Rolling Stones Soundalike Albums

In the inevitable Beatles vs. Stones (straw man) debate, I intensely resent having to pick sides, since the very idea of one without the other is laughable at best.  Nevertheless, this lifelong Beatles fan takes a certain fiendish thrill in devoting an entire blog post to those albums in which non-Stones groups play nothing but Rolling Stones tunes.

Kicking off this Stones-ploitation trend, appropriately enough, is their manager and svengali, Andrew Loog Oldham, who would arrange “polite” instrumental versions of early Stones songs for 1965’s The Rolling Stones Songbook under the name Andrew Oldham Orchestra. The Verve, you may recall, sampled the album’s final cut – “The Last Time” – for use in the dramatic opening strains of their huge 1997 hit “Bitter Sweet Symphony” but would not get to enjoy any of the royalties generated (sales, Nike ads, sporting event performances) due to the hardball tactics of the composition’s holder of copyright, ABKCO’s Allen Klein — as this exclusive excerpt from Fred Goodman’s new biography makes clear.

Rolling Stone imposter-Andrew Oldham OrchJoe Pass – as noted early in this blog’s existence – would release his seminal survey of mid-60s Stones, Stones Jazz, the following year in 1966.  But a couple of other notable ‘Stones-centric’ albums would hit the marketplace that same year:  (a) Baroque ‘n’ Stones by The New Renaissance Society and (b) A Tribute to The Rolling Stones by The Pupils.

BAROQUE ‘N’ STONES:  hanna-Barbera Records  +  THE PUPILS:  Tribute to the Rolling Stones

Rolling Stone imposter-a1Rolling Stone imposter-b1

How fascinating to discover that ‘The Pupils’ were, in actual fact, cult “mod” band The Eyes, whose 1966 (UK-only) EP sells for hundreds of pounds/dollars at auction (and would include their cheeky retort to The Who — “My Degeneration“).

“19th Nervous Breakdown”     The Pupils/The Eyes     1966

Four years hence,The Winstons would record their unabashed tribute to the Rolling Stones, notable primarily for its provocative “jail bait” cover, while two years later, The Collection would issue the only album of their career — a musical salute to the Stones, naturally — with a similarly risque front cover image.

     The Winstons     1970                                   The Collection     1972

Rolling Stone imposter-c1Rolling Stone imposter-d1

1972 would also bear witness to one more cash-in effort, Rolling Stones Vol. 2 (unclear whether Vol. 1 was ever issued), by the confusingly-possessive Monkey’s Pop Group, whose only known LP was issued on French label, Les Tréteaux.Rolling Stone imposter-dd11973 would bring five (count ’em) Rolling Stone tribute albums, including —

(1) a pair of delightfully kitschy covers from the “group” Rockery:Rolling Stone imposter-e1Rolling Stone imposter-ee1

(2) the one and only recording from The HotShockers released on German label, Auditon:Rolling Stone imposter-g1(3) the stylish and slyly misleading cover for Rockin’ Stones Party from France’s (not Jamaica’s) Fabulous Five:Rolling Stone imposter-f1(4) Million Copy Hits Made Famous by the Rolling Stones by The Flash (Starring Denny Jones):

magnification not included

Rolling Stone imposter-i1(5) a tribute album by a Dutch musical ensemble that departed at recording’s end with such frenzied haste, history never had a chance to record its identity:Rolling Stone imposter-h1By the 1980s, unfortunately, it was clear that Stones-ploitation’s Golden Age had passed.  Flash would issue Keep on Rolling in 1981 – impressively on CBS imprint, Epic – while that same year would see the release of Rolling Hits’ one and only album, Rolling Hits Medley, incredibly on major labels (Mercury, Polydor, Philips) in at least 10 countries, including Peru.

Rolling Stone imposter-k1Rolling Stone imposter-j1

I was perhaps five when I encountered my first soundalike cash-in album in the form of a Beatle knockoff group, The Liverpools (as previously recounted), and then again not long after when I got suckered by one of those TV ads for 18 Golden Hits of 1971, as rendered by The Sound Effects (though it is possible I fell for the previous year’s 18 Golden Hits of 1970, which does not even bear the name of the artist-for-hire).

Golden Hits of 1971UDiscoverMusic, similarly, writes of a curious and confounding time “when cut-price soundalike recordings ruled the British charts” — 45 years ago, to be precise, when there was a brief change in the chart eligibility rules, and before you knew it, Top of the Pops 18 was dislodging The Moody Blues’ Every Good Boy Deserves Favour from the #1 spot!

Baroque & Stones-x

Lee Hazlewood vs. Don Nix: ’73

I discovered another musical coincidence recently — two albums with similarly-constructed titles released the same year by two hip and influential songwriter-producer-arrangers:  Poet, Fool or Bum by Lee Hazlewood -vs.- Hobos, Heroes & Street Corner Clowns by Don Nix, both from 1973.

Lee Hazlewood LP-1Don Nix LP

On his one and only album for Capitol, Hazlewood surprisingly (or not) turns over production reins to Jimmy Bowen (vinyl copies would later fetch decent money).   Hazlewood would then find himself ejected from the cover of the UK edition of Poet, Fool or Bum – could it have been the prospect of having to market Hazlewood without his trademark mustache?  Hazlewood and Tim Buckley, it bears noting, would be the first among many artists to record “Martha” off the debut album by Tom Waits.

UK cover

Lee Hazlewood LP-2In 1973, Capitol would issue a pair of singles:  “Nancy and Me” b/w “Kari” in May, followed by a promo 45 in November of “Feathers” b/w “The Performer“:  an especially powerful B-side — “a stark and somewhat autobiographical picture of a singer who’s sick of the game”  as writes Michael Erlewine in All Music Guide to Country:

“The Performer”     Lee Hazlewood     1973

Stax, meanwhile, would issue two singles from Hoboes, Heroes and Street Corner Clowns — “Black Cat Moan” b/w “The Train Don’t Stop Here No More” (released in 1973 in the US, UK & Germany), followed by “She’s a Friend of Mine” b/w “When I Lay My Burden Down” in October.  I’m only sorry Stax didn’t put more promotional heft into the latter 45, which would have sounded great on the radio in 1973, especially when the strings kick in at the chorus:

“She’s a Friend of Mine”     Don Nix     1973

How fascinating to discover that “Black Cat Moan” would be the lead-off song for the famous John Peel broadcast of May 29, 1973 on which he played side one of Tubular Bells by a then unknown Mike Oldfield on tiny indie label, Virgin Records – a radio first (and “the show that launched the Branson empire!“)

 Pretend it’s the B-side “The Performer”        Written, performed & produced by Don Nix

Lee Hazlewood 45-aDon Nix 45-a

Charles Shaar Murray vs. Barton Lee Hazlewood

Financial Times grimly reported last July that the New Musical Express — the first magazine, in 1952, to publish the pop charts in the UK, and one which once boasted a circulation of 270,000 during its 1970s peak — has now been turned into a freebie publication by its owner, Time Inc. UK (worse:  content is no longer solely devoted to music).  NME, nevertheless, will always have its own distinctive place in Lee Hazlewood history, as noted here:

“In 1952 the NME greeted the arrival of rock and roll with the breezy exclamation: “Guitars are news!”  Two decades later its star writers behaved as though they were rock stars themselves, chief among them Nick Kent, who extended his worship of Keith Richards to contracting a severe heroin addiction.  Reviews toughened up, such as Charles Shaar Murray’s one-word dismissal of a 1974 album called Poet, Fool or Bum by the US singer Lee Hazelwood:  ‘Bum.'”

German 45

Don Nix 45-b

David Allan Coe’s Trucker Tune

David Allan Coe, intriguingly, merits four full paragraphs in Neil A. Hamilton’s history of The 1970s:

“Born in Ohio, Coe spent part of his youth in reform school and, in the 1960s, served time in the Ohio State Penitentiary.  Here was a man to whom the term outlaw meant more than a music rebel.  In 1967, Coe arrived in Nashville, and to gain attention from the country music establishment, he lived in a hearse that was parked in front of the Ryman Auditorium, the home of the Grand Old Opry.  Even though the country traditionalists ignored him, he soon signed a contract with an independent label, Plantation Records, and released an album in 1968.

Coe began to perform in a rhinestone suit and sometimes wore a Lone Ranger mask or covered his face in heavy makeup.  He called himself the Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy.  He hung out with motorcycle gangs and would sometimes begin his concerts by driving a Harley onto the stage with a wrench tucked under his belt before singing.  He dared anyone who thought him less than tough, told reporters that he had killed a man while in the penitentiary, and laced his commentary on stage and in print with expletives.   His long hair and tattooed body completed his outlaw persona.”

Photo courtesy of DavidAllanCoe.com

David Allan Coe - hearseDid Coe’s pal in the penitentiary – the musically macabre, Screaming Jay Hawkins – inspire the use of the hearse?

Produced by Pete Drake

David Allan Coe 45-bTwo 45s from 1973 — “Keep Those Big Wheels Hummin‘” b/w “Memphis in My Blood” and “How High’s the Watergate Martha” b/w “Tricky Dicky the Only Son of Kung Fu” — would be David Allan Coe’s final singles on Plantation before making the big jump to almighty Columbia.

“Keep Those Big Wheels Hummin'”     David Allan Coe     1973

Moon vs. Coe:  Cheek-to-Cheek

In 1977 Plantation would issue one final David Allan Coe album that would successfully out-moon Keith Moon’s solo album two years before:

               Moon’s 1975 LP                                Coe’s ‘Texas Moon’ LP from 1977

Moon LP-aMoon LP-b

Mad Mag’s Multi-Groove Flexi-disc

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)

Fabulous Las Vegas Roulette LP-jrIn 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

45Cat lists Mad Magazine flexi-discs from 19611981

I am grateful to have had a neighbor growing up who allowed me to borrow freely from his 1960s collection of Mad Magazines — the best educational supplement a kid could ask for.

Mad Mag-sing along-a+Mad Mag-sing along-b+

Check out the hyper-minimalist animation video that Casey Killingsworth created for the 1980 disco update of Mad’s 1961 belch-rock hit, “It’s a Gas!”

The “Rock Revolution” as seen through the lens of Mad Magazine:  1965-1968

Mad Mag-guitar-a+Mad Mag-beatles 68-a

In 2011, someone would fork over $100 for a vintage copy of Mad’s debut (and only) LP.

     Beatles                            vs.                         Stones, man

Mad Mag-ringo+Mad Mag-jagger+mag

Beatles vs. Stones:  1-0

On February 7, 2014 Mad Magazine would post the following announcement:

“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

Mad Mag-beatles 65+

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Best-Sellers vs. Worst-Sellers

As I was finalizing my recent Bill Doggett piece, I was trying to confirm the “four million” sales figure that is so often attributed (Wikipedia) to his 1956 smash hit, “Honky Tonk” – an extraordinary number for an instrumental, especially in the mid-50s.  Ultimately, I was  impelled to wield the search phrase “best-selling instrumental single” to confirm that number — and see what other truths I might unearth along the way.

Second item in the search results:  Wikipedia’s entry for “Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band” that claims this #1 Billboard hit (for two weeks – on the pop chart for a total of nine) is the “biggest-selling instrumental single in the history of recorded music.”  Yes, yes, but how many copies sold?  “Only” two million!  Guinness World Records affirms this achievement.  Sadly, this means that either (1) Guinness is somehow unaware of “Honky Tonk” selling four million copies, or (2) “Honky Tonk” sold fewer copies than is previously thought.

Million-seller “Honky Tonk”:  Only question is how many?

Bill Doggett Honky Tonk LPWorth pointing out that even though “Honky Tonk” would ‘only’ peak at #2, the song would nevertheless spend over half the year (29 weeks vs. 9 for “Star Wars” theme) on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart.  Take that, George Lucas.

Since Zero to 180 is more interested in profiling under-recognized artists and songs, I decided to shift my search efforts to see what might be of interest within the realm of “worst-selling” record-holders.  Lo and behold, I would quickly discover an amusing news item from this past August that unmasks a music industry model that just might be a bit creaky and unsustainable:  Worst-Selling #1 Album in Sales-Tracking History!

Disney Channel’s Descendents television series – as a result of Billboard altering their formula for identifying a #1 album to allow “on-demand streaming and digital track sales” – hit the top spot … with just 30,000 (!) “pure” album sales as reports Rolling Stone [the exact same link, by the way, as from Zero to 180’s recent Led Zep piece].

One of Decca’s worst sellers

Alan Freeman 4545 Clunker of Note:  Zero to 180 would like to thank 45Cat’s YankeeDisc for pointing out that Alan LeslieFluffFreeman, MBE and 40-year British disc jockey/radio personality, would enjoy the distinction of having recorded one of Decca’s Worst-Ever Sellers (“and is now, predictably, a rarity and collector’s item“):

“Madison Time”      Alan Freeman     1962

Did you know:   Bill Doggett’s biggest seller would enjoy a resurgence in the Billboard Hot 100 Chart in February and March of 1961 for reasons unknown to the government?  As it turns out, this was a more contemporary ‘re-boot’ by King that included vocals.

A Ha Moment:  By the way, I think I just now determined the source of the “4 million” figure, thanks to UK reissue label of note, Ace Records, in the liner notes to their compilation, Honky Tonk!  The King & Federal R&B Instrumentals:

“Still, ‘Honky Tonk’ did enough to earn a gold disc for a million sales (a total of 4 million was mentioned by [King’s Detroit branch manager] Jim Wilson, but who knows).”

Boom!  Bap!   15th Musical Fight!

‘Sticky’: “Guns Fever” Vocalist?

Thanks to Harry Hawks’ biographical portrait of master percussionist (& sometime vocalist) UzziahStickyThompson for Reggae Collector’s Artists Hall of Fame, we learn that (1) ‘Sticky’ gets a shout-out in the intro to Baba Brooks’ “Girls Town Ska” from 1965 [Q: “Hey Sticks, where you going tonight?”  A: “I’m going down by Girls Town”] and (2) Thompson firmly asserts that it is he – not Baba Brooks – who voiced the ’65 ska classic “Guns Fever”!

“Guns Fever”     Uzziah ‘Sticky’ Thompson (?) & Baba Brooks Band     1965

Hawks writes that “[Thompson] recalled, ‘I also did a song for Duke Reid named “Gun Fever”‘… which was credited to the Baba Brooks Band.”

Guns Fever 45“A classical, highly influential deejay who was great at his job before there was ever a job description,” continues Hawks, “he was rarely credited on his releases and the only way the listener knows it’s Cool Sticky is by recognising his exciting, highly individual delivery.”

Uziah Sticky Thompson-cKnockout!  14th piece tagged as a Musical Fight

The Duel: Organ vs. Sax

In the early part of this century, reissue label, Hip-O, put out a comprehensive series of James Brown single releases that were issued from 1956-1981.  Historians & researchers will no doubt be studying these liner notes in decades to come as they try to organize and make sense of the James Brown legacy, particularly given the volume of recordings issued over the course of his lifetime.

One thing I discovered by simply looking at the musician credits:  those bongo drums sound unusual on “Let Yourself Go,” because bongos – believe it or not – were not part of JB’s pioneering percussion sound, generally speaking.  According to the musician credits in this singles series that someone kindly posted on the Discogs website, I only see a handful of recordings (five by my count) between the years 1966-1973 that include the bongos.

Thanks to the missus, I am fortunate to own the 2-volume reference set, The King Labels:  A Discography as compiled by Michel Ruppli.  And yet I am discovering time and again that Ruppli’s discography is not authoritative as I had originally assumed.  Thank goodness, therefore, for the input of other music fanatics and actual participants who were there when history took place.  For example, if I simply relied on Ruppli, I might have continued to labor under the delusion that the Famous Flames backed James Brown on another great single from 1967 when, in fact, it was The Dapps.

James Brown & The Dapps (Les Asch holding horn)

JB & The DappsMy appreciation to Mitch Bowman, thus, for pointing me to James Brown’s “Funky Soul #1″ b/w “The Soul of JB” 45 originally released on King.  Ruppli tells me that the A-side was recorded on August 17, 1967 in Cincinnati but has very scant information about its mate.  Moreover, the B-side is attributed (wrongly) to “James Brown and the Famous Flames” and adds (incorrectly) “probably band without James Brown.”  That’s about it for the historical details – only the year is listed, no musician credits – although Ruppli does add, intriguingly, that another composition of “unknown title” was recorded but remains (to this day?) unissued.

Thanks to P-Funk Portal for affirming Bowman’s assertion that his brother-in-law, Les Asch, and his fellow Dapps were the musicians who backed James Brown on this double A-side instrumental excursion.  Gather around everybody for a musical fight, and hear for yourself as James Brown dukes it out with Les Asch on their respective instruments:

“The Soul of JB”     James Brown & The Dapps     1967

Organ Solo:  James Brown
Tenor Sax Solo:  Les Asch
Guitar:  Eddie Setser & Troy Seals
Bass:  Tim Drummond
Piano:  Tim Hedding
Drums:  William ‘Beau Dollar’ Bowman
Trumpet:  Ron Geisman
Alto Sax:  AlfredPee WeeEllis
Tenor Sax:  Les Asch
Baritone Sax:  David Parkinson
Organ:  James Brown
Producer & Arranger:  James Brown

If I were in the producer’s chair (I see you rolling your eyes), I would have followed James Brown organ solo in the left speaker with Les Asch’s tenor sax solo in the right speaker in order to underscore the dueling aspects of this musical match.  As it stands, both solos erupt from the west.  Note, too, the writing credits that include Gladys Knochelman – would love to know her role in the creative process, as her name appears ever so infrequently in the epic story of James Brown.*

There’s no denying the global impact of the fresh funk created by James Brown and his various support players over the years, much of which was recorded in Cincinnati — note the impact felt as far away as Japan, as this web tribute to JB attests.  Hey, check out some of the prices that Dapps singles command on Ebay.

Don’t believe the hype:  The Dapps are the backing band here

James Brown & Dapps 45-bJames Brown & Dapps 45-a

Biff!  Bam!  Pow!  This is the thirteenth bout tagged as a Musical Fight

*Historical Postscript

Tony Oulahan would subsequently contact Zero to 180 to shed light on this piece’s playful reference to Gladys Knochelman’s artistic contribution to “The Duel”:

“So my grandmother was Syd Nathan’s assistant for most of her time at King records. She also was a copywriter at one point as well. She died close to 20 years ago. She had close relationships with James, his band and many of the other artists at King. She had a couple of engraved jewelry pieces that James gave to her. I wish I could say otherwise, but she had nothing to do with the creative process on the album. And from what I know it wasn’t James directly that gave her the credit. She loaned someone in his group some money and they couldn’t pay her back. They gave her this credit in lieu of payment. It could have been his manager or someone else in the band. I’m almost positive that it wasn’t James himself, I can’t remember exactly who it was.”

“Stomp”: First Recording of a Clavinet?

Someone posted a short list of “clavinet-fueled songs” that, of course, included “Up on Cripple Creek” by The Band.  One commenter quibbled that the song should have been #1 on the list, “not only because it is better but because it was first” – but was it?

The Clavinet is “an electrically amplified clavichord that was manufactured by the Hohner company of Trossingen, West Germany from 1964 to the early 1980s.  Hohner produced seven models over the years, designated I, II, L, C, D6, E7 and Duo.  Its distinctive bright staccato sound has appeared particularly in funk, disco, rock, and reggae songs” (Wiki).

Hohner Clavinet D6

Hohner Clavinet D6

Two other clavinet commenters indignantly asked, “No Terry Adams?”  My point, exactly.  One NRBQ song previously featured on this blog that makes great use of the clavinet – “I Say Gooday Goodnite” – was recorded October 9, 1969 vs. “Up on Cripple Creek,” a Capitol 45 that was released October 17, 1969.  Okay, victor goes to The Band.

But wait:  NRBQ’s first single, “Stomp” had been released April, 25, 1969 – a whopping six months earlier – while even the second single, “C’mon Everybody” (released July 29th) came out almost three months before “Cripple Creek.”  Both songs feature Hohner’s new play toy and had, in fact, been recorded December, 1968.  Check out the driving “Stomp” – particularly the ending, with the clavinet’s percussive punch on the final chord:

Steve Ferguson, original guitarist, wrote both sides of NRBQ’s debut 45

But is that really the earliest use of a clavinet on a popular recording?  I’m a bit skeptical.  Here’s an illuminating quote from the October 5, 2012 edition of The New Statesmen – in a piece entitled “In Praise of the Clavinet:  It’s 40 Years Since Stevie Wonder Showed Off the Otherworldly Range of This Keyboard“:

“In 1964 the first clavinet was produced, based on the venerable clavichord, an instrument with a 400-year pedigree that used blades called “tangents” to strike the strings.  Clavichords were impractically quiet and a clavinet got round this by replacing the tangents with hammers that plunged down on to a string when a key was depressed.  That string was pressed into a metal strip, or “anvil”, which made the string vibrate.  The vibration reached magnetic pickups for a sound that could be fully amplified.

Not only did it produce a magical percussive twang across five octaves of 60 keys, but it was also dynamic, meaning notes could be sustained and pressed with lesser or greater force to vary volume and attack.  The high notes were bright, the middle range punchy yet mellow and low notes had a visceral growl.  Following a few false starts Hohner made the clavinet C in 1968, the keyboard Wonder used during his golden years.  After a left turn with the L – triangular with reverse-colour keys and now as rare as a mountain leopard – in 1971 they introduced the more durable D6, the keyboard hundreds of bands relied on for the next 10 years.”

Stevie Wonder rightly gets credit for his body of work on the clavinet, yet it’s frustrating that another world-class clavinet innovator – Terry Adams – gets nary a mention.  This needs to stop.

That small assemblage of “clavinet-fueled songs” sure could use a companion list of other towering moments in clavinet history — such a list would at least include “Free Ride” by the Edgar Winter Group;  “Me and the Boys” by NRBQ:  “Attractive Girl” by The Termites (rocksteady-era clavinet!); and “White Rum” by Sly & the Revolutionaries.  What other songs merit inclusion on this companion list?

By the way, according to Discogs.com, The Termites’ debut album, Do the Rock Steady, (which includes “Attractive Girl” – see above) was issued in 1967 on Studio One – is this the new record holder for earliest clavinet recording?

Possibly the first clavinet credit on a 45

Stax Clavinet 45Funny to note the existence of Clavinet.com, The Hohner Clavinet and Pianet Resource Homepage – “dedicated to the preservation of the funkiest instrument known to man.”

Clavinet Update:  Zero to 180 would address the clavinet controversy a year later with this item on Don Sebesky and then again 2 days later with this playful Marc Bolan piece.  Special thanks to Jim Kimsey, who offered “Six O’Clock” by (NRBQ fan) John Sebastian & The Lovin’ Spoonful – recorded in 1967 and tied with “Attractive Girl” by The Termites.

“Sligo”: Area Code 615 vs. 301

Now that I no longer live in the Ohio Valley but the Sligo Creek Valley watershed (which drains into the Anacostia, a tributary of the Potomac), I thought it would be interesting to search 45Cat’s singles database for any songs with the word “Sligo” in the title.  Surprise! That elite aggregation of top Nashville studio musicians – Area Code 615 – put out a peppy instrumental 45 in 1973 on Polydor whose song title contains but a single word, “Sligo”:

“Sligo”     Area Code 615     1973

Tune written by Kenny Buttrey (stalwart drummer, who left us this past September) and  Wayne Moss (whose immaculate rapid-fire guitar work on Bob Dylan’s “I Want You” is a great starting point for this guitarist).

Area Code 615 single

Brief excerpt from a 2002 interview with Wayne Moss:

What was the difference between the two bands you were both in, Area Code 615 and Barefoot Jerry?  Both were made up of studio musicians, were they not?

Area Code 615 was basically an instrumental band.  A lot of the membership was the same.  Charlie McCoy was in both bands.  Kenneth Buttrey was drummer in both bands. Myself [Wayne Moss] and Mac Gayden.  All three of the others went on to better and bigger things. Mac Gayden wrote a lot of terrific songs like “Everlasting Love.”  Charlie McCoy was musical director for [TV’s] Hee Haw for twenty-some years and he plays for six different labels right now (as a session musician).  So, we had to replace those people with other folks and in the process of that we ended up with 25 different people in the band.  Dave Doran played with Moby Grape.  Bobby Thompson played banjo on a lot of the Hee Haw shows. Buddy Spicher went on to be musical director of the Crook and Chase show.  There were a lot of good people in and out of the band. Terry Dearmore is now a Unity preacher in Virginia.  John Harris is deceased; he was our original keyboardist.  Guitarist Jimmy Colvard also passed away in the seventies.  Our group made records from 1970-71 to 1976.

“Yeah Man”: Musical Thievery

I am riveted with Peter Guralnick’s biographical account – Dream Boogie – of the visionary musical entrepreneur, Sam Cooke, who also happened to be gifted vocalist.   My attention was particularly piqued by Sam’s fraught – and ultimately unsuccessful – attempt to release the song “Yeah Man” as a single.

Rare 1965 French EP

Sam Cooke EP

Beginning in 1963, Sam Cooke’s managerial and business affairs were being run by Allen Klein – the one who Mick Jagger would later (in)famously recommend to The Beatles as a manager in the wake of Brian Epstein’s tragic and unexpected death – and September of 1964 would find Sam angry and resentful over his failure to override Klein’s decision to release “That’s Where It’s At” b/w “Cousin of Mine” as a 45 on the heels of Sam’s September 16th appearance on TV’s Shindig live music program instead of “Yeah Man.”

As Peter Guralnick writes:

Sam met with Allen [Klein] while he was in New York to discuss the immediate future.  He was still [cheesed] off about the new single release.  He had wanted to put out “Yeah Man,” the litany of dances set to The Valentinos’ distinctive beat that he had recorded in March, but Allen had hated it.  In fact, violating one of his own cardinal rules for managing – not for the first time, and not by just a little – he told Sam it was the worst [flibbity] song he had ever heard in his entire life.  “What the [funst] do you know?” Sam shot back.  [“Yeah Man”] was the kind of stripped-down simplified number he was convinced the kids would go for.  But in the end, he had allowed himself to be swayed by Allen’s opinion, and now the single they had released, “Cousin of Mine,” which Allen had insisted was a cute little song that they could sell pop, had shipped fewer copies than any single Sam had put out in three years, and they had thrown away “That’s Where It’s At” on the B-side [editor’s note:  45Cat very clearly identifies “That’s Where It’s At” to be the A-side for the U.S. market — hmmm].

It burned Sam up.  He knew “Yeah Man” would have been a hit, but Allen had been right about so many things, and the thing about it was, the [fathead] wouldn’t back down, even if you put a gun to his head.”

Adding layers of complexity to the story, 30 pages earlier we learned that The Valentinos – a family-based affair signed to Sam’s SAR label that would later produce careers for brothers, Bobby and Cecil Womack – had already laid down the musical groove that became the foundation for “If I Got My Ticket” but had the song rejected initially by Sam — only to subsequently find it re-fashioned by Sam and re-titled as “Yeah Man”!

As Peter Guralnick explains:

[The Valentinos] had another song, “If I Got My Ticket,” something which they had been working on at Soul Station #1 and believed in almost as strongly as “It’s All Over Now” [famously covered by The Rolling Stones], but after a couple of rehearsals, Sam pronounced it “too churchy” and told Bobby it needed more work, they ought to just set it aside until the Womacks had a chance to polish it and turn it into more of a finished song.  It could not have come as a greater surprise, then, when Bobby and his brothers showed up at the studio to play on Sam’s session the following day, only to find him exploring the same groove, the same riff they had worked out for “If I Got My Ticket” as the centerpiece of a new number of his own.

“Yeah Man” was a song he had first come up with in England, a dance number along the lines of the call-and-response vehicle he had devised for Cassius Clay [Muhammad Ali], with a large chorus responding to a series of rhetorical questions (“Do you like good music?”) with a rousing “Yeah, yeah.”  What made it different was the vocal charm, the rhythmic complexity, the agile horns, and booming bass.

My attention sufficiently piqued, I immediately jumped on YouTube in order to hear for myself the song that both offended Allen Klein and embittered Sam Cooke:

“Yeah Man”     Sam Cooke     1965

How amusing then to quickly discover that this song – which already had been thieved by Sam Cooke – would itself get appropriated two years later by Arthur Conley (with the very able assistance of Otis Redding) and get turned into classic soul music homage, “Sweet Soul Music”!

I’m kicking myself for needing assistance to figure out that the song’s signature intro was itself “inspired by” (i.e., stolen from) Elmer Bernstein‘s Magnificent Seven theme song!  For a little bit of extra fun, in fact, play both clips at the same time to see if you can get the two songs songs to line up in sync.

Where do I go to report all this thievery?

What’s even more fascinating is the fact that Peter Guralnick does not, at any point, make reference to “Sweet Soul Music,” which is curious, given that the song is not an obscure one, or even hint at “Yeah Man” laying the ground work for a future hit single.  I checked the index of the book to be sure and found references to numerous songs by title — but not “Sweet Soul Music.”