Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Sunday Comments ( 10 - 29 - 11 )

re:  MOTOWN:
Hi Kent!
Here's an article from the Wall Street Journal in which Smokey Robinson reveals how he wrote The Temptations' #1 Hit "My Girl" ...
David Lewis
Just weeks after it was released on December 21, 1964, the Temptations' 11th single began racing up Billboard's Hot 100 chart, becoming the group's first No. 1 hit in March of 1965. Over time, the song — written and produced by Smokey Robinson — has become a pop-soul anthem and arguably Motown's best-known and most successful hit.  
Mr. Robinson, who continues to actively tour at age 71, recently reflected on "My Girl"'s inspiration and creative evolution — and talked about how the song's famous guitar lick nearly was discarded.  
I didn't set out to write "My Girl" for the Miracles and me to record. My wife at the time wasn't the inspiration, either. And "My Girl" wasn't conceived as an answer to "My Guy" — a No. 1 hit I had written for Mary Wells earlier that year. I wrote "My Girl" in 1964 specifically for the Temptations, with hopes they would make it a hit. 
Months earlier, I had written "The Way You Do the Things You Do" for them — with Eddie Kendricks singing lead. But after the song became the group's first big hit, all of Motown's staff writers and producers began trying to duplicate my success by writing songs for the Temptations, with Eddie singing lead. I had to come up with something different.  Fortunately, Eddie wasn't the only one in the group with a fine voice. I had heard David Ruffin sing lead while we were all on the same bill at a series of Detroit clubs. So while everyone else at Motown focused on Eddie, I sat down at my piano in Detroit and composed a song for David.
But unlike Eddie, David had this gruff, tough baritone voice. You know, "Come here girl and let me love you" — that kind of thing. I figured that if I he sang something sweet and sincere, the contrast would connect with girls who listened to the radio and bought records. To bring that out, I imagined a pulsating, heartbeat tempo. I already had the key and chord changes in mind. The melody just came. 
A short time later, we [the Miracles] were out on the road again with the Temptations. At New York's Apollo Theater, we went down to the stage and I played them "My Girl" on the piano. Then the Temptations gave it a shot. While David sang lead, the rest of the guys in the group began to add things. They made up their own background vocals, like "hey-hey hey" and a series of "my girls" echoing David's vocal. The Temptations were the greatest background maker-uppers ever [laughs]. When we were finished, they said they loved the song. 
That September, I went into the studio to produce the instrumental tracks. All of the Funk Brothers [Motown's studio band] were so great at adding little touches, provided you had the music's basics down. We did two rundowns of "My Girl" to get comfortable. 
At the start of the third rundown, guitarist Robert White stood up and started walking around the studio playing a riff [sings the song's signature line]. But halfway in, Robert cut it off, saying "No, no, no, no, no." He didn't think what he had was right. I said, "No, no, no, my butt. That's going to be in the song." Now, of course, that line has become one of the most famous guitar riffs ever recorded. 
The Temptations' vocal tracks were overdubbed in November. [Arranger] Paul Riser added the strings, which highlighted David's sweetness and the sincerity of the words. Then the single was released. 
In February, 1965, the Miracles and I were out touring. After we returned to Detroit, Berry [Gordy, Motown's owner] called me into his office and handed me a $1,000 bonus check. He said, "You've got a No. 1 record coming." I thought he was talking about something the Miracles had recorded. When I asked which one, he said, "My Girl." I couldn't believe it.
Today, I sing "My Girl" in every one of my shows, and audiences know what's coming from the opening bass notes. It's every songwriter's dream to compose something that touches so many people like that for so long. "My Girl" is my dream come true.  
-- Edited from an interview by Marc Myers

Motown Monday???
I'm waiting for Tamla Tuesday!!!
Jersey John
You know, that's actually not a bad idea!!!  (lol)  kk

Before they were The Wrecking Crew ...
They were "The Phil Spector Wall of Sound Orchestra"?
Jersey John
Yep, sure were ... and that's the way most of the industry insiders referred to them, too.  More and more I'm thinking that "The Wrecking Crew" were self-christened by Hal Blaine!!! (kk)
By the way, regular Forgotten Hits contributor Bob Rush (aka Dr. Robert of "The Beat", a British publication that focuses on good old American rock and roll, too!), recently did a piece on The Wrecking Crew for this publication ... and he's just given us permission to rerun it in Forgotten Hits.  So watch for THAT to pop up soon (after our Ed Sullivan Series runs its course!)  kk

SO much cool Beach Boys stuff going on right now ... Brian Wilson's new Disney album ... the release (FINALLY!!!) of the "SMiLE" album on CD (in ALL kinds of deluxe editions) ... talks about the 50th Anniversary Reunion Tour ...

Here's just SOME of the latest buzz:  
If you’re anything like me you’re counting down the seconds until The Beach Boys SMiLE Sessions are released on November 1 domestically (October 31, internationally). And, like me, you’ll probably disappear for weeks … This collection goes deeper into the sessions than any bootleg has ever gone before. These sessions explain away a lot of misconstrued ideas about what Brian intended, or was thinking at the time as hypothesized by historians through the years. Let each session speak for itself, and enjoy the multiple surprises in the “Heroes and Villains” sessions, and the sheer brilliance of each little musical minuet … no matter how short or unrealized. (more)  
Read the complete review here: Beach Boys Examiner

I recently picked up a copy of Harvey Kubernik's brand new book "A Perfect Haze: The Illustrated History of the Monterey International Pop Festival" ... and what a BEAUTIFUL book it is ... over 250 pages of amazing photos and stories.  In fact, I just saw my first review for this ... (the book officially becomes available on Tuesday, November 1st) ... and I may even write a review myself (if I can ever find the time to sit down and actually read it!!!  lol  Yep, between 65 hour work weeks and the brand new Ed Sullivan Series, virtually EVERY spare minute of my day has been taken up for weeks now ... but once life returns to semi-normal, I can't wait to tear into this one!!!)  
Meanwhile, check this out ... it looks like something that would be right up our readers' alley!!! (kk)

Before Woodstock, thousands of hippies descended on Monterey for the first ever International Pop Festival. At the height of the 1967 summer of love, many were unaware of the part they were about to play in the forthcoming "cultural explosion." Decorated producer Lou Adler cheerfully recalls the conception of the groundbreaking event, which gathered artists who represented the festival's harmonious principles. The authors provide sumptuous documentation through telegrams, contracts, newspaper clippings, line-up posters, and other rare paraphernalia. The work of celebrated photographers captures the atmosphere of this terrific spectacle: the rawness of Janis Joplin; the audacity of (then relatively unknown) Jimi Hendrix setting his guitar alight; the showmanship of The Who; and the "cultivated relaxation" enjoyed by the crowd spacing out to The Grateful Dead and Ravi Shankar before being blown away by Otis Redding. The Kuberniks's combined knowledge and passion make for a thoroughly entertaining retrospective. As David Crosby says: "What happened at Monterey was the flowering of an entirely different set of values." Festival organizer Michelle Phillips closes proceedings with reflections on this genuine happening, and the dawn of a far out philosophy that keeps on giving. (Nov.)