There are a considerable number of people on this planet who are not yet aware of the existence of a restaurant – The Stinking Rose – that celebrates the garlic bulb in all its glory, with garlic infused into the majority of the menu offerings. With only two locations (one in Beverly Hills, the other in San Francisco), I’m afraid this dream destination will simply have to remain one for the indefinite future for many of us.
In the meantime, I will to have content myself with garlic-themed music for my soul food. But do songs about garlic exist? Here’s what Zero to 180’s investigation turned up.
As it turns out, garlic songs – at least here in the States – are at least as old as the blues. Sylvester Weaver‘s “Garlic Blues” from 1927, it bears noting, will turn 100 in 11 years:
“Garlic Blues” Helen Humes with Sylvester Weaver & Walter Beasley 1927
Not much else would appear for a couple decades, it seems, until The Max Brüel Quartet from Denmark released their jazz instrumental composition in 1955, “Garlic Wafer.”
“Garlic Wafer” by The Max Brüel Quartet – side one, track 2
1966 would bring another garlic sighting, when Capitol subsidiary label, Tower, released its single “(Get Off That) Booze & Garlic Bread” by garage rocker, Denny Rockwell.
This 45 deserves, if not partial credit, at least an asterisk
Two years later, vibraphonist Mike Mainieri and his Quartet would channel the spirits, and beat John Lennon to the punch in the process, with the wryly-titled “Instant Garlic” from the group’s 1968 album, Insight.
Instant garlic’s gonna get you — gonna knock you right on the head
“Who Put the Garlic in the Glue” by NRBQ – back when the Q stood for Quintet
[42 years later, Lin Brehmer from Chicago’s CBS affiliate XRT would single out NRBQ’s “Who Put the Garlic in the Glue” for her October 22, 2014 ‘Hump Day Unusual Moment‘ segment.]
Sometime in 1977 — within the confines of Italy, appropriately enough — garlic would get the funky instrumental it so richly deserves in the form of “Garlic Salt” by The Joy Unlimited Group & the Continentals:
“Garlic Salt” The Joy Unlimited Group & the Continentals 1977
1978 would see the final album – Spaceguerilla – from German progressive jazz-rock group, Missus Beastly, with “King Garlic,” fittingly, as its closing track.
“King Garlic” by Missus Beastly — Side 2, track 4
Before decade’s end, Leo Kottke would do his part to advance the cause with the release of 1979’s Balance, an LP that would include “1/2 Acre of Garlic.”
“1/2 Acre of Garlic” by Leo Kottke — Yugoslavian Pressing
1979 would also see the release of a Folkways album – Folk Songs from Latin America by Suni Paz – that would include the heartfelt paean “Al Ajo (To Garlic)”:
But the big breakthrough for garlic in song would come by way of Chapel Hill foursome, Superchunk, who no doubt “sweated out” vast amounts of garlic recording their unabashed 1990 declaration of bulb love, “Garlic” — the B-side of a split single on noted indie label, Merge, along with Seaweed and Geek (“released to go with a US tour of the three bands”):
“Garlic” Superchunk 1990
By the turn of the new century, it was a whole new era for Garlic in Popular Music, and even Lee ‘Scratch‘ Perry and Guided By Voices would eventually get in on the game, as you will note on the list below — a public service from the tireless research staff at Zero to 180.
Garlic in Modern Pop: An Exhaustive & Exhausting Discography
Bobby Gregory‘s Country Comedy LP includes a comic routine “We Always Feed Our Baby Garlic” that is also illustrated at the very bottom of the album cover – dead center:
The “contents” of Side A from Monty Python‘s Previous Record from 1970 – written from the perspective of a ‘Harley St. dentist’ – is an amusing bit that includes a ‘Where’s Waldo’ game: can you find the phrase “stinking garlic”?
Bob Newman: bass & lead vocal Henry Glover: drums Al Meyers: lead guitar Louie Innis: rhythm guitar Tommy Jackson: fiddle Shorty Long: piano
“Phfft! You Were Gone” would include Newman on bass & vocals, Shorty Long on piano, and Al Meyers on lead guitar, plus “sound effect” provided by Wayne Kemp, with an unnamed drummer and rhythm guitarist rounding out the sound.
“‘Phfft! You Were Gone,’ another novelty, was sold by Bob (alias Lee Roberts) and he didn’t get a dime when about twenty years later the song became a hook on the Hee Haw TV show. Bob, according to Hank’s widow, was a big spender: he would sell a song for, say, $ 1,500, then throw away $ 2,000. He sold ‘Shut Up And Drink Your Beer’ to Merle Travis, and ‘Crying Steel Guitar Waltz’ to Jean Shepard. That’s why he never made a living of his songs. Al Myers explained that Bob Newman didn’t know how to pursue his career, and that’s the main reason why King didn’t renew his contract in August 1952.”
“For years, the television series Hee Haw used a song on the show called ‘Phfft! You Were Gone,’ often credited to Buck Owens. Earlier appearances of the song on record attributed writer’s credit to Lee Roberts, Susan Heather, or Marian B. Yarneall. Bob Newman’s son Bob Jr. recently wrote to us to untangle the mystery of authorship of this classic. It was first recorded by Bob Newman July 3, 1952, at King Studios in Cincinnati. It was released on King 45-1131 shortly thereafter, with writer credits to Lee Roberts. Bob Newman actually wrote the song under the name Lee Roberts, which was his usual pen name (he had over 80 songwriting credits for both ASCAP and BMI under that name), and was the first to record it. Newman sold the song to Bix Reichner in 1958. Reichner, who wrote many songs including ‘Papa Loves Mambo’ for Perry Como and ‘I Need Your Love Tonight’ for Elvis Presley, assigned the song to his wife’s name — Marian B. Yarneall, aka Susan Heather. By the time the Audio Lab album came out in 1959, the writer credit had changed to Susan Heather. The original version of the song made its first (only?) LP appearance on his Audio Lab album.”
Two decades or so later, television writers would enjoy endless lyrical possibilities:
“Phfft! You Were/Was Gone” Hee Haw
Note, however, that Bopping assumes — as I did, until very recently — that King merely “reissued” those two truck driving songs in 1959, “Haulin’ Freight” and “Lonesome Truck Driver’s Blues.” Sorry, Bopping, but we discovered in the previous Zero to 180 piece that those two songs were given a re-boot to make them sound more contemporary.
King Record Innovation: “Bio Discs”
Independent record producer and music writer, Randy McNutt, has authored two books about Cincinnati’s post-WWII music history and its role in giving birth to rock & roll.
King Records of Cincinnati points out a wily marketing tactic by Syd Nathan that happens to involve Bob Newman:
“The 78 RPM record pictured here, Newman’s ‘Quarantined Love,’ shows another of Nathan’s innovations, the bio disc. He printed brief biographies of artists on promotional records and sent them to disc jockeys and decision makers in the music business. The idea must have worked, for King Records continued to issue bio discs into the 1960s.”
Remember the Las Vegas Roulette record with the “multi-groove” in which the tonearm stylus randomly selects (at least, in theory) one of 38 separate grooves – one for each slot on the roulette wheel – so as to allow partygoers the ability to play roulette from the comfort of home? That’s right, you, too, can be the croupier. *(Link to original piece)
In 1980, Mad Magazine would pull off an even more ambitious vinyl feat: a “multi-groove” flexi-disc! 45Cat’s 23skidoo rightly emphasizes:
“A random groove record. A different ending (usually) is heard each time the record is played. Very rare for a flexi-disc to have this feature.”
“It’s a Super Spectacular Day” [all 8 endings] Frank Jacobs & Norm Blagman 1980
“Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival in America! And in order to thoroughly commemorate, celebrate, salute and pay tribute to this historic event, we present the only time that all four Beatles appeared on our cover [September, 1968 cover above with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi] — which is still one more MAD cover than the Rolling Stones ever had!”
Mad Magazine’s Don Martin gets in on the act
Management requires that I insert a plug for Zero to 180‘s Facebook page – like it or else!
Memory is a funny thing. I can still picture myself standing at the checkout counter at School Kids Records in Columbus, Ohio having a chuckle with Curt Schieber over something – but was it a Great Plains 45 that had just been recorded? Or was it over the delicious roasted Japanese-style peanuts* that I could only find at School Kids and would nourish me through college, where spending money was always in such limited supply?
“Maarten Schiethart and Fred and Hans from the (now defunct I believe) Waaghals record store would be surprised to learn they were wealthy, let alone the producers of the one GPs single they put out, “Dick Clark”, the mix of which is identical with what’s on Naked at the Buy, Sell, and Trade. Shadowline was a short-lived label that kicked the bucket for the same reasons many indie labels did…they got boned by their distributors. Anyway, that ‘unplayable’ single sounds plenty fine to me, but then again I’m pretty happy with the way we molested the two cover tunes on the B side.”
Yikes, I really botched that one! Not surprisingly, my blogging license is under suspension, although I was able to get the suspension lifted on the condition that I hire a fact checker. Wyatt, in fact, is my probation officer, and I couldn’t have found a more patient and forgiving one. Zero to 180 looks forward to buying Wyatt and the boys a beer or three when they venture east to place a show in the Nation’s Capital – another town noted worldwide for its homegrown punk and harDCore scene.
Great Plains might not consider themselves a “singles band,” but you could’ve fooled me with this cracking 45 that is also rather well-engineered, one cannot help noticing:
“Dick Clark” Great Plains 1987
Paul Nini: Bass Dave Green: Drums Matt Wyatt: Guitar & Backing Vocals Mark Wyatt: Keyboards & Backing Vocals Ron House: Vocals & Guitar
Doug Edwards: Engineer
Great Plains: Producer
Wyatt would also point out to a clueless Zero to 180 that the engineer on this 45 is none other than Doug Edwards, who would also spin the dials for Boys from Nowhere! Boys’ Bassist Ted Nagel and I would hail from the same Cincinnati high school — the world just keeps getting smaller. But wait, an actual Boy from Nowhere – Mick Divvens – would engineer (as “Donovan’s Brain“) Great Plains’ final 45, as Officer Wyatt observes with quiet exasperation in the comments below.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Great Plains without a healthy dose of humor, as evidenced by the double B-side (as noted by Wyatt above) — spirited covers of Pomus & Shuman’s “This Magic Moment,” as well as Grand Funk Railroad’s “Bad Time.”
How wonderful to see my original Great Plains piece, if Facebook “likes” are a reliable indicator, starting to gain some traction. Hopefully my nephew Jake in Minnesota – another music enthusiast with wide-ranging tastes – will continue to spread the word in the Heartland about these musical innovators who are ripe for rediscovery.
“The only way to guarantee entry is to buy the weekend wristband. We’re selling 250 of those and once they’re gone, they’re gone. Each night of the fest we will release approximately 50 tickets at the door for $15 that are first come, first served. We will not be selling single night tickets in advance.”
Jake, forget your studies and grab your buddies – sounds like a road trip is in the cards.
* “Kakawateez” roasted nuts, I want to say, came in tall thin packages with some kind of totem pole-themed art and could only be purchased at School Kids Records due to the owner’s family business connection. But the stupid internet cannot validate these claims, and I can feel my probation officer breathing down my neck, so let me have Wolfie’s Nuts take the story from here via their Facebook page.
Hey Mark, did I botch the above postscript by relying on my memory’s jazz impressions?
Remember Tom Newbold? Before he became manager of The Ferns, Tom and I once had quite the shouting match over Birthday Party’s “Release the Bats” (as previously recounted in the Zero to 180 piece, “Winged Mammal Theme“). At the time of the incident, I was convinced that ‘Newbs’ was merely trying to provoke. The song’s humor eluded me, it pains me to say, nor did my musical range of vision recognize the validity of “shouty” vocals or alternative approaches to melodicism. Only years later did it occur to me that Newbold’s enthusiasm for “Release the Bats” was, indeed, genuine.
I also remember Tom playing Gang of Four’s Entertainment, which I found rather amusing, but not for the right reasons. Newbold’s embrace of punk and hardcore was a minor sticking point, as I had yet to be liberated musically, while my political consciousness was still in a state of deep slumber. But it was impossible not to be swept up in the intensity of Tom’s belief in the power of music as a transcendent force, so when Newbold insisted that we check out Great Plains – led by songwriter and vocalist, Ron House – who could say no?
(L to R) Dave “Manic” Green, Mark Wyatt, Ron House, Paul Nini, Matt Wyatt
I’d be lying if I said that Great Plains instantly swept me off my feet. It took at least a handful of shows before I started to understand why Newbold championed the songs of House, who I just now learned was co-owner of Used Kids Records, one of my favorite Columbus hangouts on High Street, along with (the recently-departed) Bernie’s Bagels, where I got to see The Royal Crescent Mob in the mid-80s playing their ferocious brand of funked-up rock, with a rhythm section that rivaled, if not surpassed, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, it is in no way an exaggeration to say.
House’s less-than-tuneful singing voice and the band’s more shambling moments would distract some of us initially from seeing the wit and originality of Great Plains’ music. A turning point for me came, though, when record store owner, Curt Schieber, told me one day at School Kids (upstairs from Used Kids) that a wealthy Dutch benefactor** and passionate Great Plains fan had just underwritten the entire cost for one of the band’s 45s. The deal, unfortunately, was conditional upon the Dutchman also engineering the session, so when Schieber informed me that the recording levels were so ridiculously high as to make the single virtually unplayable, we both had a good chuckle.
“Pretty” is an adjective I would not use to describe the band’s sound, and yet Great Plains prove they can be melodic when they want to be on this absurdist slagging of Ohio presidential notable, Rutherford B. Hayes – a song that shows the band at their ‘poppiest’:
“Rutherford B. Hayes” Great Plains 1984
“Rutherford B. Hayes” (Zero to 180’s choice for an A-side) would remain an album track, sadly enough, that was originally released on 1984’s Born in a Barn, as well as live album, Slaves to Rock and Roll and 1989 UK release, Colorized! (not to mention 2008’s Live at WFMU).
** Don’t believe everything you read, kids. This bit about the wealthy Dutch benefactor and the too-hot recording levels is yet another example of good intentions running roughshod over the truth. Click here for a postscript that attempts to set the record straight.
Shame on Zero to 180 for not celebrating Red Simpson‘s musical legacy as a pioneer of the “Bakersfield Sound” until now – after his spirit has already left this mortal plane.
I’m afraid Simpson’s passing might have gotten overlooked in all the media attention given to the unexpected loss of David Bowie. In a playful nod to both artists, Zero to 180 thought it would be fun to feature Simpson’s last charting hit, “The Flying Saucer Man and the Truck Driver” (#99) from 1979:
“The Flying Saucer Man and the Truck Driver” Red Simpson 1979
“The Flying Saucer Man and the Truck Driver” would first be released in 1976 on Vancouver label, Portland Records, and then again three years later to much greater commercial acclaim on Nashville-based K.E.Y. Records.
1976 release 1979 re-boot
I just saw the trailer for the 2014 documentary, Billy Mize and the Bakersfield Sound, and one key point really hit home: 1960s Nashville-based country was primarily “sit down” music, while the principal aim of the ‘Bakersfield Sound’ was about getting folks to dance. Red Simpson is one of the principal architects of the Bakersfield Sound – although he does not always get proper recognition in this regard.
Worth noting that (1) Red’s professional songwriting career goes back to the Korean War era, and (2) Simpson did not actually write his biggest hit “I’m a Truck” but did, in fact, write tons of even better tunes — see special Red Simpson feature below.
“Sweet Touch of Love,” from the aforementioned acclaimed 1970 album, Toussaint (later named From a Whisper to a Scream), would be the A-side of a promo 45 that appeared not to have enjoyed any chart action:
“Sweet Touch of Love” Allen Toussaint 1970
“Sweet Touch of Love” (the final installment in this week’s “time walk” tribute to Allen Toussaint) would later be covered by Etta James, Esther Phillips, Irma Thomas, and Grady Tate.
Funny to see history’s twists and turns: who could have predicted that Allen Toussaint’s 1970 hymn to love would be used 38 years later as the centerpiece of an oddly creepy ad campaign for Axe Dark Temptation “chocolate” deodorant in 2008?
Axe Dark Temptation ad featuring “Sweet Touch of Love” by Allen Toussaint:
Allen Toussaint was the headlining act for the 2009 Silver Spring Jazz Festival. At that time, the festival venue was the parking lot behind the facade of the old JC Penney building, just prior to its conversion (using millions of taxpayer dollars) into the LiveNation concert facility that would be branded (cynically) as “The Fillmore.”
Taking in Toussaint’s performance in 2009, I was struck by how all-encompassing his music is, the totality of its sweep: jazz, blues, New Orleans second line, gospel, funk, pop, country, and even a big of ragtime thrown in for good measure.
Funny to recall that, even as an obsessed teenage fan of The Who, I would inadvertently make Allen Toussaint’s acquaintance via The Who’s live arrangement of “Fortune Teller” from a bootleg album of their April, 1968 performance at New York City’s Fillmore East.
Toussaint’s recent passing is an enormous loss, and his legacy – as Atlantic Monthly noted – is “unassailable.” Fortunately, for humankind, Toussaint has left a vast treasure chest. But rather than unscroll a long list of song titles that attest to Toussaint’s impressive handiwork as a songwriter, musician and producer, I thought it might be better to simply hit you with one good song at a time – such as 1965‘s infectious “The Word Game” by Benny Spellman:
“The Word Game” Benny Spellman 1965
Toussaint’s playful take on Shirley Ellis‘s near-number one hit at the time, “The Name Game” is ripe (as this YouTube clip’s paltry numbers show) for rediscovery. The “B” Side blog tells us that the song “bubbled under the Hot 100 for awhile” but never really charted, despite the endorsements of such influential disc jockeys as Johnny Bee (WBOK, New Orleans) and Chuck Cunningham (WLOU, Louisville). As Home of the Groove explains it:
“It has been reported that ‘The Word Game’ did alright around New Orleans; and maybe it could possibly have sparked a flash of oppositional game-song fever across the land, except for a major monkey wrench. While Atlantic agreed to release this single, it doesn’t seem they did much more than test-market it as a promo (as seen in the [image below] – you rarely run across a stock copy), and took no pains to promote it – that is, pay anybody elsewhere to play it. That’s too bad, not because “The Word Game” really deserved to be a hit, but because it kept DJs from paying enough attention to flip the record over and discover the side that should have gotten the attention [i.e., ‘I Feel Good’].”
Originally issued on New Orleans’ indie, Alon … and then picked up by Atlantic
“The Word Game” is one of dozens of songs penned by Toussaint using his mother’s name, Naomi Neville.
Who could, of course, forget Dylan’s producer, Bob Johnston, mangling “The Name Game” to great comical effect the following year?
Until fairly recently, I had a Tuesday Morning “close-out retailer” store within 2 miles of home. In an age when we’re lucky to have just one large national bookstore chain, I was grateful to have a quirky home goods store that also offered the oddest assortment of book fare, the overwhelming majority of which can not be found in Barnes & Noble, Politics & Prose, and other “respectable” reading establishments.
This piece, therefore, is a tribute to the former Silver Spring location of Tuesday Morning for allowing me to purchase the ingeniously-crafted Country Music Pop-Up Book, a $45.00 retail value (as the price tag states) for only $14.99. This delightful pop-up book I first mentioned two years ago last December in a classic “road” story about Waylon Jennings as told by Kinky Friedman.
The closing of our local Tuesday Morning has me looking at this sumptuous movable book once again — I just re-read Steve Earle‘s funny essay about life as a struggling songwriter in Nashville working on “The Graveyard Shift” in which we learn that, when “Steve Martin led the entire audience down Ellison Place and bought everyone a Krystal hamburger, [Earle] was at the front of the line.”
When it comes to pop-up record albums, Jethro Tull‘s elaborate gatefold sleeve for their sophomore release — 1969’s Stand Up, with the pop-up art of the four band members — single-handedly rules the roost (one has to wonder, then, why the title of this piece is plural). The concept was “based on ideas from Terry Ellis and John Williams and printed from woodcuts by New York graphic artist, Jimmy Grashow [whom you may visit on Facebook].”
One song I remember hearing on 1970s FM radio was Jethro Tull’s adaptation of a popular Bach lute piece (Bourrée in E minor). Although Stand Up would reach the US Top 20, Island’s release of “Bourée” b/w “Fat Man” would fail to chart, except in Germany (#37) and the Netherlands (#5):
“Bourée” Jethro Tull 1969
Jimmy Grashow would also design the artwork used for the French 45 picture sleeve:
Did You Know…Jethro Tull’s very first single release – their one and only on the MGM label – would find find the group identified as Jethro Toe! In fact, 45Cat emphatically states that any copies of “Sunshine Day” b/w “Aeroplane” with the band’s name as ‘Jethro Tull’ are bootlegs — click here to check out the many interesting comments about this 7-inch equivalent of the postage stamp with the bi-plane flying upside down.