Week 4 - Fri 27 Jan
Welcome to the RPM Seven Day Soundtrack, week ending Friday 27th January 2023...and we've thawed out a bit here in the North...in fact today, heard "drumming" and then saw a pair of Greater Spotted Woodpeckers flying away from the oak where the "drumming" had been coming from...so, a sign Spring could be on it's way...after the snow we're being forecasted with, of course!!! In the mean time, what's been assaulting the ears of the RPM community? Look no further; over to...
On Life, the Byrds and David Crosby:
"When David's death was announced last week it almost felt like the passing of an elderly uncle. You know, one who, when you were young, told stories of his exploits as a young man, perhaps in the war, maybe of adventures in foreign climes, of industrial strife or, maybe, of his romances with various ladies. David was like that, right from the inception of the Byrds. His songs spoke of all these things (sometimes naively, sometimes romantically beautiful) for around the first eight to ten years of his recording career. Then, just like that uncle, you didn't visit as often 'cos you had your own life to live and, anyway, you'd heard all his stories before and he hadn't the opportunity to further his life experiences .... he was old, wasn't he? How interesting could his later life be? To me, and it's probably to my discredit, David's musical career seemed unimportant after the Byrds, Crosby, Stills and Nash (and to a lesser extent CSN & Young) and his solo career debut, and peak, the classic 'If I could only remember my name'. This 'high' point came as David descended into a very serious drug addiction, can anything be more addictive than freebasing and/or crack cocaine? Very few rock musicians have ever produced substantial work whilst on 'heavy' drugs, and seem to lose that creative, urgent spark which they had before the monkey climbed on board, think Garcia, Townsend, Clapton and Lennon to name just four. Of course, there are exceptions (Bowie springs to mind) but I felt little urge to explore Davids music when he returned to active service some years ago.......... maybe I will now? But, let's look at his career from 1964 to 1971 when he was at the centre of the musical universe, moving from one top selling group to form another which would achieve even greater global success. I've read lately in some obituaries that David 'joined the Byrds'!!! How wrong can you be? David had been spotted by film and music promoter Jim Dickson, who wanted to branch out into the music business, and he had ensconced the young Crosby into LA's World Pacific Studios during its overnight closure (r&r was still a nine to five business at that time!) after spotting him whilst talent scouting for Jak Holtzman and Elektra Records. After several sessions Dickson was approached by David with a view to expanding the sessions to include a couple of musicians he had seen singing in the coffee houses and who had begun composing their own songs. David duly approached Jim McGuinn and Gene Clark who were more than happy to form a group, especially with the prospect of unlimited free recording time. Over the summer of '64 Michael Clarke was added on drums (after the three of them spotted his Brian Jones 'bowl' haircut whilst playing bongos in a coffee house) and Chris Hillman was recruited from a bluegrass group Dickson was also recording. Recordings of the group (later released as the 'Preflyte' sessions) were taken to Benny Shapiro's house and, after McGuinn, Clark and Croby sang 'live' over the tape, Shapiro's daughter burst in thinking the songs were a new release by the latest rage.... The Beatles. Impressed, thanks to his daughter, Shapiro rang Miles Daivis who then rang Columbia Records head honcho Irving Townsend and a session was immediately set up with the hottest young producer around, Terry Melcher (son of that eternal virgin Doris Day). An early recording given to Holtzman was released by Elektra under the guise of The Beefeaters but, thanks to Dicksons persistence, the now christened Byrds persisted with their recording of Bob Dylans 'Mr Tambourine Man' and, when that single was released in April 1965 the USA really did have a challenger to the 'British Invasion', albeit by aping the style and fashions of the Brits in many cases (think Sir Douglas Quintet for example). During the Byrds short, initial recording career (1965 to 1969) the group were often hit by important songwriting members flying (oops) the nest. Gene Clark, composer of so many of the group's early songs, left just as the controversial 'Eight Miles High' was released in early 1966, and promptly banned as a 'drug' song, but this coincided with the emergence of David and Chris Hillman as songwriters of real excellence. However, perhaps because of this duality, coupled with McGuinn's alleged dictatorial opinion of the groups musical direction, David crossed the Monterey Festival arena to appear as a member of their rival 'folk rockers', Buffalo Springfield, whose members included Steve Stills and Neil Young! Crosby was fired, drummer Michael White left to live in Hawaii and the Byrds were left as a duo to promote one of their finest albums, 'The Notorious Byrd Brothers', where David's place in the group line up seemed to be replaced with a horse peering through a stable door. Of course, the Byrds continued to fly (double oops) and soon recruited new members, including the young rich kid Gram Parsons and continued to have varying degrees of success, ushering in the 'country rock' genre along the way. Crosby, meanwhile, had also befriended Graham Nash of the Hollies who was similarly at odds with his parent group, having seen the relative failure of his composition 'King Midas in Reverse' single, and poor reviews for both the 'Evolution' and 'Butterfly' albums, which was aggravated by the groups reluctance to record 'Marrakesh Express' and their insistence of recording a whole album of Bob Dylan covers. And so, the stage was set for Crosby, Nash and the now solo Steve Stills to formalise their new group, discussed on several occasions 'high' in Laurel Canyon, which was supposed to be run on much more democratic lines. Of course, this was when the heavier drugs began to creep into the music scene and, ultimately, drive the group apart on multitudios occasions. But not before David would recruit virtually all of LA's finest players to record his 'If I....' album before his descent into drugs, guns and prison. Since then he managed to get his life back on to some sort of even keel but, as already mentioned, by that time I had deemed David as not sufficiently critical to warrant my interest and so his musical output since then remains unexplored.... for now. So, for this week's choices (I know, it's been a long time getting to this point!) I'm returning to the 'Notorious.....' era with three songs from those session which were deemed as superfluous, maybe, to the LP, all composed by David, two released as what is now known as a 'non album single' and the third allowed to gather dust in the vaults until the CBS/Re-flyte label released the essential 'Never Before' LP in 1987. Here they are, just three of David's songs which show just how talented he was..."
Lady Friend by The Byrds (7" single a-side, released July 1967)
Don't Make Waves by the Byrds (7" single b-side, as above, with co composer listed as Chris Hillman)
"A fast rocker given away for the Claudia Cardinale/Tony Curtis film of the same name."
Triad by The Byrds (unreleased until 'Never Before' LP)
"Recorded 14-18th August 1967. This was the last Byrds session that David attended. The withholding of 'Triad' was often quoted as the reason he left the Byrds (see above) but after he left he gifted the song to Jefferson Airplane who released it on the 'Crown of Creation' album."
Bonus Track - "A hopeful bonus (I only found this when seeking the 'official' releases above.... Honest, Tim!!!!). An earlier 'classic' in demo form.."
Everybody's Been Burned by The Byrds -
"Who next to join the 'heavenly' choir................ frightening really!!!
"Thank goodness we have had two ice free days and it’s been easy to drive about. Enjoy the thaw folks and happy listening. I’ve also had a great time watching the Australia Open Tennis this week – all that sunshine and views of Melbourne (which is one of my favourite cities) and the tennis has been good too. So the theme this week has to be Aussie Bands."
"Somebody left the fridge door open again down here this week so I found lots to do indoors (still sorting singles at the moment) which allowed me to do lots of unbroken listening. Today much milder which I could have done with whilst dog-sitting for a couple of days earlier in the week. Best wishes to all as ever."
Howlin Wolf Boogie by Howlin Wolf - "I saw a copy of this was up for sale on Ebay so I decided to keep an eye on it in case it looked like making bargain money at around £40. It was knocked down for £225 +p&p so the shellac market is still as healthy as the vinyl. I kept an eye on a series of Beatles albums too - all first or early pressings and they all went well above the collectors guide latest mint pricings. The only downside with shellac of course is that if you accidentally knock or drop it and it cracks or breaks, it's much more terminal than a scuff or scratch and becomes worthless. This is the Wolf's second release on Chess in 1952 (b/w The Wolf is At Your Door) sandwiching two other releases on the famous RPM label (geddit?) in between."
Nothing In This World Can Stop Me Wondering About That Girl by The Kinks - "Whilst continuing to sort my vinyl I played amongst other things, CD's comprising "The Kinks 50th Anthology 1964 - 1971 and really enjoyed this track which was issued on the album "Kinda Kinks". The 5 CD's include all the 'A' and 'B' sides, demos, live recordings, alternate mixes, out-takes and interviews - really interesting if you are a fan of the Kinks like me."
See My Friends by The Kinks - "So, decided to include another Kinks track - one of my favourites at the time of issue and released as an 'A' side in 1965. There's some confusion over the title as the single was released with the misprinted singular 'Friend'..."
"Hi all RPMers....It’s been a couple of weeks since I managed to get my songs out; apologies. Here’s my first this week. I believe that this has been done by many including Tom Jones and is also in the commitments film."
"This is a new band to me that I’ll definitely be watching out for...."
"The last is one that I may have included before, as it’s a favourite. Apologies if I did but it’s always good..."
Stars by Brenda Wootton and John the Fish - "A track from the seventies picked up via comments on an article on one aspect of the current music scene in Cornwall (https://www.theguardian.com/music/2023/jan/24/didgeridoos-clubbers-crazy-cornish-crackers-renaissance If you’re interested)."
The Only Life Gloria Knows by Anthony John Clarke with Dave Pegg - "Heard this song on separate occasions by at least 3 different people recently. This version is performed by the songwriter + Dave Pegg."
A New England by Billy Bragg - "A singalong in Amsterdam in 2022 (what’s not to like)."
"Hi RPMers, I hope everything in your world is peaceful and positive. Here are my three tracks from albums I've listened to this week... I think all three albums have amazing artwork."
"Tim; I should have known that you'd be clued in to Seamus Begley, an amazing talent. Sounds as though it must have been a fun trip... Soundtracks are so evocative...
Re David Crosby, I once drove a Hillman Imp to the Atlas mountains with Marrakesh Express playing on the cassete player..."
Takin' a Slow Train by Sierra Hull & Justin Moses - "Sierra Hull is touring the UK this week. Two dates left! She plays this regularly at live shows. I was never particularly taken with the original recording of ‘Takin' a Slow Train’ by Larry Sparks, (just a bit too slick for me) but this I like."
I'm On Fire by The Staves - "I was never a huge fan of Brucie either, but this is also nice.
Dancin' in the dark by Jim Eldon - "And, particularly with the Yorkshire connection, I couldn’t mention any Bruce Springsteen cover without reference to my absolute all time favourite… which, on my behalf, our Master of Ceremonies, Tim played, to the assembled multitude a while ago at Elsing…" ("Seems like only yesterday"...wistful Tim.)
"Now and then I think I should stop buying "Mojo", but then a great issue like the latest one comes along. Features on "Time Out of Mind," John Lee Hooker, Christine McVie, Terry Hall, Rick Rubin... etc. What's not to like?
Three selections inspired by this month's edition of the magazine...Best wishes to all RPMers as always."
This is Hip by John Lee Hooker - "Feature article in the mag..."
I'm Doing Fine Now by New York City - "Co-written, arranged and produced by Thom Bell. (Obituary in the mag)."
No Reason by Sunny War - "Lead album review in the mag..."
"Hi folks....Hope all's good. No chat, battery's nearly flat. 3 (+1 if Tim allows...) by Martha Tilston, saw her play last night at the Acorn, Penzance - exquisite, spell binding & tingly...
Take care & have a great weekend. Cheers!"
"Hi everyone, here’s my 3 tunes this week."
"An acoustic / prog rock / acoustic sandwich this week..."
Jet Plane In A Rocking Chair by Richard Thompson - "Some more RT as promised...this from Acoustic Classics II. One thing that's struck me listening to Acoustic Classics I & II is how strong Richard's older songs are as acoustic versions.....I'd even go so far as to say, some are better than the original 'electric' versions. Acoustic Rarities to follow....."
I See You performed by Yes - "Having given Time And A Word an airing last time, I put on the self titled Yes, the band's 1969 debut album this week. It's a superb piece of work and has two cover versions contained within it's eight tracks; Every Little Thing by The Beatles and I See You by the Byrds. I See You has always been the stand out track for me and I didn't know that it was a Byrds song for quite a while. So this is also a kinda David Crosby tribute as well, I suppose, as he co-wrote this with Jim/Roger McGuinn."
Albert's Place by Martyn Joseph - "Jackie chose a song from Radio 2s 21st Century Folk series of programmes a few weeks ago. If you haven't given the series a listen, please do so, as it's well worth it.
Here's a link if you feel so inclined https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/series/m001h4h9
For me, Martyn Joseph's song was the strongest and most thought provoking of the series and pays tribute to Andrea Bell and her soup kitchen in Sunderland."
'Til Next Time...