Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Twist & Shout '77/Legs & Co./Northern Dreamin'/Before You Were New Wave

I can thank Ricky for originally introducing me to the Holyground staple of records by dropping A-Austr on me several years ago. Next, I stumbled upon a Canadian fanzine from 1977 in the barn, Twist & Shout, which had some excellent crossover coverage of material that 1977 "punks" getting whole heartedly behind the new wave probably pretended they never listened to just twelve months before. What is pretty great about Twist & Shout is that it lacks that insularity that comes from a lot of year zero punk zines. Dude, you did like all the Chinn-Chapman singles and you may have even had a Yes record at one point. Hell yes, Twist & Shout liked Status Quo, Sparks, Be Bop Deluxe and pub rock as much as any current import punk 45 from south of the border or the UK. At least they didn't lie about it. In 2011, I guess we can proudly call people like the Twist & Shout folks record nerds. What A-Austr and the cover story of Twist & Shout had me curious about was the involvement of Bill Nelson in the whole Holyground enterprise and his shaggy, bearded and sneaker wearing self before the takeoff of Be Bop Deluxe. He may look like Bill Fay's relative, but "Northern Dream" aint "Time of the Last Persecution." That said, it is worth checking out to see how far Nelson came in such a short time before "Axe Victim." Not so sure about that dodgy cover cartoon cover art - I would have opted for the photo on the side of the bed writ large.

As has been pointed out, there is something Thin Lizzy-ish about this great 1975 single. But it is clearly in that the band is incredibly tight. Was there another Kiwi musician with as high a profile in the UK at that time as Charlie Tumahai. Gotta say that Nelson cleaned up pretty nicely by ditching both the early 70's beard and 60's mustache. Can you touch the guy sartorially? "Landed"/"Unlimited Edition" Can comes pretty close - Exhibit A from the barn below. Compared to the 1975 other pop hits, this one is pretty classy.

I have to say, that this oddball Top of the Pop clip clip will give you newfound appreciation for Be Bop Deluxe's crossover appeal.

A great 1974 live version of "Sweet Jane" sounding as good as Laughner's Cinderella Backstreet version of the same year?

Here is the whole Twist & Shout interview. The Sparks interview is great and needs a full reproduction here soon.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Heavy Metal Thunder/(Back to the) Future Blues/The December 18, 1972 Showdown Between Clap and Sugar Boy

A little known secret about American proto-punk is that some of the greats morphed from "blues" bands led by omnivorous rock animals who embraced (at one time) the ballroom rock led by their British brethren. Or, at the very least, they dipped in the same wellspring originating in Chicago in the 1950's . An entirely different strain of British fiddle proto-punk (Cockney Rebel, Doctors of Madness etc) will be the subject of a future post and seemingly come from a mutant strain altogether. It was a given that these American folks loved the VU, Stooges, Doors, Nuggets-era garage bands (and actually played in them in real time), early rock n' roll/r'n'b and rockabilly etc, and of course the string of Stones 45s from 1964 onward. Cleveland had Laughner's Mr. Charlie (c.f. Laughner's lyrics to "Cinderella Backstreet" about playing them blues learned "from the Engish dudes"). In Boston, Matthew MacKenzie, Scott Baerenwald and Willie "Loco" Alexander's Bluesberry Jam mined much of the same inspiration that early Aerosmith took from (Jeff Beck Group, early Humble Pie, Yardbirds, the Who, Stones, etc). In Texas, certain of the pre-Nervebreakers had a serious "English" blues band going prior to adopting a slightly glam/Alice Cooper bent. Baltimore's great George Brigman as we know lived and breathed British blues killers and all around heavies the Groundhogs (as do we all). Add in some serious Faces worship (as acknowledged by Steve Jones and Killer Kane), and yer gettin' warmer. And now, Don Waller - god bless him and why not support the man and buy the Imperial Dog's dvd here or from Forced Exposure - has given the info we needed not only on cross town rivals, Clap, but laid out, as a public service of sorts, the covers the pre-Imperial Dogs Sugar Boy were playing. All I can say, is that I dig it. May not be everyone's cuppa, but I gotta say there are some favorites here, from Black Pearl's post-Barbarians, muscular MC5-styled, three guitar white soul to Peter Green-era Mac. As you can read on the Imperial Dogs page, the blues bent was soon ditched in favor of the darker, amphetamine-tinged, master race rock that we have come to know and love.

According to Don, the set included stuff from the Move, BOC, Black Pearl, the Climax Blues Band, Crazy Horse, the Faces and Eddie Cochran. What they had been playing prior to ditching their blues hound rhythm guitarist were covers of Z.Z. Top, Free, Fleetwood Mac, Savoy Brown, Willie Dixon, Earl King, Chuck Berry, Dylan, the Small Faces, Stones and Who. When are the tapes of that expanded Sugar Boy set(s) gonna be released?

Monday, August 8, 2011

"I Used to Sing With a Group Called the Zombies"/misty roses and wings over america/Neil McArthur Never Died

Looking through the March 2, 1972 issue of Rolling Stone (Dylan cover, natch) in the barn, I came across the article below on Colin Blunstone and the upcoming release of his first solo lp "One Year." I can't remember if Tim or Rubin Fiberglass was the one to first tip me off to its sublime greatness. A premier interpreter of the likes of Tim Hardin, Zombies-mate Rod Argent, Denny Laine (!) and others, the record is over before you know it. The image shows Colin recording a track for the Old Grey Whistle Test with a string section which presumably was his version of "Say You Don't Mind." Unfortunately, while that OGWT appearance has not yet surfaced, the original of Denny Laine's has (in full "Sgt. Pepper"/"Piper At the Gates of Dawn" mode), as well as a short performance by Hardin of "Misty Roses" with a brief appearance by Twiggy on her show Twiggs. Sam Rockwell as Hardin in a biopic?