Month: June 2017

I’m A Train – Albert Hammond

 

 

You just never know what will be on YouTube and what won’t – there are several versions of this! Albert Hammond was a better songwriter (He wrote “The Air That I Breathe” by the Hollies) than singer – his only bonafide hit was “It Never Rains in Southern California”, it reached #5 in 1972 – this one was his 2nd biggest charting song and it didn’t break the top 30. “I’m A Train” is totally mindless but it’s just a fun song to sing along with – it has great energy and always puts me in a better mood! Mary is not a big fan of this at all so it’s one of those songs I play really loud – but not when she’s around 😉
The version below is by The King’s Singers, a British a ceppella group formed in 1968. A fun group that tackles all genres of music.

 

 


Summer Rain – Johnny Rivers

 

 

Another of my favorite artists from the 60’s and 70’s. I wish I’d been in Calais when he came for a concert in circa 2000! 29 charted songs, only “Poor Side of Town” reached #1. Johnny re-invented his sound several times over his career. This was released in November 1967 and spent 10 weeks on the Billboard Top 100, peaking at #14. His follow-up song to this in April of 1968 was “Look To Your Soul”. I always wanted to be a writer and when I wrote down songs that I would like to include in a story about the late sixties, this was one I included that definitely takes me back to that era.

“She stepped out of a rainbow,
Golden hair shining like moonglow.
Warm lips, soft as her soul,
Sitting here by me, now.
She’s here by me.
All summer long we were dancing in the sand,
Everybody just kept on playing,
“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
We sailed into the sunset,
Drifting home, caught by a gulf stream.
Never gave a thought for tomorrow,
Let tomorrow be”.

This one of those records that I liked at first but the older I get, the more I love it. The guitar intro gives me goosebumps, just like Bruce Hornsby’s piano intro to “Every Little Kiss”.


Winchester Cathedral – The New Vaudeville Band

 

 

As a recent oldie by the time I heard it in the summer of 1967, I loved it, it was unique and very catchy, but I never really appreciated it’s place in music history until I started reviewing the charts. “Winchester Cathedral” debuted on the charts on October 29th, 1966, spent 10 weeks in the top 10, 3 of those at #1, interrupted by The Beach Boys “Good Vibrations, which spent 3 weeks at #2, and Donovan’s “Mellow Yellow” which also spent 3 weeks at #2. That’s pretty heavy competition to have to be up against. The New Vaudeville Band only reached the charts 1 more time, the follow-up, “Peek-A-Boo” charted 3 months later, reaching #72. The group was actually studio musicians put together to do “Winchester Cathedral” and it’s success spawned a cobbled together group for touring. Not the last time that would happen in the rock era.


Crystal Blue Persuasion – Tommy James & The Shondells

 

 

 

Tommy James & the Shondells had a great stretch of hits from 1966’s “Hanky Panky” to 1971’s “Draggin The Line” but only 2 #1 hits (Hanky Panky & Crimson and Clover). This is my favorite of them all, along with “Sweet Cherry Wine” and the 1967 “Out of the Blue”. Tommy also wrote “Tighter and Tighter”, a #7 hit for Alive and Kicking and also “Sugar on Sunday” a #22 hit for The Clique, a band out of Beaumont, Texas that also had moderate success with “I’ll Hold Out My Hand”

“Maybe tomorrow
,When he looks down
On every green field
And every town
All of his children
And every nation
There’ll be peace and good
Brotherhood
Crystal blue persuasion

”

The above is the final verse and I love the final coda in this song. When this came out in 1969 and I was 16, the message of peace and love which resonated with many people, resonated with me. This song can still give me goosebumps, and hope!


Custard, The Cowardly Dragon – Ogden Nash

 

My mother introduced me to a series of books called “The Family Treasury of Children’s Stories” edited by Pauline Rush Evans. Like John L. Woods “Treasury of the Familiar” they contained stories, excepts and verse that would write themselves indelibly on my heart. The first bit of verse I’ll share is Ogden Nash’s “Custard, The Cowardly Dragon”:


Belinda lived in a little white house,
With a little black kitten and a little gray mouse,
And a little yellow dog and a little red wagon,
And a realio, trulio, little pet dragon.

Now the name of the little black kitten was Ink,
And the little gray mouse, she called her Blink,
And the little yellow dog was sharp as Mustard,
But the dragon was a coward, and she called him Custard.


Custard the dragon had big sharp teeth,
And spikes on top of him and scales underneath,
Mouth like a fireplace, chimney for a nose,
And realio, trulio, daggers on his toes.


Belinda was as brave as a barrel full of bears,
And Ink and Blink chased lions down the stairs,
Mustard was as brave as a tiger in a rage,
But Custard cried for a nice safe cage.


Belinda tickled him, she tickled him unmerciful,
Ink, Blink and Mustard, they rudely called him Percival,
They all sat laughing in the little red wagon
At the realio, trulio, cowardly dragon.


Belinda giggled till she shook the house,
And Blink said Week!, which is giggling for a mouse,
Ink and Mustard rudely asked his age,
When Custard cried for a nice safe cage.


Suddenly, suddenly they heard a nasty sound,
And Mustard growled, and they all looked around.
Meowch! cried Ink, and Ooh! cried Belinda,
For there was a pirate, climbing in the winda.


Pistol in his left hand, pistol in his right,
And he held in his teeth a cutlass bright,
His beard was black, one leg was wood;
It was clear that the pirate meant no good.


Belinda paled, and she cried, Help! Help!
But Mustard fled with a terrified yelp,
Ink trickled down to the bottom of the household,
And little mouse Blink was strategically mouseholed.


But up jumped Custard, snorting like an engine,
Clashed his tail like irons in a dungeon,
With a clatter and a clank and a jangling squirm
He went at the pirate like a robin at a worm.


The pirate gaped at Belinda’s dragon,
And gulped some grog from his pocket flagon,
He fired two bullets but they didn’t hit,
And Custard gobbled him, every bit.


Belinda embraced him, Mustard licked him,
No one mourned for his pirate victim
Ink and Blink in glee did gyrate
Around the dragon that ate the pyrate.


Belinda still lives in her little white house,
With her little black kitten and her little gray mouse,
And her little yellow dog and her little red wagon,
And her realio, trulio, little pet dragon.


Belinda is as brave as a barrel full of bears,
And Ink and Blink chase lions down the stairs,
Mustard is as brave as a tiger in a rage,
But Custard keeps crying for a nice safe cage.


© Copyright Linell Nash Smith and Isabel Nash Eberstadt

 


Thirteen Questions – Seatrain

 

Another member of my “druggie” music Hall of Fame. I was at college in Boston when this one was playing on the radio, the album was “Marblehead Messenger” and I thought this group was a local Massachusetts band that was picked up by WRKO &WMEX, but that’s not the case. They are actually a band from California and 2 of the members were also part of the Blues Project with Al Cooper (they did relocate to Marblehead, Mass. after their second LP) The lyrics paint an interesting picture, which I’m sure adds to the mystique portrayed by the drug culture: “Deep in the darkest hour of a very heavy week,
Three Earthmen did confront me, and I could hardly speak.
They met me in a hurry, they left me tired and sore,
And when I’m fit for wishing, I hope they’ll come no more.
When I’m wishing, I hope they’ll come no more.

Standing by the exit, with one eye on the door,
I listened to them argue. I asked them “Why? What for?”
They showed me 19 terrors, and each one struck my soul,
They threw me 13 questions, each one an endless hole.”

This single reached #49 in 1971 off their Seatrain album, produced by George Martin


No Matter What Shape – T Bones

 

 

This may just be my favorite instrumental of all-time, or at least in the top 3. And it has an interesting history. Originally written by Granville Sascha Burland, according to ASCAP, a pseudonym of Lewis Bedell. Lewis founded ERA Recorda and later adore records in the 60s. The song first appeared as the music to an Alka-Seltzer commercial in 1964.



Wikipedia says this about the origin of the hit: In 1965, Dave Pell wanted to record songs based on music from recent TV commercials and release them on 45 RPM singles to see if he could get radio airplay and maybe a hit record. Previously, Liberty Records had used “The T-Bones” as a group name for instrumentals recorded by Los Angeles session musicians The Wrecking Crew, and Liberty told Pell to use it again for his project.[4]

When the record took off and reached #3 on the charts, Pell needed a group to tour to promote it so he hired Judd Hamilton, Dan Hamilton, Joe Frank Carollo, Tommy Reynolds, and Gene Pello. If three of names kinda ring a bell it’s because Dan, Joe, and Tommy would become Hamilton, Joe Frank, and Reynolds and record 8 charting records from 1971 to 1976.

And because you’ve read this far,here’s the stereo version that isn’t distorted by the hijinx on the live show, or the aging sound of the commercial.