Posts Tagged ‘Bobby Jameson’

A Few Videos By Bobby Jameson

July 13, 2011

Originally posted June 12, 2008

Instead of delving into YouTube for videos related to Monday’s Baker’s Dozen today, I thought I’d do something else. My friend Bobby Jameson has been creating videos to go with his songs – some of them unreleased and unheard for about forty years, so I thought I’d share a few of those.*

Here’s my favorite, for the song “Right By My Side” from the album Color Him In.

Here’s the video for “Gotta Find My Roogalator,” which Bobby recorded with Frank Zappa and released on the Penthouse label in 1966.

And here’s a video for “Life of Crime,” an unreleased song, this one from 1985, not from 1979, as I originally posted.

The newest video he’s put together is for a song called “When’s It Gonna Be Tomorrow,” an acoustic performance from 1980.  It’s a spare and haunting song. It’s currently up at YouTube, and will no doubt soon be at Bobby’s blog, Bobby Jameson.

*The videos I featured here in 2008 are gone, replaced by new versions Bobby has put together over the past three years, so I’ve updated the videos embedded and linked here. Note added June 13, 2011.

Boettcher Produces Jameson

May 22, 2011

Originally posted November 30, 2007

When Bobby Jameson went into the studio to record his second album in 1967 – his first that would be released entirely under his own name – he was teamed up with producer Curt Boettcher.

It seems an odd combination, given Bobby’s recordings to that point: the folk-rock that he recorded as Chris Lucey on Songs of Protest and Anti-Protest and the few pop-rock and folk rock singles that had come out on Mira and a few other smaller labels. The best of that string of singles had been “Gotta Find My Roogalator,” produced by Frank Zappa and released on the Penthouse label; like the others, it got little airplay and went nowhere.

Boettcher, on the other hand, was coming off a series of successes, having produced the singles “Along Comes Mary” and “Cherish” for the Association, as well as the group’s first album, And Then . . . Along Comes The Association.* About the same time as he went into the studio with Bobby Jameson, Boettcher worked with Gary Usher’s group, Sagittarius, doing vocals and some production work on 1967’s Present Tense and – later – 1969’s Big Blue Marble, two albums of sweet and mystical California pop that are now collector’s items.

In retrospect, for anyone who’s listened to Jameson’s 1969 album, Working!, the pairing seems even more odd. Jameson was in the process of finding that later persona, the world-weary wanderer who lives in the grooves of Working!, trying to, in the words of that album’s opening track, find his way “back to Palo Alto.” And Color Him In, the result of Jameson’s time in the studio with Boettcher, seems like a fascinating detour but a detour nevertheless.

There’s no doubt that Boettcher knew his way around the studio. His work with the Association – superb radio pop that it was (“Cherish” is one of my all-time favorite singles) – shows that. But I get the sense from listening to Color Him In that Boettcher had no idea what to do with Bobby Jameson and his music, with the combination of acerbic wit, romance and – this was 1967, after all – hippie mysticism, southern California style. So it seems as if Boettcher tried a little bit of everything.

Several of the tracks on Color Him In would not have sounded out of place on an Association album: “Know Yourself,” “Right By My Side,” “See Dawn,” “Do You Believe in Yesterday? and “Who’s Putting Who On?” although the vocal on that last track is far too intense for anything ever recorded by the Association. Still, the production is familiar, with its horns and the wordless backing vocals, including the “bum, bum” sequences that come right from the introduction to “Cherish.”

Other tracks on the record sound like they come from other places, as far as the production goes. Maybe it’s just my ears, but I keep hearing echoes of other performers – from a wide range of styles – as I listen to Boettcher’s work on Color Him In.

The opener, “Jamie,” has a touch of the style that Johnny Rivers would find about the same time with Rewind, the second in his sequence of great albums. “Windows and Doors” has a touch of British pop to it, maybe the Hollies? “The New Age” sounds as if Cyrkle, the group that hit with “Red Rubber Ball” and “Turn-Down Day,” could have recorded it.

Heading to the second side of the record, “Jenny” is an ultra-mellow piece that somehow anticipates the solo work of Jesse Colin Young. “I Love You More Than You Know” puts me in mind of the Casinos and “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye” from the same year. “Candy Colored Dragon” is a slice of sunshine pop, and “Places, Times and the People,” the record’s closer, has echoes of some of Roy Orbison’s better singles.

I dunno. Maybe I’m hearing things. But it seems as if Boettcher had no idea what to do with Bobby Jameson and his songs, so he threw a little bit of everything out there, resulting in an album that has no identifiable center. Most of the songs are pretty good, and Boettcher’s production is nothing if not capable. Jameson’s vocals are good, but they’re not nearly as good here as they were on parts of the Chris Lucey album or as they would be two years later on Working. But the bigger flaw, I think, is that there’s no unity to the record, and in 1967 listeners were just beginning to look for albums that had some sort of unity, if not an overall concept.

I don’t know what time of the year the album came out, but it’s worth recalling that on June 1 of that year, the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the third album – following Rubber Soul and Revolver – in a series that changed listeners’ expectations forever. Up until then, an album could be a collection of unconnected, stylistically different tracks, as long as it had a couple of hit singles. But after those three albums, and especially after Sgt. Pepper, listeners were looking not for just good music but for music that had if not a concept then at least a coherent vision. And Color Him In, as good as many of the songs are and as capable as Boettcher’s production was, did not have that coherence.

Add to that the fact that Verve – a label more known for jazz – evidently did little to promote the album and likely had little idea how to do so anyway, and Color Him In got lost in the flood of albums that were crowding the marketplace in 1967. It’s not a lost masterpiece, but it is an interesting listen.

I’ve included in the zip file six singles from Jameson: “I’m So Lonely,” “Okey Fanokey Baby” and “All Alone” from 1964, “Gotta Find My Roogalator” from 1966 and “Vietnam” and “Metropolitan Man” from 1967. (When I posted the Chris Lucey album, I included a track that the CD release had labeled as “Metro Man.” The track was actually an acoustic version of “Vietnam” most likely recorded in 1967.)

Color Him In
Know Yourself
Windows and Doors
Right By My Side
Who’s Putting Who On?
The New Age
Do You Believe In Yesterday?
I Love You More Than You Know
See Dawn
Candy Colored Dragon
Places, Times and the People

Single tracks:
All Alone
Metropolitan Man
Gotta Find My Roogalator
I’m So Lonely
Okey Fanokey Baby

Bobby Jameson – Color Him In [1967] & Asst. Singles

*I think my chronology is off here concerning the timing of Boettcher’s work. I think Bobby Jameson left a note at the original post site with a correction, but that note is either lost or buried in an email box, so I cannot correct any errors here. Note added May 22, 2011.

The Mystery Of Chris Lucey

May 22, 2011

Originally posted November 16, 2007

When I first started wandering the world of music blogs – about eighteen months ago, I guess – I kept coming across a name that supposedly had a great mystery behind it.

The name Chris Lucey kept popping up in the corner of the blogging world that focuses on mid-1960s folk-rock and pop-psych music, the sounds of the Byrds and the Seeds and the Leaves and – at the far end of the block, under the umbrella of AM radio – the Association and The Mamas & The Papas. And behind those well-known groups were lined up hundreds (thousands?) of groups banging their way around the L.A. basin, playing the clubs, living the mid-1960s California Dream, hoping to get a record on the radio and – for the guys, at least – working at staying away from uniformed service and the resulting trip to a land of jungles and rice paddies.

The tales that surface from the survivors of that time and place can be fascinating – one of the best websites to dig into the history and personalities of the time is The Great Hollywood Hangover. And the music that came out of L.A. at the time was great listening, from the Top 40 I heard in the Upper Midwest at the time to the more serious (and sometimes seriously self-indulgent) stuff I dug into in later years. A third part of the musical landscape of the time has come to bright light in recent years, as blogs and CD reissues have resurrected the efforts of many of the little known groups and fringe performers of the time.

And, as I say, as I wandered through Blogworld, I kept seeing occasional references to Chris Lucey and an album called Songs of Protest and Anti-Protest that was, if not legendary, at least well-known. And every mention of the record contained a caveat that Chris Lucey might have been someone else. After all, the performer pictured on the cover looked a lot like Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones. (It should have; that’s who it was.)

As I dug further, it became clear that Chris Lucey was the pseudonym of Bobby Jameson, and that quickened my pulse, as Bobby Jameson was listed on a website devoted to The Band as one of the performers who had recorded a version of “The Weight.” I found an ripped copy of Songs of Protest and Anti-Protest and enjoyed it, but still, the story eluded me. I read tales filled with logical conclusions, suppositions, wild-ass guesses, wishful fantasies and plain old lies, I now know. Because shortly after I posted Bobby Jameson’s album, Working, Bobby got in touch with me and urged me to post the rest of his catalog, the Chris Lucey album and Color Him In, an album he released in 1967.

Bobby became Chris Lucey in 1965, after recording and releasing a couple of singles in the U.S. and then heading to England for a year. In England, he worked with Andrew Loog Oldham, the manager at the time of the Rolling Stones. Another single followed there, and then Bobby left the U.K.

Back in the U.S. after almost a year, Bobby says on his MySpace page, “I met a girl named Pam Burns who was Randy Woods’ secretary at Mira Records. Mira had a budget label that they put stuff on that they weren’t sure what to do with.” And one of the recordings set for release in Europe was an album called Songs of Protest and Anti-Protest by a performer named Chris Ducey.

Mira and Ducey had some contractual issues, and the singer bailed on the project, which left Mira with thousands of album jackets already printed and, Bobby notes, a European release date to meet. “They figured out that they could alter the album covers to say Chris Lucey instead of Chris Ducey,” Bobby says. And Pam Burns persuaded Randy Wood to let Bobby Jameson become Chris Lucey. So in a very short time, Bobby Jameson took Chris Ducey’s songs titles, wrote new songs for them and then recorded them. Marshall Lieb, a one-time member of the Teddy Bears in the 1950s with Phil Spector, produced the record.

The record, Bobby said, turned out better than anyone expected, and Randy Wood tried to sign Bobby to a long-term contract. Bobby refused: “I had been hired to rewrite Ducey’s songs and sing them, that’s all.” But Wood had promised Bobby that if the album did well, Mira would record and release a Bobby Jameson single. The track “Vietnam,” backed with “Metropolitan Man” was the result. (You can hear it, and a few other tracks, at Bobby Jameson’s MySpace Music page.) Deejays in L.A. refused to play the record because, Bobby says, it was considered too political and anti-American. He notes that the song was used in the soundtrack to the cult film Mondo Hollywood.

Songs of Protest and Anti-Protest did not sell well, in Europe, in the U.S. or in England, where it was released under Bobby Jameson’s name as Too Many Mornings. Those who did hear it heard what All-Music Guide calls “a deeply idiosyncratic psych-folk opus resembling the classic early LPs by Arthur Lee and Love.”

If you’re going to be pigeon-holed, at least that an interesting place to be stuck. And it’s not inaccurate. There are hints of Arthur Lee’s whimsy and sense of melody and filigree. To me, the stand-out tracks on Songs of Protest and Anti-Protest are the gloomy “I’ll Remember Them,” “I Got The Blues,” which has a Byrds-ish feel, the haunting “That’s The Way The World Has Got To Be (Part 2),” and “Girl From The East,” a lovely tune that was covered on a single by the Leaves.

The copy of the album I found – from a CD on Rev-Ola that’s available only as an import here in the U.S. – has four bonus tracks. One of those, listed as “Metro Man,” has to be the B-side to “Vietnam.” It and the other three bonus tracks, also likely recorded later – “There’s A War Going On,” “Insecure Little Person” and “World War 3” – have a distinct Bob Dylan vibe that’s at odds with the Chris Lucey material. (I neglected to ask Bobby about them; if I’m wrong about their provenance, I’m sure he’ll let me know.)*

That’s The Way The World Has Got To Be (Part 1)
I’ll Remember Them
Girl From Vernon Mountain
I Got The Blues
That’s The Way The World Has Got To Be (Part 2)
With Pity, But It’s Too Late
You Came, You Saw, But You Didn’t Conquer Me
Girl From The East
Don’t Come Looking
Metro Man
There’s A War Going On
Insecure Little Person
World War 3

Chris Lucey (Bobby Jameson) – Songs of Protest & Anti-Protest [1965]

*Even after several years,  I’m not certain that the four bonus tunes are correctly identified. Since I wrote this post, Bobby has been posting his music – released and unreleased alike – at several YouTube pages. His current YouTube page is here. Note added May 22, 2011.

‘Shut Softly Your Watery Eyes . . .’

May 18, 2011

Originally posted October 30, 2007

Not quite two months ago, I wrote about Bobby Jameson and his version of “The Weight,” the Robbie Robertson song that sits high in my list of favorite songs. At the same time, I shared Bobby’s 1969 album Working!, on which he released his version of the song.

A friend of his left a comment and a link to a MySpace page set up for Bobby. I was a little concerned about Bobby’s reaction to my having shared his album, especially considering that his two earlier albums were in print on CD and – from what I read – Bobby hasn’t been getting any compensation for that. Bobby’s friend promised to check with him, and a few days later, the singer himself left a very complimentary comment here and then sent me a link to his own MySpace page.

Since then, every couple of weeks or so, I get a note from Bobby, and I stop by his page once a week or so. And shortly after we connected, he offered to send me his version of Bob Dylan’s “To Ramona,” an unreleased song from his 1969 sessions for Working!

He did so last evening, and I’ve been listening to it ever since.

It’s very clear from the general sound that it’s from the Working! sessions. Bobby said that GRT pulled it from the record because of its length of 4:04. That may have seemed excessive in 1969, but listening now, it hardly seems to get started before it’s over.

Amid the swirling strings and the soft punctuation provided by the horns, Bobby’s voice – as world-weary as it was on the tracks that were released on Working! – comes sliding out of the speakers, the vocal becoming a little more intense, but no less weary, as the song goes on. Finally, the song ends with what sounds like a combination of anguish and resignation:

“And someday, maybe,
“Who knows, baby,
“I’ll come a-crying to you.”

Although I’m sure Bobby has played it for friends over the years, his version of “To Ramona” has, for the most part, been waiting thirty-eight years. I’m honored and touched that he sent it to me so I could share it here.

Thanks, Bobby.

Bobby Jameson – “To Ramona” [1969]

Bobby Jameson Carries ‘The Weight’

May 6, 2011

Originally posted September 3, 2007

For about the last twenty years – with the pace accelerating in the last seven, since I’ve been online – I’ve been collecting versions of the song “The Weight,” written by Robbie Robertson and first released on Music From Big Pink, the 1968 debut album by The Band.

It’s long been a favorite of mine, and I keep my eyes and ears open as I wander the ’Net, looking for word of cover versions of the tune that I might not have heard about. Thus far, I have nineteen versions of the song, with three by The Band and one by The Band with the Staple Singers (from The Last Waltz).

I also have a version by The Band’s Levon Helm and Rick Danko backed by the members of Ringo Starr’s first All-Starr Band in 1989, and a version that Helm recorded with John Hiatt and country singers Radney Foster and Mark Collie for a 1994 CD titled Red Hot & Country.

Other than those five versions – which all feature at least one of the original vocalists – I have covers of “The Weight” by Hoyt Axton, Joe Cocker, King Curtis, Aretha Franklin, Smith, the Staple Singers, the Staple Singers & Marty Stuart, Cassandra Wilson, Lee Ann Womack, Al Kooper & Mike Bloomfield, Spooky Tooth, the Ventures and Bobby Jameson.

Probably the least-known name in that list is the last, Bobby Jameson, a 1960s recording artist born Robert Parker James in Tucson, Arizona. I became aware a few years ago that he’d recorded the song when I read an entry in an extensive website about The Band and its music. When I entered the world of music blogs a little more than a year ago, I looked for Jameson’s album, Working!, on occasion. I knew it was rare, and according to everything I could find, had never been released on CD.

About nine months ago, I think it was, just before this I started this blog, I ran across the album at Play It Again, Max. I gave it a few listens, and then stored it away.

I’ve dabbled with the idea of finding Jameson’s other work from the Sixties. He recorded a 1966 album titled Songs of Protest and Anti-Protest that was released on the Surrey label (I think) in the U.S. under the pseudonym of Chris Lucey. (It was released under his real name in the U.K., with the title changed to Too Many Mornings.) He also recorded Color Him In for the Verve label in 1967 before recording Working! for the GRT label in 1969.

His first album, the Chris Lucey recordings are fairly easy to find, having been released on CD by the Rev-Ola label. Color Him In is also available on CD, with some copies listed at GEMM for between $16 and $20. (An LP copy of the first album under its U.K. title of Too Many Mornings is listed there as I write this for $16.28.) The real kick in the catalog, of course, is Working! One copy of the LP is listed at GEMM with a price of $120.75; in the past six months or so, I’ve checked various places fairly regularly, and that’s the only copy of Working! I’ve seen offered.

Bobby Jameson – Working! [1969]

A few listens, and one can understand why this album is one for which collectors hunt. As well as being rare, it’s a pretty good country/country rock record.

Three of the tracks are Jameson’s originals. The album opener, “Palo Alto,” is a great song, carrying with it a feel of the work that Glen Campbell was doing with Jimmy Webb’s compositions – “Galveston,” “Wichita Lineman” – around the same time. “Broken Window” is a fairly standard country effort musically, and the lost love metaphor of the lyrics is nothing remarkable; it’s a pretty song, though. The third original, “ ’Bout Being Young,” closes the album, and like the opener, “Palo Alto,” puts the listener in mind – with its subject matter, its vocal and its arrangement – of a Glen Campbell/Jimmy Webb collaboration. (From some writers, that would not be a compliment; here at Echoes In The Wind, it is.)

Some of the cover versions that make up the rest of the album fare less well. Jameson’s world-weary voice doesn’t carry nearly enough of the irony necessary to succeed with John Lennon’s “Norwegian Wood.” Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” and “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” both are a little spare, not helped by slower tempos than one might consider for the songs. But Jameson seems to at least battle the Dylan songs to draws.

Jameson’s work on “The Weight,” the reason – as noted above – that I first sought out the record – is good, if not spectacular. Many of the song’s interprers – including Levon Helm and Rick Danko of The Band in their original version on Music From Big Pink – relate the lyrics’ mystifying and foreboding tales in matter-of-fact voices. Jameson—his voice telling us he is nearly exhausted – adds a new element to the familiar song: The narrator is weary and wants to rest, but there is no one in this surreal town who will ease his burden.

And the rest of the album is fine, if not extraordinary: If I have a quibble, it’s that the tempo never seems to vary from song to song, leaving the record better heard as a series of ten tracks that might work better as entries in a random playlist than as an album heard in sequence. Of the remainder of the covers on the record, the best might be “Gentle On My Mind,” which benefits from a vocal intensity that this time belies the more matter-of-fact approach that Glen Campbell took with the song not that many years before Jameson recorded it.

The other two tracks on the album are “Singing The Blues,” which Guy Mitchell took to No. 1 in 1956, and “Ain’t That Lovin’ You, Baby,” the Jimmy Reed-penned bluesy standard that’s been covered by artists ranging from blues matriarch Etta James and the Everly Brothers to Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan, Sly & The Family Stone and Rod Stewart. Jameson’s version of “Singing The Blues” drags a little bit, but the expressiveness in his voice keeps the track from being a drag itself, and he does a good job with the Jimmy Reed tune.