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Whatever happened to 70s soft rockers Seals & Crofts?
01.30.2015
01:39 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Seals & Crofts
soft rock


 
It must suck to have your music played on “soft rock” radio stations. Well, that’s not exactly what I mean, because getting radio play would, of course, always be a good thing for musicians, so let me rephrase that: It must suck to have your music played on the same soft rock stations that also play Sting and Phil Collins all day long. At least that would bum me out.

Such is the fate of Jimmy Seals and Dash Crofts, professionally known as Seals & Crofts and one of the most wildly successful soft-rock singer-songwriter duos of the 1970s. It seemed like they were constantly on the radio and television when I was a kid. Admittedly they weren’t my cup of tea at the time—David Bowie, Alice Cooper, The Kinks and the Sex Pistols were more my style—but I could certainly appreciate their music when I heard it, which was… very frequently. If you weren’t around back then, well trust me kid, even if you’ve never heard of them, Seals & Crofts were once quite a ubiquitous presence on the mainstream American entertainment scene. They were huge, in fact. Then suddenly you never heard of them again.

They were so big that there was a Seals & Crofts Frisbee. That’s big. Seventies big.
 

Can you guess the decade?

Seals and Crofts were musician’s musicians. Although their primary instruments were guitar and mandolin, they could both play just about anything. Their harmonies were heavenly. Songs like “Diamond Girl,” “Hummingbird,” “We May Never Pass This Way (Again)” and “Summer Breeze” extolled the virtues of living simply, the beauty of nature, finding true love and devotion to God. Despite the fact that they had faces “made for radio” and precious little traditional showbiz charisma to speak of it was the musicianship and the message which set their songs apart during their era and what makes their emotionally heartfelt music still so memorable and pleasurable to listen to today. (Eleven years ago, I saw their Greatest Hits CD for $5 bucks used and bought it so I could stick “Diamond Girl” on a CD I was making for my future wife. I confess, it’s either been in the car or in the stack of CDs next to the stereo ever since. It should be in every music collection!)
 

 
In 1980, they basically dropped out of music to follow the Bahá’í Faith full-time (both men have been adherents of the 19th century Persian prophet Bahaullah since 1969). During the height of their success, Seals & Crofts commitment to the faith saw them stay for hours after concerts talking with their fans about their spiritual beliefs and world religious harmony. They’ve recorded and performed very sporadically since retiring. A CD of new recordings was released in 2004 called Traces, made with their children. Crofts mostly lives on a coffee farm in Costa Rica, while Seals lives on a ranch in central Texas.
 

 
Strangely, for such a massive-selling “classic rock” era act, their albums were not available on CD, save for a greatest hits and one other record, until fairly recently. Even Rhino dropped the ball when it came to Seals & Crofts for many years, although by 2007 all of their albums had been released on CD. There are gems on every one of them, so keep that in mind when you’re crate digging.
 
“Diamond Girl”

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Jeff ‘The Dude’ Bridges releases a most Duderriffic album about snoozing, slumber, sleep
01.30.2015
08:42 am

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:
The Big Lebowski
The Dude
Jeff Bridges


 
Jeff Bridges has recently made available one of those inexpressibly peculiar albums that only a very famous and beloved movie star could release, a double album on the theme of the land of dreams and slumber called The Sleeping Tapes. Proceeds from the album will go to the charity No Kid Hungry; Bridges has partnered with Squarespace to set up an appropriate web presence for the album, where you can listen to it for free or purchase the album in a variety of formats in prices ranging from “pay what you like” for the digital files to $200 for an LP with a “180-gram golden vinyl plate” as well as a “debossed gold leaf pressed album cover.” There’s also an auction in which you can win 1 of 5 signed copies of the album.

By the way, be on the lookout for a Squarespace commercial featuring Bridges during this Sunday’s Super Bowl.
 

 
Track titles include “Sleep, Dream, Wakeup,” “Hummmmmm,” “Ikea,” “My Keys,” “Seeing With My Eyes Closed,” and “Feeling Good.” “I hope you dig the sleep tapes ... hope they, uh, inspire you do some good cool sleeping, some cool dreaming, some cool waking-up,” Bridges purrs in the opening track. Bridges recorded the album with composer Keefus Ciancia.

The album is rather easy to poke fun of, as evidenced by this not overly nasty thread on Metafilter. It’s a defiantly leisurely and lazy piece of work that nevertheless works on its own terms and fits within some kind of ambient lineage. I enjoyed listening to it, and I have some respect for the thought that went into it, but I suspect it won’t soon become a mainstay of my listening regimen.
 

 

 
via Nerdcore.de

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Rare footage of New Orleans jazz bands shot by Alan Lomax
01.30.2015
07:37 am

Topics:
History
Music

Tags:
jazz
Alan Lomax
New Orleans


 
This weekend marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the inestimably important American folklorist/archivist/filmmaker/author/everything Alan Lomax. Unsurprisingly, there’s a plethora of commemorative events planned: a film marathon in Louisville, KY, a 13-hour radio marathon in Portland, a concert in London, England. And there will surely be some kind of boxed set of music. The Association for Cultural Equity (ACE), an organization Lomax Founded at Hunter College in the 1980s, is the keeper of his legacy, and is the source to keep an eye on for announcements. It’s also a treasure trove of recorded media.

Lomax started out by accompanying his famous father, the musicologist and folklorist John Lomax, on field recording trips, documenting musicians in the American South, and went from there to an incredibly distinguished career in preserving and promoting small, obscure, important pockets of America’s cultural heritage. He helped build the Library of Congress’ song archive, and played a significant role in the promotion of American folk music, helping bring the likes of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Muddy Waters, and Burl Ives to records, radio, and mass audiences. If you want the huge gaps in that bio filled in, there’s the ACE bio, and of course there are tons of books, written by Lomax, and written about him.
 

 
Since there’s just so much to his career that an omnibus post about Lomax would be an absurd undertaking, I thought it’d be a fun tribute to focus on a lesser known but still badass preservation project of his. In 1982, Lomax spent a lot of time in New Orleans with a video crew, recording that city’s famed jazz musicians, especially brass bands. There is some really hot stuff in here, including the world-famous Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and a lot these videos have criminally low view counts. Some of that footage was compiled for the DVD Jazz Parades: Feet Don’t Fail Me Now, which is viewable at no cost online here. He taped parades, funerals, indoor concerts, everywhere. So enjoy these documents of a 100% uniquely American music, and see if the Ernie K-Doe video doesn’t totally SLAY you. Captions are culled from the ACE web site.
 

 
Whole lotta Lomax after the jump!

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Booker T. & the MGs cover the Beatles’ ‘Abbey Road’


 
In spring of 1970, mere months after the Beatles released Abbey Road, the Stax label’s elite house band Booker T. and the MGs released McLemore Avenue, a near-complete tribute to that LP. A lot of you probably guessed as much, but McLemore Avenue was the Memphis street on which Stax’s studios resided, just as Abbey Road was the street on which the EMI studio where the Beatles recorded was located. (The studio wasn’t officially named “Abbey Road Studios” until sometime after that Beatles LP came out. The more you know.) A lot of you probably also guessed that the Booker T. album is freakin’ excellent.

Booker T. talked about the inspiration for paying tribute to a brand-new LP in a 2009 AV Club interview:

AVC: What inspired you and the M.G.’s to record McLemore Avenue, your instrumental cover version of Abbey Road?

BT: I was in California when I heard Abbey Road, and I thought it was incredibly courageous of The Beatles to drop their format and move out musically like they did. To push the limit like that and reinvent themselves when they had no need to that. They were the top band in the world but they still reinvented themselves. The music was just incredible so I felt I needed to pay tribute to it.

Rob Bowman’s informative history of the Stax label Soulsville, U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Records sums the album up thusly:

McLemore Avenue was divided into four tracks. Taking a cue from the extended medley on side two of the Beatles’ Abbey Road album, three of those tracks are medleys clocking in at seven, ten, and fifteen minutes each. Every Abbey Road song except “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” “Octopus’ Garden,” and “Oh Darling” appears in one or another of the medleys, but the order of the songs in each medley does not necessarily follow the order of the Beatles’ album. My favorite is the final track on McLemore Avenue, which adroitly combines “Sun King,” “Mean Mr. Mustard,” “Polythene Pam,” “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window,” and “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” On the surface, covering a complete album of any group, let alone the Beatles, is quite a risky gambit. The MG’s pull it off with aplomb, in the process creating a parallel masterpiece to the quintessential Beatles album.

 

 
“Parallel masterpiece,” sure, why not, but it’s almost a shame it wasn’t a complete cover. I’d give a lot to hear the MGs do the affably goofy Ringo song “Octopus’ Garden.” It’s kind of tantalizing to imagine how Steve Cropper could have transformed that guitar lick. On the subject of Cropper, I was amazed to learn that he wasn’t present for the McLemore Avenue recording sessions, and that he overdubbed his parts later, still having never actually heard Abbey Road yet! Again from Soulsville, U.S.A.:

“Booker told me every note to play,” relates Steve. “I hadn’t even heard the Beatles album. I might have heard a cut on the radio but I had not sat down and listened to the album like they had. He showed me the changes and sat down to teach me the songs. I strictly played to what I heard Booker play. [When I heard] the Beatles versions of those tunes, I went “Holy shit!” I was very surprised. I didn’t know those songs at all.”

Here’s the album, in sequence.

Side One:

1) Medley: “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight,” “The End,” “Here Comes the Sun,” “Come Together”

2) “Something”
 

 

 
Side Two (and more) after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Hardcore post-punk pioneer Guy Picciotto talks Fugazi, Rites of Spring this week on ‘The Pharmacy’
01.29.2015
12:59 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
The Pharmacy
Fugazi
Rites of Spring
Guy Picciotto


 
Gregg Foreman’s radio program The Pharmacy is a music / talk show playing heavy soul, raw funk, 60′s psych, girl groups, Krautrock. French yé-yé, Hammond organ rituals, post-punk transmissions and “ghost on the highway” testimonials and interviews with the most interesting artists and music makers of our times…

This week hardcore post-punk pioneer Guy Picciotto of musical revolutionaries Fugazi and Rites of Spring.

Fugazi, with their reasonably priced records and shows, demonstrated how bands could find their own way without the preconceived notion that you needed corporate label backing to have an impact (and a career!). The conversation explores the early days of DC punk, meeting the Cramps and legendary Atlantic Records mogul Ahmet Ertegun’s attempts to sign the band, the inspiration behind Rites of Spring and so much more…


 
Mr. Pharmacy is a musician and DJ who has played for the likes of Pink Mountaintops, The Delta 72, The Black Ryder, The Meek and more. Since 2012 Gregg Foreman has been the musical director of Cat Power’s band. He started dj’ing 60s Soul and Mod 45’s in 1995 and has spun around the world. Gregg currently lives in Los Angeles, CA and divides his time between playing live music, producing records and dj’ing various clubs and parties from LA to Australia.

Set List:

Intro
Merchandise - Fugazi
12 x U - Wire
Intro 1 -
Guy Picciotto Interview Part 1
Garbageman - The Cramps
Hey Bulldog - The Beatles
Song # 1 - Fugazi
Guy Picciotto Interview Part 2
For Want Of - Rites of Spring
Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys - The Equals
Intro 2 - Funky Kingston - Rx/Toots and the Maytals
Guy Picciotto Interview Part 3
Greed - Fugazi
To Hell with Poverty - Gang of Four
Police Truck - Dead Kennedys
American Ruse - MC5
Intro 3 - One, Two , Boogaloo - Rx/The Light Nites
Guy Picciotto Interview Part 4
In the City - The Jam
Spectra-Sonic Sound - Nation of Ulysses
I-94 - Radio Birdman
Intro 4 - Dedicated to Love - Rx/Vampyros Lesbos
Guy Picciotto Interview Part 5
(I Got a Catholic Block) - Sonic Youth
New Radio - Bikini Kill
Let’s Build a Car - Swell Maps
Intro 5 - Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag - Rx/JB’s
Guy Picciotto Interview Part 6
Ahemet Ertegun Tribute
Hold On I’m Comin’ - Sam and Dave
Memphis Train - Rufus Thomas
Intro 5 - Restless - Rx/The Cobras
Guy Picciotto Interview Part 7
Margin Walker - Fugazi
Intro 6 - Moanin’ - Rx/Art Blakey
Message via Lux Interior
Pay To Cum - Bad Brains
Outro
 

 
You can download the show in its entirety here.

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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‘Mad Truth’: Asia Argento directs new Pop Group video, their first single in 35 years
01.29.2015
12:25 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Asia Argento
The Pop Group


 
Behold the new video for “Mad Truth,” the first single in 35 years from the reformed Pop Group, directed by Dangerous Minds pal Asia Argento. There’s a warning for all the stroboscopic effects, so beware of that before you press play.

The Pop Group’s new album, Citizen Zombie comes out on February 23rd. Argento’s most recent film, the autobiographical coming of age story Incompresa (Misunderstood in English) was the single best movie I saw last year.

See the Pop Group on their US tour:

March 11th San Francisco CA – Great American Music Hall
March 12th Seattle WA – Neumos Crystal Ball Reading Room
March 13th Chicago IL – Levitation Festival, Thalia Hall
March 17th New York NY – Bowery Ballroom
March 10th Los Angeles CA – Echoplex
March 14th Toronto ON – Lee’s Palace
March 16th Brooklyn NY – Rough Trade
March 19th – 22nd Austin TX – SXSW
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Lucifer rising: When the Rolling Stones got evil
01.29.2015
11:12 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Rolling Stones
Michael Lindsay-Hogg


 
Call me disputatious—or not, it’s entirely up to you—my favorite Stones album has always been Their Satanic Majesties Request. It’s the only one I still play all the way through these days. It sounds so amazing as one great big, trippy chunk, that it would be a shame not to experience the whole thing in one go. It’s a fantastic headphones album, too, the closest they ever got to Dark Side of the Moon. Many Stones fans and critics hated it when it came out and saw the album as a weak attempt to out weird the Beatles after they’d unleashed Sgt Pepper’s on the world, but time has been very kind to Their Satanic Majesties Request. To me, it’s just a thing of beauty, with the normal blues-based Stones sound thrown out the window, and replaced with a colorful sonic palette the likes of which they would never return to. I’m not saying that it IS the best Stones album, I’m just saying that it’s MY favorite. (For the record, my favorite Stones song is “Monkey Man,” followed by “Stray Cat Blues,” then “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)”—dark horses, all, I grant you. I’m also partial to “I Don’t Know Why,” but the Glimmer Twins didn’t write that one—it’s a Stevie Wonder cover.)

The Stones “demonic” phase, inaugurated if you will, by their association with the Magus of Cinema, Kenneth Anger, was when the Stones were truly on fire. Mick was still quite into his Satan/Lucifer thing well into the Let It Bleed/Gimme Shelter era, but after Altamont, Jagger was often seen wearing a crucifix around his neck, perhaps seeking to put down all the hoodoo Age of Horus energy he’d raised? Have sympathy for the poor devil. Jagger had a shamanic current running through his body during the Sixties that killed quite a few of his friends and contemporaries. Today, like a rock and roll Dorian Gray, he hardly looks any worse for the wear.
 

 
Below is the once very seldom seen pop video for “2000 Light Years From Home.” It seems so heavily influenced by Kenneth Anger that pre-Internet, some people (myself included) thought that perhaps he’d directed it, but it’s actually the work of Michael Lindsay-Hogg (Let it Be). This was possibly shot by photographer Michael Cooper, who shot the iconic image for the Satanic Majesties album jacket (which was originally issued with a fantastic 3-D lenticular cover) and Anger’s Lucifer Rising.

Although the song’s multi-generational familiarity has leached out quite a bit of its “evil” over time, just imagine what this short film communicated to someone in 1967!!! I have no idea if this outrageous clip was ever seen on television at the time—I suspect not.
 

 
Much more, including a Rolling Stones video that you have probably never seen before…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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The song co-written by DEVO and John Hinckley Jr., Ronald Reagan’s failed assassin


 
If you look carefully at the credits for DEVO’s 1982 album Oh, No! It’s DEVO, you will spot a name that doesn’t ordinarily pop up in the DEVO universe or even the music world generally. The name is John Hinckley, Jr., and he is best known to the world as the man who tried to kill President Ronald Reagan in 1981, in a batshit-crazy attempt to win the amorous affections of Jodie Foster, then still a teenager. Hinckley was strongly influenced by The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger and, far more pertinently, Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, in which Robert De Niro’s Travis Bickle considers assassinating a U.S. Senator named Palantine but then opts to murder the pimp who has rights over a teen prostitute portrayed by the selfsame Jodie Foster.
 

 
When Foster enrolled in Yale University, Hinckley moved all the way from Texas to New Haven, just so he could be near her. He engaged in a lot of creepy, stalker behavior that if you saw it in a movie, you’d think it was overdone, enrolling in the same writing class as her, leaving all kinds of poems and messages for her, and calling her repeatedly. Eventually he would squeeze off six rounds outside the Hilton Hotel in Washington, wounding two Secret Service agents and Reagan’s press secretary as well as (via a ricochet) the president himself.

According to Rolling Stone, DEVO got in touch with Hinckley and acquired one of his demented love poems to Foster and adapted it into a song called “I Desire.” Here are some representative lyrics:
 

I pledge allegiance to the fact
That you’re wise to walk away
For nothing is more dangerous
Than desire when it’s wrong

Don’t let me torment you
Don’t let me bring you down
Don’t ever let me hurt you
Don’t let me fail because

I desire your attention
I desire your perfect love
I desire nothing more

 
The stunt not only annoyed Warner Bros., who learned that they would be obliged to send Hinckley royalty payments for the song, but also, according to Rolling Stone, won DEVO the official attentions of the Federal Bureau of Investigation:
 

As Mark Mothersbaugh recalled, “[Hinckley] let us take a poem that he had written, and we used it for the lyrics and turned it into a love song. It was not the best career move you could make. We had the FBI calling up and threatening us.”

 
In November of 1982, Hinckley wrote a letter to the “Morning Zoo” crew of KZEW, a Dallas radio station, in which he professes his love for “New Wave music” (hey, me too!) and requests that the station play “I Desire” a total of “58 times each day.” Here’s the full quote:
 

I like New Wave music, especially Devo, since I co-wrote a song on their new album. The song is called “I Desire” and I want you to play it 58 times each day.

 

 
In the letter Hinckley also writes, “I used to listen to the song ‘Heroes’ by David Bowie when I was stalking Carter and Reagan. It got me in a strange mood. ... In March and April of 1980, I hung out at Peaches Record Store on Fitzhugh.” Peaches, which used to be on the intersection of Cole and Fitzhugh in northern Dallas, has, alas, bitten the dust.

Below, listen to “I Desire,” the only new wave ditty ever co-written by a presidential assassin:
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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The real ‘Quadrophenia’: Mods vs. Rockers fight on the beaches

00mods64bokes.jpg
 
In 1964 gangs of Mods and Rockers fought battles on the very British beaches Winston Churchill had once sworn to defend.

It all kicked-off over the Easter weekend of 30th March in the holiday town of Clacton-on-Sea, south-east England. Famed for its cockles and winkles, “Kiss Me Quick” hats, amusement arcades, its eleven-hundred foot pier and golden sands on West Beach, Clacton provided the backdrop for the first major battle between the twenty-something Rockers and their teenage rivals the Mods. Clacton was reportedly “beat-up” by “scooter gangs” and 97 youth were arrested.
 
00clactonheadline.jpg
 
This was but a small rehearsal for what was to come later that year. Over the May and August bank holidays “skirmishes” involving over “thousands” of youngsters “erupted” at the seaside resorts of Margate, Broadstairs and Brighton.

In Margate there were “running battles between up to 400 teens and police on the beach as bottles were thrown amid general chaos.” But it was the fighting in Brighton that scooped the headlines, with tales of two days of “violence” and some “battles” moving further along the coast to Hastings.
 
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The press latched onto the story of youth out of control like a terrier and squeezed every damning adjective out of it, hyping the events into a small war. Yet, these so-called “running battles” between the two rival factions were no worse than the fights between soccer fans or street gangs on a Saturday night. Still,  the press and parts of the “establishment” (the police, the judges, the bishops, the local councillors and politicians…etc.) saw an opportunity to slap down the youth, and the press created a “moral panic” outraged over the falling standards of “this scepter’d isle.”
 
444bikers.jpg
 
The Rockers were proto-biker gangs—they kept themselves separate from society, were bound by their own rules and rituals, and usually only fought with rival Rockers. Though considered dangerous—often referred to by the press as the “Wild Ones” after the American B-movie starring Marlon Brando—there was a sneaking admiration for the Rockers as they epitomised a macho fantasy of freedom and recklessness that most nine-to-five workers could only dream about. The Rockers also had the added appeal of being working class and fans of rock ‘n’ roll—which was more acceptable to middle England in the mid-sixties once the God-fearing Elvis had set youngsters a good example of being dutiful to one’s country by joining the US Army.
 
modsbikes.jpg
 
Mods on the other hand were an unknown quantity—ambitious, aspirant working class kids, politically astute, unwilling to take “no” for an answer. They were feared for their drug taking—speed was their tipple of choice—and their interest in looking good and wearing the right clothes. Dressing sharp was considered “suspect” and if not exactly effeminate, being fashion-conscious was not an attribute traditionally thought of as a masculine one. For an older generation, the Mods were the face of the future looming—the red brick universities, the council estate, the supermarkets, the motorways and self-service restaurants—these entitled brats were the very children for whom they had fought a war.
 
111modsrocks.jpg
 
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777modsrockdeckchairs.jpg
 
The events of that heady summer inspired The Who’s Pete Townshend to write his rock opera Quadrophenia. Anthony Burgess, who was never shy about making a headline, said his book A Clockwork Orange had been inspired by these “loutish” and “hoodlum” youth—even though his book had been published in 1962. Fifty years after the infamous “fighting on the beaches,” the BBC made a documentary revisiting the Mods, Rockers and Bank Holiday Mayhem that interviewed some of the youngsters who were there.
 

 
The intention of the filmmakers in this short extract from the “exploitation” documentary Primitive London is to take a pop at tribal youth culture and its fashions. The four youth cultures briefly examined are Mods, Rockers, Beatniks and those who fall outside of society.

The Mods are dismissed as “peacocks;” the Rockers are seen as lumpen and shall we say knuckle-dragging; the Beatniks don’t really know what they believe in as they are against everything, man; and finally there are the ones who are not part of any group as they consider themselves to be outside of society—apparently these guys “dissipate their identity in complete passivity”—now that sounds like a group I’d join.

Mostly it’s all about the Beatniks, who are filmed hanging out in their local bar getting drunk, answering questions on fashion, work, marriage and all the other concerns middle-aged producers thought were important in 1965. As a footnote, the bar seen in this clip is the one where Rod Stewart (aka Rod the Mod) hung out. The featured musicians are Ray Sone, harp (later of The Downliners Sect) and Emmett Hennessy, vocals, guitar.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Bobby Fuller’s original demo of ‘I Fought the Law’ is a lot better than the version we all know


 
The Bobby Fuller Four’s version of Sonny Curtis’ “I Fought the Law” has been a beloved fixture in the American pop song canon for very good reason. It’s got a lot going for it: a catchy riff, a wonderful, wistful vocal performance, lost love, rebel cache (“I fought the law…”), fatalism (”…the law won”), and one of the most indelible singalong choruses in the entire history of choruses. And for those who know Fuller’s life story, the song has an undercurrent of the tragic to it—he was found dead under shockingly tawdry and mysterious circumstances just months after releasing the record that would finally bring him enduring fame.

But while the last half-century has been very kind to the song, 2015 is already shaping up to be a great year for it. The 1966 Mustang Records single has been inducted into the Grammy Awards Hall of Fame despite never actually having won a Grammy—to be fair, in the categories it might have qualified for, nods went to Frank Sinatra, Paul McCartney, and the Mamas & the Papas, all obviously worthies, so it’s not like the song was slighted—and Fuller’s original self-recorded demo of the song is finally getting a proper release, on the long-running archivist/garage label Norton Records, as a 7”. It’s been on some limited rarities comps here and there, but has never until now known the tender kiss of sweet, sweet vinyl.
 

 
I’m actually kind of excited about this, way out of all proportion to how much I usually give a fuck about the nth reissue of a song I’ve heard a million times since childhood, because for all the world, I think the demo version is just flat-out better than the official release we all know. Bobby Fuller experimented heavily with recording process. During some of the years he spent striving to become known as a musician, he also ran the independent record label Exeter, and he did his own engineering. In the new Fuller bio titled—oh, you’re never gonna believe this—I Fought the Law, co-authored by Fuller’s brother/bassist Randell and Norton Records honcho Miriam Linna, Fuller pal Rick Stone recalls:

“I was at a recording session of I Fought the Law. Bobby set up everything, ran the whole show, did all the work setting up and running things. He had to run through the den, then through the garage and into the storage room, which was his control booth. He had two Ampex machines in there and he’d built some cubicles out of chicken wire and burlap just before that session, so he was really going for a home version of a real recording studio at that point. I got over to his place about 9:30 and Bobby was still working on it at 4:30. It was pretty wild.

So let’s A/B the versions! Here’s the one everyone’s used to, the Mustang Records release from 1966:
 

 
And here’s the demo version, freshly remastered for vinyl. YouTube compression is probably eating some of that nuance for breakfast, but the differences that really count are plain as day.
 

 
Nice, no? I love the double-tracked vocals, the slightly rounder lead guitar sound, and the looser, more spirited overall feel of the demo recording. I also like that in this version he’s “robbing people with a SHOTgun” instead of a “six-gun.” In fact, here’s some trivia, related to me by Miriam Linna—you can tell which version of the song you’re listening to by what kind of gun our hero is brandishing. In the demo, it’s a shotgun. On the 1964 Exeter single (the recording described in the above quote), it’s a zip-gun. And of course, on the 1966 Mustang single, it’s a six-gun. There you go. You can drop that science for trainspotter cred next time you’re trying to get that cute record collector you’ve been chatting up to come home with you. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!

Here’s a fun and goofy note to end this on—it’s the Bobby Fuller Four miming behind Nancy Sinatra in the Boris Karloff film The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini!
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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