On This Day – Quite a week for The Beatles

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In this week in this1961 The Beetles, still with Pete Best, had quite a week. On the 9th they played in Aldershot to just 18 people. Their then manager, Sam Bleach had forgotten to book any advert in the local paper….. Back in Liverpool, the next day – a trip of some notes350 miles – they had their second interview with Brian Epstein . He wanted to become their manager, of course. Any doubts they may have had must have been eased after the previous day. Who could do worse? Anyway John Lebanon summed up the band’s feeling when he said. “Right the, Brian, manage us”. The start of a great partnership. Their week was not finished, though, 3 days later they were playing in the Cavern Club when they were seen by Mike Smith. Smith was looking for talent for the Mecca record label and recommended them for an audition. Not allgood news, as they were rejected by Decca !

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On This Day – The Mancs Take Over TOTP

On This day in 1989 The Happy Mondays and the Stone Roses (both from Manchester) made their debuts on Top of the Pops.

The Roses played “Fools Gold” and The Mondays “Hallelujah” (no not that Hallelujah). I was never a fan of Shaun Ryder and co and time has not mellowed my opinion…………

Now The Roses, I always had a soft spot for them, well, a grudging like of their music.

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On This Day – No Filth Here!

On this day in 1976 The Pistols were banned from Playing at Lancaster Poly in the UK.  A Lancaster council statement said “We don’t want that sort of filth (The Sex Pistols) in the town limits.”

Two things occur to me, firstly, this was before the infamous Grundy interview in 1st December of the same year.  So McLaren’s strategy of portraying the Pistols as every middle aged Conservative’s worst dream was workking.  (mind you the thowing of chairs, destruction and general mayhem incited by the band at concerts obviously helped).

The second thing is that the surprising thing is that this sort of attitude was still arround.  Rock has always had run ins with authority (that is part of its appeal, after all) but in 1976?  Also, (that’s three things that occur to me….) it is a very unimportant episode in the scale of things.  Consider other banned music and events;

In 1954 Michigan congresswoman Ruth Thompson introduced abill in the house that would ban the making of ‘pornographic’ records. For pornographic substitute Rock and Roll.

1n 1956 ABC radio banned “love for Sale” by Billie Holiday, because it was suggestive.  There were also problems when she recorded Strange Fruit which was about thwe lynching of a black man by the Clan.

1957 American TV execs decide that Elvis could only be filmed from the waist up…..

1958 St Louis radio station KWK banned all rock and roll from its playlist because it was undesireable.  Records were smashed on air the station president said‘I decided on this action,’ said Convey, ‘after conferring with our disk jockeys and finding their complete agreement that rock ‘n’ roll has dominated the popular music field long enough.’ The public apparently agreed with Convey and the jockeys as reactions which poured into the station during the week ran about 5 to one in favor of the ban. What started out three years ago as a musical novelty trend with tunes such as ‘Rock around the Clock’ and ‘Hearts of Stone’ has grown to such proportions as to alienate many adult radio listeners.” (Rock was back on KWK in the early 60s………….

1959 (My personal favourite) “Rumble” by Link Wray was banned by several US radio stations as they feared it would promote violence, even though it is an instrumental.

And so it goes on.  There is a Zappa album that was issued with the “explicit Lyrics” sticker, even though it is completely instrumental (could have been Jazz From Hell, but I am not sure).

Rock has always been subject to strange and stupid bans and prohibitions.  This incident was nothing unusual, and was actively aimed for by the band and its management.

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Born on This day – Tina Weymouth

Yes Tina ‘The Burp’ from Talking Heads was born on this day in 1950 (does not seem possible that she is older than me…..).

A fine bass player who always exhibited the typical burp that many bass players display as they play.  She has produced the Happy Mondays, worked with The Gorillaz and others.  Her style that combined minimalist proto art punk with a funk feel contributed to no little extent to Talking Heads’ signature sound.

I often think that people overlook the importance of bass players.  I can not think of a great band that did not have a great bass player.  The rythm section of a band is its bed rock.  You can be the flashiest guitarist in the world, you can have a voice that make angels weep but without a rythm section holding it together you are on a road to nowhere.

Talking about bass players who exhibit The Burp brings me to (the sadly missed) Gary Thain who played with ‘my’ band, The Keef Hartley Band from the 60s.  I LOVED that band, followed them all over the place.  Blessed with a supreme singer/guitarist in Miller Anderson their sound was based on one of the best rythm sections in the 60s.  They had Keef on drums and Gary on bass.

I need little excuse to add a clip of the mighty Keef Hartley Band………

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On This Day – Joe Hill Dies

On this day in 1915, Joe Hill was executed for a murder that he probably did not commit in Utah USA.  Joe Hill was an itinerant worker,and member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).  As a socialist he was an enemy of  The State.  (Remember in the USA to this day being branded a Liberal is tantamount to political suicide).

Hill had risen in the ranks of the IWW.  He travelled organising workers in the name of the IWW, wrote poems, songs, satirical poems and making speeches.  He used popular tunes for his songs a very subversive tactive used for years by political activists.  His song “The Preacher and the Slave” used the tune of the well known hymn “In the Sweet Bye and Bye”.  It also gave rise to the phrase “Pie in the sky” to reflect the belief that promisses of a better here after were just lies meant to make workers accept their poo lot in life.  He also wrote “There is Power in the Union” which was echoed, years later by songs like “Part of the Union” by the Strawbs.

Hill’s importance to modern music lies in the belief that his was a political trial and execution, and the inspiration it gave musicians.  (Hill was executed even though there was an appeal for clemmency by President Woodrow Wilson).  A poem was written about him by Alfred Hayes (“I dreamt I saw Joe Hill Last Night”) it was turned into  song called simply “Joe Hill” by Earl Robinson in 1936.

The song was sung by many singers prominent in the protest movement in the 50s and 60s such as Paul Robeson (himself treated  disgracefully for his beliefs), Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, the Dubliners, and Dylan.

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On This Day – ‘We Built This City’ Hits #1 (despite being absolute crap)

On this day in 1985 Starship (ex Jefferson Starship, ex Jefferson Airplane, ex Airplane, ex Jefferson, ex Jefferson Steamboat, ex Jefferson Ric Shaw) made it to number 1 with an abomination.

‘We Built This City’ was written by Bernie Taupin (words smith for Elton John), Martin Page (ex Q-Feel), Dennis Lambert (ex Lambert and Nuttycombe (?) who also wrote Rhinestone Cowboy), and Peter Wolf (ex the wonderful J Geils band – he should have known better). It was produced by Jeremy Smith and Peter Wolf (he REALLY should have known better).

It was Starship’s first single. It also managed to reach the list of the “Worst 50 Songs Ever” as compiled by Blender.com to mange the feat the songs had to be both popular, and dreadful. This one managed on both fronts, in spades. It shares this accolade with such songs as “Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da” by Marmalade, “I would Do Anything For Love” by Meatloaf, and “Achy Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray Cyrus. (Of course Celine Dion was also represented in the list – goes without saying)

The sight of a big haired, shoulder padded, spanky clean Grace and co singing such banal (but catchy) lyrics is appalling. Almost as much as the premise is that this is some sort of anti-commercial anthem while it is, in fact, steeped in 80s corporate rock commercial values and production.

Forgive me, but you have been warned!

Now For Some Covers!

This is Great!

I was looking for a copy by Frenzal Rhomb but couldn’t find one…..I also could not find a clip of the great Kid Carpet (another bristol boy) performing where he often sings “We built this city on slavery” as a reference to Bristol’s past. Never mind, if you get the chance go and see him and find out just what can be done with musical toys.

Really, forget this, go back to the start, when Grace and co made music to be proud of. From White Rabbit to this, it beggars belief.

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Arrivals – 16th November

Born on this day, any more?

1938 Troy Seals (James Brown’s backing band)
1938 Toni Brown (Joy of Cooking)
1949 Patti Santos (It’s a Beautiful Day)
1962 Mani (The Stone Roses)

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On This Day – Bowie Makes it to US TV!

It seems strange now to think that it was not until this day in 1975 that Bowie made it to national US TV. He appeared on The Cher Show singing ‘Fame’.

Looking back it is easy for us to think that Bowie’s rise to fame was easy and virtually instant but that is far from the truth. He started his first band in 1962, the Konrads. He then played in various bands and as a solo artist (using his real name of Davie Jones) until 1966 when he changed his stage name. Incredibly now, he was worried that sharing his name with one of the Monkees would harm his career. There were also at least 7 singles released under his name or with bands like The Lower Third that all sank like a stone until he released ‘The laughing Gnome’. Some kind people call this a novelty song, the rest of us call it crap.

In spite of this single, or because of it – it did reach number 6 in the UK, Bowie was signed by Deram and released a self titled album in 1967. It did not chart. Two years later he released the album ‘Space Oddity’ which reached number 16 in the US. This was to be a higher rating album in the US than The Man Who Sold The World, Hunky Dory, The Rise and fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, Aladdin Sane, and Pinups. It was not until 1974’s Diamond Dogs that Bowie broke the US market.

So an instant and trouble free rise to mega-stardom? Nah, but cream always rises to the top in the end.

The first performance on US national TV.

This is from national UK TV 2 years earlier;

And this is supposed to be his first TV appearance (it isn’t) but I just love the flares – not even Bowie could make pink flares cool.

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Arrivals – 9 November

Born this day, any more?

1941 Tom Fogerty (Creedence Clearwater Revivial)
1943 Lee Graziano (American Breed)
1948 Joe Bauchard (Blue Oyster Cult)
1944 Phil May (Pretty Things)
1969 Pepa (Salt and Pepa)

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On This Day – Elvis Hits 3,000,000!

On this day in 1958 “Hound Dog” by Elvis exceeded 3 million sales in the US alone.

His was the 3rd record to sell more than 3 million copies in the States. Any Idea of what the other 2 were?

While you think about it here a clip of Elvis.

Worked it out yet?

The first 2 records to exceed 3 million sales in the USA were;

White Christmas, Bing Crosby

(I know a particularly dreadful clip….)

The other song to sell more than 3 million copies?

Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, Gene Autrey

If you dare here it is……………………

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