Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Linda Ronstadt's Silk Purse

"Not all pigs are your enemies," read the Capitol Records advertisement for Linda Ronstadt's "Silk Purse", which came out in 1970, with the Country-Rock explosion in full swing. Although Linda hadn't hooked up with Peter Asher yet to formulate the method of her biggest 70s successes, she was already in the groove of picking amazing songs to cover, by writers with heart and soul. This record was produced by the legendary Elliot Mazer and includes one Top 40 hit, "Long, Long Time", but there are even better songs here, like "Lovesick Blues" which opens the Lp, Gary White's "Louise" (about the lonely death of a hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold), and the medley that occupies most of the second side and closes with the hillbilly folk song "Love Is Like A Mountain Railway". There's also a stunning country-rock adaptation of Carole King's "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?" that shoulda been a hit. Linda at her finest.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Early twittering from Bobby Day.

Early rockers are a mixed bag when it comes to getting respect. Some are loaded with kudos (like Carl Perkins, Gene Vincent, Fats Domino), and rightly so; but others just as worthy get overlooked. Bobby Day is one of the latter, unfortunately.

If you're an oldies radio listener, you're probably familiar with Day's one huge hit, "Rockin' Robin," which was covered by Michael Jackson in the early 70s, and maybe "Buzz Buzz Buzz" by the Hollywood Flames, for which Day was the lead singer. These songs dated from 1958 and 1957, respectively. But there's more to the story than those two songs, and this excellent Rhino Lp from 1984 collects 14 fairly rare sides from the late 1950s, most of which were on small R&B labels and long out of print.

What the album showcases is a real, true pioneer in the fusion of rock 'n roll and R&B, a crossover artist who just couldn't catch a break, as his songs were covered by others for huge hits (Phil Spector-produced Thurston Harris covered his "Little Bitty Pretty One," for instance, and the Dave Clark Five hit with his "Over And Over" in 1965), but his own recordings went unnoticed.

Day had one last hit, as half of Bob and Earl, who recorded "Harlem Shuffle" in the mid-Sixties for Bell; the other half of Bob and Earl was none other than Barry White. 

These are incredibly catchy songs; if you can find this Lp, it's worth picking up. There's an excellent CD put out by Varese Sarabande as well, which collects singles from a bit broader time period; it's also out of priint.

You gotta salute the pioneers when you find 'em, especially the ones that don't get the respect they deserve.

  • See Bobby lip-sync to "Rockin' Robin" in 1958 in this clip from AFRTS (Armed Services Radio Television Service

Friday, October 26, 2012

Just a little more Poco...

Poco is one of those bands I've always loved. That country-rock thing that started with Gram Parsons and the Flying Burrito Brothers, Buffalo Springfield and, to an extent, the Lovin' Spoonful, found its perfection with Paul, Richie, George, Rusty and Tim (IMHO). Rose of Cimmaron was released in '76, just after their switch from Epic to ABC, and it was the launching ground for two of their best records ever, Indian Summer and Legend. (Trivia: "Legend" was the last Lp released on ABC Records prior to their absorption by MCA, and "Heart Of The Night" has the distinction of being the first single released on MCA from any ABC Lp.)

This is a fantastic record with some really great Timothy B. Schmitt songs. It holds up well after all this time... Worth seeking out.