Posts Tagged ‘Mylon LeFevre’

A Random Six-Pack

March 31, 2020

There are currently 79,000-plus tracks in the RealPlayer, most of them music. (I have about thirty familiar lines from movies in the stacks and some bits of interviews, too.) And today, we’re going to take a six-stop random tour through the stacks. We’ll sort the tracks by length; the shortest is 1.4 seconds of broadcaster Al Shaver exulting over a goal by the long-departed Minnesota North Stars – “He shoots, he scores!” – and the longest is the full album with bonus tracks of Bruce Springsteen’s 2006 release, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, clocking in at an hour and eighteen minutes.

We’re going to put the cursor in the middle of the stack and click six times and see what we get.

We land first on a track by Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers: “Memphis Queen” from the group’s 1989 album Rock & Real. At All Music, William Ruhlman notes, “Grushecky’s songs of tough urban life are made all the more compelling by his rough voice and the aggressive playing of his band.” The track in question, “Memphis Queen,” tells the tale of a Pittsburgh boy headed to New Orleans on the titular riverboat, stopping in St. Louis to search for the “brown-eyed handsome man” and meeting a girl named Little Marie, whose daddy is “down in the penitentiary.” I found the album at a blog somewhere when I was going through a Grushecky phase a few years ago. It’s a good way to start.

We jump from 1989 back to 1972 and a track from Mylon Lefevre. “He’s Not Just A Soldier” comes from Lefevre’s Over The Influence album. Originally recorded in 1961 by Little Richard, who wrote the song with William Pitt, the song reads on Lefevre’s album as an artifact from the Vietnam era, declaring that a young man in military service “is not just a soldier in a brown uniform, he’s one of God’s sons.” And there’s a surprise along the way, as Lefevre is joined on vocals by Little Richard himself. There’s also a great saxophone solo, but I don’t know by whom. (I saw a note on Wikipedia that said the album was a live performance, but I doubt that’s the case.)

Next up is a cover of a piece of movie music: “Lolita Ya-Ya” by the Ventures. The tune originated in Stanley Kubrick’s 1962 film adaptation of the Vladimir Nabokov novel Lolita. Penned by Nelson Riddle, the song is source music from a radio the first time that the movie’s protagonist, Humbert Humbert, sees the title character who will become his obsession. Sue Lyon, the actress who played Lolita, provided the vocals for the film version of the tune. The Ventures’ cover of the tune was released as a single, but got only to No. 61 on the Billboard Hot 100.

From there, we head to 1968 and Al Wilson’s first album, Searching For The Dolphins, recorded for Johnny Rivers’ Soul City Label. “I Stand Accused” was the fourth single from the album aimed at the Hot 100; the most successful of the four was “The Snake,” which went to No. 27. “I Stand Accused,” a good soul workout, bubbled under at No. 106. As usual with Rivers’ productions, the backing musicians were spectacular: Hal Blaine, Jim Gordon, Larry Knechtel, Joe Osborne, Jim Horn and James Burton. (A 2008 reissue of the album provided as bonus tracks eleven singles and B-sides recorded around the same time for the Soul City, Bell and Carousel labels.)

Lou Christie’s fame (and his appeal), as I see it, rests on five singles: “The Gypsy Cried” (1963), “Two Faces Have I” (1963), “Lightning Strikes” (1965), “Rhapsody In The Rain” (1966), and “I’m Gonna Make You Mine” (1970). He shows up here today with “Wood Child,” a track from his 1971 album Paint America Love, released under his (almost) real name, Lou Christie Sacco. (He was born Lugee Alfredo Giovanni Sacco, according to I’m not sure what the song is about, except that its lyrics are evocative and include the recurring choruses, “You’ve got to save the wood child” and “Take a ticket and get on this boat.”

(A 2015 appreciation of the album by Bob Stanley for The Guardian said: “Yet another side of Christie emerged in 1971 when he cut his masterpiece, Paint America Love, a Polish/Italian/American take on What’s Going On. Orchestrated state-of-the-nation pieces (‘Look Out the Window,’ the extraordinary ‘Wood Child’) compete with majestic instrumentals (‘Campus Rest’) and childhood reminiscences (‘Chuckie Wagon,’ the Sesame Street-soundtracking ‘Paper Song’) in a gently lysergic whole. Online reviews compare it to Richard Ford and John Steinbeck: fans of Jimmy Webb are urged to seek it out.”)

I’m not sure where I got the album, probably a long-lost blog, but I suppose I should take Stanley’s advice and listen to it more closely.

And our six-pack this morning ends with “Long Line” from Peter Wolf, one-time member of the J. Geils Band. The title track from his 1996 album, the tune shifts from straight-ahead tasteful rock to a spoken interlude and back. It sounds a lot more like 1972 than 1996, with some nifty piano fills, which makes it a nice way to end our trek.

Saturday Single No. 453

July 4, 2015

It’s Independence Day here in the U.S., a day that’s become the occasion for picnics, barbecues and fireworks, all taking place, maybe, without much thought about the day’s historical import. I imagine, though, there are still towns and cities where there might be a public reading of the Declaration of Independence, the document adopted by the Continental Congress in Philadelphia 239 years ago today.

That document made the case for political freedom and, at least implicitly, the personal freedoms that followed. (It was, of course, all much more complex than that simple sentence seems to imply, but I’m not going to get into a political science lecture here. Just nod your head and follow along.)

And as I dug through the digital files this morning for a tune for Independence Day, I came across “On The Road To Freedom” by Alvin Lee and Mylon Lefevre. It was personal freedom and personal realization – things difficult to attain without political freedom at the base – that Lee was writing about and thinking about when the song became the title tune for their very good 1973 album:

I’m on the road to freedom
On the road to love
Yonder can you see them
Who they’re thinking of

I met a rich man on the road
He told me where to go
To get my hands upon some gold
But I still answered no
’Cause freedom waits for me ahead
Your gold will slow me down
I smiled as I walked on my way
And left him with a frown

I’m on the road to freedom
On the road to love
Yonder can you see them
Who they’re thinking of

I met an old man on the road
His eyes were clear and wise
Can you direct me on my way
To where the answer lies
I’m looking for the road to freedom
So I can be free
He said keep thinking as you walk
And one day you will see

I’m on the road to freedom
On the road to truth
Yonder can you see them
Wasting precious youth

I’m on the road to freedom
On the road to love
Yonder can you see them
Who they’re thinking of

I thought as I walked down the road
Of what the man had said
It seems to me that what he meant
Is freedom’s in your head
The road I walk along is time
It’s measured out in hours
And now I need not rush along
I stop to see the flowers
Stop to smell the flowers

And that link between political freedom and personal freedom and realization is what makes “On The Road To Freedom” a good choice for an Independence Day Saturday Single.

(Personnel on the track: Alvin Lee on vocals, bass, guitar and background vocals; Mylon Lefevre on background vocals and percussion; Steve Winwood on piano; Jim Capaldi on drums; Rebop on congas.)

‘So Sad . . .’

January 16, 2015

I’m a regular at the St. Cloud Public Library, dropping in frequently to scan the new fiction and non-fiction alike and frequently to pick up CDs and the occasional DVD after I’ve reserved them. (The library in downtown St. Cloud is technically the main branch of the Great River Regional Library, a six-county system, but that gets awkward, so most folks around here just call it the St. Cloud Public Library.)

And I was there yesterday afternoon, picking up a few things: A songbook of music by Cris Williamson (having decided it was long past time for me to learn how to play “Like An Island Rising,” which was Saturday Single No. 1 almost eight years ago) and several CDs by folk artist Eliza Gilkyson. I also grabbed a series of five mystery/suspense novels by Sam Eastland set in the Soviet Union during Stalinist times, and as I sorted my stuff atop the cabinets that hold CDs, I happened to glance at a CD that looked vaguely familiar. So I took a look.

It was Still On The Road To Freedom, a 2012 release by the late Alvin Lee, who passed on in 2013, and its title and cover reference On The Road To Freedom, Lee’s 1973 release with Mylon LeFevre.


That 1973 release has been a favorite of mine since I came across it in 1999 during my Minneapolis-based days of vinyl madness, and I was surprised to learn that, except for a couple of passing references, I’ve never written about it in this space.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Lee, of course, was the lead guitarist for Ten Years After, a successful British blues band that came to wide attention via its performance at Woodstock in 1969 and the inclusion of the band’s performance of “I’m Going Home” in the film Woodstock a year later. When Lee left Ten Years After and teamed up with gospel performer LeFevre for the 1973 release, it seemed like a statement of some type and possibly a career-changer. Given its title, the 2012 release I found in the library yesterday was obviously a statement. That conclusion was borne out by Lee’s liner notes:

In 1972 after Woodstock had catapulted Ten Years After into the Rock Arenas, I decided to take the road to freedom rather than the road to fame and fortune. It was the only decision for me as in my desperation to get away from the responsibility and the commerciality of the music industrialists, I was in danger of joining the dead before 30 club . . .

I was searching for and needing freedom.

It was freedom from long tour schedules playing every night in huge arenas where the sound echoed like a freight shed and the security was armed police with cotton wool in their ears.

Freedom from the managers, agents and lawyers who saw me as a money making commodity. “We only want what’s best for you, my boy.” Yeah sure.

Freedom from being responsible for satisfying other people’s greed.

But most of all – freedom to make music of my own choice without worrying about what other people thought or expected.

I don’t know yet how the music on Still On The Road To Freedom stacks up. I’ve listened to a bit of it, and what I’ve heard, I like. I’m going to take some time to dig into it and hope that it’s a set of tunes I’d like keep at hand. Titling the CD as he did, Lee was clearly drawing a connection between the 2012 set and the 1973 set, and that raises my expectations. I’ll likely report back on what I hear; if I don’t, readers can likely assume that I was underwhelmed by the 2012 album.

In the meantime, here’s a gem from Lee’s 1973 sessions with LeFevre, the single version of “So Sad (No Love Of His Own),” a George Harrison tune. LeFevre handles the lead vocal and harmonies; Lee provides guitar and background vocals; Ron Wood plays twelve-string guitar; Mick Fleetwood handles drums; and a fellow credited for contractual reasons as Hari Georgeson takes care of guitar, slide guitar, bass and harmony vocals.

The single did not chart, which I think is a shame.

Peace, In All Its Forms

November 9, 2011

Originally posted December 23, 2008

Peace, In All Its Forms
“We Got to Have Peace” by Curtis Mayfield from Roots, 1971

“Peaceful in My Soul” by Jackie DeShannon from Jackie, 1972

“Give Peace A Chance” by Joe Cocker (Leon Russell on piano) from Mad Dogs & Englishmen, 1970

“Peace of Mind” by Neil Young from Comes A Time, 1978

“Peace Begins Within” by Mylon Lefevre from Mylon, 1970

“I Wish You Peace” by the Eagles from One Of These Nights, 1975

One I Missed From 1970

April 29, 2011

Originally posted July 27, 2007

I wrote the other day about 1968 and the aptitude test that set me on the (somewhat crooked) road I followed to my years working as a journalist. That was the year, I wrote, when my passion for spectator sports developed, as I devoured each weekly edition of Sports Illustrated and followed the fortunes, especially, of the Minnesota North Stars.

I said that it would take another couple of years for my other major passion – popular music – to bloom. That passion sprouted tentatively in the fall of 1969 and came to full blossom during the year of 1970. And what a time that was to start listening to popular music!

Here are the No. 1 hits from that school year of 1969-70, which was my junior year in high school:

“Honky-Tonk Women” by the Rolling Stones
“Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies
“I Can’t Get Next To You” by the Temptations
“Suspicious Minds” by Elvis Presley
“Wedding Bell Blues” by the Fifth Dimension
“Come Together/Something” by the Beatles
“Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” by Steam
“Leaving On A Jet Plane” by Peter, Paul & Mary
“Someday We’ll Be Together” by Diana Ross & the Supremes
“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” by B. J. Thomas
“I Want You Back” by the Jackson Five
“Venus” by Shocking Blue
“Thank You (Falettin Me Be Mice Elf Again)/Everybody Is A Star” by Sly & the Family Stone
“Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel
“Let It Be” by the Beatles
“ABC” by the Jackson Five
“American Woman/No Sugar Tonight” by the Guess Who
“Everything Is Beautiful” by Ray Stevens.

So that’s what was coming out of the radio on the table in my room that year. It’s not a bad collection of singles; the only clunker I see in the bunch is the Ray Stevens (possibly “Na Na Hey Hey,” but it was fun). Something not listed here that I was listening to as 1969 drew to a close was Blood, Sweat & Tears, the group’s self-titled second album. (I’d spent the money I’d earned at the trapshoot that summer on a Panasonic cassette recorder, and someone – my sister, most likely – had given me BST as a gift.)

Sometime early in that autumn, I went to sleep with the radio on low, as I nearly always did, and in the middle of the night, I awoke to a spooky noise: A “shoop!” followed by a guitar riff and tom-toms, and then a flat voice singing the strangest lyrics I’d heard so far: It was the Beatles’ “Come Together” slithering into my ears. I bought the cassette the next day to get the song.

As 1970 began, I began to look more at albums than individual songs, and by the time spring approached, I was looking at LPs instead of cassettes. I bought – or received as gifts – more albums the rest of that year than I had bought in my entire life before. The haul of 1970 was:

Let It Be by the Beatles in May
Chicago II by Chicago in June
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles in June
Best of Bee Gees in June
Hey Jude by the Beatles in August
Revolver by the Beatles in September
Déjà Vu by Crosby, Still, Nash & Young in September
The Band by The Band in December

Not a bad haul for the first serious stabs at putting together a collection. I didn’t yet have the taste for obscure, for the gem that’s found somewhere beyond the record charts. Even if I had, I likely wouldn’t have picked up the album I’m sharing today, Mylon LeFevre’s Mylon.

Mylon came from a family of gospel singers, and with his self-titled album (which is sometimes credited to Mylon LeFevre & Broken Heart), he tried to meld his rebellious love of rock with the faith he’d learned from his family. What he came up with is a faith-tinged album of pretty good southern gospel rock, something that bears a resemblance to some of the work by the Allman Brothers Band and a lot of the output of Delaney & Bonnie & Friends.

Helping the sound inestimably was the trio of backup singers that frequently shows up on LPs that I love from that era: Merry Clayton, Venetta Fields and Clydie King. In addition, All-Music Guide says that Joe South helped out on guitar (though he is not listed in the credits).

Three years later, LeFevre would team up with guitar superstar Alvin Lee – of Ten Years After and “Comin’ Home” fame at Woodstock – for On the Road to Freedom, one of the great albums of 1973, one that attracted help from numerous luminaries of the time, including a British songwriter and guitarist who for contractual reasons was identified as Hari Georgeson. Some time after that, LeFevre bottomed out in the rock lifestyle, survived and went back to the church and became one of the brighter lights in what is now called Christian Contemporary Music.

But first, there was Mylon, a record that if I had looked more closely, I might have seen under the arms of some of St. Cloud’s version of the Jesus People, as the hippies who got religion were called at the time. It’s a sweet piece.

(Note: All-Music Guide has no listing for this album ever having been released on CD, meaning the source for the album – which I found at a blog last year; I unfortunately do not recall which one – has to be a vinyl rip. It’s an astoundingly good rip.)

Track listing
Old Gospel Ship
Sunday School Blues
Who Knows
Sweet Peace Within
You’re Still on His Mind
Trying to Be Free
Searching for Reality
Pleasing Who, Please You?
Hitch Hike
Peace Begins Within
The Only Thing That’s Free

Mylon LeFevre – Mylon [1970]