Posted tagged ‘1966’

Time for another double shot!

October 21, 2010

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.)

Double shot

March 31, 2010

Tonight on The Midnight Tracker, a double shot.

Why? We missed posting last month. However, this blog is so lightly traveled that no one wrote to ask about it. Also so lightly traveled that our host has deleted some of the uploads. So it goes …

First up, a side from the guy who wrote a song made popular by Eric Clapton. It was the success of “After Midnight” that prompted a friend to tell J.J. Cale he ought to record his own stuff.

So, over the course of a week in late September and early October 1970, the 31-year-old Cale went into a couple of studios in the Nashville area and recorded most of “Naturally.” It was pretty much an indie record, put out on Shelter Records.

There was nothing hurried about the album’s release — it came out at the end of 1971 — and there’s nothing hurried about the songs on Side 2, which we have for you tonight. These laid-back cuts are flavored with R&B, country and soul — what has come to be known as the Tulsa sound. Cale wrote all 12 cuts on “Naturally.”

Side 2 opens with “Crazy Mama,” which in 1972 became Cale’s biggest hit. He also offers his version of “After Midnight,” which he’d done first as a demo in 1966. The fifth cut, “Bringing It Back,” was covered by Kansas on its debut album.

“Crazy Mama,” “Nowhere To Run,” “After Midnight,” “River Runs Deep,” “Bringing It Back” and “Crying Eyes,” J.J. Cale, from “Naturally,” 1971. This is Side 2. It runs 15:53.

(Side 1 opens with “Call Me The Breeze,” made popular by Lynyrd Skynyrd.)

The second half of tonight’s double shot is another side from a guy just getting started.

Billy Preston was 19 and Sly Stone was 22 when they got together in Los Angeles in September 1965 to work on Preston’s third solo album. These young cats had similar backgrounds, born in Texas and steeped in gospel music while growing up in California.

Preston, by then already a master of the Hammond B-3 organ, had cut two albums that consisted mostly of covers. That was a popular strategy at the time — pairing new artists with familiar tunes, or simply goosing sales with familiar tunes.

Eight of the 12 cuts on that third album, “Wildest Organ In Town!,” are covers. Three of the other four tunes were co-written by Preston and Stone, who was the arranger on the record. They’re on Side 2, which we have for you tonight.

“Advice” opens the side, its lyrics — “I want to take you higher” — foreshadowing what was to come from Sly and the Family Stone. “It’s Got To Happen” relies mostly on organ, piano and drums to create a quick little dance scorcher. “Free Funk” isn’t free funk but rather a slow, graceful, gospel-inspired bit.

“Advice,” “Satisfaction,” “I Got You (I Feel Good),” “It’s Got To Happen,” “Free Funk” and “The In Crowd,” Billy Preston, from “Wildest Organ In Town!,” 1966. This is Side 2. It runs 14:40. Those are Rolling Stones, James Brown and Dobie Gray covers wrapped around the Preston-Stone originals.

(The buy link is to a double CD that also includes “Club Meeting,” a 1967 album recorded during the same September 1965 sessions.)

Sweet Lou

February 1, 2008

When Lou Rawls passed two years ago, the music blogs were full of wonderful tributes and samples of his remarkable performances.

Ever since, I’ve been looking for just the right Lou Rawls album. I’d come across several, but they just weren’t it. One or two good cuts, especially on the albums from the late ’70s on, but not enough to merit buying.

Until I came across this one last fall, that is.

“Lou Rawls Live!” is solid from start to finish.

Recorded before a room full of music industry folks in Los Angeles in 1966 and produced by David Axelrod, it has everything you’d want — jazz, blues, soul and Rawls’ trademark stream-of-consciousness patter between some of the songs.

The backing band is outstanding, too — James Bond on bass, Earl Palmer on drums, Tommy Strode on piano and Herb Ellis on guitar.

Rawls was 33 when he recorded this album, but really was just getting going as a solo performer. His first Capitol Records album, “Stormy Monday,” was recorded with Les McCann and released four years earlier, in 1962. Before that, Rawls sang with and backed Sam Cooke, a pal since their days together in high school in Chicago.

Let’s give it a spin and head back to a scene that seems long gone.


“Stormy Monday,” “Southside Blues (monologue),” “Tobacco Road,” “St. James Infirmary,” “The Shadow of Your Smile” and “I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water,” Lou Rawls, from “Lou Rawls Live!” 1966. It runs 22:18.

(The album link is to a remastered CD released on Blue Note Records in 2005.)