Monthly Archives: August 2019

The black-and-white snapshot

My "Boston" record from 1976.

As noted yesterday on Facebook …

Boston’s debut album was released on yesterday’s date in 1976 — Aug. 25, 1976. I bought my copy at Inner Sleeve Records in Wausau not long after yesterday’s date in 1976.

Other records I bought in 1976:

  • The Alan Parsons Project’s “Tales of Mystery and Imagination”
  • The Eagles’ “Hotel California”
  • “The Best of George Harrison”
  • The J. Geils Band’s “Live/Blow Your Face Out”
  • Jackson Browne’s “The Pretender”
  • KISS’ “Destroyer”
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “One More From The Road”
  • Poco’s “Rose of Cimarron”
  • Stanley Clarke’s “School Days”
  • Synergy’s “Sequencer”
  • “Wings Over America”

I also bought records by Aerosmith, Blue Oyster Cult, Kansas, Ted Nugent, Rainbow and ZZ Top in 1976, but I no longer have them.

Now, though, I look at those records and it’s a bit unsettling. Save for Stanley Clarke, where are the artists of color?

It is a snapshot of my life in 1976. Most of what I bought is what was on the radio in 1976, broadcast to a predominately white audience in central Wisconsin. Sure, there were songs by artists of color on the radio and played in the clubs, and I dug a fair number of them, but I don’t recall a lot of demand for soul, R&B and disco records. I clearly wasn’t demanding them.

I was 18, then 19, in 1976. I knew exactly one black person, a guy named Clarence Jenkins, a friend of a friend. He lived in an apartment above one of the downtown movie theaters. We went to the same two-year University of Wisconsin campus in Wausau. I didn’t know Clarence well at all.

I’d always liked soul and R&B music. I was introduced to it by WLS radio out of Chicago and WOKY out of Milwaukee before I was in my teens. But my knowledge of soul and R&B music was shallow, rarely going beyond the Top 40.

Fast forward to today. Much of my record digging over the last 15 or so years has been for ’60s and ’70s soul and R&B music that I either heard but overlooked back then or had never heard. These are some records from 1976 that I’ve since acquired. Most fall into the Heard But Overlooked Back Then category.

  • Eddie Kendricks’ “Goin Up In Smoke”
  • Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes’ “All Their Greatest Hits”
  • MFSB’s “Summertime”
  • Rhythm Heritage’s self-titled debut LP
  • Rose Royce’s “Car Wash” soundtrack
  • The Salsoul Orchestra’s “Nice ‘N’ Naasty”
  • The Spinners’ “Happiness Is Being With The Spinners” and “It’s A Shame”
  • Stevie Wonder’s “Songs In The Key Of Life”
  • Vicki Sue Robinson’s “Turn The Beat Around” 12-inch single
  • War’s “Greatest Hits”
  • “Phillybusters, Vol. IV,” a compilation of Philadelphia International singles

And, no, these records aren’t all that adventurous even now. But it is progress, and a work in progress.

Eddie Kendricks Goin' Up In Smoke LP

“Goin’ Up In Smoke,” Eddie Kendricks, from “Goin’ Up In Smoke,” 1976.

Phillybusters, Vol. IV

“No Tell Motel,” Don Covay, from “Phillybusters, Vol. IV,” 1976.

Although this song isn’t from 1976 — it’s from a year earlier — it’s also on that “Phillybusters” comp from 1976. It’s a perfect mashup, a perfect illustration of what I’d heard on the radio and what I had not.

“I’m Not In Love,” Dee Dee Sharp, covering 10cc.

 

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Filed under August 2019, Sounds

By the time we got to Woodstock

So many great adventures begin with someone asking, “Hey, want to come along?”

That’s how my friend Tony Baldwin found himself at Woodstock 50 years ago tonight, on Friday, Aug. 15, 1969.

Woodstock soundtrack LP

Tony was 17 at the time, living in Indianapolis and just about to begin his senior year of high school.

“If you’re not doing anything, you can come with us,” said Tony’s sister Jean, who was 21 or 22 at the time. So Tony piled into a VW bus with his sister, her husband Mike and another guy, a friend of theirs. They headed east.

“Thursday, we drove straight through. We stopped in New York City to see somebody there, but we weren’t there long. When we got to the site (in Bethel, N.Y.), it was Friday, early afternoon. It was of course people everywhere. We didn’t have a tent, but we parked the bus. It was total chaos, pretty much. We found a spot. It had already started,” Tony told me last night, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock festival.

“We had no idea what this thing was,” he said of Woodstock.

“We didn’t know where it was. We just followed everybody. We walked and walked. It took forever to get there,” Tony said.

“By the time we got there, it was late afternoon. There was no fence. It was already down. We didn’t have any tickets. We just walked over the fence, a chain link fence.”

Sounds great, right?

“If you see the movie, we are at the top of the hill. There was a hill, then a gully, then the stage. We couldn’t get any closer. There was music, but we didn’t know who it was. They had a poor PA system,” Tony said.

As 9:30 p.m. approached, the kids from Indy finally heard something clear enough to make some sense of it.

After a bunch of announcements from the stage — among them a marriage proposal, someone needing insulin, someone having lost a duffel bag with all their possessions — there was this:

“Let’s welcome Mr. Tim Hardin.”

“We heard Tim Hardin being introduced, then heard a little bit of him,” Tony said.

“That was it. We stayed at the site for no more than an hour. Can’t hear, can’t see, can’t get any closer.

“Then we left the top of the hill. It was after dark. We went to try to find our campsite. We made it back to our parking spot. By that time, it probably had started to rain. It was very hot and humid.”

The next morning …

“Saturday morning, the people I came with, they decided this is ridiculous. We’re gonna leave. We saw zero acts, we saw zero people. It’s miserable. It’s rainy. It’s not fun. We’re leaving,” Tony recalled.

“We left late Saturday morning, probably. We piled in the bus and we drove very slowly. It was just mud, ruts from the cars, and we followed the ruts out. We had the side of the bus open. I was in the back. The friend also was in the back. There were clothes, beer, in the back. We’re driving like 2 mph. It was like rush hour traffic.”

On the way out …

“A guy wants a ride. We said sure. He gets in, and the guy grabs Jean’s purse and takes off. The friend took off after the guy. Probably 10 minutes later, he comes back with the purse,” Tony said.

“We got to the highway, probably drove straight through back to home. We probably got home late Sunday.”

Some lingering memories …

— “I wish I did see all of it, but I didn’t have any say in it,” Tony said.

— “They were totally unprepared (for the crowd, which was estimated at 400,000).”

— “There was a guy being carried away. I don’t know what was wrong. They might have been carrying him to the first aid tent or to their campground.”

I was wondering …

How does someone from Indianapolis find out about a music festival in New York state? Maybe a magazine ad. I’ve seen those for Woodstock. Maybe a radio ad? If so, I haven’t found any. Tony doesn’t know how his sister might have learned about it.

“I don’t think they planned it too far ahead of time,” Tony said of his sister’s journey to Woodstock.

All these years later …

“We have the movie but not the record. We went to see the movie when it came out (in 1970). We didn’t see anything that was in the movie,” Tony said.

Tony didn’t see or hear much of Tim Hardin on that Friday night at Woodstock. He didn’t see any of him in the documentary film, either. Nor did he hear him on the original soundtrack. Hardin’s set didn’t make the cut for the film or the record.

So here’s some of what you couldn’t see or hear, my friend.

Though this is billed as “complete 1969 Woodstock recording of Tim Hardin,” it’s not. Here are the first, third, ninth and 10th songs from Hardin’s 10-song Woodstock set — “How Can We Hang On to a Dream,” “If I Were a Carpenter,” “Simple Song of Freedom” and “Misty Roses.”

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Filed under August 2019, Sounds