Tag Archives: 1969

Taking stock of The Corporation

50 years ago, as January turned to February in the winter of 1969, a Milwaukee band was playing at Club Sahara, a popular place on the east side of Green Bay.

Lots of Milwaukee and Chicago bands made the rounds of Midwest clubs and roadhouses back then, and Club Sahara was one of those stops.

That week, that band was The Corporation. That week was quite a week for The Corporation, a six-piece group.

50 years ago this week, in the first week of February 1969, Capitol Records released The Corporation’s self-titled first album without the benefit of a single.

As The Corporation played Green Bay, some of the band members sat down with a writer from the local paper to talk about it all.

“Originality and experimentation are the marks of the 8-month-old group’s music. A high decibel count is also one of its telling points on stage,” my friend Warren Gerds wrote in his Night Beat column, trying to explain it all to the Green Bay Press-Gazette’s mostly older readers.

“The emphasis is on sound, loud and relying on complex harmonies. The music could be called electric jazz at certain points and underground at others.”

Uh, yeah, well …

“We don’t like to define our music in any special class. We’re not strictly an underground group. We like to appeal to everybody,” drummer Nick Kondos said.

“We just want to do our own thing,” bass player Ken Berdoll said.

Gerds continued …

“The Corporation is unique. That’s probably why Capitol, a record producer and song publisher, likes it. It slams out original songs, and when it does play other groups’ hits, the songs are altered to match its involved style. Not everyone will like the music of The Corporation. Guy Lombardo lovers would cringe at its way-out approach.”

Well, this was 1969. Conventional newspapers struggled to bridge the generation gap. My friend Warren, just a couple of years out of college, was assigned that thankless task.

The second side of “The Corporation” is taken up by one song, a cover of John Coltrane’s “India.” It’s an epic bit of psych and jazz rock, a trip that goes on for 19 minutes, 27 seconds.

“It’s a very free song,” Berdoll said.

“Because of this ‘freeness,’ The Corporation reaches for the hip in most songs,” Gerds wrote.

So dig the hip.

Here’s “India” by The Corporation, from “The Corporation,” 1969.

And here’s the entire album, released 50 years ago this week.

The band members, from left on the album cover: Danny Peil (vocals), Patrick McCarthy (organ and trombone), Gerard Smith (lead guitar and vocals), Ken Berdoll (bass and vocals), Nick Kondos (drums and vocals) and his brother John Kondos (guitar, flute, harp, piano and vocals).

Some accounts incorrectly identify The Corporation as a Detroit band. That’s because Detroit producer John Rhys heard them at a Milwaukee club and pitched them to Capitol Records, who signed them. “The Corporation” was recorded at Tera Shirma Studios in Detroit.

It was a regional hit, reaching No. 3 on the charts in Milwaukee in March 1969. However, it reached only No. 197 on the Billboard Hot LPs chart. Capitol also released “I Want To Get Out Of My Grave” b/w “Highway” as a single in 1969.

After that debut album, The Corporation had a falling-out with Capitol Records, which dropped them.

In 1970, the group released two more albums — “Get On Our Swing” and “Hassels In My Mind” — and a single on Age of Aquarius, a custom label pressed by Wisconsin’s Cuca Records. Not long after that, The Corporation dissolved.

(As always, a hat tip to Gary Myers for his indispensable research books on Wisconsin bands.)

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Filed under February 2019, Sounds

What I did on my summer vacation

Wait, I didn’t have a summer vacation. We moved our son to grad school in Ohio earlier this month. I saw a record store as we returned the U-Haul to Hamilton, Ohio, but we didn’t stop.

That said, I did manage to make a couple of record-digging excursions. We were in the Twin Cities on Fourth of July weekend, and a couple of weeks later, I made a swing through northern Illinois.

They turned out to be bittersweet trips.

My favorite record store in the Twin Cities was disappointing. Lots of records to look through, but it’s one of those places that’s increasingly mixing new vinyl with the used vinyl in the bins. Worst of all, the place smelled. Not that musty old record smell. No, it smelled of the pets that have the run of the place.

The good news is that I discovered a new favorite record store in the Twin Cities. My friend Todd, who runs one of our local indie record stores, tipped me to Mill City Sound in west suburban Hopkins. We’ve been going to the Twin Cities for almost 40 years, but had never been in this part of the area. Highly recommended, both for the record digging and for the small-town vibe of downtown Hopkins.

My $30 record-digging haul at Mill City Sound included the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” (yeah, a reissue, but you don’t see it often) and Sonny Curtis’ “Beatle Hits Flamenco Guitar Style” (which I’d never seen). I was so stoked to find those among the new arrivals that I forgot to circle back to grab another one I’d seen. So we returned two days later to get “Manufacturers of Soul” by Jackie Wilson and Count Basie, which was one of the records left behind on another record-digging trip two years ago.

My favorite record store in Rockford, Illinois, also was disappointing. Lots of records to look through, but one of those places that’s diversifying into new vinyl, used equipment and comic books. Worst of all, they seem to be mailing it in on the used vinyl. Bins jammed so full you couldn’t flip through them. No room in the bins? Just throw new arrivals on top, loose. Come on. Make an effort.

The good news is that I discovered a new favorite record store in Rockford. A decade ago, Culture Shock started out as a punk shop. It’s since matured into a place billed rather accurately as “half rock ‘n roll boutique and half record store.” Recommended on both counts, even if I didn’t find anything that day.

When I go record digging, whether on the road or here at home, I don’t have a wish list. But I do keep an eye out for early Bob Seger records, even though I have most of them.

Bob Seger was playing across town while I wrote this tonight. Zero interest in going because I know he never plays any of the great stuff from before the Silver Bullet days. So here’s one from the Bob Seger record I’ve never seen. Neither has my friend Dave, from whom I’ve been buying records since the ’80s.

“Noah,” from “Noah,” the Bob Seger System, 1969. It’s out of print.

More on this and some of Bob Seger’s other greatest hits in this post from 2011.

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Filed under August 2017, Sounds

Sundays at 8: Goodbye, Glen

My memories of Glen Campbell, who died yesterday at 81, come almost entirely from television. I think back to the earliest ’70s, and I see our family sitting together around the TV.

There was something for everyone on “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.” Comedy skits for Dad, country music for Grandma, folk and rock groups for me. That, in the fall of 1970, was our life. I pinpoint 1970 because that’s where the facts confirm the memory.

In the 1970-71 TV season, Glen Campbell’s show followed “The Ed Sullivan Show” on CBS on Sunday nights. That was appointment television. My grandfather died as that TV season began, so I’m certain we spent a few Sunday nights watching TV with Grandma, most likely during the holidays, when Sunday wasn’t a school night for a 13-year-old.

Here’s about 18 minutes that may give some idea of what that was like. His guests, ever so briefly, include the Smothers Brothers, John Hartford, Nancy Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, Tom Jones, and Sonny and Cher.

However, television eventually gave way to the radio for me. Glen Campbell faded from my radio until the mid-’70s. His new songs? Too much corn.

Along the way, Glen Campbell became a train wreck. He’s almost unwatchable in a “Tonight Show” clip with Don Rickles and Dom DeLuise from September 1973. He’s jacked up on something, and even Johnny Carson acknowledges it. Then along came Tanya Tucker, and more drugs and alcohol, and Glen Campbell became tabloid fodder. Didn’t really think much about him for a long time.

Fast forward to the last decade. Fellow music bloggers have pointed the way to gems from Glen Campbell’s long career, helping me rediscover his greatness.

Then, in June 2011, came his Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Our family knows all too well what that means. You lose a loved one long before they go. We bought tickets for “The Glen Campbell Goodbye Tour” stop in Wausau, Wisconsin, in December 2011, but the show we’d hoped to see was postponed. He had laryngitis, it was said. We couldn’t make the rescheduled date.

Shortly thereafter, we had a second chance. The Goodbye Tour came back around, this time in Green Bay in June 2012. We passed. No regrets. We chose to remember a vibrant Glen Campbell instead of a 76-year-old man who was a year into an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

You’ve heard all the hits again this week. So please enjoy these tunes, proof again of Glen Campbell’s gift for interpreting other people’s songs.

“Grow Old With Me,” Glen Campbell, from “Meet Glen Campbell,” 2008. A cover of one of John Lennon’s last songs. (Also available digitally.)

“Times Like These,” Glen Campbell, also from “Meet Glen Campbell,” 2008. The Foo Fighters never sounded so elegant.

“Wichita Lineman/By The Time I Get To Phoenix” the Dells, from “Love Is Blue,” 1969. The great Chicago soul group acknowledges Glen Campbell’s greatness at his peak. Only Glen Campbell can make the Dells sound rough by comparison.

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Filed under August 2017, Sounds

Can’t you see? No, not really

Heard today that the Marshall Tucker Band will be playing our local vintage movie palace-turned-performance venue in a few weeks.

That show, on April 2, will come almost 40 years to the day since I saw the Marshall Tucker Band.

tucker-ad

Well, sort of. The Marshall Tucker Band was on stage at the Quandt gym in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, on Friday, April 1, 1977. I was in the audience. I was 19. Many other details have been hazy ever since.

The Marshall Tucker Band was one of the biggest names in country rock, which itself was big at the time. They were at their peak, touring behind the “Carolina Dreams” LP and having just released “Heard It in a Love Song” as a single. Both the album and the single turned out to be their biggest hits.

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It was a big deal that they’d play this small college town in central Wisconsin. Point was a half-hour’s drive south for us. When I say us, I can’t be more specific than that. Don’t remember who I went with.

We went to a house party before the show. I want to say it was a little house on Division Street, the main north-south drag in Point and just off campus. Someone knew some guys that lived there. Older guys, maybe seniors, maybe 23, 24, 25. Turned out to be way too much party for that 19-year-old kid.

Even so, I vividly recall sitting in the cluttered living room of that little house, really digging a Steely Dan record. It might have been “Countdown to Ecstasy.” That detail also has been lost to the haze of time. It’s proof, though, that I really must have been overserved. I never liked Steely Dan.

At some point, I was sure we needed to get over to the gym. Whoever I went with said, nah, we have plenty of time. So of course we were late.

This review of the show was from The Pointer, the student paper. It was written by a guy who became one of my college classmates later that year. Just about everything in his review is news to me, especially that it poured that night.

tucker-review

Turns out there was a mad rush to the seats. No wonder I wound up a million miles from the stage. One side of the Quandt gym has two tiers of bleachers. I found a spot along the front railing of the top tier, near an aisle. I sat and kneeled there as best I could.

There, my friends, is where the story fully fades into the haze of time.

Save for one detail. I never liked the Marshall Tucker Band, either.

Not when you could hear this fine piece of hippie country rock on the late-night free-form FM radio of the time.

masonproffitwantedlp

“Two Hangmen,” Mason Proffit, from “Wanted,” 1969.

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Filed under February 2017, Sounds

Meanwhile, back at the blog …

Earlier this year, we shared an appreciation of four music greats who are still with us: Chuck Berry, Little RichardJerry Lee Lewis and Tina Turner. They’re my four. Yours may be different.

Yet that train keeps bearing down on us, taking Scotty Moore, Mack Rice, Bernie Worrell, Ralph Stanley, Wayne Jackson and Chips Moman this month alone. Since we last gathered here, Guy Clark, Candye Kane, Billy Paul, Lonnie Mack and Prince also have left the building.

In a year in which we have lost so many music legends, it seems wise to not stop at four. It also seems wise to not wait too long.

So here are four more music greats who are still with us, all of them still going strong. This is by no means the B team, or the second tier, or anything like that. Just four more worth appreciating here and now.

Mavis Staples, 76. The beloved gospel/soul/R&B singer released a wonderful new record, “Livin’ On A High Note,” in February. That same month, “Mavis,” a documentary profile, premiered on HBO. She’s playing gigs across North America through November, then will receive Kennedy Center Honors in December.

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“Revolution,” Mavis Staples, from “Hot Wacks,” 2013, a compilation of artists on the Anti- label. A distinctive cover of the Beatles song from one who’s long sung about revolution.

Tom Jones, 76. Sir Tom is performing gigs across Europe this summer in support of “Long Lost Suitcase,” a roots record released last October as the final part of a trilogy that also includes “Praise & Blame” and “Spirit In The Room,” which came out in 2010 and 2012, respectively. “Long Lost Suitcase” also is the companion piece to his memoirs, “Over The Top And Back.” It’s been a tough year, though. His wife of 59 years, Linda, died in April.

tom jones this is tj lp

“Dance of Love,” Tom Jones, from “This is Tom Jones,” 1969. It’s a tune written and done first by Charlie Rich in 1965 on the Smash label.

Dennis Coffey, 75. This Funk Brother is still playing some mean rock and jazz guitar “in the D.” He tweets out his shows at @DennisCoffeyDET, announcing on relatively short notice that he’ll be at the Northern Lights Lounge — his most frequent Detroit gig — or at Motor City Wine, or at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe. His blog is recommended reading. Coffey shares lots of good stories there. Likewise his discography for record collectors. His last record, the solid, self-titled “Dennis Coffey,” came out on Strut Records in 2011. It’s worth checking out.

denniscoffeygoingformyselflp

“Never Can Say Goodbye,” Dennis Coffey, from “Goin’ For Myself,” 1972. A cover of the Jackson 5 tune on which Coffey demonstrates a little bit of soul, a little bit of funk and a bit more jazz.

Gladys Knight, 72. Another of the great ladies of soul, she’s playing gigs in Europe and the United States through October. A solo act for almost 30 years now, she hasn’t had the late-career success of her peers. Widely known today for lush ballads and inspirational songs, Gladys Knight belongs here because of her energetic performances with the Pips in the late ’60s and earliest ’70s on Motown’s Soul label. She really did get down to the real nitty gritty, kids.

gladys knight pips nitty gritty lp

“(I Know) I’m Losing You,” Gladys Knight and the Pips, from “Nitty Gritty,” 1969. When I heard this cut on Sirius XM not too long ago, I was reminded that this is one of my favorite LPs. And, yeah, that’s Dennis Coffey playing guitar on the “Nitty Gritty” single and his wah-wah, fuzz-toned lick about 11 seconds into the intro of “Friendship Train.”

 

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Filed under June 2016, Sounds

Doin’ fine on Cloud Nine

We interrupt our appreciation of music legends still with us for an appreciation of something else still with us.

AM, Then FM is quietly celebrating its ninth anniversary in the blogosphere.

It arrived on the scene during the last week of February 2007.

It gradually gained a modest group of regular visitors, thanks to gracious and kind support from fellow bloggers who remain friends to this day. Back then, there were many blogs, many readers. Times change.

When AM, Then FM debuted …

— Our son had just turned 12 and was in sixth grade. He’s now 21, a college junior, performing in still another play this week and heading to New York on a spring break theatre tour in a couple of weeks.

— I’d just marked 29 years in the news business. I’m no longer in the news business.

Yep, times change.

But I’ll continue to buy records and talk about them here as if we were in the same room, listening to them and sharing our takes on them.

Your continued loitering is much appreciated. We’ll keep on keepin’ on.

I wanna say I love the life I live.
And I’m gonna live the life I love.
Up here on Cloud 9.

motownstory5lpset2

“Cloud Nine,” the Temptations, 1969, from “The Motown Story” box set, 1970. It’s out of print. This cut features a minute-long intro with Otis Edwards discussing how they came to record the song during the fall of 1968. He insists it’s about the state of black life at the time, and not about drugs, as widely believed at the time.

Also featuring Dennis Coffey on lead guitar and Mongo Santamaria on conga drums. Santamaria covered it later that year on his “Stone Soul” LP.

gladys knight pips nitty gritty lp

“Cloud Nine,” Gladys Knight and the Pips, from “Nitty Gritty,” 1969. A cool cover on which the Pips get gritty, too.

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Filed under February 2016, 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.

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“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.

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Filed under January 2015, Sounds