Wednesday, 23 May 2018
Old Man/The Needle and the Damage Done/Heart of Gold/Harvest/Alabama
Neil Percival Young, OC OM (born November 12, 1945), is a Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, producer, director and screenwriter. After embarking on a music career in the 1960s, he moved to Los Angeles, where he formed Buffalo Springfield with Stephen Stills, Richie Furay and others. Young had released two solo albums by the time he joined Crosby, Stills & Nash in 1969, in addition to three as a member of Buffalo Springfield. From his early solo albums and those with his backing band Crazy Horse, Young has recorded a steady stream of studio and live albums, sometimes warring with his recording company along the way.
Young's guitar work, deeply personal lyrics and signature tenor singing voice transcend his long career. Young also plays piano and harmonica on many albums, which frequently combine folk, rock, country and other musical styles. His often distorted electric guitar playing, especially with Crazy Horse, earned him the nickname "Godfather of Grunge" and led to his 1995 album Mirror Ball with Pearl Jam. More recently Young has been backed by Promise of the Real.
Young directed (or co-directed) films using the pseudonym Bernard Shakey, including Journey Through the Past (1973), Rust Never Sleeps (1979), Human Highway (1982), Greendale (2003), and CSNY/Déjà Vu (2008). He also contributed to the soundtracks of the films Philadelphia (1993) and Dead Man (1995).
Young has received several Grammy and Juno awards. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted him twice: as a solo artist in 1995 and in 1997 as a member of Buffalo Springfield. In 2000, Rolling Stone named Young the 34th greatest rock 'n roll artist.
He has lived in California since the 1960s but retains Canadian citizenship. He was awarded the Order of Manitoba on July 14, 2006, and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada on December 30, 2009.
Back On My Feet Again/I Can Take Or Leave Your Lovin'/It's All Right/Baby. Now That I've Found You
The Foundations were a surprisingly obscure late-'60s outfit, considering that they managed to reach the tops of the both the British and American charts more than once in the space of a year and had a solid three years of recordings. At the time of their debut in mid-1967, they were hailed as being among the most authentic makers of soul music ever to emerge from England -- the best practitioners of the Motown sound to be found on the far side of the Atlantic -- and were also accepted in jazz circles as well. "Baby Now That I've Found You," "Build Me Up Buttercup," and "In the Bad, Bad Old Days" were the biggest hits for this multi-racial octet, made up of Londoners and West Indians.
The group made very little headway during their first few months together, although they did manage to get an audition at the Marquee Club. It was at their regular spot at a much smaller club called the Butterfly -- where they played one legendary gig on the last night of the Stax/Volt European tour -- that led to their breakthrough. They were spotted by record dealer Barry Class, who was impressed enough with what he heard to become their manager. He arranged a meeting with Pye Records producer/songwriter Tony Macaulay, who was working with Long John Baldry with some success, but also was desperately looking for a new act to break for the label. He'd written a song with his partner John Macleod called "Baby Now That I've Found You," which seemed to suit the Foundations.
The Foundations were hailed for being the first British band to come up with an authentic soul sound, and the fact that they were first multiracial band to top the British charts only made their success that much more impressive (at a time when England was beginning to come to grips with its own racial attitudes). What's more, the group had the goods to back up the press' accolades. Their performances revealed a seasoned, well-rehearsed, exciting stage presence and a bold, hard soul sound that most British bands managed to imitate only in the palest manner, if at all.
Meanwhile, their debut single got to number 11 on the American charts in the hands of MCA's Uni label, and it was equally well received in the rest of the world, selling something more than three and a half million copies. Suddenly, the Foundations were a British phenomenon and had a worldwide following.
Unfortunately, a follow-up single, "Back on My Feet Again," didn't crack the British Top Ten, despite very heavy airplay and promotion, and barely made the U.S. Top 50. In retrospect, it may have been too similar to "Baby Now That I've Found You," which had sold in enormous numbers. Its relative failure led to the beginnings of a split between the group and Macaulay, as both songwriter and producer, exacerbated by the latter's decision -- as their producer -- not to permit the group to record any of their own songs, even as B-sides. Additionally, they felt that Macaulay reined in their "real" sound, making them seem more pop-oriented than they were.
These disagreements occurred at just about the same time that the group itself began experiencing internal fractures. It seemed to Curtis, in particular, that some of the other members, having topped the charts and chalked up an international hit, weren't putting out the same effort they'd been giving to the group when they were still struggling.
The band's success finally faltered when Macaulay exited Pye Records. As he later revealed, he was still being paid solely as a producer and he received no royalties for his songs, despite millions of copies sold. With his departure, the group was cut off from the only composer who'd written all of their hits. Additionally, the sounds of soul were changing faster than the group could assimilate it all -- they tried for a funkier, James Brown-type sound on their last recordings together in 1970 but failed to attract any attention.
Monday, 21 May 2018
Satisfaction Guaranteed/Our Fate/Light Switch/Cut Back
Formed in San Jose, California, USA, the Mourning Reign were garage band peers of the Chocolate Watchband and the Harbinger Complex. Initially known as the English, they comprised Frank Beau Maggi (vocals), Johnnie Bell (lead guitar), Steve Canali (rhythm guitar), Charlie Garden (bass) and Craig Maggi (drums). They were highly popular in the suburbs of south and east San Francisco, playing punk-styled material derivative of the Rolling Stones and Yardbirds. The group recorded a cover version of ‘Evil Hearted You’ as their debut in 1966, before completing a compulsive original song, ‘Satisfaction’s Guaranteed’, as its follow-up. Thomas O’Bonsawin then replaced Bell, but although two further tracks were completed for a third single, it remained unissued as the Mourning Reign split up in 1968 when several members were drafted to Vietnam.
Sunday, 20 May 2018
Freedom Come Freedom Go/Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again/Storm In A Teacup/Eye For The Main Chance
The Fortunes are an English harmony beat group. Formed in Birmingham, the Fortunes first came to prominence and international acclaim in 1965, when "You've Got Your Troubles" broke into the US and UK Top 10s. Afterwards, they had a succession of hits including "Here It Comes Again" and "Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again"; continuing into the 1970s with more globally successful releases such as "Storm in a Teacup" and "Freedom Come, Freedom Go".
At this point in 1967, the Fortunes left Decca for United Artists. They reunited with Talmy for their next release, "The Idol", a song they had written themselves, and although it did get some airplay in the UK, it did not become a hit.
In 1968, they tried covering The Move's hit "Fire Brigade" for the US market, but with little airplay or sales. In 1970, they recorded an album for the US World Pacific record label, and then signed with Capitol in both the UK and US in 1971.
Then followed a steady succession of singles, some of which were hits outside of the UK and US, culminating in 1972 with the release of "Storm in a Teacup (The Fortunes song)". During this period, they had another worldwide hit, "Here Comes that Rainy Day Feeling" (1971).
I'm Comin' Home/Turn Her Away/Together/I Apologise
PJ Proby was born James Marcus Smith on November 6, 1938, in Houston. His great-grandfather on his mother’s side was the outlaw gunfighter John Wesley Hardin and his father was a successful banker. He was educated at the strict San Marcos Military Academy, but even at school he was known as a bit of a hellraiser and was early on convinced that he was a genius and destined for greatness of some sort. His showbiz ambitions started early with local preteen appearances singing country music. He met Elvis Presley on that circuit when he was just 12 or 13 and Elvis at one point dated his step sister, Betty. But this was just the start of Proby’s improbable, Zelig or Forrest Gump-like ability to always be where the action was. Even at that age, he just was warming up, but already in the right places at the right time and always with the right crowd.
After moving to Hollywood in the mid-50s to become and actor and/or a singer, Smith took the name “Jett Powers” and recorded the single “Go, Girl Go!,” which is best known today as a song that the Cramps dug. (Jett’s backing band the Moondogs included Elliot Ingber/“Winged Eel Fingerling,” later of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention and Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band, on lead guitar). Signed to a songwriting and performing contract with Liberty (along with the likes of Leon Russell and Glen Campbell), he recorded under the name Orville Woods so that the public would think he was black!
Additionally Proby made a living working as a bodyguard for closeted gay entertainers like Rock Hudson, Liberace and Tab Hunter (by his own account, brutally dispensing anyone who dared hassle one of them in a “gay bashing” manner). Proby also recorded “vocal guides” for $10 a pop so that performers like Elvis could more efficiently make use of expensive recording studio time. (He did twenty such vocal guides for Presley, mimicking his singing style in a full-throated manner that was said to have amused the King.) In early 1964 Jackie DeShannon and songwriter Sharon Sheeley (who’d been his best friend, Eddie Cochran’s, fiancée) introduced Proby—then bearded and wearing his hair extremely long as he was hoping to play the part of Jesus in a musical—to Jack Good who was visiting from London. The meeting would change the course of his life.
Good, the prominent TV producer and manager who gave the world Shindig!, Cliff Richard, Tommy Steele, Billy Fury, Marty Wilde and others of Britain’s first wave of rock and roll stars (he’s also the guy who convinced Gene Vincent to don that Richard III garb) is alleged to have grabbed Proby’s ponytail to see if it was real. Soon afterward, Good’s secretary called from London and offered the complete unknown a spot on the Beatles’ upcoming television special “With the Beatles.”
What insane luck, right? Soon Beatles manager Brian Epstein set up Proby with a UK package tour, co-headlining with Cilla Black. That’s when things got a bit out of the egotistical young rocker’s control: At a date in Croydon, Proby clad in his trademark tight velvet jumpsuit and looking like an 18th century dandy, was doing his James Brown-inspired stage act (the likes of which still staid post war Britain had not yet seen) and slid across the stage, tearing his pants around the knees and upwards from there. The crowd of teenaged girls went utterly mad, but the incident caused a stir in the media getting Proby on the radar of Britain’s self-appointed moral censor, Mary Whitehouse. When Proby did the same thing two nights later it was widely reported that he’d done something lewd in Luton. The Daily Mirror wrote that he was a “morally insane degenerate” and urged parents to keep their children from attending one of his shows. Whitehouse called his “thrusting” obscene but Proby claimed otherwise and available photos seem to corroborate his side of the story. He was kicked off the tour anyway and banned from the ABC theater chain and BBC radio and television. This was a good decade before the Sex Pistols, of course. Proby had a few more semi hits, but without radio play his star quickly faded.
In 1971 Proby played Cassio on the West End in Catch My Soul, Jack Good’s rock musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello. He made the cabaret and nightclub circuit for money and even recorded an album with the Dutch prog rockers Focus (it’s amazing!). In 1977, again with Good producing, he co-starred in Elvis – The Musical—Shakin’ Stevens played the young King of rock and roll while Proby played him in his later years—which won a Best Musical award the following year. Proby was fired when he began getting drunk before going onstage and started speaking directly to the audience.
PJ Proby’s wild life has been bizarre and outsized—and his talent so HUGE—that if this is your first exposure to him (and odds are that might be) you probably can’t believe you’ve never heard of him before. But he was always his own worst enemy which is why he remains the Zelig of rock, a fascinating footnote of celebrity in our time. PJ Proby is meant to be sitting on the manuscript of a 500 page autobiography. I hope it gets published. No one will believe it. A documentary film, long in production, titled PJ Proby: A God Amongst Men (how he has often described himself, apparently not completely without irony) remains unreleased.