Most of the music biographies I read are about musicians who have passed onto the great beyond, but that’s not the case in Wounds To Bind: A Memoir of the Folk-Rock Revolution by Jerry Burgan (with Alan Rifkin). While some of the members of the band have died, Jerry is very much alive, as is the band’s lead singer, the elusive Bev Bivens.
What band, you ask? In 1965, We Five was near the top of the charts, with a great tune, You Were On My Mind (Trident T-108 and A&M SP 4111*, stereo & SP 111, mono). I’d rate it among the best songs of the 60s. The band had a few other minor hits, but nothing else like this. Continue reading
Having grown up in the late 1960s, there are plenty of bands and songs that represent that era of pop music in America well. You could pick the Beatles, or the Who, or Peter, Paul & Mary. The Zombies would be near the top of my list, but so would Tommy James and the Shondells. I can still recall my older cousins from Sacramento, CA., listening to Jimmy Ruffin’s Motown hit, What Becomes of a Brokenhearted over and over again. It grew on me so quickly I bought the 45 myself. Continue reading
There are plenty of one-hit wonders from the late 1960s, but the Mourning Reign didn’t even get that far, at least as far as I know. Never heard of them until a few years ago, when the single Satisfaction Guaranteed appeared on a CD compilation … There’s usually a reason why one hit wonder bands never do anything further…the rest of their songs are ordinary. Continue reading
Always a joy when a buy based on the cover art turns out to be a real find. So it was for Bill Harris’ Great Guitar Sounds (Mercury Wing MGW 12220, 1960s, a mono LP). I didn’t know of Bill, but one play was all I needed. The man is a singular jazz guitarist. He plays a nylon string, Spanish style guitar, not an electric hollow bodied f-hole like most jazzers do. He was also the guitarist for the Clovers, the 50s doo-wop band. But don’t stop reading. His pop stylings are not here. This solo LP is amazing. Continue reading
Old blues musicians don’t die, they just fade away… Except in Robert Johnson’s case, when Columbia released his recordings in a major box set. If you have read my post where I review Elijah Wald’s great book about Johnson, you are in the know. But what about the music? So here it is! Compared pits Columbia’s 1990 box set extravaganza Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings (C2K 46222) versus their own vinyl, Robert Johnson: King of the Delta Blues Singers (CL 1654). My mono LP is probably an early 1980s release, with no barcode. Wish it was the original 1961 version of the vinyl, but this will have to do. Continue reading
Jose Feliciano can play the guitar. The man with perhaps the two most disparate hits to ever hit the top 40, the Christmas favorite Feliz Navidad, and a cover of the Door’s Light My Fire, can absolutely blaze away when he wants to. But you wouldn’t know if you’ve only heard the aforementioned hits from the 70s. The Voice and Guitar of, his first LP (RCA LSP 3358, 1966) is as much about his guitar as it is his vocals.
Like many of his later records, he covers some well-known tunes. But on this first effort his choices are surprising. Continue reading
Most of us know of bluesman B.B. King from his one hit, The Thrill Is Gone (1970, originally penned in 1951 by Hawkins and Darnell). But King produced a lot of LPs before that. There are no liner notes on Custom Records CS 1052 “R&B Series,” a stereo LP released sometime in the 60s. So I don’t know who the band is, but the horn section and organist are cookin’. The LP is apparently a mish mash of several sessions mushed together on one LP. It sounds like it, too. Continue reading