Posts Tagged ‘Mother Earth’

‘Long Gone’ Three Times

May 18, 2011

Originally posted November 9, 2007

I’m battling a flu bug this week, and today it feels as if I’m losing the battle, so I won’t be posting an album or writing anything today.

However, while wandering the wilds of the ’Net last evening, I came across a link to a reference on someone’s Yahoo! 360 page to Cold Blood, the late Sixties/early Seventies bluesy band from the Bay Area. The page owner was looking for Cold Blood’s version of the Boz Scaggs’ song “I’ll Be Long Gone.”

So I thought that instead of leave this place entirely blank today, I’d post the three versions I have of that song, which has always been one of my favorites.

Boz Scaggs – “I’ll Be Long Gone” from Boz Scaggs [1969]

Mother Earth – “I’ll Be Long Gone” from Bring Me Home [1971]

Cold Blood – “I’ll Be Long Gone” from Thriller [1973]

Enjoy, and have a fine weekend!

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A Baker’s Dozen From 1969

April 18, 2011

Originally posted April 18, 2007

As I began to write this morning, I started the file with the date, as I always do, and as I typed “April 18,” I was sorely tempted to revisit 1975 for this week’s Baker’s Dozen.

Why? Because of this:

“Listen my children and you shall hear
“Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
“On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
“Hardly a man is now alive
“Who remembers that famous day and year.”

Of course, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was referring to a different “Seventy-five” – 1775 – when he wrote “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.” And because I ran a Baker’s Dozen from 1975 just a couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d hit a few other years before I begin repeating, as I am sure I will do at some point. So with the Texas Gal already off to work before providing any guidance, I’m going to choose 1969 and start with one of my favorite recordings of all time. 

There was an old hotel not far from the Mississippi River in downtown St. Cloud when I was growing up, the Grand Central. Historical rumor had it that it had been a stopping place for numerous famous people over the years, including Buffalo Bill Cody (a rumor that I believe was verified by a guest register discovered during the building’s demolition). It may have been a truly grand establishment at one time, but by my first year of college, it was pretty much a flophouse, and its first floor retail spaces were filled with small and generally short-lived shops that sold used records, posters, and equipment and accessories for pharmaceutical recreation.

It was in one of those shops in the spring of 1972, just a few months before the hotel came down and the lot was paved over for a lot for city bus service, that I pawed through a stack of records and found Joe Cocker’s self-titled 1969 album, in decent shape for a reasonable price. I grabbed it and went off to one of the college dorms, where I dropped in on some friends to share my find.

It’s a good record, with several songs that have become Cocker standards: “Delta Lady,” “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window” and “Dear Landlord” come quickly to mind. But the best cut on the album – I thought on first hearing and still think today, more than thirty years later – is Cocker’s take on John Sebastian’s “Darling, Be Home Soon.” With a feel of gospel-powered celebration, Cocker gives the song a joy that neither Sebastian nor anyone else has ever found in it. It thrilled me, even though I have to confess that at 18, I did not grasp the entire meaning of “the great relief of having you to talk to.”

I do now, and the song remains a favorite of mine and is the starting point for this random Baker’s Dozen from 1969:

“Darling, Be Home Soon” by Joe Cocker from Joe Cocker!

“Wild Child” by the Doors from The Soft Parade

“Songs To Aging Children Come” by Joni Mitchell from Clouds

“That Old Sweet Roll (Hi-De-Ho)” by Dusty Springfield, Atlantic single 2637

“Will You Be Staying After Sunday” by the Peppermint Rainbow, Decca single 32410

“Gentle On My Mind” by Elvis Presley from From Elvis In Memphis

“The River Is Wide” by the Grass Roots, Dunhill single 4187

“I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” by Linda Ronstadt from Hand Sown . . . Home Grown

“Goodbye” by Frank Sinatra from Watertown

“I’m Easy” by Boz Scaggs from Boz Scaggs

 “Hey Joe” by Wilson Pickett, Atlantic single 2648

“What Are You Trying To Do” by Mother Earth from Make A Joyful Noise

“Dirty Old Man” by Delaney & Bonnie from Accept No Substitutes

I chuckled when the Doors’ “Wild Child” popped up right after “Darling, Be Home Soon.” It’s quite likely that when I took my Joe Cocker album to the dorm that long-ago Friday evening, “Wild Child” – or at least The Soft Parade – was playing on the stereo in my friend’s room; it was one of his favorite albums, and that specific song was to some extent an anthem for our freshman year.

Despite that, I also cringed a little at “Wild Child.” For some time, I’ve believed that the Doors were the most over-rated of all the well-known bands of their time, and much of The Soft Parade, in particular, is difficult to listen to with much pleasure these days.

There are two versions I like of Joni Mitchell’s “Songs to Aging Children Come” – this one, and the one by Tigger Outlaw in the 1969 film Alice’s Restaurant. Mitchell’s version – the original – is probably more accomplished, but there is an awkward earnestness in Outlaw’s version that is somehow endearing. Check it out if you get the chance.

The Sinatra tune, “Goodbye,” is from Watertown, a song cycle that’s one of the more idiosyncratic recordings of Sinatra’s long career. The songs on Watertown came from Bob Gaudio – writer of many of the Four Seasons’ hits – and Jake Holmes, the singer-songwriter/folk-rocker who was also the composer of “Dazed & Confused,” which Led Zeppelin appropriated as its own work. The album is, as All-Music Guide notes, Sinatra’s “most explicit attempt at rock-oriented pop.” It’s also a rather depressing piece of work, as the mood throughout is one of unrelieved (and unrelievable) sadness.

Elvis Presley’s version of “Gentle On My Mind” comes from his sessions in Memphis in 1969, which were regarded at the time as some of the best work he’d done in years. That was likely true, but, to me, “Gentle On My Mind” was one of the lesser efforts from those sessions. The best-known songs from those sessions, of course, are the three hits: “In The Ghetto,” “Kentucky Rain” and “Suspicious Minds.” For my part, the best performance from those sessions is the King’s take on “True Love Travels On A Gravel Road.”

“I’m Easy,” the Boz Scaggs tune, comes from his self-titled solo debut, which was recorded at the Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. Probably the best-known cut on the album is “Loan Me A Dime,” which features – as do a few other cuts – Duane Allman.

“Dirty Old Man” features the classic line-up behind Delaney and Bonnie: Leon Russell, Bobby Whitlock, Carl Radle, Jim Price, Bobby Keys, Jim Keltner, Rita Coolidge and a few others.

A Baker’s Dozen from 1968

April 18, 2011

Originally posted March 21, 2007

While I was puttering around last evening, visiting blogs and boards and seeing what music some of my on-line friends had decided to share, I was pondering what type of Baker’s Dozen I would post today.

I’ve had it in my head for a while to post a collection of the 13 love songs/love laments that touch me the most deeply, with some of them, honestly, moving me to tears in almost any context. But that would be a remarkable concentration of firepower in one place, pretty much a case of overkill. And I do like doing something random with the Baker’s Dozen.

So I thought I would combine the two ideas, in a way. I’d take one of the songs from that list of love songs and use it as the starting point for a random Baker’s Dozen from the year of its release. Let’s start with some songs from 1968.

We’ll open the list with the Vogues and “Turn Around, Look At Me,” which reached No. 7 that summer. Now, about half of the songs on the list of love songs aren’t related in my mind with any one person; they’re just songs that moved me. The rest are indelibly linked with various girls and women who were important to me along the way. And “Turn Around, Look At Me” will always bring memories to mind of a certain long-ago young lady. I’m sure she never knew.

“Turn Around, Look at Me” by the Vogues, Reprise 686 .

“Goodnight Nelba Grebe, The Telephone Company Has Cut Us Off” by Mother Earth from Living With The
Animals
.

“Unlock My Door” by Fever Tree from Fever Tree.

“This Wheel’s On Fire” by The Band from Music From Big Pink.

“I’ve Lost My Baby” by Fleetwood Mac from Mr. Wonderful.

“Me And My Uncle” by Dino Valente from Dino Valente.

“Memphis Train” by Rufus Thomas, Stax single 250.

‘The Christian Life” by the Byrds from Sweetheart of the Rodeo.

“Brother Where Are You?” by Johnny Rivers from Realization.

“Over You” by Gary Puckett & the Union Gap, Columbia single 44644.

“Born To Be Wild” by Steppenwolf, Dunhill single 4138.

“Jump Sturdy” by Dr. John from Gris-Gris.

“Flower Town” by Rose Garden from The Rose Garden.

A Double Baker’s Dozen From 1971

April 17, 2011

Originally posted March 6, 2007

There’s a new fellow in Texas Gal’s office, and as kind of a “Welcome to the Funny Patch” gift, she asked me to put together a CD of songs that originated during the 1971-72 academic year, which was his senior year of high school. So I did, and I was pretty amazed at the quality of the music available from the period. Of course, since that time frame was my first year of college, and I seem to have focused a lot of my collecting – many people do likewise, I am sure – on the years of my youth, the sheer volume of stuff available should not have surprised me.

(A quick check on RealPlayer shows that there are 856 songs from 1971 and 720 songs from 1972 in the collection here.)

And Steve’s CD ended up with a pretty good list of songs from those months:

1. “Maggie May” by Rod Stewart
2. “One Fine Morning” by Lighthouse
3. “Imagine” by John Lennon
4. “Life Is A Carnival” by The Band
5. “Theme From Shaft” by Isaac Hayes
6. “Two Divided By Love” by the Grass Roots
7. “Clean-Up Woman” by Betty Wright
8. “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green
9. “Levon” by Elton John
10. “Precious and Few” by Climax
11. “Heart of Gold” by Neil Young
12. “Doctor My Eyes” by Jackson Browne
13. “Taxi” by Harry Chapin
14. “Suavecito” by Malo
15. “Diary” by Bread
16. “I’ll Take You There” by the Staple Singers
17. “Conquistador” by Procol Harum
18. “Too Late To Turn Back Now” by Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose
19. “Tumbling Dice” by the Rolling Stones

Texas Gal said he liked it a lot and that he was amused and pleased by the ringer I hid at the end: “Geek in the Pink,” by Jason Mraz, hidden there because he said he’d liked the song when he heard a contestant perform it on American Idol last week.

And I thought, as I am fighting a cold and don’t have the energy to rip an LP today, I’d present a random double baker’s dozen from 1971. (The only rule was to have no more than one cut from any one album, and I did skip one cut from the Mimi Farina-Tom Jans album I posted Monday.) It was a fun year musically for me, and I hope you’ll enjoy the tunes!

“Volcano” by The Band from Cahoots.

“Lullaby” by Leo Kottke from Mudlark.

“Down My Dream” by Joy of Cooking from Joy of Cooking.

“Ecology Song” by Stephen Stills from Stephen Stills 2.

“It Ain’t Easy” by Long John Baldry from It Ain’t Easy.

“A Case Of You” by Joni Mitchell from Blue.

“Don’t Cry My Lady Love” by Quicksilver Messenger Service from Quicksilver.

“Nobody” by the Doobie Brothers from The Doobie Brothers.

“Rock Me On The Water” by Brewer & Shipley from Shake Off The Demon.

“Sweet Emily” by Leon Russell from Leon Russell & The Shelter People

“Vigilante Man” by Ry Cooder from Into The Purple Valley

“I Saw Her Standing There” by Little Richard fromThe Rill Thing.

“The Thrill Is Gone” by B.B. King from Live In Cook County Jail.

“January Song” by Lindisfarne from Fog On The Tyne.

“Hats Off (To The Stranger)” by Lighthouse from One Fine Morning.

“Levon” by Elton John from Madman Across The Water.

“Let Me Be The One” by Paul Williams from Just An Old Fashioned Love Song.

“Down In The Flood” by Bob Dylan from Greatest Hits, Vol. 2.

“Soul of Sadness” by Mother Earth from Bring Me Home.

“Pick Up A Gun” by Ralph McTell from You Well Meaning Brought Me Here.

“A Song For You” by Donny Hathaway from Donny Hathaway.

“That’s All Right” by Lightnin’ Slim from High & Low Down.

“Let Your Love Go” by Bread from Manna.

“Freedom Is Beyond The Door” by Candi Staton from Stand By Your Man.

“Younger Men Grow Older” by Richie Havens from Alarm Clock.

The Search For Mother Earth

April 17, 2011

Originally posted February 19, 2007

Mother Earth came to me in a cardboard box.

In the last years of the 1980s, I was just beginning to expand my interest in and awareness of rock music beyond what would now be called classic rock. I had my Bob Dylan set pretty well completed. I had enough Van Morrison, Eric Clapton and Springsteen for the time being, and I had enough Led Zeppelin and other metal to satisfy me. I also had the mainstream archives: The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Chicago and all the rest. And I had a good supply of the quirky, having always loved one-hit wonders.

I was living in Minot, N.D., at the time, and one Saturday in February of 1989, I wandered out to the flea market at the state fairgrounds. A record dealer from Bismarck – from whom I’d bought a few things during my two years in Minot – was at the market and was selling off his inventory, a box for $10. No mixing – you took the boxes as they were. So I laid down my $10 and took a box of about sixty records home with me.

I dug into the box. A few of the things I found were by Boston, McCartney, Stevie Nicks, Billy Joel, the Steve Miller Band, Nilsson, the Strawbs, Thin Lizzy, Todd Rundgren – a lot of mainstream stuff that I hadn’t gotten around to yet. There was a lot of odd stuff, too, only a few of which I still have.  And there was an LP on the Mercury label: Make a Joyful Noise by Mother Earth, a group I’d never heard of before. I cleaned it, dropped it on the turntable, and was entranced. It was one of the best things I’d heard in a long, long time, and I knew nothing about the group at all.

I had so much fun that Saturday evening, and the records turned out to be in such good shape, that I went back to the flea market the next day and bought the guy’s last box.  I got some Argent, some Quicksilver Messenger Service, Robin Trower, Manfredd Mann, Ian Lloyd and a number of other things I have on the stacks to this day. No more Mother Earth, though.

But I was intrigued enough by Mother Earth – and by the records by other groups that I’d heard of but knew little about – to go out and buy my first copy of the Rolling Stone Record Guide in the next week. And I began to change from a casual purchaser of used records to a collector.

From my record guide, I learned only that Mother Earth was a San Francisco area band, formed by its lead singer, Wisconsin native Tracy Nelson in about 1968 and that the group’s two first albums – Make A Joyful Noise and Living With The Animals – were superb but at the time, out of print. So I put Living With The Animals on my list. Eventually, during my time in Minneapolis during the 1990s, I found four more Mother Earth albums and five by Tracy Nelson as a solo act, all of them worth more than casual listening.

In its overview of the group, All-Music Guide describes Mother Earth as being a “blues-rock” group. But the sound is so much more complex than that, bringing in elements of R&B, country and gospel. As I think about it, Mother Earth is one of those groups that is so difficult to describe that at most times and places, I doubt that it would ever have gotten a major label deal. In the San Francisco of the late 1960s, however, record companies were seemingly giving deals to any group that could show up for a meeting with a demo tape.

Mother Earth was far better than that, of course. I’m not sure the group ranks with the royalty of the San Francisco scene of the time – the Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver and Janis Joplin, to name a few – but I don’t think Mother Earth was all that far from that level, either. The group wasn’t a San Francisco group for very long, as it turned out. The debut record, Living With The Animals, was recorded while the group was based there, but in 1969, Nelson moved the band to Nashville.

The album shared here is Bring Me Home, a 1971 release that was the next-to-last record released by Mother Earth. AMG says: “Not really deviating from a formula which was modestly successful for Mother Earth, the band takes the adage ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ to heart with Bring Me Home. Staying in form with the blend of R&B, gospel, folk and soft rock, this-nine song session remains a vehicle predominantly for the group’ s siren, Tracy Nelson. The band delivers constantly solid performances backing Nelson’s impassioned vocals in a very complementary fashion, but really doesn’t set itself apart from the majority of the group’s output.”

I agree that the record is very much of a type with the rest of the group’s work. What makes this album stand out for me is two things: First, Nelson’s rendition of the Boz Scagg’s song, “I’ll Be Long Gone,” which is one of my favorite tunes. Second, the work the group does on Steve Young’s “Seven Bridges Road,” a tune later popularized by the Eagles on the 1980 live album. I prefer Mother Earth’s version.

(This album is one of the rare records I will share that is still in print. If you like it, go to Amazon.com or your own favorite retail site and purchase it, please. The bulk of Mother Earth’s catalog has been reissued in the past few years. It’s work that deserves an audience!)

Mother Earth – Bring Me Home [1971]