Classic Nuggets: Buck Owens, “Tiger by the Tail”

It is the League of Alternative Baseball Reality (LABR) weekend in Phoenix, and that means time with my bestest industry friends.

Later today I will see fellow Remnant Steve Moyer, but for the most part this week I have been traipsing from ballpark-to-ballpark with my running buddy Steve Gardner.

Steve and I always have so much to talk about: baseball, food, and especially music.

As we ate breakfast the other morning, we were talking about country and alt-country, and I remembered this anecdote from my youth.

When I was eight or so–so this is 1960-61–and was a cub scout, our little pack got tickets to the local NBC affiliate’s Saturday afternoon variety show. Remember that at that time there were just three TV networks, and nothing like cable. In fact I am not sure if PBS had a presence as of yet.

I remember the show was hosted by the news anchor, who also hosted the kids Saturday morning/weekday afternoon kids cartoon show, along with that variety thing (which was that period’s time of local cable access filler).

Well, when I was in the audience, the musical guest was Buck Owens, and he sang his new hit, Tiger by the Tail.

It was just Buck, though he surely had a shiny suit and flashy guitar (at least to an eight-year old), so no Buckaroos. And, I am pretty sure Buck had an electric (not as cool as the metalflake vintage Tele being played below) but was not plugged into anything.

Furthermore, this was my first exposure to lip syncing, in its most rudimentary form.

On the floor, in one corner of the little studio, was a little plug-in Admiral, much like the phonograph we had at home, and someone dropped the .45 single on the turntable at the right time, dropped the tone arm, turned up the volume, and the race was on (ok, George Jones reference) so to speak.

Funny how we remember. Before Buck was big stuff, for sure.


Hey Hey: Cool Pic

My friend sent me a link to an article about Blondie that included this photo from 1980. Reminds me of a cross between that picture of the original Baseball Hall of Fame inductees all sitting together you’ve seen a million times before and that Ellen selfie of the stars from last year’s Oscars.

Can you name them all?


Scary Songs: The Beach Boys, “Monster Mash/Papa Oom Mow Mow”

OK, so it ain’t that scary, it’s fun. And, maybe you expected the original from Bobby Boris Pickett, but this song was a staple of the Beach Boys live set for a while. Every time I saw them, they played it.

Couple of things I noticed, though:

Brian plays the bass with his thumb, rather than all his fingers or a pick.

Never realized Carl played a Rickenbacker sometimes. I always saw them all play white Fenders.

Mike Love seemed goofy back then, but the truth is he was fucked up crazy all the time. He just realized his potential in the interim. I mean, I get Brian has had his issues, and well, Dennis and Carl were sort of sad stories. But, that troika was raised by the equally fucked up Murray Wilson.

Love was their cousin. He is a crazy right wing Ted Nugent-like nutcase. Being Dracula pushes him just that much closer to sane.


Afternoon Snack: Fleetwood Mac, “Showbiz Blues

Dust is some nasty shit. Swear.

I did a lot of cooking this morning. I don’t really have any family in this country, so fortunately, my late wife, Cathy’s, family decided to hang onto me.

the mac

I say this because Cathy’s mom, Edie, turns 80 on Monday (go girl!), and later today we have a celebration planned.

Where the dust comes in is that Thursday morning, as part of the spate of rain we have been jonesing for in Northern California for the past six months, it got cold where Cathy’s brother, Eric, and his wife Jill (these would be Lindsay’s folks) live, and Jill slipped on some black ice. The results were a broken wrist and fractures to her cheek (hopefully she won’t need surgery there), meaning a nasty fall.

This meant a couple of things: first, Jill is on a soup diet for a spell, and second, Jill always makes birthday cakes (except for her birthday, when I do it) and well, no way that was going to happen.

So, I took it upon myself this morning to both bake Edie her cake (blueberry-buttermilk bundt with glaze), and also make some soft stuff Jill could eat (creamed spinach, honey-pepper-cheese grits, and tomato basil soup). If you don’t get this yet, I really love to cook, so I had a good time doing this.

But, inspired both by Peter’s posting of I’m in Love With My Car, and Tom’s Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White, I decided to fire up the turntable while cooking for a few hours, and listen to some stuff I had not heard for a while. Plus, I like vinyl.

I started with A Night at the Opera, per Peter, and it was so fun. Death on Two Legs is wonderful, as is Sweet Lady (“you call me sweet, like I’m some kind of cheese,” what a line), and then I went to the first side of Jesus Christ, Superstar (sorry, guilty pleasure, but the band is killer, and well, it is sentimental for Diane and me), t0 Their Satanic Majesty’s Request (who hoo, In Another Land, and Citadel), then Boston’s first (sorry, another guilty pleasure, but a fun guitar album), Idlewild South, and finally to Then Play On.

When I first bought it, Then Play On was my favorite album, and it was followed by Kiln House.  I cannot remember which, but I believe one of those made my 50 essentials.

Then Play On is really Peter Green’s album, and a beautiful one it is. So vast and varied, and well, it has the iconic Oh Well, but that is not even my favorite cut on the album. In fact, I don’t know what is.

But, where the dust comes in is I have not played a few of these albums in a while, maybe 20 years, and I cleaned them before playing, but they had so damn much dust, it took playing the sides or songs a few times before I could get a real listen.

But, it was worth it. This recording is really just the studio one from the album, but it has two-plus minutes of stoned out banter and mistakes before the song gets underway (which was the song on the album after Show Biz, and I tried to find a pairing because the two work so well together), but it is pretty good fun.

We will get to more of the Mac, one of the most interesting bands of all time, another time.

For now, dig Peter A, whom if you listen, Santana got his sound from.

Classic Nuggets: Gino Washington, “Gino is a Coward”

Free association is a fun thing.

I responded to Peter’s I’m Your Puppet post regarding James and Bobby Purify with a version I like by Yo La Tengo.

So, Peter posted a fine version by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (actually, probably Valerie Simpson).

But, what got me from that version was the graphic that featured the song on “Ric Tic” records.

In truth I have been told I have a photographic memory, though I think this is not so. I mean, I forget to buy toilet paper and lose my keys, things that overall are way more important than remembering Don Demeter’s batting average in 1960 (.274).

It isn’t like I try to remember that stuff, mind you. It just sticks.

Well, my brother and I collected 45’s (those would be vinyl singles to all of you born after 1980) and still have a pretty good collection of those discs, including all the Beatles and Stones singles with cool picture covers.

But, what I noticed about Peter’s response was the record label for Marvin and Tammi’s I’m Your Puppet was “Ric Tic,” and that immediately triggered this song, Gino is a Coward, by Gino Washington. That is because, as you can see, Gino was on Ric Tic as well.

I knew this right off because remembering labels and songwriters and producers of singles was no different than remembering batting averages, or film directors, or the order of Mark Twain’s novels for me. I can’t help it. I just remember this shit.

Back on track–if there is one–I thought it would be fun to revisit Gino and his hit from 1964, and the truth is, the song is pretty good. For the time, it totally rocks, with a pretty advanced guitar solo, machine gun drums and fine walking bass. Gino has pretty good range, as well, and the words are basically pretty funny.

Have at it.

Afternoon Snack: Smokey Robinson, “Ooh Baby Baby,” & Captain Beefheart, “I’m Glad”

Today I brought my Rickenbacker along to my guitar lesson (as opposed to my bass) just because I felt like playing some guitar, and Steve pulled up this wonderful Captain Beefheart cut, I’m Glad from the album  Safe as Milk.

I have that disc, as well as the seminal Trout Mask Replica, though I have not listened to either of them in years, so I sort of forgot about them. We were working on the arpeggios within the cool progression (played here by Ry Cooder) and at one moment, I stopped dead, looked at Steve, and said, “this is Ooh Baby Baby,” and Steve quickly nodded and said, “yeah, I couldn’t put my finger on it.”

Both are great, and different in their own way, but the crossover is unmistakable; however, you be the judge.

And now the inimitable Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.

Night Music: Hoagy Carmichael (w/Lauren Bacall), “Am I Blue?”

Friday night, and as I was making dinner (this time cayenne fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy) this great song from To Have and To Have Not jumped the synapses.

Directed by the equally great Howard Hawks (Bringing Up Baby, The Big Sleep, Red River, and Ball of Fire to name a few), with a screenplay by Ernest Hemmingway, To Have and To Have Not is in fact based upon a Hemmingway short story. But, rumor has it, there is very little in the film that has anything to do with the story.

Which doesn’t mean the film isn’t just great. It was Lauren Bacall’s and Humphrey Bogart’s first film together (in fact this was Bacall’s firgst film, period, and she was 19 at the time) and the chemistry is undeniable.

This is the film where Bacall suggestively tells Bogart he knows how to whistle (“you just put your lips together, and blow”).

The film also features Walter Brennan as a tookothless rummy sidekick named Eddie, and a joke of mixed-up names, for Bogart’s name is Harry Morgan, but Bacall always calls him Steve, while Bacall’s name is Marie Browning, but Bogart calls her Slim.

Anyway, the equally wonderful Hoagy Carmichael (as Cricket) plays throughout (remember, this is a 40’s movie, and music and song were part of the equation), including this cool number where he starts solo, and where Slide m helps him finish up.

Tres cool for a Friday night.

RIP/Classic Nuggets: Kim Fowley (1939-2015)

What do The Hollywood Argyles/Joan Jett/The Runaways/B. Bumble and the Stingers/The Seeds/Alice Cooper/KISS/Helen Reddy/Steel Pulse/Bread and John Lennon have in common?

Part of their careers, including songs they recorded was pushed in some way by singer/songwriter/producer/manager Kim Fowley. And, there are a lot more.

Fowley died January 15, and he had a career so varied and extensive, that it is useless to paraphrase. I will just give you the Wiki link to him.

Below is the song Fowley produced that was the most fun (at least to me). But, check him out. I promise there is a band or artist you like on the list.




Classic Nuggets: Della Reese, “Don’t You Know?”

Somehow Peter invoking Dinah Washington triggered Della Reese and this terrific song for me.

The melody is taken directly from Puccini’s La Boheme (which became Rent on Broadway), specifically Musetta’s Waltz.

If you are curious about opera–which is an incredible spectacle and the best mélange of acting, singing, music, and stage production within the arts–La Boheme is a great place to start. Good story, lovely music, pretty accessible (I have seen it a couple of times, and remember, full tilt symphony was the rock’n’ roll of its day and technology).

Anyway, this song, penned by Bobby Worth is killer. I remember hearing it on the radio and being dazzled as a seven-year old.

Classic Nuggets: The Jarmels, “A Little Bit of Soap”

I am not sure why pop/soul songs of the early 60’s have been jumping into my brain of late.

Earlier this week it was Dick and DeeDee’s The Mountains High. This morning it was Ruby and the Romantics Our Day Will Come, which I promptly went to on YouTube.

I found the original, plus a pretty good cover by Amy Winehouse, but in the process, there popped up a bunch of other great like songs from the era. Tell Him, by the Exciters, One Fine Day, but the Chiffons, Easier Said Than Done, by the Essex, and this tune.

The songs, and those of the Brill Building and Motown were not only so finely written and crafted, but they were a lot like the movies of the Hollywood system in the late 30’s and 40’s, when it just seemed the competition was tight and everything produced–or at least released–was a the top of its respective game.

It did make me realize that times have changed, and there is no real vehicle for simple pop tunes like these any more. It is rock, or alt, or headbanger, or rap, or house music, but the old homogenization of the pop charts where The Impressions and Conway Twitty and the Beachboys and the Four Seasons and Marvin Gaye could all share Billboard space seems to be long gone.

For, though there were specific genres back in the 60’s, the big deal was to have a cross-over hit, like A Little Bit of Soap, which made it on the soul charts, but also made it on the Billboard Top 100 as well.

Maybe with the death of radio it was inevitable for genre selection to be driven by Pandora and her ilk, but irrespective, it doesn’t seem like bands and songwriters and producers labor to produce little two-minute-plus gems as they did when radio was in its heyday. Not that I am longing to return to those old times, but I did start a new category call “Classic Nuggets” just to cover these lovely little works of musical art.

Let’s start here, anyway, with the Jarmels.