Our premise, revisited: What a year this has been. Since we last gathered here just two weeks ago, we’ve lost even more music greats. Merle Haggard, Leon Haywood and Gato Barbieri — quite a cross-section there — and still another Van Zant, country singer Jimmie, cousin to Ronnie.
Time, then — well past time, really — to wrap up an appreciation of four music greats who are still with us. These are my four. Yours may be different. We started with three elders, Chuck Berry,Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. We end with …
The legend: Tina Turner.
Still performing? Apparently not. It’s been almost seven years since she last performed live. That was on May 5, 2009, at the Sheffield Arena in Sheffield, England, the end to a 50th anniversary tour that featured 90 shows.
What we must acknowledge but won’t dwell on: Ike Turner.
Where I came in: I’m sure I’d seen Ike and Tina on TV before, but I certainly knew of them by the time “Proud Mary” was released in early 1971. That certainly warmed up a Wisconsin winter.
My evening with Tina: I’ve had two, thankfully. We first saw her in 1983, performing on a small side stage at Summerfest in Milwaukee, a night I will never forget. We then saw her at Alpine Valley Music Theatre, a big outdoor venue west of Milwaukee, on Sept. 14, 1987, on our honeymoon, a time I will never forget.
But about that first show. Tina Turner was just 43, but was considered an oldies act. She had split from Ike, had no record contract and was touring with two backup singers. Yet on that night, on that side stage in the middle of the Summerfest grounds, it was wild. To call her show sizzling or scorching or incendiary doesn’t do it justice. It was insane. You couldn’t believe what you were seeing and hearing. It was that good.
Appreciate the greatness: To get some idea of what we saw that night, kick back for an hour and watch this show. It was taped at the Park West in Chicago on Aug. 4, 1983, about a month after we saw her at Summerfest.
The set list: “Cat People,” “Acid Queen,” “River Deep Mountain High,” “Hot Legs,” “Get Back,” “Where the Heart Is,” “Nutbush City Limits,” “Givin’ It Up For Your Love,” “Nightlife,” “Help,” “Proud Mary,” “Music Keeps Me Dancing” and “Hollywood Nights.” (You may need to reset the video to 0:00.)
Then go back. So many great tunes from her time with Ike. These are some of my favorites from just some of my Ike and Tina records.
Our premise, revisited: Since we last gathered here a month ago, we’ve lost even more music greats. Keith Emerson, Sir George Martin and Gayle McCormick, the lead singer of Smith, even Clare MacIntyre-Ross, the woman who inspired the Harry Chapin’s classic song “Taxi.”
Time, then — well past time, really — to appreciate four music greats who are still with us. These are my four. Yours may be different. We started with the eldest, Chuck Berry. We then paid homage to Little Richard. We continue with …
The legend: Jerry Lee Lewis.
Still performing? Apparently so. There are no dates listed on his website, but his last gig was about six weeks ago in Mississippi. I’ve never seen him play live.
What we must acknowledge but won’t dwell on: The Killer has gone through a whole lot of unsavory business. A scandalous marriage to a cousin who likely was 13 when they were wed in December 1957. Six other wives. Allegations of domestic abuse. Substance abuse. Arrested outside Graceland in November 1976, drunk and waving a gun. Jeebus.
Where I came in: Hm. Not really sure about this, either. Perhaps when he covered “Chantilly Lace” in 1972, or perhaps when “Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee” crossed over from country radio in 1973. It wasn’t until 1989 that I bought my first Jerry Lee record, the “Milestones” greatest-hits comp released on Rhino Records to coincide with the release of “Great Balls of Fire,” the film in which Dennis Quaid played Jerry Lee.
Appreciate the greatness: I have always loved piano pounders, and Jerry Lee stands with Little Richard as perhaps the greatest of them all. Jerry Lee’s late ’50s hit singles are among the cornerstones of rock ‘n’ roll. That said, here are some other tunes I dig.
“Live from the Birmingham Municipal Auditorium and the WVOK Shower of Stars, the one, the only, Jerry Lee Lewis!”
They recorded this on July 18, 1964, a Saturday night. (The liner notes incorrectly say July 1.) To hear this astonishing side, Jerry Lee clearly brought the greatest live show on Earth to town that night. In a mere 15 minutes, the Killer rips through covers of tunes by Little Richard, Charlie Rich, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley and Ray Charles.
“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.
“Shotgun Man,” Jerry Lee Lewis, from “Soul My Way,” 1967. It’s out of print, but is available on this double CD with “The Return of Rock” LP from 1965.
After turning to country music with some success, Jerry Lee returned to rock with mixed success on some interesting records on the Mercury label in the early ’70s. Here are a couple more rip-roaring covers.
“Ooh, ooh! Green Hornet marathon on Decades!” my friend Larry in New Jersey announced yesterday. Likewise, my friend Bruce in Philadelphia announced it was “binge time.”
Dang. We don’t get that channel in our corner of Wisconsin.
So I had to make do with the next best thing.
“The Horn Meets The Hornet,” a 1966 album full of TV theme songs by jazz trumpeter Al Hirt, was one of the first cool records I ever found while digging.
So I mentioned that record, found eight years ago, and Larry noted its cover of “Night Rumble.” Hm. Not familiar with that one. Turns out it was sort of a mod instrumental done in the spring of 1963 by a group called The Mark V and released as a 45 on ABC-Paramount. Here you go, my friend.
“Night Rumble,” Al Hirt, from “The Horn Meets The Hornet,” 1966. It’s out of print.
Of course, there also is that great “Green Hornet Theme,” which is Hirt’s take on Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee” as orchestrated by Billy May and conducted by Lionel Newman.
Among what the LP’s back cover bills as “TV Themes of Intrigue” are two other interesting but largely forgotten pieces by composers who wrote other, more familiar TV themes.
Hirt covers the theme from “T.H.E. Cat,” an NBC action drama that starred Robert Loggia. It aired only during the 1966-67 TV season. This muscular bit of mid-’60s jazz noir was written by Lalo Schifrin, who did the still-cool “Mission: Impossible” theme the same year.
He also covers the theme from “Run Buddy Run,” which aired for only the first half of the 1966-67 season. It’s written by Jerry Fielding, who’d done the “Hogan’s Heroes” theme the year before. “Run Buddy Run” was a CBS sitcom about a guy on the run from the mob, and Fielding’s theme plays it straight, reflecting that potential danger rather than going for laughs.
The star of “Run Buddy Run” was jazz trumpeter Jack Sheldon, but it doesn’t appear he played trumpet on the show’s theme.
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.
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.
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 …
“Beat Me Daddy (Eight to the Bar),” Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, 1971, from “Lost In The Ozone.”
“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.)
Even though there are more than 1,000 records in the crates at AM, Then FM world headquarters, evidence of my lingering cluelessness emerges from time to time. As it has with the news that Paul Revere, the leader of Paul Revere and the Raiders, has died.
Sure, I knew of Paul Revere and the Raiders when I was a kid. I knew all their hits. In the summer of 1971, when I was 14, I bought the 45 to “Indian Reservation.” But I liked the Monkees more.
Today, I have records by the Monkees, but none by Paul Revere and the Raiders. Lingering cluelessness.
So, today, my friends are schooling me when it comes to those underappreciated garage rockers from the Pacific Northwest.
— Larry dropped a solid remembrance of Paul Revere and the Raiders, including a nod to their influence on ’80s kids, over at his Iron Leg blog. It’s a must read.
— Along those lines, Norb says “Just Like Me” was one of the first songs he learned to play on bass from start to finish.
— Steve says Paul Revere and the Raiders might have been “America’s version of The Animals.” He interviewed Revere once, maybe 20 years ago, and remembers being told “Mark Lindsay’s famous ponytail was fake.” He also remembers Revere “probably would have talked all day.”
— Emery reminds me that “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” was done first by Paul Revere and the Raiders in 1966, then by the Monkees later that year.
— Joe dug up a review of a Paul Revere and the Raiders show in Milwaukee from late October 1966. The show — with the Robbs, Keith Allison (who later joined the Raiders), the Standells and the Gilloteens as the opening acts — drew 3,500 to the Milwaukee Auditorium.
“Generally the audience, composed mostly of teen age girls, was very well behaved but the Raiders’ Mark Lindsay’s version of ‘Kicks’ was too much and fans mobbed the stage until ushers escorted them back to their seats.
“After their last number, the Raiders ran to a waiting bus that left the building as soon as they boarded. Even with their quick exit, about a hundred screaming girls mobbed the bus before police could clear a path to W. State St.”
Here’s an interview with Bob Barry, Milwaukee’s most popular DJ, done in 1966 for a Milwaukee TV station. Don’t know whether this was done at the same time as the show.
That show, by the way, was a Dick Clark production. The Robbs, who had moved from Milwaukee to Los Angeles, were the house band on “Where The Action Is,” also a Dick Clark production. Robbs drummer Craig Krampf remembers the tour as “about 80 one-nighters in a row.” Here’s a look at that 1966 tour.
Those of us who dig Seger’s early work, recorded before he hit it big with Silver Bullet Band, are feeling a little left out. Yes, he did release some of those songs last year on “Early Seger, Vol. 1,” but that never made it into wide release. Many of the early songs we so dig weren’t among its 10 songs.
So with the help of some friends and fellow bloggers, here’s a greatest-hits compilation from the days when Bob Seger was a rock powerhouse largely known only to those of us in the Midwest.
“East Side Story,” Bob Seger and the Last Heard, from the Hideout 7-inch, 1966. Out of print.
Larry from Funky 16 Corners: The greatest moment from Seger’s garage punk years with the Last Heard, “East Side Story” was a fairly big regional hit. rising to the Top 10 in Detroit, Windsor, Ont., Cleveland and Columbus. Released locally on the Hideout label and picked up for national distribution by Cameo Parkway, the record is a hard-charging, fuzzed-out tale of street violence that rolls on a “Gloria”-esque riff, bongo drums and Seger’s impassioned vocals. Though it didn’t break nationally, the song was covered in the following year by bands in California (the Caretakers) and the UK (St Louis Union). Interestingly, Seger wrote the song for another local band, the Underdogs (who eventually recorded for Motown’s VIP subsidiary), and apparently dissatisfied with their version, recorded it himself.
“Heavy Music (Part 1),” Bob Seger and the Last Heard, from the Cameo Parkway 7-inch, 1967. Out of print.
By popular demand: Bruce from Some Velvet Blog thought this smoking, scorching single ought to be included. Larry digs it over at Funky 16 Corners, calling it “powerful soul-influenced garage.” Derek from Derek’s Daily 45 thought so much of it that he wrote: “(Seger’s) early Detroit singles are legendary and the stuff of wonder.” My only problem, then, is sorting through the three versions I have. There is “Heavy Music (Part 1),” the A side of the single; “Heavy Music (Part 2),” the B side (they’re slightly different versions); and the cut off the 1972 LP “Smokin’ O.P.’s,” which edits both sides of the single into something that’s not really as good as either side of the original. Part 1 it is.
“2 + 2 = ?” the Bob Seger System, from the Capitol 7-inch, 1968. Also on the “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” LP, 1969. Both out of print.
Terry A., friend of the blog: In the late ’60s, I was part of the anti-war movement in Indiana, but I wasn’t a peacenik. My relatives and my friends were being dragged into a war that didn’t make any sense. I remember Wayne Taylor, a senior who sat next to me in geometry. In spring, he was joking and cheating off of my homework. By late summer, his picture was in the Michigan City News-Dispatch, a Vietnam casualty. I think that’s why the Bob Seger System’s “2 + 2 = ?” appealed to me from the first listen. It was about Wayne and all those guys who were being whisked away to combat for no good reason (and if my draft number had been lower it would have been about me). It was a muscular, blue-collar song that appealed to confused kids from The Region.
“Noah,” the Bob Seger System, from “Noah,” 1969. Out of print.
JB from The Hits Just Keep On Comin’: “Noah,” Seger’s second album, might be the strangest item in his catalog, because it featured a second lead singer, Tom Neme. Stories vary on what happened. Either Seger’s longtime producer, Punch Andrews, brought Neme into the band, or Seger hired Neme. Reasons vary, too. Either Seger believed he couldn’t sing and play guitar at the same time, or he’d had some sort of breakdown and wanted the help. Some sources claim Neme tried to take over as bandleader after that. Others, including Neme himself, say he was merely filling a void that Seger was unwilling, or unable, to fill. In any event, Seger briefly quit his own band shortly after “Noah” was released, but quickly returned to fire Neme and restore the natural order. The title song is one of four Seger wrote or co-wrote for the album. It briefly bubbled under the Hot 100 in September 1969, but deserved a better fate. In some alternate universe, it’s a concert encore with the audience singing along.
“Looking Back,” Bob Seger, from the Capitol 7-inch, 1971. Out of print.
Mark E., friend of the blog: Seger has been one of my favorites since I was in high school. One of my best friends first introduced me to his music in 1975 when “Live Bullet” was released. His parents lived in an A-frame house outside of town and on summer nights, we would hang out on the deck with other friends listening to “Live Bullet.” When I began my college radio career in 1977, I discovered other great music from Bob Seger. One of my faves was “Looking Back,” which never made it on a Seger album, except for the live version on “Live Bullet.” The single was a huge hit in Detroit. I just love that spooky organ intro … and those lyrics! They still hold true today!
My selection: I was going to write about “Get Out Of Denver” off 1974’s “Seven” LP, but I’ve done that already. Besides, that’s one of the cuts on “Early Seger, Vol. 1.” Then I realized we had no selections from what has been my favorite Seger record ever since I found it at a record show in Minneapolis. So here’s a cover of the familiar Stephen Stills tune that has some nice Bo Diddley guitar and Hammond organ. After getting things revved up, Seger steps aside and leaves the lead vocals to Pam Todd and Crystal Jenkins. This is so good, you wonder why he didn’t do so more often. According to Scott Sparling’s fine Seger File website, Seger and his band mates (two of whom, drummer David Teegarden and keyboard player Skip Knape, were the one-hit wonders Teegarden and Van Winkle in 1970) had been together for about a year, but spent only about six weeks with backup singers Todd and Jenkins. I can’t think of too many other Seger tunes with female singers so prominently featured.
“Midnight Rider,” Bob Seger, from “Back in ’72,” 1973. The LP is out of print, but the song is available on “Early Seger, Vol. 1,” a 2010 release.
Whiteray from Echoes in the Wind: The track I’d insist on being included in this mythical anthology of Seger’s early work would be his take on Gregg Allman’s “Midnight Rider,” which was the opening track on “Back in ’72.” From the start of the thumping piano-and-drum introduction that leads into the nearly-spoken first verse, the listener knows that although the tale may have originated from somewhere near Macon, Georgia, this track is not some slice of languid Southern mythology. Right at that thumping start, Seger’s version of “Midnight Rider” rolls with the sound of a Rust Belt bar band, which is exactly where one would place the early Bob Seger. But then, as the second verse sounds, there’s a cluster of female background voices that sounds like it was pulled in from a 1967 Aretha session. Then follows a guitar solo that from its first shadings is coming unmistakably from the fretboard of J.J. Cale, and you begin to realize what Seger has done. He’s taken the power of Great Lakes rock and combined it with the soul and sass of Southern rock into a synthesis that’s lifted that mythical rider from the back roads and swamps of the South and placed him in a slowly decaying working-class neighborhood of the industrial Midwest. What matters most about Bob Seger’s version of “Midnight Rider” is that it kicks ass.
“So I Wrote You A Song,” Bob Seger, from “Back in ’72,” 1973. Out of print.
Rob from Popdose: When Seger sings a ballad — I mean really sings it, pushing that upper register a few dozen miles into the mesosphere — it can wobble buildings, give brave men chills, and make statues cry. Think “Somewhere Tonight,” the heartbreaking coda of “Like a Rock,” if you dare (batten down the hatches first). That kind of balladry pretty much starts here, with a simple piano figure and a straightforward lyric about finding love. “I’m no longer alone,” he sings, “Think I’ve found me a home / And I think it’s real.” Were you or I to say something like that, we’d sound silly. When Seger sings it, it sounds like a profound truth we are fortunate to hear, and lucky to understand.
These are mp3s from my collection, taken from vinyl whenever possible. Enjoy. They are intended to encourage you to get out to the music stores, real or virtual, or out to support live music.
If you hold the copyright to something posted here, and you don't want it posted, please e-mail me at jeffash at new dot rr dot com and I'll remove it. Then again, who else is exposing your music to a new audience today?
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The text is copyright 2007-2017, Jeff Ash. Text from other sources, when excerpted, is credited.