Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Shadows, The Tornados & Show # 393

John Lennon once said in an interview that “before Cliff and the Shadows, there had been nothing worth listening to in British music”, he was of course referring to the UK Rock and Roll and instrumental group known as Cliff Richard and The Shadows. Their sound isn't always specifially described as Surf Rock, but more of an instrumental Rock group with a distinctive sound, that in some cases leans towards Surf sounding material.  In the late 50s and early 60s Cliff Richard and The Shadows were very popular in the British music scene, The Shadows are often referred to as one of the most important bands in Rock and Roll history, not to mention a very influential one. The band got their start in the late 50s known as The Drifters, they quickly became the backing band for Cliff Richard and after making some recordings with his backing band were labeled as Cliff Richard and The Drifters. Their first single was the song “Move It” written by guitarist Ian Samwell which was initially intended to be the B-side to the song “Schoolboy Crush”, the song went to number two in the UK singles charts, the single is considered to be one of the first original Rock and Roll songs to be produced outside of the US. At this point the band consisted of Cliff Richard (real name Harry Webb) on guitar/vocals, Terry Smart on drums, and Ian Samwell on guitar. For the recording of “Schoolboy Crush/Move It” this line up also featured two session musicians, although it should be mentioned that the band went through many line up changes in their early days.

Regardless the band became very popular and it wasn’t until the band added guitarists Hank Marvin and Bruce Welch, who were previously in a Skiffle group known as The Chesternuts that not only the bands name would change, but so would their sound. With the addition of these two virtuoso guitarists, Cliff Richard and The Drifters quickly became Cliff Richard and The Shadows (also as a result of a conflict with a US R&B Soul group with the name The Drifters). The band shortly after this line up change altered yet again with Jet Harris moving in on bass and Tony Meehan on drums. For the next four years Cliff Richard and The Shadows dominated the British Rock and Roll scene for the next four years that coincided with a series of number one albums and singles, it should also be noted that The Shadows released recordings on their own without Cliff Richard in the title and became a highly regarded band in their own right as well. Cliff Richard and The Shadows are perhaps best known for their 1960 single “Apache”, which was a song written by Jerry Lordan, but was recorded and released by The Shadows in 1960. The song is notable for Hank Marvin’s unique sound and use of the tremolo arm on his Fender Stratocaster, which would later be emulated by Surf bands for decades.

Another influential UK instrumental Surf based group is The Tornados, not to be confused with the other Surf group The Tornadoes who are from the US. The band is best known for the number one US/UK charting single “Telstar” which was produced by UK producer Joe Meek. The band was once considered the rival band to The Shadows, when they released their 1963 single “Globetrotter”. "Globetrotter" went to number five on the UK singles charts, but following bassist Heinz Burt's departure in 1963, the groups status began to decline. By the year 1965, The Tornados no longer had any original members in the group and were often billed as Tornados 65 or The New Tornados when playing live.

The Tornados were put together by Joe Meek, a visionary UK independent music producer who invented recording techniques that are still used to this day. The original line up of the group was made up of Alan Caddy, George Bellamy on guitars, Heinz Burt on bass, Roger LaVern on organ and Clem Cattini on drums. Their first single, “Love and Fury” did not chart when released in 1962. It wasn’t until producer Joe Meek came up with the idea for “Telstar” that the group began to receive attention. “Telstar” was named after the AT&T communications satellite of the same name, and featured several “space age” sounding effects and production techniques employing elements of echo and its use of the clavioline. The result of this high charting single sold roughly five million worldwide and it should have made Joe Meek a millionaire and the band very successful financially, but due to a French copyright infringement, the royalties were tied up for the next six years. The band were also prevented from touring internationally in the US in support of “Telstar” because of a contract they signed backing up UK musician Billy Fury from 1962 to 1963, they also recorded with him during this time as well.

Regardless of the outcomes, both bands Cliff Richard and The Shadows and The Tornados were crucial to the history of Rock and Surf music being not only successful in their own right, but also influential and still regarded as important bands in Rock music history.

Revolution Surf Play List:

1. Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet – Customized
2. The Shadows – 36-24-36
3. Progressives – Hot Cinders
4. Space Plan - Tread Lightly
5. Los Straitjackets – Tarantula
6. The Dakotas – The Cruel Sea
7. The Boardwalkers – Bikini Drag
8. The Trashmen – Bad News
9. The Panasonics - Panther
10. The Ventures – Telstar
11. The Tornados – Life on Venus
12. The Incredible Mr. Smith – Heroes
13. The Marketts – Twilight City
14. James Eddie Campell – Comet Toast
15. Chiyo & The Crescents – Devil Surf
16. The Houstons – Solar Light
17. The Reverb Syndicate – Guadalupe’s Lab
18. Davie Allan & The Arrows – Outer Surf
19. Rockets – Apache
20. Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet - Popcorn
21. The Shadows – Midnight
22. The Sadies – The Double Wide
23. The Challengers – Volcanic Action
24. The Gruesomes - Axe-Handle Cove
25. The Gruesomes - Whirlpool
26. The Robots - Ride The Surf
27. Link Wray – Drag Race
28. The Burnin' Sands - Typhoon
29. The Tornados – Hot Pot

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for February 28. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Neil Young's Ditch Trilogy & Show # 392

Following the large commercial and critical success of Neil Young’s 1972 release Harvest, which charted at number one across the country, not only in Canada, but the US, the UK and other places, Neil Young’s music went into a transitional period. While the success of Harvest and the song “Heart of Gold” in particular did very well and brought Young success, there were a few other factors that would add to his personal situation, changing his outlook on music and the world.

While preparing for a tour in support of Harvest, Crazy Horse guitarist (of Neil Young’s backing band) Danny Whitten was fired from the band due to his inability to function properly in band rehearsals due to his drug use, shortly after he was found dead of a drug overdose. The vicious combination of success and loss changed something in Neil and it subsequently resulted in a series of three albums that at the time were not commercially or critically successful, often referred to as “The Ditch Trilogy”. The situation at the time can be best described by Neil Young himself as written in the linear notes to his 1977 compilation album Decade when discussing the song “Heart of Gold”:

“This song put me in the middle of the road. Travelling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride but I saw more interesting people there."

It was also from this quote in which Neil’s next three albums (Time Fades Away, On The Beach, and Tonight’s The Night) were given the title of The Ditch Trilogy. In addition to this a few months after the death of Danny Whitten friend and roadie Bruce Berry passed away in a similar fashion. Young’s next release was the live album Time Fades Away that was released in 1973. This album was not like other live albums in many ways for one, it was a live album composed of previously unreleased material, which was unheard of at the time. Time Fades Away was recorded directly from the soundboard onto a 16 track Quad 8 CompuMix, which was the first digital mixing soundboard. This was done at the request of Young, producer David Briggs was strongly against this method. As a result of this unorthodox recording approach (a proper master tape was never made) the album features a muddy sounding mix. Time Fades Away was released on Vinyl, Cassette and 8 Track tape in October of 1973. Neil Young has been very outspoken as his dissatisfaction with this album. He has stated that it is his “worst release”, as a result Time Fades Away has never been released on CD. In 1995 a CD release was planned and test pressings were even made, but it was shelved and not released. Recently, it has been stated that it will be released on Neil Young’s second volume of his Archives Box Set along with Time Fades Away II. Young has been quoted from Guitar World in 2009 as saying about Time Fades Away II “It's a completely different thing, with completely different songs”

Time Fades Away was a sign of things to come musically for Neil Young, while Time Fades Away ventured into different music territory, his following two releases would continue the trend of being recorded live, but in the studio. Neil Young recorded the album Tonight’s The Night next in 1973. The album was inspired by the deaths of Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten and Young friend/roadie Bruce Berry. For the album Neil Young put together a new backing group known as The Santa Monica Flyers, which was a band featuring the rhythm section of Crazy Horse and Nils Lofgren on guitar. The albums title track “Tonight’s The Night” mentions Bruce Berry by name and the track “Come On Baby Let’s Go Downtown” features vocals and guitar from Danny Whitten (the song was a live recording from 1970). The album is known for featuring darker subject matter and for its raw, often crude production style. The album was recorded live with no overdubs and was meant to capture the band in the moment, with or without mistakes. Neil had this to say of the production values in Shakey: A Neil Young Biography:

"I’ve made records where you analyze everything you do 3,000 times and it’s perfect. I’m sick of it. I want to make a record that’s totally stark naked. Raw. I don’t wanna fix any of it. I don’t care if it’s totally out of tune, man, let’s play. Fuck it…. I like the idea of capturing something. Record something that happened. I’m a musician. I don’t wanna sit there and build a record. I built a couple of records. Big deal. Tonight’s the Night doesn’t care. And that makes you feel good about it. There’s no pretense."

Despite being recorded in 1973, Tonight’s The Night’s released was delayed Young’s record label, it would be two years (1975) before it finally saw its release. In the meantime during the delay of this release Neil Young recorded what would be his 1974 release On The Beach.
As opposed to the two previous recordings made in the trilogy, On The Beach was a more upbeat and melodic album. The album was recorded in a similar method as Tonight’s The Night and lyrically addressed more universal themes such as the collapse of the 60s Folk values and counter culture as well as addressing the underbelly of seedy California lifestyles. While The Ditch Trilogy is known for addressing darker and at time haunting themes lyrically and musically, the song “Walk On” which opens the On The Beach album is perhaps one of the most positive, yet cynical outlooks on life. The song can be seen as a sense of closure for this period stressing the need to move on and keep living. On The Beach was released in July of 1974, and despite being the third album recorded in The Ditch Trilogy, it was released second with Tonight’s The Night following in 1975.

The initial releases of the three aforementioned albums in The Ditch Trilogy are known for their haunting brilliance. At the time of their release they were for the most part negatively received commercially and critically, but are now seen as very important recordings in the career of Neil Young. In addition to this, these albums are seen as the key to understanding Neil Young’s body of work as an artist and can be seen as an ultimate artistic expression. The Ditch Trilogy shows an artist amidst overwhelming success and loss, expanding creatively, musically and lyrically, finding a voice.

Ditch Trilogy Play List:

1. Tonight’s The Night (Tonight's The Night 1975)
2. Time Fades Away (Time Fades Away 1973)
3. Walk On (On The Beach 1974)
4. World On A String (Tonight's The Night 1975)
5. The Bridge (Time Fades Away 1973)
6. For The Turnstiles (On The Beach 1974)
7. Yonder Stands The Sinner (Time Fades Away 1973)
8. Last Trip To Tulsa (Live) (Time Fades Away B-Side 1973)
9. Don’t Be Denied (Time Fades Away 1973)
10. Last Dance (Time Fades Away 1973)
11. Lookout Joe (Tonight's The Night 1975)
12. Mellow My Mind (Tonight's The Night 1975)
13. Revolution Blues (On The Beach 1974)
14. Vampire Blues (On The Beach 1974)
15. Ambulance Blues (On the Beach 1974)
16. Come On Baby Let’s Go Downtown (Tonight's The Night 1975)
17. Tonight’s The Night Part II (Tonight's The Night 1975)

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for February 21. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Otis Redding ... The Soul Album & Show # 390

Otis Redding released The Soul Album in 1966. This eleven track album followed his 1965 release Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul, which was considered one of his best. Being the prolific song writer that he was The Soul Album was recorded in the months of November of 1965 to August 1966. It was released on Volt/Stax Records in April of 1966.

The Soul Album featured a variety of different styles being juxtaposed within Redding’s song writing capabilities bringing together a collection of cover songs and originals, that he makes completely his own. The backing band on this album featured members of Booker T. & The MGs, who were the house band and featured on a large majority of Otis Redding recordings, a Memphis horn section and Isaac Hayes, who also produced the record. With a solid backing band and atmosphere, Otis Redding proves why he is considered a Soul legend, often referred to as “The King of Soul” with his passionate vocal performances and clever song arrangements. While the only single released from this album was “Just One More Day”, the album is notable for its re-workings of the Sam Cooke song “Chain Gang”, “It’s Growing” an upbeat version of a song originally by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, “Everybody Makes A Mistake” by Eddie Floyd, Roy Head’s “Treat Her Right”, and Wilson Pickett’s “634-5789”. A lost gem found on this collection is the song co-authored by Eddie Thomas and Jerry Butler “Cigarettes And Coffee”. The originals on this album while there may be few (“Just One More Day”, “Good To Me”, “Any Ole Way”) combined with the other material found here create a Southern Soulful mixture of originality and a sign of an artist coming into his own, which he would do more of on his next release Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul. That release would also be his last full length release before his untimely death on December 10th, 1967.

While The Soul Album is not often referred to as the best album in Otis’ catalogue, it is an eleven track collection of unstoppable Soul that surges with Otis’ talents as a songwriter and performer providing the listener with a sample of lesser known Otis Redding songs. It transitions between an interesting point in his career, juxtaposing Soul ballads with straight up Soul stompers and musical styles, proving to any listener of his status as “The King of Soul”.

This week's play list:

1. The Miracles – Baby Don’t You Go
2. The Vonns – So Many Days
3. James Crawford – I Don’t Care, I Don’t Care, I Don’t Care
4. Willie C. Echols – Shimmy Shelly Shake
5. The JB's – Wine Spot
6. Muddy Waters – I Be’s Troubled
7. Sonny Boy Williamson – Fattening Frogs For Snakes
8. Etta James – I’d Rather Go Blind
9. The Autographs – Do The Duck
10. Ketty Lester – West Coast
11. Danny White – The Twitch
12. Albert Collins – I Don’t Know
13. McKinley Mitchell – You’re Not Gonna Break My Heart
14. The Equators – Baby Come Back
15. Tapper Zukie – MPLA
16. Lee Scratch Perry & The Upsetters – Curly Dub
17. Grant Green – The Final Comedown
18. Miles Davis – So What
19. Otis Redding – It’s Growing
20. Otis Redding - Cigarettes And Coffee
21. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – Little Demon
22. Little Richard – Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!
23. The Action 13 - More Bread To The People
24. Chuck Berry – Beautiful Delilah

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for February 7. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Coming Up On Revolution Rock In February 2012!

Last February Revolution Rock hosted a series of special programming, and this year will be no different. Starting on February 7th Revolution Rock will celebrate Black History Month by playing a mix of Soul, R&B, Jazz, Funk and Blues. The remaining weeks will also feature a different type of program each week until February 28th, where I will coincide the month’s worth of programming with my annual Surf Rock show.

February 7th, 2012
10:30 AM – Noon
CJAM 99.1 FM (cjam.ca)

To celebrate Black History Month, Revolution Rock will feature a variety of obscure Soul and R&B cuts as well as some Jazz, Funk, Reggae and Blues tracks.  This year's program focuses on Otis Redding's 1966 album The Soul Album

Hey! The Gruesomes Radio Feature
February 14th, 2012
10:30 AM – Noon
CJAM 99.1 FM (cjam.ca)

This Valentines Day Revolution Rock will have an entire show focusing on the 80s Montreal Canadian Garage Rock group The Gruesomes. Expect to hear music from the bands catalogue, solo projects, live recordings and more!  This show also features a corresponding post with an exclusive interview from Gerry Alvarez and John Davis of The Gruesomes!

Neil Young’s Ditch Trilogy Radio Feature
February 21st, 2012
10:30 AM – Noon
CJAM 99.1 FM (cjam.ca)

On February 21st, Revolution Rock will host a program focusing on Neil Young’s Ditch Trilogy. Often seen by fans of Neil’s being albums of haunting brilliance, expect to hear music from the albums Time Fades Away (1973), On The Beach (1974) and Tonight’s The Night (1975), which constitute the Ditch Trilogy.

February 28th, 2012
10:30 AM – Noon
CJAM 99.1 FM (cjam.ca)

This February 28th will mark my 6th annual Surf program on CJAM 99.1 FM. Shows in the past have focused on new and old Surf bands and focus on one particular artist within the Surf genre, this year will be no different. This year's program will feature several recordings from a variety of influential UK instrumental Surf groups. The program will also feature a special segment with Derk Brigante formerly of CJAM’s Surfphony of Derstruction.