Posts Tagged ‘Doucette’

Saturday Single No. 152

June 1, 2022

Originally posted October 10, 2009

The sun is shining, and it’s chilly outside, with a thin layer of snow on the ground. That won’t last long. I imagine by noon or thereabouts, the snow will have melted. By that time – long before then, I hope – the Texas Gal and I will have taken the highway north out of town for a brief Saturday excursion.

That’s something we haven’t done for a while: Take off on a Saturday morning, choose a direction and go. Recently, her coursework has taken priority, and I imagine there were weekends when my devotion to this blog has limited our time. But her list of assignments this weekend is short, and I will be brief this morning so we can head out.

This is not a major undertaking, a Saturday excursion, and we will not drive far. Our first planned stop is the small town of Pierz, not quite forty miles from here. The attraction? Well, there are a couple of antique stores/junque shops that are fun to poke around in, but the main draw is a meat market that offers the best bacon either one of us has ever had. Bacon is a Sunday tradition in our home, and the prospect of stocking up on Pierz bacon has us, well, not quite giddy, but very pleased.

After that, we’ll head east toward Mille Lacs Lake, one of Minnesota’s largest, hoping to see some fall foliage along the way. There’s a quilt shop in the small town of Wahkon that the Texas Gal wants to check out, and I imagine we’ll find other diversions along the way to Wahkon and then on our way back to St. Cloud. And there’s the prospect of lunch in a small-town restaurant where the fries are fresh and crisp and the menu holds a surprise or two.

So to get us on our way, here’s a song by a Canadian band named after its founder, Jerry Doucette, and it’s today’s Saturday single.

“Down the Road” by Doucette from Mama Let Him Play [1977]

Six At Random

November 4, 2014

We’re going to put the cursor about in the middle of the 78,829 mp3s in the RealPlayer and see where we go on a random six-track trip. Here we go!

First up is “When She Loves Me” from the 1977 album Mama Let Him Play by the Canadian musician Jerry Doucette. It’s a sweet tune, and I wouldn’t have known it or anything about Doucette without the help of my blogging pal jb, who hangs out at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’. He asked me one morning if I had Doucette’s album, needing – I think – the title track. I didn’t, so I went and found it in the wilds of the Internet. It’s a decent late Seventies album, offering kind of a Canadian version of Pablo Cruise, and it got to No. 159 on the Billboard 200. I don’t often seek the album out, but when a track from it pops up on random, I hum along.

From there, we move back to 1957 and “Love Roller Coaster” by Big Joe Turner. “I ain’t never comin’ down to earth,” he sings. “I’m gonna stay up high, long as I’m up here with you.” The record wasn’t one of Turner’s greatest hits, and it came near the end of his charting days – it was the next-to-last record he placed in the R&B Top 40 – but it got to No. 12, and it sounds pretty much like a Big Joe Turner joint. In other words, you know what you’re gonna get when the record starts, and when it ends, you’re not disappointed.

Coldplay first came to my attention in 2001 when “Yellow” showed up on the playlist of Twin Cities radio station Cities 97. I remember looking askance at the radio the first time I heard it, wincing at some of the lyrics, which seemed not so much haunting (which I think was the goal) as vague. But “Yellow” brought Coldplay to my attention, which is good, as I’ve liked a fair amount of the band’s work since then. I know there are many who detest the band, and I don’t quite get that. But then, there’s a lot of stuff I don’t get, so I don’t spend much time worrying about Coldplay haters.

I paid no attention to T. Rex back in the day, except that there was no way anyone could ignore “Bang A Gong (Get It On)” during early 1972. But I missed out on everything else the band did, including “Jeepster” from 1971’s Electric Warrior album. The record went to No. 2 in the U.K. but was not released as a U.S. single. I’m not entirely sure what “Girl, I’m just a Jeepster for your love” means, but the track is catchy. And it’s very similar to Howlin’ Wolf’s 1962 single “You’ll Be Mine.” Wikipedia notes that T. Rex’s Marc Bolan acknowledged of “Jeepster” that he “lifted it from a Howlin’ Wolf song.” (Regular reader Yah Shure has since told me that “Jeepster” was in fact released as a single in the U.S., though it did not chart. My source for my statement was The Great Rock Discography, another volume that I have either misread or whose data I must now salt liberally.)

The late Larry Jon Wilson has showed up in these pages a few times, and I’m glad to see him pop up today as we wander randomly. “Loose Change” is a panhandler’s tale, the title track from Wilson’s 1977 album, and he tells the tale as he seemingly always does, with affection, with respect, and with an acute eye for detail. He released five albums – four in the 1970s and one in 2008 – and every one of them is a quiet gem. And as I write this morning, I feel as if I should listen to his music more than I do, because every time Wilson’s music pops up randomly, I’m drawn into it by his craft and his warm voice.

Among my musical idiosyncrasies is an affection for the music of Julie London, the 1950s and 1960s chanteuse who’s perhaps known for two things: her 1955 recording of “Cry Me A River” and her role as nurse Dixie McCall in the 1970s police drama Emergency! Today’s random jaunt brings up London’s performance of “I’m Glad There Is You” from her 1955 album Julie Is Her Name. It’s a quiet track, maybe not among her best, but if you want to know what the adults were listening to in 1955, it’s a pretty good example.

Just Like A Baseball Bat . . .

May 16, 2012

Originally posted April 3, 2009

Every once in a while, as I follow sports, I come across an athlete talking about pulling a hamstring. “It was like being hit with a baseball bat in the back of my thigh” is a description I’ve read – or heard – many times. And I’ve thought two things:

First, that has to be overstatement. And second, even if it is overstatement, it can’t feel good.

Well, I learned late last evening that it’s not overstatement. And no, it doesn’t feel good.

I was helping the Texas Gal bring some things inside the house. As I turned to go up the short staircase that leads into the kitchen, something happened to my right leg. And it did in fact feel like I’d been hit with a baseball bat squarely in the back of my thigh. I grabbed at my thigh as I shouted and fell, my momentum leaving me sprawled on the kitchen floor with the cats backing away in alarm.

After a few minutes, it was obvious I’d done some severe damage, as I couldn’t straighten my leg without a lot of pain. The Texas Gal helped me get some shoes on, and we headed to the emergency room. Two hours later, we were on our way home, stopping at a pharmacy along the way.

The ER doctor told me that I managed somehow to put a good-sized tear in one of the muscles in the back of my thigh. The good news was that the tear came in the middle of the muscle, not where it attaches to the bone at either end. That, I’m sure, would have meant surgery. As it is, I’m on a regimen of pain killers, muscle relaxants and rest.

I can hobble around the house, and my thigh will heal. What with the pain killer, though, the world is in soft focus today, so I’m not going to write much more. We’ll let the following songs tell the tale.

A Six-Pack of Hurt
“Hurt So Bad” by Little Anthony & the Imperials, DCP 1128 [ 1965]

“It’s Gonna Hurt So Bad” by Doucette from Mama Let Him Play [1977]

“Bet No One Ever Hurt This Bad” by Linda Ronstadt from Hand Sown…Home Grown [1969]

“The Big Hurt” by the People’s Choice, TSOP 4769 (B-Side) [1975]

“It Hurts To Be In Love” by Marcia Ball, Angela Strehli & Lou Ann Barton from Dreams Come True [1990]

“It Hurts Me To My Heart” by the Soul Children from Genesis [1972]

The Little Anthony track is one of the classics of Brooklyn soul/R&B, with Anthony weeping and wailing above a maelstrom of strings and what sounds like tympani. The group’s fifth Top 40 hit in a string of seven hits that began in 1958, “Hurt So Bad” went to No. 10 in early 1965.

Doucette was a pop rock group from Quebec, Canada, that released a couple of decent albums in the late 1970s. Led by Jerry Doucette, the band is one I’d not heard about until a little bit ago when a fellow blogger mentioned it in an email. I went digging and found a rip of Mama Let Him Play and gave it a listen. To me, it falls into the Pablo Cruise/Little River Band category, with lots of smooth edges and tight harmonies. There are times when I prefer a few more rough edges, yes, but there are also days when Seventies smooth is quite nice.

“Bet No One Ever Hurt This Bad” came from Linda Ronstadt’s first album, during a time – says All-Music Guide – when Ronstadt began “to abandon the folk leanings of the Stone Poneys for a relaxed country-rock approach.” According to the liner notes for The Best of Linda Ronstadt: The Capitol Years (which gathers her first three albums and some extra tracks on two CDs), Ronstadt and producer Chip Douglas didn’t really find the country sounds Ronstadt was seeking. Nevertheless, she did a good job on “Bet No One Ever Hurt This Bad,” a Randy Newman tune.

“The Big Hurt” by the People’s Choice was the B-Side to the group’s single, “Do It Any Way You Wanna,” which went to No. 11 in the summer of 1975. Produced by Leon Huff, “The Big Hurt” sounds to me more like Chicago or Memphis than Philadelphia. It’s still good, though.

“It Hurts To Be In Love” is a track from a glorious grouping of three bluesy women singers: Marcia Ball, Angela Strehli and Lou Ann Barton. The entire Dreams Come True album is worth checking out, as the three women still hew to the roots while displaying some remarkable harmonies, backed by a band led by Dr. John (and including Jimmy Vaughn). Lou Ann Barton’s music has showed up here (and some will be reposted this month), but if anything by either of the other two women has showed up here, it’s been only in passing. That’s likely going to change. (Thanks to azzul for this one!)

The Soul Children have popped up here a couple of times before. A two-man, two-woman vocal group, the Children recorded several albums for Stax in the late 1960s and early 1970s. A slow and moody ballad, “It Hurts Me To My Heart,” is pretty representative of the Genesis album, which to my ears was a bit more subdued than the rest of the group’s body of work.

Here’s an album that several people have been anxious for me to offer again, Coming Back For More by William Bell. The original post is here.

Coming Back For More by William Bell (1977)

Chart Digging: April 8, 1978

April 8, 2011

Something last week – a conversation with the Texas Gal or maybe something I saw on television or read in Time magazine – reminded me of the Steven Spielberg film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. So on one of my trips to the library, I found the DVD and spent a couple hours the other evening reacquainting myself with the film.

I thought the story held up for the most part – I could have done with fewer scenes of  Richard Dreyfuss’ Roy Neary attempting sculpture – and the special effects still worked, even after thirty-four years of increasing proficiency in visual effects. It was apparent that the movie was made before the existence of MTV, as the pace of the editing seemed a bit slow at points: I noticed several times that static shots were held when the arc of the story seemed to demand – by today’s story-telling tendencies, anyway – quicker cuts and movement.

Still, the movie worked. And I still think that the shot of the aliens’ mother ship rising over Devils Tower is one of the great visuals in film history.

Beyond that, watching Close Encounters reminded me of the times in 1978, during my first months in Monticello, when I would head off to the Twin Cities suburbs on a Saturday morning and spent the day taking in two, sometimes three movies. I’d see one or two films in the late morning and afternoon, meet a friend for dinner and then see another movie before heading forty miles up Interstate 94 to home.

I remember vividly a few of the films I saw on those days: Saturday Night Fever, The Turning Point (which seems to be forgotten these days), Looking for Mr. Goodbar and, of course, Close Encounters. I remember being spooked and thrilled by Spielberg’s film, and I recall thinking about the scene in which Neary is stopped in his vehicle at a dark intersection. He waves absently at the vehicle behind him to pull around and misses entirely the fact that the vehicle’s lights rise in the air behind him.

A little spooked, as I said, I was keeping a close eye on the lights of the vehicles in my rear view mirror as I drove home to Monticello.

So what was I hearing on the radio as I drove home? Well, at least one of those movie days in the Twin Cities took place in early April, and here’s what was in the Billboard Top Ten as of April 8, 1978, thirty-three years ago today:

“Night Fever” by the Bee Gees
“Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees
“Lay Down Sally” by Eric Clapton
“Can’t Smile Without You” by Barry Manilow
“If I Can’t Have You” by Yvonne Elliman
“Emotion” by Samantha Sang
“Dust in the Wind” by Kansas
“(Love Is) Thicker Than Water” by Andy Gibb
“Thunder Island” by Jay Ferguson
“Jack and Jill” by Raydio

It was, as many weeks in late 1977 and early 1978 were, a good week for the brothers Gibb. Along with the two tunes at the top by the older brothers and the one track from younger brother Andy, the Bee Gees had written the Elliman single and the Samantha Sang single (which was produced by Barry Gibb). Overall, I’m not crazy these days about any of the tunes in that Top Ten, although I liked the top two well enough at the time (before they were played to death).

So what else do we find on the chart that week? Let’s jump close to the bottom for our first stop and then backtrack:

A couple of years ago, I got an email from my Wisconsin pal jb, proprietor of The Hits Just Keep On Comin’. He wondered if I had a copy of “Mama Let Him Play” by a Canadian group called Doucette. I checked the files, and found nothing there. Intrigued – and not about to let on that I’d not heard of Doucette until that moment – I cast my virtual nets out into the Web, and found the album, also titled Mama Let Him Play. I shipped the mp3 of the title track eastward, noting that I was not sure if the album track was the same as the single edit. (It wasn’t, based on the video I above.) [Note on May 3, 2014: The video originally posted was the album track; the single was not actually not a single edit but an entirely different recording, according to reader Yah Shure. See his comment below. The video posted as of May 2014 is, I believe, the mono promo single.] I probably should have mentioned my ignorance, but then, not a lot of people knew about “Mama Let Him Play” when it was out. A pretty good record, it peaked at No. 72; thirty-three years ago today, it was at No. 88 and in the first week in the Hot 100.

At No. 31, there’s the only Top 40 hit for a two singers who were also well-regarded studio musicians. One can find the names of Lenny LeBlanc and Pete Carr in the credits of many a record made during the 1970s in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. In the spring of 1978, their single “Falling” – from their album Midnight Light – was coming down the chart after peaking at No. 13. Two other tracks from the same album, “Something About You” and the title track, also made the Hot 100, peaking at Nos. 48 and 91, respectively. (Both LeBlanc and Carr have solo albums in their discographies: I don’t think I know any of LeBlanc’s solo work, but he had two singles in the Hot 100 in 1977 and 1978. Carr released two albums in the mid-1970s, and his 1976 release, Not A Word On It, is particularly worth finding.)

The disco trio of Brooklyn Dreams had four singles in the Billboard Hot 100 from 1977 through 1983, but not one of them got any higher in the chart than No. 57. “Music, Harmony and Rhythm” was that best-performing single, and it was sitting at No. 61 thirty-three years ago this week. (You really need to look at this video if for no other reason than to see some great Seventies hair.) The single isn’t a bad piece of work – I do like the introduction – but it seems to have gotten lost among the multitude of similar disco tunes on all the turntables. The trio did get some notice during 1979 when they were credited as being featured on Donna Summer’s “Heaven Knows.”

The band Angel, says All-Music Guide, “epitomized the type of commercial rockers who were hated by rock journalists but adored by their fans.” The quintet from Washington, D.C., had its greatest success in the spring of 1978 when a cover of the Rascals’ “I Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore” went to No. 44. In the chart of April 8, 1978, the record was at No. 77 and climbing. It’s not a bad single although I’m sure I would have ignored it had I heard it in 1978.

I’ve mentioned before my affection for Boz Scaggs’ Down Two Then Left, the relatively unsuccessful 1977 follow-up to his 1976 masterpiece Silk Degrees. Despite my admiration for the album, only two singles from the album made the Billboard Hot 100, and neither of them made it into the Top 40: “Hard Times” went to No. 58 in late 1977, and “Hollywood” went to No. 49 in the spring of 1978. Thirty-three years ago, “Hollywood” was at No. 100 and was heading off the chart, having tumbled thirty-three spots from the previous week.

Brooklyn again: Brass Construction, a nine-man disco/funk group from the New York borough, was in a downward slide on the pop chart. The group had hit the Top 20 in early 1976 with “Movin’,” which went to No. 14. Later in the year, “Ha Cha Cha (Funktion)” entered the Hot 100 but stalled at No. 51. And in the Billboard chart we’re examining today, “L-O-V-E-U” was bubbling under at No. 105, having peaked a week earlier at No. 104. It’s a good tune, but like the Brooklyn Dreams track mentioned above, not all that different from a lot of stuff that was out there at the time. The group did much better on the R&B chart, placing seven records in the Top 40. Of those, “Movin’” went to No. 1 for one week, “Ha Cha Cha (Funktion)” went to No. 8, and “L-O-V-E-U” peaked at No. 18.