Got The Fever

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Supremes

I heard, for the one-millionth time (and believe me the LAST), “Baby Love”. It’s not that the song is a bad song – far from it, but I’m just so over hearing one chosen song played repeatedly, ad-nauseum, that falsely comes to represent a great group/band/artist. I wrote awhile back about how radio stations play the so-called ‘100 Greatest of Rock And Roll’ and how they absolutely pound into our heads the one, or two, songs from bands that have put out perhaps a dozen or so albums – as if that one song sums up neatly what the band was all about! It is so frustrating!

My other gripe would be that, to the casual listener who tunes into the same old so-called ‘Top 100’, they tend to not be able to remember the multiple other hits by the very same band - hits that would be atmospheres more refreshing to hear once again! Why can’t we heat up with “When The Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes”, or “I Hear A Symphony”, or "Love Child" (my personal favorite), “River Deep, Mountain High” or “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me”, or “The Happening”?

Sadder to me than radio stations neglecting to play the deeper, wider catalog, is the fact that you’ll never again hear the lesser known hits - or, the more obscure songs - by The Supremes that have been lost to the abyss.

Like these two.

Stoned Love
Often confused as a reference to drugs, it was actually written as a term for unconditional love – I’m guessing as in ‘written in stone’. This was the first single the Supremes released that did not include Diana Ross, but featured the Jazz/R&B singer Jean Terrell on lead vocals. This did make it to the top ten, and you can hear why – thanks in large part to the contributions of The Funk Brothers! This sounds essentially as if it could have been Diana Ross and The Supremes and I wonder in hindsight if that’s a part of why Jean was recruited. Matter of fact, I wonder if the public at large really knew or really cared given that the song was a big hit? No matter, this richly deserves to be heard more often on the radio.

Stoned Love, Mmm..
Oh yeah,
A love for each other will bring fighting to an end
Forgiving one another

Time after time doubt creeps in
But like the sun lights up the sky with a message from above
Oh yeah, I find no other greater symbol of love

Yeah, don't ya hear the wind blowing
Mmmmm … Stoned Love
Oh yeah, I tell ya I ain't got no other

I’m Living In Shame
Sad story about a girl who grew up poor, married rich and never kept in touch with her mother because she was ashamed about the poverty she came from, and in which her mother still lived. Even after she has a baby, she doesn’t bother to tell mom. You can guess the ending – mom dies and girl regrets what she’s done.

But, the divine tangent here is that even after only a few bars, you can tell that it was off of the same album as “Love Child” – the apple didn’t fall far here! That's a great clue that reveals a little something about the writer, the sessions, the album and the time period it was all put together. This is another of the lesser known Top Ten songs that made The Supremes second to only The Beatles as most popular group from the 60’s.

Ah, in a college town
Away from home a new identity I found
Said I was born elite, with maids and servants at my feet

I must have been insane
I lied and said momma died on a weekend trip to Spain
She never got out of the house, never even boarded a train

Married a guy, was living high
I didn't want him to know her
She has a grandson, two years old
That I never even showed her

I'm living in shame
Momma I miss you
I know you're not to blame
Momma I miss you

Lesson learned today? Turn off those diaphanous, banal, miasmic, so-called ‘Top 100’ stations, and begin anew listening to, remembering, and relishing with enthiusasm, the depth of the musical catalog that great bands have to offer. At least listen to the richness that a comprehensive collection of greatest hits can offer!

The Supremes: Stoned Love [120]
The Supremes: I’m Living In Shame [130]
Diana Ross & The Supremes Anthology

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Roger Daltry

Truth be told, I was never a huge Who fan. Don’t get me wrong though; count me deeply nested among the smiling over-buzzed crowd that listened countless times to “Who’s Next” and that can recall all the lyrics to “Getting’ In Tune” and “Love Ain’t For Keeping” to this day. Splintered chips from their catalog still raise a mighty electrical surge within me such as ‘Eminence Front”, “I’m Free”, “Join Together”, “Shakin’ All Over”, “Who Are You” and “The Real Me”. Despite hanging out with Mike back in the day, a real Who devotee, The Who never adhered thickly to me.

As long as I’m telling the truth, neither did Roger Daltry. However, not unlike being charged over a select number of Who tracks, so it is with me and the Daltry catalog. Mike turned me on to Daltry and constantly hit me with The McVicar soundtrack and a number of other releases, to no lasting result. But, nestled within the folds of the offerings were a few tracks where negative hit positive and the spark exploded within me. Mike gave me a musical gift of a lasting impression.

Say It Ain’t So, Joe
Sultry and subtle, like a room that is leisurely filling with an aromatic scent, this stately track will whisper against you and ensconce you within its majesty. Glorious in its layering of gorgeous background vocals, proud, triumphant and spirited drumming, and Daltry’s soothing, raised to resolute storytelling, it is all lovingly and expertly juxtaposed against an ever swelling, determined and lingering climax. This is wondrously magical, buoyed with pure pleasure and of a particularly elevated class of writing and performing that is much heralded, but frightfully all too scarce.

They told us that our hero
Had played his trump card
He doesn't know how to go on
We're clinging to his charm & determined smile
But the good old days have gone.

The army and the empire may be falling apart,
And the money has gotten scarce.
One mans word held the country together
But the truth is getting fierce.

Say it ain't so Joe!
Please, say it ain't so!

We've pinned our hopes on you Joe,
And they're ruining our show.

Avenging Annie
With original honors to Andy Pratt, Daltry, while not adding breathtaking originality, does nothing less than steamroll his personal stamp onto this track much as much you would grab the sledgehammer from the barker’s hand, and swinging from the hips and shoulders, slam the tab that pushes the ball upward to ring the bell at the carnival. As Andy sang from a flowering hippie stylization, Roger revs it, snarls with it and rides atop it.

Well they call her avenging Annie
The avenger of womanhood
She spends her whole life telling lies
These on a mess and over good

She'll take all these spoilt young hippies
Running around playing games
They're surrounding your bed, she'll blow your head
She'll put you through a change.

What you've done to others
She'll do unto you.

Roger Daltry: Say It Ain’t So, Joe [53]
Roger Daltry: Avenging Annie [40]
One Of The Boys [1975]

Addendum: As you may have well noticed, I've been remiss in keeping up to date. Let's call it that I've been in a "personal quagmire" which dampens the enthusiasm within and keep me off the computer. To all who have been faithful, I express my most heartfelt gratitude. However, with chin up and noting that days move on, I've found that many great things have happened which should be noted.

Foremost among them is the news that whiteray over at Echoes In The Wind has exchanged vows and rings with his longtime muse! Whole music collections have now been formally merged. May you have many prolonged years of bliss, harmony and peace my friend!

Next is the news that Vincent over at Fufu Stew has yet another delectible mix in the honor of this Thanksgiving. Get thee over there and download these hearty three (!) mixes that are sure to please one and all!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Sammy Davis Jr.

It’s gushing buckets here near Cape Cod. The rain today has somehow morphed me into a melancholy mood, or more precisely, mellow and downbeat. What to listen to?

Fortunately, while gazing over the main drive I happen to hit upon today’s feature.

I’m doubly glad to feature Sammy Davis Jr. because not only do I actually dig this cat, I’ve read with great interest jeffash over at AM then FM who occasionally features music from his Dad’s collection. This is called inspiration. And, Sammy just seems to hit the mood on the head today.

A founding member of the Rat Pack, Sammy just exudes laid back cool and swaggering confidence. Able to lay down a melody that will crackle even the most hardened heart and able to also make the band stand on edge, Sammy is what’s known as an entertainer.

And, that’s what I want right now, to be entertained. Let Sammy now entertain you.

Here’s That Rainy Day
I can just picture him singing this. On a four-post stool, one heel hooked on a rung. A mike in one hand, cigarette in the other, head bowed down during the intro. Fingers laced in adornments, neck circled in chains, a single molten white spotlight reflecting shards of laser light into the audience. Articulate guitar and soothing, expressive, magical voice pairing to razor cut the placid moment.

Where’s that worn out wish
That I threw aside
After it brought my lover near?

Funny how love becomes a cold rainy day.
Funny – that rainy day is here.

I’ve Gotta Be Me
Only a great man could pull this off, and no one has ever done it with more conviction. Sammy braces against outside forces and determinedly stands his ground on his own terms. Fiercely independent, doggedly focused and spitefully determined, he's willing to stand alone and proud no matter the outcome. Truly one of the greatest themes of all time, I’m not surprised that I can not imagine anyone else able to claim this track. To try would be tantamount to degrading ones self. Sammy without question or doubt is inimitable.

I want to live, not merely survive.
And I won’t give up this dream
Of life that keeps me alive.

I gotta be me, I gotta be me
The dream that I see makes me what I am.

Sammy Davis Jr.: Here’s That Rainy Day [92]
Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me [107]
From: The Best of Sammy Davis, Jr. on Reprise [1996]