[Pssst: Click the triangle above to play “I a See” by The Studio One All-Stars.]
Had I never listened to the original song, “Holy Mount Zion,” I never would have known that Dub Specialist added a double-time kick drum track to “liven” the proceedings just a bit in his embellished version.
This heavy 1970 single features a King Stitt DJ excursion on the flip, “Be a Man Version.”
Countless country music fans have heard steel guitarist Lloyd Green without realizing it. Green has played with over 500 artists and performed on 115 number one hits, as well as over 100 top ten hits. Between the years 1965 and 1980, Lloyd averaged an astounding 400 recording sessions in Nashville a year.
“Anchors Aweigh” is a Lloyd Green original from 1966 album Day for Decision, his first of two albums for the Little Darlin’ label:
Of the 24 singles released between 1967-1979, just three managed to penetrate the country chart, although Green’s version of “I Can See Clearly Now” – I am happy to report – broke into the Top 40 (#36 country) in 1973.
Little Darlin’: Mayhew + Paycheck
As MusicRow.com reports, record label, Little Darlin’, was a business partnership started in 1966 between producer/songwriter, Aubrey Mayhew, and country “outlaw,” Johnny Paycheck as a commercial outlet for artists such as Jeannie C. Riley, Bobby Helms, Lloyd Green, and Paycheck himself, whose edgy country songs recorded for Little Darlin’ are widely acknowledged to be hard country classics.
Mayhew’s interests were not solely tied to music, however:
“Mayhew was also one of the world’s foremost collectors of John F. Kennedy memorabilia and, at the time of his death, was embroiled in a high-profile legal battle over ownership of the window through which Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated Kennedy in 1963. Shortly after Kennedy’s death, Mayhew produced a JFK tribute album that sold 8 million copies, and in 1970, he purchased the Texas School Book Depository Building saving it from demolition.”
Also important to note that in 2005, Mayhew came out of retirement to produce honky tonk (and truck driving country) singer, Dale Watson, for his tribute album to the label, The Little Darlin’ Sessions.
Zero to 180’s tribute to labor continues with (the) Strawbs‘ unabashed and unequivocal anthem to The Working Man – everybody sing along now:
“Part of the Union” Strawbs 1973
“Part of the Union” came within a hair of hitting the number 1 spot on the UK Singles Chart in 1973. The song would see release as a single in South Africa, Australia, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, and the UK – but apparently (and unsurprisingly) not in the US.
“Part of the Union”: Pro-Union or Anti-Union?
As this BBC piece points out, “Although the lyrics could be read as satirical of the trade union movement, the band has frequently stated that that’s not the case at all. In fact the song was picked up by the trade unions and became something of an unofficial anthem for them.” A number of other web sources state that “Rick Wakeman, who was in the band from March 1970 to July 1971, and a strong supporter of the UK’s Conservative Party, has since claimed that the lyrics were meant to be sarcastic.” More intriguing is the Free Online Library’s claim that the Conservative Party even “assembled Parliament to vote for banning the song.”
The Osbourne Brothers point the way forward on 1967‘s Modern Sounds of Bluegrass.
“Hard Times” – a working man’s blues dressed in modern bluegrass threads – speaks directly to the classic struggle between labor and management:
Hard Times – The Osborne Brothers
[Pssst: Click the triangle above to play “Hard Times” by The Osborne Brothers.]
“Hard Times,” the A-side of a 45 (b/w “World of Unwanted”) released in June of 1966, was written by Aaron “Double A” Allan — inveterate songwriter, radio personality and a longtime MC of Willie Nelson’s 4th of July picnics.
Brotherhood of Man, who had a worldwide hit with the title track from their classic 1970 God Pop album, United We Stand, also hit it big with their next 45, “Where Are You Going to My Love.” One other track from this album – “For Old Times Sake” – had strong radio potential, I believe, and could have been issued as a single:
Song written by Tony Waddington and Wayne Bickerton, the musical partnership also responsible for 1968 northern soul classic, “Nothing But a Heartache” by The Flirtations for which the group filmed a playful and eye-catching video in which the singers can be seen emerging from comically-oversized bottles of ink:
According to the authoritative Rockin’ Country Style website, Johnny and Jonie are Johnny and Jonie Mosby — he, born in Ft. Smith, Arkansas, and she, born Janice Irene Shields in Van Nuys, California. Married in 1958, released two 45s that same year.
“Some of Them Bones are Mine” – whose ghostly vocal accompaniment and lyric about “dry bones in the valley” where “blue and grey lay side by side” make for a classic Halloween soundtrack – is actually the B-side of their 2nd single for Challenge Records:
Some of Them Bones Are Mine – Johnny & Jonie
[Pssst: Click the triangle to play “Some of Them Bones Are Mine” by Johnny & Jonie.]
Johnny & Jonie recorded three singles for Challenge, the Gene Autry-founded indie label, whose first big hit was “Tequila” by The Champs. “Some of Them Bones Are Mine” was paired with Harlan Howard’s “Still Going Steady” for the A-side. The single failed to chart.
Johnny & Jonie later released a Top-20 country album in 1965 for almighty Columbia – Mr. & Mrs. Music – whose songs had been recorded at CBS Nashville between the years 1962-1964. Curiously, Johnny & Jonie released an album later that same year for Starday, The New Sweethearts of Country Music. Had Columbia really released Johnny & Jonie from their contract, even after their debut album hit #18 on the country charts? Apparently, they had, since by May 1967 Johnny & Jonie were recording at Capitol Recording Studios in Hollywood with six albums to follow on the Capitol label in rapid succession: Make a Left and Then a Right (1968); Just Hold My Hand (1969); Hold Me (1969); I’ll Never Be Free (1969); My Happiness (1970); and Oh Love of Mine (1971).
Big Guitars from Texas is/was an Austin supergroup that features Frankie Camaro (Dino Lee, Dragstrip, Moto-X), Don Leady (Leroi Brothers, Tailgators), Evan Johns (H-Bombs), Denny Freeman, Mike Buck (Fabulous Thunderbirds, Leroi Brothers) and Keith Ferguson (Fabulous Thunderbirds, Tailgators). “Guitar Army” – from their 1985 album, Trash, Twang & Thunder – garnered a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.
“Ride of the Ruthless” is another great track from this album:
Ride of the Ruthless – Big Guitars from Texas
[Pssst: Click the triangle above to play “Ride of the Ruthless” by Big Guitars from Texas.]
All of the band members (except for departed bassist, Keith Ferguson) reunited Valentine’s Day 2013 for a benefit to help bandmate, Evan Johns:
In 1967Sheb Wooley released a great single, where the A-side – “Love In” – hilariously mocked the “free love” sentiment then in vogue, while the B-side proudly proclaimed the simple music of the “folk” to be the kind that touches his soul the deepest:
Wildwood Flower on the Autoharp – Sheb Wooley
[Pssst: Click the triangle to play “Wildwood Flower on the Autoharp” by Sheb Wooley.]
That’s right, another salvo in the age-old battle between the fine arts and the popular arts
And the victor of this particular musical fight? Naturally, popular music – where all the best brawlers are.
The Mother of All Autoharp Players
Mother Maybelle sure had a distinctive way of picking out the melody lines on her autoharp, as this clip from The Johnny Cash Show can attest:
The overwhelming majority of Beatle novelty and tribute songs were released in the first flush of Beatlemania when the Fab Four were at their peak level of cuddliness. However, with the release “John You Went Too Far This Time” — in direct response to John & Yoko’s controversial Two Virgins album cover in which the two artists appear solely in the flesh — it is clear in hindsight that, by this point in late 1968, public feeling toward The Beatles had, indeed, begun to turn:
How fascinating to learn that the song’s singer – billed on the record simply as Rainbo – turns out to be actress, Sissy Spacek, of all people, in a one-off 45 on the Roulette label.
Best lyric: “The man with the foolish grin … is you”