1970 Classic Nuggets: Tighter, Tighter, and Ride Captain Ride

The good old Spotify shuffle dug these choice pop tunes from 1970 out the other day as I was driving to the golf course (was I driving in order to drive?) and I was reminded of a couple of things.

One, is both are just classic pop/rock gems from the era, with pretty lush and thoughtful productions. The second is both songs feature not just one, but two guitar solos, the first of which falls after a couple of verses, the second to close out the song.

What is different is that in both, that second solo gives the guitar player a chance to cut loose, and by most 1970 pop song standards, both guys shred and push their sound as much as anyone.

First off is Tighter, Tigher, by Alive’n’Kicking. Alive’n’Kicking were actually discovered by Tommy James, who got the group signed to his Roulette label. James wrote the song Crystal Blue Persuasion  for Alive’n’Kicking, but liked it so much he kept the song for the Shondells.

However, as a gesture, James gave Tighter, Tighter to the band who scored a hit in a song which does bridge 60’s pop (ie, there are trumpets) with the pop influenced by Psychedelia and Brit Pop. Add that great Hammond organ, and guitar work by Dave Shearer and a sparkling catchy tune is the result. (Note these are two of the funkiest videos ever: maybe even funkier than those early Clash ones.)

The Blues Image were a Florida-based band who moved to LA at just the right time, making it to the strip and signed to Atco, releasing a second album in 1970 that included Ride Captain Ride.

For Ride Captain Ride Kent Henry–who went on to play with Steppenwolf–played the first solo and fills, and then Mike Pinera did the shredding at the end. Pinera moved on to play with Iron Butterfly and then Alice Cooper, and his band-mates did work with Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, and Manassas. (This is one funky video, BTW.)

It is kind of sad that song production has changed from those lush 60’s sounds of Motown and Phil Spector and George Martin, to Jack Nietschze and Sonny Bono, and even into guys like Steve Lillywhite. Somehow, though, it seems like electronics have kind of purified music kind of like CGI has changed film.

I am OK with that progress, but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss what used to be too.

9 thoughts on “1970 Classic Nuggets: Tighter, Tighter, and Ride Captain Ride

  1. Why is there a guy playing the sax at the end of the clip, during the guitar solo?

    I always thought Ride Captain Ride was the soft side of Grand Funk Railroad.

  2. When I first heard Tighter & Tighter I thought it was Janis Joplin. I saw ’em in a club in Queens in maybe 1973 and they were damn good
    That’s John Byner introducing the Blues Image, right? Byner was in two of the funniest Odd Couple episodes ever.
    BOTH guitar solos are great and it was the band’s guitarist Mike Pinera who played them both, and he also plays some killer fills.I had forgotten how much I enjoyed them so thanks Lawr.
    Speaking of guitar from that time, this is a terrible song so where did the TWO fuzz guitar solos come from? Typically drippy sap and It sounds like Leslie West wandered in and said “how about this?” Actually it was “reknowned guitarist Tony Peluso” who I never heard of.

  3. 1) Richard Carpenter must’ve had a massive, third-eye zit in the middle of his forehead that night.

    2) Never heard of Tony Peluso either.

    3) Is this, “Alone Again Naturally” and “Never Gonna Fall In Love Again” all really the same song?

  4. Dead on, Gene. This is a great, and completely unexpected solo. It is for sure the only Carpenters anything that ever caught my eye.

    Wiki says Pinera just played the second solo so that could be an alternative fact.

    I was thinking of other songs that end with a monster solo. the Let it Be from the movie soundtrack has beautiful Harrison solos: fantastic note and tone choices.

    I would link but nothing remotely decent on youtube.

  5. I always thought of Tighter and Tighter as a Grace Slick track, and have no memory of the Alive and Kicking band name.

    This is a fun Carpenters track. That guitarist is as goofy as they come, no?

    It is and was easy to mock the Carpenters, but their pop was always a little over the top. And I liked a lot of those tunes, marveling at the abject yearning of Karen’s vocals in their best songs. That’s Superstar. And Close to You, which is stalker crazy.

    Then, some years later, Todd Haynes made a movie telling the Karen Carpenter story using Barbies. It was a college project, I think.

    The original film/video is pretty crummy, and this transfer is poor, but there is an injunction against the use of the movie, so it’s outlaw to see it at all. (I have a VHS I got from Haynes many years ago, though who knows if that’s still working.) Anyway, it’s worth slogging through.


  6. Not one but two of the best song-ending solos are the Little Wings, by Hendrix and Clapton/Allman. The Hendrix is as usual not on youtube but the Clapton is (I’m pretty sure this one is almost all Clapton). Actually the guitar I love most on this is the under-guitar at the beginning, but the final solo is hair-raising. The Prince solo on the live While My Guitar Gently Weeps is another contender.

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