“This Old Town”: Where Love is the Prevailing Order

In Wilson Pickett’s town, universal respect for the humanity common to us all allows for an enlightened self-governance to rule the day.

This track from Pickett’s 1970 Atlantic album, Right On, was never to appear on a 45, which is a shame, since I think it’s a classic.

Wilson Pickett LP

The people in this town ain’t got no faces – they just got love between the races.

The people in this town don’t do no cryin’ – don’t have to rob and steal for survivin’.

The heart that should be speaking out just won’t stay silent – and everybody knows that no man is an island.

I saw a father and his son walking down the street – they walked hand in hand, what a beautiful sight to see (that makes me know)

The people in this town don’t need no soldiers – they don’t go around looking over their shoulders.

Everyone’s going around shaking hands, loving everybody and their fellow man – ain’t got no room for aggravation, what they love is communication.

Now open up your heart to harmony – give a little love, it will set you free.

You don’t have to go round searching for this town – right in your heart is where it’s found.

Song written by William Stevenson, Don Covay & Wilson Pickett.                Produced by Jerry Wexler & Tom Dowd.

Musicianship provided by The Muscle Shoals Sound Rhythm Section=

Roger Hawkins:   drums

David Hood:          bass

Eddie Hinton:       lead guitar

Jimmy Johnson:    rhythm guitar

Barry Beckett:    keyboards

Backing vocals:   Cissy Houston, Judy Clay, Jackie Vercell & Jerome Gasper

 

“I Know You Aries”: Mort Garson Asks, What’s Your Sign?

How nutty to release 12 albums of Moog synthesizer music simultaneously, one for each sign of the Zodiac.  And yet Mort Garson somehow convinced A&M to do so in 1969 –Signs of the Zodiac

I Know You Aries,”  the lead-off track on the Aries LP, could have been the A-side of a 45:

I Know You Aries – Mort Garson

[Pssst:  Click the triangle above to play “I Know You Aries” by Mort Garson.]

From Garson’s obituary in the January 11, 2008 edition of the Los Angeles Times:

Beginning with The Zodiac: Cosmic Sounds in 1967, Garson created numerous albums using the Moog synthesizer, including Electronic Hair Pieces, a 1969 version of songs from the hit Broadway musical “Hair,” and Signs of the Zodiac, a 12-volume 1969 series featuring one album for each astrological sign.

Garson was making The Zodiac: Cosmic Sounds album for Elektra with writer Jacques Wilson when an orchestra member said he knew engineer Robert Moog, who had invented the first commercially available electronic music synthesizer a few years earlier.

“I met him, got interested in his invention and immediately put it in Zodiac to add a sweetness to the sound,” Garson told the Los Angeles Times in 1969.

“That was the first album ever to use the Moog synthesizer and a live orchestra together,” said Bernie Krause, who was at the “Zodiac” recording session.

Krause said he and his music partner, Paul Beaver, had introduced the Moog synthesizer to pop music and film in Hollywood in 1967 and were selling the units and teaching classes on how to use them.

Zodiac is a very influential cult album from the ’60s,” said Trevor Pinch, co-author of Analog Days: The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer, a 2002 book that featured a 1969 photograph of Garson and his Moog synthesizer on the cover.

Zodiac influenced all sorts of people, including the Moody Blues,” Pinch said. “They came up with ‘Nights in White Satin’ after listening to Zodiac: Cosmic Sounds.”

Garson said in the Times interview that he didn’t use the Moog synthesizer in “a very sophisticated way” on the 1967 Zodiac album.

But by the time he and Wilson did the 1968 A&M album The Wozard of Iz: An Electronic Odyssey — a hippie-style parody of “The Wizard of Oz” in which Dorothy proclaims that “Kansas isn’t where it’s at” — he said he had learned most of the techniques.

“His albums were fabulous examples of New Age music and really kind of kicked off the New Age genre — and they were enormously popular,” Krause said. “It was part of the texture of the whole San Francisco flower scene and all the rest of it in the late ’60s.”

At the time of Garson’s interview with The Times in July 1969, his Moog synthesizer music was about to be heard by millions of Americans who would be glued to their TV sets watching history in the making: the Apollo 11 mission to land on the moon.

At frequent intervals during coverage of the mission, CBS aired a 6 1/2 -minute commentary-free film produced by Chuck Braverman with music by Garson.

Garson completed the score for the film — a doctored and edited version of NASA films from previous space flights — in a week in the small studio in his home in the Hollywood Hills.

“The only sounds that go along with space travel are electronic ones,” he told The Times. “The Apollo film shows different facets of the flight — blastoff, separation of the stages of the rocket, scenes of the moon at close range, of the astronauts playing games in the ship and of earthrise.”

The music, he said, “has to carry the film along. It has to echo the sound of the blastoff and even the static you hear on the astronauts’ report from space. People are used to hearing things from outer space, not just seeing them.

“So I used a big, symphonic sound for the blastoff, some jazzy things for the zero-G game of catch, psychedelic music for a section that uses negatives and diffuse colors on shots taken inside the ship, and a pretty melody for the moon. After all, it’s still a lovely moon.”

Born July 20, 1924, in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, Garson attended the Juilliard School of Music and was a pianist and arranger with dance orchestras before serving in Special Services during World War II.

He most recently composed a suite of music about San Francisco, his home since 1993.

“He was just putting the finishing touches on it,” Darmet said. “We were going to digitally record it; we still will.”

“A Satisfied Mind”: Country Meets Soul

Country meets soul in Roberta Sherwood‘s updated version of “A Satisfied Mind” – a home run of a hit, originally, for Starday in the mid-50s during the label’s early years:

A Satisfied Mind – Roberta Sherwood

[Pssst:  Click on the triangle above to hear Roberta Sherwood cover ”A Satisfied Mind.” ]

“A Satisfied Mind” was the B-side of “That’s Why I Woke Him Up to Say Goodbye” – one of two singles King Records released from Sherwood’s 1970 album, This Good Life.A Satisfied Mind 45 - Roberta Sherwood

Often described as a torch singer, Roberta Sherwood recorded a number of albums for Decca in the 1950s & 60s.

Roberta Sherwood

“Meu Piao”: Disco Nova

In the late 1990s I took a chance on a CD at Marshalls (from the cheap-o bins they use to keep near the register) by Astrud Gilberto – the 60s singer who helped popularize bossa nova.  The title of the disc, Gold, was not only misleading but annoying, since these ten songs had already been sequenced (differently) and released in 1977 as an album entitled, That Girl From Ipanema.

Astrud Gilberto LP

The standout track for me is “Meu Piao” – sounds like a club hit from the original disco era, and yet it appears never to have been released as a single:

“Meu Piao”      Astrud Gilberto     1977

I particularly enjoy the elegant disco stylings of the session bass player toward the end of the song.  I find it funny, though slightly maddening, that these extensive musician & production credits for this album list two different session bassists – and yet still fail to name the artist responsible for the nice fretwork on the bass guitar for “Meu Piao.”

Song written by Alfredo Ricardo do Nascimento.

“No Expectations”: Joan Baez Covers the Stones, Man

Joan Baez – with the very able assistance of Nashville’s finest sidemen – produces a soulful and tastefully understated cover of a classic Rolling Stones tune from their Beggars Banquet album:

Joan’s version was included on her 1969 Vanguard album, One Day at a Time, and was the A-side of a single for both the U.S. and German markets.

Joan Baez 45 Picture Sleeve

         Grady Martin:     Electric guitar & sitar, dobro
         Hal Rugg:         Steel guitar, dobro
         Pete Drake:       Steel guitar
         Harold Bradley:   Bass guitar
         Norbert Putnam:   Electric bass
         Junior Huskey:    String bass
         Jerry Reed:       Fingerpicking & rhythm guitar
         Pete Wade:        High rhythm guitar
         Jerry Shook:      Rhythm guitar
         Tommy Jackson:    Fiddle & viola
         Buddy Spicher:    Fiddle & viola
         Hargus Robbins:   Piano
         Kenny Buttrey:    Drums
         Charlie McCoy:    Organ, harmonica & vibes
         David Briggs:     Piano & harpsichord

“Mama Sure Could Swing a Deal”: Teresa Brewer Catches Fire w/ Oily Rags

Teresa Brewer‘s extensive recording career (which encompassed nearly 600 song titles) ran the gamut – from pop and novelty to rhythm & blues to country, musicals and, in the latter part of her career, jazz.  And yes, you can even add rock to that list – as evidenced  by “Mama Sure Could Swing a Deal,” a song from her 1973 album, In London with Oily Rags, on the Flying Dutchman label.

“Mama Sure Could Swing a Deal”     Teresa Brewer     1973

Oily Rags is the stage name for musical duo, Chas Hodges and Dave Peacock, who are joined by a bassist and drummer, two percussionists, three guitarists (including Pete Frampton), an electric keyboardist, and a 6-piece horn section on this track.

Curious to note that in 1973 Teresa Brewer also released 3 singles on the Flying Dutchman label – however, none of those sides duplicated any tracks from her album with Oily Rags.

“Mama Could Swing a Deal” written by Albert Hammond & Mike (not Lee) Hazlewood

Teresa Brewer LP-x

“Wave Bye Bye to the Man”: Good Riddance to Bad Man

Lynn Anderson’s ‘hard country’ take on “Wave Bye Bye to the Man” – a mother and child’s declaration of independence from a bad dad – provides a musical punch that perfectly matches the lyric:

Interesting to hear Lawanda Lindsey’s version of the song from the previous year (1968) and notice how the flute part takes some of the edge off the song.  As lovely as it sounds, the flute, unfortunately, is no match for the twin guitars that kick off Lynn Anderson’s driving version. Oddly, “Wave Bye Bye to the Man” ended up as a B-side to “Our House is Not a Home” (unless, inspired by The Beatles’ example, this was intended as a double-A side).

Anderson recorded for the Chart label for four years beginning in 1966, until she got a record deal with almighty Columbia in 1970.  “Wave Bye Bye to the Man,” however, is notable for its renegade sound and darkly humorous sensibility that is very much in keeping with what Shelby Singleton and Plantation Records were putting out at the same time.  Song included on 1970’s Uptown Country Girl  (Lynn would go on to release two more albums that year, having also released three albums the previous year).

Lynn Anderson LP“Wave Bye Bye to the Man” – Music and lyrics by Betty Jo Gibson and Buck Lindsay.

“It Could Have Been Better”: It Could Have Been an A-Side

Discovered a great song – “It Could Have Been Better”- from Joan Armatrading’s debut album that was included on a 1973 sampler album of A&M artists (in partnership with Altec sound equipment) entitled, Odyssey:Odyssey - Altec + A&M

According to the Wikipedia entry for Joan’s 1972 debut album, Whatever’s for Us – the song ‘It Could Have Been Better’ is said to have been one of Elton John’s favorite songs at that time.   Surprisingly, this song did not enjoy single release – even as a B-side:

Whatever’s for Us was the only album recorded by Joan Armatrading and Pam Nestor, who together wrote over 100 songs in the space of three years. Cube records released the album as a Joan Armatrading work and attributed little credit to Nestor – a situation that ultimately sewed discord between the two writers.

Pam Nestor & Joan Armatrading

“Cincinnati”: Neither North nor South nor East nor West

“Cincinnati” appears to be the B-side of a Decca 78 that was recorded by Martha Davis & Her Torrid Trio on December 9, 1947 in Hollywood, USA:

Martha Davis not only sang well but played the piano masterfully, as demonstrated on this classic clip for “Martha’s Boogie.”

Martha Davis

“Cincinnati” was written by songwriting duo, Jay Livingston (music) & Ray Evans (lyrics) – a musical partnership known for its work in film, as well as TV – including the themes to “Mr. Ed” and “Bonanza”.

It ain’t south, it ain’t north; but it’s my July Fourth;

It’s a joy, it’s a whirl; for a boy and a girl;

I mean Cincinnati, that everloving town;

Cincinnati, Ohio – that’s the city for my door;

It ain’t east, it ain’t west; but it treats you the best;

It ain’t high, it ain’t low; but, oh my, what a show;

I’ll get there by plane, train, caboose, or canoe;

Cincinnati – coming home to you;

I left my heart on the old Ohio – and there it waits for me;

Get out that firehouse band and shout all over the land –

Here I come a-humming right home to you.