Here Comes Summer…..

Sure,
every time this year,
as temps and spirits begin to rise
and the time gets right for doing
something in the street,

we could So easily get
laid back and lost within the usual grooves
of those Beach Boys,
Jan and/or Dean,
Fantastic Baggys (!!!)
or even Los Nooney Rickett Four.

but,
If you’re ready for a brand new beat instead
all this summer long,

May I suggest you tune on, log in,
turn up and hang at least 10dB
right over there at
Gary Pig Gold dot com,

thanx to our very hot pals
dba Zuzula, that is.

Listen !!

Lost Grooves newly released for May 26, 2008 – P.F. Sloan edition

Just released by Big Beat in the UK, Here's Where I Belong – The Best of the Dunhill Years 1965-1967, a long awaited compilation of Phil Sloan's two scarce mid 1960s Dunhill albums, plus singles. Included is the stunning "Karma," a song it's impossible to spin once.

Track Listing

1. Sins Of A Family
2. Take Me For What I'm Worth
3. What Exactly's The Matter With Me
4. I'd Have To Be Out Of My Mind
5. Eve Of Destruction
6. This Mornin'
7. I Get Out Of Breath
8. This Is What I Was Made For
9. Ain't No Way I'm Gonna Change My Mind
10. All The Things I Do For You Baby
11. (Goes To Show) Just How Wrong You Can Be
12. What Am I Doing Here With You
13. From A Distance
14. The Man Behind The Red Balloon
15. Let Me Be
16. Here's Where You Belong
17. This Precious Time
18. Halloween Mary
19. I Found A Girl
20. On Top Of A Fence
21. Lollipop Train (You Never Had It So Good)
22. Upon A Painted Ocean
23. City Women
24. A Melody For You
25. Sunflower, Sunflower
26. Karma (Study In Divinations)
27. I Can't Help But Wonder, Elizabeth

 

Gene Clark is for the Byrds!

Gene Clark w/ Carla Olsen – In Concert
Collector’s Choice

Roots rock fans should bow down and give thanks to Collector’s Choice for this recent release. Not only will fans of the genre be absolutely thrilled with some previous unreleased live work from former Byrd Gene Clark but having ex-Textone Carla Olsen along for the ride is a double treat. Not only is Olsen a great singer/songwriter in her own right, but her work with Clark in the ’80’s was Clark’s most fruitful partnership since he left the Byrds. Clark seemed to shine whenever Olsen was nearby and both artists always brought their A-games whenever they decided to work together. Thanks to these newly discovered live recordings, we can once again marvel at Clark’s gifts and the fabulous interplay he had with Olsen, and though Clark always faired better as a team player than he did on his own as his history tends to bear out, he was a marvelous artist and one of rock’s best songwriters.

If nothing else, his brief sojourns with The Byrds will bear this out.

While he was only with the band for two brief stretches, Gene Clark will always be best known for being a part of the earliest incarnation of the Byrds (1964-1966) for which he wrote and sang lead on some of the band’s best known songs (“Eight Miles High”, “Feel A Whole Better,” and “Here Without You”. But before his stint with the Byrds, he was a part of folk-pop group The New Christy Minstrels, who scored a few hits on the pop charts in the early ’60’s. Thankfully for fans of country-rock, he eventually became tired of the Minstrels constant touring and quit the band. He met Jim McGuinn (who later changed his name to Roger) and together they formed the Byrds, becoming forerunners of the influential country-rock sound which would eventually influence artists like Linda Ronstadt and The Eagles, among many others. As previously mentioned, Clark’s time in the Byrds was brief with contributing factors such as a fear of flying and growing resentment from the others for his dominant songwriting skills leading to his exit. Clark was immediately signed by Columbia as a solo act but his debut solo album did very little business, due to his teaming with the Gosdin Brothers for an interesting record. Seems the world wasn’t ready for a total rock/country hybrid at that point in time, though the album was brilliant in execution.

Clark’s next project was met with the same indifference as his album with The Gosdins. After the album with Gosdin failed to sell, Columbia had dropped him and he signed with A&M Records. This time, Clark teamed up with Doug Dillard in another attempt to blend country and rock but after two albums, indifference from the public caused the collaboration to disintegrate. It wasn’t until 1971 that Clark’s first solo project was issued. Entitled White Light, it didn’t sell well in America but sold decently overseas, which gave Clark the opportunity to record his next album for the overseas market only. At this point, he left A&M to join back up with the Byrds in time for a reunion album, which unfortunately didn’t stick. New but mostly unappreciated solo albums released on Asylum Records followed in 1974 and 1977. Thanks to an overseas tour on which he found himself playing on a bill with former Byrds Chris Hillman and Roger McGuinn, Clark found himself once again in a band with his ex-Byrd-mates. Despite initial anticipation for the project, the album was produced in a way that made them sound unlike anything releated to The Byrds. This, although purposely done to differentiate the new group from its’ members’ pasts, effectively killed the group as fans wanted to hear something close to the Byrds. Thanks to R.E.M. and all the bands in the Paisley Underground scene paying tribute to the Byrds in interviews and in their music, Clark released another solo album in ’84. He then started his collaboration with Olson, which actually became his best success as a solo artist. Unfortunately, at around this same time, Clark became very ill, dealing with ulcers from years of heavy drinking and having a large portion of his stomach and intestines removed. By 1991, and in the mnidst of a second project with Olson, Clark would die from bleeding ulcers.

For someone so talented, that he ended up towards the end of his life more of a footnote than a star is very disheartening. The heart and soul of the early Byrds, Clark had all the talent in the world but let bad business decisions keep him from reaching his full potential, though his beautiful songs have given him a lasting legacy.

As for Olson, her first foray into the public eye was her band The Textones, which she formed with future Go-Go’s member Kathy Valentine in the late ’70’s. The band was more of a regional success than a national one, but their live rep got them a deal with A&M, which released their first album. Despite being a relative unknown, Olson hung around the right people and was able to corral such names as Ry Cooder, Don Henley, and Gene Clark. Though the band did not record again until ’87, Olson kept busy with tons of live shows, turning her band into a well-oiled machine which could survive without regular album releases by being simply incredible live. Her next album was her first duet album with Clark, So Rebellious A Lover, which garnered near unanimous praise and resurrected Clark’s career while advancing Olson’s. Subsequent albums featured Olson both solo and with other duet partners, most notably former Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor, but her career has slown down somewhat and she has released only a few new albums the past fifteen years.

This album captures Clark and Olson’s live concerts following the biggest success of their careers, the duet album So Rebellious a Lover. Clark’s health problems (thanks to years of abusing alcohol) and longtime fear of flying prevented a full-scale tour in support of the album, but Clark played scattered live dates after its release, and this album gathers recordings from shows Clark gave in late 1988 and early 1990. The first disc showcases seven songs Clark performed on the NPR radio series Mountain Stage. Clark delivers strong and passionate solo acoustic interpretations of five numbers (including a wonderful “Tried So Hard”) and later sits in with the band for two songs, with the musicians lending subtle support. The disc closes out with three rehearsal recordings with Olson taped at Clark’s home. While the sound quality of the recordings are only passable, the pair’s harmonies are strong and the music heartfelt. Disc two is devoted to a concert Clark and Olson played at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica. The show is intimate, with Clark and Olson joined only by the spare accompaniment of guitarist Duane Jarvis and bassist David Provost. Clark is in splendid voice for this show, and he delivers a set that spans the length of his career, from the Byrds to all points beyond. Deferring to Clark for most of the set, Olson is there when the music needs her, and her presence is an immeasurable asset to this performance.

Fans of roots rock are going to love this CD. Full of fire and energy, what has always looked on paper to be an odd pairing has always come up aces whenever they’ve gotten together to record or play live. But again, Clark seems to always come alive when part of a team or group. Olson for her part has always been part of a band, and keeps a band mentality even when her name is up front. Plus, her affection for Clark is obvious. Not in a “she’s in love with him” way but it’s clear she has always loved his early work and is slightly in awe when they play together, though not so much that it mars the proceedings. Remember, when she started performing with Clark in the mid-’80’s he had pretty much been forgotten at that point in his career. She didn’t need him at that point as much as he needed her but you can feel the affection they had for one another. This is a wonderful record. Please check it out.

In the Sill of the Night

Judee Sill – Live In London: The BBC Recordings 1972-1973
Water

I love the name of the label which has put out this fantastic Judee Sill album. It’s a helluva label name when you think about it. And don’t let them fool you. A rose by any other name would not have caught on. All these bands and hipsters who get creative with their label names ought to think about this one here: “water”. Something you need, right? Something you can’t live without, huh? Something that brings life! Water! Just like the music this label releases. Maybe I’ve been going on and on, being facetious to some extent, but when a label is able to dig up something like this release, I believe said label is due some praise. Sill has long been a cult figure, though if more people had been paying attention there is no doubt she could have been a major player. Not only did she have great songwriting abilities, she had a passion and conviction which made you become invested in every word she sang. Oftentimes, passion so intense can only be acquired after overcoming tragedy and pain and unfortunately Sill carried more tragedy and pain around in her tourtured soul than a group of people could handle.

The bleak outlook Sill conveyed through her music was rooted in painful childhood experiences. Despite being born into a wealthy family, Sill found no solace in her family’s wealth and serves as the poster girl for money not buying happiness. Her father passed away while she was very young and her beloved brother died soon after, giving Sill the bleak view which would manifest itself through her life and through her art. Her mother ended up remarrying but Sill despised her stepfather and wasn’t too thrilled with her mother deciding to remarry someone who Sill felt did not hold a candle to her father. So, how to get back at them? The way most kids do – run away. But instead of just saying it and coming back home in time for dinner like most of us did when we were little, she decided to live her life as a constantly rambling artist who never really settled down anywhere. It was when she began her journies that she started turning her love for music into something more. She began to perform at clubs and coffeehouses, or any other little hole in the wall allowing her to sing. While she was just performing for kicks at first, it soon turned into a serious pursuit for Sills and had the dual purpose of supplying her with cash so she could support her heroin habit. Unfortunately for Sills, when she was just getting started and performances were either for free or few and far between, she turned to other means to get drug money, including prostitution. By 1969 she had served a few months in person after getting busted and managed to kick her habit by the time she was released, at which time she decided to focus her energies completely on music. Shortly after her return to Los Angeles she was introduced to future record label mogul David Geffen who was, at that point, just starting up his new Asylum imprint devoted to singer/songwriters. Immediately impressed with Sill’s singing and songwriting talent, Geffen signeed her up immediately for his label. Geffen introduced Sills to Graham Nash who produced some songs for her debut, the rest being produced by Bob Harris, Sill’s onetime husband. Though her first album, the self titled Judee Sill, was released in 1971 to great critical acclaim, it stiffed despite the heavy miles logged by Sill on the tours she did with members of Crosby, Stills and Nash. Compared to (and on the same label with) Joni Mitchell and even Carole King, it could have been too much of the same thing for audiences to distinguish enough difference in Sill’s work to latch on to her as a personality in her own right. A perfectionist, Sill’s next album took over two years to make, a rarity at that time. When she finally released the self-produced Heart Food in 1972, she had learned no one else could convey her own vision better than herself. Thus, she made sure her album was layered in lush strings and heavily orchestrated. All the extra effort was for naught, though, as the album was greeted with raves from critics but almost universally ignored by the public. Soon after, she withdrew from the public eye and resumed her drug habit.

If I was to review this album in one word, I would say the word would be “heartbreaking”. Though Sills performance is fantastic, it is hard to banish from one’s mind how much she had suffered to get there and how much she was to suffer down the line. Her voice is one of a kind, and her accomplished guitar playing ( not to mention her production and arranging skills) signal an immense talent who was just unable to capture the public’s attention at a crucial time. Folk music would never again be as popular as it was during those years and as singer/songwriters ended up turning to light pop as their means of getting over, Sill’s more substantial music languished forgotten by all but a few die hard fans. Luckily, like fellow cult artist Nick Drake, time has added to her mystique and now her recording are sought out by music cognescenti as Holy Grails deservinga closer look. After listening to this live performance, you will know why. Gone are most of the bells and whistles of her albums, replaced by the stark elegance of her voice, guitar and beaten-down heart.

Some say Judee Sill sang true soul music and I agree, though don’t expect boomin’ bass beats or the Memphis Horns on these tracks. Expect heartfelt songs conveying a sense of loss and desperation and a performance straight from the depths of Sill’s heart. Sill poured everything into her career and was devastated when she didn’t see much of a return. For all of her immense talent, she died broke from a drug overdose, years after people had completely forgotten about her. In fact, when learning of her death, many of her peers were surprised, thinking she had already died years earlier such was how completely she vanished from view. Now, courtesy of Water, she has reappeared, in a way. Take advantage my friends, of this newly found live recording, to get to know the music of someone you should have known already. This is killer. Pick it up.

Lost Grooves newly released for April 29, 2008

Peel an eye and ear for these interesting new releases and reissues…

The Archies, Sugar Sugar: Greatest Hits

The Chipmunks, Sing the Beatles Hits

James Brown, Playlist Plus

Steve Earle, Copperhead Road [EXTRA TRACKS] [ORIGINAL RECORDING REMASTERED]

Fairport Convention, Meet on the Ledge [LIVE]

The Flamin' Groovies, Flamingo

Robert Forster, The Evangelist

David Johansen, David Johansen

MC5, Anthology

The New York Dolls, Live At The Fillmore East

Plus a new book on the Lost Grooves tip

Tony Visconti: The Autobiography: Bowie, Bolan and the Brooklyn Boy