Posts Tagged ‘Janis Joplin’

One More Trip Across ‘The Atsville Bridge’

December 16, 2011

Originally posted January 26, 2009

A couple of weeks ago, when I posted versions by Crow and Gator Creek of “Don’t Try To Lay No Boogie-Woogie On The King Of Rock And Roll,” I mentioned that as far as I knew, I’d never heard the Crow version, even though the band was from Minnesota and the record had made a small dent in the chart, reaching No. 52 in late 1970.

The post drew a comment from regular visitor Yah Shure, who said, in part:

“So, what rock was whiteray hiding under in 1970? 🙂 I heard the Crow version a lot on KRSI, and probably KQRS in the Twin Cities and bought the 45. But it didn’t fare well at the local top-40s. While KDWB aired it for a few weeks, WDGY, not surprisingly, shunned it altogether.”

And in the listing of radio stations lay the answer of why I had no recollection of the Crow version of the song. Yah Shure grew up in the western ’burbs of the Twin Cities, while I was in St. Cloud, seventy miles or so distant. At that time, up here in the hinters, we couldn’t get KQRS without connecting our radios to our television antennas. And KRSI, well, I’d never heard of it.

My Top 40 listening in those days – my senior year of high school – was KDWB from the Twin Cities during the day and then either WJON just across the railroad tracks or WLS from Chicago in the evening. So my only chance of hearing the Crow single was on KBWD, and I evidently didn’t.

Or maybe I did, once or twice. I don’t know. I obviously didn’t hear the song frequently enough for it to make an impression. But then, I’m sure I heard a lot of stuff one or two times over the years without really being impressed. And I cannot think of any song that I heard just once or twice and still remember.

So I’m not sure which rock it was that sheltered me from a pretty good single in the fall of 1970.

Anyway, as I also mentioned during that Saturday post two weeks ago, I found online and purchased a 45 of “Don’t Try To Lay No Boogie Woogie On The King Of Rock And Roll” as recorded by the song’s composer, Jeff Thomas. (All four versions of the song – by Thomas, Crow, Gator Creek and Long John Baldry – use different punctuation, which I find odd and a little frustrating.) That record arrived last week, and I thought I’d go ahead and share it, along with a somewhat random sample of five other songs from 1970. (In other words, if a random selection doesn’t please me, I reserve the right to skip to another random choice.)

A Six-Pack from 1970

“Don’t Try To Lay No Boogie Woogie On The King Of Rock And Roll” by Jeff Thomas, Bell 941

“Piece Of My Heart” by Bettye LaVette, SSS International 839

“A Woman Left Lonely” by Janis Joplin from Pearl

“Temma Harbour” by Mary Hopkin, Apple 1816

“Lousiana Woman” by Swampwater from Swampwater

“You’re The Last Love” by Petula Clark from Blue Lady: The Nashville Sessions

Thomas does pretty well with his own composition, growling gruffly in front of an arrangement that was pretty standard for the time. I don’t think he quite nails the song as well as did Long John Baldry, but that’s not a disgrace. Thomas had a few other singles released on Bell, but none of them became hits.

Once Janis Joplin got hold of “Piece of My Heart” when she was with Big Brother & the Holding Company, she made it risky, at best, for anyone else to give a shot at recording the Bert Berns/Jerry Ragovoy song. Erma Franklin had recorded it before Joplin did and did it well, but Joplin’s 1968 performance in front of the ragged and acid-drenched backing of BB&HC made the songs hers. Nevertheless, two years later, Bettye LaVette gave it a shot. Her version is certainly less urgent than Joplin’s, and it’s not bad, but I’m not sure LaVette brings anything new to the song.

Speaking of Janis Joplin, I think her performance on “A Woman Left Lonely” is closer to the heart of Pearl, the album released after her death, than anything else. “Me and Bobby McGee” was the single, but I’ve thought since the first time I heard the album – I got it for graduation in the spring of 1971 – that “A Woman Left Lonely” was the best thing on the record. It still gives me chills.

Mary Hopkin – after being discovered by the Beatles and recorded for their Apple label – was prone to light, frothy and nostalgic singles: “Goodbye” and “Those Were The Days” were the hits. “Temma Harbour” is not quite so frothy and has a tropical lilt to it that I like, so it’s not nearly as wearisome as the other stuff. (Temma Harbour is located on the north coast of the Australian island of Tasmania.)

I don’t know a lot about Swampwater, but ­All-Music Guide notes that the group is better known as Linda Ronstadt’s backing group from the late 1960s. “Louisiana Woman” comes from the group’s 1970 album that was recorded for Starday/King but was unreleased at the time. It finally came out in 1995, making Swampwater another beneficiary of the mid-1990s rush to release stuff from the vaults. In this case, it’s worth it.

I first came across Petula Clark’s Blue Lady: The Nashville Sessions in a small suburban library during the brief time that the Texas Gal and I lived in the Twin Cities suburb of Plymouth. Intrigued, I took it home. As one might surmise, Clark went to Nashville in 1970 hoping to revitalize her career. I don’t think that any of the resulting tracks were released as singles; I know that the full package was finally released in 1995. It’s not rock, of course. It’s not even really country, despite the Nashville location. It’s pop, but it’s beautiful work, and it probably sounds better now that it would have then. “You’re The Last Love” has become a favorite of mine.

Janis & The Kozmic Blues Band

May 9, 2011

Originally posted September 6, 2007

Music Scene was a weekly show that ran on ABC-TV here in the U.S. for seventeen weeks in 1969-70. I don’t recall it at all. According to TV.com, the show aired on Monday evenings, and from the lists of guests, it seems to have been a pretty good show.

Here’s the list of performers and performances from the sixth episode, which ran on Oct. 27, 1969:

  • Jerry Lee Lewis sings “Great Balls of Fire”
  • Ten Years After sings “Bad Scene”
  • Smith sing “Baby It’s You”
  • Richie Havens sings “Rocky Raccoon”
  • Jerry Lee Lewis sings “She Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye”
  • Janis Joplin sings “Maybe”
  • Michael Cole reads Rod McKuen’s railroad poetry
  • Isaac Hayes sings “Walk On By”
  • The Archies sing “Sugar Sugar”

The next week’s guests were scheduled to be Jerry Butler, Johnny Cash, Richie Havens, Lulu and Buffy Sainte-Marie, with Bobby Sherman as the special guest host.

Well, I could do without Bobby Sherman, but the rest of the rosters – both the current week and the week to come – was pretty good. The Archies? Yeah. They’re Bazooka, but they’re still fun, and their music was good for what it was.

Anyway, here’s Janis Joplin and the Kozmic Blues Band from that Oct. 27, 1969, show, performing “Maybe.”

Video deleted.

A Baker’s Dozen For Minneapolis

April 30, 2011

Originally posted August 3, 2007

Things like this aren’t supposed to happen. Bridges aren’t supposed to fall down.

No, we didn’t lose anyone. No relatives or friends were on the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis Wednesday evening when it groaned and tumbled into the Mississippi River. But in the larger sense that I think everyone out there understands, those were our friends and neighbors: those who stood dazed on a section of highway sitting on the water, those who helped get the crying children out of that precariously perched school bus, those who crawled up the steep remnants of the bridge and helped others do the same, and yes, those – evidently and thankfully few – who remain lost and in the water still.

The Texas Gal’s sister called us about 6:30 Wednesday evening, asking if we were okay, adding that she knew that sometimes the Texas Gal has to go to Minneapolis for her work. I was confused by her question. We were watching the news, but we were running about fifteen minutes behind, as I’d put the television on pause while we got dinner together. When she told me what had happened, all I could say was “What?” The words made no sense.

Listening, I carried the phone into the living room. The Texas Gal said later that from the look on my face, she thought that someone in one of our families had died. We changed the channel to bring the television up to current time, said goodbye and hung up. Then the Texas Gal and I sat there, stunned, and watched the news for more than three hours.

I called my sister’s house and talked to my brother-in-law. Everyone was safe. We got a couple more calls from Texas, friends seeing if we were okay. And we were, of course. Except that we weren’t. From time to time, things happen that shred the verities in our lives: The doctor has bad news. Someone swallows something the wrong way. A summer storm spawns tornadoes. A car runs a red light into another car’s path. And a bridge falls into the river.

We live less than a mile from the Mississippi River and cross it frequently – the Texas Gal does so everyday and I do a couple times a week. When I lived in Minneapolis eight years ago, I drove on the I-35W bridge every day on my way to work. Crossing the river safely is something we’ve taken for granted, just like those folks who were driving on Interstate 35W Wednesday night took it for granted. We might not for a while. So we – like most Minnesotans and like our friends all around the country – weren’t entirely okay. We were better off than those souls caught in the horror and better off than their families and friends, certainly, but we were shaken.

Now, all the various agencies will go about their jobs. In not that long a time, the last unfortunates will be found and identified. The shattered and twisted bridge will be removed and studied. A new one will be designed and begin to rise. People will point fingers in blame, some in honest outrage and some, sadly, for political gain.

And as all of those things happen, shock and grief will eventually wane – not for some time yet, but eventually – and the wounded will heal. We’ll move forward, having been reminded that every day, we are all no more than one instant from disaster. We always have been and we always will be. It sometimes takes something like a bridge falling into a river to remind us of that and thus to remind us to take nothing for granted, ever.

So if you have children, if you have parents, if you have brothers and sisters, if you have friends, then let them know how much they matter to you. Today.

A Baker’s Dozen for Minneapolis:

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel from Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)

“Follow” by Richie Havens from Mixed Bag (1968)

“East of Ginger Trees” by Seals & Crofts from Summer Breeze (1972)

“Every Grain of Sand” by Bob Dylan from Shot of Love (1981)

“The Circle Game” by Tom Rush from The Circle Game (1968)

“Whispering Pines” by The Band from The Band (1969)

“Get It While You Can” by Janis Joplin from Pearl (1970)

“Long As I Can See The Light” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, Fantasy single 645 (1970)

“Page 43” by Graham Nash & David Crosby from Graham Nash/David Crosby (1973)

“We Are Not Helpless” by Stephen Stills from Stephen Stills (1970)

“Seems Like A Long Time” by Rod Stewart from Every Picture Tells A Story (1971)

“I Shall Be Released” by Joe Cocker from With A Little Help From My Friends (1969)

“Golden Slumbers, Carry That Weight, The End” by the Beatles from Abbey Road (1969)