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.”

Peter Green’s “Hidden Depth(s)”

Frankly, I’m surprised how little has been written about (original Fleetwood Mac guitarist) Peter Green‘s wondrous flight of fancy – “Hidden Depth” – a musical simulation of being strapped into a deep-sea submersible and dropped ever so slowly to the ocean’s bottom.  Marvel at the musical tranquility:

“Hidden Depth”      Peter Green     1970

Sounds a bit like the second set at a Grateful Dead concert with Jerry Garcia on lead guitar, does it not?

From an album whose title – The End of the Game – allegedly expressed Peter Green’s unambiguous intent to sever ties with the predatory and profit-driven “showbiz” machinery.  Seth at Julian Cope’s Head Heritage website, however, challenges the conventional wisdom that Green retired his guitar for 8 years or more upon completing his first solo album:

“It’s a commonplace assumption that the “The End Of The Game” signaled on several levels not only a farewell by Green to the trappings of rock’n’roll stardom but a wholesale withdrawal from performing music altogether.  But Green did continue recording directly after the completion of “The End Of The Game,” contributing session guitar in a quick succession to records by Memphis Slim, Country Joe McDonald and even Toe Fat (their second album — not the one you and I bought and then consequently spent a weekend beating the floor with both head and hands at how an album with a cover so cool and grossed out could be such a full scale disappointment.)  Not to mention two further solo singles on Reprise before 1972 came and passed — roughly the period when Green’s retirement began, continuing for nearly the rest of the decade.”

Front cover employs variant strain of the “future shock” typeface

Peter Green-aPeter Green-b

Seth also picks up on the Grateful Dead-isms, noting that “Nick Buck’s organ colourations [on “Hidden Depth”] take on the same role of melancholy as Rick Wright’s from “Mudmen” [Pink Floyd’s Obscured by Clouds] or Tom Constanten’s emerging springtime renewal in “Quadlibet For Tender Feet” off side one of [The Grateful Dead’s] Anthem Of The Sun.

You can also obtain “Hidden Depth” by somehow getting your hands on a copy of 1971 Warner Brothers sampler LP, Non-Dairy Creamer.

Non-Dairy Creamer LP

Barbara Keith’s Liberation Gospel

Ed Ward wrote a special section devoted to 45s (non-album releases) in the original Rolling Stone Record Review from 1971, with particular praise for Barbara Keith‘s A-side, “Free the People“:

“You may remember Delanie & Bonnie’s version of this song, and how good it was.  Well, Barbara’s the one who wrote the thing, and she does it up just as well as you might expect.  It lacks the Salvation Army feel of the D&B rendition, substituting instead a deeply-felt intensity that shocks the listener into realizing that this is, after all, a religious song.  ‘Rainmaker’ [B-side] fares nowheres near as well, but it isn’t quite as good a song to start with.  But I feel that Barbara Keith is a talent to be reckoned with, and we’ll be hearing more from her.”

Barbara Keith would would initially sign with Verve for one album (1969’s Barbara Keith) but then switch to A&M Records in August/September,1970.   On A&M Records informs us that her first single “Free the People” was “soon covered by Barbra Streisand and Delaney and BonnieMs. Keith also worked on an album for A&M that was never released.”

Barbara Keith PromoBillboard, in its October 3, 1970 edition, would include the 45 in its “Special Merit Spotlight” noting:  “infectious original rhythm ballad with heavy lyric line has all the earmarks of bringing Miss Keith to the charts in short order.”

Barbara Keith would leave A&M for Reprise, who would issue a new 7-inch version of “Free the People” – a song that was also included on 1973 Reprise LP, Barbara Keith.

“Free the People”     Barbara Keith     1972?

Bass:  Lee Sklar
Drums:  Jim Keltner
Percussion:  Milt Holland
Electric Piano:  Spooner Oldham
Piano:  Craig Doerge
Pedal Steel Guitar:  Richard Bennett

Barbara Keith UK 45

Winston Groovy would record a lovely “strings reggae” version for the UK market in 1971.

“Free the People”     Winston Groovy     1971

“Free the People,” fortunately, would be deemed worthy of inclusion in Rock Song Index:  The 7500 Most Important Songs for the Rock and Roll Era.

Sheet Music

Barbara Keith's Sheet Music

Randy Newman: Once a Rocker

Randy Newman once rocked quite convincingly on “Gone Dead Train,” a song that was included in the soundtrack to 1970’s notorious art film, Performance, and was – oddly enough – one that he himself did not write:

“Gone Dead Train”     Randy Newman     1969
–  Conceptual train video by Nicos  —

“Gone Dead Train” would also be released as the A-side of a Warner Brothers UK single; however, this version (reports Discogs.com contributor, “touwell“) is “completely different from the version that appeared on the Performance album – faster and more rocking.”

Written by Jack Nitzsche & Russ Titelman — Arranged & Produced by Jack Nitzsche
“Conducted” by Randy Newman

Randy Newman 45

Ben Fong-Torres sheds light on Russ Titelman’s role via Willin’:  The Story of Little Feat:

“Through [Phil] Spector, Titelman met the composer and arranger Jack Nitzsche, of “Lonely Surfer” fame, and worked with him on various film scores and recordings.  When Nitzsche began scoring Performance, Mick Jagger’s first acting vehicle, in 1969, he called Titelman to help out.  Together the two wound up writing ‘Gone Dead Train,’ which would include Ry Cooder on slide guitar and Randy Newman on vocals.”

Musician credits also include Jerry Scheff, Elvis Presley’s bassist, with organ work by the aforementioned Randy Newman.

There’s also this interview snippet from Timothy White’s The Russ Titelman Story courtesy of SpectoPop:

Q:  In 1969, you found yourself playing guitar on ‘Memo From Turner’, for Jack Nitzsche’s soundtrack to the Mick Jagger film, Performance.

A:  Actually, the core of the studio band on that record was Randy Newman, Ry Cooder and myself, and it was recorded in Los Angeles at Western Studios.  But Jagger wasn’t there during our sessions. The band Traffic had done a recording of ‘Memo From Turner’, but Jagger and Nitzsche didn’t like it. So we replaced their track, playing along to Jagger’s existing vocal and a click track. I played the Keith Richards-sounding “jing-a-jing” on rhythm guitar, and Ry Cooder did the slide guitar parts.

And then Jack and I wrote ‘Gone Dead Train’, and Randy Newman sang it, and we cut it live. They needed a song for the credits and Jack said he wanted to lyrically use all this voodoo and blues terminology for this story of this faded rock star, a burnt-out character who can’t get it up anymore. I saw the track part as Chuck Berry-like in feel but more raucous.

Covered by Crazy Horse on their 1971 Reprise album.

“Gone Dead Train” thankfully would merit inclusion in Rock Song Index:  The 7500 Most Important Songs for the Rock and Roll Era.

Pop the Cork:  This is the 23rd piece in Zero to 180 tagged as Film & TV Soundtracks.

“Available Space”: Theme Song for ‘Bay Area Backroads’

About Ry Cooder 1970 promo single — “Available Space” b/w “Brownsville” — Ed Ward once wrote in The Rolling Stone Record Review:

“Ry Cooder is the finest slide guitarist and mandolinist in rock today, as his work with Taj Mahal and the Stones has amply demonstrated.  ‘Available Space’ is a funky, happy instrumental.  Short, to the point, it is a fine spacefiller in between records on an FM rock station.  ‘Brownsville’ is a traditional blues, played on mandolin, with a vocal.  Both of these cuts are light and snappy and a great change of pace from the turgid heaviness so much in evidence on the airwaves.”

“Available Space”     Ry Cooder     1970

Says the YouTube contributor who uploaded the audio recording:

“Jack Nicholson, and quite a supporting cast, as it turns out, starred in the hit 1978 comedy-western Goin’ South, which featured a track over the closing credits that would also become a beloved theme song for a San Francisco TV series titled ‘Bay Area Backroads.’

‘Available Space’ was recorded by a well-regarded slide-guitarist named Ryland “Ry” Cooder and was released on his self-titled debut LP in 1970 for Reprise Records.
Starting in the mid-1960s, Cooder worked with the likes of Taj Mahal, Captain Beefheart, and Van Morrison.  In the 1980s, aside from his session work, Cooder scored several soundtracks, notably Brewster’s Millions, Southern Comfort and The Long Riders.  Most of these soundtracks showcased Cooder’s love for ‘roots’ and blues-rock music.  Pure Americana.

‘Available Space’ gained a new life when used as the theme song for San Francisco TV station KRON’s ‘Bay Area Backroads’ from 1985 to 1993.  The series in that era was hosted by folksy Jerry Graham, former General Manager of rock station KSAN.  In 1993, Graham retired and was replaced as ‘Backroads’ host by Doug McConnell.  At that time, a similar-sounding instrumental replaced ‘Available Space’ as the show’s theme. ‘Backroads’ ended its incredible run in 2008.

Self-Titled album on Reprise

Ry Cooder LP

“Click Song #1”: African Pop Goes International

Is it really true what Wikipedia says about Miriam Makeba – that she’s the “first artist from Africa to popularize African music around the world”?   Given that Makeba released her first U.S. album in 1960, one can only conclude that African pop, essentially, had no American distribution links until “the Year of Africa” (as 1960 is also known, due to significant events — “particularly the independence of seventeen African nations — that focused global attention on the continent and intensified feelings of Pan-Africanism” (Wiki).

Makeba would record “Click Song” on 1960 RCA album, Miriam Makeba, while former husband, Hugh Masekela, would likewise record the song on his first US release, 1962’s Trumpet Africaine on Mercury.  Makeba would also record “Click Song #1” while briefly under contract to Mercury in 1966 and then revisit the song on 1967’s Pata Pata, her first of several albums for Reprise:

“Click Song # 1”     Miriam Makeba     1967

South African-born Makeba sings this song in Xhosa, the famously percussive tongue that her father spoke.  Seven years later, Makeba would perform this song at the Zaire ’74 three-day music festival that accompanied the epic boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman for the heavyweight championship crown.

            1968 single released in spain            1972 single released in the netherlands

Miriam Makeba 45 picture sleeve IIaMiriam Makeba 45 picture sleeve Ia

1968 Netherlands 45

Miriam Makeba 45 picture sleeve IIIa“Click Song” also saw release on 1965 LP, Jimmy Come Lately, by Four Jacks and a Jill, South African folk-popsters who would later hit the American Top 20 on March 30, 1968 with their abstrusely catchy single, “Master Jack” [but wait – in an oddly curious twist:  RCA, in 1969, would release a 45 solely for the New Zealand market with hit single, “Master Jack” as the B-side and “Click Song” as the A-side].

Cher Speaks Xhosa

Would you be stunned to learn that Cher would record her own version of “Click Song #1” for 1968’s Backstage, her last album for Liberty?  Also released as the A-side of a 45.

Cher 45

“Sail Away”: Tom Rapp Does Singles?

Tom Rapp, with three high school friends in the mid-60s, formed Pearls Before Swine – a “psychedelic folk group” – and were initially signed to ESP Disk, for whom they recorded two albums that hovered somewhat on the periphery of pop (although “I Saw the World” from second album, Balaklava, is a wonderful single ripe for rediscovery).

By the time Pearls Before Swine had recorded their third album, These Things Too in 1969 – first with new label, Reprise – the original members had left, thus the band name now referred to Rapp and his musical support personnel.   “Sail Away,”  the album’s 2nd track, prompted one YouTube commenter to ask mischievously:  “Tom Rapp does singles?”:

“Sail Away”     Pearls Before Swine     1969

With its swirling harp and dreamy final chorus, “Sail Away,” curiously, did not get issued for single release by Reprise but rather the title track b/w “If You Don’t Want to (I Don’t Mind).”

Pearls Before Swine is/was

Tom Rapp:  guitar/vocal

Wayne Harley:  banjo/harmony vocal

Elizabeth:  vocals

Jim Fairs:  guitar/celeste/harmony vocal

Additional musical support provided by Bill Salter (bass), Grady Tate (drums) and Richard Greene (electric violin).

Produced by Richard Alderson (along with Fairs) and recorded in NYC at Impact Sound – Alderson’s own studio that was primarily backed by Harry Belafonte.

Update on Rapp

Intriguing to learn that Tom Rapp’s offbeat music, which is being rediscovered by new generations all over the world, was also – back in 1968 – being distributed as far away as New Zealand and Italy.   Excellent interview with Tom Rapp on It’s Psychedelic Baby that delves into both his music career and subsequent success as a civil rights attorney.

45 from Italy

Pearls Before Swine 45

“Greenwich Village Folk Song Salesman”: Nancy, Lee & Tom T.

I love how much fun Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood are having while they sing, audibly evident just 13 seconds into this song.  And Lee isn’t kidding when Nancy queries him about a lyric in the middle of the performance, and he replies, “I don’t know, I didn’t write the song” — that would be Tom T. Hall:

“Greenwich Village Folk Salesman”     Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood     1968

This song was included on 1968’s Nancy & Lee Reprise album for which Billy Strange arranged & conducted and Hazlewood wrote (50%) & produced (100%).

Nancy & Lee LPGreenwich Village Folk Song Salesman” (originally written for Jim and Jesse, who released a 45 in December 1967) remained strictly an album track for Nancy & Lee — except in Germany, where it served as the B-side to “Elusive Dreams” in May 1969.

Greenwich Village Folk Song Salesman 45

“Day Song”: 4th Song Played by 1st Band at Woodstock

Richie Havens may have kicked off musical proceedings with his opening solo set, but Sweetwater, truth be told, is the first actual musical group that played the Woodstock Music & Art Fair on August 15, 1969.  According to Woodstock Wiki, “Day Song” is the fourth song they played:

“Day Song”     Sweetwater     1969

Sweetwater

Reprise would release “Day Song” as the B-side to “Without Me” in March of 1971.

Francoise Hardy is All Alone

The “folk” label on the top of the album cover combined with the Reprise Records promotional sticker at the bottom make me think that some radio station staffer liquidated part of the radio station’s library for some cold hard cash.  I feel bad for the listeners, since this is a good album, and I am not a radio broadcaster who serves their metro area:

Hardy

The third track on side two – “Times Passing By” – is my pick for the A-side of the first single from this strong collection of songs recorded in Paris and released in 1970.

This album would appear to be the fourth in a quick succession of albums for Reprise beginning in 1968 with the release of her US self-titled debut, which contains some classic tracks, such as “Voilà” & “Qui Peut Dire” (A & B sides, respectively, of a European single released September 1967) among others.  Click here to consult an extensive discography of recordings by Françoise Hardy – from 1962-2007.

Below is a TV appearance by Hardy, where she sings another track from Alone – “Song of Winter” – accompanied by striking visual imagery:

Hold Onto Your Hat:  “Song of Winter” was co-written by (pre-) Foreigner’s Mick Jones.

“Song of Winter” would also serve as the B-side for Hardy’s take on Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne” – but only for the New Zealand market, it would appear.