The Free Design Have Found Love

My son Nick really wishes I would stop playing this song, although his sister Vivian readily agrees this song is an earworm of epic proportions:

“I Found Love”     The Free Design     1968

What a perfect way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, as there can never be too much love in this fractured world and in these fractious times.  “I Found Love” by The Free Design is such an obvious choice for an A-side release (which it was in June of 1968), although I respectfully disagree with Dave Meritt — Music Director & DJ for Chico, California’s KPAY — who deemed this instant classic a ‘Leftfield Pick’ in the July 13, 1968 edition of Billboard.  Later that year, Billboard would select “I Found Love” as a ‘Special Merit Pick’ in their December 14, 1968 edition, noting that “Chuck Dedrick, a member of the group, has written some compelling material in ‘I Found Love,’ ‘Daniel Dolphin’ and the title tune.”

Hey, I just learned that The Free Design would collaborate with labelmate Tony Mottola on a fun and fresh near-instrumental arrangement of “I Found Love” that was also released in 1968 on Mottola’s Warm, Wild and Wonderful LP:

“I Found Love”      The Free Design & Tony Mottola     1968

Gary James’s interview with The Free Design’s Sandy Dedrick reveals “I Found Love” to have been used on The Gilmore Girls television show.  On a related note, I remember how delighted I was when another television show – Nickelodeon’s Yo Gabba Gabba! – honored the song with a contemporary cover by Trembling Blue Stars in 2008:

“I Found Love”     Trembling Blue Stars     2008
[Animated by Bran Dougherty-Johnson]

Zero to 180 is puzzled why more hasn’t been written about this beautiful song but pleased, nevertheless, that Yo Gabba Gabba! and The Gilmore Girls soundtrack have drawn new attention to The Free Design, who set the gold standard in “sunshine pop” although they may not have received enough credit as such.

By the way, have you checked out the intriguing catalog of reissue label par excellence, Light in the AtticClick here to buy “I Found Love” – or the You Could Be Born Again album as a whole, if you dare.

Free Design 45Q:  Is it a stretch to categorize this song as “God Pop“?

“Hello L.A., Bye-Bye Birmingham”: The Other John(ny) Marr

Love the soulful harpsichord that opens this track from the only album ever recorded by John Randolph Marr:

Such a memorable title for a tune few people have ever heard of – and yet this song has been recorded by Artie Christopher (1968); Kin Vassy, Gainsborough Gallery, Larry Henley & The Sensational Alex Harvey Band (1969); Nancy Sinatra, Eve, Mac Davis, Blue Cheer, Juicy Lucy, Goodness & Mercy, Nick Anthony & Smokestack Lightnin’ (1970);  Dave Kelly & Max Merritt and the Meteors (1971); The Platters (!) & Bobby Whitlock (1972); John Dummer’s Oobleedooblee Band (1973) – and, more recently (2013), The Chris Robinson Brotherhood.  Therefore, it would seem that I am the one who’s rather late to the game.

John Randolph MarrWould you believe Harry “Mr. eddie’s Father” Nilsson produced this funky thing?

 

Such an obvious A-side – particularly given the many cover versions – and yet Warner Brothers felt it unworthy of even the flip side of the only single issued from this album.

How amusing/annoying to discover that the 8-track version of this album would cleave the song into two parts, hence, the forced fade at the end of part 1, at which point the 8-track would audibly “click” over to the next track of tape, followed then by the fade in of part 2 — in no way dishonoring or degrading the musical experience for the listener whatsoever.

John Randolph Marr 8 Track labelI am eternally grateful to A Light in the Attic for bringing this song to my attention.   Funky16Corners nobly attempts to nail down who recorded the original version.

“L.A., Memphis & Tyler, Texas”: Ain’t No Bum Trip, Man

Dale Hawkins takes great satisfaction in dedicating this song to the three cities that he had the pleasure of recording this tune in – give a listen, and you’ll hear the names of each one:

“L.A., Memphis & Tyler, Texas”     Dale Hawkins     1969

[seems to be presently unavailable]

“It just goes to show you, man, you can take the soul pickers out of the soul country, but you can’t take the soul out of the pickers,” Hawkins sagely declares before the slide guitarist peels off a series of down-home, gutbucket riffs.

Ain’t No Bum Trip, Man

Dale Hawkins LP

How could the title track from Dale Hawkins’ 1969 album also not be the opening song – which, obviously, it is.

Song was written by Hawkins along with, interestingly, Randy Fouts, who played piano with Mouse and the Traps on their 1965 Dylanesque garage hit, “A Public Execution”  This song is also used to kick off A Light in the Attic’s monster compilation, Country Funk 1969-1975.

Country Funk 1969-1975Bell would release two singles from this album in 1969 – “Little Rain Cloud” (written by Hawkins & Dan Penn) and “Heavy on My Mind.”

Album review from RecordCollector.com:

“Best known for his landmark 1957 recording of Suzie Q on Chess (which featured James Burton on guitar, who also turns up here), this first-time reissue of the one-time rockabilly pioneer, radio DJ, TV host, producer and A&R man’s second album reveals a largely unsung swamp-rock tour de force.

“Originally released on Bell in 1969, it echoes late 60s Elvis, Tony Joe White and even early 70s Polydor-era Link Wray.  The three title cities were the places Hawkins stopped off while en route to his forgotten magnum opus.  The LA tracks feature James Burton and Ry Cooder, while the selections from Memphis come cooked up in the company of Taj Mahal, Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham and the Memphis Horns.  Those from Tyler come together with the assistance of Mouse & The Traps.

“Chief among the highlights of the album’s 30 soulfully rockin’ minutes are a memorably unhinged cover of Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town and the driving, horn-heavy powerhouse that is the closing Hawkins/Penn composition, Little Rain Cloud.  It’s hard to believe an album so rich could have so spectacularly disappeared from sight when it was originally released. Time for a long overdue catch-up.”

James Burton:   Instrumental to Dale Hawkins’ Early Success

Legendary guitarist, James Burton, reveals on his website that he is the unacknowledged composer of the main guitar riff for Dale Hawkins’ big 1957 hit, “Susie Q.”