A Bit Like You And Me Radio

March 29, 2013

The Weeds - It's Your Time (1966)

Formed in 1966 in Las Vegas, Nevada by Nevada-born garage rocker Fred Cole, this band released one single before having their band name changed. Having previously been in the R&B band known as The Lords, Cole got together with fellow Lords-member Hans Grebner to create this band in early-1965. Although Grebner would leave the band by the end of the year and the other musicians would shuffle around a bit, the band reached a great amount of local success, playing two gigs per weekend and selling out to crowds of three hundred or more. That success resulted in them having their first record pressed by the small Las Vegas label known as Teenbeat Club Records. The members of the band at that time were Fred Cole (vocals), Eddie Bowen (lead guitar), Ron Buzzell (rhythm guitar), Bob Atkins(bass), and Tim Rockson (drums). The local success of the record got the attention of Uni Records (an affiliate of MCA and Decca) and the band was soon signed. Their manager at the time, Lord Tim Hudson, was working with another garage band, The Seeds, and didn’t want to have another band with a similar name. Also, attempting to avoid the possible drug reference in their name, Hudson chose a name that he hoped would cash in on the bubblegum pop fad, dubbing them The Lollipop Shoppe.

Written by Eddie Bowen and a man named Wynne, this song was from the only single released during the band’s use of “The Weeds” name. It was backed by the B-Side “Little Girl” and released in 1966. Sometimes erroneously credited as a band from Portland rather than Las Vegas, you can read below from Fred Cole himself as to how that story came about.



A Special Edition post with Fred Cole from The Weeds & The Lollipop Shoppe!

You may know Fred Cole from the popular Portland punk band Dead Moon; but long before Dead Moon came about, Cole was creating edgy garage rock in the 1960s with bands such as The Weeds and The Lollipop Shoppe. Today's exclusive story comes from the singer, songwriter, and guitarist Fred Cole, who was kind enough to share a story about an occurrence he shared with The Weeds in 1966.
A Bit Like You And Me and readers,

At the beginning of summer 1966, The Weeds became all the members of what would become The Lollipop Shoppe a little over a year later. We'd gotten well established in Las Vegas and all lived in a two bedroom apartment near The Teenbeat Club. It was a constant party.

We had a local DJ who was like a manager to the band. His name was Jeff Coleson and he claimed to be [the English actress] Hayley Mills' fiancĂ©. We believed this idiot because he was playing our 45 “It's Your Time” on his show every night and turned it into a local hit.

On my eighteenth birthday, he told me he had talked to Hayley about getting us on The Yardbirds’ gig at The Fillmore in San Francisco, which was going to be around October 1st. This gave us about a month to get the money together for gas and buy something that would get us that far. We'd just blown the engine up in our old grocery truck.

We went to a used car dealer and bought a '61 Ford Fairlane for six hundred dollars. It had bald tires and had been in a wreck, but the engine sounded good. We gutted it and got all the amps and drums and my funky Atlas horns and Bogen PA top into it. We laid blankets over the whole mess so two could sleep on top with the other three in the front seat. We had enough money to get to San Francisco- like forty or fifty bucks. Gas was twenty cents a gallon then. So we got to the Fillmore the day of the gig and went to load in.

Some big Hell’s Angel, possibly security, asked, “What the fuck do you guys think you're doing?”

“We're The Weeds from Vegas, we're opening for The Yardbirds.”

“Get the fuck outta here, you aren't on the bill!”

We were devastated and headed north [toward Vancouver] until we ran out of gas and money in Portland, Oregon.

Fred Cole
And as you may or may not know, once they arrived in Portland, the band began playing at a club called the Folk Singer, where Fred would meet his future wife who worked there at the time, Toody Conner. Although they've done a bit of traveling, they continue to live in Oregon to this day.
I'd like to give a huge thanks to both Fred and Toody whose generosity gave this exclusive story life. Another great story from a '60s music artist.

To visit Fred's site, which features his latest work with the band Pierced Arrows, click here.

And now that you've enjoyed this exclusive story, why not check out what other exclusive stories we've received?



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The Weeds - It's Your Time (1966)

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Lyrics:

Say goodbye to your life, you’ve had your ride
You can try to escape, but there’s no place to hide
There’s no one there to buy what you’ve got
But I’m trying to help you, but you never stop

I’m not gonna help pack your trip
You’re a prisoner of an unsound mind
I’m dyin’ to help you, but you’ll never quit
It’s your time
It’s your time
It’s your time

Oh, yeah!

Say goodbye to your life, you’ve had your ride
You can try to escape, but there’s no place to hide
There’s no one there to buy what you’ve got
But I’m trying to help you, but you never stop

I’m not gonna help pack your trip
You’re a prisoner of an unsound mind
I’m trying to help you, but you’ll never quit
It’s your time
It’s your time
It’s your time

Oh, yeah
I’m sayin’ baby, it’s your time
Aw, I gotta say goodbye now baby because I know-
I know you gonna leave me sometime
Woah, yeah, it’s your time baby, oh, yeah, it’s your time
Oh, no…

March 28, 2013

Bob Dylan - Percy's Song (1963)

Bob Dylan’s first album, appropriately titled Bob Dylan, was comprised mostly of traditional folk tunes or tunes written by other folk artists. There were only two songs that were penned by Dylan himself (“Talkin’ New York” and “Song to Woody”). Dylan’s second album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, featured nineteen tracks, most of which were written by him, with three borrowing heavily from other artists (“Corrina, Corrina,” “Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance,” and “I Shall Be Free”). Containing many political and some humorous songs, the popularity of the album began Dylan’s legacy as the “spokesman of a generation” as he shot to international stardom. By the time of Dylan’s third album, The Times They Are a-Changin’, he was recording one hundred percent of his own material. Attempting to reach the same success as Freewheelin’, which featured “Blowin’ in the Wind” and other lasting compositions, Dylan laced a-Changin’ with classics such as the eponymous “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” “With God On Our Side,” “Only a Pawn in Their Game,” and more. The album reached number twenty in the United States and number four in the United Kingdom.

With ten tracks being chosen for the release of the album, there was quite a bit of material that had to be set aside. Three days after recording the final track of the song, Dylan performed a concert at Carnegie Hall that featured eight tracks from his soon-to-be-released album, as well as numerous songs that didn’t make the album’s final cut. Heard below is a song written by Dylan in 1963, omitted from the final cut of The Times They Are a-Changin’ and not officially released until the 1985 album Biograph. Although not officially released until 1985, the song was available via bootleg in a very rough version which was full of scratches, clicks, pops, and warps. This version is clean.

The song itself is based on the melody of the song “The Wind and the Rain,” which had been taught to Dylan by his friend, the folksinger Paul Clayton. The lyrics, written by Dylan, tell the story of a man who approaches a judge on behalf of his friend in Joliet Prison having recently been convicted of manslaughter. If you’re not a big fan of Bob Dylan, there’s a cover of this song performed by Fairport Convention which I highly recommend. That version appeared on their third album, Unhalfbricking.

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Bob Dylan - Percy's Song (1963)

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Lyrics:

Bad news, bad news
Came to me where I sleep
Turn, turn, turn again
Sayin’, “One of your friends”
“Is in trouble deep”
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind

Tell me the trouble
Tell once to my ear
Turn, turn, turn again
Joliet Prison
And ninety-nine years
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind

Oh, what is the charge
Of how this came to be?
Turn, turn, turn again
Manslaughter
In the highest of degrees
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind

I sat down and wrote
The best words I could write
Turn, turn, turn again
Explaining to the judge
I’d be there on Wednesday night
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind

Without a reply
I left by the moon
Turn, turn, turn again
And was in his chambers
By the next afternoon
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind

“Could you tell me the facts?”
I said without fear
Turn, turn, turn again
“That a friend of mine”
“Would get ninety-nine years”
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind

A crash on the highway
Flew a car into a field
Turn, turn, turn again
There was four persons killed
And he was at the wheel
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind

But I know him as good
As I’m knowin’ myself
Turn, turn, turn again
And he wouldn’t harm a life
That belonged to someone else
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind

The judge spoke
Out of the side of his mouth
Turn, turn, turn again
Sayin’, “The witness who saw”
“He left little doubt”
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind

“That may be true”
“He’s got a sentence to serve”
Turn, turn, turn again
“But ninety-nine years”
“He just don’t deserve”
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind

“Too late, too late”
“For his case, it is sealed”
Turn, turn, turn again
“His sentence is passed”
“And it cannot be repealed”
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind

“But he ain’t no criminal”
“And his crime it is none”
Turn, turn, turn again
“What happened to him”
“Could happen to anyone”
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind

At that the judge jerked forward
And his face it did freeze
Turn, turn, turn again
Sayin’, “Could you kindly leave
My office now, please?”
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind

The room was funny
And I stood up so slow
Turn, turn, turn again
With no other choice
Except but for to go
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind

I walked down the hallway
And I heard his door slam
Turn, turn, turn again
I walked down the courthouse stairs
And I did not understand
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind

I played my guitar
Through the night to the day
Turn, turn, turn again
And the only tune
My guitar could play
Was, “Oh the Cruel Rain
And the Wind”

March 27, 2013

The Ugly's - Wake Up My Mind (1965)

Formed in the late 1950s as The Dominettes, this band was from Birmingham, England but had nearly all of their success in Australia and New Zealand. In 1960, The Dominettes’ lead singer, Colin Smith, was replaced with Steve Gibbons, who would lead the band for the remainder of their lifespan. In the beginning, Gibbons led The Dominettes through a number of local gigs, playing R&B music at seedy establishments and strip clubs. Despite their less than stellar surroundings, the band developed a bit of a following. By 1963, the band had officially changed their name to that which is seen above and secured a record deal with Pye Records. It was two years before their first single was released, heard below, but it brought the group great success in Australia and New Zealand. At this point, the band’s personnel began to shift constantly. Notable members at one point or another include: Dave Pegg (later of Fairport Convention and Jethro Tull), Richard Tandy (later played with The Move and joined ELO), and Jimmy O’Neil (later of The Mindbenders). By 1968, Steve Gibbons was the only remaining original member of “The Ugly's” portion of the band and he too soon departed to form a new group, Balls, with Denny Laine of The Moody Blues (and later Wings) and Trevor Burton from The Move.

An original composition written by band members Burnett, Holden, and Gibbons, this song was the first single released by the group. Although it failed commercially in the home country of England, it became a great success in Australia where it reached number nine in August 1965. Lyrically, it was much more politically-driven than most pop music of the time, leaning more toward the message put out by folk artists of the time. Members during the time of its release were Steve Gibbons, Bob Burnett, Jimmy Holden, and John Hustwayte.

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The Ugly's - Wake Up My Mind (1965)

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Lyrics:

I am a man in the prime of my life
I've got a house and a car and a beautiful wife
There's no chip on my shoulder, I've no axe to grind
And no possible reason to wake up my mind
And the days break and the nights fall and drift into time

Somewhere there's hunger, somewhere there's a war
But I can do nothing, so I'll just ignore
The cruelty around me, pretending I'm blind
In case I start thinking and wake up my mind
And the days break and the nights fall and drift into time

I read in the papers, “A Policeman Shot Down”
“Two Negroes in Cold Blood” in some racial town
And I'm having a new car, but don't know what kind
But one of these days I will wake up my mind
And the days break and the nights fall and drift into time

Yes it seems as though fortune has smiled upon me
But now it’s too late, I’m beginning to see
I spent my life searching, but no peace I find
And it's left me with no time to wake up my mind
And the days break, And the nights fall and drift into time

March 26, 2013

John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers - Parchman Farm (1966)

Originally formed in 1963, this band’s name has been the general name given to the work of John Mayall and the musicians playing with him at any given time. It’s said that more than one hundred varying lineups have existed from 1963 to the present, 2013. Notable members of the band have included Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce (who later co-formed Cream together), Peter Green and John McVie (who later co-formed Fleetwood Mac with Mick Fleetwood), Mick Taylor (who would later join The Rolling Stones), and Hughie Flint (who later co-formed McGuinness Flint). When Eric Clapton left The Yardbirds in February 1965 to pursue the blues, it was this band in which he found an outlet. Clapton joined in April 1965, after the release of the band’s first album, but they were soon dropped by their label, Decca, later that same year. In 1966, the band was resigned to Decca and they released their second album, Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton, in July. The same month of the album’s release, Clapton went to a Buddy Guy concert and was influenced to try and form a power trio, what would eventually become Cream. Although Clapton would never rejoin this band, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers would continue on until their first official breakup in 1967. The band reformed in 1982 and lasted another twenty-four years before again calling it quits in 2008. As of 2009, the band still remains active.

Many traditional blues songs have been written about the Mississippi State Penitentiary, nicknamed Parchman Farm, under this song title. In 1957, inspired by all of those songs, Mose Allison wrote a song of the same name and theme using different lyrics. The version heard below is a cover of Allison’s song, released by John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers on their album, Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton, in July 1966. The song has also been covered by The Kingston Trio, Blue Cheer, Rick Derringer, Hot Tuna, and many others.

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John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers - Parchman Farm (1966)

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Lyrics:

Well I'm sittin’ over here on Parchman Farm
I'm sittin’ over here on Parchman Farm
I'm sittin’ over here on Parchman Farm
Ain't ever done no man no harm

Well I'm puttin’ that cotton in an eleven foot sack
Well I'm puttin’ that cotton in an eleven foot sack
Well I'm puttin’ that cotton in an eleven foot sack
With a twelve-gauge shotgun at my back

I'm sittin’ over here on Parchman Farm
I'm sittin’ over here on Parchman Farm
Well I'm sittin’ over here on Parchman Farm
Ain't ever done no man no harm

March 22, 2013

The Hides - Don't Be Difficult (1966)

This band was formed in Pennsylvania by John Marsiglio, Ed Sam, Ken Cheplik, and George Swanson. All of the members were from Irwin, Pennsylvania except for Cheplik, who came from Jeannette, PA. The band had been formed in the ashes of Marsiglio’s previous band, The Runaways (not to be confused with Joan Jett’s band of the same name from the ‘70s). Swanson, the band’s drummer soon quit the band and was replaced by another Jeanette local, Bruce Shutter. It was this final line-up that would go on to record two singles, totaling four songs.

Only one of the singles would be released, however. This song, written by Ed Sam and John Marsiglio, was recorded in 1966 and was chosen as the single’s B-Side. The A-Side, “When I See the One I Love,” wasn’t quite as catchy and the B-Side quickly took over. Marsiglio, tongue-in-cheek, claims on his website that he “promptly quit the band because he didn’t sing” the lead on this song.

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The Hides - Don't Be Difficult (1966)

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Lyrics:

I went out with you late last night
We popped the corn, I held you tight
Then you said somethin’ to me
“Keep your hands where they ought to be”

I said, “Baby” (“Don’t be difficult”)
I said, “Baby” (“Don’t be difficult”)
I said, “Baby” (“Don’t be difficult”)
I said, “Baby,” yeah

We sat there and I want you
You looked at me and I looked at you
Then I tried, “Give some to me”
You made the hand, you slapped my cheek

I said, “Baby” (“Don’t be difficult”)
I said, “Baby” (“Don’t be difficult”)
I said, “Baby” (“Don’t be difficult”)
I said, “Baby,” yeah

I said, “Baby” (“Don’t be difficult”)
I said, “Baby” (“Don’t be difficult”)
I said, “Baby” (“Don’t be difficult”)
I said, “Baby,” yeah

And it was comin’ to this right now
It was a night that I couldn’t bare
When I got to your door and found
Kissin’, baby, was a reelin’ sound

I said, “Baby” (“Don’t be difficult”)
I said, “Baby” (“Don’t be difficult”)
I said, “Baby” (“Don’t be difficult”)
I said, “Baby,” yeah

I said, “Baby” (“Don’t be difficult”)
I said, “Baby” (“Don’t be difficult”)
I said, “Baby” (“Don’t be difficult”)
I said, “Baby,” yeah

Don’t be difficult
(Don’t be difficult)
Yeah, don’t be difficult
(Don’t be difficult)
Don’t be difficult
(Don’t be difficult)
Don’t be difficult, yeah

March 21, 2013

Jerry Jeff Walker - Mr. Bojangles (1968)

Born Ronald Clyde Crosby on March 16, 1942, this country singer and songwriter is a local legend in the state of Texas. After his first band The Tones was rejected for an appearance on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand in Philidelphia, Crosby and his group tracked down Dick Clark’s home and received the recommendation to try out at Baton Records in New York City. Although the band was signed to a deal, Walker was one of the two members instantly dropped from the group due to the label’s request of wanting a quartet. After graduating high school, Crosby joined the National Guard, but went AWOL traveling the country as a street folk singer, playing a ukulele. By 1963, Harriet Ottenheimer of the coffeehouse The Quorum had introduced him to the guitar; and, by 1966, Crosby had adopted his stage name of Jerry Jeff Walker. In the mid-1960s, he spent most of his time playing folk music in the Greenwich Village, New York. By the late ‘60s, he co-founded a group with Bob Bruno called Circus Maximus that had a successful single (“Wind”) and two full-length albums (Circus Maximus and Neverland Revisited). Bruno’s love for jazz, however, put an early end to the group and Walker went solo. Into the 1970s, he made his permanent residence in Texas where he still lives today, continuing to perform and record.

The song heard below was inspired by a man that Walker met in a jail cell on the 4th of July in 1965. After a murder during a Fourth of July parade and, not knowing who the killer was, the New Orleans police detained everyone who was near the scene of the crime. A homeless man who had already been in the holding cell, nicknamed Mr. Bojangles, began talking to Walker and telling him about his life and the dog he had which had been run over long ago. Wanting to change the mood, the other men in the cell asked Bojangles to do something entertaining, so he began to tap dance.

Although the subject of the song is based on a real person, Mr. Bojangles has never been properly identified. Uninformed rumors circulated for years that Mr. Bojangles was one of two African Americans in the area at the time: Bill “Bonjangles” Robinson or Babe Stovall. But Walker has refuted these estimates, citing that at the time jail cells in New Orleans were segregated by race. Thus, Robinson and Stovall wouldn’t have been in the same cell as Walker.

Written by Jerry Jeff Walker in 1968 after the breakup of Circus Maximus, this song may be most famously known by its cover version by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1970. This version, first released on Walker’s 1968 album, Mr. Bojangles, is the original version and reached number seventy-seven on the charts. Besides the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, the song has since been covered by Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Sammy Davis, Jr., and many others.

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Jerry Jeff Walker - Mr. Bojangles (1968)

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Lyrics:

I knew a man Bojangles and he danced for you
In worn-out shoes
With silver hair, a ragged shirt, and baggy pants
The old soft shoe
He jumped so high- jumped so high
Then he lightly touched down

Mister Bojangles
Mister Bojangles
Mister Bojangles
Dance

I met him in a cell in New Orleans, I was
Down and out
He looked at me to be the eyes of age
As he spoke right out
He talked of life- talked of life
Laughed, slapped his leg a step

He said, “The name’ 'Bojangles,'” and he danced a lick
Across the cell
He grabbed his pants fo’ a better stance
Oh, he jumped up high
He clicked his heels
He let go a laugh- he let go a laugh
Shook back his clothes all around

Mister Bojangles
Mister Bojangles
Mister Bojangles
Dance

He danced for those at minstrel shows and county fairs
Throughout the South
He spoke with tears of fifteen years how his dog ‘n’ him
They traveled about
His dog up and died- he up and died
After twenty years he still grieves

He said, “I dance now at every chance in honkytonks”
“For drinks and tips”
“But most the time I spend behind these county bars”
“’cause I drinks a bit”
He shook his head and as he shook his head
I heard someone ask, “Please”

“Mister Bojangles”
“Mister Bojangles”
“Mister Bojangles”
“Dance”

Mister Bojangles
Mister Bojangles
Mister Bojangles
Dance...

March 20, 2013

Jeff Beck - Greensleeves (1968)

Born June 24, 1944 in Surrey, England, Jeff Beck is one of the most influential guitarists in the history of rock music. As a child, he sang in the church choir and was influenced by the blues. As a teenager, he was introduced to Jimmy Page by his sister. His first appearance on a record came in 1964 when he played guitar as a session musician on “I’m Not Running Away”/ “So Sweet” by a group called The Fitz and the Startz. In March 1965, Beck joined The Yardbirds as Eric Clapton’s replacement at the suggestion of Jimmy Page, who had turned down the band’s first offer. After being fired from The Yardbirds for his irritable temper and unreliability some time later, Beck recorded a single song with Keith Moon, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and Nicky Hopkins (heard here) before forming The Jeff Beck Group in early 1967 with Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood. Around the same time, Pink Floyd had lost their front man Syd Barrett and considered asking Beck to join their band. Nobody ever asked Beck, however, as none of them “had the nerve,” according to Pink Floyd’s drummer, Nick Mason. About two years later, just after Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones had passed away, the remaining members of The Rolling Stones talked with Beck about joining their band, but, that too never panned out as they had different interests at the time. Just before the Woodstock festival in August 1969, The Jeff Beck Group folded and had to cancel their scheduled performance at the festival.

While no author is officially known, this traditional English folk song was first registered in September of the year 1580 by “Richard Jones.” Jones registered the song under the title “A Newe Northern Dittye of ye Ladye Greene Sleves,” while six other songs similar to it were being registered by other people throughout the next twelve months. Although an instrumental version is heard below, the song actually contains lyrics which are often disputed amongst historians. It has been covered countless times.

This cover released in August 1968 was put out by Jeff Beck on the side on a solo album while he was still working with The Jeff Beck Group. It was released on his first solo album, Truth. Featured on the album were numerous cover songs written by other musicians as well as multiple tracks credited to “Jeffrey Rod,” a writing credit given to the combined work of Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart. The track heard below was the opening track to the second side of the album.

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Jeff Beck - Greensleeves (1968)

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Lyrics:

(instrumental)

March 19, 2013

The Zombies - Tell Her No (1964)

According to founding members Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone, this band’s name nearly became Chatterley and the Gamekeepers before choosing what eventually won out, seen above. Formed in St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England in the early ‘60s, the group won a battle of the bands type of competition held by the London Evening News and was soon signed by Decca Records. Their first hit song, “She’s Not There,” was written by Argent (rumored to only be his second attempt at writing a song) and reached number twelve when released in mid-1964. The band became a part of the British Invasion, touring the United States in the mid-‘60s and, like many other bands, turned toward a more psychedelic sound around 1966/67. Their most acclaimed work would be their 1968 album Odessey and Oracle [sic], which was released four months after the band had already broken up.

Before any psychedelic notions had entered the band’s collective mind, they were focusing on singles much like many other acts of the time. Also like other acts of the time, the band was attempting to hone in on the wildly successful style of The Beatles. This song, written by Rod Argent, was the second-highest charting song by the band, reaching number six in the United States in early 1965 (having been released in December 1964). As mentioned in our previous post featuring this band, the group generally didn’t do as well on the charts in their native United Kingdom as they did in the United States. Backing up that fact, this song only reached number forty-two in the UK.

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The Zombies - Tell Her No (1964)

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Lyrics:

And if she should tell you, “Come closer”
And if she tempts you with her charms
(Tell her no, no, no, no)
(No-no-no-no, no, no, no, no)
(No-no-no-no, no, no, no, no, no)
Don't hurt me now, for her love belongs to me

And if she should tell you, “I love you”
And if she tempts you with her charms
(Tell her no, no, no, no)
(No-no-no-no, no, no, no, no)
Oh, don’t let her go from your arms
(No-no-no-no, no, no, no, no, no)
Oh, don't hurt me now, for her love belongs to me

I know she's the kind of girl
Who’d throw my love away
But I still love her so
Don't hurt me now, don't hurt me now

If she tells you, “I love you”
Just remember she said that to me
(Tell her no, no, no, no)
Oh, yeah
(No-no-no-no, no, no, no, no)
Oh, don't take her love from my arms
(No-no-no-no, no, no, no, no, no)
Oh, don't leave me now, for her love belongs to me

March 15, 2013

Tommy James and the Shondells - Say I Am (1966)

Tommy James has lived an incredible life. With humble beginnings in the small town of Niles, Michigan, he shot to rock and roll stardom before reaching the age of twenty. With his backing group, the Shondells, Tommy has earned legendary status in music’s history books as the man who brought us “Hanky Panky,” “I Think We’re Alone Now,” “Mony Mony,” “Crimson and Clover,” “Sweet Cherry Wine,” “Crystal Blue Persuasion,” and many, many more. Along the way, he was tied to Roulette Records, a money laundering outlet for the mob, founded and run by the notorious mobster Morris Levy. Besides working under the mafia, Tommy’s roller-coaster story also included getting hooked on prescription pills, campaigning across the nation with Vice President/presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey, getting screwed out of forty-million dollars, and having to travel across the country to avoid getting whacked by a rival mob. Surviving it all and living to tell the tale in his autobiography, Me, the Mob, and The Music, Tommy is still living a busy life that consists of touring, interviewing, and turning his life into an upcoming movie.

Written by Barbara and George Tomsco, the song below the interview was first released by Jimmy Gilmer and The Fireballs in 1966. That same year, a friend of Tommy James by the name of Bob Mack found it in the used record bin at a record shop. Figuring it would make a good song to follow their break-out cover of “Hanky Panky,” he gave it to the group to record. Tommy James and the Shondells recorded the song and released it as their second single. It reached number twenty-one in the US and number twelve in Canada. It would also later be released on the group’s debut full-length album, Hanky Panky.

This song was chosen above all others to be featured today because I feel it's one of Tommy James and Shondells' lesser known, but still great songs. If you're looking for something more well-known, check out our previous post that featured "Crimson and Clover."



A Special Edition post with Tommy James of Tommy James and the Shondells!

It's been about five months since our last exclusive story, but we've really come back strong. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with rock legend Tommy James, who was more than happy to answer some questions regarding his time in the music industry and his 2010 book, Me, the Mob, and the Music. If you're a fan of Tommy James, you'll want to make sure you check it out. It's a really great book.
At exactly 12:00pm on Wednesday, March 13th, 2013, I received a phone call at the start of my lunch break.

“Hey, this is Tommy James!”

He’s precisely on time nearly down to the second. My sandwich instantly becomes insignificant and I take a few seconds to let this sink in. We talk about my bizarre last name and the entirely unnecessary letters it has before I tell him how thankful I am for his willingness to talk with us. I admit that I think I have some really great questions for him after having read his book and a bunch of other interviews he’s done.

A Bit Like You And Me: Alright, first question. When you were growing up in Niles, Michigan, was there ever a backup plan in your head about a career you might choose if the music industry didn’t work out? You know, like maybe (joking) “Tommy Jackson: Attorney at Law”?

Tommy James: (laughter) You know, there was not. Absolutely not. I actually had one goal and I really didn’t- I guess you could say I really didn’t turn left or right. I was and am interested in a lot of things, but I did not really have it in mind to get into anything else. It was just “music, music, music” my whole life.

ABLYAM: Music or bust, huh?

TJ: Yeah, that was it.

ABLYAM: That’s great. What are some of the other interests then, that maybe you do as hobbies now?

TJ: Well, you know, I’m very interested in astronomy; I study physics; I love science. Hmm, what other things? You know, I do everything- horseback riding, swimming, you know, that kind of stuff. I really don’t have time, unfortunately, to do a lot of that stuff, but I’m always fascinated with it and there’s just a whole lot of things that I love besides music, but only one thing I wanna do.

ABLYAM: Those are some heavy topics! The astronomy and physics; those are some heavy hobbies.

TJ: (laughter)

A bit of a back story here for those who haven’t read Tommy James’ autobiography: Tommy worked for Roulette Records which was run by a notorious and often cruel mobster, Morris Levy. Tommy and Morris’ relationship was, at best, a rocky one.

ABLYAM: Okay, so here we have the next question: in your book, Me, the Music, and the Mob, you mentioned that just before your friend- I don’t want to butcher his name, Craig… Villa- Villeneuve?


TJ: Villeneuve, yes. That’s right.

ABLYAM: Just before he had passed away of an overdose, your boss, Morris Levy over at Roulette Records, had made one of his rare visits to you in the studio to try and get you to stop abusing the [prescription] pills you were taking.

TJ: Right.

ABLYAM: Do you think at that time, or any other time for that matter, that he was coming to you out of compassion? Or do you think he was more motivated to keep you clean so you could keep making him a profit?

TJ: Well, I think it was a little of both. The night that he actually came, that I talk about in the book, was the night that Frankie Lymon [of The Teenagers] died. And Morris was pretty shook up about that. Frankie died a heroin addict. So when Morris came down, the first thing he saw was, you know, a bunch of pills lying on the console and he really flipped out. And I don’t blame him. You know, he had a lot of reasons to want me to stay straight, which I ultimately did. But he really flipped out on me there and I was grateful for it.

ABLYAM: You had also mentioned in your book that you had campaigned around the United States with Vice President and presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey.

TJ: That’s right.

ABLYAM: And one night he mentioned to you how he was really tired, but that he had to stay awake to write a speech.

TJ: (laughter)

ABLYAM: So you gave him what you called the “little black stay-awake pill.”

TJ: (laughter) Black Beauties, yes. Well, you know, it’s a miracle I didn’t go to jail!

ABLYAM: Do you remember what the pill was?

TJ: Yeah, they were called Black Beauties.

ABLYAM: Did it have any other effects besides keeping him awake? Do you remember?

TJ: No, I mean they were diet pills, basically. They were amphetamines. But, you know, we were taking them to write and I gave him a couple of them just- well, if I hadn’t of been high myself, I wouldn’t have done that.

(laughter)

TJ: It’s a miracle I didn’t go to jail! In my twenty-one year old wisdom there, I didn’t see anything particularly wrong with it. And then of course the next night he said, (Hubert Humphrey impersonation) “By God! Those damn things kept me up all night!”

(laughter)

ABLYAM: Yeah, that was probably one of the highlights of the book for me. That was great.

TJ: (sighing) Aw, God.

ABLYAM: And regarding the choice you made to campaign with Humphrey, it cost you a lot of sales and popularity in the UK because you had to cancel your BBC tour in England, right?

TJ: Yeah, that’s right. I caught a lot of hell for that. In fact, just recently, I did several interviews in the UK because we have product over there now. And so I was explaining and talking about the BBC and how they felt about me not showing up and they gave me some insight into it. They really didn’t play my records for like four years. And they were really upset. But I still think I did the right thing. I mean, that was what I felt I really should be doing and, so, I’m glad I did it. And Humphrey ended up writing the liner notes to the Crimson and Clover album. And, you know, we stayed friends right up until he died.

ABLYAM: I know that “Mony Mony,” like you had said, had been banned for four or five years as a consequence to canceling the tour.

TJ: Well not just “Mony Mony,” but my other records. You know, “Crimson and Clover,” “Crystal Blue Persuasion,” “Sweet Cherry Wine,” and all of the others that were hits over here were not hits in England. You know, they were ultimately, but it took years to make it happen.

ABLYAM: It seems like it was a bit harsh just for canceling a tour. Do you think that there may have been any political aspect to the ban, regarding their choice [to ban it]?

TJ: Well there were other things, too, I found out. One of the things was that- I don’t know how familiar you are with the pirate [radio station] ships that were broadcasting radio.

ABLYAM: Yeah, a little bit off of the coast.

TJ: That’s right. And the label, Major Minor, was the name of the label that Roulette had in England. And Roulette didn’t have their own distribution set up overseas, so they were basically an independent label, and, would sort-of use other labels to piggy-back on. And “Mony Mony” was on Major Minor over in the UK. And one of the owners of Major Minor Records’ distributorship was heavily into one of the big pirate ships, uh, Radio Luxembourg, or whatever it was called, which was sailing off of the British Isles competing with the BBC. So there was (laughter), you know, a lot of angles to it.

ABLYAM: Yeah, gotcha.

TJ: So anyway, you know, I didn’t find that out until within the last year.

ABLYAM: Well that definitely explains it a little bit!

TJ: Yeah.

ABLYAM: I was reading something online that I didn’t see mentioned in your book. So you’re gonna have to tell me whether or not it was true.

TJ: Alright.

ABLYAM: Between the release of “Mony Mony” and “Crimson and Clover,” I read that George Harrison of The Beatles, who had been working with a band called Grapefruit, came to you hoping that you’d record some of the songs that he had written for you-

TJ: Correct.

ABLYAM: That was true?

TJ: Oh, yeah. Let me tell you how that is true and how that happened. The Beatles had been working on Apple. And Apple was a publishing company before it was a record company. And their original idea was, with Apple, to write music for other artists that were their friends and that they liked, respected. And that was the original conception for Apple before it was a record company. And then of course it became a label and then hooked up with Capitol.
But, right at the beginning stages, when “Mony Mony” was number one in Britain- and it was one of the largest records of the decade in England- and, so, George was producing and they were gonna be producing for other artists as well. One of the groups he started with was Grapefruit. And so George wrote with Grapefruit several songs- about six or eight of them- for us. So, George was over [in the US] and, through his liaison, dropped off a tape of these songs to my manager Lenny Stogel, who worked out of my building 888 Eighth Avenue. So Lenny got them to me and I played them and they were pretty good. But, the problem was, by the time I got ‘em, we were already just releasing “Crimson and Clover” and our style had really changed from then because all the songs, basically, were up-tempo, rhythm things like “Mony.” And by the time I got the tape, we were already doing other things. And back then, you know, it was a big deal when you changed styles. So unfortunately we never did [record them]. I always wished, though, that I had recorded one of those songs and had a chance to thank George for what he did, because I never really had properly thanked him. And I always felt really bad about that. Just one of those moments that- one of those missed opportunities.

ABLYAM: Do you recall what any of the songs were? Or if anyone else ever did wind up recording them?

TJ: I don’t believe- I can’t tell you what the titles were right now, but all of them were basically up-tempo, you know, very much like “Mony Mony.”

ABLYAM: Gotcha. Now, I know that you said your group was switching over to the “Crimson and Clover” style, but was there ever a moment where you thought to yourself, “Aw, crap!,” you know, “I just rejected a Beatle!” and, you know, maybe a little bit of panic?

TJ: Well, absolutely. And the release schedule was such, that we were about three months ahead of ourselves. In other words, we would record stuff that was gonna be released three months later. And it just wasn’t in the pipeline. And I felt bad about it because I really would have liked to gone ahead and done a couple of those songs, but, we didn’t.
I must tell you though, Crimson and Clover was really a monumental record for us and we didn’t want to do anything to screw it up. This was just an incredible moment and let me just tell you a couple reasons why. When we were out on the campaign with Hubert Humphrey that year- when we left in August after the convention, the records and the biggest acts on the charts were all singles and all singles acts. You know, it was us, The Rascals, Gary Puckett, The Association- I’m leaving a lot of people out, but I mean, you know, you get the deal. It was just all singles.

ABLYAM: Right.

TJ: When we got back ninety days later- it was in November- it was all albums. It was Led Zeppelin; Blood, Sweat & Tears; Crosby, Stills & Nash; Neil Young, I mean it was all albums. So in that ninety day period, the industry had turned upside-down and literally gone from the singles market to the album market. And we were just very, very fortunate at that moment to be working on Crimson and Clover, because Crimson and Clover allowed us to make that jump from AM Top 40 singles to FM progressive album rock and, also, to get Roulette selling albums, which they hadn’t really done until that point. And this was a huge move, because so many acts had tried it and failed. And we were just very lucky to sort of seamlessly- I don’t think there’s any other single that would have ever done that for us like “Crimson and Clover” did. And it allowed us then to have “Crystal Blue Persuasion,” “Sweet Cherry Wine,” “Draggin’ the Line,” and all the others. And I think our career could have very easily ended with “Mony Mony” if we hadn’t made that move. So this was a big deal and we didn’t want to do anything to screw up the release of “Crimson and Clover”…which I damn near did anyway.

ABLYAM: That’s actually what I was going to come to next. I was going to say, I think at this point, nearly everybody knows that “Crimson and Clover” was unfinished and that it leaked in Chicago in ’67.

TJ: Right. Correct.

ABLYAM: Now, you mention that in your book that you had intended to give the song a lot more ambient noise and echo. Was there already a firm plan set in your head about how it was going to sound?

TJ: Oh, yeah, definitely! Not only the sound of the record, but the marketing campaign for releasing the record. It was, you know- it was a real campaign. It was gonna have to be, because, from literally one single to the next, from “Mony Mony” to “Crimson and Clover” was about as far as you could get style-wise. And if we were gonna be believable, it really had to be done in a certain way.
Well, anyway, you know the story. I went up to Chicago and played a rough mix for WLS and, as I’m getting back into the car downstairs [after it was over], I’m hearing (radio DJ voice) “World exclusive on WLS!” and (singing the beginning of “Crimson and Clover”) “Uhhh…” and I’m going “Oh my God, I just screwed this whole thing up!” And I got back to New York, like I explain in the book, how the other station in Chicago, WCFL, sent a “death wreath” back to Roulette on the condolences of the death of Tommy James at WCFL for giving their competition an exclusive, you know? So, at any rate, I was thinking that I just absolutely ruined the thing and it turned out to be the best thing I could have done because then WLS played it every twenty minutes, you know, and broke the record. And WLS was the biggest station in the United States. So that was- that was one of those happy accidents that turned out to be (laughter) way better than if we had done it the regular way.

ABLYAM: It’s phenomenal.

TJ: And it was a rough mix. I practically mixed it with my knees and elbows. It was literally just putting up the faders.

ABLYAM: And given all the technical advancements in the studio that they have these days, have you ever considered going back to add the ambience and the echo just to hear what it would have sounded like?

TJ: (laughter) Well, that’s- that would be interesting. It’s an interesting thought. I don’t know. I don’t think it could be- well, it couldn’t get any better than number one with a bullet. I don’t know how you get any better than that so I’ll probably just leave it well enough alone.

ABLYAM: (laughter) Alright, well if you ever decide to play around with the track, I’ll be happy to provide the world exclusive.

TJ: Yeah! That’s really interesting. Maybe I’ll come to you to move it, so…

ABLYAM: (laughter) After doing some shows with The Beach Boys in 1969, you mentioned how you visited them at the Hyatt House in Los Angeles to get some pointers about appearing on Ed Sullivan, which you were due to appear on a week later.

TJ: Yep. Correct.

ABLYAM: Was the time you spent with them strictly business or did you guys get to cut loose?

TJ: Oh, no, we hung around and had some fun together and Carl [Wilson] and I actually wrote a song. You know, we didn’t have a lot of time to horse around on the road, but we became good friends.

ABLYAM: Can you think of any exceptional occurrences that happened?

TJ: Well just like in the book, when we were introduced [as next week’s guest] by Ed Sullivan, you know- (Ed Sullivan impersonation), “Next week, right here-” and we’re all sitting there- we’re all sitting around listening to this. Now they [The Beach Boys] had done Ed Sullivan at least a half a dozen times. So they were old hands at Sullivan and this is my first time and so, you know, I’m scared to death because it’s live. Everything is live. So he says, (Sullivan impersonation) “Next week, right here, Tony Jones and the Spondells will be here!”

(laughter)

TJ: “Tony Jones and the Spondells.” So if I wasn’t scared before, I was terrified now. And of course everybody was on the floor laughing.

ABLYAM: (laughter) Oh, yeah, I can imagine.

TJ: So- (laughter) which means he never heard of ya and he can’t read!

ABLYAM: (laughter) Well, in a completely different direction, I know that there’s some rumors going around about Morris Levy and how he was notoriously associated with the mafia and that he could have been behind the murder of “Shep” Sheppard of Shep and the Limelites. And I know that in an interview you did relatively recently on The Strange Dave Show, you said you didn’t know much about the rumor.

TJ: No, that’s one I didn’t know much about. I actually hadn’t heard that one.

ABLYAM: Well there’s an urban legend stemming from that that I was reading about and I was wondering if maybe you could address it. You know, let me know if there’s any accuracy to it at all. The legend goes that one day after you were particularly mouthing off about not getting your royalty checks (Morris Levy owed Tommy James around $40 million in royalties throughout his career), that a couple of Morris’ thugs took you to a warehouse on Long Island and made you witness them execute a guy who was tied to a chair and blindfolded.

TJ: No, no, no-

ABLYAM: So nothing like that ever happened?

TJ: No (laughter), no. I had enough shit going on. I didn’t need any more help like that. No, what happened is a very different kind of a story. The day I signed with Roulette, right in the middle of our meeting with Morris, after I had met him for the first time, you know, I’m watchin’ this guy ‘cause he (gruff mobster voice) talks like this, you know, he’s right out of a movie. And two guys came up to the door- that I later became friends with- but came up to the door, motioned for Morris who says, (mobster voice again) “Excuse me,” and goes over and, you can hear them talkin’ about how they just busted some guy’s legs and head open in a warehouse in New Jersey. And I overheard this shit. You couldn’t help but overhear it. So that kind of set the tone for everything that happened afterwards. We’d constantly be meeting people in Morris’ office and he’d introduce us to guys and a week later we’d see ‘em on T.V. being taken out of a warehouse in New Jersey in handcuffs doing a “perp-walk,” you know. And I’d say, “Isn’t that the guy we just met in Morris’ office?!” And…it would be.

ABLYAM: Yeah, that had to have been terrifying.

TJ: That was a pretty regular occurrence.

ABLYAM: What are you listening to these days? Music from a long time ago or recent stuff?

TJ: Well, you know, I’m a jazz fiend. I love jazz; I love smooth jazz. Yeah, I listen to some of the old stuff, but, you know, there’s a lot of good music all the way around. It’s like, I’m not a rap fan. I pick and choose stuff that I like and mostly I love jazz right now. I listen to a lot of jazz.

ABLYAM: Do you ever go back and listen to any of your songs from the ‘60s or ‘70s?

TJ: Sure, sure. Sure, all the time. But you know, it’s like, we continue to write. I’m in the studio right now; we’re writing for the movie. I guess you know about the movie?

ABLYAM: Oh, yeah. That’s my next question. That’s a good one. I found out that Martin Scorcese’s ex-wife, producer Barbara De Fina- I think she produced Goodfellas and Michael Jackson’s “Bad” music video-

TJ: Yep. And she also produced Hugo last year.

ABLYAM: Oh, really?

TJ: She produced Goodfellas; she produced Casino; she produced The Last Temptation of Christ; she produced The Color of Money with Paul Newman; and she’s just had a wonderful string of big hit movies. And she’s gonna produce Me, the Mob, and the Music.

ABLYAM: Yeah, that’s a nice resumĂ©.

TJ: And so we’re very honored. You know, she’s this petite little thing, about five feet tall, very reserved and conservative, and you would never in a million years figure she made these kinds of movies.

(laughter)

TJ: Pretty amazing! And I never wanna play poker with this gal, I tell ya.

ABLYAM: Oh yeah?

TJ: No, she’s just very, very calm and sedate and, you know, I can imagine her being a great poker player.

ABLYAM: (laughter) Gotcha. Regarding the movie, do you know if it’s going to be something that you guys are aiming to release on the big screen or is it gonna be like, maybe, an HBO mini-series type of thing? What exactly are the plans for that?

TJ: No, this is gonna be a movie, a major motion picture.

ABLYAM: That is excellent. I can’t wait for that; it’s going be to be absolutely wonderful.

TJ: We’re also going to be looking at a Broadway show after the film.

ABLYAM: That’s going to be wonderful. I honestly can’t wait for that. Do you guys have a release date planned?

TJ: Well, it’s going to be at least two years because they’re bringing on the screenplay writer and the director right now. And each person that comes on the team is an individual negotiation and, you know, a very thoughtful selection. And so I’m getting a hell of an education; that’s all I can say. As we move forward, it’s a miracle any movie ever gets made. With all the moving parts, it’s really quite remarkable.

ABLYAM: That sounds like a lot of fun, though.

TJ: Well, it’s gonna be great. Of course, there’s gonna be new music in the movie, too.

ABLYAM: Oh, that’s good.

TJ: Yeah, so it’s gonna be a very wonderful project. And a real culmination of a whole lot of work.

ABLYAM: I’m lookin’ forward to that one. I can’t wait.

TJ: Thank you.

ABLYAM: Well, Tommy, I have to say it’s been an absolute pleasure to talk with you-

TJ: Well thank you so much!

And with that, my once-in-a-lifetime conversation with Tommy James wrapped up. Unfortunately Tommy didn’t have a recording device in his home to record a soundbyte for us, but he was generous enough to give us one over the phone. I thanked him again, he wished me well, and we hung up. The rest of my lunch time was spent calling up friends and family, bragging while I talked with a mouth full of food. That was a great, great phone call.
Words cannot describe how thankful I am to Tommy and all of his associates who helped set up this interview. It was an absolute pleasure to get to talk with Tommy James, who was truly a genuinely friendly and happy guy. So a big "thank you" to all of them.

To visit Tommy's site, click here.
To like Tommy on Facebook, click here.
To follow Tommy on Twitter, click here.
To purchase both Tommy's solo work and the work of Tommy James and the Shondells, click here and then click "store".
To see if Tommy James is coming to your town, click here and then click "tours".
If you're interested in reading Tommy's autobiography, Me, the Mob, and the Music: One Helluva Ride with Tommy James & The Shondells (which I highly recommend), you can purchase it for a limited time from the front page of Tommy's site. For a limited time only, you can get a signed copy of the paper back for only $19.98! (+$5 shipping in the USA and +$10 outside the USA.) If you have any trouble, you can always find a copy on Amazon.

And now that you've enjoyed this exclusive story, why not check out what other exclusive stories we've received?



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Tommy James and the Shondells - Say I Am (1966)

Loading the ABLYAM player...(Might not work on mobile devices)


Lyrics:

If you're lookin’ for a lovin’ man
A lovin’ man, say, say, “I am”
If you're lookin’ for a huggin’ man
A huggin’ man, say, say, “I am”
If you're lookin’ for a kissin’ man
A kissin’ man, say, say, “I am”
Well, if you're lookin’ for a dancin’ man
A dancin’ man, say, say, “I am”

Oh, yeah!
(Shake this baby up) Come on and
(Shake this baby up) Come on and
(Shake this baby up) Come on and
(Shake this baby up) Come on and
(Shake this baby up) Whoa, yeah!
(Shake this baby up) Look out!
(Shake this baby up) Come on and
(Shake, shake, shake) Come on and (Shake)
(Shake, shake, shake) Come on and (Shake)
(Shake, shake, shake) Yeah, come on and (Shake)
(Shake, shake, shake) Come on and (Shake)
(Shake, shake) Hey! (Shake)

If you're lookin’ for a lovin’ man
A lovin’ man, say, say, “I am”
I am.
If you're lookin’ for a huggin’ man
A huggin’ man, say, say, “I am”
If you're lookin’ for a kissin’ man
A kissin’ man, say, say, “I am”
Well, if you're lookin’ for a dancin’ man
A dancin’ man, say, say, “I am”

Oh, yeah!
(Shake this baby up) Come on and
(Shake this baby up) Come on and
(Shake this baby up) Whoa, yeah!
(Shake this baby up) Come on and
(Shake this baby up) Come on and
(Shake this baby up) Whoa, yeah!
(Shake this baby up) Come on and
(Shake, shake, shake) Come on and (Shake)
(Shake, shake, shake) Come on and (Shake)
(Shake, shake, shake, shake)
(Shake, shake, shake, shake)
(Shake, shake, shake, shake) Come on and
(Shake, shake, shake, shake) Come on and
(Shake, shake, shake, shake) Come on and
(Shake, shake, shake, shake) Come on and
Shake, shake, shake…

March 14, 2013

The Birdwatchers - I'm Gonna Love You Anyway (1966)

Coming from Tampa, Florida but starting their career in Palm Beach, Florida, this band was formed around 1964 as The Apollos. Originally consisting of Dave Chiodo (guitar), Bobby Puccetti (keyboard), Jim Tolliver (bass), and Eddie Martinez (drums), the band changed their name to The Birdwatchers just after The Beatles swept the nation and the British Invasion took over. “Bird,” in British slang meant “girl,” hence they were really “the girl watchers.” They were initially managed by the ‘50s pop sensation Gary Stites who would sometimes sing lead on their songs and release them under the name Gary Stites & The Birdwatchers; but, in 1966, the band decided to move to the Ft. Lauderdale/Miami area, about ninety minutes south of where they were, and personnel began to change dramatically. Dave Chiodo and Jim Tolliver left the band and were replaced by Joey Murcia (guitar) and Jerry Schils (bass). Also, Sammy Hall joined the band and replaced Stites as the lead vocalist. Their biggest hit soon followed, heard below, and another regional hit, “Girl I Got News for You,” was a local smash in Miami in April 1966. Although the band tried to capitalize on these successes by appearing on the television show Where the Action Is, in the movie Wild Rebels, and all over the city of Miami, they failed to achieve a national following.

Written by the band’s new guitarist, Joey Murcia, this song was the band’s biggest hit, released just after “Girl I Got News For You.” Locally, it reached number two and number three on the local AM stations in August 1966. Nationally, it reached #125 on the charts in September 1966. You can hear that it was inspired by The McCoys' "Hang on Sloopy," as it has a very similar hook. The flip-side of the song was “A Little Bit of Lovin’,” which had been partially written by Hall when he was still with his previous band The Mor-Loks (who also happened to be managed by Gary Stites).

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The Birdwatchers - I'm Gonna Love You Anyway (1966)

Loading the ABLYAM player...(Might not work on mobile devices)


Lyrics:

Hey, I’m gonna love you anyway
I don’t care what they say, now
I’m gonna love you anyway

Girl, the only girl I’m thinkin’ of
The only girl I ever loved
I’m gonna love you now

They say this feeling is just puppy love
And that we don’t know what love is
But I say our- our love is true
I’m gonna love you (Gonna love you)
What are they gonna do?

Hey, I’m gonna love you anyway
I don’t care what they say, now
I’m gonna love you now

They say this feeling is just puppy love
And that we don’t know what love is
But I say our- our love is true
I’m gonna love you (Gonna love you)
What are they gonna do?

Hey, I’m gonna love you anyway
I don’t care what they say now
Gonna love you anyway

Babe, I’m gonna love you anyway
Gonna love you anyway…

March 13, 2013

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Angel Dream (No. 2) (1996)

Formed in 1976, this band’s three constant members over the years have been Tom Petty, Mike Campbell, and Benmont Tench. Formed from the ashes of Mudcrutch, a band all three fellas had previously played in, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers originally made it big in the UK as early as 1977 before gaining popularity in the United States. Originating in Gainesville, Florida, the band is responsible for dozens of charting hits including “American Girl,” “I Won’t Back Down,” “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” “Free Fallin’,” “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” and countless others over their thirty-seven year run. Petty, the band’s frontman, is an advocate for the reformation of the current music industry, pointing out the problems surrounding how radio DJs must now follow set lists decided by radio moguls rather than playing the songs they want to play themselves, crushing the rise of new local artists. He has also gotten into numerous legal battles with his record company, sometimes putting himself into bankruptcy to stand his ground against the greed and corruption that controls most record companies. Besides working with the Heartbreakers, Petty was also a co-founder of the musical supergroup in the late ‘80s, The Traveling Wilburys, consisting of George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne. Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench have also had successful careers outside of the Heartbreakers; Campbell has been noted for writing or co-writing songs for Don Henley, Fleetwood Mac, Roger McGuinn, Johnny Cash, and many others; Tench has recorded as a session musician with The Rolling Stones, Ringo Starr, Elvis Costello, The Ramones, as well as countless others. To this day, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers still tour the country, selling out shows around the globe.

In the US, this band has had seven albums reach the Top 10, spanning 1979’s Damn the Torpedoes to 2010’s Mojo. The album that this song was released on, Songs and Music from “She’s the One,” only reached number fifteen on the album charts; but, considering that it was the soundtrack for a movie, She’s the One, it is considered to have done incredibly well. The album was certified gold four months after its release, December 1996, but is generally overlooked when debating the Heartbreakers’ greatest works. It’s only charting song was the opening track, “Walls (Circus),” which reached number sixty-nine in the US. The song heard below was the thirteenth track on the soundtrack/album, and was a sort of reprise of the sixth track, similarly titled “Angel Dream (No. 4).” Personally, I like this song better, as it’s a bit mellower and sounds stripped down comparatively.

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Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Angel Dream (No. 2) (1996)

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Lyrics:

I dreamed you
I saw your face
Cut my lifeline
When drifting through space
I saw an angel
I saw my fate
I can only thank God it was not too late

Over mountains
I floated away
Across an ocean
I dreamed her name
I followed an angel
Down through the gates
I can only thank God it was not too late

Sing a little song of loneliness
Sing one to make me smile
Another round for everyone
I'm here for a little while

Now I'm walking
This street on my own
But she's with me
Everywhere I go
Yeah, I found an angel
I found my place
I can only thank God it was not too late
I can only thank God it was not too late
I can only thank God it was not too late

March 12, 2013

Koobas - The First Cut Is the Deepest (1968)

As mentioned in our previous post featuring this band, the Koobas were signed by The Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, in 1964. The members had first gotten together in 1962, exiting from other Liverpool bands such as The Thunderbeats and The Midnighters. They originally used the spelling “Kubas,” but changed to the spelling seen above prior to their signing. The band filmed a scene as the losing band in a Battle of the Bands competition for the 1965 film Ferry Cross the Mersey, featuring Gerry & the Pacemakers, but the scene was cut from the final take. Despite playing popular live shows, getting great reviews in the papers, and opening for bands such as The Who, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and The Beatles, the band never made a single dent in any charts. In one last ditch effort in late 1968, EMI-Columbia allowed the band to record a full length album, Koobas. It was made up of the group’s earlier R&B sound with their new-found penchant for psychedelia, but failed commercially when released in early 1969. Whatever chance the band had to promote the album with a tour was gone when the band broke up nearly as soon as the album was finished.

Written by Cat Stephens, this song was first recorded and released by P. P. Arnold in the spring of 1967. It was also recorded by Stephens himself and released in December of 1967. This band’s version, released in early 1968, was the closest thing the band ever had to making a dent in the charts. Unfortunately, their release of the song was completely overshadowed by the version put out by P. P. Arnold and it never made it to the charts. Since, the song has been covered by numerous artists, including Rod Stewart and, separately, Sheryl Crow.

If you like the track below, listen to "Where Are the Friends?" from the group's only album, Koobas.

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Koobas - The First Cut Is the Deepest (1968)

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Lyrics:

I would have given you all of my heart
But somebody else has torn it apart
And they've taken almost all that I've got
But if you want, I'll try to love again
Baby, I'll try to love again 'cause I know

The first cut is the deepest
Baby, I know
The first cut is the deepest

And when it comes to bein’ lucky, she's first
When it comes to lovin' me, she's worst
But when it comes to bein' loved, she's first
That's how I know

The first cut is the deepest
Baby, I know
The first cut is the deepest

I still want you by my side
Just to help me dry the tears that I've cried
And I'm sure gonna give you a try
And if you want, I'll try to love again
Baby, I'll try to love again 'cause I know

The first cut is the deepest
Baby, I know
The first cut is the deepest

And when it comes to bein’ lucky, she's first
When it comes to lovin' me, she's worst
But when it comes to bein' loved, she's first
That's how I know

The first cut is the deepest
Baby, I know
The first cut is the deepest
Baby, I know, yeah

March 08, 2013

Donovan - Catch the Wind (1965)

Born Donovan Phillips Leitch on May 10th, 1946, this Scottish singer had already reached local fame around the British folk circles and pubs before getting his record deal with Pye in 1964. Although his demo tape revealed a style that resembled Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan, his first official release, What’s Bin Did and What’s Bin Hid, showed a style that was branching out and becoming his own. To his own dismay, Pye began to market him as “the Brittish answer to Bob Dylan,” which led to some believing he wasn’t much more than an imposter. Donovan was able to shed this image, however, becoming one of the first British artists to take on the flower power image. He also began releasing psychedelically-influenced songs like “Sunshine Superman” and “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” which we previously featured. The turn of the decade saw him end his long partnership with famed producer Mickie Most and take a self-imposed exile to Greece for six months. Attempting to redefine and rediscover himself, the music he made upon his return and thereafter began to lose popularity with the public. In more recent years, Donovan has been consistently touring around the UK, performing at festivals, and lending his music and his voice to cartoons such as The Simpsons and Futurama. Most recently, he was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 14th, 2012.

Released on Pye Records and written by Donovan himself, this song was Donovan’s first single and first national success. The single version of the song, released first, contained an echo over the singing and a string section in the background that would later be omitted when the song was re-recorded for his What’s Bin Did and What’s Bin Hid album (that album was later renamed Catch the Wind). As a single, the song was backed with the B-Side “Why Do You Treat Me Like You Do?,” released on March 12th, 1965, and reached number twenty-three in the US and number four in the UK. The lesser-known album version, heard below, features a harmonica solo near the end that is not found on the single version.

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Donovan - Catch the Wind (1965)

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Lyrics:

In the chilly hours and minutes
Of uncertainty
I want to be
In the warm hold of your lovin' mind

To feel you all around me
And to take your hand
Along the sand
Ah, but I may as well try and catch the wind

When sundown pales the sky
I want to hide a while
Behind your smile
And everywhere I'd look, your eyes I'd find

For me to love you now
Would be the sweetest thing
t’would make me sing
Ah, but I may as well try and catch the wind

When rain has hung the leaves with tears
I want you near
To kill my fears
To help me to leave all my blues behind

Standin' in your heart
Is where I want to be
And long to be
Ah, but I may as well try and catch the wind

Ah, but I may as well try and catch the wind