Monthly Archives: October 2010

Moonlighting again

Just a quick little post to remind you that we also do a bit of business over at a lightly traveled little blog called The Midnight Tracker.

We don’t post there often, but that frequency feels right. 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 on The Midnight Tracker, we have a double shot for you. Not only that, it’s a double live shot!

Here’s a little hint of what you’ll find when you head back into the haze of time and spin a couple of LPs from 1966.

Imagine what you get when Jerry Lee Lewis announces from the stage at the end of the record (and presumably the end of the show):

“Well, I’d like to do one for ya now. Ah, hope you enjoy this one. Um, pretty good tune that, uh, has done quite well for a, a lot of artists. But I’m think I’m gonna give it a little treatment here that, that it deserrrrves. I’m gonna throw the old, real, true, down-to-earth, go-gettin’ rock-and-roll beat into this one now. Boy, if you can’t shake it, you better set down because this is one you can really shake it bahyyyy!”

At which point, Jerry Lee and his Memphis Beats tear into …

“Roll Over Beethoven,” Jerry Lee Lewis, from “Jerry Lee Lewis: By Request,” 1966. It’s out of print. Recorded live at Panther Hall ballroom in Fort Worth, Texas.


Jerry Lee is just half of that double live shot from 1966. You’ll just have to head over to The Midnight Tracker to see and hear who else we’ve cued up in the midnight hour.

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Another gift from Solomon Burke

Confession, they say, is good for the soul.

Solomon Burke, a preacher man, would like that.

So here is mine.

Before I started digging music blogs some five years ago, I knew only vaguely about Solomon Burke, who billed himself as nothing less than “the legendary king of rock and soul.”

After all, I grew up on the AM Top 40 and free-form FM radio of the early to mid-’70s, and Solomon Burke did not have any hits on the radio I heard in Wisconsin.

But that was before I was taken to school (and led to church) by music bloggers preaching the good word about Solomon Burke.

So when friends started posting the news of Burke’s passing on Facebook early Sunday morning, I recognized its significance. Hey, I’ve learned a little something.

When I got to work, the AP wire story had all the facts. But Larry’s post over at Funky 16 Corners had the essence of the man.

There will be no eloquent tribute here tonight. I defer to Mr. Grogan.

I must do so because I learned all I know about Solomon Burke from the music blogs. From Larry. From Derek at Derek’s Daily 45. From Red at The “B” Side, The “A” Side and Holy Ghost. From G at Any Major Dude. From the folks at Moistworks, which apparently went dark after Alex Chilton’s passing in March.

All these writers, and others, shared their passion for Burke, their knowledge of Burke and their records. We sat around the digital hearth and dug the music, much as we’d do if we were in the same room. I learned about Burke and heard records old and new.

So if you’ve shared Solomon Burke’s gift on your blog, thank you.

Today we celebrate the music blogs and Solomon Burke’s music.

But I lack the cool Solomon Burke soul records my friends have found. I’ve never seen any while digging for records in Wisconsin. But I went through my stacks and came up with some Solomon Burke in a most unexpected place — among the Christmas music.

“Presents For Christmas,” Solomon Burke, 1967, from “Soul Christmas,” 1968. (The cover and buy link are to the 1991 CD reissue, which is what I have.)

This was written by Burke, his second wife Delores and his son Solomon Jr. It was recorded Nov. 8, 1966, in New York. It was released as Atlantic single 2369 on Nov. 3, 1967, then on the “King Solomon” LP in 1968, then on the “Soul Christmas” comp later that year.

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They say it’s your birthday, John

John Lennon would have been 70 today.

I wonder whether time would have mellowed his opinion of this song, which he did in the studio with Paul McCartney in September 1968.

“Birthday,” Underground Sunshine, Intrepid 75002 7-inch, 1969. It’s out of print. (Please forgive the fuzz and the noise on the vinyl rip.)


Lennon thought the song, as done by the Beatles on “The Beatles” — the white album — “was a piece of garbage.”

Lennon and McCartney share the writing credits. Paul insists “‘Birthday’ was 50-50 me and John.” But given that McCartney came up with the music, and given Lennon’s disdain for it, you have to wonder whether it wasn’t more Paul’s than John’s.

Underground Sunshine was a group from Montello, Wisconsin, a small town in the south-central part of the state.

Their cover of “Birthday” was a big hit in the late summer of 1969. It reached No. 2 on the Hit Parade at WLS in Chicago in mid-August, but couldn’t displace the Stones’ “Honky Tonk Woman.”

It was the only hit for Underground Sunshine, which also cut an LP and released three other singles but got nowhere in the charts and broke up in 1970. That year, they covered “Jesus Is Just Alright,” which charted for the Doobie Brothers just two years later.

Here, for the curious, is the flip side to “Birthday.”

“All I Want Is You,” Underground Sunshine, Intrepid 75002 7-inch, 1969. It’s out of print. (Please forgive the fuzz and the noise here, too.)


It’s an original by band members Bert Koelbl and Frank Koelbl, along with high school classmate Rex Rhode, who wasn’t in the band. It seems clearly influenced by “Time Won’t Let Me” by the Outsiders. There’s also a pleasant enough pop-psych jam in the middle.

Underground Sunshine was a four-piece group. The Koelbl brothers went as Bert and Frank Kohl, playing bass and drums, respectively. Chris Connors, whose real name was John Dahlberg, played lead guitar. Jane Little, whose real name was Jane Whirry, played keyboards.

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Back into that groove

Get paid. Go to the record store. Buy two or three records.

That’s how it went, every two weeks from the mid-’70s until sometime in the early to mid-’90s. Now, all these years later, I’m slowly getting back into that groove.

I got paid on Friday, and I’d meant to go to the record store today, but that didn’t happen.

Some of the money set aside for that went for new dress shoes for The Sophomore, whose homecoming dance is tonight. Some of the money set aside for records went to pay for The Sophomore’s dinner date.

And so it goes.

Last month, I stopped at a record store I’ve been digging since the ’70s, the one that benefited from those earliest visits after payday.

Going through the bins at Inner Sleeve Records in Wausau, Wisconsin, I came across the new record by Tom Jones, albeit on CD. Wanting to buy something at the Sleeve — didn’t find anything in the vinyl section — I picked it up.

Two weeks ago, I stopped in at our record store in Green Bay — the Exclusive Company — and was delighted to find its used vinyl section greatly expanded. It already had an extensive new vinyl section. In the latter, I found the new record by Mavis Staples.

And then I found that Tom Jones record on vinyl. It has been bugging me ever since. Given a choice, I want vinyl rather than CD.

Next time I stop in at the Exclusive Company, I’m getting that Tom Jones on vinyl. Here’s why.

Tom Jones, doing “Burning Hell,” a John Lee Hooker cover, on “The Late Show With David Letterman,” Sept. 22, 2010.

It’s a cut from “Praise & Blame,” which came out a couple of months ago. It’s full of gospel-inspired tunes that go back and forth from reverent to rocking.

But that vinyl will have to wait until next payday, two weeks from now.

Unless, of course, The Sophomore needs something more urgently.

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Getting in the swim

There always has been music at the pool.

There certainly was in the summer of 1976.

We hung out at the pool where our friend Herb worked. The ladies loved Herb, so it was good to be his pal. Hello, Valerie. Hello, Pam. Herb dated Pam. We also hung out at the other pool in town, the one where plenty of good-looking girls worked. Hello. Laurie. Hello, Lisa. My brother married Lisa.

Our local FM rock station usually was blasting from the speakers at the pools. When I think of the pool where Herb worked, I think of Peter Frampton. When I think of the pool where the good-looking girls worked, I think of John Miles.

I’m back at the pool these days, working out rather than hanging out. The FM radio is still playing at the pool. Problem is, it’s loud enough to keep the lifeguard company, but not summer of 1976 loud. So you hear only bits and pieces of the tunes while doing laps.

There clearly was a soundtrack for those summer days wasted at the pool. But is there a soundtrack for working out at the pool?

“All Right Now” by Free came on the radio at the pool today. Always a good tune but played nowhere loud enough. It was followed by Journey and then by Paul Simon. Buzzkill, even with the volume low.

Guess I’ll have to keep a soundtrack in my head, starting with …

“Underwater Chase,” Al Caiola, from “Sounds For Spies and Private Eyes,” 1965. It’s out of print.


Spy music from one of the great instrumental guitarists of the day.

“Hold Back The Water,” Bachman-Turner Overdrive, from “Bachman-Turner Overdrive,” 1973. The LP is out of print, but the song is available digitally.


The going gets good at 2:25, when a long guitar instrumental bridge kicks in. There’s a variety of styles, including some nice wah-wah guitar at 3:40. This was the flip side to BTO’s fine first single, “Blue Collar.”

Smoke on the Water,” Deep Purple, from “Made In Japan,” 1972.


Live LPs usually aren’t my thing, but this cut is smoking. My friend JB explains, in one of the finest comments ever left here, after I wrote about this tune a couple of years ago:

“The difference between the studio version of ‘Smoke on the Water’ and the live version from ‘Made in Japan’ is the difference between somebody telling you about the famous fire at Montreaux and actually finding yourself in the middle of it while it’s happening.”

So, any other suggestions for a soundtrack for swimming laps? All of these tunes have “water” in the title, but don’t feel obligated to have them in yours.

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