Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Sunday Comments ( 02 - 07 - 16 )

Graham Nash:  
You've written a lot about Graham Nash recently so I figured I would send in a brief review of the Graham Nash show that I just saw this past Tuesday, February 2nd.  
Here in Clearwater, Fl, we have a recently remodeled theater named the Capital that over the last couple of years has been holding quite a few shows. Up to a few years ago it was basically a movie theater and not doing much business so it was sold, shut down for a year while it was remodeled and expanded to hold about 750 people and then reopened about two years ago. The first concert on the reopening was Michael McDonald which sold out at $150 per ticket and it's been doing real well ever since, holding up to five shows per week. I saw America there about a year ago and sent you a brief review. Graham Nash played there in January of 2015 and then he made a return engagement just this past week.
The show was basically just like the one you described in your review of a few months ago in your neck of the woods ... Graham playing acoustic guitar or piano and singing with his partner Shane Fontaine playing acoustic and electric guitar while providing harmony vocals. The set list sounded pretty similar to the one you described. They opened with a couple of Hollies songs, Bus Stop and King Midas In Reverse, and then moved into I Used To Be King off of Graham's first solo album Songs For Beginners. As you know, these two gentleman sound and play great together. They make the sound even more full than you would think with just two guys playing. Graham sounded real good singing. He has the kind of voice that makes singing sound effortless. They next song was one of my personal favorites, Immigration Man, by Crosby - Nash. Great electric guitar by Shane. They then played three songs in a row off of Graham's upcoming April solo release which, if I remember correctly, will be called This Path Tonight. A couple more Crosby - Nash songs and then he ended his first set with as he called it "The only song I'm playing tonight that I didn't write" and that would be the Neil Young hit Ohio. They then took a short break.
And then here's something that only happened at this concert. When we first entered the theater, a couple of ushers were passing out papers with the lyrics to the Paul McCartney / Beatles song When I'm 64. They told everybody entering that today (February 2) was Graham's birthday and in his honor they wanted everyone in the audience to stand when Graham and Shane came back out for his second set and sing Happy Birthday, Graham. And then the house sound system would play When I'm 64 and everybody was supposed to sing and then substitute 74 (his correct age) for 64. Believe it or not, this all came off without a hitch. And I can't be positive, but I truly believe that Graham was absolutely shocked by the whole thing. After we all sat down he shook his head in amazement and said "How do I follow that?"
Well, follow it he did with another new song and then came the hits ... Simple Man, Just A Song Before I Go, Chicago and then Our House, all done perfectly with some storytelling before Just A Song and Our House of how he wrote the songs. He even dedicated a song, Back Home, to Levon Helm, as he was making mention of some of our rock icons that have passed recently. He came back to perform two encores (I'm sure pre-planned) the Beatle favorite, Blackbird and then ended the show with, no surprise, Teach Your Children.
I had seen his huge motor coach parked next to the building and figured I would head out that way to see if I could catch an autograph on my Crosby, Stills & Nash album. He was already inside by the time I arrived there and so me and about 15 other people hung out to see if he would pop back out to greet and or sign some autographs for the small crowd. As we waited the most interesting aspect was this one guy who was loading equipment onto the bus. He was about 50 to 60 years old and was a dead ringer for David Crosby ... hair, walrus mustache and a little chubby. After watching him do his job for a while, I finally had to say to him, "Hey David, it was nice that Graham could get a job for you after all these years."  He looked at me and laughed and said, "Yeah, like I've never heard that before."
Finally, after about an hour, our waiting around was rewarded. Graham popped out, shook a few hands, signed a few albums (including mine, yes!) and then within a minute was back comfortably inside in what looked like a rolling palace on wheels.
One more thing (and maybe shouldn't mention this so as not to get anybody in trouble) is that every time the coach doors opened, some unbelievable sweet smelling pot would snake out and the crowd of 10 to 15 people all would get huge smiles on their faces. That's all I'm saying but after standing close to that opening and closing door for about an hour I knew that a trip to McDonald's would be happening on the drive home.
Well, there's my story and I'm sticking to it. My honest opinion is that about 750 people all had an excellent evening at the Capital including yours truly. A really fine show.
Rich Turner
Safety Harbor, Florida
Graham is very open about his drug use in his biography (although by book's end he claims to be clean so who knows!)  Sounds like a great show ... and one I'm hoping to catch again when Nash hits the Chicago area for appearances at The City Winery on May 11th and 12th.
Thanks, Rich ... great review!  (kk)    

The Monkees:  
Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork are teaming up again to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of The Monkees with both a tour and a brand new album.  (Michael Nesmith is not expected to physically participate in either ... but stranger things have happened since the death of Davy Jones.)  In fact, you'll hear Davy's vocals on the new LP as well, as they resurrect an old Neil Diamond tune "Love To Love", recorded back in 1967 but never commercially released by The Monkees.  (Monkees fans have been familiar with the tune for years through the various compilation CD's released over the past 35 years ... but this will be its first commercial release.)  Dolenz said he may even add harmony vocals to Davy's track to give it a more updated sound.  
Other songs being considered for the album (titled "Good Times") include brand new tracks written by Noel Gallagher (Oasis), Rivers Cuomo (Weezer), Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie), Andy Partridge (XTC) and Zach Rogue (Rogue Wave) as well as vintage tracks from the vault, updated for a more contemporary feel like the previously mentioned Neil Diamond tune "Love To Love", "Whatever's Right", written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart and "Wasn't Born To Follow" by Carole King.  There's even a track from back in the day written by Michael Nesmith ("I Know What I Know", featuring a Micky Dolenz vocal.  To a degree it's much like the old days when an incredible stable of songwriters crafted songs especially for The Monkees to record.  
The new album is expected to be released on June 10th and will be produced by Adam Schlesinger of Fountains Of Wayne. 
The title track, "Good Times", sounds like an interesting listen.  This song was first recorded in 1968 but never finished.  Written by Harry Nilsson, Dolenz may turn this into a duet as well, adding his voice to Nilsson's guide vocal / demo.  Dolenz and Nilsson were extremely close friends in the '70's and this would be their first "official" collaboration since Micky recorded Nilsson's "Daybreak" back in 1973.
The aborted Monkees track already features Michael Nesmith on guitar so in effect all four Monkees will be reunited for the first time for a new release since "Just Us" was hit the streets in 1997.  "this is one of the most exciting Monkee projects I've been involved with for decades!" Dolenz says.  "Working with Adam Schlesinger has been a pure delight and the opportunity to sing a duet with my old buddy, Harry Nilsson, is just beyond cool."
The 50th Anniversary reunion tour kicks off on May 18th in Fort Myers, Florida, and runs though October 29th in Shippensburg, PA, though more dates may be added.   Fans purchasing their tickets through Ticketmaster will also receive a free download of the new album.  The group expects to play some new songs, though the bulk of the show will revolve around their deep catalog of classics. "I've always felt it was important to give the audience what they want," says Dolenz, "which is the hits. Peter and I do a lovely acoustic portion of the show, like we're sitting around a campfire. Our vocal blend has become very, very interesting." 
They also plan on performing many songs that originally featured Mike Nesmith on lead vocals, though he won't be on the tour. "He's always invited," says Dolenz. "And at times he has blessed us with his presence. I don't see him going on the road, and certainly not for the whole grueling thing .... but I do hope he shows up at some point and sings a couple of songs with us." 
Dolenz also admits that nobody is more shocked than the members of the band that they're still around for the 50th anniversary ... especially since they were dismissed as such "lightweight pop" at the time.  "Here I am, 70 years old," says Dolenz. "How the hell did that happen? But I'm more excited for this album and tour than I've been for anything in a long time."

The Monkees Tour Dates 
May 18 - Fort Myers, FL @ Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall
May 19 - Melbourne, FL @ King Center for the Performing Arts
May 20 - Tampa, FL @ Ruth Eckerd Hall
May 21 - Atlanta, GA @ Frederick Brown Jr. Amphitheater
May 24 - Charlotte, NC @ Blumenthal PAC - Belk Theater
May 26 - Washington, DC @ Warner Theatre
May 27 - Boston, MA @ The Wilbur Theatre
May 28 - Philadelphia, PA @ Keswick Theatre
May 29 - Red Bank, NJ @ Count Basie Theatre
June 1 - New York, NY @ The Town Hall
June 3 - Toronto, ON @ Casino Rama
June 4 - Windsor, ON @ The Colosseum at Caesars Windsor
June 5 - Cleveland, OH @ Hard Rock Live Northfield Park
June 7 - Fort Wayne, IN @ Foellinger Theatre
June 10 - Louisville, KY @ Louisville Palace Theatre
June 11th - Hammond, IN @ The Venue at Horseshoe Casino
June 12 - Indianapolis, IN @ Murat Theatre at Old National Centre
June 14 - Dayton, OH @ Rose Music Center at The Heights
June 28 - Dallas, TX @ AT&T PAC – Winspear Opera House
June 30 - Tulsa, OK @ Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
July 1 - Mayetta, KS @ Prairie Band Casino & Resort
July 16 - Hampton Beach, NH @ Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom
July 22 - Hot Springs, AR @ Oaklawn Racing and Gaming
September 14 - Tucson, AZ @ Fox Tucson Theater
September 15 - Phoenix, AZ @ Mesa Arts Center
September 16 - Los Angeles, CA @ Pantages Theatre
September 17 - Las Vegas, NV @ Primm Valley Casino Resorts
September 20 - San Francisco, CA @ The Warfield
September 21 - Modesto, CA @ Gallo Center For The Arts
September 23 & 24 - Lincoln City, OR @ Chinook Winds Casino Resort
September 25 - Seattle, WA @ The Moore Theatre
October 1 - Biloxi, MS @ Hard Rock Live
October 22 - Paso Robles, CA @ Vina Robles Amphitheatre
October 29 - Shippensburg, PA @ H. Ric Luhrs PAC

And The Monkees news doesn't stop there.  On April 29th their complete television series (all 58 episodes) will be released on Blu-Ray for the first time with TONS of bonus features and extras (including their film "Head" with never-before-seen outtakes), all digitally restored to the highest quality.  This is an extremely limited collectors edition (only 10,000 numbered sets will be produced) and it is only available through  ($199.98)
Maurice White:
KENT -  
Thanks, Gary ... and believe me, I pinch myself nearly every day.  I grew up loving this music and will ALWAYS be a fan first ... so to be able to share these memories with others who love it as much as I do is a daily treat.  The fact that some of these artists are now approachable and appreciative of the lengthy careers they've enjoyed thanks to fans like us is just the icing on the cake.  To this day those early Earth Wind and Fire encounters are a cherished memory ... I can assure you that they would not recall a single one because none of it would have loomed at the level in their hearts that it did in mine.  And to know that now, some 40 years later, they're still out there playing to packed houses on tour with Chicago is a true testament to just how great they really are.  (kk)

Great story Kent, thanks!
When you tell folks 40+ years later that you shared a bill with Earth Wind and Fire, they're likely to look at you with a raised eyebrow and a "yeah, right" ... but then to spin it in such a way that allows me to present THEM as our opening act is the fun part.  Ridiculous, yes ... but fun nevertheless!  (kk)   

I remember those padded Kustom amps.  Found this picture of a Kustom PA system on eBay.

Yes, that was very similar to ours (trust me it was MUCH bigger in person ... especially since we went with the FOUR tall column speakers instead!!!  lol)  A REAL bitch to move around, let me tell you!  (kk)

Harvey Kubernik supplied these quotes from Leonard Chess regarding Maurice White ...

"I remember when Billy Stewart shot the doorknob off the studio if they didn’t let him in quick enough. What was Billy Stewart mad about? ‘I brought some fuckin’ pepper stuffed crabs from Baltimore. You gotta taste them before they get ruined!’  We were into eatin’ and laughing."

"Maurice White is the drummer on Billy’s ‘Summertime.’ I saw genius in him. He was the first black guy that ever had a Volkswagon. He was like the first of the switch from the Cadillac to the cool.

"As far as the best dressers at Chess Records, I would say Maurice White was right up there with Muddy Waters. I saw early genius in him ... long before Earth, Wind and Fire. Charles Stepney, who did Rotary Connection, and later Earth, Wind and Fire, was the other genius from Chess. Like  Maurice White, right after Little Walter. Stepney was a genius arranger, like Beethoven."   

Maurice White ... Paul Kantner ... Signe Anderson ...
Is 74 the new 27? 
Add Dan Hicks to the 74 club. 
There DOES seem to be a trend developing here lately, doesn't there.  But when one considers that at 74 we're ALL getting up there ... and ESPECIALLY when one considers the lifestyles most of these rock stars enjoyed back in the day ... I guess it really shouldn't be quite as shocking as it sometimes is.  (kk)   

FH Reader Tom Cuddy sent us this article from Billboard Magazine ... recollections from Robert Lamm of Chicago regarding working with Maurice White and Earth, Wind and Fire ...   

Chicago and Earth, Wind & Fire were kindred spirits even before they began touring together, periodically, in 2004. Both hail from the Windy City and fused elements of the jazz, R&B and rock that was in the air into their respective sounds -- different in direction but certainly similar in spirit. The live shows have certainly proven that, with genuinely galvanizing moments when the two troupes join forces to create a brassy musical monster playing each other's songs. So it's not surprising the members of Chicago -- which hits the road again with EWF for a 15-date run starting March 23 in Jacksonville, Fla. -- feels their friends' pain over Thursday's passing of Maurice White.  Keyboardist-vocalist Robert Lamm shared his thoughts with Billboard:  
I may have met him earlier than I remember, 'cause I don't remember everything, but when the two bands were getting together in 2004 to go out and tour for the first time together Maurice came to rehearsals, which were lengthy, a few weeks in California. I just walked over to him and I said, "Maurice, I'm Robert. First of all, may I give you a hug?" And he was a little shocked but I just needed to do that, just because I felt really, like, a lot of gratitude and a lot of love for the guy based on his music and the spirit of what you get when you listen to Earth, Wind & Fire, what we always got from the first time we listened to them.  
The first time I actually got into it was when our band was recording at Caribou Ranch (in Colorado) and I think Earth, Wind & Fire was contemplating coming up to record there, and I listened to "That's The Way of the World" and it just blew my mind, the depths of that pocket, of that groove. It was just otherworldly. I always thought (White) was a genius. His concept, taking basically an R&B band and making it much more interesting and much more sophisticated, kind of hidden behind the "Let's all have fun and dance," was brilliant. I think the music was much more interesting than what most R&B was at the time, in the '70s. I just think it was sort of revolutionary in that genre.  
I know (Chicago trombonist) Jimmy Pankow, when he was a teenager and just starting to play, he went to see Ramsey Lewis somewhere in Chicago and Maurice was the drummer. And Jimmy told him that story, "Hey, I saw you when you were with Ramsey" and that kind of blew Maurice's mind to even think that we had some awareness of him way back when.  
I've had the unique experience of touring with Earth, Wind & Fire and standing on the stage with the guys and actually singing some of Maurice's songs, and it's totally fun. I feel so honored to do it. He's kind of like a great spirit, in a way.  It's kind of like an orchestra playing Mozart; the spirit of Mozart hangs over every performance, I'm sure, with a damn good orchestra, and I think the same with Earth, Wind & Fire. His presence was the songs and they way they're rendered, still. 
-- As told to Gary Graff 
We last saw Earth, Wind and Fire at The Chicago Theater a few years ago ... GREAT concert!  Frannie and I had private box seats for the show and then, at the very last minute, Paige came home.  ALL of us are big EWF fans ... but we only had two tickets.  Frannie told us to take the box seats and she'd go shopping until the show was over.  Instead she noticed that once the show started there was a crowd of people trying to unload their leftover, unsold seats.  She ended up picking up a 12th Row dead center main floor seat for a hundred bucks!  (When all was said and done, she had better seats than WE did!!!)  GREAT show.   

By the way, you can pick up a dvd of Chicago and Earth Wind and Fire performing together ... they've done several joint tours together in the past.  Throughout the '70's all you heard about was the Earth, Wind and Fire horn section, the Chicago horn section and the Tower of Power horn section ... these guys got work EVERYWHERE because of what they were able to add to a recording.  Check this concert out if you get a chance ... it really doesn't get much better than this!  (kk)

Another Passing:
Joe Dowell, who had a #1 Hit with his version of Elvis' "Wooden Heart" in 1961 (and sounded quite a bit like The King on his recording), passed away on Thursday, February 4th, after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week.  He was 76. 
Although born in Bloomington, Indiana, he grew up (and died) in Bloomington, Illinois.  He charted a total of six times nationally including two other Top 40 Hits ("The Bridge Of Love", #40, 1961 and "Little Red Rented Rowboat", #18, 1962), but "Wooden Heart" was his biggest and best-known hit.  Elvis recorded the song for his movie "G.I. Blues" and, when it was released as a single in The UK, it went all the way to #1 ... but RCA chose not to release it here as a single at the time.  (Presley's version was eventually released as the B-Side of "Blue Christmas" in 1964 and then again as the B-Side of "Puppet On A String" in 1965 and both times it failed to make The Top 100, bubbling under at #107 and #110 instead.)

Buddy Holly:
Vintage Vinyl News had some interesting postings on February 3rd, The Day The Music Died, including photos of the newspaper headlines and some video clips from back in the day announcing the sad, sad news ...

It sounds like Jerry Dwyer's wife is going to finish the book he was writing about the plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper on February 3rd, 1959 ...
I hear it's snowing in Clear Lake today ...
Dave DeLuca    

Hi Kent -
What memories ... "The Day the Music Died" ... 
"That'll Be The Day" was the FIRST  45 rpm record I bought and that was the beginning of my Record Collection!!   Thanks for the Memories!!
Enjoyed seeing the Jefferson Airplane photo with Signe Anderson as the first female in the group!  And what an eerie thing when you mentioned she passed on the same day as Paul Kanter!!  
We can only get photos and information like that from "Forgotten Hits" and the Master Kent!!!!!

This And That:
A few readers sent this one in ... apparently all over Facebook last week ...
February 1st marked the 67th anniversary of the first 45 being released by RCA ...
Kent ...

I can't afford to buy all these shirts.  
I'm sticking with Bobby Darin.
Frank B.
Hmmm ... I think somebody's on to something here.  Let me know when the Tiny Tim sweatshirt becomes available.  (Of course THAT one might read "I DO Need Therapy!!!)  kk

Frank also sent us this picture of Elvis, Bobby Darin and George Burns huddled around a table in Vegas, circa 1959.  Nice shot!  (kk)

Tom Cuddy tells us about a brand new Carole King documentary coming to PBS in which she and James Taylor discuss the making of her legendary "Tapestry" album. 

Kent ...
Looks like CMT is turning The Million Dollar Quartet into an 8-part mini-series.
Although the casting call extends nationwide, the auditions are being held at Elvis' old school, Humes High.
More here:
The musical that played here in Chicago was outstanding and it played here for years.  They're just now closing up shop.  Sounds like the mini-series will encompass more than just the magic sessions that happened at Sun Records studio that night.  (kk)

New RIAA certification updates came out last week, advancing Michael Jackson's "Thriller" album to 32 times Platinum for sales in the US.  That puts him about three million copies ahead of The Eagles' Greatest Hits album, 1971 - 1975.
The Top Five shape up this way:
#1 - THRILLER - Michael Jackson - 32 million copies
#2 - THE EAGLES' GREATEST HITS, 1971 - 1975 - 29 million copies
#3, #4 and #5 is currently a three-way tie between BILLY JOEL's GREATEST HITS, VOLUME 1 and 2 (a 2-CD set), LED ZEPPELIN IV and PINK FLOYD's THE WALL.

Diggin' Forgotten Hits:
Hi Kent,
I read Forgotten Hits religiously ... so much more relevant than Rolling Stone.  Thought a nice touch (and you've probably done it already) would be to salute Canadian music artists.  Let's hope they don't think about building a wall on the northern border too! 
Hope life is treating you like a million bucks! 
THANK-YOU for your hard work and the GREAT entertainment it provides we visitors to your music planet! 
Tim Kiley
There certainly seems to be some Canadian bias when it comes to The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.  How else do you explain the fact that the ONLY Canadian acts inducted are Neil Young and Rush???  They skipped right over The Guess Who, Burton Cummings, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Paul Anka, Gordon Lightfoot, Bryan Adams, The Diamonds and many others.  (Don't even get me started on Bob and Doug McKenzie!!!) 
Thanks, Tim ... some good clips in that bunch!  (kk)

Discovered your website this morning for the first time.  Glad I did.  In particular, I read the 'Top 20 Favorite Psychedelic Songs' piece.  Very interesting and entertaining.
For what it's worth, I found your site from a link off the Chambers Brothers Wiki page.  Had heard your #18-ranked "Time Has Come Today" yesterday, and had to go to the 'net to refresh my memory back to those golden years, when I was a young lad all of 12 years old in Houston, Texas, getting my rock 'n' roll off of KILT-AM, "The Big 610", and pedaling my bike to the K-Mart to get the little flyer they printed each week with the list of the latest Top 40 hits.  1968?  Damn, I am old!
Had rock 'n' roll discovered FM radio in 1968?  Or vice versa?  Were there even many FM stations or radios that could pick them up?
Sometimes I think surfing the web, which I love to do, can be psychedelic, too.  The stream of consciousness as you go from one page to another, at some point realizing you have no idea how you got to the page you're on.
I'm looking forward to catching up and keeping up with "Forgotten Hits".
Houston, Texas

Welcome aboard, Howard!  I think you're gonna like it here!  (kk)

The Rolling Stones:
Lots of Rolling Stones stuff floating around Forgotten Hits lately.
First, we featured the 16 Biggest Hits by The Rolling Stones of the '60's and the '70's as part of our brand new 2016 / SWEET 16 feature ...
Then last week we told you how The Stones were about to tour South America.  
Right after that, Frannie brought up the fact that she had just read that the Verve song "Bittersweet Symphony" had to pay royalties to Mick and Keith for "borrowing too heavily" from the musical lines of "The Last Time", their 1965 hit.  (Honestly, I don't hear it ... not in The Stones' version anyway.  However, it sounds like it was lifted note for note from an orchestral arrangement worked up by Stones producer Andrew Loog Oldham ... and formed the entire foundation of their "original" piece. 
Reportedly, The Verve had permission from The Stones' publishers to borrow four bars from the Andrew Loog Oldham version but the feeling was they overused those four bars too many times throughout their finished piece of work ... like all six minutes of it, for example!)
Then again, The Stones themselves were accused of "borrowing too heavily" from a Staple Singers recording from 1961 called "This May Be The Last Time" ... so this melody has certainly been through some changes!
Which immediately reminded ME about how The Stones gave k.d. lang co-writing credit when they released their 1997 single "Anybody Seen My Baby" because they knew that THEY had "borrowed heavily" from k.d. lang's recent hit "Constant Craving".  (This one's FAR more obvious!)
Then we read last week that The Stones were adding "Anybody Seen My Baby" and "She's A Rainbow" for the South American tour.  (Don'tcha just LOVE it when all this stuff comes together???)

Speaking of songs "borrowing heavily" from one another, one of the premier experts in this field has got to be Tim English, who wrote the book on this topic, "Sounds Like Teen Spirit", which gives you dozens and dozens and dozens of examples of similarities, copyright infringements, plagiarism examples and lawsuits (along with some audio samples as well.)
Tim was a RIDICULOUSLY brief guest on the Mancow show last week (he barely got to utter a word thanks to in-studio guest Gallagher and Mancow's constant bantering back and forth) ... but he WAS able to get a couple of very short snippets played on the program.
Among the most notorious "borrowers" on record, you'd have to include Led Zeppelin who apparently rarely had an original thought of their own.  (Although I have to say that the nearly note-for-note opening riff to The Beatles' "Revolution" got my attention, too.)  I still don't make the Bobby Parker "Watch Your Step" / "I Feel Fine" connection that many seem to ... to me it sounds a WHOLE lot more like "One Way Out" by The Allman Brothers ... but much has been made of the fact that John Lennon had the minor hit "Watch Your Step" on his personal jukebox at home ... so maybe there IS something to it after all.  (kk)
And, speaking of The Rolling Stones, check out the Clip Of The Week below!

Clip of the Week:
Frank B. once again wins this one again hands down ...
Watch Mick Jagger age 50 years in under five minutes ...