern music? Yea, I hated that shit too. Sadly, those spazwits and ? picked the same Toys song to cover, and worse, I can't for the life of me sit through the Mysterians version because of it.

Or maybe it's just because ?'s version isn't exactly that great anyway. The organ line is basically recycled from "96 Tears," ? sounds terribly un-enthused, and overall it's quite boring. Sorry.

"Smokes" is pretty cool though. I get a kick out of ?'s creative use of language ('Hey, what your face looks like?') and the subject matter is funny in a real superficial way ("I don't know what your face looks like, I don't know how it looks in the light... I don't care if you're blue or red, I'll take you anytime, anywhere, in the night."). Although there's nothing that really stands out about this side compared to their other tunes, it's still great song, as only ? and the Mysterians could really pull off, and a cool addition to the collection.

Alright then,

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

THE TROGGS - Any Way That You Want Me / 66-5-4-3-2-1 - Fontana - 1967

As I was listening to "Any Way That You Want Me" I realized that I've always sort of regarded the Troggs as an unintelligent group of guys. Then when I played the flip side, "66-5-4-3-2-1," I realized that this group of dummies could certainly write a hell of a song.

The A-side of this single isn't one of the better songs the Troggs ever recorded. It's a real lightweight number but reuses the same rhythm that's instantly recognizable as the "Wild Thing" beat (which is far better suited for heavier songs like that, or their version of "I Want You,") and has some of the stupidest lyrics imaginable. Nothing to be disappointed about though. I bought this record for the B-side anyway.

"66-5-4-3-2-1" is, on the other hand, one of the best songs they ever wrote. Somehow they managed to continually write goddamn amazing songs using only a few very simple elements, usually based on one or two parts, and this song fits that mold pretty well. Basic, perfectly minimalistic drumming, short and simple structure, and a guitar leads that kicks dicks in. These fools were on-point when they wrote this tune. I love it.

Also, this song is apparently on the soundtrack to a Vietnam game for Playstation. I can't confirm that though.

Why am I so convinced that the Troggs were dummies? I don't have a solid answer. Maybe it has something to do with their consistently bad & corny lyrics, or maybe The Troggs Tapes have influenced that assumption (which is vaguely worth a listen,) or maybe it's the reggae jam version of "Wild Thing" they released in the mid 70's in a lame attempt to chart again. It could also be their regrettable collaboration with R.E.M. in the 90's, or the not one, but two different new versions of "Wild Thing" they released in the 90's for whatever silly reason, one of which featured Wolf of the show Gladiators. (Yup, the British version of American Gladiators.) Certainly not the smartest choices ever made.

It doesn't matter though, some of my favorite music was written by complete dimwits. You can't really hold it against them.

But honestly, someone please take the guitars away from these guys ASAP. No one's excited for an updated 5th version of what was originally a classic, killer tune.

Alright then.


Friday, May 23, 2008

THE GERMS - Forming / Live - What? - 1977

Here it is. The first single by the first band to ever have any real effect on me. I was 10 or 11 years old when I heard the Germs & just couldn't believe that music could be so trashy and noisy. Since that day I've been fascinated by them. I was unaware at the time of just how difficult it was going to be to track down their records though. For years I would walk into any place that sold music, in any form, asking hopefully if they had a copy of 'GI,' their only full length album, and for years I always got one of two reactions; either absolute confusion, or a rude kind of brush-off, like "yeah right, asshole. good luck." This was long before the wonderul / terrible invention of ebay, so it was my only hope. Oh well, I had my Germs MIA cassette, which had all of their studio recordings, and I played that tape so much that now it sounds like 'The Germs - Live From A Wind Tunnel."

Anyway, about this single.. It is considered by most to be the first LA punk single, & considered by others to be the most premature release in history. As far as I can tell, both claims may be true.
Forming was recorded using a karaoke machine & mixed down with some very convoluted idea of 'stereo' in mind. All of the instruments are panned to one side, the vocals panned entirely to the other. Darby (still known as Bobby Pyn) hadn't started using his rabid snarl yet & he's much closer to talking than any form of singing on this track. The band's marginal musical talent is very blatantly on display, & coupled with Darby's snotty little rant at the end, it makes for one hell of a punk masterpiece.

The B-side is actually Sex Boy recorded live (it was never recorded 'properly.') The sound quality is terrible, and the band can still barely play, though Darby should be given some credit for being as close to 'on time' as he would ever be caught on a live recording again. Still, this thing is a mess. At one point you hear what sounds like glass shattering and somebody yelling to "stay away!" The band finishes the song & the crowd is very audibly not happy. As Pat's guitar stops feeding back, there's a split second of silence before a giant, roaring "BOOOO!!" Faintly, in the fadeout, you hear a woman yelling "Get out of here!" It's absolutely amazing.

How is it, exactly, that this is the music that so violently grabbed my attention as a kid? I wish I knew.

This single isn't exactly an accurate representation of their music as a whole. From this, their first single, to Lexicon Devil, their second single, there's a colossal leap in the song writing, playing, and recording quality. They went on to write, in my opinion, some of the greatest punk rock songs ever recorded.

The Germs terrorized LA for 3 years, getting banned from so many clubs that they had to start billing themselves as GI (Germs Incognito) in order to get shows, then Darby killed himself.

The whole story of the Germs is definitely an interesting one, and the book 'Lexicon Devil' (co-written by drummer Don Bolles) is a pretty detailed account of their existence, & a great read to boot. If you have any interest in familiarizing yourself with the Germs, read this book, I beg of you, before the potentially disgusting Germs film (starring Shane West [WTF?!?!?!]) is released nationally. The book is written in the same style as "Please Kill Me" which is another favorite of mine.

Sink yr teeth in. Tasty.


Monday, May 19, 2008

((( CHERRY BOMB! #1 )))
Hosted by Psychedelic Elvis

This is a bit of a mixed bag. My first time using my new tables & mixer into the computer. It turned out pretty well, though I'll probably shorten them up just a little bit next time. As I mentioned before, these are all strictly vinyl transfers, mostly 45's. (Only 4 of the 26 tracks came from LP's.) Enjoy, & feel free to leave any feedback.

I think I'm obligated to say that if you own the copyrights to any of these songs and want them removed, please contact me and it will be swiftly taken care of.

Here it is...

Cherry Bomb! #1
1. Them - Mystic Eyes
2. The Shangri-Las - Out In the Streets
3. The Troggs - 66-5-4-3-2-1
4. Otis Redding - Down In the Valley
5. Q65 - The Life I Live
6. Nancy Sinatra - My Baby Cried All Night Long
7. The Neal Ford Factory - You Made Me A Man
8. Dion - (I Was) Born to Cry
9. The Nashville Teens - Tobacco Road
10. Things To Come - Darkness
11. The Monkees - Porpoise Song
12. Buddy Knox - I Think I'm Gonna Kill Myself
13. The Smoke - My Friend Jack
14. Sam Cooke - Having A Party
15. Blues Magoos - Gotta Get Away
16. The Bittersweets - What A Lonely Way to Start the Summertime
17. The Castaways - Liar, Liar
18. Love - 7 and 7 Is
19. The Mighty Hannibal - Hymn no. 5
20. The Animals - A Girl Named Sandoz
21. Davie Allan & the Arrows - UFO
22. James Brown - I'll Go Crazy
23. The Kinks - I'm Not Like Everybody Else
24. The Clique - Splash 1
25. The Rock-A-Teens - Woo Hoo
26. The Music Explosion - Sunshine Games


Psychedelic Elvis

Sunday, May 18, 2008

SAM COOKE - You Send Me / Summertime - Keen - 1957

I used to buy any Sam Cooke album that had 'Summertime' listed hoping to find this version of the song. Even the generic, untitled collections, the ones with every obvious hit, just on the off chance that I might finally own this version on vinyl. I really got my hopes up when I found a record with a track titled 'Summertime, Pt. 1,' but it's just the standard, greatest hits version with a little orchestration overdubbed on top. It's a cool version, but disappointing considering my expectations. (Side note: Where is 'Summertime, Pt. 2?' Does it even exist?)

Then, one day as I was digging through a dusty pile of 45's at a thrift store, I found this 45. Despite numerous disappointments before, I was pretty pumped & couldn't wait to get it onto my turntable.

Sure enough, this is the faster paced, upbeat version I had been searching for. Talk about satisfaction. Sam swings like a sonic boom. Pure gold. Sort of even makes me wish I had a soul. Or at least accurate words to sum up the heavyweight power of this seemingly airy tune. Sam slays with a grin, and luckily for all of us, this was merely a sign of what he was capable of.

I must admit though, as much as I love this version of 'Summertime,' I can't say that I prefer it over the slower, more somber, minimalistic, greatest hits version. Both are, in their own ways, absolutely flawless tunes.

Oh, and 'You Send Me' is actually the A-side. Pretty standard (and entirely enjoyable) but I think I have enough records with this song that I could listen to it repeatedly for a few hours without playing the same record twice. Being Sam's first single in the 'pop' world though, the historical value of the song is undeniable.

Luckily, Sam continued to write and record steadily, releasing an impressive collection of righteous and moving music, right up until his very untimely and confusing murder in December 11, 1964.

Strange that music from more than 50 years ago moves me far more than anything my generation can manage to burp out, huh?


On to all other things blog-related..
I have been, and still am, very reluctant to post mp3's of each 45 I review. This is mostly out of my need for convenience, since transferring vinyl onto my computer is a bit of a task. Instead I'm going to start posting mixes, or 'podcasts' or whatever the technologically-up-to-date will call them, that will have at least some of the mentioned records in them. These mixes will be recorded live from my turntables, will be strictly vinyl (primarily 45's,) and won't be cleaned up at all. I just have to figure out the details of where I'll be hosting them and exactly what format to offer them in. (One continuous mp3, or a .zip with the tracks broken up, etc.)

And finally, the blog-affirming, exciting news. I have never had delusions that anybody, at all, visited this site, but I just got my first comment from none other than Bill Gallagher, the guitar player of The Bougalieu. Click the comments of the post below this to read what he had to say. Luckily he wasn't offended that I ripped on one side of that 45. It's cool to know that anybody at all has ever read this little blog, but extra-cool when that person is responsible for something that I've chosen to write about.


Psychedelic Elvis