Posted tagged ‘1971’

Digging beyond ‘Timothy’

February 17, 2014

Tonight on The Midnight Tracker, emerging from the sweet blue haze of time, we have a side from a record brought back into the light last month over on our companion blog.

While digging at one of our local indie record stores not too long ago, I came across “Dinner Music,” an LP by the Buoys. Wondering what they sounded like once you got past “Timothy,” the 1971 single notorious for being about cannibalism, I picked it up for $1.

As noted over on AM, Then FM, listening to the Buoys beyond “Timothy” for the first time, the five songs written by Rupert Holmes clearly foreshadow his stage music to come. Yes, Rupert Holmes, is the guy who did “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” in 1979, but he also wrote “Drood,” a murder mystery/musical that won all kinds of Broadway awards in 1985.

Holmes wasn’t in the band, though. He was a songwriter who worked with the Buoys — a group out of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania — when they got a record deal from Scepter Records. Holmes arranged the entire LP, save for “Timothy,” but it isn’t clear whether he sings or plays on the record. Some sources credit Holmes as playing piano on the record, but its liner notes don’t say so.

That said, “Dinner Music” is a remarkably sophisticated record for 1971.


“Timothy,” “Tell Me Heaven Is Here,” “Bloodknot,” “Tomorrow” and “Absent Friend,” the Buoys, from “Dinner Music,” 1971. It’s out of print. This is Side 2. It runs 15:17.

Holmes wrote “Timothy,” which you probably know, along with “Bloodknot” and “Tomorrow.” “Bloodknot” has the feel of something from a film score, perhaps from a chase scene. “Tomorrow” is a gentle but unremarkable ballad.

The five Buoys — Bill Kelly (lead guitar and flute), Gerry Hludzik (bass), Fran Brozena (guitar and keyboards), Carl Siracuse (guitar, keyboard and flute) and Chris Hanlon (drums and percussion) — are tight, finding just the right grooves for a diverse bunch of songs.

“Tell Me Heaven Is Here,” one of their songs on this side, seems inspired by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. The other, “Absent Friends,” is a solo vocal and acoustic guitar piece by Kelly that has a bit of an early prog feel to it.

IIIIIIIIIIII just want to dig this one

July 31, 2012

Tonight’s side on The Midnight Tracker, my friends, represents a little bit of what free-form FM radio used to play.

The Detroit-based R&B/funk/soul band Rare Earth was at its peak when the “One World” LP was released in the summer of 1971. It followed 1969’s “Get Ready,” with its epic-length Temptations cover as the title track, and 1970’s “Ecology,” with its long jam cover of the Temptations’ “(I Know) I’m Losing You.”

Those records, and the live double LP that followed “One World” later in 1971, summon the sound of a band at the top of its game.

Emerging from the blue haze of time, we have this proof for you.

“What’d I Say,” “If I Die,” “Seed” and “I Just Want To Celebrate,” Rare Earth, from “One World,” 1971. This is Side 1. It runs 17:27. It’s out of print, apparently never released on CD, either.

It all starts with a long jam, a Ray Charles cover full of sizzling guitars (even a “Day Tripper” riff), guitars vs. horns, guitars vs. Hammond organ, call-and-response vocals, Ed Guzman’s scorching percussion and a funky minute-long percussion outro. “If I Die” is a deep cut from those free-form FM nights. Finally, we count off the beat — “one … two … three … four” — and there is a smash single that was full of more sizzling guitars, a trippy bridge and more of Guzman’s scorching percussion. Throughout the four cuts, Pete Rivera’s vocals make it clear this record is being made by men, not boys.

Rare Earth, of course, is long wrongly thought to be the only white act on a Motown label. According to the band’s official history, Motown signed other white acts, but Rare Earth was the only successful one, having honed its chops as a Motown cover band in the ’60s.

Wisconsin psych-blues-rock, circa 1971

February 7, 2012

If you’ve been a regular visitor to our home blog — AM, Then FM — you know we have a particular interest in Wisconsin bands of the ’70s. After all, we were growing up there at the time.

Tonight’s side on The Midnight Tracker is from one such record.

Soup was a highly-regarded psych-blues-rock trio out of Appleton, Wisconsin, as the ’60s turned to the ’70s. It was led by Doug Yankus, a tremendous guitarist who wrote many original songs.

“Soup was an excellent band. Doug Yankus made a huge impression on me. We played their albums until they wore out!”

So says Mark Everist, who in the early ’70s was the lead singer for Clicker, another of those Wisconsin bands, and other groups.

Yankus started putting together bands when he was in high school in Appleton in the early ’60s. His first significant group was Private Property of Digil, a psych-blues-rock quartet that came together in 1965. PPOD was big regionally but only that. In 1968, it broke up.

Then came Soup. It had Yankus on guitar, PPOD drummer David Faas on bass and a new drummer, Rob Griffith. Soup was sensational.

It’s said that Jimi Hendrix checked them out. (Could be. He played a show at the Milwaukee Auditorium on May 1, 1970.) It’s said that Eric Clapton checked them out after leaving Cream and raved about Yankus’ guitar work. Could be. Soup had that kind of buzz.

“In ability alone, Soup surpasses nearly every new group on the pop scene today.”

Rock magazine offered that praise in 1970.

Yet despite their growing popularity, Soup had nothing to offer fans except their memorable live shows.

So they put together an LP that had a live side and some underproduced demos on the other side. They mimeographed an information sheet, stuck it inside, put it all in a plain brown wrapper and sold it at shows, head shops and a few record stores for $2 or $3. I’ve seen that record while digging, but usually for about $100, way beyond my price range.

In 1971, at the peak of its popularity and having played an audition night at the Fillmore East in New York, Soup released “The Album Soup.” A more polished LP, it came out on the Big Tree label.

I’d come across it while digging for records around Wisconsin but never for less than $20, and never when that fit my budget. I found it recently at a nice price.

“The Album Soup” consists of 10 songs written by Yankus. Whether it’s representative of the songs they played live, I can’t say. I never saw Soup. Maybe my friends Mark (mentioned above) or Larry (who saw them on a bill with Crow and Oz, another Wisconsin band) or Bob (who chatted up Yankus when Soup played in our hometown) or JB (who saw them at a post-prom party in 1977) would know.

In any case, enjoy this rare slice of Wisconsin psych-blues-rock.

“Dance Magic Woman,” “Don’t Be Lonely,” “Rock and Roll Lady,” “Many Lovers Dance Inside Your Head” and “To Keep Peace,” Soup, from “The Album Soup,” 1971. It’s out of print. This is Side 1. It runs 21:21. From left, that’s Rob Griffiths, David Faas and Doug Yankus on the cover.

The rest of the story

Soup never recorded another LP, but kept gigging across Wisconsin before breaking up in the late ’70s. Yankus also played with a couple of other bands and did session work, most notably with a young John Hiatt. Yankus backed Hiatt on 1974’s “Hangin’ Around The Observatory” and 1979’s “Slug Line.”

Yankus died in California in September 1982 of complications of diabetes. Seven years later, Hiatt dedicated “Y’all Caught?” (a compilation of his early songs) to Yankus’ memory. Griffith also has died. Faas lives in Madison, Wisconsin, and has played with folk singer Jim Wachtendonk.

If you want to buy some “Soup,” there’s a 2000 CD with the first LP from 1970, plus two unreleased demos, plus eight Private Property of Digil singles released on Wisconsin’s Target Records label. Here’s some of that, a 15-minute LP cut called “I’m So Sorry.”

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.)

Back to Detroit

November 30, 2009

Those of us who live in Wisconsin — at least those of us who lived here when rock radio was thriving — got to sample from a big plate of musical influences.

One tremendous influence was Detroit. There was all that Motown music, of course. But also the MC5, the Stooges, a young Bob Seger and, yes, even a young Ted Nugent. Then there was Dennis Coffey.

In the ’60s, Coffey became one of Motown’s best session guitarists, one of the Funk Brothers. Even a partial list of singles on which he played is astonishing: “Somebody’s Been Sleeping,” by 100 Proof; “Give Me Just A Little More Time,” by the Chairmen of the Board; “If I Were A Carpenter,” by the Four Tops; “Want Ads” by Honey Cone; “If I Were Your Woman,” by Gladys Knight and the Pips; “Band of Gold” by Freda Payne; “Someday We’ll Be Together,” Diana Ross and the Supremes; “War” by Edwin Starr; “Nathan Jones” by the Supremes; “Smiling Faces Sometimes” by Undisputed Truth; “We Can Work It Out” by Stevie Wonder; and — whew! — most of the Temptations’ greatest and grittiest.

I didn’t know any of that when I came to dig to those tunes in the early ’70s. I came to know Dennis Coffey only when he started releasing his own stuff, starting with the smash instrumental single “Scorpio” in 1971.

As I go crate digging these days, I’m often looking for LPs I should have bought back when, but didn’t. “Evolution” by Dennis Coffey and the Detroit Guitar Band is one such record. It’s the one with “Scorpio” on it, and a lot more.

“Evolution” was Coffey’s second solo LP, recorded in 1970 at GM Studios in east Detroit and RCA Studios in New York and released on Sussex Records in 1971. Coffey has the guitar leads, as you’d expect, with many fellow Funk Brothers providing the backing.

So, tonight on The Midnight Tracker, we have a bit of “Evolution” for you. Enjoy.

“Getting It On,” “Whole Lot of Love,” “Summer Time Girl,” “Scorpio” and “Garden of the Moon,” Dennis Coffey and the Detroit Guitar Band, from “Evolution,” 1971. It’s out of print, but you might find a used vinyl copy online somewhere. This is Side 1. It runs 15:45.

The first cut is a straight-ahead funk workout. The second cut, “Whole Lot of Love,” is a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” The third cut, “Summer Time Girl,” sounds a bit like the Temptations’ “My Girl.” You know the fourth cut. The fifth cut, “Garden of the Moon,” is a dreamy, spacey bit of jazz rock.