Shine on, you crazy diamond.
Hope you all had a Happy Fourth of July! I sure did, and the resulting recovery from said celebrations have made me once again kinda slow on the draw here in blog-land and I am once again begging you to bear with me as I catch up.
After a few blogs about the genius of soul that is Don Covay, I promised I would hip you to a series of tribute CDs to soul heroes which came out in the early-to-mid-’90’s on the Razor and Tie label and Shanachie Records.
The tributes, one each for Curtis Mayfield, Don Covay and Arthur Alexander, were spearheaded by a rocker with Memphis ties, Jon Tiven. For those who are unfamiliar with the name, Tiven has bumped around the music scene since the late ’60’s but started gaining fame in the mid-’70’s as part of the Big Star axis. Although never in that groundbreaking pop band, Tiven played in other bands with various permutations of the members and also counted among his bandmates and collaborators unsung Memphis pop geniuses (and who I will devote future blogs to) Van Duren and Tommy Hoehn.
Knocking sround Memphis and later New York City, Tiven slowly gained notice as an excellent producer and songwriter, as well as artist in his own right. Many bands and artists have covered Tiven and his bass-playing wife Sally’s songs over the years and current albums by Ellis Hooks, Shemekia Copeland and Frank Black bear evidence of his song-writing ability and producing skills.
Back in the early ’90’s, Tiven started releasing these great tribute CDs featuring a coterie of great performers like Covay, Ron Wood, members of rock band Living Colour, Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe, Iggy Pop and on and on. Though they are hard to find today, I suggest searching them out if you can. The performances are all top notch and many feature Tiven and his band playing back-up.
I am set to interview Tiven soon and I will flesh out the story behind these tributes in a few weeks but I hope you endeavor to search them out and listen to them. They are possibly the best tribute CDs ever in a world that has way too many of them. The artists taking part are showcased well and the artists being honored couldn’t possibly have their songs lavished with more respect.
Also keep your eyes peeled for any CD with Tiven’s name in the credits. He is a throwback to the days when people cared about music and everything he produces has an authentic feel to it. Whenever I stumble across his name on a CD, I pick it up because I know I am going to like it. He has a great ear for new artists, is a great songwriter and has a cool little recording career going himself. An album on Rounder from the late ’90’s is especially good. Search that out as well.
The Music Nerd knows…..
Club Wow was formed in Cleveland, Ohio in January of 1982. Jimmy Zero (former Dead Boy) and Billy Sullivan (Paul Pope Band) had been recording together the previous year and decided to form a group. They asked Frank Secich (former Blue Ash bassist) and Jeff West (former drummer of the Testors) to join. Club Wow made their debut performance at Pirate’s Cove in Cleveland on April 1, 1982. Over the next few years Club Wow played regularly in Cleveland, Youngstown and Buffalo, NY. They also recorded many high quality demos in Cleveland throughout 1983-84. After failing to land a record contract when playing a major label showcase at "Tracks" in New York City in early 1985, Club Wow broke up. Recently, the long lost master recordings of Club Wow were unearthed. Well, they were found in a suitcase in Frank Secich’s cellar where they had been placed and promptly forgotten years ago. The good news is that these rare recordings will soon be made available for public consumption. Stay tuned for details.
Club Wow 1982 Left to right: Billy Sullivan, Frank Secich, Jeff West and Jimmy Zero
In the early 1990s, 1947project bloggers Kim Cooper and Nathan Marsak collaborated on a demented college radio program in Santa Barbara called The Manny Chavez Show. Nathan played Manny, a washed-up Catskills comic with a soft spot for bizarre thrift store records, while Kim manned the boards and giggled at Manny’s unfunny gags in the character of daffy twins Mandy and Candy Dubois. A lowlight of their broadcast career was the night Nathan got arrested on his way to the studio, and the County Sheriff agreed to let him phone the show if he’d deliver an anti-drunk driving message.
These days, their collaboration is somewhat more scholarly, though still demented: they blog historic Los Angeles crimes of 1947 and 1907 at the 1947project website, and lead Crime Bus Tours to scenes of forgotten mayhem.
This Friday night, July 14 (and into the morning of the 15th), from midnight to three, Kim and Nathan return to the airwaves as special guests of Stella, whose KXLU (88.9 FM) program Stray Pop has been providing an eclectic disarray of music with in studio guests since 1980.
They’ll be sharing favorite local true crime cases from their upcoming Pasadena Confidential Crime Bus Tour, spinning incredibly odd thrift store vinyl, plus talking about Kim’s projects like the Bubblegum Achievement Awards, Lost in the Grooves, the long-lived journal of unpopular culture Scram and her recent 33 1/3 book on Neutral Milk Hotel and the Elephant 6 collective. Listen for a special visit from Manny Chavez and his moldy joke book, and call in with questions or comments.
What: Manny Chavez Show Reunion
When: Friday July 14/Saturday July 15 from midnight-3am
Where: KXLU 88.9 FM in L.A., streaming at http://www.kxlu.com
Request line: (310) 338-KXLU
You know, Japan has already given us, in semi- chronological order, The Blue Comets, The Tigers, coooool live albums from The Ventures, Honeycombs, and the late, very great Buck Owens, plus of course those twin teen titans themselves Puffy (Ami Yumi). Domo arigato, I believe is the only applicable phrase right here.
Nobly carrying quite on with that super-fine tradition is the one and only Daisuke Kambe and his Tokyo-based Wizzard In Vinyl label. He, and they, have been responsible for bringing to discriminating ears worldwide the untold pleasures of The Playmates (Jam meet Hamburg Beatles!), Treeberrys (best cover-art graphics since at least The Association), Movin’ Jelly (deftly ready to pick up if NRBQ ever decide to leave off), plus only the very very highest quality non- J-Pop from across the globe, including our aforementioned Bill Lloyd. Why, I think you’ll even hear Yours Quite Truly singing my Who’s Next version of “Rock And Roll Love Letter” on the Men In Plaid Rollers tribute disc in there somewhere…
However, Daisuke’s latest gracious Package to Pig contained above-exceptional new discs by two combos ALL Lost Groovers should hook onto asap imho:
First, there’s those living coloured Oranges, upon whose so-aptly-titled Teen Rock are squeezed twenty wholly-rockin’ sound-biters in fifty minutes flat. Had Eric Carmen continued writing Top Tens for Shaun Cassidy; had Herman and his Hermits mid-wifed that l-u-v child dem Ramones sorrowfully never sired… in other words, The Oranges taste no less like one gigantic, sugary-Sweet, Chinni-Chapping all-day sucker for the lower extremities, believe you me!
And, as if that wasn’t all, Here Come The Mayflowers, who are never once afraid to pack a whole lotta Power deep into their Pop. Why, it’s just as if Jellyfish played one big Cheap Trick at the XTC / Hollies summit meeting which, until now, never got a chance to happen.
Yes, you just gotta check any, or ideally all of the above,
available right now right there at, in Daisuke’s own words, “the best place for crystalline guitarpop & crunchy powerpop.”
Tell ‘em Puffy Gary sentcha…..
When last we left mild-mannered funk hero Don Covay, he was languishing in obscurity, off the charts himself but scoring some hits by writing songs for others. He had put out two great but poorly received blues-rock albums under the moniker Jefferson Lemon Blues Band and was scrambling to find a way to get a bonafide hit.
Being a great songwriter, everyone but Covay knew it was just a matter of time before he got back on the charts. Luckily, it happened with his first album back in a soul groove, which he had largely abandoned when he put out his blues rock experiments.
The album came out in 1973 and was called Superdude. It did wonders for Covay’s career. Not only did it give him three singles which hit high on the charts, but it gave him exposure again, exposure he so desperately needed to continue his side career writing hits for others. As so often happens in the pop and rock world, before artists will give you a chance to write and produce for them you have to score some hits for yourself first. Ask Barry Gibb from the BeeGees about all of his increased songwriting and production activity once those disco hits started coming. His career went into overdrive.
Not only did the album do well back then and revive Covay’s career, but it has stood the test of time by being a source of many samples for modern-day hits and being on so many beatheads’ “must-get” lists. Although it is out of print currently, it should only be a matter of time before this Holy Grail of funk is once again available to the general public. Why it hasn’t been reissued yet is a mystery to me.
While Covay has recorded sporadically since (his last album came out in 2002) Superdude has always been known as the nadir of Covay’s career as an artist in his own right. He continued to score a hit every so often with songs he wrote which other artists would cover but the hits from Superdude were to be the last ones he scored under his own name. The album cemented his place as a soul titan for evermore, though, and wherever people enjoy soul music you can bet someone’s stepping up to the mic and getting ready to sing one of Covay’s hits.
The next blog will feature a series of tributes to soul stars in which Covay figured heavily as both participant and honoree….
Who do you tribute?
The Music Nerd knows……
Two members of Blue Ash (Bill Bartolin and Frank Secich) will be appearing on a cut for the upcoming tribute to Greg Shaw on Bomp Records. The song they recorded is a cover of "Him Or Me….What’s It Gonna Be?" by Paul Revere and the Raiders. Also, featured on the track are Ohio musicians: Jimmy Zero (Dead Boys), George Cabaniss (Color Me Gone, Hammer Damage Band), Billy Sullivan (Raspberries reunion band), John Koury and Pete Drivere (Infidels), Dave Swanson (Rainy Day Saints) and Canadian, David "Quinton" Steinberg of (Stiv Bators Band and Mods). The tribute album to Greg is novel in it’s approach in that it will be comprised of Greg’s favorite songs done by some of his favorite artists. It’s tentatively scheduled for release late this year or early 2007. Blue Ash also have 2 never-before-released cuts "She Cried For 15 Years" and "Say Goodbye" on an Australian compilation called "Planet Of The Popboomerang 2". It’s a 2cd set that features American power pop artists on one disc and on the other, artists from all over the world. You can check out samples at: www.popboomerang.com Frank Secich will also appear as a solo artist on an upcoming tribute to Stiv Bators out of Italy. The tribute is called "I’m Not Just Anyone…A Portrait Of Stiv" Frank’s song is called "The Stiv Bators Ghost Tour". Artists from around the world have contributed covers of Dead Boys, Wanderers, Lords Of The New Church and Stiv Bators Band songs. Http://www.latexxxteens.com/
Frank Secich, Jim Kendzor, Bill Bartolin and Jeff Rozniata of Blue Ash 1974
Blue Ash is glad and honored to be part of the "Lost In The Grooves" family. This is a brief history of the band. Blue Ash was formed in 1969 by Frank Secich (bass guitar), Jim Kendzor (vocals), Bill "Goog" Yendrek (lead guitar) and David Evans (drums). The band debuted at a psychedelic club called "The Freak Out" in Youngstown, Ohio on October 3, 1969. Determined to go against the then omnipresent long-guitar-solo-jam bands, Blue Ash would forge a style in the manner of their own teen-aged years heroes: Beatles, Who, Kinks, Byrds, Beau Brummels, Hollies, Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, and many others mixed in from the mid-60’s. Coupled with a wild stage-show and the management of Geoffrey Jones, Blue Ash soon became very popular on the teen-dance and club circuit of PA, NY, Ohio and W.VA. In October of 1970, guitarist Bill Yendrek was replaced by Bill Bartolin. For the next few years Blue Ash played a hectic 200-250 dates a year throughout the region. During that time the songwriting team of Secich-Bartolin were stockpiling an enormous amount of original material. In 1972, they were signed to a recording contract with Mercury Records by the late , great (legendary A&R man/ rock writer) Paul Nelson. Paul also signed " The New York Dolls" around the same time. Their debut lp "No More, No Less" (1973) received rhapsodic reviews in the rock press. Blue Ash along with Big Star and Raspberries became critical darlings of a new sound later to be called "power pop". With not enough sales or FM airplay came the death knell to the first wave of 70’s power pop bands. Blue Ash continued on and in 1977 released a 2nd lp on Playboy Records. In 1979 the band broke up. In the ensuing years Blue Ash developed a world-wide cult following with many groups recording their songs: Records, Finkers, Michael Monroe to name a few. Over the years there was rumoured to be tons of unreleased Blue Ash material. In 2004, Not Lame Records released a 2CD set of it with 44 songs called "Around Again". Blue Ash is now reformed (but not too reformed) and play out occasionally. The band consists of all 4 original members plus 2nd drummer Jeff Rozniata, Bob Darke (bass) and Brian Wingrove (piano, vocals). For more about Blue Ash go to: www.BlueAshMusic.com and…. http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BlueAsh/