Gone fishing up north

Memorial Day weekend always summons the same set of memories.

My uncles — my mother’s brothers — and my dad occasionally gathered for a guys’ getaway at the same northern Wisconsin resort on Memorial Day weekend. It seemed that it always was cold and wet, much as yesterday was. Few fish, if any, were caught.

During the summer, some of my uncles and their families reconvened at the same resort. Our family also traveled back up north to be with them. We were at the far end of that S-shaped lake, at a state forest campground. You can figure out who could afford what.

If my dad could start his small boat motor — the one notorious for running only when not in the water — we’d take our small aluminum rowboat down to the resort. More often than not, we drove.

That memory, among the first realizations of haves and have-nots, lingers to this day. As does the memory of there being nothing on the radio.

We took radios up north, but you couldn’t get anything decent. Local shopping shows. Country music. Your only hope was that the atmospheric conditions would allow you to pull in WLS out of Chicago or KAAY out of Little Rock late at night … when everything was supposed to be quiet in the Northwoods.

On Memorial Day weekend 1973, this wholly appropriate song was back on the WLS charts: “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

Yeah, we tried sometimes. But we just couldn’t, well, you know.

What we needed to get us through those weekends up north was this, something KAAY might have dropped on “Beaker Street” late at night.

“Superstition,” Beck, Bogert & Appice, from “Beck, Bogert & Appice,” 1973. The LP is out of print but available digitally.

This is a heavier version perhaps as envisioned by Jeff Beck, who helped Stevie Wonder write it.

2 Comments

Filed under May 2015, Sounds

How much stuff is too much stuff?

Dad old apartment

Much of the month that’s passed since our last post has been spent moving my 89-year-old father into assisted living.

A big part of that has been dealing with things he accumulated — and for whatever reason — held onto. He wasn’t a hoarder, but it still was too much stuff, some of it kept for no apparent reason. Chalk it up to the mindset of someone who grew up during the Great Depression.

Everyone collects stuff. I’ve collected baseball cards and football cards and basketball cards, Batman cards and Green Hornet cards and James Bond 007 cards, Beatles cards and Monkees cards, comic books, coins and old pop bottles. I collected bobbleheads long before that became a thing. I don’t collect any of those things anymore.

Of course, I still collect records, as I have for more than 40 years.

Having dealt with all my dad’s things, I wonder whether I have too much stuff. I have about 1,200 vinyl records, the vast majority of them LPs. There must be at least 100 records I’ve bought but never listened to. Is that a bad thing? Does that happen to other record diggers?

All those records bought but never heard, set aside for a day when I have more time, a day that never seems to come.

But I did sit down pretty much right away and listen to the Ike and Tina record I bought last month at Tin Dog Records. When Don Covay died at the end of January, I pulled out the only Don Covay record I have — bought it at least a couple of years ago — and listened to it for the first time. About the same time, I pulled out a Booker T. and the M.G.’s record I bought in Chicago last summer and listened to it for the first time.

I know this because I ripped all three of these records to digital.

Edwin Starr Hell Up In Harlem LP

As I did when I found the “Hell Up In Harlem” soundtrack back in January.

But as I listened to that record, I discovered it was missing the last cut on Side 1. A record about 2:43 shy of a load. Typical Motown bull to leave it off the reissue pressing. I mentioned it on Facebook, and my man Greg in Minnesota came to the rescue.

So please enjoy a song I don’t have on a record I do have.

“Don’t It Feel Good To Be Free,” Edwin Starr, from the “Hell Up In Harlem” soundtrack, 1974.

 

1 Comment

Filed under April 2015, Sounds

Tin Dog’s sound advice

enjoy the tunes

There, on the bottom of the receipt from Saturday’s record-digging expedition, are words to live by.

“ENJOY THE TUNES”

I didn’t notice that until I got the record all the way home from Tin Dog Records in Beloit, Wisconsin, which is about as far south as you can go in Wisconsin without stumbling into Illinois.

Enjoy the tunes. That’s advice akin to Warren Zevon’s suggestion to “enjoy every sandwich.”

So I did. I enjoyed the tunes even though “River Deep, Mountain High,” from Ike and Tina Turner wasn’t exactly what I expected.

I knew Phil Spector produced, and that Ike and Tina got the Wall of Sound treatment. I didn’t know those tunes account for only six of the 12 cuts on the record. The rest? Apparently just stuff Ike had laying around.

So this 1966 record careens from that elegant Wall of Sound to Ike and Tina’s typically grittier sound and back again. It both disproves and confirms Tina’s spoken intro to “Proud Mary” four years later: “We nevah, evah, do nothing nice and easy. We always do it nice and rough.”

Nice and easy.

“A Love Like Yours (Don’t Come Knocking Everyday),” a Holland-Dozier-Holland song first recorded in 1963 by Martha and the Vandellas. It was the flip side to “Heat Wave.” Ike and Tina’s version — the followup single to “River Deep, Mountain High” — reached No. 16 in the UK in 1966 but didn’t chart in the U.S.

Nice and rough.

“Such A Fool For You,” written by Ike Turner.

iketinaturner riverdeepmtnhigh lp

Both from “River Deep, Mountain High,” Ike and Tina Turner, 1966. Also available digitally. This LP originally was released in the UK that year. Then, after a third single — “I’ll Never Need More Than This” — was released in 1967, that cut was added to the LP for its American release. My copy is that A&M Records release from 1969.

As for the title cut? Well, sorry, but the definitive version for me is the one by the Supremes and the Four Tops from 1970. The one I heard first.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under March 2015, Sounds

We’re getting closer to my home

It’s been a long drought for decent shows up here where the interstate ends.

Since Joan Jett stopped by last September, there hasn’t been much to get excited about. Not even the Eagles, announced last week with the cheapest ticket at $89.

So we wait and wait and wait for word of something worth seeing, and something affordable. And then, today, some light in the darkness.

You know it’s been a long drought when you get stoked about seeing Grand Funk Railroad, which is playing at the Fond du Lac County Fair this summer. That’s about an hour south of here.

As with many bands of that vintage, the first thing I often check is who’s in the band these days. I was pleasantly surprised to see a lineup that includes original members Don Brewer on drums and Mel Schachter on bass.

Now get a load of the rest of the band, another pleasant surprise: Bruce Kulick, formerly with Kiss, on guitars; Max Carl, formerly with .38 Special, on lead vocals; and Tim Cashion, formerly with Bob Seger and Robert Palmer, on keyboards.

It’s a group that’s been together for 15 years.  There’s something to be said for that kind of staying power. I learned that six years ago, when I saw the Grass Roots at another county fair. Lead singer Rob Grill was the only original member, but he and his bandmates had been together for 25 years, far longer than the original lineup. They were tight.

Hoping for the same from Grand Funk.

We’ll likely hear all the singles — “We’re An American Band,” “The Loco-Motion” and “Some Kind Of Wonderful” among them — but I hope we also get to hear some of the heavier, more substantial stuff from the early ’70s. Back in the days of free-form FM radio, Grand Funk was one of the bands you heard after 10 p.m., when the DJs would play anything and everything. Something like this.

Grand Funk RR Survival LP

“Feelin’ Alright,” Grand Funk Railroad, from “Survival,” 1971. Also available digitally. This is, of course, their cover of the Traffic song written by Dave Mason. (The buy link is for a remastered reissue from 2002.)

 

1 Comment

Filed under March 2015, Sounds

Eight years on

As February rolls to a close, it’s time to quietly celebrate another year of AM, Then FM.

It was during the last week of February 2007 that we made a tiny splash in the blogosphere. Though there are fewer readers and fewer posts than in the heyday of music blogging — when exactly was that, anyway? — we’ll keep on keepin’ on.

Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who’s been along on this long, sometimes strange trip.

Speaking of which …

cmdrcodyozonelp

“Beat Me Daddy (Eight to the Bar),” Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, 1971, from “Lost In The Ozone.”

Mojo Beatlemania Volumn 1F16C Rubber Souled Part One

“Eight Days A Week,” Billy Preston, 1966. I have this on “Mojo Beatlemania, Volume 1,” a comp CD that came with the September 2004 issue.

Also featured on “Rubber Souled, Part One,” one of the many fine mixes by my friend Larry Grogan over at his tremendous Funky 16 Corners blog. (Just search Larry’s blog for Billy Preston. That mix will turn up, and it’s still available for download or listening.)

5 Comments

Filed under February 2015, Sounds

Parked near the Batmobile

If social media are any indication, all the cool kids — including my friends Norb and Brian — are in Madison this weekend.

The Wizard World Comic Con Madison is going on next door to what we used to call the Dane County Coliseum, an aging hockey barn that has also has seen some fairly remarkable rock shows.

Brian rode with William Shatner in a hotel shuttle last night and saw Edward James Olmos and Lou Ferrigno at breakfast this morning. Name dropper.

But Norb saw the Batmobile today. “I think it’s just a replica,” he said.

batmobile desk

This is as close as I’m going to get to the Batmobile this weekend.

This Batmobile sits on my desk, just behind my Mac. It is, of course, one of the coolest cars from a childhood filled with cool cars.

Adam West, the guy who sat behind the wheel of the real Batmobile, was to have been at Comic Con Madison this weekend, but he canceled because of what was said to be a scheduling conflict.

I have long wanted to meet Adam West. But I’m not into autographs or selfies — I don’t need proof of such a meeting — so paying upwards of $50 extra just to shake his hand and say thanks seems pointless. It might have been enough just to see him from a distance.

There’s always hope for a random meeting. We once rode in an elevator with Sam Kinison, so anything’s possible.

But I suspect my chances of meeting Adam West are about as slim as another entry on my bucket list.

I would love to have lunch with Paul McCartney. Vegan, of course. No pictures, no autographs, just a couple of guys shooting the breeze.

Maybe Adam West could join us.

micky dolenz remember cd

“Good Morning, Good Morning” Micky Dolenz, from “Remember,” 2012. Also available digitally.

Here’s another mashup of ’60s icons, one of whom had another cool car, the Monkeemobile.

As Dolenz tells it, John Lennon invited him to listen to his song — “Hey Monkee Man. Want to hear what we’re working on?” — as it was being recorded at EMI Studios in London in February 1967. A year later, a bit of this Beatles song was heard at the beginning of the final episode of “The Monkees,” one co-written and directed by Dolenz.

“I don’t remember how it happened, but I somehow managed to get the rights to play this song,” Dolenz says in the “Remember” liner notes. “To my knowledge, it is the first time that The Beatles let one of their songs be used in such a manner.”

Here’s that episode: “The Frodis Caper,” or “Mijacogeo,” from March 25, 1968. That’s an unknown Tim Buckley at the end, doing an acoustic version of “Song To The Siren,” which hadn’t been released at the time.

3 Comments

Filed under February 2015, Sounds

The record library is open

It had been so long since someone asked, the question damn near startled me.

“Can I borrow some of your records?”

Some of my records? These records?

And then my head cleared. Yes, of course, you can borrow some of my records, Evan. Just as my friends and I shared records back in the ’70s, when none of us had all that many LPs or 45s.

So off to college they went last week, two from Creedence Clearwater Revival, one of Evan’s faves of the moment.

This weekend, another request: “Dad, do you have any records by The Who?”

who meatybeatybigbouncy lp

So off to college it went, “Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy,” a compilation of early Who singles.

When I told Evan that it came out in 1971, before the release of “Baba O’Riley,” his favorite Who song, he wondered when I’d gotten it. The record sleeve told all.

sleevescanx2

“Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy” came from Inner Sleeve Records in Wausau, Wisconsin, sometime in the mid-’70s. Back then, when you bought a record there, you got a nice sleeve to go with it.

Those Creedence records were even older. Off to college went “Willy and the Poor Boys” and “Pendulum,” from 1969 and 1970, respectively. Evan grabbed the former because it has “Fortunate Son,” one of his favorite protest songs, on it.

Hope he enjoys them as much as I did, even though he’s several years older now than I was when I spent a lot of time listening to Creedence. I was just a junior-high kid then. That said, I long ago grew tired of hearing the hit singles over and over. These days, I enjoy the Creedence tunes less often heard.

ccrwilly

“It Came Out Of The Sky,” Creedence Clearwater Revival, from “Willy and the Poor Boys,” 1969. Also available digitally. In which a UFO lands in a farm field just south of Moline and the Establishment, circa 1969, freaks out. Enjoy the ride as John Fogerty gleefully sticks it to The Man.

1 Comment

Filed under January 2015, Sounds