Monday, January 30, 2017

Badfinger - Without You: The Tragic Story of Badfinger (Second Edition Bonus CD, 2000)

Here's the bonus disc that came with the second edition of Dan Matovina's book "Without You: The Tragic Story Of Badfinger," first published in 1997, then revised in 2000. I posted the first edition's bonus disc a few days ago, which was filled with a little-known rarities by this excellent band. This one has even more.

One of the most interesting tracks is the demo versions of one of Tom Evans' best songs, "Blind Owl," a fiery rocker that (in my opinion) should have been given front-and-center treatment by this band on their fourth album. Speaking of demos, there are several by Pete Ham, including the first sketch of one of his final songs, the heartbreaking "Ringside."

Also included are several radio interviews and telephone conversations -- including one recorded a few months before Evans killed himself and (disturbingly) reveals his distress regarding the breakdown of his relationship with the band's guitarist Joey Molland. For details about what went down, you really have to read Matovina's book.

As with my previous Badfinger entry, liner notes are included so there's no need to repeat them here. But if you're a completist of this band, all of this makes for essential listening.

Related posts:
Badfinger - Without You: The Tragic Story of Badfinger (First Edition Bonus CD, 1997)
The Iveys - Someday We'll Be Known (Demo Tape, 1968)
Apple Records Extra - Badfinger (Disc One, 2010)
Apple Records Extra - Mary Hopkin, Jackie Lomax (Disc Two, 2010)
The Beatles - Making of Across the Long and Winding Road - CD 1 (1968-70) 

Track list:
1. Man Without A Heart
2. Taxi
3. Take Good Care Of My Baby
4. She Came Out Of The Cold
5. Knocking Down Our Home
6. Clown Of The Party
7. Maybe Tomorrow (Radio One Session)
8. Midnight Sun (Jimmy Saville Speakeasy Show, Radio One)  
9. Take It All
10. Pete Ham Radio Interview (CHUM, Toronto)
11. Blind Owl
12. Pete Ham/Tom Evans Interview (March 29, 1974)
13. Pete Ham/Steve Craiter Phone Call (Oct. 27, 1974)
14. Hey, Mr. Manager (Apple Studios Mix)
15. Ringside (First Acoustic Guitar Demo)
16. I Believe In You (Dodgers Four-Track Demo)
17. Tom Evans/Steve Craiter Phone Call (May 1983)
18. Tom Evans/Steve Craiter Phone Call (Aug. 1983)
19. Over You

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Bobbi Martin - Harper Valley P.T.A. (1968)

This is not the best album you'll ever hear, but it's an interesting one as these things go. I'm mostly putting it out now as a placeholder, because if I put out the followup to my last Badfinger immediately afterwards, people might miss it, thinking it was still the old post.

Harper Valley P.T.A. is Bobbi Martin's third album. Martin was a country/adult contemporary singer whose biggest success came with a sort of anti-women's lib anthem from 1970, "For The Love Of Him," which got to #13 on the Hot 100 and topped the Adult Contemporary chart. But that was an album away from this one.

This one, which is long out of print, is a cash-in effort, titled to capitalize on Jeannie C. Riley's crossover country hit "Harper Valley, P.T.A." The song, which was written by Tom T. Hall, was extremely popular and was also recorded at the time by singers Billie Jo Spears and Margie Singleton. The Bobbi Martin version must have been a major rush job. According to Billboard, this album was released in September of 1968. Riley's version came out in August of that year.

But Great Art can crop up in the most unexpected places. Here, it rears its head in the form of "Misty Blue," a gorgeous ballad penned by Buddy Holly compatriot Bob Montgomery. The song was first done by Wilma Burgess in 1966 in a seriously old-timey country version, which got to #4 on the country chart. Ten years later, it became a pop/ R&B smash for Dorothy Moore. But the version on this album, while not a hit, has a lot to offer. I think Martin's vocal beats Burgess' and this arrangement is more palatable to modern tastes than the one on the Burgess single.

Most of the rest of the songs here are other covers and most are no great shakes. Nor is the sound quality particularly good. Still it's an obscurity and presents a snapshot of the way the music biz worked in the 1960s, when record companies would rush-release soundalike cover versions, hoping to usurp the original artist's hit.

Track list:
1. Harper Valley P.T.A.
2. Empty Arms
3. She'll Have To Go
4. Be Mine
5. Gentle On My Mind
6. You'll Cry Tomorrow
7. I Love Him
8. Little Green Apples
9. Misty Blue
10. I Think Of You

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Badfinger - Without You: The Tragic Story of Badfinger (First Edition Bonus CD, 1997)

One of the best rock books you could ever hope to read in your life is Dan Matovina's "Without You: The Tragic Story Of Badfinger," first published in 1997, then revised in 2000. But unless its get reissued, you probably won't be reading it, because it's out of print, highly-prized, and now sells for anywhere from $150 to $700 online. That's not a typo; hardcover copies go for around $600 and there's a collector's copy selling for still more.

This post is my small way of trying to rectify that situation. Both editions of the book came with a bonus CD of otherwise unavailable music. This is the first. And while I couldn't obviously scan this massive book, I did include a scan of an article on Badfinger that Matovina co-wrote for Trouser Press magazine in its May, 1979 edition. That article set the tone for the book, which came out nearly twenty years later.

It also shows that Matovina was no Johnny-come-lately to Badfinger's story. By the time the book was published, he'd been at this a long time. And it shows. Which, I guess, is a big reason the book now sells for more than some computers go for these days.

The music here is made up of home demos, mostly by primary songwriter Pete Ham. What's really interesting are the two original songs that Ham and Tom Evans melded together to create the oft-covered standard "Without You." They can be found on tracks three and four. I also tacked on a bonus track, the ethereal holiday song "John Forgot To Sing," which was written by Pete Ham and features some fantastic harmonies between him and Evans.

Related posts:
The Iveys - Someday We'll Be Known (Demo Tape, 1968)
Apple Records Extra - Badfinger (Disc One, 2010)
Apple Records Extra - Mary Hopkin, Jackie Lomax (Disc Two, 2010)
The Beatles - Making of Across the Long and Winding Road - CD 1 (1968-70) 

Track list:
1. Good Times Together
2. Uncle C
3. Without You (If It's Love)
4. Without You (I Can't Live)
5. Carry On Til Tomorrow
6. Just How Lucky We Are
7. Doesn't Really Matter
8. Ringside
9. Lost Inside Your Love
10. I Won't Forget You
11. John Forgot To Sing (Bonus Track)

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Deadly Nightshade - The Deadly Nightshade (1975)

This is feminist folk rock, didactic but tuneful. And obscure. This album has never come out on CD, but didn't get that much play back when it was released. One reason is that it's just not all that mainstream-oriented. The other is that it came out the independent Phantom label.

The Deadly Nightshade and was the first of two albums by this New England-based trio. Not only didn't it find favor with the public, but critics didn't seem to take to it either. Robert Christgau dismissed it (somewhat famously) as "squeaky-clean," "smug," and the stuff of junior high school talent shows. Then again, Christgau also didn't like Joy Of Cooking much, and I think they're fab, so I'll take his opinion with a shaker of salt.

I also think his assessment had a lot to do with the singing style of this group, which comes from the folk tradition, where performers ten to e-nun-ci-ate a bit too much. It's somewhat bothersome, but it's actually not that bad. The sarcastic lyrical thrust reminds me a bit of the Roches but without their sense of the absurd, and the music recalls the aforementioned Joy Of Cooking but without Toni Brown and Terry Garthwaite's assured songwriting.

The Deadly Nightshade would go on to have a minor hit with a disco version of the theme song from the oddball TV soap opera "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman," a show I remember really enjoying as a kid because of its weirdness. The Nightshade took their single to #79 in the summer of '76 and it was their only hit.

It's also miles away from this album, which mixes up country folk ("High Flying Woman"), satirical ballads ("Nose Job"), and funky pop ("Sweet Sweet Music"). Felix Cavaliere of the Rascals guests on organ and Leslie West of Mountain also chimes in on guitar -- although for some reason (a joke?) he's billed as "Ms. Leslie West."

Bassist Pamela Brandt went on to become an author of several books as well as a noted food critic. She died of a heart attack in 2015 at the age of 68.

Related posts:
Toni Brown - Good For You, Too (1974)
The Joy - Toni Brown & Terry Garthwaite (1977) 
Toni Brown - Toni Brown (1979) 

Track list:
1. High Flying Woman
2. Nose Job
3. Something Blue
4. Losin' At Love
5. Dance, Mr. Big, Dance
6. Keep On The Sunnyside
7. Sweet, Sweet Music
8. Shuffle
9. I Sent My Soul To The Laundromat
10. Someone Down In Nashville
11. Blue Mountain Hornpipe
12. Onions

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Re-Up: The Sunrays - For Collectors Only: Vintage Rays (1996)

I originally posted this out-of-print Sunrays collection to cap off Surf Music Month, which I did back in July. Since then, I was able to get a higher quality copy of it that has the "missing songs" I mentioned in my original post. So I'm re-upping it. In addition to the music, I included a PDF of an online music journal that has an interview with Sunrays band leader Rick Henn. I also took time to tag the MP3s Enjoy this one -- I sure did, as my original post below shows.


As July comes to a close, so does Surf Music Month on this blog. Every day since July 4, I've posted an album that was related to '60s surf music in some way. But there's still one more day to go and I saved best for last.

The Sunrays' 1996 three-disc set, For Collectors Only: Vintage Rays, is long out of print and now goes for around $100 a pop on the used market. There is a reason for that, and it's a reason that goes beyond the fact that it's hard to find. The music here -- at least on the second two discs -- is about as great as you're going to find when it comes to 1960s pop. And that means all '60s pop, not just surf music.

First, let's dispel a falsehood that I keep reading about when it comes to the Sunrays. The band was not "put together" by Murry Wilson -- the Beach Boys' manager who was also the father of the Wilson brothers. The Sunrays were already a band called the Renegades while they were in high school. It was there that they met Beach Boy Carl Wilson, who introduced them to his father Murry, who the Beach Boys had recently fired as manager.

Murry took on managerial duties and got the group a major label deal. He also produced their records. But the Sunrays were their own band, not Murry's puppets. This should be all general knowledge because the story of how the band was put together has been told in countless interviews and on the radio interview included on this very set. But, it seems, most people can't be bothered to do basic fact-checking before spouting off on YouTube and online music forums.

A second falsehood is that the group was a Beach Boys "copy band." They might have performed in the style of the Beach Boys, but their songs weren't Rutles-like facsimiles. They used the Beach Boys' harmonies as a jumping off point to create a '60s pop sound, similar to what Jan & Dean did after 1963. More importantly, the songs that the Sunrays came up with are so good that it almost doesn't matter that their sound wasn't wholly original. This becomes evident in the second half of this collection, which brings together almost everything they recorded (more on this below).

Disc one is made up of a bunch of surf instrumentals cut when the band were in their teens. It's nice, but expendable. The main course comes up on the second disc, which is the Sunrays first album plus some non-LP sides. It contains a plethora of original songs, mostly by band members Rick Henn and (the late) Eddy Medora, virtually all of which are first-rate.

Besides the Henn-penned hits "I Live for the Sun" and "Andrea," there are some really impressive deep cuts. First and foremost is "A Little Dog and His Boy," which is both musically and lyrically innovative. What other pop song in 1966 tackled the issue of the war with such assured narrative craft? No "copy band" would have come up with something that was both this moving and this tuneful.

The only discordant notes come in the form of the two songs Murry Wilson wrote for them, "Car Party" and "Outta Gas." Frankly, they're awful. And they rightfully flopped as a single release. The elder Wilson could not write rock songs. He could, however, write ballads and a mellow number Wilson co-wrote with Henn, "Won't You Tell Me," is a highlight of disc three. (Beach Boys fans might remember that Rick Henn also wrote at least one song with Brian Wilson, "Soulful Old Man Sunshine," which stands as THE great Beach Boys number left unreleased in its day.)

Disc three mostly has songs that would have been on the Sunrays second album, had there been one. Judging by the strength of such numbers as "Tired of You," "I Wanna Know," and (especially) "Old Man Doubt," this would have been one hell of an album. But the group hadn't even cracked the Top 40 with those two aforementioned hits, so another full LP wasn't in the cards.

My copy of this set is missing some tracks, which is why I made reference earlier to it "almost" including everything the Sunrays recorded. Absent are a handful of alternate takes that closed out the second disc.

I also did a slight bit of rearranging on the third disc. I put the long (and revealing) interview with the radio disc jockey at the very end. Its previous placement in the middle of the disc ruined the flow of the songs. And those songs definitely do flow. I defy anyone to play discs two and three a few times and tell me their minds aren't blow by the unforgettable musical hooks, brilliantly melodic choruses, and soaring vocal harmonies. Luck often plays a role in success, and it's my theory that Rick Henn and Eddy Madora would definitely have become major players in '60s pop had the breaks been right.

Disc: 1
1. Sidewinder
2. Renegade
3. Seventh Son
4. Young And Wild
5. Six Eight Blues
6. Trouble
7. Wheel Stand
8. Square Four
9. Ski Storm (Part 1)
10. Ski Storm (Part 2)
11. Snow Skiing
12. Mogul Monster
13. Reputation
14. Justine
15. Night Train
16. Surf Beat

Disc: 2
1. Outta Gas
2. Car Party
3. I Live For The Sun
4. Andrea
5. A Little Dog And His Boy
6. Have To Be Myself
7. I Look Baby-I Can't See
8. You Don't Phase Me
9. Still
10. Jo Ann
11. Better Be Good To Me
12. Bye Baby Bye
13. Tears In My Eyes
14. Since My Findin' You
15. When You're Not Here
16. Goodnight Debbie, Goodnight
17. Don't Take Yourself Too Seriously
18. Just 'Round The River Bend
19. Hi, How Are You
20. Loaded With Love
21. Time (A Special Thing)
22. I Live For The Sun (Alternate Version)
23. Andrea (Alternate Version)
24. Jo Ann (Alternate Version)
25. You Don't Phase Me (Alternate Version)
26. Just 'Round The River Bend (Alternate Version)
27. Don't Take Yourself Too Seriously (Alternate Version)

Disc: 3
1. I Wanna Know
2. Got No Time For My Baby
3. I Was A Loser
4. I'm On My Way
5. Our Leader
6. Tired Of You
7. Hey Little Girl
8. Old Man Doubt
9. Suzuki The Fun Bike
10. Terry Steen Time Radio Show
11. Don't Ya Give Up
12. Won't You Tell Me
13. The Colonel's Song
14. Going Surfin'
15. Longboards Rule '96

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Beau Nasty - Dirty, But Well Dressed (1989)

As promised, here is the long out-of-print Beau Nasty album I referenced in a post a few days ago. This album came out just as the hair band fad of the late 1980s was peaking. It went nowhere for a lot of reasons that have been documented elsewhere, but I'll recap here.

First, this glam metal/hard rock band might have been put together with the idea of cashing in on a trend, and therefore didn't build up a groundswell of support by doing a lot of touring. This was important for this scene in the '80s and is what helped bands like Guns N' Roses, Cinderella, and Motley Crue really take off.

But I also think the wrong singles were picked. The songs pulled as singles were the ballad "Paradise in the Sand," the rocker "Shake It," and the band's cover of the Clovers/Searchers hit "Love Potion #9." The first was a bit too bland for mass appeal, the second was way too harsh, and the third a bit too quirky (it would take another few years before Americans "got" semi-ironic cover versions of oldies by rock acts). Anyway, I think the single should have been the ballad "Make A Wish," which was penned by Jesse Harms, who'd written a hit with Eddie Money ("Walk On Water") and also co-composed songs with Sammy Hagar.

The other big reason for this record flopping was the band's ridiculous attire on the album cover. This has been covered elsewhere, but I'm reluctant to give a link because the last time I put out a link that promoted a music blog not only did I get a nasty comment here, but the guy called me names on his own blog. No good deed goes unpunished, so all good links will go unpublished. Use Google if you want more info.

This album also reminds me why I was never a good rock critic. That's because no matter how much I dislike something, I'm reluctant to call it bad. The reason why is that I can usually understand why other people like it. The sound of this record grates my nerves, particularly the high-pitched screeching of Mark Anthony Fretz. But here's the thing: If you like this style of music and enjoy the Axl Rose-Sebastian Bach style of singing, then this record actually isn't bad at all and Fretz is an excellent vocalist for this genre.

How do you judge good and bad when you think like this? As regular readers know, I happen to love old surf music, but lots of friends have commented to me on how the boppy '60s tempos and nasal lead singers can get annoying. Yet when I hear that sound, I immediately perk up. The same thing that makes them lunge to change the radio dial makes me turn it up. Who's right?

When you get down to it,  preferences outweigh the idea of good vs. bad. And I think that the kind of people who adhere strongly to the "good vs. bad" concept when it comes to music (or any art form, for that matter) are arrogant and self-absorbed. This is one reason I stopped writing professionally -- and the main reason I don't take to religion. Anyone who think they know "the answer" and fails to even consider that there might be other opinions is not worth listening to because they lack a basic understand of what makes us human -- our differences.

For example, if a teenage girl hears Ke$ha and truly loves it and relates to it, then it's good music for her. Who the f*ck am I to say otherwise? Same goes for Beau Nasty. It might be fingernails-on-blackboard to my ears, but somewhere out there are guys and gals who will discover this album and think it's a great lost hair band masterpiece. Maybe it will sound to them as great as the never-released second album by the Sunrays sounds to me. Who is to say either of us is wrong?

Related posts:
The Pat Travers Band - BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert (1980)
Humble Pie - The Scrubbers Sessions (1997)

Track list:
1. Shake It
2. Goodbye Rosie
3. Gimme Lovin'
4. Paradise In The Sand
5. Dirty, But Well Dressed
6. Love To The Bone
7. Gemini
8. Piece Of The Action
9. Make A Wish
10. Love Potion #9

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Cover Girls - Show Me (1987; 1991 Canadian Reissue)

Since I'm on a roll doing late 1980s and early '90s pop stuff, maybe now is the time to post my rare copy of the Cover Girls' first album, which is from Canada and has an extra song, "Better Late Than Never," tagged on at the end. The mastering of this one also sounds different than the American version, but since I don't own that one anymore, I can't remember how they differ.

Few people remember the Cover Girls now, but during the "in-between years" of the Reagan-Bush Era, they were a major force on the pop charts. What are the "in-between years" of which I speak? To me, they were the '80s equivalent of the period in the early '60s just before the Beatles broke.

Both eras were dominated by a lot of ethnic girls groups and bookended by the explosion of major artists (Elvis/Beatles; Madonna/Nirvana). Both eras had a lot of pre-fabricated teen pop singers who got swept aside once the new trend hit. Both eras were sociologically similar in that they reflected last gasps of fading cultural ideals (Kennedy optimism/Reagan conservatism).

I was in college when this record came out and brought this point up in one of my classes and almost got laughed out of the room. The major argument that some girls in class made against it was that the girl group era of the '60s was marked by sexual repression, while the '80s were about sexual liberation. Not quite.

All these years later, I think my argument stands. While the '80s might have seemed liberated then, hindsight has shown us that they were pretty repressive if you were gay, lesbian, transgender, or even a single mother. And beyond that, the '90s era trend of "hooking up" made the "daring" pre-marital sex of the '80s seem tame by comparison.

The Cover Girls (Remember them? This is a post about them!) were an early entry into this second era of girl groups. Other similar girl groups that scored hits around this time included Sweet Sensation, Exposé, Company B, Seduction, and Pajama Party. Most performed variations on Latin freestyle dance music, which could be infectious if the songs were good.

On this, the Cover Girls' first effort, the songs are good. How good? Well, they had (get this) five Hot 100 hits off it between Feb. 1987 and summer 1988. Their hits from this CD included: "Show Me" (#44), "Spring Love" (#98), "Because Of You" (#27), "Promise Me" (#40), and "Inside Outside" (#55). And while those might not have burned up the pop charts, several were much bigger dance hits. In 1989, the group would release a follow-up album that had three more hits, including the Top Ten ballad "We Can't Go Wrong."

Back then, this stuff made for better listening on the dance floor than in the living room and that still goes for today. Still, if you have memories of this era or are partial to freestyle, this is one of the best albums of its type. And, say what you will, I still see parallels with this and groups like the Jellybeans or the Jaynetts.

Related posts:
Various Artists - The Network Forty: Tune Up - Next 40 #23 (March 26, 1990)
Ms. Adventures - Ms. Adventures (1990)

Track list:
1. Show Me
2. Because Of You
3. That Boy Of Mine
4. One Night Affair
5. Spring Love
6. Inside Outside
7. Promise Me
8. Love Emergency
9. Better Late Than Never