This article originally appeared in Issue 10 of Crawdaddy in Jun, 1967.
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH’s latest single is out, and like his “Lover’s Concerto” of a few years back, it’s an easy million-seller. This one is called “A Whiter Shade of Pale”: lyrics by Keith Reid, music adapted from the Bach cantata “Sleepers Awake.” PROCOL HARUM recorded the song, and it’s the fastest-selling record in British Decca’s history; equally unprecedented success has been achieved in France, Holland, Belgium, and Switzerland. And by the time you read this, “Pale” should be at least #1 in the U.S. with total international sales of about three million. Not bad for a song recorded in one take by a group less than three months old. ::: And if you like that Bach-rock stuff, I recommend Jazz Guitar Bach (Nonesuch), a collection of Bach pieces played wonderfully on electric guitar by Andre Benichou and his Well-Tempered Three. Very fine.
Jeff Beck and Mike Bloomfield really started something. Lead guitarists are deserting their groups left and right: John Simmons has joined the DAILY FLASH (a fine group who, like so many before them, are shriveling on the Greene & Stone vine), replacing Doug Hastings who has joined the BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD in place of Neil Young, who was last seen heading toward England. The most recent Buffalo Springfield release, “Bluebird”/”Mr. Soul,” features instrumental tracks recorded by Greene & Stone in Los Angeles while the Springfield were in New York. The vocals and Neil’s overdubbed lead guitar were added later; the resulting dreck is an insult to a fine group and some fine material. ::: Meanwhile, ZAL YANOVSKY has left the Lovin’ Spoonful (“I was getting bored”) to pursue a solo career. His replacement is Jerry Yester, formerly of the Modern Folk Quartet.
“Respect” (Aretha Franklin) and “Sweet Soul Music” (Arthur Conley), both songs written by OTIS REDDlNG, recently made #1 and #2 on the charts, respectively; but Otis himself has never had a Top 20 record in the pop market. ::: MICK JAGGER and KEITH RICHARDS have been convicted in England of possession of narcotics (meth and hash)—Mick received a three-month sentence, Keith a full year. They’re appealing the convictions; meanwhile, Brian Jones is being tried on similar charges. This means that you’re unlikely to see the Stones in the U.S. anymore, even after they’re out of jail. (DONOVAN has been absent from the States for the same reason.) It may also mean no new album (Flowers is made up of leftovers from previous LPs) for quite a while…
Good news: CARL WILSON has been cleared of draft-dodging charges against him; he still has not achieved the C.O. status he deserves, however. It is unclear at this point when the Beach Boys will release Smile, or any new album; there are too many conflicting reports. Let’s hope that Brian will not fall into the trap of becoming so enamored of perfection that he produces nothing rather than produce the imperfect (even though he may be six times better now, the work he did last December is more deserving of release than 99.44 percent of what’s available by anybody else).
The LEFT BANKE have reunited, with Mike Brown at the helm. ::: “Donovan’s Colours,” by George Washington Brown (VAN DYKE PARKS) is now available on a Warner Brothers 45. |t’s two years ahead of its time, and required listening for Crawdaddy! people. ::: The WALKER
BROTHERS have split up and are pursuing solo careers. ::: Premature Award for Liner Notes of the Year goes to Andy Wickham for the Brass Ring Disadvantages LP (not much inside the jacket, but wow!). LOVE are shifting personnel as usual, and have gone back into the studios to record a new album. :::
Keep a Straight Face Department (from New Musical Express): “Nancy Sinatra has been signed to co-star with Elvis Presley in his next film, Pot Luck. Nancy will play a girl accountant who sorts out Elvis’ tax problems…Later in the year her own newly-formed film company, Boots
Limited, hopes to begin production of The Flower Children. Added Nancy: ‘This is all about the LSD problem. I may appear in it with Sal Mineo.’” ::: PHIL OCHS has changed to A&M records; JIM KWESKIN & the JUG BAND to Reprise.
CHARLIE LLOYD is recording an album live at the Fillmore for Atlantic (Chuck Berry also plans live sessions there, and Kama Sutra will be making records at the Avalon this summer). Rock fans are becoming more and more interested in those jazz musicians whose attitude and structural approach bring them close to the same artistic goals that rock aspires to. These “head-brothers” include Lloyd, Hugh Masekela, Gabor Szabo, and John Handy and their respective groups. More and more, the word “rock” is used to describe impact and intent, style, not specific musical content. Igor Stravinsky and Robert Johnson could both be called pre-Freedian rock artists.
The new SPENCER DAVIS GROUP is Spencer Davis, Pete York, Eddie Hardin (organ, vocals), and Phil Sawyer (lead guitar)—note that “Somebody Help Me” and the entire I’m a Man LP are earlier SDG material, taken off various British albums by the group. STEVIE WINWOOD’s new group has a single out on UA, “Paper Sun”—a very fine record, though not at all in what one might have thought was Stevie’s style. The group is called TRAFFIC, and the other members are David Mason (guitar, sitar), Chris Wood (flute), and James Capaldi (drums). TRAFFIC and SDG will both be involved in writing and performing the music for a United Artists flick called Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush.
At Malibu, Long Island, this summer: Young Rascals; Blues Project & Who; Association & Buffalo Springfield (July 14); Byrds (July 21); Doors (July 28); Jefferson Airplane (Aug. 11); Mothers (Aug. 18); Fugs & Yardbirds (Aug. 25); Temptations (Sept. 1). The Rheingold concerts in Central Park include Stevie Wonder (July 12); Miracles (July 26); Byrds (July 28); Neil Diamond & the Youngbloods (Aug. 2); Blues Project & John Lee Hooker (Aug: 9); Jr. Wells, Son House, Jesse Fuller, & “Big Boy” Crudup (Aug. 25). Country Joe & Fish at Cafe Au Go Go NYC Aug. 1-6; new Al Kooper group late in August. The Electric Circus is open; Salvation opens very soon.
There’s still no real rock scene in New York, but things are happening very fast (Rock Scully: “When I was here a month ago, New York was three years behind the Haight. Now it’s two years behind”). The Grateful Dead came to town, and played so many free concerts that the SF tradition of music in the parks seems firmly established here. The Group Image has been a particularly important influence on the scene. (The Image are an amorphous bunch who produce music, posters, confusion, and other useful items. As yet, their music is nothing very good, but their performance is very enjoyable—the audience makes as much noise as the Image, and it’s all very tribal and very real.) Monday nights at the Cheetah are now devoted to the community, following a marvelous Grateful Dead—Group Image concert there early in June. For the first time, the Cheetah had good people onstage and good people in the audience, and it made all the difference in the world. (Groups—if you’re willing to play a free concert or two for the community, call Crawdaddy! @ 675-3193—and we’ll put you in touch with right people. Thanks.)
The DETROIT WHEELS, formerly with Mitch Ryder, are now recording for Impact
Records. ::: PETE TOWNSHEND, of the Who, plans to record Tiny Tim (a Steve Paul perennial) for a British label.
The mono record will soon be obsolete, thanks to a recent price change that brought monaural and stereo records to the same list price. This should increase the importance of the 45 (because it costs considerably less than an album, and is therefore more worthwhile) and force an increase in the quality of recording techniques, since LPs will all be in stereo and more attention will be paid to sound. The quality of the albums themselves will also have to improve. The consumer who pays $4.00 or so for an LP is going to expect an album full of good music, not just one hit and a handful of mud. Singles will still be vital for the promotion of albums, but albums will sell on their own strength, and groups that are only as good as their latest hit will lose out. We can expect, therefore, a growing separation between the LP market and the singles market.
This strong separation, where 45-rpm buyers purchase few LPs if any, existed ten years ago; now it may return, but with a different emphasis. Rock, which has grown out of pop music, is now something larger. More rock albums are now sold than all other types of music put together, and that’s a very significant fact. It means, first of all, that rock fans far outnumber enthusiasts of any other “type” of music; that, speaking either democratically or economically, rock is now the vital music of the nation. Or, looking at it another way, it means that categories have less and less meaning every day, and rock, being the most eclectic and non-specific musical category, is able to absorb more different tastes and preferences than any other music. People no more want to restrict themselves to one specialized style of music than they want to look only at paintings that are a certain color. So while you have a class of people who own only Herb Alpert records, or Monkees records, you also have a class who spread their limited purchases to include the Beatles, Stones, Byrds, Doors, Beach Boys, Dylan, and Jefferson Airplane. Eclectic? Well, we call it rock.
And it’s easy to see where it’s all going. Forty-fives are for people who like a catchy melody, who have two or three favorite songs and that’s what they’ll go out of their way to buy—their interest in music is limited enough so they’ll take whatever is fed to them over a transistor radio as long as it’s sort of constant and doesn’t intrude or demand too much. Easy listening. And that includes the sub-teens as well as the housewives, the people driving along listening to something-or-other, all of those to whom what’s on the radio is not music, but companionship or diversion or just stuffing to fill the emptiness in their ears when TV’s not around. I know that feeling—quite recently I got hung up alone and listened to one radio station—and the same twenty-five songs—for maybe twenty hours. I felt trapped. I’d turn it off, but first just one more song…
And later I realized it’s a way of life. Many people get on the treadmill and just never get up to turn it off. Patterns are addictive. Rock is the new music, the music that changes but doesn’t just change, that stays the same but doesn’t only stay the same. It’s frustrating to turn on a radio nowadays, because there isn’t much rock—few songs that take you off the treadmill, few songs like “Somebody to Love,” which even on the radio sounds as though this performance is unique, one of endless different ones—this song is flesh, not plastic.
But we’re starting to get rock radio: stations playing album cuts, avoiding repetition, keeping maybe 100, 150 songs on their playlist for the week and adding extras whenever they feel like it, people playing the records (instead of human machines, deejays who have been programmed by the “program director” as though they were some sort of computer). KMPX-FM in San Francisco is the supreme example; but a clearer idea of the split that’s taking place can be had by a comparison of two AM stations in that city. KFRC, the leading “rock” station, has found that it has two listeners over eighteen for every teenager. Their reaction is caution: “We would probably avoid appealing to teens at the loss of our older audience.” The notion, very probably correct, that’s running through radio circles is that the people in their twenties who were listening to rock in their teens will stay with it now, as long as it doesn’t get too harsh, or “psychedelic.” So many successful rock stations play it very cool, tightening the playlist and seeing that things rock, but mildly. This sort of station will probably become more and more Top 40 oriented—”play what’s popular,” go for the widest possible audience base. Background music.
KYA, another SF rock station, is taking a different tack. In an attempt to program for an audience, and not just for a chart, they’ve started playing sixteen to nineteen records an hour, including heavy concentration on album cuts by local groups. In one hour I heard both sides of Big Brother’s single, two Grateful Dead tracks (including “Morning Dew”), a Country Joe track (they play all seven minutes of “Section 43” frequently), a cut from the first Airplane album, “A Day in the Life,” etc. KYA’s latest ratings are the highest they’ve been in a year.
Sooner or later, I believe, all pop-rock stations will go one way or the other: plastic or flesh. Many of them are learning that their audience likes to listen, likes to have interesting music offered in a friendly, creative way, likes to hear songs they never heard before. And others are learning that they have an audience who won’t tolerate intrusion on their security, who are willing to absorb five or six new songs a week, and that’s the absolute most.
And what it all means is that you and I and other Crawdaddy! readers and kindred souls will be buying more and more LPs, and will maintain our position of importance in the economy of the record industry, while slowly the singles market slips back into a mush morass of foot-tapping and heart-throbbing. But albums will be aimed more and more toward us, and more and more radio stations will change format to try to reach us. It’s written in the numbers on the wall (Billboard, July 1): #l, Sgt. Pepper, #5, Surrealistic Pillow, #12, Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits; #17, The Doors; #38, Between the Buttons; #85, Happy Jack, #86, The Grateful Dead, #125, Younger Than Yesterday, #130, Country Joe; #144, Moby Grape…and much much much much more. A few months ago, no one—’cept maybe us—expected the Doors or the Airplane to have quite that much success. Now, comes the revolution; and I think that we’ve already won.
AL KOOPER, organist extraordinaire, has left the BLUES PROJECT to form his own group. His replacement is John-John McDuffey; of the now-defunct King Bees. ::: The Smile on the Face of the Tiger: BOB DYLAN is likely to re-sign with Columbia Records after all (presumably with Bob
Johnston continuing as his producer), despite his announced switch to MGM. Dylan hopes to record very soon; he has a great deal of material prepared. ::: Don’t Look Back, a documentary film made while Dylan was touring Britain in 1965, is well worth your attention—one of the finest movies I’ve seen in a good while. It’s extremely straight; no games, no cleverness, no moralizing or heavy-handedness. Instead, a Blow-Up-like feeling for a man’s life; brilliant portraits of Albert Grossman, Donovan, Alan Price, the archetypal Time reporter, and of course Dylan himself.
The BUTTERFIELD BLUES BAND’s third album will be out in a few weeks, at long last; the new members of the group are Charles Buggsy Maugh, bass; Gene Dinwiddie, tenor sax; and Keith Johnson, trumpet. ::: MIKE BLOOMFlELD’s new group, while we’re at it, is called the Electric
Flag, but will probably be going through its twelfth name change by the time you read this. Group members include Buddy Miles on drums, Harvey Brooks, bass, Nick Gravenites, vocals, Barry Goldberg, organ, Mike on lead and two horn players whose names I just don’t know.
A major indication of the growing importance and prestige of rock is the extent to which the mass media covered Sergeant Pepper—and the way they covered it: not as a phenomenon, but as a work of art to review. Life, Time, Newsweek, The New Yorker, The New York Times all studied the album, and if nothing else at least recognized that the Beatles are true artists rather than a mere pop fad. This may be more-than-obvious, but it’s still a major step forward for the mass media, who have always been culture snobs. The only review that really hurt was Richard Goldstein’s in the Sunday Times, because with the opportunity to do so much good and turn so many people on to rock, he got hung up on his own integrity and attempted to judge what he admittedly did not understand. It’s okay not to understand, but wrong to act as an interpreter for a language you don’t speak. We sent the Times a note: “Dear NYT—You will of course receive a lot of letters. Let me say very simply that Richard Goldstein’s lack of appreciation for Sergeant Pepper and the Beatles ‘67 is due to his trying too hard. He didn’t ‘relax and let the evening go.’ Instead he stared through a microscope, and—curiously—he found things out of proportion. Sergeant Pepper is a show, a delightful entertainment—if there’s a message it’s ‘Dig yourself,’ but the boys don’t push too hard even ‘Within You Without You’ has laughter at the end, as if to say: ‘Take us only as seriously as you want to.’ Paul McCartney runs up to R. Goldstein screaming, ‘Good Morning! Good Morning!’; Richard scratches his head carefully and thinks: ‘What did he mean by that?’ He meant, ‘Good morning.’”
BEATLE news: The next single may be “All We Need ls Love,” the recording session of which was broadcast to the world via international television June 25 (with special guest M. Jagger). King Productions, in America, is producing a full-length feature cartoon about the Beatles, called Yellow Submarine. The score will include several past hits and some tracks from Sgt. Pepper, plus three new songs that the Beatles are recording especially for the film. Release is set for spring 1968. And it looks very much as though Michelangelo Antonioni will direct the Beatles’ third film, Shades of a Personality, shooting for which is scheduled to begin in Malaga, Spain, in
September. The story line involves the four faces of a man (himself as a dreamer, as seen by the world, as a member of mankind, as seen by himself), each played by a different Beatle. Meanwhile, the Beatles are trying to complete filming of a TV spectacular, and a new album, by early fall. Mmm, such a flurry of activity! :::
Alex Hassilev and Mort Garson, independent producers, are making plans for a record label that will feature electronic music exclusively; the time seems right for good electronic stuff to succeed on the charts. Electronic commercials are also in the offing ::: Phil Spector is still playing the music game; he just re-signed Ike & Tina Turner to his Philles Records. If you don’t own “River Deep” by now, blush.
The MONTEREY POP FESTIVAL, contrary to some expectations, has produced nothing but good vibes: no one knows exactly how they plan to give away their 500G, but now that it’s all over and it was beautiful and there was absolutely no trouble, everyone seems a little less uptight about the whole thing. Certainly, the festivals will continue. ABC-TV has filmed a color special about Monterey; the groups that played seem pretty pleased about what was going down; the music was everything from bad to excellent, including in the latter category the Who,
Big Brother, Ravi Shankar, the Electric Flag, Steve Miller, Jimi Hendrix, and Otis Redding. See you next year.
DON KIRSHNER is a man who blew it. He created the Monkees out of whole cloth, and he didn’t miss a bet. The group succeeded in every way Kirshner planned, and his finger was in every pie. What’s more, despite being based on manipulation more than quality, the Monkees’ success did not fade after the initial impact. It grew, and the entire business admired Kirshner’s ingenuity and envied him his percentage of the cake. Then, suddenly, it was all gone—Kirshner was fired from Colgems Records, and, shortly thereafter, lost his job at Screen Gems, whose highly successful music division he had been solely responsible for for five years.
What destroyed him? In a word, power. Kirshner has sued Columbia Pix/Screen Gems for breach of contract, and Screen Gems’ reply is very illuminating. Among other things, it charges that: A) The night before the scheduled premiere of the Monkees TV show, Kirshner threatened not to deliver the master recordings tor use on the series unless the producers of the show gave up their share of the music publishing royalties from Monkees songs, which share would then revert to Kirshner’s operation. B) Kirshner tried to force RCA to distribute as the new Monkees’ single a recording which, like most of the earlier ones, featured instrumentals and vocals by people other than the Monkees. This after the Monkees had decided to go straight, and had threatened to walk out on not only the record company but the television series if any record were released without their approval. (RCA followed the instructions of Screen Gems, and refused to release the single; but only after spending $25,000 printing the jacket of the 45.) C)
Kirshner secretly tape-recorded conversations between himself, various officers of Colpix and Screen Gems, and the general manager of RCA. Etc, etc. Power blinds people. Legally, Colgems couldn’t fire Kirshner; legally, the Monkees had no control over what was released under their name. But in actual fact, contractual obligations are only sheets of paper until it is established in court that the misconduct is in fact one-sided. And regardless of what the Monkees must do, if they refuse, it may be difficult to force them (shotgun recording sessions?). So Kirshner is in court instead of in charge, and the Monkees are in the studios doing what they want.
The WHO got out of bed the morning after Jagger and Richards were convicted, announced that they consider the Stones “scapegoats for the rest of us,” and made plans to record a series of Jagger-Richards compositions, to keep the Stones in the public eye while in jail. The same morning they recorded “Last Time”/”Under My Thumb.” That afternoon the single was pressed, and dubs were airlifted to the pirate radio stations, who immediately played them. The next morning the record was in the stores. Nice.
Crawdaddy needs an incredibly responsible, very groovy managing editor. Write or call. ::: Mike Clark has reportedly left the Byrds, to be replaced by the drummer who was formerly with the Daily Flash. No confirmation yet. ::: Cheers —Uncle Paul.