Nancy & Frank Sinatra’s Trippy 45

Nancy & Frank Sinatra‘s “Life’s a Trippy Thing” from 1970 is the only song title that registers in 45Cat when you keyword search the database using the word “trippy“:

“Life’s a Trippy Thing”     Nancy & Frank Sinatra     1970

As Spencer Leigh aptly notes in Frank Sinatra:  An Extraordinary Life:

“[At what Frank intended to be his final recording sessions with Don Costa in October, 1970] There were two duets with Nancy Sinatra, ‘Feeling Kinda Sunday’ and ‘Life’s a Trippy Thing’, written by Nino Tempo and Howard Greenfield [with (a) Annette Tucker & Kathy Wakefield and (b) Linda Laurie, respectively].  Austin Powers would have loved them.  ‘I mean what I sing, Life is such a trippy thing.’  Really?  Frank ended the second song with the words, ‘That’s silly.'”

Nancy & Frank Sinatra 45-aaNancy & Frank Sinatra 45-bb

“Life’s a Trippy Thing” – recorded in October, 1970 with Don Costa in the producer’s chair –  did not chart when originally released in April, 1971.  45Cat and Discogs both peg “Life’s a Trippy Thing” as the A track (see note on this DJ promo) paired with “I’m Not Afraid.”  Both songs would be released for a French 45, whereas “Life’s a Trippy Thing” would find itself paired with 1967’s “Somethin’ Stupid” for the German market.

           French 45 [note charming typo*]                                    German 45

Nancy & Frank Sinatra 45-dddNancy & Frank Sinatra 45-ccc3

“Life’s a Trippy Thing” would also find release in Italy on a 1972 long-playing collection called The Voice, Vol. 3.

Frank Sinatra LP-ItalyThose hoping to acquire “Life’s a Trippy Thing” today can pursue the original 45s on the resale market, or obtain the track via these other more contemporary ‘music products’ worldwide:

(1) part of a 12-track “Collector’s Edition” Frank Sinatra LP for the Brazilian market;Nancy & Frank Sinatra 45-z(2) a track on 1994’s Belgium-only CD release Nancy & Friends:  Nancy, Frank & Lee;Nancy & Frank Sinatra 45-zz(3) a bonus track on the 1996 CD reissue of 1966’s Nancy in London album.

Nancy & Frank Sinatra 45-zzzz(4) one of two ‘B-side’ tracks included on the 2001 European CD single release of “Something Stupid.”

Nancy Sinatra CD single(5) one track (among many) on the Frank Sinatra Complete Reprise Studio Recordings 20-CD box set.

Nancy & Frank Sinatra 45-zzzaNancy & Frank Sinatra 45-zzzbbbx

Howard Greenfield, co-writer of “Life’s a Trippy Thing,” is one of the great Brill Building songwriters, whose four co-written #1 hits include “Love Will Keep Us Together.”  Greenfield was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1991.  Linda Laurie, Greenfield’s songwriting partner for “Life’s a Trippy Thing,” is probably best known for penning the 1959 novelty hit “Ambrose (Part 5)” while a senior at Brooklyn’s Abraham Lincoln High School, according to Billboard.

This past April, Billboard would note that, with 1967’s  ‘Somethin’ Stupid,‘ Frank and Nancy Sinatra became the only father-daughter duo to top the Hot 100 — Nancy would tell NPR’s Fresh Air in 1996 that “DJs dubbed it ‘the incest song…’  It gave them something fun to kid about.”

This is the third such piece tagged as Gratitude in Popular Music.

Peppermint Trolley: Clavinet ’67

It’s always a thrill when somebody who actually served on the front lines of music history reaches out to help fill in some of the historical gaps.  Just last month, Danny Faragher of the Peppermint Trolley Company chimed in on an earlier NRBQ piece that attempts to identify the earliest popular recording of a clavinet:

“I played a clavinet while recording with our group, the Peppermint Trolley Company (1967-68).  We cut our hit single, Baby You Come Rollin’ Across My Mindin November of 1967 for Acta.  The record broke in May and June of 1968.  I played the instrument through a Fender amp with the tremolo prominent.  I used it throughout our eponymously titled LP.   In the Seventies, recording with the bands, Bones, and the Faragher Brothers, I would return to the ax occasionally, playing more in the R&B style pioneered by Stevie Wonder and Billy Preston.”

“Baby You Come Rollin’ Across My Mind”     Peppermint Trolley Company     1967

“Baby You Come Rollin’ Across My Mind” would stay in the Billboard Hot 100 Chart for ten weeks and peak in July, 1968 just inside the Top 60.  Billboard would identify this single as worthy of its “Special Merit Spotlight” (new singles “deserving special attention of programmers and dealers”) in the February 3, 1968 edition:  “Smooth blend of voice, good material in an easy beat folk rock vein with much commercial appeal.”

Picture sleeve for UK 45 on EMI’s Stateside imprint

Peppermint Trolley 45-bBut wait a minute, why does the song title sound familiar?   And Jesse Lee Kincaid, the person who penned the tune — why does that name ring a bell?  That’s because Zero to 180 already featured “Baby You Come Rollin’ Across My Mind” back in December, 2014!

Faragher’s clavinet (which predates NRBQ’s “Stomp” by just over a year) can be heard more prominently on the single’s B-side — a baroque slice of psychedelic pop, “9 O’Clock Business Man,” somewhat in contrast to the ‘West Coast harmony style’ (later dubbed “sunshine pop“) for which the group is more known.  By the way, if you enjoyed the dance to “9 O’Clock Business Man” in the video link above, check out this other performance of the same song at Hamilton, Ontario’s Gage Park. by Mike Long, an unstoppable dance force.

Peppermint Trolley 45-aaHow curious to learn that the Peppermint Trolley Company would be part of a lineup for a big music event attended by 120,000 people at an amusement park in Aurora, Ohio in 1968,  just one year before my dad would relocate to that rural Cleveland suburb from Cincinnati — as chronicled on Danny Faragher’s website:

“‘Our live dates were rare’ – (says Faragher) – ‘We probably played about ten gigs during the entire life span of the band… Bakersfield, Phoenix, and then there was the Biggie in Cleveland.’  This ‘Biggie’ was a package concert …WIXY’s second annual ‘Appreciation Day,’ held on August 2, 1968 in Geauga Lake Park, just outside of Cleveland, Ohio.  The Peppermint Trolley Company. shared the stage with Gene Pitney, The Box Tops, Jay and the Techniques, The 1910 Fruitgum Co., and [Ted Nugent’s]  Amboy Dukes.  The event drew a crowd of 120,000 attendees.  At that time, it was the largest audience ever assembled in the Cleveland area.”
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In addition to arranging and singing the original Brady Bunch theme, the Peppermint Trolley Company would also make a guest appearance on The Beverly Hillbillies, as well as this episode of detective series, Mannix (where the owner of the recording studio is played by Harry Dean Stanton, who would later introduce The Replacements on their sole Saturday Night Live appearance):

The Beatles – EMI artists – listed on the rear of Peppermint Trolley’s UK picture sleeve:

Peppermint Trolley 45-bbA near-mint copy of the Peppermint Trolley debut album might set you back as much as $75.  Peppermint Trolley fans might also be intrigued to know there exists an “extremely rare promotional 45 sent to radio stations in 1967 for Sunn Guitar amplifiers” with three radio spots for The Who on the A-side, with the Peppermint Trolley singing a radio spot to “She’s the Kind of Girl” and another featuring bassist Greg Tornquist saying “it sounds groovy and clean.”

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“?

The Surf Symphony’s Sole 7-Inch

Who are/were The Surf Symphony — and why just the one Capitol 45?

“Night of the Lions”     The Surf Symphony     1969

Wait!  As it turns out, the joke’s on us:   This is a “supercharged” instrumental version of the song “Night of the Lions” from Mark Eric‘s 1969 LP, A Midsummer’s Day Dream.

Mark Eric Malmborg

Mark Eric LP

Much more intriguing, however, is the flip side “That Bluebird of Summer,” a composition that embodies Brian Wilson’s distinctive ‘West Coast’ musical sensibility to an uncanny degree – as if it were some so well long lost track from Smile (actually, more like Friends).

True or False:  “That Bluebird of Summer” is a non-LP B-side.
Answer:  True

This Surf Symphony B-side is included on 2013’s Book a Trip 2:  More Psych Pop Sounds of Capitol Records — wish I had the liner notes to refer to.

45Cat identifies Mike Rubini & Vic Briggs as producers, with Jan Rubini & Viv Briggs tagged as arrangers.  Discogs.com, meanwhile, indicates Jan Rubini to be the conductor.

Impossible not to notice that A Midsummer’s Day Dream would be released on a different label, Revue.  As Rockasteria explains, “Eric and his collaborator/arranger, former Animals guitarist Vic Briggs, apparently wrote these twelve tracks intending to place them with other acts.  The sessions were apparently only intended to demo the material, but the results were so impressive that Revue decided to release it as a Marc Eric effort.”

Note use of “Future Shock” typeface for label name, Revue

Mark Eric LP-aMark Eric LP-b

One other 45 from that album would be released – “Where Do the Girls of the Summer Go” b/w “California Home” – however, it would be issued under the name ‘Mark Eric‘!

This one album and two 45s would be Mark Eric Malmborg’s entire recorded output.

Toussaint’s Danish-Flavoured Pop

Do not understand why so very little has been written about Allen Toussaint‘s 1968 composition “Hands Christianderson,” the instrumental B-side released 47 years ago this very month:

“Hands Christianderson”     Allen Toussaint     1968

I hear a bit of Burt Bacharach-style melodicism in the trumpets and backing vocals, though the final product is unmistakably Toussaint-ian.  Tip of the hat to Home of the Groove for breaking it down:

“With a title as quirky as the composition itself, this unusual and complex production appeared on the second of three Toussaint singles released by Bell in 1968, featuring him on piano, and in a few cases, vocals.  I wonder if he designed ‘Hands’ to play pop counterpoint to the lush but more straight ahead instrumental hit song of the same year, ‘Love Is Blue,’ by Paul Mauriat.  It has the same kind of over the top, multi-instrument arrangement, including strings, but with quite a rhythmic twist – kind of like ‘Hand Jive’ meets Riverdance.  If anyone ever asks you if a song can be poly-rhythmic and syncopated and NOT be funky, play this!

As far as I can tell, that would be Zig and George of the Meters pumping the kick drum pedal and plucking the bass strings respectively; and you can probably see why the temperamental and highly funkifried Mr. Modeliste chafed at being put to rather mechanical tasks such as this and eventually stopped playing on many of Toussaint’s productions.

Maybe Allen was hoping this might be picked up as another TV theme song (as had his earlier “Whipped Cream”, when covered by Herb Alpert), or for a movie soundtrack.  I don’t know, but it seems he enjoyed and saw commercial potential in such pop instrumentals, as he had been doing them since the late 1950s, though not on this scale.  ‘Hands’ was cleverly done, maybe too much so, as it quickly patty-caked off into the sunset; taking with it the other side of the 45, ‘I’ve Got That Feelin Now,’ which went in another musical direction entirely, call it soul easy-listening.”

Allen Toussaint 45-aYou can find “Hands Christianderson” on a 2007 CD release entitled What Is Success:  The Bell & Scepter Recordings — essentially, a reissue of Toussaint’s acclaimed 1970 LP From a Whisper to a Scream, (originally released as Toussaint) plus the A & B sides of three Bell 45s from 1968-69.

Hans Christian Andersen:  poet, playwright, novelist & fairy tailor

Hans Christian Andersen

“A Bubble Called You”: No Offense, Philly

Just an hour or so up the interstate from Baltimore resides a prominent metropolitan area that was once the “Rodney Dangerfield” of East Coast cities:  Philadelphia.   Somehow in the course of looking for bowling songs, I chanced upon this curious piece of sunshine pop – “A Bubble Called You by the Alan Copeland Conspiracy – that casts a rain cloud over Baltimore’s big neighbor to the north:

“A Bubble Called You”      Alan Copeland Conspiracy    1967

“A Bubble Called You” would lead off the second side of Copeland’s 1967 ABC album of the same name (one that includes a cover of The Everly Brothers’ “Bowling Green,” hence the ten-pin connection).  Despite its status as the album’s title track, “A Bubble Called You” would remain, surprisingly enough, under house arrest during its lifetime and not enjoy single release.

Bubble Called YouCopeland, in a playful bid to stoke controversy that might potentially boost sales, would subtitle the album, All Things Considered, I’d Rather Be Here Than in Philadelphia.

Its indignation sufficiently stoked, the City of Brotherly Love would strike back years later with a concerted campaign to bring about “an end to Philadelphia’s dark ages and Chinese Wall ugliness, an end to a city thinking with an inferiority complex” — as we shall see in tomorrow’s post

By the way, before we leave Baltimore behind, I would like to thank another music scholar, Joe Vaccarino – author of Baltimore Sounds – for his generosity of spirit.  Joe’s additions to the “Baltimore in Song” list filled an important chronological gap that has resulted in an impressive 17-year continuous streak between the years 1995-2012.  Thanks also to Geoffrey Himes, whose knowledge of numerous other song titles that reference Baltimore place & street names, sets the stage for a future piece on Mobtown “Honorable Mentions.”

“Major to Minor”: Disharmony in Love

“Major to Minor” by The Settlers is a tuneful slice of sunshine pop with a clever lyric that uses musical terminology as a metaphor for romantic discord:

Once I thought, “Life is going my way!” – it was just like a beautiful song.
When you came, well I thought you would stay – now it seems everything has gone wrong.
Major to minor.
All the dreams that I had were so big and so grand, they burst like a toy balloon.
Major to minor.
It’s the wrong harmony, and we can’t find the key.
We’re so far apart, I can’t even start the tune.
Once our love had original words, but I’ve heard them again and again.
Some old song you can sell to the birds, when it turns to the bitter refrain.
Major to minor.
Take my hand, let me show you the way, and I’ll sing you a beautiful song.
When I find all the right things to say, you’ll forget everything that went wrong.
Major to minor.

I love the crisp and commanding “click” bass lines – I would not be surprised if they were played by the same excellent session player who performed on Cat Stevens’ debut album.

This song would appear to have been only released in the UK (as well as Europe) and thus largely unknown to American ears.  Released in pop’s peak year – 1967.  I originally stumbled upon this piece of polished pop on the compilation of tracks from the Pye label, Paisley Pop.

Title of B-side?  Brace yourself:  “I Love ‘Oo Kazoo, ‘Cos ‘Oo Love Me”

Major to Minor 45

“In My Heart I’m a Free Man”: L.A. Sunshine Pop on King

I wish I could say that this slice of 1970 sunshine pop released by King Records was recorded in Cincinnati; however, Michel Ruppli’s 2-volume King discography indicates the recording to have taken place in Los Angeles on May 21, 1970.  Check out the fancy picture sleeve worked up by the Starday-King art department for this single release.

The Establishment - King 45Even better, check out the art work for their 1971 King album —

The Establishment LPFrank’s Vinyl Museum has a hilarious piece about the group’s debut 45 – the museum’s “first 45 rpm single” as it turns out:

The first 45rpm single in Frank’s Vinyl Museum is brought to us by Starday-King Records in Nashville (a city that seems to have been quite adept at producing this kind of thrift-store quality record).  I was drawn to this disc by its title — The Establishment.  What a name for a band!  What were these guys thinking?  That they’d be the “alternative” rock band for sensible folks who didn’t identify with the counterculture?  Or did they once hear some hippies talking about “the establishment” and mistake it for a cool buzzword?

Pretty certain dogs are no longer allowed to ride motorcycles in music videos

Attached to Frank’s piece are comments from three former members of The Establishment, as well as history from family members who note, for instance, that the group served as part of Jonathan Winters’ backing ensemble for his TV variety show.

Two of the three songs recorded in Los Angeles were issued as a 45, while the third track – “Don’t Let Go” – remains unissued to this day.  In August, 1970, The Establishment would record eight songs over two days in Nashville and issue them – along with their 45’s A & B sides – as The Establishment, their lone LP for King.  “House of Jack” from these Nashville sessions would also get issued as a promo single.

The Establishment - King 45 II

“Summertime’s Another Name for Love”: Pizzicato in Pop

Chicago’s New Colony Six released seven singles on the Mercury label from 1967-1970. “Summertime’s Another Name for Love,”  from 1968’s Revelations album, sounds like an obvious A-side to me – and yet it ended up being the B-side to “Can’t You See Me Cry.”

I especially enjoy the tantalizingly brief pizzicato passage in the song’s instrumental coda — as you will, too:

“Summertime’s Another Name for Love”     New Colony Six     1968

 

Released June 6, 1968, the single spent eight weeks on the Billboard pop chart, having climbed to the #52 spot at its peak.

New Colony Six 45

“Accroche Toi, Caroline”: Hang Tight, Caravelli Advises

This boss near-instrumental from 1967 simply attributed to “The Paris Studio Group” features a mean harpsichord – something right out of Lurch from The Addams Family:

As NME informs us:  “Main title theme as used on Tony Hart`s UK TV series, Vision On – a children`s TV series aimed at deaf children which ran from 1964 to 1977. The music is composed & performed by Claude Vasori, better known as Caravelli.”

Caravelli LP