Showing posts with label The Beach Boys. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Beach Boys. Show all posts

Monday, November 23, 2020

#BestSongIHeardToday • Volume I

 Volume I • II • III • IV  • V • VI • VII • VIII • Team Tortoise Blogs

The #BestSongIHeardToday series is often centered around hearing great songs while exercising. These posts will tend to drift into health related topics but will always come back to the music that brought you here. This particular series is probably more about a self journal to help me stay on the path of healthy living that includes, listening to old and new tunes. If you're looking for a great mix playlist of 25-30 songs, just click on one of my Volumes above.

"No regrets, coyote"
On my weekly trail run,
I always listen to my Amazon 'My Music' on shuffle with the sound on speaker mode on my armband. Originally, I did this to alert the coyotes that I'm on the trail and maybe they should just move into the brush. I also now do this to alert walkers or joggers to mask up as I can tell they usually hear me coming before seeing me. Unfortunately, as now is often the case, they have NO mask to mask-up.

In the photo on the left, I've seen this juvenile coyote before usually on this stretch of the trail. The coyote is all ears as it hears my music (a Poco song I believe) and has quickly spun around and we are having a little staring contest while I snap this shot. I actually enjoy running into this ol' soul whereas the humans, not so much these days. My once good old Transcendental "Good Morning,"  greeting has been displaced 'in the time of coronavirus' with me now muttering inside my brain, "Mask-up motherf......"

But then, it's back to the wonderful canyon rustic trail cutting through my suburb, my rhythmic pace and often the surprise of the next song. On my typical hour run, I hear about 14 - 18 songs and play a game as I say to myself, "Oh this one is the best so far." Then usually several songs later, another song has knocked that one off the mantle of what potentially could be, the #BestSongiHeardToday running on this trail. 

My plan is to collect twenty-five songs as a stand-alone playlist. Here's Volume I of my random best while on the run. 

Note- This week I introduce my 'new and improved' blog look that I hope you will enjoy. I think it's easier to navigate to all my blog posts and works well with smartphones. 

I have also reintroduced the 'Comments' section below. Feel free to leave a comment, but please DO NOT piggyback a free advertisement with a LINK to a business site. Thank you.

Have a great Thanksgiving week, be safe and mask-up my friend!

Monday, August 31, 2020

50 Years of Music • August, 1970

This week's playlist is dominated by three albums.

The first is Eric Clapton's solo debut, Eric Clapton listened by me many times in 1970 and over the years thanks to pal Ron Zieman's initial purchase of the album.

This week's listen to that album reminded me of a blog I wrote last year as I've grown to appreciate Delaney & Bonnie and Friends (1967-1972) who contributed greatly to Eric Clapton.

In my July 1969, 50 Years of Music blog, I wrote- "The great musicians who passed through this band in the late 60's and early 70's is truly astonishing and a huge influence on why Eric Clapton quit Blind Faith to move towards Bonnie & Delaney's sound, not to mention co-opt much of their band when he formed Derek and the Dominoes in 1970." 

Bonnie and Delaney Bramlett, 1970
In my opinion, Bonnie and Delaney Bramlett simply have not been given the recognition they deserve for developing Clapton's sound in the early 70's. Delaney arranged and produced and Bonnie co-wrote many of the songs on Eric Clapton. You will also hear their influence that Leon Russell brought to Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen in this week's playlist, and bump that back to Russell's time spent as a band member in Delaney & Bonnie and Friends in 1969 as the genesis of Cocker's sound. It is that similar large band and vocals ensemble that Clapton would carry to Derek and the Dominoes and George Harrison leading to All Things Must Pass as Delaney Bramlett also introduced Harrison to slide guitar.

Eric Clapton was Eric's first solo album but was very much a collaborative project with the Bramlett's. As time marches on, I believe most people have never heard of Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, or simply, "Bonnie and Delaney" as we used to call them back in the day. Bonnie and Delaney got me thinking about 'influence' this past week and that most influential people are in fact forgotten, but their influence lives on in others work.

The second album is Spirit in the Dark by Aretha Franklin, an album I had never listened to until last week.

In fifty years, I can look back to my youth without musical judgement in the sense of my small town cultural exposure at fifteen versus my cumulative cultural experiences now into my sixty-fifth year. Stevie Wonder's August, 1970 Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours was a monster hit on pop AM radio that opened that R&B door a little wider for me, but there was not much 'Retha on my local radio dial back then to turn my head in her direction.
(Hey Nineteen that's 'Retha Franklin, she don't remember the Queen of Soul –Steely Dan)

What I can appreciate all these years later in Aretha's Spirit in the Dark is her complete mastery as a writer, singer and kick ass piano player. This was her seventeenth studio album and she also knew a thing or two about attracting a crowd of very talented people around her. The record includes three of the top producers in recording history with Tom Dowd, Arif Mardin and Jerry Wexler. The supporting band members include, Duane Allman and the famous Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section.

The third album is Stage Fright by The Band and in this listen, I have a greater appreciation in how they used three different singers that could lead a song or provide backup vocals for each other. I've always loved Rick Danko's voice as I use the The Last Waltz video clip of the title song Stage Fright to feature the band. In my blog last week, The Band was on several reader's top five bands of all-time list.

For me, Stage Fright just keeps getting better as it stands the test of time as any of their albums. In fact as I was listening to this album this week it made me think about the many artists and bands in the mid-1970's through 80's that lost their rock 'n' roll way. Radio creatures like country pop or that stupid soft jazz tenor saxophone phase finally gave way in the 90's to older and newer bands reclaiming a more authentic 'Americana sound' like well, The Band.

Thanks to Paul and Duskin Hobbs
for this book recommendation
In 2020 everybody loves The Band and if you feel the same way, I highly recommend reading, This Wheel's on Fire: Levon Helm and the Story of the Band. I'm only a quarter way in and I'm completely hooked with Levon Helm's folksy writing style and the stories he tells that are just so spellbinding. I keep saying to myself as I'm reading, "This book would be a fantastic movie!"

By the way, If you have never seen the 1980 movie, Coal Miner's Daughter it is a good one to catch. In fact, the first half of that movie where Levon Helm plays Loretta Lynn's father is outstanding! He is right there with Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones and if you read Levon's book above, you'll see from his childhood how he poured that right into his performance in that movie.

I hope you will also enjoy this eclectic mix from The Moody Blues, Canned Heat, The Beach Boys, The CarpentersLittle Richard, Roberta Flack, The Mothers of Invention, and Judy Collins.  This weeks 50 song playlist ends with a few select video clips from the now famous Isle of Wight Festival, in August of 1970.

The Isle of Wight Festival is a British music festival which takes place annually in Newport on the Isle of Wight, England. It was originally a counterculture event held from 1968 to 1970.

This event was held between 26 and 30 August 1970 at Afton Down. Attendance has been estimated by the Guinness Book of Records to have been 600,000 or even 700,000, due to an announcement by British Rail at that time concerning the amount of sold ferry tickets, although promoter Ray Foulk has said he believes it to have been only half of that. It was widely reported on, due to its line-up and extremely high attendance. Acts included Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Jethro Tull, Ten Years After, Chicago, The Doors, Lighthouse, The Who (whose set produced a live album), Emerson, Lake & Palmer, The Moody Blues, Joan Baez, Free, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Kris Kristofferson, Donovan, John Sebastian, Terry Reid, Taste, and Shawn Phillips
Wikipedia


Monday, March 04, 2019

50 Years of Music - February, 1969


It's February, 1969 and Cream is saying Goodbye in their last contractual record obligation with Polydor. As stated several times in my blogs over the years, the gem from that album is Badge written by Eric Clapton and George Harrison and included in the playlist this week.

Doing these blogs is always a blast to go back in time and listen to people like Mary Hopkin and hear her album Postcard, produced by Paul McCartney that includes several Donovan songs. It was also great to discover, Chicken Shack a British Blues band and Christine Perfect McVie's first band.

However, the pick of this grouping is an album that was not commercially successful at the time but later became a classic, The Gilded Palace of Sin by the Flying Burrito Brothers. I'm in the camp of people who see Gram Parsons as the "Godfather of Americana music" as a genre. Along with his other ex-Byrds bandmate Chris Hillman, they formed the perfect blending of country and rock that makes this album influential and legendary today.

From the driving Rock and Blues sounds of Cream, Ten Years After, Jefferson Airplane, MC5 and Vanilla Fudge, the soul of The Temptations and The Delfonics, to Michael Nesmith's country sound in The Monkees and the groundbreaking Flying Burrito Brothers debut album, there's still the sweet harmonies of The Beach Boys in early 1969. As Mary Hopkin sang,

Those were the days my friend
We thought they'd never end
We'd sing and dance forever and a day
We'd live the life we choose
We'd fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way


Monday, August 13, 2018

The Cowsills - How the good shines through


Back in time there's a place I remember,
Feels so long ago.
Everything I imagined was in my reach,
Knew that it was going to last ever more.

(Chorus)
All I can say, yeah,
How the good shines through.
They were some good years.
From: Some Good Years, The Cowsills

Have you ever felt you were about to achieve a higher level of success and for whatever reason, that next level was taken from you? Times that by seven and you may want to lean in and hear the story of an exceptionally talented family, a family that could have been rock 'n' roll hall of famers. When I say talented, each one of the six Cowsill children were musical naturals that could all sing and play different instruments to their perfect harmonies. The Cowsills were in fact real contenders in the rock 'n' roll world of the late 1960's.

However, this musical family story begins and looms with the dark cloud of Bud Cowsill, The Cowsills abusive alcoholic father, and controlling manager of the group. His actions alone, would not only create a tremendous negative impact to his seven children growing up (including his wife Barbara), but to their collective fate in popular music history.  This story doesn't end with Bud, but it does have a long and winding road with many ups and downs for all of the Cowsills due to Bud's complete control over the family. One quick example, look at the header picture above of the family band. There is actually one son missing from the band, Richard. Richard (who died in 2014) was Bob's twin brother and excluded from the band from the very beginning, by Bud. Instead of playing music with his siblings, Richard was shipped off to military school and then, onto two tours in Vietnam. Yeah, Bud's a great guy.

As you look at the header picture left to right- The Cowsills begin with the oldest child,  Bill (or Billy) who was the band leader and lead singer of the group. Billy and Bob (two over from the left) start as a duo in 1965 after learning how to play guitars in the late 50's and early 60's. They work up to singing together in clubs around Newport, Rhode Island and begin to gain some traction locally. Smelling success right under his nose, Bud steps in and to his credit gets the boys more gigs, and expands the group with John (fourth from left) and Barry (sixth from left). After a little reshuffle, John moves to drums and Barry to bass.

The Beatles were the four boy's idols and their sheer motivation and ability took them on a sky rocket ride, from the boys watching their heroes on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, to themselves appearing on Ed Sullivan only three years later in 1967. Leading up to 1967, Bud thought it best to add Barbara, their mother and then, Susan (seventh from left), and finally Paul (second from left) to the group. In effect, Bud had himself a Sound of Music rock 'n' roll Trapp Family Singers.

Bill laments in the film documentary, Family Band: The Cowsills (a film by Louise Palanker, 2011- available here on Amazon), how any teenage boy would react when told that his mother was going to join his rock 'n' roll band! But the family did exactly what was told of them by their father. If you get a chance, watch the documentary, it's a must see as I'm just skimming the surface here to a very complex saga.

From 1967-1969, The Cowsills have three top 10 Billboard singles and are riding on top of the world. Then Bud does two critical epic fails as manager. In 1969, he fires Bill (over smoking some pot, but it's much deeper as Bill is beginning to butt heads with his dad) and then, he fires the band's writing team of Artie Kornfeld and Steve Duboff. Korfeld and Duboff wrote, The Rain, The Park, & Other Things, specifically for The Cowsills that in 1967 reached #2 on the American Billboard charts and #1 in Canada.

I don't know how a father fires his own son, but Bill (only at 19) was the singer-songwriting leader of the band whose own star was rising fast. I will say that Bill was so promising as a musician, that if things had turned out differently, we might have been talking about him and The Cowsills at a level at least in sight of another family band, The Beach Boys. Today, Brian Wilson is called, "a genius," but even with Brian's own controlling father, was given a creative incubation environment that allowed him to thieve as an artist. Billy on the other hand was never given anything close to that incubation opportunity to steadily grow. Instead, Billy was often psycho bullied, physically beaten up and literally driven out of the family by his father that he moved to Canada to start a new life. Removing Billy killed The Cowsills as a top act who quickly crumbled and disbanded by 1972.

How does a working family regroup from such folly? To make matters worse, and pouring salt in an open wound, Hollywood comes knocking in 1970 and wants to put the Cowsill kids on  television (ABC) as a family band TV show. But instead of using Barbara Cowsill, they hire Shirley Jones as the mom, and after the family declines the offer because of this fact, hire Jones' real step-son David Cassidy to be the stars of the The Partridge Family (from 1970-74). I had to add the Partridge Family logo here because, don't you think it's a bit ironic?

In the years following, Bill and Barry both had a rough journey. Bill created a musical career for himself in Canada and lead various bands (including The Blue Shadows) and produced many artists, but also developed numerous health problems.  Barry who was a fantastic singer and bass player was also a teen magazine idol (my wife as a 6th grader was in love with him).  As an adult, he did some solo work but with a lot more drinking mixed in throughout his life. Barry died in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, as he refused to leave New Orleans. Bill died shortly after in 2006 from his medical problems.

Mom Barbara, died in 1985 from emphysema and who's memory (as "minimom") seems to be closely protected by all the children. One can only imagine her life with Bud and trying to keep her family together. As for asshole Bud, he died in 1992 from leukemia and according to Bob in the documentary, never accounted for the estimated 20 million dollars The Cowsills generated in the late 60's that he subsequently lost in the years following. To this day, the rest of the family has never seen a penny of that money.

So that's the backdrop past. However,  there's a whole flip side to the Cowsill family album- a family that can look back, but with a focus on moving forward with great character and stamina for life.


Bob who was forced to step into his older brother's role of lead singer when Billy was kicked out, has managed to keep the band The Cowsills alive and kicking all these years. Along with Paul and Susan they continue to perform as a band with a second generation of family members and many different offshoots.

John is a professional musician who played with the regroup of the band in the 1990's and today is the drummer of the touring Beach Boys band featuring Mike Love and Bruce Johnston. John is also married to Vicki Peterson, a founding member of The Bangles. Vicki Peterson has also played with Susan Cowsill in The Psycho Sisters. Susan along with playing with The Cowsills for many years has her own band, The Susan Cowsill Band and also played in the Continental Drifters. Bob Cowsill has played over the years with The Bob Cowsill Band and I included a great Beatle cover they do in the playlist this week.

So what attracted me back to The Cowsills after all these years? It was one of my favorite songs as a middle schooler in 1967, and their break out smash hit, The Rain, The Park & Other Things. That song has such a great hook. A couple of weeks ago, I looked it up on YouTube for my Summer Tunes blog, and now I still can't get the harmony chorus hook out of my mind!

I love the flower girl
Oh, I don't know just why, she simply caught my eye
I love the flower girl
She seemed so sweet and kind, she crept into my mind
To my mind

What really got my attention was not the original recording, but the 2004 video of Bob, Paul, Susan and Barry (including Bill's old friend and mentor, Waddy Watchtel) performing it live. The family had come together for a benefit show they organized for their original leader and brother Billy to help fund his medical bills. From this live recording and album, The Billy Cowsill Benefit Concert at the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles, The Cowsills were not just an oldies act, but a fresh band who still had the harmonies! In my playlist this week, you have to listen to, I Really Want To Know You with Susan on lead vocal, it brought me to tears. And if you're me, playing 'shoulda coulda', listen to their 1990 release, Is It Any Wonder, now please that song should have been a 90's era hit single!

Fast forward to now and The Cowsills have a new (and they say last) album coming out soon. 

They are controlling the distribution through PledgeMusic and here is the link to their campaign. As of this writing, they have 19 days left and just got 103% funded! I bought the pre-order CD for $15 (that must have been the  order to put them over ;-) and go ahead and hit that link if you're interested.

The Cowsills are currently on tour with the Happy Together Tour 2018 that I now see I missed in July in Orange County, darrnnnn. They are currently finishing the tour in the mid-western states if my little blog has somehow reached you on the plains.

I'll finish with the old saying, "what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger" could be applied to the Cowsill children as they grew into adults. I can't help but think that Billy, Barry and Richard's identities and spirits were irreparably damaged by their father that had a lifetime effect and probably contributed to their early deaths. For Bob, Susan, John and Paul you see their love for all their siblings in the videos. They survived their roller-coaster up and down early years, and live their lives with such a positive energy moving forward, and that my friends is how the good shines through.


Monday, July 23, 2018

Summer Tunes


T-shirts, cut-offs, and a pair of thongs
We've been having fun all summer long
Brian Wilson

Updated - Okay, starting week two of summer tunes as I have been busy on the YouTubes collecting now a 100 different eclectic videos for your summertime listening pleasure! This week I really got into watching Beach Boys videos, stories and just enjoying the music of Brian Wilson. Brian's one of rock 'n' rolls greatest artists and a fascinating character to put it mildly. I love this picture of him and wish him as much happiness as he has given all of us with his music! Please make some time this summer to relax, maybe next to a body of water, and listen to some music. Enjoy my friends!


Monday, December 04, 2017

Christmas Mix 2017

Christmas Mix:  2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 • 2020


Update Monday, December 18, 2017
Ok, last call on this blog, I've added a few more songs. Bill, you now have 46 songs and comedy bits for your office building party! The Hope and Music fund is now at $2,105 as of this morning!

Update Monday, December 11, 2017
I got busy over the weekend and upgraded the blog with a new and cleaner look! I also added some new songs and comedy bits to this post that I think you will enjoy. I will continue to add more videos up until Christmas so keep checking back to the playlist. Also, I included my Youtube Christmas mixes from years past to play at your office party or just around the house.

Note - Bob Caligiuri's Hope and Music fund is now at $1,755 as of this morning! Yippee, more music instruments for the children of Aquila, Mexico!
_______________

I want to thank the people who read my Monday Monday Music blog this year as many of you continue to give me positive feedback to keep this little blog going (most) every Monday!

Before I get to my Christmas Mix playlist this year, I would like to revisit my blog from two weeks ago, Hope and Music for the Children of Aquila. As of this writing, it is my most successful blog to date with close to 200 hits. More importantly, I'm hoping in a very small way to help my friend Bob Caligiuri reach his goal of creating a youth center filled with musical instruments and music lessons for the children of Aquila, Mexico.

It is my Christmas wish that you visit his GoFundMe page @
Hope & Music for Children of Aquila and pledge a donation of $10 to help Bob get over the $1,000 mark of his goal for $18,600. Bob leaves for his third trip down to Aquila in mid-December through Christmas. Bob's a damn skinny Santa, but every bit will help as he goes down with his fat Santa bag of musical instruments!

Now on to this year's (and third annual) Christmas mix. My current favorite singer-songwriter is Texas born, Kacey Musgraves. I'll be writing a blog on her soon as I continue to discover her song catalogue on Amazon and videos on YouTube. I would love to see her live, so if you all hear anything on a Southern California stop on tour, let me know. Anyway, I somehow missed her Christmas album last year, A Very Kacey Christmas, but this year it's front and center on my 2017 Christmas mix.

I'm sure I'm repeating myself from year one or two about being so damned tired of hearing the same 1940's - 1960's traditional Christmas recordings.  Not that I'm above a new take on a traditional Christmas song (as there's several here) but please a little more variety. My local UPS clerk, Patrick was telling me how the traditional Christmas loop tape in his branch store was sheer torture. I think Bing's White Christmas was playing through the ceiling speakers during my package drop-off, but kind of like having to listen to Hotel California on classic radio, or even John and Yoko's Happy Xmas (War is Over) for the millionth time. (Too soon? and really, Yoko on the chorus, yes my friends and I still haven't gotten over it.)

So here's my latest mix, again heavy in the Americana genre, but that's how I holly jolly roll these days. I wish you all a Merry Merry Christmas (and no Donald, I'm not saying that because of you)!