Jim was the heart and soul of The Doors but Ray was the musical backbone……..RIP Ray.
OK…….I confess that what I have for you tonight may not be what you normally expect as a Sunday Session. The reason is both strange and sad……there is no known footage of Nick Drake performing. In reality there are damn few pictures of Nick and only three complete studio albums or his music. None of his three albums sold more than 5000 copies upon their initial release and he died of an overdose on 25 November 1974.
All in all Nick’s story is one of the most tragic in all of rock music. His music was brilliant but totally unappreciated during his life. Although his music had a cult following among musicians, it was only in the last 10-15 years that it really started to get the attention it deserved. What triggered this change…..the use of Nick’s song Pink Moon in a Volkswagen commercial. Sad…..no, very sad……
So what I really have for you today is two songs that were recently discovered from a performance by Nick on the John Peel radio show in 1969. I can’t vouch for the accuracy of this story but the performance sounds real to me. Following that I have a video that provides some of the essential Nick Drake songs that every music fan needs to be familiar with. Enjoy…….
The John Peel Session
Essential Nick Drake
If you aren’t familiar with the details of the Nick Drake story be sure to check back tomorrow for a great documentary on his life and career.
I clearly remember going to see Two Lane Blacktop in 1971 and being completely enamored with the film. It featured two of my favorite musicians, James Taylor and Dennis Wilson, both of whom were quite laconic in the movie. I myself was a man of few words back then which you might find hard to read if you are frequent reader of this blog. It also didn’t hurt that the movie was all about fast cars…..back in the late 1960s early 1970s I was absolutely muscle car crazy. For those of you that aren’t from the US, I don’t know if the term “muscle car” will have any meaning for you but if you take a look at the Pontiac GTO Judge that Warren Oates drives in the movie you will get an idea about what muscle cars were all about.
The movie was not very successful (I can honestly say that I have never met a single person that has seen the movie). Fortunately for you, I found a copy on YouTube and now you can have the opportunity to relive my experience from 1971. Before showing the movie I thought you might like to learn a little more about it so here are some highlights that I borrowed from Wikipedia…..
Two-Lane Blacktop is a 1971 road movie directed by Monte Hellman, starring singer-songwriter James Taylor, the Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson, Warren Oates, and Laurie Bird.
Esquire magazine declared the film its movie of the year for 1971, and even published the entire screenplay in its April 1971 issue, but the film was not a commercial success. The film has since become a cult classic. Brock Yates, organizer of the Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash (better known as the Cannonball Run) cites Two-Lane Blacktop as one source of inspiration for the creation of the race, and commented on it in his Car and Driver column announcing the first Cannonball.
Two-Lane Blacktop is notable as a time capsule film of U.S. Route 66 during the pre-Interstate Highway era, and for its stark footage and minimal dialogue. As such, it has become popular with fans of Route 66. Two-Lane Blacktop has been compared to similar road movies with an existentialist message from the era, such as Vanishing Point, Easy Rider, and Electra Glide in Blue.
In 2012, the film was added to the National Film Registry
So, without further ado, here is our feature for today! I hope you enjoy it…..as always, let me know what you think.
Richie will always be known for his opening performance at Woodstock. He was not scheduled to be the opening performer but when the first four schedule performers had trouble reaching the festival he was asked to play in order to buy time. In an epic performance he played for almost three hours straight, eventually improvising the song Freedom on the spot having played every other song that he knew. It was a wonderful performance and one that made him famous.
Here is an interview with Richie from the 40th anniversary of Woodstock.
Here is Richie with his amazing performance of Freedom at Woodstock in 1969.
RIP Richie – you will be missed!
The Lovin Spoonful, a group that grew out of the Greenwich Village folk scene of the early 1960s, was one of the true musical treasures of the 1960s. In 1964, John Sebastian spent a lot of time sitting in with a group called The Mugwumps. During this time, he became friends with Zal Yanovsky who was in the group. When the Mugwumps broke up after only eight months, John and Zal joined with Joe Butler and Steve Boone to create the Spoonful. The rest, as they say, is history.
Today’s interview is a short, but very rare, 1966 interview with the original Spoonful in Toronto. As you will see, there was a lot of interest in the group in Toronto because Zal was from there. I hope you enjoy this little slice of music history.
With that interview as a lead-in, let’s continue our walk down memory lane with some great music and TV performances by The Lovin Spoonful.
You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice (1965)
Do You Believe In Magic (1065)
Summer In The City (1966)
If you were wondering why The Lovin Spoonful was voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000…..now you know!
Now…..here is the bonus part of today’s post. I mentioned above that Zal, and John unofficially, had been in a group called The Mugwumps before forming the Lovin Spooonful. As it turns out, The Mugwumps were one of the most talent filled groups of all time and I am willing to bet that most of you never heard of them before reading this post! Who else was in the The Mugwumps……none other than Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty who went on to become founding members of The Mamas and The Papas (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class of 1998). Absolutely frigging amazing. That my friends, is your bonus nugget of Rock History.
Our Sunday session for today is a great 1975 set from America that was broadcast on a West German TV program called Musikladen. This concert captures America at the height of the career and is well worth a listen.
Watching this brought back a lot of memories for me. I can remember hearing A Horse With No Name driving to school in 1972 and being totally captivated. At the end of the song, the DJ indicated that it was “America A Horse With No Name.” which I thought was the coolest name ever for a song. It wasn’t until later, in a record shop, that I discovered that the song was named “A Horse With No Name” and the group was named America. Life before internet was a bitch 🙂
As always, let me know what you think…….
1. Ventura Highway
2. I Need You
3. Don’t Cross the River
4. A Horse with No Name
5. Moon Song
6. Lonely People
7. Wind Wave
8. Rainbow Song
9. Tin Man
10. California Revisited
11. Green Monkey
RIP Dan Peek
So before we get to far into February, 2013 I thought we should try to do a wrap up of some of the other musical events that took place in January, 1973. We have previously touched on several of these events including: the release of Aerosmith’s first album: Carly Simon’s chart topping single You’re So Vain, and Stevie Wonder’s hit with Superstitiion. Here are some of the other musical happenings from January forty years ago…
In 1972 Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, and Peter Criss were trying to decide where to head with their current band, Wicked Lester, which seemed to be collapsing around them. Gene and Paul decided that Wicked Lester’s lack of success was due to a lack of musical vision and had started to experiment with makeup and costumes (see the picture at the beginning of this post). The band needed another guitar player and this slot was filled by Ace Frehley that fall. The band was complete but two more changes were needed before they could make their big push for success and fame. First, they needed a new name. Paul suggested KISS and the name stuck. Second, they needed formalize their early experiments with makeup and costumes by selecting personas for each member of the band. Gene became the Demon, Paul became the Starchild, Peter became the Cat, and Ace, my favorite, became the Spaceman. Here is what KISS looked like around that time.
KISS’s first concert performance took place on January 30, 1973 and the rest is history. I can’t show you that first performance but I do have a video of a performance from later that year which is supposedly the oldest existing KISS video. Let’s watch…….
While KISS was just starting in January of 1973, Free was nearing its end. The band released Heartbreaker in January 1973 and had one more tour before their official breakup. I hated to see Free end but…… the breakup of Free allowed Paul to form Bad Company which would go on to produce some of my favorite music in the 70’s. To celebrate the greatness of Free here is a video of them performing Heartbreaker during a 1972 tour in Japan. The video is not the best quality but this is rock history so I hope you will enjoy it.
Elton John released his sixth album, Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player, late in January, 1973. This album continued his push towards a more pop sound and gave him his second straight #1 album. Much of the album was more poppy than I cared for but I did enjoy some of the songs including Daniel which was my favorite. Let’s listen to Elton perform Daniel on Top of the Pops in 1973……..
Jim Croce released his Life and Times album in January, 1973. His career was just starting to peak at this point but tragically this would be the last album to be released before his death in a plane crash in September of 1973. While Jim is best know for his catchy, borderline novelty, songs like You Don’t Mess Around With Jim, I am here to tell you that he was much more of a talent than indicated by these songs. Jim was one hell of a singer/songwriter and, had he lived, I believe he would have become one of the best singer/songwriters ever. To make my point, here is a wonderful song from Life and Times.
Today is Martin Luther King day in the United States. In an amazing coincidence, it’s also Inauguration Day for President Obama’s second term. On this day we all need to remember that Dr. King, and all of the others involved in the Civil Rights movement back in the 1960s, are the ones that made it possible for a black man to become president. Please take a moment today to honor Dr. King and the sacrifices that he made in trying to make this country a place of freedom for all people.
I found the following video on YouTube that was made by JLTURBO70. It uses U2’s Pride (In The Name Of Love) (a song written about Dr King) and some some amazing images to highlighting the legacy of Dr King. I really like the video and can think of no better way to honor Dr. King’s memory today.