Archive for the ‘Other Blogs’ Category

Saturday Single No. 102

September 26, 2011

Originally posted November 15, 2008

I thought I’d try something new this morning, a new method of finding a track to share: I went to the alphabetical stacks and went through the albums from the beginning, looking for one that I did not know well.

At that point, I thought, I’ll pull out the lesser-known album and pull a track from it for this morning.

But which track? Well, I thought I’d borrow a technique from Casey at The College Crowd Digs Me and use the fourth track on the record. As Casey explained a little bit more than a year ago:

“‘Track Four’ is my small way of paying homage to my dad.

“While he was in college…when anyone picked up a new album…it was tradition to play… ‘Track Four’…first. Supposedly… ‘Track Four’…was symbolic of whatever album one was listening to.

“Where this started is unknown. And any factual statistics on this particular track would be purely subjective. But anyway…I think it’s kinda cool…in a ‘Freaky long-haired’ sorta way. So…here we go.”

So I made my way through the A’s: ABBA, Bryan Adams, Margie Adams, a bunch of stuff from the Allmans, Herb Alpert, America, the Animals, Apollo 100, lots of Joan Armatrading, the Association, Atlanta Rhythm Section, the Average White Band and Aztec Two-Step. I thought I’d hit something in the middle of the section when I pulled out an album called Ladies Choice by Any Old Time, an all-woman bluegrass group. But the sound on the record was quavery, and I decided there had to be some aesthetic considerations. So we went on.

The Babys, Joan Baez, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Anita Baker, Long John Baldry, the Balkan Rhythm Band (which I happen to know fairly well), Barclay James Harvest, Elizabeth Barraclough, Lou Ann Barton, Les Baxter and the Beach Boys. This was becoming more difficult than I had expected. But I sifted on: Beausoleil, the Bee Gees, Archie Bell & the Drells, William Bell.

And then I found a record I do not know well at all, released in 1975 by a woman about whom I know at least a little. I pursed my lips and loked at the back, checked the credits.

I saw a number of names I do not know, mostly on background vocals. But many names were very familiar: Steve Cropper, guitar. Craig Doerge, keyboards. Chuck Findley, Robert H. Keyes, Jim Horn and Jim Price on horns. Andrew Gold on piano, vocals and acoustic guitar. Danny Kortchmar on guitar. Russ Kunkel on drums. Dee Murray on bass, James Newton Howard on keyboards and Nigel Olsson on drums. Lee Sklar on bass, Sneaky Pete on pedal steel and Robert (whom I can only assume is Waddy) Wachtel on guitar.

That’s pretty much the cream of the Los Angeles session folks back then, with a few others thrown in: Cropper from Memphis, Dee Murray and Nigel Olsson from Elton John’s band. This woman had some powerful friends.

So I played Track Four, titled “#1 With A Heartache” written by Howard Greenfield and Neil Sedaka. (More big-gun friends!) It’s a cute little piece of fluff, and I thought the point of view was odd, or at least unclear, but that’s songwriting craft, not the singer’s flaw.

The singer’s voice is thin, pleasant but not very robust. The background singers on the choruses overwhelm her. But then, it was never the singer’s voice that first brought her to public attention. She’s Barbi Benton, born Barbara Klein, and during the late 1960s and early 1970s, she was the girlfriend of Hugh Hefner of Playboy magazine.

She never graced the magazine’s centerfold, but her charms were displayed elsewhere in the magazine a few times. And in the 1970s, Hefner bankrolled Benton’s not-so-successful singing career on his own short-lived Playboy record label.*

So here, pulled from Benton’s third album, Something New, is today’s Saturday Single:

Barbi Benton – “#1 With A Heartache” [1975]

*As noted by jb of The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ after this was originally posted, Barbi Benton was also for some time a cast member of the cornpone TV show Hee Haw. Note added September 26, 2011.

Pondering The Blogging Future

August 24, 2011

Originally posted October 27, 2008

In twenty-one months of blogging – more than five hundred posts – I’ve received two requests from copyright owners to remove material. The folks who own the rights to Leo Kottke’s 12 String Blues asked me to remove a link to that album last March, and early this month, a representative of Bobby Whitlock asked me to remove the links to his work.

In both cases, I happily complied within an hour of receiving the request, and then I double-checked over the next day to make sure I hadn’t missed anything.

Those were the only complaints I’d received.

The only ones until last Wednesday and Thursday, that is, when I received three notices from Blogger, telling me that complaints had been filed regarding copyrighted material on three different posts. Those filing the complaints were unidentified, and Blogger deleted the posts. The threat, of course, is that if Blogger decides too many complaints are filed, my account will be closed. (So if this blog disappears without any warning from me, that’s what has happened.)

I stewed about the complaints at the end of last week, and while wandering the world of blogs over the weekend, I learned I wasn’t by any means the only person receiving a notice: Tom at TC’s Old and New Music Review wrote about it, as did Steve at Teenage Kicks. And Sunday, jc at The Vinyl Villain had a list of other bloggers – including Steve – who had received similar notices.

Theories abound in blogs and on bulletin boards about who is lodging the complaints: It’s a certain record label. It’s an industry representative. It’s a ’Net vigilante. I don’t know. I do know that I found the three recordings cited in the notices I received were an odd mix: A 2003 edit of a 1986 duet by Demis Roussos and Nancy Boyd; an Aretha Franklin B-side/album track from 1972; and a Shawn Colvin album track from 1994.

And I’ve spent a lot of time since the middle of last week pondering how to respond. As I noted Saturday morning,* I did in fact have to reformat the hard drive Friday, and Saturday was spent playing Strat-O-Matic baseball [see note below], so I likely would not have posted either day anyway.

The complaint/deletion notices have spurred me to do some housekeeping that I should have been doing all along, and that’s to delete links two weeks after they’ve been posted. While catching up, I accidentally deleted the links I posted a week ago Saturday when I wrote about the death of Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops, but I don’t think that’s a loss, as those were hardly rare singles. And that leads me to one of the things I’m considering: Focusing as I did in the first months of this blog on more rare music. Instead of, say, a Baker’s Dozen – a format that may have run its course after one hundred installments – perhaps offering a “One From The Deep,” which would look at individual songs that languished in the lower levels of the Billboard Hot 100.

I don’t know yet what I am going to do. I’m certain there will be bloggers who will close shop as a result of last week’s flurry of complaints, and I’m certain as well that such is the hope and intent of those lodging complaints with Blogger. I imagine I could continue to write about my life and how it’s been intertwined with music without offering the music itself. I know that when I visit my favorite music blogs, I’m a great deal more interested these days in the tales than the tunes. I’m not sure to what degree that’s true for the four hundred or so folks who stop by here most days.

Keeping this blog running – and getting the response I have – has been one of the greater joys of my life. I don’t know what I am going to do come tomorrow. But in the meantime, I could use some feedback.

About baseball: For those who are interested in the Strat-O-Matic results, my 1931 Athletics defeated the two-time defending champions, Rob’s 1922 Browns, in the first round, but Rob won the tournament for the third year in a row. Somehow, he ushered his 1995 Rockies through the puzzle of poor pitching to win the title dramatically with a Larry Walker home run in the bottom of the ninth inning of the deciding game.

*The Saturday morning post noting that I would not share a Saturday Single was evidently written directly on the blog. It does not exist in the archives. Note added August 24, 2011.

RIP, Rick Wright & Norman Whitfield

August 15, 2011

Originally posted September 18, 2008

Pillars continue to fall.

Monday saw the death from cancer of Rick Wright, keyboard player and one of the founding members of Pink Floyd. He crossed over at his home in England at the age of sixty-five.

Wright appeared on every Pink Floyd but one from 1967’s Piper at the Gates of Dawn onward. (The single exception was The Final Cut in 1983.) Along the way, he wrote some of the most cherished songs in the group’s long history, including two songs – “Us and Them” and “The Great Gig in the Sky” – for the group’s 1973 masterpiece, Dark Side of the Moon.

Also leaving us this week was Norman Whitfield, soul and R&B songwriter and producer, most notably for Motown in the 1960s and 1970s. Whitfield, who was sixty-seven, died from complications of diabetes. He was one of the most prolific songwriters and producers in any genre; the list of recordings of songs he wrote – generally with Barrett Strong – stretches for thirty pages at All-Music Guide covering soul, R&B, funk and many other genres and subgenres of music.

While it’s always risky to distill such a broad-based career down to two or three songs, there were three records I thought of immediately when I heard the news: Marvin Gaye’s version of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” Edwin Starr’s “War,” and the Temptations’ “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.”

Given the news of the two deaths, I went digging at YouTube, as I generally do on Thursdays, and found some interesting things.

Here’s Pink Floyd on its 1994 Pulse tour performing Wright’s “Us and Them,” with some good close-ups of Wright singing and playing keys.

From the same tour, here’s Wright’s “Great Gig in the Sky,” again with a few good looks at Wright.

As for Whitfield, his writing and productions were his performances, so first, here’s the late Marvin Gaye singing “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” during a television performance that’s dated 1968.

Then, here’s a live performance by the Temptations – from Soul Train, I think – of the Whitfield and Strong’s “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.”

And here’s the late Edwin Starr with a performance of Whitfield & Strong’s “War,” evidently from a New Year’s celebration – if I’m wrong, someone please say so – hosted by British musician Jools Holland, who hosts Later . . . With Jools Holland.

Finally, stop by Barely Awake In Frog Pajamas for a moving meditation on the passing of folks whose art matters to us.

The Temptations’ performance on Soul Train took place in 1972. The Starr performance was in fact from a show hosted by Holland on December 31, 2001, and was titled Jools Holland’s 9th New Year’s Eve Hootenanny. Four of the five videos – all except the Pink Floyd performance of “The Great Gig In The Sky” – have been re-embedded during posting in the archive although I believe they are the same videos as were originally embedded in 2008. Note added August 15, 2011.

Here & There In Blogword

July 25, 2011

Originally posted August 4, 2008

A couple of things to note at blogs in the link list:

At the marvelous blog The “B” Side, Red Kelly continues the remarkable story of the discovery of Lattimore Brown, one of the great but less-heralded R&B singers of the 1960s and 1970s. When you head over to The B Side, make sure you delve back into the beginning of the story, around June 30. That’s when Red told us how Jason Stone, operator of the equally terrific blog Stepfather of Soul, got a note from a nurse at a hospital in Biloxi, Mississippi, telling him that she’d Googled his blog because one of her older patients claimed to be a singer and she was trying to find out who he might be. Turned out he was Lattimore Brown, who was assumed by many to have died sometime during the 1980s. Jason consulted with Red, and Red tells the story from there, a tale that wanders through the world of Southern Soul with some fascinating and startling stops along the way.

It’s everything a music blogger could want: A great story told exceedingly well with marvelous music at its center.

There are a few blogs relatively new to the link list:

Barely Awake in Frog Pajamas tells the tales of two listeners rediscovering vinyl. From the construction of the ultimate sandwich to tales of playing pinball with an Eighties’ icon, the writer at BAIFP seems to find what I have found: While not everything must connect with music, everything can so connect, if one chooses to view and hear the world that way.

Paco Malo, operator of Gold Coast Bluenote, may be a familiar name to readers here, as he’s left several notes to me and to readers in recent months. His own efforts at Gold Coast Bluenote wander between music, film and other outposts of modern pop culture and provide, as good blog posts do, rich grist for the mental mill.

Another blogger who finds multiple connections between music and life is Fusion 45 at the similarly named blog, Fusion45. From a high school crush that to this day brings him a connection to Stevie Nicks to memories of the days in 1973 when folks wandered through his home town of Elmira, New York, en route to Watkins Glen, Fusion 45 brings together memories and music, assessing both lovingly but unsentimentally.

I have a couple of albums in mind for sharing this week, but I didn’t find enough time over the weekend to listen to them as closely as I would like. One of the two will show up later in the week, but for today, well, we haven’t wandered through the junkyard for a while.

A Walk Through whiteray’s Junkyard, 1950-99
“Same Old Lang Syne” by Dan Fogelberg from The Innocent Age, 1981

“Memories Don’t Leave Like People Do” by Johnny Bristol from Hang On In There Baby, 1974

“You Did Cut Me” by China Crisis from Flaunt the Imperfection, 1985

“Saved” by LaVern Baker, Atlantic single 2099, 1961

“Morning Will Come” by Spirit from The Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus, 1970

“Nights Are Lonely” by Emitt Rhodes from Farewell to Paradise, 1973

“Want” by Country Funk from Country Funk, 1970

“Hercules” by Elton John from Honky Chateau, 1972

“Confidence Man” by the Jeff Healey Band from See The Light, 1988

“Centerfield” by John Fogerty, Warner Bros. single 29053, 1985

“Picture Book” by the Kinks from The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, 1968

“Fields of Gold” by Sting from Ten Summoner’s Tales, 1995

“When Jesus Left Birmingham” by John Mellencamp from Human Wheels, 1993

“Book of Dreams” by Bruce Springsteen from Lucky Town, 1992

“Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine” by Country Joe & The Fish from Electric Music For The Mind And Body, 1967

A few notes:

I chuckled when “Same Old Lang Syne” popped up. Just last evening, I’d left a note about the song at one of the blogs mentioned above, noting that there is a twinge in my soul whenever I heard the song. I added that I don’t connect with the song any specific individual from my past, so I can only assume that the presence of that twinge means that Dan Fogelberg did his job as writer and performer very well.

After the Johnny Bristol and China Crisis tracks followed Dan Fogelberg, I braced myself for a downer set. The Bristol track is a generally good slice of mid-Seventies soul, although it’s not as good as the title track from the album, which brought Bristol his only hit. China Crisis’ smooth and melancholy “You Did Cut Me” put me in mind of some of Roxy Music’s work ten years earlier.

“Saved” is LaVern Baker’s musical testimony, with a gospel chorus and a big bass drum underlining her tale of how she used to do all that bad stuff but don’t do it no more. Then the saxophone takes a solo, and oh, it sounds sinful and fun. After that, she can sing it all she wants, but the record sounds more sensual than sanctified.

I always thought that when I finally found a good copy of The Twelve Dreams of Dr Sardonicus, I’d be so pleased. Well, I wasn’t blown away. My take is that even in 1970, when the listening public was likely a little less discerning than it might be today, it was tough to put together an album that would last. Doing the same thing with a concept album was even tougher.

I recall seeing LPs by Emitt Rhodes in the cutout bins during the mid- to late Seventies. I guess he was supposed by some record company executive to be the next big thing. He wasn’t, although his stuff is listenable if ultimately interchangeable with the work of hundreds of others.

Country Funk isn’t all that countryish or funky, although it makes a better run at the former than the latter, with a sound not that far removed from Buffalo Springfield, at least on “Want.” The track would have been better served had it ended at the 3:00 mark. The disjointed mess that follows might have been funny in 1970, but it just seems self-indulgent now.

The Kinks’ track is far more familiar these days as the background to a camera commercial than as a track from The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society. The album is worth checking out, although the Kinks’ very British sensibilities have always been a little difficult for this non-Brit to grasp.

Tum-Ta-Tum! (Da-Da-Do) Tum-Tum!

July 7, 2011

Originally posted June 3, 2008

By now, the news isn’t news any more: Bo Diddley is dead. Born December 30, 1928 as Elias Otha Bates (and later surnamed McDaniel – formally? informally? I’m not sure – after his teenage mother’s first cousin, who raised him), he was 79 when he crossed over.

Famed for the “Bo Diddley beat,” a rhythmic signature that became the foundation of his music, Diddley was a prolific writer and recording artist in the 1950s for the Checker label of Chess Records at a time when Chess was probably the second-most important U.S. record company, at least as far as rock ’n’ roll and R&B was concerned. (Atlantic Records would have come first.) His productivity – and the influence of his rhythmic innovations – did not translate into record sales: The McComb, Mississippi, native had only one Top 40 hit in his career, 1959’s “Say Man.”

“Say Man” is listed in the Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits as a novelty record, with the eighth edition of the book noting that on the single, “Diddley trades insults with maracas player Jerome Green.” Calling it a novelty seems a bit harsh, but it was different. The single – which went to No. 20 – had Diddley and Green laying down over a simple rhythmic bed a bowdlerized version of the urban insult game called “the dozens.”

While Diddley’s music didn’t have the impact on the charts he certainly would have liked, he influenced many musicians in his and following generations of rock, rock ’n’ roll and R&B. One early example: Buddy Holly appropriated the Diddley beat for “Not Fade Away” in 1957, an approach that the Rolling Stones echoed when they recorded the song on the British edition of their 1964 album, The Rolling Stones (England’s Newest Hit Makers). The record was the Stones’ first to hit the English charts and their first U.S. single.

His long-term influence on rock music brought Bo Diddley into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of its second group of inductees in 1987. He toured and performed regularly until health concerns took him off the road last year.

There are certainly hundreds – more likely thousands – of cover versions of Bo Diddley songs. I rummaged through my mp3s and came up with three versions of “Bring It To Jerome.” The first is Diddley’s own, released in 1956. The first of the covers is by the British group Manfred Mann and was released on the Manfred Mann Album in 1964. The second is by a group of L.A. musicians, Joel Scott Hill, Chris Etheridge (of the Flying Burrito Brothers) and Johnny Barbata – helped, as I understand it, by some famous friends – called L.A. Getaway, who released their very different version of “Bring It To Jerome” on their only album, a self-titled 1971 release.

Bo Diddley – “Bring It To Jerome” [Checker 827, 1956]

Manfred Mann – “Bring It To Jerome” [1964]

L.A. Getaway – “Bring It To Jerome” [1971]

Plenty of other folks in blogworld are remembering Bo Diddley in tales and/or music. Some of them are Jeff at AM, Then FM, Ted at Boogie Woogie Flu, Vincent at Fufu Stew, and our friend at The Vinyl District. In addition, jb from The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ gave Bo some props at the WNEW blog.*

*Unhappily, the link to jb’s piece at the WNEW blog no longer seems to work. Note added July 7, 2011.

News From Here & There

June 29, 2011

Originally posted May 21, 2008

A few things from here and there:

JB the DJ at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ has a new gig. He tells about his new occasional radio shifts – starting this Sunday – at WISM-FM, known as Magic 98 – in Madison, noting that he applied for a job at WISM’s AM side in 1983. JB notes, “Magic 98 is a bigger pond to swim in—higher ratings, stronger signal—with vastly different formatics to learn, but it’s also a whole lot closer to the kind of radio I was weaned on. So I suspect it’s going to be one hell of a lot of fun.”

You’ll find links at the blog to the station’s website and to a page showing JB’s radio schedule. Good luck with the gig, JB. Spin one for me!

My other compatriot from the Upper Midwest, Jeff from AM, Then FM, tells of taking his dad to a Dionne Warwick show at a local casino. Everything was gravy, he says, after Warwick’s second song, “Walk On By.” And Jeff provides links to Warwick’s version of the song as well as to two additional, intriguing versions of the Bert Bacharach/Hal David anthem.

Elsewhere on his blog, Jeff continues his “20 Songs from 20 Albums for $20” series, sharing the fruits of a recent vinyl purchase with tunes from the Bob Crewe Generation, Joe South and War.

At The College Crowd Digs Me, Casey continues his “Track Four” feature – following a tradition that helped his father and friends make it through college – by sharing and assessing “Alexis,” the fourth track on the James Gang’s 1973 album, Bang. Casey notes that at the time of the recording, the James Gang was actually a different band, what with the departure of Joe Walsh and the arrival of Tommy Bolin. Oddly enough, this is the third mention of the talented but ultimately doomed Bolin in just a week or so among the hundreds of blogs I scan every week. (If I could recall where those were, I’d provide links; as it is, I’ll likely be writing a little about Zephyr, Bolin’s first band, in the next few weeks.) As long as you’re at Casey’s joint, scroll down and look at his reading recommendations; in terms of subject, they’re all over the place, but in terms of quality, they’re top-notch.

At Bobby Jameson, my friend Bobby continues his memoirs, telling his tale of life in late-Sixties America (with a mid-Sixties sojourn in England already covered). In his fifty-fifth chapter, Jameson looks at where he was – pysically, mentally and emotionally – in 1968 as he headed toward the recording of his third album, Working! Bobby’s blog is not always fun reading, but it’s an open and honest look at one man’s journey through Southern California and its recording industry during the time we now call the Sixties.*

Jesse Colin Young, Together (1972)
All-Music Guide notes that Together, Jesse Colin Young’s first solo album since 1965, was recorded while the Youngbloods – the folk-rock group Youngblood organized in 1965 – were still together. As the Youngbloods effectively disbanded in 1972, one might assume that Young’s release of Together was effectively his declaration of separation from the group he’d headed since its inception.

But if the release of the album was a statement of purpose, the content of the album doesn’t exactly follow. It’s kind of a hodgepodge, a mix of things that really shouldn’t cling together as an album.

The album starts with three of the sweet and mellow folkie tunes that would more and more become Young’s stock in trade during his solo career. Then, Together takes the first of several odd turns with a not-quite-rocking piano-based rendition of Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen.” It shouldn’t work, but it does, probably because Young’s distinctive voice ties the song into the rest of the record.

That same effect – voice as unifier – comes into play a little later when Young shifts from his earnest “Peace Song” into a rendition of the truck-driving tune, “Six Days on the Road.” Again, one would think that the country-ish tune wouldn’t fit into the mood of Northern California mellowness that Young projects, but it does. As do the following songs: Young’s rendition of Mississippi John Hurt’s “Creole Bell” and a bluesy take on on “1000 Miles From Nowhere,” a 1953 tune by Mercy Dee Walton better known as “One Room Country Shack” and recorded by many others, including Buddy Guy.

Young closes the record with performance of Nick Gravenites’ “Born in Chicago” and “Pastures of Plenty,” a song credited to “Woody Guthrie/Traditional.” And again, one might think that these separate parts of the album should grind gears rather than function as a whole. But it’s the voice, I guess, as well as Young’s seeming determination; it’s almost as if he willfully said, “It goes together because I say it does.”

And, oddly enough, Together holds together pretty well.

Helping Young out were Rick Anderson on harmonica, Pete Childs on guitar and dobro, Jerry Corbitt on vocals, Scott Lawrence on keyboards, Jeff Myer on drums, Eddy Offenstein on guitar, Ron Stallings and John Wilmeth on horns and Suzi Young on vocals.

The album has been released on CD but seems to be out of print, with copies currently priced at $40 or more. This is a rip from vinyl, with a few whispers of sound. I wish I could remember where I found the rip, but I don’t, so all I can do is offer a generic thanks.

Good Times
Sweet Little Child
Sweet Little Sixteen
The Peace Song
Six Days on the Road
Lovely Day
Creole Bell
1000 Miles From Nowhere
Born In Chicago
Pastures of Plenty

Jesse Colin Young – Together [1972]

*Since this was first posted, Bobby Jameson has created a cluster of blogs dealing with his history and his music. He’s posted a lot of music on YouTube, much of it unheard until the past few years. It’s well worth your time to wander through all of his online projects. Note added June 29, 2011.

Blogworld Gleanings & Helen Reddy

May 22, 2011

Originally posted November 27, 2011

A few things I’ve noticed while wandering around:

Jeff over at AM, Then FM is providing early fuel for those who are easing themselves into the holiday spirit with his series of “Three under the tree” posts. Visitors will find regular appetizers of Christmas and holiday tunes from sources ranging from Arthur Lyman, Billy Squier and the Royal Guardsmen. One of the first tunes he posted, fittingly, was one of the best Christmas tunes that ever came from the rock and pop world: 1971’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” by John Lennon (with the label actually reading “John and Yoko & The Plastic Ono Band with the Harlem Community Choir”).

Casey at The College Crowd Digs Me continued this week his occasional series called “Track Four.” I’ll let him explain it: “‘Track Four’ is my small way of paying homage to my dad. While he was in college…when anyone picked up a new album…it was tradition to play… ‘Track Four’…first. Supposedly… ‘Track Four’…was symbolic of whatever album one was listening too. Where this started is unknown. And any factual statistics on this particular track would be purely subjective. But anyway…I think it’s kinda cool…in a ‘Freaky long-haired’ sorta way.” The series started with “Taurus” from the self-titled 1968 debut album by the Los Angeles group Spirit (“I Got A Line On You”), and its most recent entry – last week’s – was “Miracles Out Of Nowhere” from Kansas’ 1976 album, Left Overture.

Homercat at Good Rockin’ Tonight marks his blog’s fourth anniversary with some musings on the evolution of his blog and music blogging in general. To celebrate, he shares “Happy Birthday” by Weird Al Yankovic and “Birthday” by Meredith Brooks, as well as some Cheap Trick, Off Broadway and Jason & the Scorchers. Happy Birthday, Homercat!

Over at Got The Fever, wzjn checks in with an assessment of a couple of Roger Daltry tunes (and a wish for me and the Texas Gal, for which we thank him!). We’re hoping here that life settles enough at Got The Fever to allow wzjn to give us his entertaining and thoughtful take on music more often.*

I wrote a little while ago about the fortunes of three football teams I follow. I should note that since that writing my favorite high school team, the Eden Prairie Eagles, won their seventh Minnesota large-school title in twelve years. Eden Prairie defeated St. Paul’s Cretin-Derham Hall 50-21 for the title in a game between unbeaten teams. Congratulations to Coach Mike Grant, his staff and his team!

Tuesday Cover
Back in 1966, Tim Hardin released his first album, a Verve release titled Tim Hardin 1. (I wonder if the title reassured him that there would be a second album? Turns out there were more albums than that, but the immediate successor on Verve was in fact titled Tim Hardin 2.) The album was a mix of bluesy folk, folk-rock, rock and a number of songs that aren’t easily categorized. It was hailed as a solid debut, and other performers began quickly sifting through the songs on the album, all written by Hardin. Two of them became, if not standards, then at least songs that have been covered so frequently as to become far more famous than their creator ever did.

I think it’s fair to say that nothing else Hardin wrote in his short life – he died in 1980 at the age of 39 – quite had the reach of those two songs: “Reason to Believe” and “Don’t Make Promises.” (If I had to name a third-ranking Hardin tune, I’d probably go with “If I Was A Carpenter,” which, as I think about it, may have been more popular than “Don’t Make Promises.”)

The list of those who’ve covered “Reason to Believe” begins with Rod Stewart, of course, but it also includes such performers as Lynn Anderson, Glen Campbell, the Brothers Four, the Carpenters, Bobby Darin, Dashboard Confessional, Marianne Faithful, Ian & Sylvia, Scott McKenzie, Eddie Money (!), Rick Nelson and the Youngbloods, to name only a portion of the list.

As for “Don’t Make Promises,” the list of those who recorded it is not nearly as long, but still features some interesting names: Bobby Darin, Scott McKenzie and Marianne Faithful again, the Kingston Trio, Three Dog Night, Helen Reddy, Gary Puckett & the Union Gap, Chris Smither and Paul Weller.

The most interesting name there may be Smither’s, as the long-time blues and folk artist has long been on my list of performers to listen to more closely. His recording of the song was on his 1999 release Drive You Home Again, an album I’m going to have to find. Weller’s recording of the Hardin song is also more recent, coming from 2004’s Studio 150, and it’s a nice recording.

But the version I’ve decided to share today – likely because it has some time and place connections for me that the other versions don’t – is Helen Reddy’s, from her 1971 album I Don’t Know How To Love Him. During my first year of college, it seemed as if it were a rule that every young woman who lived in a dormitory had to own either a copy of Reddy’s album or of Carole King’s Tapestry. So today’s share is what at least a part of college life sounded like thirty-six years ago.

(The track is ripped from vinyl, and there are just a few pops.)

Helen Reddy – “Don’t Make Promises” [1971]

*Got The Fever has since moved. Note added May 22, 2011.