A Commercial Recording Release By The Bambino and The Iron Horse
Recently I was reading an old New York Times column from October 7, 1956 by Gay Talese in which he wrote about the history of baseball records. Not home run or pitching records, but baseball related music and spoken word records.
In the article Talese mentions that one of the first record companies to release a baseball record was Pathe records in 1928 when they got Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig to make a recording explaining how they hit home runs. It did not sell very well. Almost all baseball related recordings have traditionally done poorly with sales, with the exception of Take Me Out To The Ballgame written in 1908 by Albert Von Tilzer and Jack Norworth. Incredibly neither Von Tilzer or Norworth had ever attended a baseball game prior to writing their hit song.
So I searched for the Ruth – Gehrig recording on youtube and couldn’t find the exact recording mentioned in the article, but came up with this version instead. (Click on the youtube video below). Apparently it is the exact same record as in the Talese article, but Talese is mistaken about the content and the date.
It Was 35 Years Today That The Greatest Front-man in Rock History Died
I clearly remember when Bon Scott of AC/DC died. I heard it on the radio on a dreary February day in 1980. To me he was just a good singer in a band where all the members were very short.
It was sad, but honestly I didn’t think too much about it at the time having heard only some of AC/DC’s songs such as Let There be Rock, Highway To Hell and Touch Too Much. I was more into The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, E.L.O., Judas Priest, Van Halen, The Cars, Elvis Costello and The Clash and many other mainstream bands. But his death sparked an interest in discovering what Bon Scott and AC/DC was about.
Over the next year I would come to love AC/DC especially with the American release of Dirty Deeds in 1981, five years after it was released everywhere else in the world. After hearing Dirty Deeds, I went out and bought all of the old AC/DC albums. To say I liked the Bon Scott version of AC/DC would be an understatement.
As the years have passed and I get older, I get more and more depressed that Bon Scott left us at age 33. It is hard to fathom he has been gone 35 years.
While not diminishing the passing of Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix or Jim Morrison and countless other rock icons, Bon’s death along with John Lennon’s and John Bonham’s (all coincidentally in 1980) are among the greatest losses to rock music ever.
What Bon Scott would have gone on to do can only be left to conjecture, but I would venture to say he would have built upon the previous successes the band had finally achieved. My friends who had seen AC/DC live said Bon’s charismatic stage presence was palpable in person and it came through on film and video as well. With his unique voice and take no prisoners attitude when performing, the audience felt an authentic connection to Bon Scott.
In the six years Bon Scott was the lead singer for AC/DC he recorded six studio albums. It says a lot that from those six albums are where AC/DC have continually pulled half of their live set from.
AC/DC Founder Malcolm Young Quietly Played A Huge, Behind The Scenes Part In AC/DC’s Long Success
Malcolm (l) & Angus Young (r)J photo Jaime Saba For the L.A. Times
When reading about the recent disclosure that AC/DC founder and rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young was suffering from dementia and was retiring from the band, it occurred to me how many casual fans of AC/DC are not aware of how important Malcolm is to the band.
Malcolm did a lot more than stand in the background pounding out crunchy rhythm guitar riffs and come up to the microphone to sing things like “hoy” with his backing vocals.
AC/DC is (was) Malcolm’s band.
Malcolm controlled the touring, personnel, finances, important band decisions and most importantly the songwriting.
It was Malcolm Young, not his flashier, lead guitarist younger brother Angus Young, who came up with most of the riffs and leads for those brilliant AC/DC songs over the past 41 years.
Malcolm is a big inspiration to me; he keeps me on my feet. Even when I’m tired from running around the stage for two hours, I’ll look back at what he’s doing and it gives me that boot up the backside I sometimes need. [laughs] Also, he can always tell me if I’m playing well or if I’m not. Mal’s a very tough critic, and I know that if I can please him, I can please the world. A lot of people say, “AC/DC-that’s the band with the little guy who runs around in school shorts!” But I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without Malcolm and the other guys pumping out the rhythm. They make me look good.
Mal is really a great all-around guitarist. I know it says “rhythm guitar” on the album jacket, but if he sits down to play a solo, he can do it better than me. Not a lot of people have picked up on this, but in the early days he used to play lead. But then he said to me, “No, you take the solos. I’ll just bang away back here.” And what’s more, he actually plays rhythms. He just doesn’t make a noise; he works them out, and he knows when not to play.
My part in AC/DC is just adding the color on top. Mal’s the band’s foundation. He’s rock solid and he pumps it along with the power of a machine. He doesn’t play like a machine, though. Everything he does grooves and he always seems to know exactly what to play and when to play it. He’s a very percussive player too, his right hand just doesn’t stop sometimes. It’s scary, it really is!
Fans on the official AC/DC web site commenting about the announcement that Malcolm has retired because of dementia are clueless. Most are writing things like, “Get well soon, Mal!” Continue reading →
This year September 26, marks the 50th anniversary of the premiere of one of television’s all-time classic shows.
Gilligan’s Island originally ran on CBS from September 26 1964 until April 17, 1967 and will be seen forever in re-runs. It spawned an unforgettable theme song and a cast of actors that for better or worse became synonymous with their characters.
Nowadays merchandising and licensing for nearly every quasi-celebrity is the norm. But Gilligan’s Island never took advantage of the popularity of the show and issued albums on behalf of the cast members.
But looking around the web you will find a few albums related to the cast of the show.
Alan Hale’s incredibly titled album, Skipper Alan Hale’s Roman Orgy, would not inspire many of the eleven-year-old fans of the program to purchase it.
Almost every rock fan is familiar with The Doors 1967 eponymous debut album containing the hit songs Light My Fire, Break On Through, Soul Kitchen and The End. The album’s iconic front and back covers were photographed by Joel Brodsky. The back cover photo was also used for a billboard advertisement; the first album to ever get that treatment on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood.
As we pointed out in our article about Carole King and her photo session for Tapestry, there are always other photographs from a photo session that the public rarely sees.
In these sessions, photographer Joel Brodsky took many pictures of The Doors that could have ended up on the cover. Some of the photos were later used on album sleeve inserts and on greatest hits collections.
Below are some of the other photographs from these famous sessions. Do you think any of them would have worked better than what was chosen?
For those who wondered if Fast Eddie Clark and Fastway would ever put out another new album, the answer is, finally yes. It took more than twenty years, but Fastway, Clark’s post-Motörhead band, in April 2012 finally and quietly released in the U.S. Eat Dog Eat and it is a decidedly radio friendly rock album. That is if there were radio stations that still played new rock albums.
On internet streaming sites and satellite radio where hard rock seems to have retreated, I’m afraid this excellent effort was completely overlooked. In the past two years I never heard one new cut from Fastway.
In this seemingly temporary incarnation, Fastway is now a three-piece ensemble with former Little Angels front man Toby Jepson, producing the album and providing lead vocals, bass guitar and acoustic guitar. Fast Eddie plays lead guitar and Matt E.(?) is on drums. Continue reading →
Jack Paar Featured The Beatles One Month Before Sullivan
Ed Sullivan, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and John Lennon
With Beatlemania nostalgia peaking this month, it is interesting to take note of something that seems to be a common misperception, that the Beatles made their prime time American TV debut on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964.
In fact the Beatles were noticed by Jack Paar when he was visiting England in the fall of 1963. A film crew captured them performing and the footage was shown on the Jack Paar Program on January 3, 1964, more than one month before the Ed Sullivan Show.
The big difference was for the Ed Sullivan Show the Beatles came to the United States for the first time and performed live on the program. Beatlemania had hit the United States and the impact reverberates to this day.
Many underestimated the staying power of the Beatles. After their first Sullivan appearance, McCandlish Phillips of the New York Times wrote, “At their present peak, the Beatles face an awful prospect of demise. They are a craze. Anyone at the center of a craze finds that everything he touches turns to money. But since a craze is a source of inflation, it may precede a crash.” He could not have been more wrong. Even Jack Paar thought the the Beatles would be a passing fad when he showed them on his program.
Here is Jack Paar reminiscing about the Beatles with a clip from the original 1964 program.
Jon Thor Covering (Butchering) Sweet’s Hard Rock Classic “Action”
What is the worst cover song of all time? Of course that is subjective and debatable, but this may be it.
If you can stay with this five minute video, it will be worth it for its jaw dropping kitschiness.
On national television, with Merv Griffin doing the introduction, from 1976, here is Jon Thor straight from the Aladdin Hotel’s Red, Hot and Blue Show doing his “Muscle Rock” rendition of Action.
For those who do not know what the original song sounds like, because any resemblance of Jon Thor’s version to a real rock song is purely coincidental, here is Sweet’s original version recorded in 1975.
If you are wondering whatever happened to Jon Thor, in the early 1980’s he eventually transformed his act into “Thor,” a quasi-metal act that is still active today according to his web site.
Rock lyrics tell stories. Many times those stories are about love. Often they are about sex. Rarely are they about virginity. If they are, the lyrics are cloaked in the language of teenage angst. In the 1970’s bands that would sing about losing your virginity were pushing the boundaries.
For a band to get radio airplay which was a key to sales, they had to carefully construct a song so that they did not arouse the suspicions of the parents of “impressionable” kids. This means the lyrics were not too lascivious or explicit.
These five songs exemplify the “losing it” genre of the 70’s.
1. Foreigner – Feels Like The First Time
Foreigner likes songs with the theme of first time sex. Feels Like The First Time was just part of a trio of songs that play on the whole virgin thing; Urgent (which some people misheard as Virgin) and I Want To Know What Love Is also cover the virginity field.
I liked Feels Like The First Time when it was originally released. It is a very catchy song with a good hook, as are most of the early Foreigner songs. But Feels Like The First Time comes off today a little schmaltzy with lines like “And it feels like the first time, like it never did before (ooh-ooh ooh-ooh oooh), Feels like the first time, like we’ve opened up the door, feels like the first time, like it never will again, never again.”
2. Meat Loaf – Paradise By The Dashboard Light
Probably the most overt and famous rock song about losing it. Graphically described and all rolled up in a mini rock opera. When I hear this song today all I can think of is that every teenager in New York in the 1970’s had a copy of this album in one form or another LP or cassette. If you are ever at a flea market and see a bunch of 8 track tapes I can practically guarantee that this album will be among the stash. A brilliant stroke of this song was to have Yankees announcer Phil Rizzuto do the “play by play” of getting “from base to base” in the middle break. Continue reading →
Andy Johns who worked on some of the greatest rock albums of all-time as a producer and engineer died in Los Angeles on April 7, at the age of 62 due to complications of a stomach ulcer.
Johns was a name not known to casual rock fans because he worked behind the scenes, but his contributions to dozens of classic albums is immeasurable. From the Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street to Led Zeppelin’s greatest period of production in the early 1970’s, Johns was setting up and overseeing the recording of albums that will be played for as long as people listen to rock n’ roll. Some of the many bands and artists Andy Johns worked with included Free, Eric Clapton, Blind Faith, Cinderella, Van Halen, Joe Satriani and Mott The Hoople.
After Andy Johns died I scanned The New York Times on a daily basis in disbelief that they did not cover his death. Nearly two weeks after his passing, an obituary finally appeared.
Here, Andy Johns talks about his experiences working with Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and the recording of Led Zeppelin’s classic Led Zeppelin IV (a.k.a. 4 Symbols or Untitled) and the song Stairway To Heaven.
David Gilmour and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd between Storm Thorgerson photo possibly by Jill Furmanovsky
Storm Thorgerson was a name even less known by the general public than Andy Johns, but literally millions of people have seen his work. Thorgerson, as half of the design firm Hipgnosis with Aubrey Powell, created dozens of the most iconic record album covers, sleeve and insert artwork of all time. After the dissolution of Hipgnosis in 1983, Thorgerson ran his own firm and continued working until he died on April 13 at the age of 69 from cancer.
Thorgerson’s work was surreal and many times bizarre. But it caught your attention like any great artwork that was meant to be contemplated. Millions of people who bought albums would study the large canvas that an LP album offered for insights and clues about the music and the band they were listening to. With the supremacy of CD’s in the 1990’s, cover artwork was given a much smaller space and a less important role in point of purchase sales of music. Despite this, Thorgerson maintained a steady stream of clients who wanted original and outstanding works of art to go with their musical output.
Best known for his long association with Pink Floyd, Thorgerson also created album covers for a wide variety of bands including Led Zeppelin, Yes, Scorpions, UFO, Phish, AC/DC, 10cc, Black Sabbath, The Alan Parsons Project, Anthrax and many others.
In this clip below, Thorgerson talks about the beginnings of Hipgnosis.
The Divinyls lead singer Christina Amphlett was known in the United States as more of a one-hit wonder for the 1991 top ten song I Touch Myself than for anything else. But in her native Australia, Chrissy Amphlett was a rock legend. The Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard even spoke of the impact of Amphlett’s death and what she meant to the Australian music scene.
Amphlett died in New York City at the age of 53 on April 20 after battling multiple sclerosis and breast cancer for many years.
The Divinyls were not just a pop band, they could rock as hard as anybody as evidenced here in a 1982 live performance of Boys in Town. With her schoolgirl outfit Amphlett displays some head-banging moves reminiscent of AC/DC’s Angus Young.