Song of the Week Revisited – 1-2-3, Len Barry

I just learned Len Barry died a month ago on November 5, 2020. It reminded me of a post I wrote for the SotW back on July 10, 2010, before Rock and Roll Remnants began. I’m posting it here now in tribute to Barry.

Ignored           Obscured            Restored

A few year’s ago my brother told me he had just seen a very interesting documentary on PBS about John Lennon’s Jukebox.  Since I consider myself a pretty knowledgeable Beatles fan, I was surprised to learn a documentary was made on a subject I didn’t even know existed.  I was able to catch the show a few days later on a rebroadcast.

Here’s the skinny.  Apparently Lennon found a Swiss made “portable” (33 lbs.) jukebox and bought one around 1965.  He stocked it with forty-one 45s and took it on the road when he toured.  In 1989, the juke showed up in a Beatles memorabilia auction at Christie’s and some dude (John Midwinter) bought it for about $5 grand.

But the best part is that it still had the forty-one records in it, complete with title strips in Lennon’s own handwriting!  The song selection gives a great insight into the music that influenced Lennon’s own early compositions.  Here’s a link to the complete list of records:

lennon’s jukebox record list

It’s hard to pick a single song from this list but I’m going with “1-2-3” by Len Barry, partly because I’ve always liked the song and partly because I have a personal connection to it.  “1-2-3” was a #2 hit in the U.S. in 1965 when I was a nine year old boy.  At the time, my father was dabbling in concert promotion, bringing national acts to upstate New York and using his roller skating rink as the performance venue.  When he booked Barry I was excited and asked if it would be possible to get his autograph.  Well, being a young boy I fell asleep before the concert was over but my father woke me up at the end of the night to meet Barry and collect the autograph.  Barry couldn’t have been nicer, scribbled his autograph and handed it to me.  Still in a stupor, I took it from him – and tore it in half!

I really didn’t mean to insult the poor guy.  Hopefully the incident didn’t bruise his ego too deeply.

Enjoy… until next week.

Song of the Week – Man in the Moon, Village

Ignored           Obscured            Restored

Today is the 50th anniversary of the first time a man walked on the moon.  If you were alive at the time, you remember it like you remember where you were and what you were doing when America was attacked on 9/11.

I was totally into the space program.  I knew the names of all the rockets and loved to build and launch Estes model rockets.  I even built the Estes model of the Saturn V – The booster that launched the Apollo XI mission.

As you may predict, I need to find a song that is a proper tribute to the occasion.  There are hundreds (thousands?) of songs that make reference to the moon and I love many of them.  Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon” immediately comes to mind, as does Van Morrison’s “Moondance.”  There are more obscure candidates like Television’s “Marquee Moon” or “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” but I’m still not there.

This being the song of the week, I need to go even more Obscure.  My pick is “Man in the Moon” by Village.  I’ll bet you never heard it!

One of the reasons I picked this song is because it is of its time.  It was released in 1969, the year of the moon landing, and has the psychedelic sound of its day.  The “Man in the Moon” single was even released on a label called Head!

The blog site Anorak Thing describes the track as follows:

“Man In The Moon” starts out with some ethereal organ and then gets a bit heavy with some great bottom end bass.  What I love about this record is it’s from 1969 and despite the organ work it’s not overly heavy like some of the plodding/wanky Deep Purple stuff of the period.  Halfway through it gets a bit “improvisational” but never too “way out” either.  It reminds me of early Atomic Rooster if they were a bit more “lysergic”.

Village was led by British R&B musician Peter Bardens and included Bill Porter on drums and bassist Peter Thomas, who would later to be in Elvis Costello’s Attractions.  Before Village, Bardens was in Them with Van Morrison (1965).  After Village, he would go on to found the progressive rock band Camel.

“That’s one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.”

Enjoy… until next week.