Welcome back to The Midnight Tracker, that lightly traveled corner of the Web. It resurfaces at the end of every month. It emerges from the haze of time, reviving an old late-night FM radio show on which one side of a new or classic album would be played.
Tonight, we have another double shot for you. Not only that, it’s a double live shot! Quite by coincidence, both of tonight’s records are from 1966, which is even more distant in the haze of time.
Both also are $1 records. Make of that what you will.
The first is from Johnny Rivers, who in 1966 was one of the hottest acts around. That year, he had a No. 1 hit with “Poor Side Of Town” and a No. 3 hit with “Secret Agent Man.”
But did you know that Rivers’ first two LPs and three of his first six LPs were live records? His 1964 debut, “Johnny Rivers Live at the Whisky a Go Go,” reached No. 12.
At a time when the Beatles were conquering America, there was Rivers, with go-go dancers spicing up his live shows. Here’s a little of what that sounded like. I was sold at “The Snake.”
“The Snake,” “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch),” “You Must Believe,” “Uptight (Everything’s Alright),” “Respect” and “In the Midnight Hour,” Johnny Rivers, from “… And I Know You Wanna Dance,” 1966. This is Side 1. It runs 16:37.
(The buy link is to a double CD also featuring “Whisky a Go Go Revisited,” a 1967 live album that Rivers doesn’t even acknowledge on his website. Reviewers don’t think much of the CD sound, either.)
As Johnny Rivers’ career soared in 1966, Jerry Lee Lewis’ career stalled. The British Invasion had rendered some of the earliest rockers irrelevant, even though they influenced many of its acts.
So Lewis was starting to move from rock to country, something tonight’s side reflects. That such a mix of styles was so well received at the Panther Hall ballroom in Fort Worth, Texas, isn’t surprising. This here is Jerry Lee in fine roadhouse form.
“Introduction,” “Little Queenie,” “How’s My X Treating You,” “Johnny B. Goode,” “Green, Green Grass of Home” and “What’d I Say (Part 2),” Jerry Lee Lewis, from “Jerry Lee Lewis: By Request,” 1966. It’s out of print. This is Side 1. It runs 19:46.
This is a mono LP, mixed rather curiously. The vocals and guitars are up, the piano down. Jerry Lee Lewis’ piano mixed down. Go figure. That said, Jerry Lee’s stage patter and devilish cackle are pretty entertaining. (Speaking of devilish, check out Jerry Lee’s beard!)
(If you’re wondering what happened to the first part of “What’d I Say,” it was an outtake. In the very first post on his fine Margate Music Man blog, Peter Checksfield explains that it was lost until the mid-’90s, when a mono acetate of the show was found and released by Bear Family Records.)