Posted tagged ‘1972’

On second thought

October 31, 2011

Some records you rarely see while crate-digging. Tonight on The Midnight Tracker, we have one.

I don’t recall ever having seen a Chi Coltrane record before my friend Jim’s recent back yard tent sale. That day, I saw two. If you remember Chi Coltrane at all, it may be because of “Thunder And Lightning,” her hit single from the spring and summer of 1972.

For no apparent reason, I passed on those two records that day. Then I had second thoughts, mostly because you never see Chi Coltrane records in our corner of Wisconsin. So I went back the next day — an hour’s round trip — and picked them up.

Chi Coltrane is one of Wisconsin’s own, born in Racine. The daughter of a violinist, she started early, playing a piano recital at age 12. She was just 21 when she started playing professionally. A powerhouse pianist and a spirited singer, Coltrane started as part of Chicago Coltrane, a trio that played a mix of rock, funk, blues, gospel and jazz. She honed her craft in the clubs of Chicago.

Coltrane was signed by Columbia Records in 1972 after it heard her six-song demo. Later that year, Columbia released the record we have for you tonight. She wrote all 11 songs on the record.

“Thunder And Lightning,” “Goodbye John,” “You Were My Friend,” “Turn Me Around,” “Go Like Elijah” and “The Tree,” from “Chi Coltrane,” 1972. This is Side 1. It runs 22:42. The LP is out of print as such, but all of its songs are available on “Golden Classics,” a 1996 CD release.

“Thunder and Lightning” reached No. 17 on the U.S. charts. Another cut, the gospel-tinged “Go Like Elijah,” did well in Europe. The LP stayed in the U.S. charts for three months.

So what happened? Coltrane wasn’t into promoting herself or her records. Her deeply spiritual nature didn’t quite fit the music business. She recorded sporadically for the rest of the ’70s, then moved to Europe, where she had a more passionate following. She returned to the States in the early ’90s, working behind the scenes in the music business. Coltrane resumed performing two years ago, mostly in Europe, where she remains popular.

Here’s a hint of Chi Coltrane’s appeal. She does “I Will Not Dance,” a song from Side 2 of this record, on a German TV show in 1973.

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Listen to this, then buy that

April 30, 2011

If we were running a good radio station these days, we of course still would have The Midnight Tracker spinning one side of a new record each night at midnight, as they did back in the ’70s.

This week, one such record could be “Dennis Coffey,” the self-titled LP from Detroit funk and soul guitar legend Dennis Coffey. It came out earlier this week on Strut Records. He still can bring it.

Stoked though we are about this great new record, we deal in vintage vinyl here. Tonight, we proudly bring you another fine side from Dennis Coffey, whom we last featured a while back.

Coffey, a member of Motown’s great Funk Brothers rhythm section, burst onto the scene as a solo artist in 1971 with the scorching Top 5 instrumental single “Scorpio.” He followed it up the next year with “Taurus,” another sizzling instrumental that reached the Top 20. Tonight, we have that follow-up record.

“Taurus,” “Can You Feel It,” “Never Can Say Goodbye,” “Ride, Sally, Ride” and “Midnight Blue,” Dennis Coffey, from “Goin’ For Myself,” 1972. It’s out of print. This is Side 1. It runs 15:52.

“Taurus” kicks off a side full of Coffey originals, save for Coffey’s laid-back take on “Never Can Say Goodbye,” the Clifton Davis tune that the Jackson 5 made famous, and “Can You Feel It,” co-written with producer Mike Theodore.

“Taurus” and “Ride, Sally, Ride” clearly are crafted along the same lines as “Scorpio.” They’re credited to Dennis Coffey and the Detroit Guitar Band, as is “Midnight Blue.” These cuts feature fellow Funk Brothers Bob Babbitt on bass, Andrew Smith on drums and Jack Ashford on percussion.

(On “Never Can Say Goodbye,” Coffey is backed by singers Telma Hopkins, Joyce Vincent and Pam Vincent. At the time, all three of them also were working with Tony Orlando as Tony Orlando and Dawn – Hopkins and Joyce Vincent in live shows and Pam Vincent in the studio.)

The unruly pop star

March 29, 2009

As usual, the inspiration for tonight’s side came from elsewhere. It popped to mind last week when we wrote about legendary session guitarist Chris Spedding over at our other blog — AM, Then FM.

Spedding played on two of Harry Nilsson’s biggest records — “Nilsson Schmilsson” in 1971 and “Son of Schmilsson” in 1972. The former was Nilsson’s pop breakthrough, delivering the hit singles “Without You,” “Coconut” and “Jump Into The Fire.” The latter didn’t wow anyone at the time and delivered only “Spaceman” as a single.

Nilsson went off the deep end on “Son of Schmilsson,” indulging his whims and creating an irreverent, eccentric, sometimes rude album.

Its forays into questionable taste include lyrics certain to get no airplay — even now, in the case of “You’re Breakin’ My Heart” (“You’re tearin’ it apart/so f*ck you”) and perhaps “Take 54.” (“I sang my balls off for you, baby”)

Another song starts, then ends abruptly when Nilsson belches.

A senior citizens’ choir sings along on a tune proclaiming “I’d rather be dead/than wet my bed.” Ah, they must have been good sports.

I liked it all quite a bit when it came out. Of course, I was 15 at the time. I appreciate irreverence, but given some of the truly delightful songs on this record, all the wacky stuff seems a bit unnecessary now.

But as always, you be the judge as you listen to the somewhat more coherent Side 2.

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“Spaceman,” “The Lottery Song,” “At My Front Door,” “Ambush,” “I’d Rather Be Dead” and “The Most Beautiful World In The World,” Harry Nilsson, from “Son of Schmilsson,” 1972. It runs 20:47.

All are written by Nilsson except for “At My Front Door,” which is a rollicking cover of the El Dorados’ R&B hit from 1955, a tune also known as “Crazy Little Mama.”

More than Mrs. Jones

February 27, 2009

Tonight’s selection on The Midnight Tracker is one I’ve been seeking for some time. I found it last week in my local record dealer’s basement, filed with the jazz records.

But this isn’t a jazz record. Oh, no, no, it’s a delightful slice of Philly soul from 1972.

My search for this record began a year and a half ago, when my friend Larry over at the Funky 16 Corners blog dropped a tune from it. I’d never heard the tune, which really cooks, nor the story behind it.

After Billy Paul had a monster hit with “Me and Mrs. Jones” in 1972, producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff wanted to follow up with “Am I Black Enough For You,” which they also co-wrote. Paul thought it a bit strident, but Gamble and Huff prevailed. The follow-up stiffed. Paul has had a long career and at 74 is still going, but never really regained the lost momentum. For more, read Larry’s post. He’s much more knowledgeable about the matter than I am.

In any case, “Am I Black Enough For You,” with its sizzling vocals, horns, clavinet and percussion, has the feel of a lost classic. Please enjoy that cut and the rest of Side 2 of “360 Degrees of Billy Paul.”

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“Am I Black Enough For You,” “Let’s Stay Together,” “Your Song” and “I’m Gonna Make It This Time,” Billy Paul, from “360 Degrees of Billy Paul,” 1972. It runs 22:20.

This side is further evidence of Paul’s greatness as a singer. Two of the four cuts are distinctive covers — Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” and Elton John’s “Your Song.” His upbeat take on “Your Song” is pretty sweet. The last cut, “I’m Gonna Make It This Time,” is another slice of smooth, slow soul in the same vein as “Me and Mrs. Jones.”

Smokin’ indeed

November 29, 2008

Last week, our friend Michael over at Fusion 45 wrote an item about the tune “Bo Diddley” as done by Bob Seger on his 1972 album “Smokin’ O.P.’s.”

Michael calls it “my new favorite song” and adds that “this version has a killer groove.” Indeed it does, my man. Quite a jam on that one as it goes from “Bo Diddley” to a bit of “Who Do You Love” at the end.

I’d been searching for a vinyl copy of “Smokin’ O.P.’s” for some time, and finally came across it this summer at a record show in New Brighton, Minnesota. It was worth the wait and it was worth the $10.

Bob Seger’s early stuff — recorded before he hit it big with the Silver Bullet Band in 1976 — is terrific. It’s passionate, hard-rocking and energetic. We’ve featured some early Seger here before, just about a year ago.

“Smokin’ O.P.’s” is an album made up largely of covers, sort of a bridge between the earliest Bob Seger System tunes that were big mostly only around Detroit and some early ’70s solo albums that were big mostly only in the Midwest.

“Bo Diddley” is the first cut on “Smokin’ O.P.’s.” It’s a Bo Diddley cover, of course. It’s followed by covers of tunes by Stephen Stills, Tim Hardin and Leon Russell.

They’re all tasty, especially “Love The One You’re With,” which has some driving chukka-chukka guitar by Mike Bruce and terrific vocals by Pam Todd and Crystal Jenkins. “If I Were A Carpenter” has plenty of nice Hammond organ by Skip Knope. Seger delivers a scorching vocal on “Hummin’ Bird,” backed by the ladies.

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“Bo Diddley,” “Love The One You’re With,” “If I Were A Carpenter” and “Hummin’ Bird,” Bob Seger, from “Smokin O.P.’s,” 1972. It runs 17:50. This one of the few early Seger records to get a CD release.

(Do you remember Teegarden and Van Winkle, the duo that had a hit with “God, Love, Rock & Roll” in 1970? They’re in Seger’s band on this one. David Teegarden is the drummer. Knope — a/k/a Van Winkle — handles the keyboards. Teegarden went on to play in the Silver Bullet Band, backing Seger on four albums.)

Let the debate resume

April 26, 2008

It’s been too long since we rolled out an album side here on The Midnight Tracker. So tonight, let’s cue up a classic side from the early ’70s.

As we listened to free-form FM radio in central Wisconsin at that time, we heard a lot of tunes from REO Speedwagon’s second album, “R.E.O. T.W.O.”

Last year, we posted a couple of those tunes over at our other blog — AM, Then FM — and they always sparked debate. REO has passionate defenders and passionate detractors.

REO is playing a gig at a nearby performing arts venue next month. The top ticket is an astonishing $77.50. This, for a band you usually can see for $20 at a fair or a festival almost every summer.

If I were assured REO would play only tunes from the ’70s, when it rocked, I might pop for that $77.50 ticket. But that ain’t happening. The faithful want to hear all those power ballads.

So this will have to do. Side 2 of “R.E.O. T.W.O.” It’s the first album on which Kevin Cronin was REO’s lead singer. Most of the tunes were written by guitarist Gary Richrath, including the last three on this side.

“Music Man,” “Like You Do,” “Flash Tan Queen” and “Golden Country,” REO Speedwagon, from “R.E.O. T.W.O.,” 1972. It runs 20:55.

Tina’s tunes

February 10, 2008

Tonight on The Midnight Tracker, we catch Ike and Tina Turner just past the peak of their popularity.

They’d hit it big with covers of Sly Stone’s “I Want to Take You Higher” in 1970 and John Fogerty’s “Proud Mary” and the Phil Spector-produced “River Deep, Mountain High” in 1971.

But by 1972, when “Feel Good” was released, their career arc was headed downward. By 1976, it was over for Ike and Tina.

Tonight’s album strays from the formula that put Ike and Tina on top of the charts and returns to their R&B roots. Whether that was the record company’s idea or Ike and Tina’s idea, who knows?

“Feel Good” has only one cover — the Beatles’ “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window” — and nine songs written by Tina Turner.

Though it apparently didn’t make much of a dent in the charts, “Feel Good” holds up nicely. Ike orchestrates a blistering mix of soul, R&B and early funk, and Tina’s voice oozes sizzle and sensuality as always.

Though it’s barely two minutes long, the fourth cut, “I Like It,” manages to work in some nasty Hammond organ, a solid bass line, energetic horn charts and plenty of wah-wah guitar.

Other highlights of Side 1: The sound of a big Harley drowns out the greasy guitars at the end of “Chopper;” the near-gospel sound of “Feel Good,” a song about — what else? — sex; and the joyous revival of a dance from the early ’60s in “If You Can Hully Gully (I Can Hully Gully Too).”

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“Chopper,” “Kay Got Laid (Joe Got Paid),” “Feel Good,” “I Like It” and “If You Can Hully Gully (I Can Hully Gully Too),” Ike and Tina Turner, from “Feel Good,” 1972. It runs 14:19.

(The album link is to a 2006 Australian release that puts this album and the “Nutbush City Limits” album from 1973 on the same CD.)