Vintage Smokey Robinson & the Miracles

15 12 2010

I just found this old video of The Miracles from 1967. At this point they were just billed as The Miracles. It wasn’t until later, that Smokey’s named was brought to the fore.  Despite The Miracles being Motown’s first really successful group, Berry Gordy decided it was clever marketing to lead with Smokey’s name. After all, he  was one of the biggest songwriters and producers in the business. In their almost 20 years, The Miracles charted over 50 hits, 26 of which reached the top ten. Not to mention that Smokey has written and/or produced countless other hits for Motown.

I’m not exactly sure where this footage is from, but it’s a great little medley of two early 60’s classics, “(Come ‘Round Here) I’m The One You Need” and “More Love”. Whether you’re a Motown fan or not, it’s hard to deny that this was truly a great era in music.

While we’re checking out some vintage Smokey, here are just a few more. The first is “You Really Got A Hold On Me”. While the second is “I Second That Emotion” …and in color no less! Take a look at these dance routines. They’re where it’s at, no?





Aretha Franklin | I Say A Little Prayer

12 10 2010

This is a great video of Aretha Franklin performing “I Say A Little Prayer”. It was originally released on her 1968 album Aretha Now, but I like this live version from 1970 better. Actually, it’s a Burt Bacharach tune that was written for Dionne Warwick, who recorded it in 1967. Her version is also very good, but Aretha is the best.





Jacqueline Taïeb | 7 Heures du Matin

18 08 2010

This is a really great tune from the late 60’s. Tunisian-born French Yé Yé/Pop singer Jacqueline Taïeb released it in 1967 on Impact Records. “7 Heures du Matin” was a huge hit in Europe, easily the biggest of her career. It’s remarkable considering she was only 18 when it was recorded. The song is about a teenage girl who is obsessed with Paul McCartney. Although, as someone who doesn’t speak French you’d never know. It has a very mid/late 60’s mod feel, with a lot of rawness to it. A very fitting mix of the British beat sound and the garage rock that was emerging. This was the beginning of The Runaways or The Corvettes. Basically,  female-driven edgy rock. Check out the original French version below:

Now, there is also an American version that was produced after it had achieved so much success in Europe. All the lyrics are in English on this one. I typically don’t care for alternate langauge versions because most  languages have a very specific cadence that often doesn’t translate. But, this one made me curious because I was really interested to hear these lyrics about a girl who is obsessing over Paul. Curious? PS- The English version is called “7am”.

References:

More info on Jacqueline Taïeb

More info on Yé Yé Rock

More info on Impact Records

“7 Heures du Matin” Lyrics (French)





Brenton Wood | Gimme Little Sign

23 06 2010

This 1967 release from American soul singer Brenton Wood, is an R&B classic that you may catch on satellite radio but has since gotten little attention on terrestrial radio. Despite numerous covers and even a few remixes, the original which was written by Wood himself still proves to me the most successful, reaching #9 on the R&B charts back when it was released. I recently discovered this old footage of Brenton performing “Gimme Little Sign” live. The footage is from Top of the Pops, circa 1968.   It’s truly some authentic late 60’s soul. I really love his energy in this performance… and his moves are pretty great too.

As a side note, Brenton’s real name is actually Alfred Jesse Smith. A Louisiana native, he changed it to Brenton Wood after relocating to Southern California as a boy and graduating Compton High School. It has been rumored that he came up with the stage name as an homage to the tony area of Los Angeles, Brentwood.   Oddly enough, Brenton has not totally disappeared. He released an album of new material as late as 2001, called This Love Is for Real.


References:

Brenton Wood’s Official Site

More info on Brenton Wood

More info on “Gimme Little Sign”





Stax/Volt Revue | Live! in Europe 1967

17 05 2010

Back in 1967 Booker T & The MGs, Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, Arthur Conley and a host of other Stax artists took to the road. This was no ordinary tour either, this was a super charged European Tour that included some of the biggest names in American soul music. It was setup like a revue where every night was essentially the same program, starting out instrumental with Booker T, then it would slowly ramp up to Otis running through some of his biggest hits. A night in Oslo, Norway was captured on video and has since been released on DVD. That footage was edited down for a PBS special entitled “Sweet Soul Music: Stax Live in Europe 1967”. Below are six videos that together make up that PBS special. If played in their entirety, they will run right into each other. It’s about an hour of foot stomping fun, featuring some classic songs from some amazing talent.

The full set list is available at the bottom of this post. Keep in mind only a portion of that is captured in this abbreviated footage. Nevertheless, there are Stax hits like “Green Onions”, “Sweet Soul Music”, “Hold On, I’m Comin”, “Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)” and Otis’ cover of The Rolling Stones “Satisfaction”. I really love the final moments of this footage. To the surprise of the M.C., Redding struts offstage and returns again and again and yet again, barking out the chorus while the band thrashes away and the crowd relishes the chance to rush the stage. Just minutes later the show is over, and the Norwegian audience neatly files out wondering what the hell had just hit them. Just a few months later Otis was killed in a plane crash, marking this as one of his last recorded performances. It’s truly remarkable. The whole revue is an amazing show that captures the essence of the Stax label and it’s contribution to American Soul music.

Full Sweet Soul Music Setlist:

Booker T and the MGs
1. Red Beans And Rice
2. Green Onions

The Mar-Keys
3.Philly Dog
4.Grab This Thing
5.Last Night

Arthur Conley
6.In The Midnight Hour
7.Sweet Soul Music

Eddie Floyd
8. Raise Your Hand

Sam and Dave
9. You Don’t Know Like I Know
10. Soothe Me
11. When Something Is Wrong With My Baby
12. Hold On! I’m Comin’

Otis Redding
13.Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)
14. My Girl
15. Shake
16. Satisfaction
17. Try A Little Tenderness


References:

Buy the full Sweet Soul Music DVD on Amazon

More info on Stax Records

All About Jazz article/review

NY Times article/review

Press Release for the archived footage





Sgt Pepper’s: A Breakdown

28 04 2010

It’s so iconic and yet most people have no idea who or what they are looking at. The Beatles 1967 album Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is known not only for it’s great music but for the incredible album art as well. If you’ve ever wondered who are all those people standing behind the Fab Four, today is your lucky day.

But first, a little background on this Grammy Award winning piece of rock n roll art history. The album’s packaging was art-directed by Robert Fraser, designed by Peter Blake and his wife Jann Haworth, and photographed by Michael Cooper. Fraser was a prominent London art dealer who had become a close friend of Paul McCartney. It was he who urged  that the group abandon their original cover design, a psychedelic painting by The Fool. Fortunately for The Fool, his design for the inner sleeve was still used, at least for the first few pressings and is now something of a collectible. Robert Fraser was one of the leading champions of modern art in the UK in the 1960s. He argued that The Fool’s artwork was not well-executed and that the design would soon be dated. So, he offered to art-direct the now famous cover. Fraser then suggested they use an established fine artist and introduced the band to a client, noted British pop artist Peter Blake. Blake, in collaboration with his wife, created the famous cover collage known as “People We Like”. The final result shows the Beatles, as the Sgt. Pepper band, surrounded by a large group of their heroes who are rendered as life sized cut-out figures. Also included were wax-work figures of the Beatles as they appeared in the early ’60s, borrowed from Madame Tussauds. The collage depicted more than 70 famous people; including writers, musicians, film stars and (at Harrison’s request) a number of Indian “gurus”. There were also a few controversial persona’s that were originally intended to be included but were edited out at the last minute, among them were Adolf Hitler, Mahatma Gandhi and Jesus Christ… perhaps too risky for even the Beatles. The collage was assembled by Blake and his wife during the last two weeks of March 1967 at the London studio of photographer Michael Cooper, who took the cover shots on March 30th in a three-hour late night session. The rear side of the cover had the lyrics printed on it with a small picture of the band near the bottom. It’s significant because it was the first time lyrics were presented in this manner on a British pop LP. The final product was a “gatefold” album cover, that is, the it could be opened like a book to reveal a large picture of the Fab Four in their custom-made military style costumes against a bright yellow background. The reason for the gate fold was that the Beatles originally planned to fill two LPs for the release. The designs had already been approved and sent to print when they realized they would only have enough material for one LP.

Ok. So, using the numeric outline of the original cover (below) you can dissect who is who, finally getting to the bottom of this age old question. Both the original and the outline are from larger sources. Should you need to zoom in, simply click the image to enlarge it.

The Breakdown:
  1. Sri Yukteswar Gigi (guru)
  2. Aleister Crowley (dabbler in sex, drugs and magic)
  3. Mae West (actress)
  4. Lenny Bruce (comic)
  5. Karlheinz Stockhausen (composer)
  6. W.C. Fields (comic)
  7. Carl Gustav Jung (psychologist)
  8. Edgar Allen Poe (writer)
  9. Fred Astaire (actor)
  10. Richard Merkin (artist)
  11. The Varga Girl (by artist Alberto Vargas)
  12. *Leo Gorcey (Painted out because he requested a fee)
  13. Huntz Hall (actor one of the Bowery Boys)
  14. Simon Rodia (creator of Watts Towers)
  15. Bob Dylan (musician)
  16. Aubrey Beardsley (illustrator)
  17. Sir Robert Peel (politician)
  18. Aldous Huxley (writer)
  19. Dylan Thomas (poet)
  20. Terry Southern (writer)
  21. Dion (di Mucci)(singer)
  22. Tony Curtiss (actor)
  23. Wallace Berman (artist)
  24. Tommy Handley (comic)
  25. Marilyn Monroe (actress)
  26. William Burroughs (writer)
  27. Sri Mahavatara Babaji(guru)
  28. Stan Laurel (comic)
  29. Richard Lindner (artist)
  30. Oliver Hardy (comic)
  31. Karl Marx (philosopher/socialist)
  32. H.G. Wells (writer)
  33. Sri Paramahansa Yogananda (guru)
  34. Anonymous (wax hairdresser’s dummy)
  35. Stuart Sutcliffe (artist/former Beatle)
  36. Anonymous (wax hairdresser’s dummy)
  37. Max Miller (comic)
  38. The Pretty Girl (by artist George Petty)
  39. Marlon Brando (actor)
  40. Tom Mix (actor)
  41. Oscar Wilde (writer)
  42. Tyrone Power (actor)
  43. Larry Bell (artist)
  44. Dr. David Livingston (missionary/explorer)
  45. Johnny Weissmuller (swimmer/actor)
  46. Stephen Crane (writer)
  47. Issy Bonn (comic)
  48. George Bernard Shaw (writer)
  49. H.C. Westermann (sculptor)
  50. Albert Stubbins (soccer player)
  51. Sri lahiri Mahasaya (guru)
  52. Lewis Carrol (writer)
  53. T.E. Lawrence (soldier, aka Lawrence of Arabia)
  54. Sonny Liston (boxer)
  55. The Pretty Girl (by artist George Petty)
  56. Wax model of George Harrison
  57. Wax model of John Lennon
  58. Shirley Temple (child actress)
  59. Wax model of Ringo Starr
  60. Wax model of Paul McCartney
  61. Albert Einstein (physicist)
  62. John Lennnon, holding a french horn
  63. Ringo Starr, holding a trumpet
  64. Paul McCartney, holding a cor anglais
  65. George Harrison, holding a flute
  66. Bobby Breen (singer)
  67. Marlene Dietrich (actress)
  68. Mohandas Ghandi (painted out at the request of EMI)
  69. Legionaire from the order of the Buffalos
  70. Diana Dors (actress)
  71. Shirley Temple (child actress)
  72. Cloth grandmother-figure by Jann Haworth
  73. Cloth figure of Shirley Temple by Haworth
  74. Mexican candlestick
  75. Television set
  76. Stone figure of girl
  77. Stone figure
  78. Statue from John Lennon’s house
  79. Trophy
  80. Four-armed Indian Doll
  81. Drum skin, designed by Joe Ephgrave
  82. Hookah (water tobacco-pipe)
  83. Velvet snake
  84. Japanese stone figure
  85. Stone figure of Snow White
  86. Garden gnome
  87. Tuba

This is the historic back cover with the lyrics printed for each song.

Here is the inside photo that appeared on the gatefold.

The Fool’s original psychedelic design for the inner sleeve, available only on limited pressings.

Originally, the group had wanted the album to include a package with badges, pencils and other small Sgt. Pepper goodies but this proved far too costly. Instead, the album came with a page of cardboard cut-outs carrying the description:

SGT. PEPPER CUT-OUTS

  1. Moustache
  2. Picture Card
  3. Stripes
  4. Badges
  5. Stand Up

*Buy this LP online








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