Tag Archives: 1971

A Christmas Eve tradition returns

On this Christmas Eve, a post that has become a tradition.

On a winter day more than 40 years ago, Louis Armstrong went to work in the den at his home at 34-56 107th Street in Corona, Queens, New York.

That day — Friday, Feb. 26, 1971 — he recorded this:

stashxmaslp2

“The Night Before Christmas (A Poem),” Louis Armstrong, 1971, from “The Stash Christmas Album,” 1985.

It’s out of print, but you can find the original 7-inch single (Continental CR 1001) on eBay for $10 or less. I found my copy two years ago, when my friend Jim threw open his garage door and sold some of his records.

louisarmstrongnightbeforexmas45

(This is the sleeve for that 45. You could have bought it for 25 cents if you also bought a carton of Kent, True, Newport or Old Gold cigarettes.)

There’s no music. Just “Little Satchmo Armstrong talkin’ to all the kids,” reading Clement Clarke Moore’s classic poem in a warm, gravelly voice.

“But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight, ‘Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night. A very good night.’

“And that goes for Satchmo, too. (Laughs softly.) Thank you.”

It was the last thing he ever recorded. Satchmo died the following July.

You just never know.

Embrace the moment, especially at Christmas.

Enjoy your holidays, everyone.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2015, Sounds

Dig the scintillating action!

The record digging on vacation was nothing to write home about. Not sure why, but I’ve never had much luck when digging in Minneapolis.

Except at the fine Hymie’s Vintage Records, that is. It’s in the Longfellow neighborhood southeast of downtown. Hymie’s has thousands of records, carefully yet irreverently inventoried. Proof of that:

hymies bongos

Along with “Make-Out Music” and “Awkward Chris†ian Records.” Sure, there are plenty of conventionally named bins. But you get the idea.

You never know what you’re going to find in these charmingly classified crates.

I looked through the “Sports” records and found a record that made my day. It was the only record I bought Monday — Hymie’s was the third and final digging spot of the day — and a $2 record at that.

Ladies and gentlemen, from 1971, the Grambling College Marching Band doing soul covers!

grambling band lp

The name of the record is “Tiger Time,” on the Mercury label. This image, from Discogs, gives you an idea of what it looks like.

Mine once was “PROPERTY OF WTBU RADIO,” as scrawled all over the cover in thick black Magic Marker. Damn Boston University kids. Mine is a white-label promo copy with a clear sticker with recommended cuts at lower left.

From the liner notes written by Chester Higgins, a senior editor at Jet magazine:

“It is sometimes said that the half-time show — precision marching bands, shapely baton-twirling majorettes, and all the other hoopla — is better than some of the football games that sandwich them. If this observation has a ring of truth, measure it against the colorful Grambling (La.) College Marching Band, a 135-member, white-shoe, white-glove wearing, black-and-gold uniformed, high-stepping, stutter-stepping or ditty-bopping aggregation during any half-time show, dig the scintillating action they’re putting down and then draw your own conclusions.”

In 1971, Mercury took roughly half of the band — 65 members — into the studio and recorded these covers. They are every bit as tasty and upbeat and funky and soulful as you’d hope from one of the great show bands from one of America’s great historically black colleges.

grambling strip

“Ball Of Confusion,” covering the Temptations smash.

grambling girls

“The Love You Save,” covering the Jackson 5 smash.

grambling band 1

“Turn Back The Hands Of Time,” covering the Tyrone Davis smash.

grambling jackie porter jet 12161971xxAnd now something less familiar but no less interesting.

“Same Thing,” covering a tune written and sung by Margie Joseph and released on the Volt label at the time, but never a hit for her.

It’s sung here by Grambling student Jackie Porter. This tremendous version was released by Mercury as a white-label promo for this LP. It’s on eBay if you want it.

All from “Tiger Time,” the Grambling College Marching Band, 1971. It’s out of print.

(The Jackie Porter clipping is from the Dec. 16, 1971, issue of Jet magazine.)

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Filed under September 2015, Sounds

Summer’s over, man

It’s been a weird summer, and now it’s over.

Your calendar doesn’t say so, but ours does. Packers training camp started today, and that is the beginning of football season in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

It’s the first summer in more than 40 years that I haven’t had a car. No car means no summer songs blasting on the radio. No, not even Boston.

A song for the summer of 2015 might be “Gwan,” by the Suffers, the scorching 10-piece Houston soul/R&B group seen by about 100 of us in downtown Green Bay last month. We rarely see anyone that cool. Go see them if they’re near you.

In 1970, that summer’s song was, and is, “In The Summertime,” by Mungo Jerry. It was starting its rise up the charts on this week in 1970, entering the WLS Hit Parade at No. 22. This week in 1970, I was 13, and I suspect it wasn’t too long before I bought this 45, which I loved.

You know “In The Summertime,” of course. But I also loved the rollicking flip side on that Janus 7-inch: “Mighty Man.”

Mungo Jerry records are on my digging wish list, but you rarely see them.

I found one a couple of weeks ago, but it didn’t have any of the cuts I seek, neither “Mighty Man” nor the Sgt. Pepperesque “Memoirs Of A Stockbroker” (also possibly influenced by Status Quo’s “Pictures Of Matchstick Men”) nor “Little Miss Hipshake,” which sounds a little like T. Rex. I bought it anyway.

mungo jerry pye history lp

On “Mungo Jerry: The Pye History of British Pop Music,” a 1975 compilation that’s long out of print, I found this Dylanesque tune. In it, our hero’s girlfriend’s parents freak out over his long hair, and he’s hassled by “the fuzz.”

Ah, those glorious ’70s.

“You Don’t Have To Be In The Army To Fight In The War,” Mungo Jerry, 1971. Originally released on a 45, then on the LP of the same name, both long out of print. It’s available digitally on any number of Mungo Jerry comps.

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Filed under July 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.)

 

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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.)

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Filed under February 2015, Sounds

Snoopy and Michael, John and Yoko

After a Christmas season in which less was more, all I really need for Christmas are these three songs. They come from a more innocent time.

“Snoopy’s Christmas,” the Royal Guardsmen, from “Snoopy and His Friends,” 1967. (The link is to a double CD also featuring “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron,” their debut album from 1966.) Also available digitally.

“Christmas bells, those Christmas bells
“Ringing through the land
“Bringing peace to all the world
“And good will to man”

“Merry Christmas, mein friend!”

“Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town,” the Jackson 5, 1970, from “A Motown Christmas,” 1973. Also available digitally.

“One more time, yeah! Santa Claus is comin’ to town. Oh, yeah!”

“Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” John Lennon and Yoko Ono, the Plastic Ono Band and the Harlem Community Choir, released as a single, 1971. A remastered version is available on  “Gimme Some Truth,” a 4-CD compilation released in 2010. Also available digitally.

“And so this is Christmas, and what have you done?”

Enjoy your holidays, everyone.

Please visit our companion blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2014, Sounds

Our Christmas Eve tradition

On this Christmas Eve, a post that has become a tradition.

On a winter day more than 40 years ago, Louis Armstrong went to work in the den at his home at 34-56 107th Street in Corona, Queens, New York.

That day — Friday, Feb. 26, 1971 — he recorded this:

stashxmaslp2

“The Night Before Christmas (A Poem),” Louis Armstrong, 1971, from “The Stash Christmas Album,” 1985.

It’s out of print, but you can find the original 7-inch single (Continental CR 1001) on eBay for $10 or less. I found my copy two years ago, when my friend Jim threw open his garage door and sold some of his records.

louisarmstrongnightbeforexmas45

(This is the sleeve for that 45. You could have bought it for 25 cents if you also bought a carton of Kent, True, Newport or Old Gold cigarettes.)

There’s no music. Just “Little Satchmo Armstrong talkin’ to all the kids,” reading Clement Clarke Moore’s classic poem in a warm, gravelly voice.

“But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight, ‘Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night. A very good night.’

“And that goes for Satchmo, too. (Laughs softly.) Thank you.”

It was the last thing he ever recorded. Satchmo died the following July.

You just never know.

Embrace the moment, especially at Christmas.

Enjoy your holidays, everyone.

Please visit our companion blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christmas music, December 2014, Sounds