Guitar & Dobro: Jerry Kennedy
Rhythm Guitar & Banjo: Bobby Thompson
Rhythm Guitar: Ray Edenton
Guitar: Billy Sanford
Bass Guitar: Harold Bradley
Steel Guitar: Pete Drake, Weldon Myrick
Bass: Roy Huskey
Drums: Buddy Harman
Piano: Hargus ‘Pig‘ Robbins
November, 1970 at Jack Clement Recording Studio in Nashville, Tennessee
Yesterday’s piece about Mayf Nutter featured a link to the January 13, 1973 edition of Billboard, that happened to include an adjacent news item that named all the artists who played with Buck Owens at a recent Christmas event in Bakersfield:
“Buck Owens and his group drew more than 5,000 with some turned away at the Toys for Tots program in Bakersfield. On the show with him were the Buckaroos, Mayf Nutter, Jack Lebsock, Freddie Hart, the Bakersfield Brass, Tony Booth, the Ray Sisters, Susan Raye, and a few others.”
Susan Raye’s name immediately brought to mind her 1971 radio-friendly country pop hit, “I’ve Got a Happy Heart” and its memorable chorus — they sure don’t write lines like these in country music anymore:
I’ve got a happy heart, I feel like I could almost fly
I think that if someone shot me, I wouldn’t even die
As it turns out, “I’ve Got a Happy Heart” was penned by Bakersfield’s own, Buck Owens, along with Pat Levely, and issued on 1971 album, Pitty Pitty Patter (#6 country). Ms. Raye would not only record the song again in late 1971 for 1972’s, I’ve Got a Happy Heart LP (#8 country) but once more in March 1973 for a duets album with Buck, Good Old Days (#29 country).
Just a few minutes into the 1970 country music documentary, The Nashville Sound, there is a quick succession of “man-in-the-street” interviews with various passersby that include – most unexpectedly – Straight Records recording artist, Mayf Nutter, who states his current professional affiliation (artist signed to Frank Zappa’s label) in jarring contrast to his previous position (singer/producer for The New Christy Minstrels):
“My name is Mayf Nutter – I was the leader of The New Christy Minstrels for awhile. I’m just getting back into my country thing and recording now for one of Frank Zappa’s labels: Straight Records. And you know Frank, he does the underground music and everything. I’m happy to be back into country – it’s a beautiful thing.”
Just prior to signing with Zappa, Mayf released one single on MGM – “Daddy Loves You, Boy (It’s Hard to Tell Little Children)” b/w “Sing Me Something Sensible” (1968), both songs penned by Nutter. His first 45 on Straight – “Are My Thoughts With You?” by Mickey Newbury – would be produced in 1969 by Jerry Yester, while his second single (1970’s “Everybody’s Talkin'”) would be produced by Bakersfield veteran, Fuzzy Owens.
Mayf Nutter would record a couple(ish) singles each with Starday and Capitol before issuing novelty country song “I Don’t Care” in 1972 (U.S.) and 1973 (U.K.):
At first I couldn’t understand why a “Bizarre Production” (i.e., Zappa-affiliated) – as it says on the label – would be released on GNP Crescendo instead of Straight (or even Bizarre). But then Billboard‘s January 13, 1973 edition explained how this came to be:
LOS ANGELES—Gene Norman, founder-president of GNP-Crescendo records here is making a strong try to establish a country music image … Norman has just released his first record from the Portland label, owned by Gene Breeden. It is Rose Maddox’s “Mr. Jackson” and will be followed by other Portland product. GNP has also acquired 12 sides by Mayf Nutter, whose first on that label is “I Don’t Care.”
Nutter would later enjoy an acting career that includes television (recurring role on The Waltons as jukebox vocalist, Bobby Bigelow), as well as film.
Frank Zappa — Producer, Occasional Sideman
For a couple years in the mid 1960s, Frank Zappa’s name would appear as producer (or arranger) on the credits for a handful of interesting 45 releases:
Bobby Jameson "Find My Roogalator" b/w "Lowdown Funky Blues 1966
Burt Ward "Boy Wonder I Love You" b/w "Orange Colored Sky" 1966
Eric Burdon & the Animals "The Other Side of This Life" 1967
Barry Goldberg "Ronnie Siegel from Ave. L" (Zappa as musician) 1967
The Knack (60s group) "Softly, Softly" (Zappa as musician) 1967
Zappa’s production work for other artists would appear to have largely dropped off by 1968, although 1976 would see Zappa produce, surprisingly enough. Grand Funk Railroad’s Good Singin’, Good Playin’ LP.
YouTube contributor, RoswellReptilian, tells us that Tim Dawe‘s “Little Boy Blue” was “used as bumper music for WMMS’s Cleveland Buzzard Morning Zoo in the 1970-80s.” Can you name the electronic musical instrument that you hear at the opening of the song, as well as during each repeated instrumental passage leading up to the verses?
“What more can one say about Tim Dawe, after all, than that he is from Chicago by way of New York City, Missouri, Wisconsin, La Jolla, Los Angeles, and Rangoon, that he once went to Yale without much success, that he used to support himself by performing Dylan songs at a time when and where no one knew Dylan from Schmylan, that he went on to win himself a spanky two-week booking at Randy Sparks’ intimate Ledbetter’s in the Wilton, Wisconsin Midwest Folk Festival, and that he plays the guitar divinely, sings, and writes little songs?”
Liner notes to Zapped, 1970 sampler LP of songs from Straight/Bizarre, the Warner Brothers subsidiaries established for Zappa-related musical projects & productions.
Tim Dawe’s 1969 stereo LP ‘penrod’ – issued on Straight
“Released in 1969, Tim Dawe’s Penrod was one of the few entries on Frank Zappa’s ironically-monikered Straight Records label — where it was nestled between Jeff Simmons’ Naked Angels original motion picture soundtrack and Tim Buckley’s Blue Afternoon, both of which were also issued that year. It has been suggested that Penrod was a pseudonym for the name of the assembled musicians. However, Penrod is, in fact, the fictional Penrod Schofield, a preteen whose misadventures were anthologized in a collection of humorous drawings by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Booth Tarkington. He is portrayed on the outer LP jacket in two cover illustrations hand-drawn by Gordon Grant. For this recording, Dawe (acoustic guitar and vocals) is joined by Arnie Goodman (keyboards), Chris Kebeck (guitar), Claude Mathis (drums), and Don Parrish (bass), and the ten-track project was realized under the supervision of producer and arranger Jerry Yester, who also scored light orchestrations for several of Dawe’s originals.”
Steve Stanley’s article in Shindig! #38 about Jesse Lee Kincaid – original member of The Rising Sons with Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder – made me curious to hear the two singles he recorded for Capitol. His first – “She Sang Hymns Out of Tune” – from December, 1966 appears to have been a promo 45 only and cannot be previewed on YouTube (although you can hear versions by Nilsson, Hearts & Flowers, and The Dillards).
Kincaid’s second (and final) Capitol 45, predicted to reach the Hot 100 in the May 13, 1967 edition of Billboard, is an instant grabber and one that has a bit of that “1967 magic” — and yet the song appears never to have charted. What gives?
“Baby You Come Rollin’ Cross My Mind” Jesse Lee Kincaid 1967
The Peppermint Trolley Company – famous for singing the original Brady Bunch theme – would have a #59 hit with “Baby You Come Rollin’ Cross My Mind” in January of 1968. The Trolley Company’s Danny Faragher provides the behind-the-scenes intrigue on his website:
“Dan Dalton was producing Ex-Rising Son guitarist Jesse Lee Kincaid for Capitol. Jesse’s song “Baby You Come Rollin’ ‘Cross My Mind” was starting to break out, but due to contractual complications, the label pulled the plug. Dalton believed in the tune and thought it was perfect for the band. (Dan Dalton) – “When Capitol took Jesse’s record off the market, I said to the Trolley, ‘This is a hit song. Let’s do it.’ And the guys just didn’t want to do it at first. So I said, ‘I’ll give you each 50 bucks. I just want to use you guys as musicians.’ They agreed, and we cut the track, and [while we were recording it] we all realized it was just sounding wonderful.’ The band then recorded the vocals, coming up with the harmony parts on the spot. (Dalton) – ‘It was pure magic.’”
James Burton would subsequently play guitar on his next (Leon Russell-produced) single for Fontana before Kincaid would decide to take an extended leave of absence from the music business.
But wait, as Steve Stanley reports, Kincaid has, indeed, completed a new album – entitled Brief Moments Full Pleasure – that was released this past September. Those of you who live in the Bay Area have the opportunity, in fact, to hear Kincaid perform on December 10th at the No Name Bar in Sausalito.
L.A.’s Rising Sons with Taj & Ry & Jesse Lee –vs– Burlington, Ontario’s 5 rising sons
From Sound on Sound‘s wonderfully detailed history of theClavioline (the otherworldly keyboard sound that steals the show on Beatle B-side, “Baby You’re a Rich Man“) we learn that “electrical instruments first appeared at the close of the 19th century.” However, it was only with the introduction of the Clavioline in 1947 by French company, Selmer, that “an affordable and widely distributed electronic keyboard became available.”
Fascinatingly, the Clavioline was originally built to be attached underneath the keyboard of a piano and “used to imitate orchestral solo instruments.” Even though Selmer “offered suggested voicings,” there was nothing to prevent musicians from creating new sounds by combining the stops in novel ways, while at the same time employing the instrument’s knee lever to surprisingly expressive effect.
1962’s soaring #1 instrumental hit, “Telstar,” propelled the Clavioline onto the international stage thanks to producer/songwriter, Joe Meek – but was that the first time the distinctive and futuristic sound of the Clavioline made it onto a pop record? The Ted Taylor Four, believe it or not, beat Joe Meek to the punch two years prior with their instrumental ode to the newly-opened M1 motorway that features a rather delightful romp on the Clavioline:
“M1” The Ted Taylor Four 1960
According to 45Cat contributor, Klepsie, the tune was “originally called ‘Left Hand Drive’ but renamed before release to ride the coat-tails of the publicity surrounding the opening of the M1 motorway. Despite being voted a majority ‘hit’ on Juke Box Jury for 29 October 1960 (where Ted Taylor was the artist ‘behind the screen’) it missed the charts.”
However, “M1” is not the first appearance of a Clavioline on record – at least, in the UK. According to Wikipedia, that honor goes to Frank Chacksfield and His Orchestra with “Little Red Monkey” which peaked at #10 in April, 1953 on the UK pop chart:
“Little Red Monkey” Frank Chacksfield & His Orchestra 1953
Meet the Musitron – The Clavioline’s Kissing Cousin
Del Shannon‘s #1 1961 hit, “Runaway,” features a prominent keyboard line that music scholars have long assumed to be a Clavioline — Sound on Sound helpfully informs us:
“The instrument used to create the track’s instrumental break — possibly the first ‘synth solo’ ever released on record — was not a Clavioline, but a custom instrument called a Musitron, which was assembled by Shannon’s keyboard player and co-writer, Max Crook. Based on a Clavioline, the Musitron incorporated numerous other unspecified electronic bits and pieces that made it possible for Crook to create a wider range of tones and special effects. Later, he was to build another hybrid, which he dubbed the Sonocon. This had pitch-bend and was also capable of generating percussion sounds that the Clavioline could not.”
According to Del Shannon’s website, keyboardist and electronics wizard, Max Crook, took a Clavioline (itself adapted from the Ondioline, also French) and modified it by (1) “expanding the octave range to infinity” and (2) incorporating a “spring echo reverberation unit,” as well as (3) additional outboard effects, such as “mechanical vibrato” and tape delay (i.e., “Echoplex”), while also inserting (4) “extra resistors, pots & capacitors” into the mix. Most interesting – for historical sake – is Crook’s assertion that his keyboard’s inescapable sound directly influenced Joe Meek to use the Clavioline on that following year’s equally-unavoidable radio hit, 1962’s #1 “Telstar.”
It’s true: John McLaughlin once worked the pop scene. The guitarist, whose name would become synonymous with 1970s jazz fusion, started out in 1960s London as a session player for the likes of Dionne Warwick & Burt Bacharach (What’s New Pussycat? soundtrack), Andrew Oldham Orchestra (“365 Rolling Stones (One for Every Day of the Year)” – 45 only!), Tony Meehan Combo (“Song of Mexico“), David Bowie (“Karma Man“), and The Hairy Ones (“Get Off My Cloud“), among many others.
McLaughlin would also be part of a 25-member assemblage of “musical stunt men” (as drummer, Bobby Graham, would quip*) who would join forces on February 23, 1965 at Pye Recording Studio for a classic album – British Percussion – that was never released on this side of the Atlantic. This “all-star” band – who had previously backed such top French artists as Eddy Mitchell, Françoise Hardy & Sylvie Vartan – would be assembled at the behest of bandleader, Bobby Graham, with the blessing of label magnate, Eddie Barclay (previously featured in a Zero to 180 piece about the Parisian “guitar army,” Barclay Stars).
As Colin Harper writes in issue #38 of fab UK music magazine, Shindig!:
British Percussion was Eddie Barclay’s semi-blank cheque to Bobby Graham to pull some people together and sell a slice of Swinging London to the French. Sales-wise, it might have sunk like a stone; musically, especially as a sonic snapshot of an era, it’s a delight from start to finish. In a way, it is exactly how one imagines, through the prism of posthumous pastiches like the Austin Powers soundtracks, Swinging London sounded.
“Bobby Graham and Jimmy Page cowrote three tracks, including the blistering opener, ‘Stop the Drums’ – a souped-up riff from the school of Link Wray bookending a drum battle between Andy White and Ronnie Verrell. White was the man who had already earned his footnote in history as the session man who replaced Ringo on The Beatles’ first single; Verrell, drummer with the Stan Kenton Orchestra, would earn his in the ’70s as the man who was Animal in The Muppets. And that’s exactly what ‘Stop the Drums‘ sounds like”:
“Animal is performed and voiced by Frank Oz while his drumming is performed by Ronnie Verrell.Fans of The Who’s drummer Keith Moon claim that the character of Animal was based on Moon, who was known for his wild antics. However, there is no evidence in the original sketches for the character that suggest that he was based on anybody in particular. Three of the other members of the Electric Mayhem were created by Muppet designer Michael K. Frith, and the sketches reproduced in the book Of Muppets and Men show that they were based on famous musicians. Dr. Teeth is a cross between Dr. John and Elton John; Sgt. Floyd Pepper is based on the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album, and the original concept for Janice was a skinny, long-haired male character based on Mick Jagger.
“Animal, on the other hand, was designed by Jim Henson, and the rough sketch (also seen in Of Muppets and Men) doesn’t appear to be related to any real musician.”
Ronnie Verrell, real-life inspiration for … Muppet drummer, Animal
Alan Weighel – Bass Guitar
Jimmy Page – Solo Guitar
Johnnie MacCloughlin – Rhythm Guitar
Kenny Salomon – Organ
Arthur Greenslade – Piano
Ronnie Verrell – Drums
Andy White – Drums
Eric Allan – Percussion
Barry Morgan – Percussion
Arthur Watts – Bass
Jim Buck Sr. – Coronet
Jim Buck Jr. – Coronet
Stan Roderick – Trumpet
Ray Davis – Trumpet
Albert Hall – Trumpet
Bert Ezzard – Trumpet
Johnnie Edwards – Tenor Trumpet
Keith Christie – Tenor Trumpet
Gib Wallace – Tenor Trumpet
Jack Thurwell – Bass Trombone
Keith Bird – Sax
Roy Willox – Sax
Rex Morris – Sax
Bill Skeets – Sax
Don Honeywell – Sax
1993 would see the UK release of a single by Animal as a solo artist that would reach #39!
More information about the musicians in this top-tier ensemble here at Discogs.
Bobby Graham: UK’s All-Time Timekeeper
*Kieron Tyler writes a great tribute to “the UK’s most prolific session drummer” on Bobby Graham’s own website that quotes from “Session Man” by Ray Davies, released by The Kinks in 1966 and rather appropos given that Graham did the actual drumming on the hits, “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of the Night”:
“A Million Sessions That Go Unseen,
He’s A Session Man,
Playing A Different Studio Everyday,
He Reads The Dots And Plays Each Line”
Would love to know how Jim Henson, so early in his career, was able to get Frank Sinatra to conduct the orchestra backing him on his first single, a playful word jazz piece entitled, “The Countryside“:
Jim Henson’s first (and only) 45 – released January, 1960
“Tick-Tock-Sick”, the B-Side, would seem to presage Henson’s Academy Award-nominated experimental short film 5 years later, Time Piece, a surreal and bizarre stream-of-consciousness meditation on what just might be the fourth dimension:
I was rather taken by Henson’s Time Piece when I first viewed it several years ago at the Smithsonian and was surprised to find how “bold” and “fresh” (including those parts that might not be wholly suitable for young children) this film still is. At one time I was able to find the entire work online, but it would appear that only a small excerpt is what folks can view freely on YouTube. Says the Museum of the Moving Image:
“In 1965, Jim Henson made Time Piece, an experimental nine-minute short film that tells what he called ‘the story of Everyman, frustrated by the typical tasks of a typical day.’ The film opens with a man—played by Henson—in a hospital bed. A doctor takes his pulse. The pulse turns into a drumbeat, which becomes the percussive soundtrack for the film, in a syncopated score created by Don Sebesky. Through a series of jump cuts, we follow the man as he walks through city streets, then suburban streets, and then the jungle. Playfully surreal sequences are bridged by short passages of stop-motion animation. As Henson described his filmmaking goals: ‘In Time Piece I was playing with a kind of flow of consciousness form of editing, where the image took you to another image, and there was no logic to it but your mind put it together.’ While the film retains his trademark sense of humor, it is also a bold example of nonlinear editing.
“Time Piece played for a year at the Paris Theatre in Manhattan, along with the French art-house hit A Man and a Woman. Henson’s film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Film. It remains fresh today as both a time capsule of 1960s experimental filmmaking, and as a brilliantly conceived and edited example of Henson’s creativity.”
Zero to 180: Approaching the Two-Year Mark
Nearly one year ago Zero to 180 celebrated its one-year anniversary with a special “Howard Dean” remix of a Muppet-related release, “Mad” by Little Jerry & the Monotones. Click here to link to this exclusive muppet remix that is accompanied by a brief essay – “Zero to 180: Not Yet Potty Trained” – that humorously recounts the tragic math surrounding the blog’s original date of launch: 12/12/12.