IGNORED OBSCURED RESTORED
Today’s SotW is about a band that is a mere footnote in rock ‘n roll history, but an important one at that – at least if you’re a Neil Young fan.
Back in 1968 a band called The Rockets released their one and only album. The band was made up of Danny Whitten (guitar), Billy Talbot (bass), Ralph Molina (drums), guitarist brothers Leon and George Whitsell and Bobby Notkoff (violin). It’s been said that the album only sold about 5,000 copies, but it came to the attention of Neil Young who recruited half the band – Whitten, Talbot and Molina – to be the backing band for his second solo album, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. He renamed the band Crazy Horse and the rest is history.
The SotW is Danny Whitten’s “Let Me Go” from that 1968 album by The Rockets.
It starts with about one minute of vocals then goes on for more than 2 and a half minutes of guitar jamming that often sounds more like a chain saw than a musical instrument. (That’s a good thing in this case.) You can clearly see why the “Godfather of Grunge” Young was so intrigued by their sound.
But Young wasn’t the only one listening. Back when Three Dog Night was cool (yes, they were cool for a few albums) before they resorted to recording dreck like “Joy to the World” and “Black and White”, they were covering tunes by some of the best unknown songwriters of the day. Their first hit, “One”, was written by Harry Nilsson. They also performed songs by Laura Nyro, Randy Newman, The Band and Traffic.
As a Beatles fan, I was confused by the Lennon/McCartney credit given to a song on their first album that I’d never heard called “It’s For You.” It was many years later when I learned the Beatles never recorded it. Instead they gave it to another artist Brian Epstein managed, Cilla Black, who took it to #7 in the UK. (It didn’t chart in the US which partially explains my ignorance.)
One of my favorite songs from their sophomore effort, Suitable for Framing, was “Lady Samantha”, written by an as yet undiscovered Elton John.
And this all leads me back to “Let Me Go” as recorded by TDN on their debut.
While The Rockets version is a worthy psych/garage take, TDN makes it a shorter, tighter pop song. It has more spark and puts a spotlight on their harmony vocals. I have to admit, I like it better. How about you?
Enjoy… until next week.