Al Green | Tired Of Being Alone

1 02 2011

Check out this footage of Al Green, circa 1972. This Soul School TV performance is Al with some serious swagger. It’s the look, the voice, the hair.  The song is “Tired Of Being Alone” from Green’s 1971 album Al Green Gets Next To You. It was was written in 1968 and originally intended for his previous album Green Is Blues. It never made that album due to numerous recording and production issues. But, alas, it was worth the wait. As you can see, he  definitely perfected it on the second attempt.  It was an instant hit, reaching #7 when it was released and has since been named as #293 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs list.

There are numerous covers of this famous tune. Although, none are half as good as Al’s. If I had to choose one, I’m fond of this Subdudes version. Check it out.

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RIP Gerry Rafferty

5 01 2011

Gerry Rafferty died early this week at age 63. Gerry was the frontman of 70’s era rock group Stealers Wheel. Gerry is most famous for his hit “Stuck In The Middle”, a tune that is often confused as a Bob Dylan song and rightfully so as it was written to mimic his lyrical style. The song was released in 1973 on their self-titled album. It instantly became a hit, rising to #6 on the charts and has since been further popularized due to it’s use in the cult-classic Quentin Tarantino film Reservoir Dogs. Here’s a 70-style music video for the song… I love it because its so dated.





Neil Young | Cowgirl in the Sand

13 10 2010

“Cowgirl in the Sand” is a great song from one of my favorite Neil Young albums, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (1969). It was Neil’s second solo album and his first with backing band Crazy Horse. This album has 3 of his most popular songs on it, all of which were written when he was sick with a 103° fever. Pretty remarkable stuff. “Cowgirl” was one of those tunes, along with “Cinnamon Girl” and “Down By The River”. As much as I like the studio version of this song, it tends to sound a little like another one of his great ones, “Southern Man”, at certain parts. But, this live acoustic version really makes it feel like it’s own song, and a fantastic one at that. It’s quintessential Neil Young. Although difficult to tell for sure, I believe this performance is from his solo acoustic show at Massey Hall in 1971. That concert captures Neil at his finest. Check out “Cowgirl in the Sand” and I will be sure to post more songs from that performance in the future.

References:

More info on Neil Young

More info on Crazy Horse

More info on Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere

Studio (electric) version of “Cowgirl in the Sand”





Journey | Lights

23 08 2010

I’ve written about all-time great guitar solos before, most notably Robbie Robertson’s on The Bands’ “Ophelia”. Well, here is another that I would put into that category. I’m not a huge fan of Journey for various reasons that I won’t elaborate on, but this song is a real gem from early in their career. It was written and recorded just as, lead singer, Steve Perry joined the group  in 1977. The story behind it’s origin is pretty cool. Perry has said that he wrote most of the tune while leaving in Los Angeles and it was originally about LA. In fact, the original lyric was: “When the lights go down in the city and the sun shines on LA”. He admits that it never quite sat right with him so he shelved it. Soon after, he joined Journey and moved to their home city, San Francisco. After a short time in the Bay City, it hit him… “the sun shines on the BAY”. And, like that, he penned a classic. Released on the bands fourth album, Infinity, it was the beginning of their most popular period as a band. To me the guitar solo has always stood out as the most compelling part of the song, which is played oh-so tastefully by lead guitarist and co-writer Neal Schon. Although the opening lick sounds a little too similar to the solo from Queen’s “Somebody To Love”, the statement as a whole is arranged really well. It’s succinct, lyrical, catchy and, above all else, memorable. As a little side note: Schon was actually one of the few original members of Journey. He was an alumni of one of San Fran’s biggest groups, Santana. After leaving Carlos & Co, they built Journey around his sound. I had no idea until just recently, but I’m not at all surprised.

Below is a live video that became the “official” video in the early MTV days. It’s decent if you consider the era. You may have to look past the poor audio dubbing but once you do, it’s pretty good stuff. To jump to Schon’s solo, go to 2:07 – 2:34.

References:

Official Journey Site

More info on Journey

More info on “Lights”

More info on Steve Perry

More info on Neal Schon

More info on Infinity





Haight-Ashbury

15 07 2010

While in SF, I had to stop by the old Grateful Dead house at 710 Ashbury. The whole Haight/Ashbury scene was pretty heady back in the day and it seems to still resemble that… well, at least to some degree. Check out the picture I snapped of the house. It’s obviously pretty gentrified at this point compared to the old days. Check out my shot versus the one of the boys on the porch of their old digs.

In honor of the boys (and this little trip), I compiled a few videos below. I also wanted to include some great footage of Bill Graham from the The Fillmore: Last Days video. Bill was the brainchild behind The Fillmore and if it were not for him the place would never had lasted as long as it did. Nor would it have developed into such a culturally significant and iconic venue. Some would say it even personified the attitude of the era. This video is from the farewell concert for the beloved site, held on June 30th, 1971. First, take a look at Bill in this 2 part video:

Here are a few videos of The Grateful Dead. I’ve long been a fan, regardless of some of my misgivings about what has happened to the band in the latter part of their careers and the current state of affairs post Jerry Garcia’s death. The first one is of the boys live in the streets of San Francisco. I love this early stuff where Jerry had yet to grow his beard and Pig Pen was still rocking the keys and harmonica. Unfortunately, the Tennessee Whiskey and excess of drugs got the best of the guy just a few years into their popularity.

This next one is a cover of Them’s classic “Turn On Your Love Light” from Woodstock 1969. It’s a great song that uses a mambo rhythm and a common New Orleans R&B groove. This videos pretty cool and the songs is great.

This is another cool one. This time it’s the classic extended jam “Dark Star”…

References:

More info on San Francisco

More info on The Grateful Dead

More info on The Fillmore

More info on Bill Graham

More info on Fillmore: The Last Days

More info on Haight/Ashbury

More info on Woodstock

More info on Them





Hey MJ, I Want You Back

25 06 2010

Today is the 1 yr anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death. By now everybody knows what happened and it goes without saying that just about every media outlet will be doing something to honor the guy so I will spare you any overly verbose statement of reverence and just give you the goods. I wanted to showcase a few moments from his career. Some of which are monumental, while others are just pieces I really appreciate.

As a big Motown fan, I had to start with the early days of the Jackson 5. There are actually quite a few videos that capture the boys at this period in their career. This one is from Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. Per Dick’s intro, it commemorates their hit “I Want You Back” going platinum in 1970. The video quality is not great but the performance is supercharged. They amp it up just a bit by increasing the tempo… it burns.

This next one is, perhaps, from one of their low moments but I find it to be a really interesting piece that I had never seen before. It’s a medley of two popular covers done as part of a western themed sketch from the Jackson 5’s mid 70’s variety show. The segment shows the boys doing War’s “The Cisco Kid” and Bob Marley’s “I Shot The Sheriff”. It’s not their best work but, like I said, really neat to watch. The theatrical stage antics are way too much for my taste but who knew they had covered War and Marley. That was the one cool thing about this TV show, they used to show off their talents with material beyond their own catalog or that of other Motown artists.

This next one is without a doubt one of the biggest moments in Michael’s career. It’s that famous performance of “Billie Jean” from the Motown 25 show live at NY’s Apollo Theater in Harlem. This is the first time Micheal displayed his trademark moonwalk. The whole performance is phenomenal but once he hits the move, the audience erupts… it gives me goosebumps to watch it decades later.

This is just a song that I happen to like, despite its down tempo beat.  As one of his more mellow tracks, it’s a real standout. It’s “Man In The Mirror”, live from the Moonwalker concert film. The audience footage here really shows how big of a superstar the man really was. He touched millions upon millions of people (pardon the off-color pun).

This is the ever famous “Thriller” video from 1983. This 14 minute John Landis video is usually referred to as the greatest music video of all time and has had a huge impact on pop culture as we know it. As many times as you’ve seen it (I know, countless), it’s always pretty cool. I, like many, absolutely loved it when I was a kid.





Going To California

22 06 2010

As of today, The GG is officially based in Los Angeles, CA… Venice to be exact. As a native New Yorker, it goes without saying that I will miss NYC, especially Greenwich Village. It’s a truly unique place with SO much to offer, not just musically but culturally and beyond. At least one thing is for sure… I’ll be back there soon. Of course, I will try my best to stay in tune with everything going on there in the NY music scene, even from afar. But I’m especially excited to get an up close glimpse at all the cool stuff coming out of LA. Wish me luck on the left coast…








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