Monday, May 30, 2005

The Blue Velvets

The Blue Velvets were formed in 1959 by three high school friends that shared a love for Rock & Roll and Rhythm & Blues. They practiced in the basement of the guitar player’s house and were soon playing school dances and fairs around El Cerrito, California. They were popular and played well enough that they got a job backing up an R&B singer named James Powell for a recording session when they were still in ninth grade.

The guitar player’s older brother Tom had recently quit his job as the singer for a popular local band called Spider Webb and The Insects. Tom asked if he could sing for the Blue Velvets and the band let him join up. Up until this time the Blue Velvets had been an instrumental act, mostly because none of the teens had the courage to sing.

The band had been recording demos and passing them around to local labels. Orchestra, a small Oakland area label liked the songs on the demo tape well enough two release a 45 of two songs written by the brothers. A few months later, two more songs were released on a single.

The records were not hits so the Blue Velvets kept playing frat parties and at bars that they weren’t old enough to drink in. Singing in clubs all night was a strain Tom’s voice so his younger brother John gave him a break and started singing more songs.

In 1964, Fantasy Records, a local jazz label that was looking to sign some rock acts, became interested in the Blue Velvets. Fantasy told the band that they would only if they would change their name to a more modern name: The Visions. That modern name didn’t last long because by the time the record was released, the Visions had changed their name to The Golliwogs, a name that they kept until 1967.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

For the stars are beautiful still

The Rainbow
-- Leslie Coulson 1889-1916

I watch the white dawn gleam,
To the thunder of hidden guns.
I hear the hot shells scream
Through skies as sweet as a dream
Where the silver dawnbreak runs.
And stabbing of light
Scorches the virginal white.
But I feel in my being the old, high, sanctified thrill,
And I thank the gods that dawn is beautiful still.

From death that hurtles by
I crouch in the trench day-long
But up to a cloudless sky
From the ground where our dead men lie
A brown lark soars in song.
Through the tortured air,
Rent by the shrapnel's flare,
Over the troubled dead he carols his fill,
And I thank the gods that the birds are beautiful still.

Where the parapet is low
And level with the eye
Poppies and cornflowers glow
And the corn sways to and fro
In a pattern against the sky.
The gold stalks hide
Bodies of men who died
Charging at dawn through the dew to be killed or to kill.
I thank the gods that the flowers are beautiful still.

When night falls dark we creep
In silence to our dead.
We dig a few feet deep
And leave them there to sleep -
But blood at night is red,
Yea, even at night,
And a dead man's face is white.
And I dry my hands, that are also trained to kill,
And I look at the stars - for the stars are beautiful still.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Wonderful. Adorable.

"We were sharing rooms together, I was sitting up looking at TV, and he said, 'You know Paul, I'm thinking about going out for myself. I think I made it as far as I wanna go into the spiritual field. I want to get out into the pop field and make a name for myself. I want to have, not a Soul Stirrers name, but a Sam Cooke name, and I would like for you to come with me.' I said 'I would like very well to go with you, but that's not my field. I don't think I'd like it over there. I feel more safety on this side.'" -- Paul Foster, The Soul Stirrers second lead voice

Friday, May 27, 2005


Dragline is another band that I don’t know much about even though I booked them to play shows several times. They were a lot of fun live and caused me to drink lots of beer which may be why I don't remember much.

Here's what I do remember: The band was based in Atlanta and formed in '96 or so. I think that most of the quartet was from South Carolina originally. They released 1 CD on their own label. It’s got several good songs and a great one.

Dragline broke up in '99 when one of them joined Truckadelic, another band that I don’t know much about. That's it. Anybody got anything to add?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Take it from the man

In case you missed a record or 9 by the the Brian Jonestown Massacre.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Those Jerry Reed songs

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Goodbye Jack

Welcome To Goose Creek

When Superfine Dandelion broke up, Ed Black & Mike McFadden started recording an album for their Chief Root Wizard and The Silvery Moon project. At the same time, they helped out another Phoenix musician by adding guitars and vocals to an album that he was recording.

Taking a break from his band, Richie Hart & The Heart Beats, Charles Gearheart was working on a country rock album with psychedelic leanings. McFadden & Black couldn’t get any labels to release the Chief Root Wizard and The Silvery Moon album. Capitol Records was interested in Gearheart’s album and released the Goose Creek Symphony album in 1970. The record is worth getting just for the song that has a backwards jaw-harp Another one was written by Mike McFadden.

Capitol wanted a tour to support the record so Gearheart formed a band. Goose Creek Symphony recorded some less & less interesting LPs with some good songs in the early seventies and then took a long break. Gearheart got the band going again about 10 years ago and they’re still going.

Mike McFadden moved to Los Angeles where he formed a band called Elton Duck with Mike Condello. Also in the band was a pre-Bangle Michael Steele.

Ed Black went on to play in several bands finally ending up in Nashville playing in Bailey and The Boys. Black died in 1998.

let's get serious for a minute

There are a few artists I like mostly for their sense of humor, you might even say clownishness, but every once in a while they come out with something un-absurd that also really catches my ear. I'm thinking mostly of Jerry Reed; I LOVE "When You're Hot, You're Hot", I don't care if some people think it's redneck b.s., because it's GREAT--musically accomplished and hilarious. But right now I'm wearing the grooves off his RCA Lp "Oh, What A Woman." With the exception of the sappy "Today Is Mine" (there's always a sappy ballad on Jerry Reed's albums) this record is full of moody guitar pieces played by Reed and a funky band. The title track is a collection of hip southernisms (the word "britches" appears in it twice) about an excellent wife, I love it. But the killer track here is "Wayfaring Stranger", a gospelish lament, done here though with a sort of bossanova organ accompnying the scat singing, guitar picking Reed. It's way too short. And "Roving Gambler", done up with some sweet countrypolitan strings and an uncredited female singer who takes just two lines to make you wonder who she is, is not bad either.

Well, now that I've teased you with those descriptions I'm sorry to say I don't have mp3s of these; I'll see what I can do about that. In the meantime, here's one by another cat who's usually seen as a caricature of a pimp, but on this track he's doing something a little different: it's a reworking of the old gospel number (I know it through Rosetta Tharpe's version) "This Train."

Johnny "Guitar" Watson, "Jet Plane"

Monday, May 23, 2005

The Other Sidewalk

Ed Black joined The Mile Ends just as they were starting to disintegrate in the fall of 1966. Personality conflicts and disagreements about the direction the band was taking left Black and McFadden as the only members. The band recorded a few songs at a last session, bringing in Mike Condello (of “Soggy Cereal” fame) to help out. Songs from the session were released on two different 45s, both with the same song as the flip.

Mike McFadden has said that he was being influenced by Buffalo Springfield, The Lovin’ Spoonful, and the new bands coming out of California. Ed Black was influenced by country music, Waylon Jennings in particular. Some of the songs are sunshiny pop, some are psychedelic and one of the happiest sounding songs would not get played on the radio today.

Superfine Dandelion’s one LP was released in 1967 by Mainstream Records. The first single from the record did well regionally but Mainstream was busy with Big Brother & the Holding Company. There was very little promo for the Superfine record and it did not go much farther.

The band did not last too long. Soon after the record came out, bassist Rick Anderson quit and formed a band called The Beans that relocated to San Francisco and eventually became The Tubes.

McFadden and Black were without a band again. The two were soon back in the studio with a new project called Chief Root Wizard and The Silvery Moon.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Mile Ends well

The Mile Ends were started in 1966 when singer Mike McFadden and guitarist George Alexander started rehearsing with bassist Steve Fresener. The band's manager owned a Tempe Arizona teen club called the Fifth Estate and made The Mile Ends the house band. The band got to open for great bands like The Rascals, The Lovin' Spoonful, The Leaves & Them. The also got to open for The Doors first show outside of Los Angeles. The band also included an Australian guitarist named Richard Mickel who was a Pretty Things fan.

McFadden was only 17 years old when his manager asked him to write a song about drinking. He came up with the the great "Bottle Up And Go", which ended up on the bands sole 45 with a so-so cover of Roy Orbison's song "Candy Man" on the A-side.


Dark was the night, and cold was the ground.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Every dog has his day

I've loved this song for years, ever since I heard Tav Falco's great cover version. And when I loved the song even more when I heard the original version by Roger & The Gypsies on LAS VEGAS GRIND, VOL 4.

I've loved Eddie Bo for years, ever since The Old Road Hog played a cut-out copy of the CHECK MR. POPEYE record at my house one drunken night a long time ago.

So imagine how surprised I was yesterday when I found out the Roger & The Gypsies were Eddie Bo playing under an assumed name!

Anyway, Vampisoul Records has a new Eddie Bo Anthology coming out. Wow! This looks to be as essential as the recent Charlie Poole compilation. I know what I want for Father's Day.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Something's Gotta Give

There’s a billboard that I pass on the way to work every morning. It’s for a Christian radio station that promises “positive, uplifting music.” I bet they don’t play anything from THE TENEMENT YEAR, Pere Ubu’s terrific 1988 comeback LP even though it is both positive & uplifting. This is happy music to me anyway. Not as happy as some stuff but this is Up With People compared to the band’s earlier stuff.

Ubu should have at least one hit song from record. The label tried, they did put out a single. Too bad they picked the wrong song, this should have been the single. Is it really that different from some of the other chart hits of 1987? Maybe so but I think it could’ve been a hit. The B-sides are non-LP, which is rare for Pere Ubu. They usually don’t have any unused tracks lying around. Keep in mind that most bands save the weird or toss-off stuff for B-sides. Most (OK, all) Pere Ubu songs are weirder than most (OK, all) other bands B-sides are to begin with so Ubu’s B-sides are that much weirder.

The next album was even better and almost got Pere Ubu a hit record.

None of Ubu’s records from ’87 to ’94 are available. The band’s website says they’ve unsuccessfully tried to license them for a box set. Until then, Pere Ubu discs are easy to find in the better used bins.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

In silence

Monday, May 16, 2005

Farewell Aldebaran

If there is another record like FAREWELL ALDEBARAN, I’ve never heard it. It’s not rock, psychedelic or folk, just when you think you know where the music is gonna go, something different happens.

Jerry Yester, who produced the record, had played with The Modern Folk Quartet, The Lovin’ Spoonful and produced The Turtles, Tim Buckley, The Association and Pat Boone. FAREWELL ALDEBARAN doesn’t sound like any of those. Judy Henske recorded four good solo LPs before this record. After a long break, she has started playing playing live and recording again.

This is the only record Judy Henske & Jerry Yester made as a duo. It’s too bad they didn’t make another. They did go on to form a group called Rosebud that did one LP but it’s not the same thing.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Earworm of the day

This has been running through my brain ever since my friend Joy asked if I could recommend a good landscaper. Thanks Joy!

Way over yonder

Rocking gospel from 1956.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Critical acclaim cannot explain

There's been some requests.

And a few more.

And here's some music that I recommend getting while you can:

Government Cheese
The Records

Monday, May 09, 2005

Just Give Me Time

The ‘In’ are the most local garage band that I’ve found yet. I live about 3 miles from the school that they attended back in the 60’s. I've been to Lee High School several times and I still have not found the shrine to the 'In'. They must only open it up on special occasions.

The 'In' claim to have played the first psychedelic music show ever in Huntsville and I do not doubt them. Tying them a recent post, The ‘In’ played some shows with Travis Wammack and recorded with Roland Janes.

There are two good interviews with ‘In’ guitarist Eddie Burton here and here. I suggest that you go read both of them. They tell the story of The ‘In’ much better than I ever could.

A few years ago, the Sex Clark 5 covered the ‘In’ for their last Peel Session.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

How many mothers does it take to change a light bulb?

"That's alright dear, I'll just sit here in the dark."

Nellie Moved To Town

"That was my first love, her name was Nell Cook. I seriously thought I was in love. It didn't work out that way. I went to the army in the early part of 1946; she wanted to get married right then. Well, I had this little bet with Daddy, we talked about some of the other kids, two sisters that got married when they were thirteen, one got married when she was fourteen, another one fifteen, to get away from home. My dad was pretty strict. Ira married when he was seventeen, was a father before he was eighteen. My father said kids today, too young to marry. You've got sense enough not to mary until you're twenty-two. And I said, Well, I'll be older than you before I get married. I did get married the year I was twenty-two. But getting back, she wanted to get married the year I and I knew too many war wives that anybody could have fun with, and I didn't want to leave one of them home. What she did as a single girl was her business. She corresponded with me the whole time I was in. Sweetest letters you ever seen. When I came back, before I even went to see my Mom and Dad, I went to Chattanooga, to that address where she'd been writing me from. It was a shotgun type house with a thingright down the middle, which meant one family lived on one side, one on the other. So here I saw a baby's play pen on the front porch and a baby's in there. I didn't know whose baby it was, so I stepped up to the door and knocked on the door with my cigarette lighter, a big zippo, and here she come to the door. Just before taking hold of her, just about to hug her neck completely off, I heard jolly green giant steps. Somebody you could tell was big. This guy walks up about this much taller than she was, and she said, 'Oh, I want you to meet my husband.' I could have fell through a crack in the floor. She'd been married for over a year. All the time she wrote those letters, she was married. But I'm kind of glad. She's gone through eight husbands by now." -- Charlie Louvin

Thursday, May 05, 2005

R.I.P. Duchess

From my e-mail:

Hey BO DIDDLEY fans,

We were very saddened to receive the news today that Norma-Jean Richardson aka Duchess, fondly-remembered member of the BO DIDDLEY band between the years 1962 and 1966, died at 4.00am local time this morning (Saturday) in hospital in Fontana, CA.

Born Norma-Jean Wofford in Pittsburgh, PA, BO DIDDLEY taught her to play and how to emulate his sound on the electric guitar. Contrary to speculation during the time that she was a member of his band, Norma-Jean and BO DIDDLEY were not related.

Given the stage name Duchess by BO DIDDLEY, she joined his band on electric guitar and vocals just prior to the recording of the "Bo Diddley & Company" LP in 1962 and appearing on the front cover of the album sleeve.

The following year she played on the classic live "Bo Diddley's Beach Party" LP, before undertaking BO DIDDLEY's debut UK tour in the fall of 1963, along with the Everly Brothers, Little Richard and the then newly-formed Rolling Stones, followed by a second tour of the UK in the fall of 1965.

Notable TV and movie appearances for BO DIDDLEY and Duchess included the Clay Cole TV show and "The Big TNT Show" movie and two appearances on the popular "Ready Steady Go!" UK TV music show.

Duchess was also immortalised in song at the time by Eric Burdon in the Animals' recording "The Story of Bo Diddley":

He turned around the Duchess And he said, "Hey Duchess...what do you think of these young guys Doin' our material?" She said, "I don't know. I only came across here To see the Changin' of the Guards and all that jazz." (Words and music: Eric Burdon/Ellas McDaniel)

This message from Norma-Jean's long-time friend Ritzy Lee of the singing group The Del-Vikings:

"I am very saddened by this news, because in the 40 or more years that I have known Norma-Jean, I have never seen or heard anything about her or the life she lived that was not GOOD. She not only loved playing the guitar, but loved as well the reception that she experienced from all of the BO DIDDLEY fans around the world. And she expounded on that fact many, many times to me during our various conversations over the years. Norma-Jean Richardson was truly The Duchess of Rock and Roll".

We send our sincere condolences to Norma-Jean's family and friends at this very sad time.

(Maybe the Old Road Hog can post some songs...)

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

I'm Knocking At Your Door, Please Let Me In

Darrell Banks was singing in Buffalo, NY when he recorded his first 45. “Open The Door To Your Heart”/ “Our Love Is In The Pocket” was released on Revilot Records in the summer of 1966.

Banks did one more 45 for Revilot before moving up to Atco Records for an album and some fine singles, then he recorded for Cotillion Records. Stax Records signed Darrell Banks in 1968 and released several singles and an LP called HERE TO STAY.

His last record was the great “Beautiful Feeling” and the even greater “No One Blinder (Than A Man That Won’t See).”

A few months later, Banks pulled a .22 on a man that was seeing Bank’s girlfriend. The man, an off-duty policeman, pulled his own gun and fired one shot. The bullet hit Banks in the neck and he died later that afternoon.

Monday, May 02, 2005


I never really listened to Be Bop Deluxe when they were around. They were on the radio every now & then but I don't remember any particular songs. I guess they were popular because I see their records in the used bins regularly. So when I got a copy of this recent compilation from Dave over at Spot The Drummer (thanks Dave!), I was curious but not terribly excited. After listening to the CD a few times, I still don't remember any particular songs. They are good and if I focus on them, I can pick out some stuff that I like but it's not really my cup of tea.

Except for these two songs from the bands's first self released 45. They're good. The a-side is the song that got the band a record deal, "Teenage Archangel". The flip is even better. I'd like it a lot more if it was shorter, it was recorded in '73 and people must've had longer attention spans back then.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

My Trials Get So Much Harder

The Trumpeteers were one of the last great Jubilee groups touring the gospel circuit. Almost all of the others had broken up or moved to Europe.
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