Monthly Archives: November 2009

Going back to Detroit

You know we dig early Bob Seger here at AM, Then FM. He’s not the only Detroit rocker we dig.

Dennis Coffey was one of Detroit’s best session guitarists in the ’60s and early ’70s, one of the Funk Brothers.

I didn’t know that when I heard his smash instrumental single “Scorpio” in 1971. Back then, I never bought any of Coffey’s records. I can only plead the cluelessness of youth.

However, I snapped up “Evolution,” the 1971 LP with “Scorpio” on it, when I came across it earlier this year.

Tonight, “Evolution” is featured over at our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, which resurfaces at the end of every month, emerging from the haze of time, reviving an old late-night FM radio show on which one side of a new or classic album was played.

Here’s a little sample.

“Whole Lot Of Love,” Dennis Coffey and the Detroit Guitar Band, from “Evolution,” 1971. It’s out of print.

Yes, this is a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” But dig the drum break and the laid-back funk starting at 1:19 and lasting until about 1:46.

Then head over to The Midnight Tracker for more from Side 1 of “Evolution.”

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Filed under November 2009, Sounds

Hey Rocky! … Again?

Rocky and Bullwinkle are 50 today.

Yes, it was Nov. 19, 1959, that “Rocky and His Friends” debuted on ABC. It’s one of my faves from way back.

Here are some nice birthday tributes from the newspapers in Milwaukee, Dallas and Santa Rosa, Calif., along with Creative Loafing, an indie weekly. If you somehow need a further reminder of the greatness of Moose and Sqvirrel, go watch over at Hulu.

This also gives me an opportunity to step into the WABAC machine …

… and share the story behind a tune shared here a couple of years ago.

“Hey Rocky!” is a little bit of house music that came out of Chicago in 1986. All kinds of samples from the old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons are laid over dance beats.

The artist, credited as Boris Badenough, is really Dean Anderson, a Chicago musician and composer (and a fellow Wisconsin native). We exchanged e-mails after he came across that post. Dean tells how “Hey Rocky!” came to be:

“The making of the record was supported (in addition to my fondness for the Moose and Squirrel) by a guy named Larry Sherman, who started Trax Records. He had a major dislike for his main competitor in Chicago, Rocky Jones, who ran arch-rival record label DJ International. Thus the ‘Hey Rocky, hey Rocky/Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat.’ All good fun.

“The record actually did really well!  It started off on radio station B96 here in Chicago, and then Dr. Demento added it into rotation on his nationally syndicated show, and other stations picked it up across the country.  At the time, I got a bunch of calls to do interviews for radio stations from San Francisco to New York, and many points in between (like Oklahoma, Virginia, Florida). It was kind of wild, since I made the record as sort of a joke.

“The record label had Frankie Knuckles (big-time DJ) and Marshall Jefferson (big-time house artist at the time) do dance club remixes, and so the record then got exposure in the club scene. It was picked up by London Records in Great Britain, and enjoyed some success on British radio for a while there.  It made it to the Billboard dance charts shortly thereafter, and all told, the label moved many thousands of units.”

Ah, the power of Moose and Sqvirrel. Enjoy it again.

“Hey Rocky!” Boris Badenough (Dean Anderson), 1986, the A side of the Trax Records 12-inch single TX130. The B side is the instrumental version. It’s out of print. Anderson gets the writing credit; Frankie Knuckles gets the mixing credit.

Anderson is still in Chicago, and still at it. He runs Music + Pictures, and explains it this way: “I compose music for television and film. I am also a video editor, having edited music videos for the likes of R. Kelly, Public Enemy, Soundgarden, Nine Inch Nails, De La Soul, Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne and a whole bunch of bands nobody ever heard as well.”

Nice work, sir.

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Filed under November 2009, Sounds

Bob Seger goes back in time

On an otherwise dull day at work, this sweet little item came across the wire: Bob Seger is coming out with a new CD chock full of some of his earliest songs.

That’s great news for those of us who have long preferred the young, spirited, in-your-face Seger of the late ’60s and early ’70s to the more familiar, more mainstream latter-day Seger.

Brian McCollum, writing in the Detroit Free Press, says it’s “a lineup of hard-to-find album cuts.” For most folks, probably. But not for those of us who are crate diggers, nor for those of us who grew up in the upper Midwest and heard Seger on the radio in those early days. He was well known regionally but hadn’t made it big nationally.

I have two of the three “long unavailable” LPs from which the new “Early Seger, Vol. 1″ is drawn. I’ve seen both at Amazing Records, my local vinyl record shop, in the last month.

The 10 cuts on the CD are a mix of tunes from “Smokin’ O.P.’s,” “Back In ’72” and “Seven,” all fine Detroit rockers released from 1972 to 1974. “Smokin’ O.P.’s” is mostly covers, the others mostly original material. There also are four unreleased tunes, one from 1977 and the others from 1985.

Seger also is apparently reviving a vintage Detroit label. “Early Seger, Vol. 1″ is being released on Hideout Records, once the home of crunchy Detroit rock, some it put out by Seger.

Seger remains loyal to his roots. At first, “Early Seger, Vol. 1″ was sold only at Meijer’s stores. (That’s a big grocer and retailer in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.) Now it’s available at Seger’s Web site. There might be a wider release early next year.

So here’s a sampler of early Seger … but not from the new CD. Perhaps from future volumes of “Early Seger,” which certainly seem possible.

“Vol. 1″ has a re-recorded version of this tune: “Long Song Comin’,” Bob Seger, from “Seven,” 1974. It’s out of print.

“Vol. 1″ also has Seger’s ever-so-slightly superior original version of this tune: “Get Out of Denver,” Dave Edmunds, from “Get It,” 1977.

But “Vol. 1″ doesn’t have this tune: “Love The One You’re With,” Bob Seger, from “Smokin’ O.P.’s,” 1972. On which Seger steps aside and leaves the lead vocals to Pam Todd and Crystal Jenkins.

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Make your list, check it twice

So, whaddaya want for Christmas? Yes, it’s hurtling toward us.

We’ll again be dropping some Christmas tunes on you. But listen up:

Yes, our Three Under the Tree series will return in time for you to gather tunes for your Christmas mixes and parties, probably starting Thanksgiving weekend.

No, we won’t do it every day for a month as before. The Christmas season is enough of a grind without blogging like a madman.

So, back to you. Whaddaya want for Christmas? What tunes do you want to hear? The request line is open.

Can’t remember what we have? Just type “Three under the tree” into the search box at right to see what we’ve done before. We have a lot of stuff — way more than we possibly could post, so ask if you don’t see something you want — and a lot of quality stuff. No singing dogs.

Lacking requests, I’ll just go ahead and stuff your stocking.

If that happens, you run the risk of a post like one from last December — Day 19 — which delivered Christmas tunes from Run-D.M.C., Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme and the Tractors. As our friend JB said that day: “With this post, I believe you have just defined the term ‘eclectic.’ Or ‘schizophrenic,’ I can’t decide.”

So, anyhow, Santa Claus. Right, yeah.

We could sure use a dude like that right now.

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“Santa Claus and his Old Lady,” Cheech & Chong, Ode 7-inch single 66021, released December 1971. Available on “Where There’s Smoke There’s Cheech & Chong,” a 2002 compilation.

There. One less thing you have to request.

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The lost weekend

One of the biggest news stories of our time — the fall of the Berlin Wall — happened 20 years ago today.

It was one of those moments that you remember exactly where you were when it happened. And, yes, I do remember what I was doing when the Berlin Wall fell.

I just had no idea that it was happening.

That still bugs me, even after 20 years. Probably always will.

Nov. 9. 1989, was a Thursday. I might have been on vacation. I’d spent the previous weekend with my pals Hose and Tone, watching the Packers beat the Bears at Lambeau Field. We had another big weekend coming up. Road trip. The three of us were meeting in Milwaukee, then driving to Detroit to watch the Packers play the Lions and then returning to Milwaukee to watch the Bucks play the Spurs.

We did all that, downing plenty of beer along the way. But not that much beer. Not when there’s so much driving to be done.

I remember plenty about that weekend, but I still have no idea how I missed hearing that the Berlin Wall had fallen. We must have read the paper. We must have watched some TV. But it wasn’t until we got home that I got caught up on the big news story about a …

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“Hole in the Wall,” the Bar-Kays, from “Soul Finger,” 1967.

It’s a funky little instrumental that could have been part of the soundtrack to that road trip.

And, yes, it’s the tune originally done by a group called the Packers.

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High fives all around

Our friend Larry over at Funky 16 Corners is celebrating five years of F16C with more cool Beatles covers. Head over there and check out two new mixes and four older mixes.

Larry has been a guide, an inspiration and a good friend. We have plenty in common, and not just the music. On my wish list: Road tripping from Wisconsin to New Jersey just to soak in the vibe when Larry and his pals spin 45s at Asbury Park Lanes some night.

Here, then, as a small way of saying thanks, are five more Beatles covers in that same soul/R&B spirit. They’re more mainstream than Larry’s selections, but that just goes to show how deeply the man is digging it. Hope you will enjoy them nonetheless.

bobbiegentrylocalgentrylp

“Eleanor Rigby,” Bobbie Gentry, from “Local Gentry,” 1968. An almost perfect match of sultry singer, downbeat song and low-key arrangement. (Also covered on this LP, and not as well: “Fool on the Hill” and “Here, There and Everywhere.”)

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“Get Back,” Al Green, from “Green Is Blues,” 1969. It’s out of print. (Al’s cover of “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” also from 1969, is much in the same sizzling vein.)

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“Got To Get You Into My Life,” the Four Tops, from “Soul Spin,” 1969. A song made for the great Levi Stubbs. (This is a CD rip from “Mojo Beatlemania, Volume 2,” included with Mojo magazine in September 2004.)

iketinaworkintogetherlp

“Let It Be,” Ike and Tina Turner, from “Workin’ Together,” 1971. It’s out of print but is available digitally. Listen to how Tina tweaks the lyrics to make this her own, then gives it a bit of a gospel feel. (Also on covered on this LP, and shared earlier by Larry: “Get Back.”)

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“Come Together,” Gladys Knight and the Pips, from “A Little Knight Music,” 1975. Recorded while they were at Motown in the early ’70s, maybe 1971 or 1972. Sassier than you’d think.

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Change of seasons

Baseball season is almost over. That used to mean the start of an even more exciting time — basketball season.

Over a roughly 25-year stretch that started in the late ’60s and ended in the early ’90s, basketball was my great passion.

It was the game I hoped to play … until I got cut in seventh grade. It was the game I stayed close to as a team manager in high school … until they hired a coach everyone hated. It was the game I played into my 40s … until my ankles and Achilles said it was time to go.

The lovely Janet also was a basketball fan. We were fortunate enough to see lots of NBA games during the ’80s, when our once-beloved Milwaukee Bucks were good and when we were treated to playoff showdowns against Bird’s Boston Celtics and Dr. J’s Philadelphia 76ers at the old Milwaukee Arena. Do you remember the floor?

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But those days are gone. The NBA is all but unwatchable these days.

Besides, it won’t be long before The Spectrum, where those Sixers played, will be gone, too. We never made it to The Spectrum.

Neither did our friends over at Barely Awake in Frog Pajamas, who nonetheless have written a lovely tribute to The Spectrum. It says everything I could have hoped to say about the place, from pretty much the same vantage points of distance and time.

They also dug up a great picture of Dr. J dunking on Lonnie Shelton. They also laid out some nice Philly soul. Here’s more from Philly.

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“The Rubberband Man,” 1976, from “The Best of the Spinners,” 1978. Philly soul meets the dance floor. A tune that suggests the athleticism of the NBA that was.

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“Cheaper To Keep Her,” MFSB, from “Love is the Message,” 1973. (It’s out of print, but the song is available digitally.) Philly soul meets jazz. A tune that suggests the sophistication of the NBA that was.

dustyspringfieldbrandnewmelp

“Never Love Again,” Dusty Springfield, from “A Brand New Me,” 1970. (It’s out of print, but is available digitally.) This is Dusty in Philly, doing tunes written by Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff (and Roland Chambers on this one), arranged by Thom Bell and performed by the studio musicians that became MFSB. An all-star lineup that suggests the NBA that was.

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