We’re going as our old self. I still kinda like the retro TRS look. Happy Halloween.
Zabriskie Point Sessions:
“Pink Floyd – Rain In The Country”
The Lollipop Shoppe/Weeds:
“You Must Be A Witch”
A Stones gem or derivative nonsense? What’s your call on this controversial LP?
“In Another Land”
The Ugly Ducklings were one of Canada’s finest garage bands throughout the 60s. They were also one of Canada’s longest lived garage groups, releasing 3 lp’s (two of them reunion lps) and numerous non-lp singles. The core group consisted of Dave Bingham (vocals), Roger Mayne (lead guitar), British-born Glynn Bell (rhythm guitar), John Read (bass) and Robin Boer (Drums). Early on they were a Rolling Stones tribute band calling themselves the Strolling Bones.
In the summer of 1966 they secured a residency at Charlie Brown’s Place in Yorkville, Toronto and were given the opportunity to record their debut single, Nothin’. Reportedly the single was cut for $300 and released off Fred White’s Yorktown label. Today, Nothin’ is widely recognized as a garage classic notable for it’s snotty vocals, snarling defiant edge and frantic guitar solos. Nothin’ did well locally and enabled the band to record the above album, Somewhere Outside. The album, put out by Yorktown in 1966 is a gem with only 2 covers and plenty of fine originals in the Rolling Stones/Pretty Things tradition. One of the covers, Hey Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut is a blistering rocker with loads of fuzz guitar and punky vocals from Bingham. Some of the tracks are more restrained beat numbers but good ones; check out Not For Long and That’s Just The Thought I Had In My Mind. Along with Nothin’ the album’s better cuts are 10:30 Train (a fuzzy blues rocker), Windy City (a 6 minute instrumental with good guitar work and sound effects), and Just In Case You Wondered. The latter track is another classic full of punishing fuzz guitar riffs and a crazed, mind melting guitar solo. The album is very strong throughout and highly recommended to fans of mid 60s garage rock.
The group also managed to released some fine non-lp singles throughout the 60s. Gaslight, released in 1967, was their biggest hit and a good mixture of garage-pop and psychedelia. Also that same year they released the Epilogue/I Know What You Say single. The a-side is an acoustic number while its flip is a decent foray into psychedelic pop notable for its sitar work and swirling backwards tapes toward the end. The Ducks also have some respectable outtakes from the 60s which include a good hard rock version of I Wish You Would.
There have been numerous reissues of Ducks’ material on cd and vinyl throughout the years. There is a good cd version of the above album by Unidisc but does not include any bonus tracks. Also worthwhile is a self-titled compilation (with a humorous cartoon ducks album cover!) with choice tracks from the 66 album, outtakes and all the non-lp singles.
Can anyone provide info on the Ugly Ducklings’ 1973 ep?
“Not For Long”
With its more striking cover and impressive personnel (produced in Bearsville by Robbie Robertson with Levon Helm on drums and mando), Jesse Winchester’s self-titled debut is the go-to pick for newcomers to Jesse’s music. While I still consider it an absolutely essential disc for the strong songwriting, Robertson’s production is somewhat coarse and the record lacks a certain magic. Luckily, Jesse knew better how to present his tunes, and two years later delivered this special gem, co-produced with Todd Rundgren.
With delicate and soulful production, mostly adding only the scarcest accompaniment, Jesse Winchester offered an album with 12 fine songs short and sweet. Side one of the record is largely acoustic, barely spicing it up with tasteful electric guitar leads on the grooving opener and even what sounds to be synthesized clarinet on the instrumental Lullably For The First Born. But the lack of a full band is apt, especially combined with harmony lines withheld for all but the right moments. Side two features some trademark Rundgren production: listen to the elements of Midnight Bus build into a gnarly little rythmn section, worthy of the Stage Fright era Band’s finest.
A gift sent from the north. Jesse lived in Canada while recording this album having dodged the Vietnam draft, leaving his home state of Mississippi in the late 60s (one of my favorite Jerry Jeff Walker performances, Mississippi, You’re On My Mind was penned by Winchester). You might think he’d have a political message, but it’s more like sweet nothings. Sometimes bordering on cutesy, it’ll be ok to let this album hit your soft spot. Just know it’s likely to hit the right spot, whatever that is.
Having always been partial to Ian Matthews era Fairport Convention, I remember being more than elated upon the discovery of his prolific solo career. From 1969 to 1972 he managed to release at least seven LPs as a solo artist and member of Matthews’ Southern Comfort and Plainsong. In many ways his debut is only partly a solo outing. Help from his fellow Fairporters Simon Nicol and Richard Thompson create an overall feel that is not far removed from the first two FC albums. But while a few tracks such as “Commercial Proposition” and “A Castle Far” sound like top-quality leftovers from his former band, a distinctive Matthews sound was certainly emerging. This is especially evident in the country leanings (hinted at in the first two FC records) that are much more pronounced and tastefully accentuated by Gordon Huntley’s steel guitar playing.
Surprisingly the album does not suffer much from Matthews’ minimal writing contributions as co-producer Steve Barbly provides excellent material in “Fly Pigeon Fly,” “Sweet Bread” and the agonizingly plaintive “I’ve Lost You.” But Ian does deliver some exceptional writing in the steel-guitar-driven “Please Be my Friend” and the irresistible folk epic (co-written by Barbly) “Once Upon a Lifetime.”
What makes this album so timeless and enjoyable is the way it explores country music without deliberately trying to be country—a highly commendable feat that many American bands were not able to achieve. Free from any phony southern twang, Ian’s fragile, emotionally-charged vocals enrich every song with a genuineness that is perfectly complemented by the warm, rural landscape that’s successfully captured by the band. Not only is this one of the first British country-rock records, but it is also an unrecognized benchmark for the entire then-burgeoning genre. BGO has made this available on CD as a twofer which includes MSC’s slightly less impressive sophomore effort Second Spring.
“Once Upon A Lifetime”
This is not a definitive Latin American podcast. We left out many great groups/artists like Los Walkers, We All Together, Los Shains, The Spiders, La Vida, Aquaturbia, Telegraph Avenue, Los Yetis, Manal, Vox Dei, Pappo’s Blues, Los Yorks, Kaleidoscope (Mexico), Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, Secos & Molhados, Los Blops, Los Jaivas, Som Imaginario, Lo Borges, Milton Nascimento and about a million more. This was clearly due to space issues. We plan to look at these artists in a future post as many of them released some fine albums in their own right. While Os Mutantes, Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa, and Gilberto Gil released groundbreaking albums later on in the 60s it’s important to note that groups like the Shakers, the Mockers and Los Gatos paved the way for them. These three groups started out in the mid 60s, released many fine albums during their existence, and were perhaps South America’s most legendary groups. ¡Esperamos que te guste!
Clip from Gilberto Gil – Divine and Marvelous
Los Speakers “Te Olvidare”
Los Speakers 
Los Dug Dugs “Lost In My World”
Los Dug Dugs [1970/71]
Os Mutantes “Virginia”
Technicolor [recorded in 1970. all tracks are in English]
Los Gatos “Hoy Amaneció”
Volume 2 
Los Vidrios Quebrados “En Tu Mirada”
Caetano Veloso “London, London”
London, London 
Los Mockers “My Baby”
Clip from Los Legandarios Shakers
Los Shakers “Hear My Words”
Shakers For You 
Clip from Los Legandarios Shakers
Los Shakers “Don’t Ask Me Love”
The Shakers 
Los Saicos “Fugitivo De Alcatraz”
[mid 60s single]
Los Macs “Dear Friend Bob”
Kaleidoscope Men 
Traffic Sound “Meshkalina”
La Revolución De Emiliano Zapata “Al Pie De La Montaña (At The Foot of the Mountain)”
Almendra “Muchacha (Ojos De Papel)”
The Gants were a mid 60s garage/folk-rock band from Mississippi whose biggest commercial success was a billboard charting cover of Bo Diddley’s “Road Runner.” This minor hit was enough to secure them the release of 3 LPs on Liberty, Gants Again being the third. Lack of original material and a sound that’s often far too derivative of their British heroes (especially the Beatles) keeps it from being a great album by any stretch. But there are many fine moments here.
Wonderful tracks like “I Wonder” and the moody, near suicidal “Somebody Please” prove that they certainly had tons of potential. And it really is unfortunate because an album’s worth of originals on par with these tracks may have ranked up there with the Nightcrawlers LP or the Beau Brummels vol. 2. Not that all the cover tunes are boring. Some (“Rain” and “You Better Run”) are actually very well done and breathe new life into the songs. But it still leaves the listener longing to hear what the Gants and other groups of this ilk would have sounded like if they were given more creative license instead of having managers and labels pad up their records with mediocre filler.
Unless you stumble across this in a bargain bin (or for less than ten bucks), you’re better off grabbing the Bam Caruso collection I Wonder which compiles the best material from all three albums, including some cool unreleased forays into baroque pop.
The Who’s Magic Bus album was released in 1968 with the misleading “On Tour” title. Magic Bus is not a live album by any means and was released to keep Who fans satisfied while they anxiously awaited 69s Tommy. But it also made Decca a few dollars and is similar in concept to the Stones’ Flowers and the Small Faces’ excellent From The Beginning lp.
Magic Bus was made up of prior singles, b-sides, ep tracks and the like – all dating from around 66-67. Run Run Run, I Can’t Reach You and Our Love Was, Is had all made appearances on prior lps and are good pop tracks. Run Run Run is a thundering mod rocker with great guitar leads from Townshend and stunning bass work from Entwistle. Other tracks like Pictures of Lily, Disguises and Doctor, Doctor represent some of the Who’s better early work, then known as pop-art. Most of these songs are great catchy power pop tunes (a term Townshend coined back in 66) that show Townshend’s mastery of feedback and guitar noise. Other notable tracks are Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (an Entwistle original of course), perhaps the strangest Who recording of all, whilst Call Me Lightning is solid mod pop.
My feeling is that they could have nicked off two shitty tunes (the Keith Moon sung Bucket T. sucks) and lifted Run Run Run, I Can’t Reach You and Our Love Was, Is and added recent singles/b-sides like Dogs, I’m A Boy, Substitute, Anytime At All and Circles to come up with a really good lp. From 1964 to 1974 the Who were one of the great bands, Townshend and co were always trying different ideas out in the studio and stretching rock’s boundaries as far as possible. Nowhere near as good an album as My Generation, Sell Out, or Tommy, Magic Bus still has moments of brilliance.
CD Reissue | 1999 | MCA | mini LP sleeve | buy @ amazon ]
Original Vinyl | 1968 | Decca | search ebay ]
Sings Hank Williams began a string of excellent albums by Del Shannon that culminated with The Further Adventures of Charles Westover from 1968. Not only is this a great country album but many consider this one of the best records from the time. This disc was released in 1964 and predated the country-rock boom by a good 4 or 5 years. That alone makes it a significant release and a must listen for fans of early country-rock. But it’s Del’s performances and the group’s backing that make this a special show.
Throughout Shannon’s career he had reinvented himself many times over. In the early 60s he was a teen idol with the unforgettable hit “Runaway.” “Total Commitment” and “This Is My Bag,” both mid 60s records, saw Del turn in two fine roots rock efforts. From 1967 to 1968 Shannon did the unthinkable: he went psychedelic, with two great, unsung records, 67’s And The Music Plays On and 68’s Charles Westover. During this time he proved that an early 60s rocker could survive into the late 60s’ experimental environment and still make great albums with artistic value. An amazing career no doubt, but who would have ever expected Shannon to release a hard core country album?
Every track on this LP is worth listening to. Shannon and his group give “Kaw-Liga” an updated, swinging rock n roll feel. “That Lonesome Whistle,” possibly my favorite cut on the album, is a superb down and out country track with fantastic vocals – a real young man’s blues. The arrangements are very basic, with steel guitar leading the way – just listen to the great version of “Your Cheatin’ Heart” which opens the disc. “Ramblin’ Man,” another gem, is given Del’s soaring, minor key vocal treatment. There was a reason for the sparse, simple arrangements: Del was trying to capture the mood of Hank Williams’ original band, The Drifting Cowboys. Even more interesting is Del Shannon’s group, many of whom, such as Dennis Coffey, were well known Motown session players.
Del sang his ass off on this recording, giving us performances full of faith and honesty. So in this respect it was a shame that nobody was listening. Neither the rock n roll community or C&W crowd took a liking to this album. It was probably lost amongst albums by the Beatles and Rolling Stones during the first wave of the British Invasion. Sings Hank Williams is stripped down, raw and genuine. There are none of the hokey strings or sappy arrangments that plagued so many country records from this period. This is a great record that shows the true artistry of Del Shannon.
MP3 Album | download at amazon ]
The Fender Telecaster is perhaps the most iconic and revered electric guitar. Maybe 2nd fiddle to its brother the Stratocaster, championed by Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, the Tele (telly) is simply cooler, still in style today thanks to its boxier, understated design. Distinguishing guitar models by their sound is usually a job only for guitar geeks, but the Tele’s clean treble cut can be heard a mile away by anyone.
One of the neat things about the Telecaster is an element nobody uses. The bottom pickup, close to the bridge and mainly responsible for the Tele’s characteristic high tones, was originally designed with a faceplate (like so) dubbed an “ashtray.” But since it would get in the way of so many player’s strumming hand, the ashtray would be ripped off in nearly every case, influencing future designs to forego the plate completely, leaving an uncovered and unfinished metal bracket encasing the pickup. Accidental design couldn’t get much better.
The Telecaster is known for its many modifications though, and often is a guitar hot-rodder’s first pick. The most common mod is the addition of humbucker pickups, used to fatten up the sound. Another popular modification is the addition of a B-Bender, used by country guitarists to emulate the pedal steel (see below). While the model pictured to the right is the classic, popular variants include the Thinline, featuring a small hollow body section with a fancy F-hole, and the Deluxe, though these models both use humbuckers and tend to lose the characteristic sound to a degree.
The hard body and close bridge pickup give the Tele its thin, gritty sound that has been a staple for the genres of country, rock, blues, and funk music – Sly Stone, among others, proved this guitar was perfect for the high-end choppy rhythms that drive the genre. As for the rest let’s take a listen:
Buck Owens and his Buckaroos defined the guitar-bassline and chickin pickin’ style integral to the Bakersfield sound. Don Rich, Buck’s right hand man, was not only a fine singer but an excellent country guitar player and hero for the telecaster. This song is straight up country rock ahead of its time:
Buck Owens and his Buckaroos – Buckaroo
Keith Richards popularized use of the Telecaster in a rock context using alternate tunings and strumming the hell out of it. Probably the best riff-based guitarist out there, his licks are one of a kind and owe a lot to the Telecaster.
The Rolling Stones – Midnight Rambler
Co-inventor of the B-Bender and a big favorite around these parts, Clarence White owned one of baddest Telecasters of all time (now apparently heisted by Marty Stuart). A set of complex mechanics in the back enabled CW to bend his 2nd highest string upwards a full step, mimicking the sound of a pedal steel guitar. In the track below, an excellent instrumental version of this classic, listen to him pluck the harmonic note and bend it up… nasty. For more on how the B-Bender works, take a look at this guy’s video. [EDIT: Okay, I just learned this Nashville West recording was pre-bender, must be a whammy bar].
Nashville West – Ode To Billy Joe
Speaking of badass Tele’s, you’ve got to respect Joe Strummer’s committment to a good guitar, using his beautiful beat-to-death axe exclusively his whole life. “Ignore Alien Orders” read the sticker that defined his guitar for so many… sometimes you just need a good sticker on your Tele.
The Clash – The Right Profile
As always, let us know about your own favorite Tele players or recordings…