Forgotten Albums

Sitting next to albums by the Beatles and the Stones, your Rock N Roll Dentist has a crazy collection of music that most folks ignored or barely noticed when it was first released.  It has been heartening over the years that great neglected albums such as Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake – The Small Faces, Odessey and Oracle – The Zombies, #1 Record – Big Star, etc. have been rediscovered and given another chance to find an audience.  You can thank the digital age for much of that with CD reissues of seemingly everything ever recorded plus the internet to spread the musical word via youtube and blogs.  There are still a plethora of fine albums (some by major artists) that deserve to be noticed.  This post, in no particular order, is an attempt to expose my readers to some goodies from my collection (mainly in the late ’60s) that deserved more recognition.  I love progressive rock music but it won’t be part of this list.  The style of these albums is mostly guitar based pop music with a memorable tune so don’t expect any avant-garde jazz, etc.

1.The New Society – The Barock Sound Of…

Randy Sparks was the man behind the creation of successful ’60s folk act The New Christy Minstrels plus their ‘farm team’ The Back Porch Majority.  In 1966 he created this seven member act that included Del Ramos the younger brother of Larry Ramos of the Association – a group with which The New Society shared at least vocal lushness with.  With gorgeous arrangements by heavy hitters Lincoln Mayorca, Jack Nitzsche & Mort Garson plus great songs they deserved better.  Several of those songs such as “Of You” and “(I Prithee) Do Not Ask for Love” were tried out by the Monkees later that year, but were never given an LP release till the Missing Links compilations. The New Society’s sound may have been too clean to make it – sort of like an Anita Kerr Singers of rock plus RCA Victor never had much luck breaking acts  (witness The Astronauts or The Liverpool Five).  Interestingly, today you can download their music on major sites which means it is likely easier to buy their music today than it was in the late ’60s.

2.Gary Lewis – Listen!

Gary Lewis (with the Playboys) was a great singles artist, but his albums were pretty lame being fjlled with so-so covers of hits from the day.  This 1967 solo album was by far his strongest album filled with psychedelia (“Don’t Make Promises”, “Jill”), sunshine pop (“New Day”, “Small Talk”) and wall-of-sound production (“Happiness”).  The presence of arranger Jack Nitzsche was responsible for the great sound here  just as Snuff Garrett had been for Gary’s early hits.

3.Gary Wright – Extraction

Spooky Tooth (formed in 1967) was four Brits and one Yank (Gary Wright).  Their 1969 LP Spooky Two is worth looking for.  In 1970 Wright attempted a solo career with this A&M LP his first release.  The songs are all hard edged catchy rock with instruments supplied by Hugh McCracken (guitar), Klaus Voormann (bass) and Alan White (drums) along with Wright’s keyboards.  He didn’t find success till 1976 with “Dream Weaver”.

4.Fanny – Fanny Hill

Recorded at Abbey Road Studios with the Beatles’ engineer Geoff Emerick handling the sound and production by Richard Perry (Carly Simon, Nilsson), this album came out in early 1972 on Reprise.  As an all-female band, many viewed them as a novelty act but they could play, sing and wrote most of their own material so deserved more success than they saw.  This, their third album, had more edge to the sound than their first records and included a hard rockin’ slide-guitar version of Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t That Peculiar” which charted at #85.

5.Fat Mattress – Fat Mattress

This was Noel Redding’s band after leaving The Jimi Hendrix Experience (first formed as a side project while playing bass in that band).  The idea was to give Redding more chance to play guitar and sing than he had with Hendrix.  Needless to say, your young pre-Dentist was expecting more heavy guitar based rock and roll when he slit open this Atco LP in 1969.  Hearing mostly pastoral pop music, I can still recall my shocked disappointment by this album as mellow was definitely NOT a music style heard in my bedroom at that time (sorry mom and dad).  Used record stores didn’t exist back then and my buddy Dan Campbell wasn’t going to be tricked in to trading me something good for it so it sat idle in my collection for several months … but then something weird happened – playing it again I actually liked it.  The jazzy “Mr. Moonshine” is catchy, “How Can I Live” is a heartache in song and “Bright New Way” is a nice acoustic song sung by main vocalist Neil Landon.

6.Peter & Gordon – Hot, Cold & Custard

This last Peter & Gordon album from late 1967 had touches of psychedelia (backwards drums, odd orchestrations), but no chart hits which meant very little success.  Having heard the salacious “You’ve Had Better Times” on the radio (before it was sanitized on single), your’s truly wanted the album which turned out to be pretty good.  There were other goodies like “Greener Days”, “I Feel Like Going Out”, “The Quest For The Holy Grail” and “Cos You’re A Star”.   …And then there was no more band as Peter Asher was off to help out with the Beatles new label Apple.

7.Bobby Darin – If I Were A Carpenter

Bobby Darin isn’t given enough credit for the talent that he had.  If anything he is remembered as a Sinatra wanna-be on songs like “Mack The Knife” and “Beyond The Sea” or and early rocker with “Splish Splash”.  This 1966 Atco album was a huge change from his previous album of Broadway tunes which likely had something to do with it charting at only #142.   The songs were mostly low key folk including John Denver’s “For Baby” and Buffy St. Marie’s “Until It’s Time For You To Go”.  Of the eleven tracks, five were by Tim Hardin including the title track – a big hit for Darin.  “Reason To Believe” was arranged similarly to the hit while “Red Balloon” was more spare.  The album has unfairly been given short shrift in reviews which is a pity.  He died too young (of a heart ailment at age 37), but left some great music.

8.Chicken Shack – Accept

During the late ’60s there was an explosion of long-haired white blues bands mostly from England.  Fleetwood Mac, Savoy Brown, Ten Years After, etc.  Stan Webb led the group Chicken Shack which early on included Christine Perfect (who would marry John McVie and become a star after jumping ship to Fleetwood Mac seeing that band into a pop vein).  For this 1970 Chicken Shack album (their fourth), Webb branched out from the blues a bit.  “Tired Eyes” was a dreamy string-laden song that sounded like something from the early 1900’s while “Some Other Time” almost sounded baroque.  There is also good rock on the LP including “Diary Of Your Life” and “Telling Your Fortune” which hinted at the much harder direction of their next excellent album Imagination Lady which easily could be on this list too.

9.The Searchers – Take Me For What I’m Worth

Music styles changed so rapidly during the British Invasion ’60s that a group like The Searchers could chart eleven singles in ’64-’65 then fade rapidly.  The P.F. Sloan composed title track from this fine LP was their 12th hit though it only charted #76 in early ’66.  “Does She Really Care For Me” could be The Walker Brothers while “Each Time” has the distinct wall-of-sound like a Phil Spector hit (they even cover his “Be My Baby”).  “Too Many Miles” is folk while “Don’t You Know” has a Byrdsian country feel (all with great 12-string guitar).  The Searchers were always seen as a singles band anyway and with musical styles moving away from the U.K. Invasion this album didn’t stand a chance in the U.S.  You could easily include their two great Sire comeback albums (’79/’81) on this list as well.

10.Spring – Spring

Having read a glowing review of this United Artists album back in 1972 in Phonograph Record Magazine and knowing that Brian Wilson had produced it, the young me picked up a copy of it at his local Budget Tapes & Records.  The LP at it’s best definitely sounds like an early ’70s Beach Boys album with female lead vocals.  The artist is now listed as American Spring to avoid confusion with a U.K. band.  The Rovell sisters (Marilyn & Diane) originally were 2/3rds of The Honeys who in the early ’60s released non-charting Brian Wilson productions and sang backing on The Beach Boys single “Be True To Your School”.  Marilyn became Mrs. Brian Wilson and raised daughters Carney and Wendy while working on this album which flopped at the time, but is now sought after for the Brian Wilson connection.  Apparently Brian was in such bad shape that he couldn’t handle production for much of the record, but his sound is pretty apparent on tracks like “Forever” and “Good Time”.  The latter song was originally recorded for the Sunflower album (1970), but shelved at the time so Spring recorded their lead vocals over the original Beach Boys track and did some production additions.  The Beach Boys would later release the song on their 1977 LP Love You.

11.The Beau Brummels – Triangle

Target back in the early ’70s had a huge blow-out sale of old albums that were out of fashion – something like 59 cents each.  Oh that this starving Colorado University student would have had more money and musical knowledge to have picked up more than a handful of rarities for pennies.  Having remembered great singles like “Laugh Laugh” and “Just A Little”, this LP was purchased and plunked down on the old GE.  Whoa, gentle psychedelia, country and folk – not pop rock.  Warner Brothers in the late ’60s and early ’70s was at a creative peak thanks to folk like Lenny Waronker with great if non-commercially successful releases like this plus Van Dyke Parks, Randy Newman, etc.  There isn’t a bad song on this record.  Nine of the eleven tracks were originals including “Are You Happy” and “The Keeper Of Time”.  The covers were a folky take on Merle Travis’ “Nine Pound Hammer” and Randy Newman’s “Old Kentucky Home”.  At the time it could only manage a #197 placement on the charts, but has been acclaimed over the years as a masterpiece (though their follow-up Bradley’s Barn might be better remembered).

12.The Kinks – Something Else

It was hard to decide between this album or Arthur (Or the Decline And Fall Of The British Empire) as both are fantastic albums.  This one wins out as the bigger loser as it only hit #153 on the U.S. charts (plus none of the singles managed to chart here).   It may be unfair to include this as it has become an acclaimed album, but it is hard not to salute The Kinks as perhaps the most cruelly overlooked of the upper echelon of British Invasion bands.  Perhaps this album was too British for U.S. tastes which is the only explanation for a great song like “Waterloo Sunset” to never chart in the U.S.  There is not a weak cut on the whole record with excellent music like “Tin Soldier Man” and “Afternoon Tea”.  Ray Davies even let’s brother Dave get in to the act with fine songs “Death Of A Clown” and “Love Me Till the Sun Shines”.

13.The Music Explosion – Little Bit O’ Soul

The hot punky 1967 title track hit #2 (a cover of a U.K. single by The Little Darlings), but the equally fine album could only scrape in at #178 indicating that few kids heard nifty tracks like “Patches Dawn” and “Can’t Stop Now”.  Other Kasenetz-Katz productions like “Yummy Yummy Yummy” and “1, 2, 3, Red Light” would make ‘bubblegum’ a musical term, but this album was more garage rock in sound.  Lead singer Jamie Lyons may have been the only band member on the records.  Two songs were even recycled backing tracks including “Love Love Love Love Love” (Terry Knight & The Pack) and “One Potato Two” which with different lyrics was “Little Black Egg” by The Nightcrawlers.

14.The Everly Brothers – Two Yanks In England

Alan Clarke and Graham Nash have acknowledged how much the harmonies of The Everly Brothers inspired The Hollies sound so this album was a bit of debt repayment.  Eight of the twelve tracks were written by Clarke, Nash & Tony Hicks plus backing on most tracks was by The Hollies as well (along with session players like Jimmy Page).  Back in the summer of 1966 The Stones had “Paint It Black”, The Beatles had “Paperback Writer”, Donovan had “Sunshine Superman” so The Everly Brothers continued to be seen as a relic from the early days of rock.  Fine songs on the album include “Hard Hard Year”, “Somebody Help Me” and “Don’t Run & Hide”.  You could rightly call most of their ’60s album output to be neglected as virtually none of it charted (including the great Roots album from 1968).

15.The Hollies – Moving Finger

It seems only fair to follow up the last album with one by The Hollies themselves.  This was a re-titled and reorganized version of the 1970 U.K. album Confessions Of The Mind.  Sandwiched between the huge hits “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” (1969) and “Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress” (1972), this album could only get as high as #183 without a U.S. hit single.  “Gasoline Alley Bred” and “Too Young To Be Married” were worthy of chart action while the Hicks written “Confessions Of A Mind” was a bit of an epic.  It should be noted that Terry Sylvester had replaced Graham Nash by this point.

16.Cat Mother & The All-Night Newsboys – Albion Doo-Wah

After their Jimi Hendrix produced 1969 debut album The Street Giveth… And The Street Taketh Away (including the hit “Good Old Rock ‘N’ Roll”), your’s truly assumed that the next album would be similar rock and roll.  It was a shock when the album turned out to actually be more along the rustic sound of The Band.  It took time, but it grew on me.  Tracks like “Turkish Taffy”, Riff Raff” and the title track still sound good plus the album cover is pretty distinctive.

17.The Move – Shazam

The A&M label could generally be counted on to release great U.K. product back in the day (Procol Harum, Fairport Convention) so when this album showed up in 1970 I decided to take a flier on it.  This began my love affair with the music of Roy Wood who has never had the U.S. success that his music deserves.  From “Flowers In The Rain” to “Are You Ready To Rock”, he has never disappointed.  Cheap Trick deserve kudos for their great covers of his music (“California Man”, “Blackberry Way”), but you really need to hear the originals.  This album had only six tracks.  Side one was originals like the ballad “Beautiful Daughter” while side two is my favorite with covers of “Fields Of People” and “The Last Thing On My Mind”.  This was their last album with Carl Wayne as lead singer.  Wayne and his more theatrical voice left to be replaced by Jeff Lynne who would form Electric Light Orchestra with Wood (who then quit to form Wizzard).

18.Freddie & The Dreamers – Do The Freddie

Scoff all you want – heap your scorn, but this reviewer stands by the fact that this was a great album of British Invasion pop.  Freddie Garrity was goofy and sang a bit too earnestly for some, but the songs were all catchy and well-played by the cream of U.K. session musicians.  This was one of the first albums I ever got (from the Columbia Record Club) plus they headlined the first rock concert I ever attended (1965 in Denver with The Beau Brummels and The McCoys – thanks Mr. Steele for taking me and Rick!).  “Things I’d Like To Say”, “Over You”, “Just For You”, etc. were catchy album tracks.  The hit single “Do The Freddie” plus the excellent “A Little You” were highlights as well.

19.Mary Hopkin -Earth Song, Ocean Song

This was quite the departure from her 1968 hit “Those Were The Days” and her 1969 hit “Goodbye” which was more ‘produced’ in sound.  This 1971 album (her second on Apple) was a very gentle folk album with covers of Cat Stevens (“The Wind”), Ralph McTell (“Streets Of London”) and Gallagher & Lyle (“International”).  This was more the direction she wanted her career to go than the hits.

20.Family – Entertainment

It was tempting to put their classic debut Music In A Dolls House instead of this album just to play the brilliant “Peace Of Mind”, but that album does get a fair amount of acclaim while this their second album (1969) has been forgotten it seems (at least here in the U.S. where it never charted).  As opposed to the psychedelia of their debut, this was more straight-forward.  Rockers like “Second Generation Woman” stood beside gentler songs like “Dim” and “Observations From A Hill”.  Bassist Rich Grech left after this album to join Eric Clapton in Blind Faith which is a pity as he had a fine voice and compositional skills.  This track is sung by sax-man Jim King, but the main singer was Michael Chapman who has one of the oddest voices of any lead singer ever.  Listen to his style of their signature song “The Weaver’s Answer”.

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Steppin’ Out With The Raiders & Paul Revere

Last month’s post reviewing all the Dave Clark 5’s LPs was such a blast that it seemed only fair to do the same with your blog-master’s other fave early teenage years group – Paul Revere & The Raiders.  To this day, I still love a musical act that puts on a show while playing their music.  While the Raiders didn’t have the laser lights of Genesis or Pink Floyd at their disposal in 1966, they did have revolutionary war costumes, choreographed dance steps and humorous mayhem on stage.  The second rock and roll concert I ever attended was this band at the Denver Coliseum around early 1967.  As opposed to my first (Freddie & The Dreamers), I recall this one as being essentially in a big echo chamber which made the concert experience less than musical, but at least it was fun to see them (along with a cavalcade of local bands).  Here is the old program:

From June 1965 till it was cancelled in March 1967 the Dick Clark created TV show Where The Action Is gave us kids a musical reason to race home from school to watch regulars like Steve Alaimo, Tina Mason, Keith Allison and Revere’s Raiders host.

There were also musical guests like The Turtles, Donovan, The Supremes, etc.  When that show folded, Revere and lead singer Mark Lindsay hosted a new Clark venture Happening ’68 on Saturday after American Bandstand plus It’s Happening during the week (1968-69).  Certainly that exposure went a long way towards making the Raiders stars, but they had the musical chops and the songs to make them America’s answer to U.K. bands like The Kinks and The Animals.  Whether it is some feeling of American inferiority or the costumes and comedy that have worked against their induction in to the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, they certainly deserve to be enshrined strictly on their musical merit.  (But then as of this writing Jethro Tull, Neil Sedaka, Pat Benatar, The Doobie Brothers, Nilsson, The Go-Gos, et al are also not in – a hall of fame’s worth of snubs.)  The DC5 and The Raiders shared some similarities.  They were a five piece band with a sax player, guitarist, bassist, drummer and a keys man playing standing up behind a Vox Continental.  They also were good looking photogenic guys in sharp threads.  Their singles were catchy rockers that the band may or may not have played on.  Both bands took some time to settle on their classic line-ups, but unlike the DC5 whose membership during the hit years was stable, Revere’s band saw some major upheavals during their recording career.

Back in 1958, former barber and then Caldwell, Idaho restaurateur Paul Dick (age 20) decided to put a band together with him playing piano.  The story goes that a shy gawky nearly legally blind teenager took off his glasses at one of Revere’s shows and jumped on stage to sing a song then disappeared.  When Revere went to a bakery to pick up the buns for his restaurant he reconnected with that kid who worked there (with his glasses on) Mark Lindsay and an 18 year partnership was born.

The Downbeats played mostly rockin’ instrumentals with Lindsay on wailing sax.  Dick was always a hustler and got a demo to a small record label in California – Gardena Records.  On signing the contract, owner John Guss saw that Dick’s middle name was Revere and suggested naming the band after Paul Revere (either Night Riders or Raiders were debated).  The first Gardena single was a boogie woogie version of “Chopsticks” – “Beatnick Sticks”.  Eight singles were released with the third one (“Like Long Hair” – a boogie piano take-off on Rachmaninoff) making the U.S. charts at #38 in 1961.  The band used Leon Russell on piano for tours while Revere served his military obligation as a cook in an Oregon mental institution (due to his conscientious objector status).  Later, Lindsay relocated to Oregon and he and Revere put a new version of the band together with club owner and guitarist Mike “Smitty” Smith shifting to drums.  The rowdy Paul Revere & The Raiders played a style of music that became known later as frat rock since the bands all played amped up music for boozy fraternity parties and the like.  These bands mostly played the same covers including the song “Louie Louie” written and recorded by Richard Berry.   Within days of each other, two Northwest bands recorded that song in the same studio, but only one (The Kingsmen) had the hit with it.  Revere’s Raiders were given $50 by their new manager KISN DJ Roger Hart to record the song and formed the Sande label to release it.  During this time, as a gag Revere rented Colonial costumes for the band including jackets and tri-corner hats.  Crowds loved it and this became their trademark along with on-stage craziness and dance steps between the bassist and guitarist.  This all attracted the attention of the rock and roll shy Columbia Records label who signed the band as they sounded black but were white kids (Lindsay possessed one of the greatest rock and roll voices of that era).  A few months after the recording of “Louie Louie”, a new guitarist came on board – Drake Levinshefski.  The stage-named Drake “The Kid” Levin (since he was 16 at the time) inspired a young Seattle black kid during a show at the Spanish Castle Ballroom who complimented him that night.  Jimi Hendrix was impressed with Drake’s showmanship including playing on his knees and holding his guitar behind his back to play.  After recording their initial sessions for Columbia, bassist Mike “Doc” Holliday was replaced by a University of Colorado student – Phil “Fang” Volk and the classic line-up was cemented.

During their heyday they were a singles juggernaut, but what about their forgotten albums?  If you let me, I plan to recall an album track from each of their 12 inch pieces of vinyl.

1.Like Long Hair (1961)

To capitalize on the success of “Like Long Hair” nationally, Gardena Records released the only long player ever on the label – a rare piece of vinyl today (though you can stream the songs much cheaper).  The LP was made up of singles sides plus a few songs that Revere cut with the band on his off days serving as a mental institution cook.  Production was handled by Gary Paxton of the Hollywood Argyles (“Alley Oop”).  The album didn’t chart and if you are looking for The Raiders of the later ’60s, forget it soundwise.  This is, however, a pretty good album of rockin’ instrumentals.  The Revere/Lindsay original “Groovey” shows what an outstanding sax man “Mad Man Marcus” was.

2.Paul Revere & The Raiders (1963) also In The Beginning (1966)

When the band reconvened they recorded a cover of “Louie Louie” (inspired by The Wailers) plus an album of instrumentals and frat rock covers.  Songs like “Work With Me Annie” and a pretty good version of Ray Sharpe’s “Linda Lu” were released on the Sande label (which I think manager Roger Hart created for them – but don’t quote me).  Note that when The Raiders became successful, Jerden Records re-released this album as In The Beginning and the album track “So Fine” was sent out for potential chart action.  I recall hearing it a few times on Denver radio back in ’66 and wondering why it didn’t sound anything like “Just Like Me” or “Kicks”.  It tanked.

3.Here They Come! (July 1965)

Columbia Records picked up Paul Revere’s band and re-issued “Louie Louie” to no success, but didn’t give up on them releasing three more non-hits on 45.  In Sept. 1964 to capture their live excitement, Columbia paired the band with Bruce Johnston (The Rip Chords) as producer in a faux concert setting on a soundstage.  In front of an invited crowd, The Raiders played their stage show which was still rockin’ instrumentals and frat rock covers such as “Big Boy Pete” and “Money (That’s What I Want)”.  For me the stand-out track was a really hot version of “You Can’t Sit Down” with each guy in the band getting to shine.  The rhythm section of Smitty and Doc Holliday were like a driving machine and Lindsay’s sax is simply en fuego.  Keep in mind that at this time, British Invasion acts like The Beatles and Peter & Gordon had pretty much swept the charts of music like this, however.  Parts of that session ended up ten months later as the top side of their first Columbia long player while studio guys backing Lindsay in the spring of 1965 recorded so-so songs that made up the flip of the album (“Fever”, “Sometimes”, etc.).  Those sessions were produced by Terry Melcher (The Rip Chords) who would become like a sixth Raider for many years (his voice blended well with Mark’s).  When it came out, the back liner notes were fairly simple and listed the bassist as Mike “Doc” Holliday.  After their success on Where The Action Is, a newer version was released with longer Dick Clark liner notes listing Phil “Fang” Volk on bass (who by then had taken over from Holliday).  As a kid, it was that version I bought (after getting their next release first) and I was extremely confused by the cover picture who showed a guy holding the bass that definitely wasn’t Fang.  The album charted at #71.  By far the best way to get this music now is on the two CD Sundazed album Mojo Workout! which includes all the songs from the live set, soundcheck tracks plus studio tracks and alternate versions.

4.Just Like Us! (Jan. 1966)

Well this is where it all began for most of us kids with these guys after hearing the great singles “Steppin’ Out” and “Just Like Me”.  We bought enough for it to go gold and hit #5 early in ’66.  This was one of three albums that mom and dad let me pick out from the Columbia Record Club and I played it to death on their old KLH stereo.  Aside from the Animals/Kinks-like hits, the rest of the album was not unlike their old stuff being covers and even including an ancient instrumental version of “Night Train” in mono from the flip of “Louie Louie”.  They looked great on the jacket in their Colonial suits and played the heck out of their instruments (it has been reported that Revere didn’t like to record and “Steppin’ Out” was one of his last appearances playing keys).  Each guy got to sing and they all did pretty well including Revere on the old U.S. Bonds single “New Orleans”.  Smitty gets the humorous one with a silly version of “I Know” that was pretty endearing.  There is also a short band vocal version of “Action” from their TV show (Freddy Cannon had the hit version the summer before).  It would be unfair to say any of the band members could sing anywhere nearly as well as Lindsay, however, who did have one of the greatest voices of rock and roll.  Production was by Terry Melcher again.

5.Midnight Ride (May 1966)

This album came out to capitalize on their monster hit “Kicks”, an anti-drug song by “Mann and Weil who had offered it to The Animals as well.  Since I owned the 45, there didn’t seem to be any reason to get the album plus the cover was pretty non-descript.  The flip of the single would have made this a better record – a jammy harpsichord remake of their old Gardena single “Shake It Up”.  The album was okay, but had too much junk like “Little Girl In The 4th Row” and “Melody For An Unknown Girl” for my taste.  Nine of the eleven were originals – six by Paul and Mark (Smitty and Fang again got to sing as well).  Aside from “Kicks” the only other cover was the first waxing of “I’m Not Your Stepping Stone” which would give The Monkees a hit six months later.  “Louie, Go Home” was a reworking of their single follow-up to “Louie Louie” that had tanked.  This Melcher production also went gold and charted at #9.

6.Spirit Of ’67 (Nov. 1966)

Around this era is when I saw the band with a new guitarist – Jim “Harpo” Valley late of the fine northwest band Don & The Goodtimes.   Valley’s picture was on the eye-catching cover, but Levin still supplied the guitar parts on record (he was serving in the National Guard and couldn’t tour).  Outside players augmented the band for sessions with Hal Blaine drumming on the big hit from the album “Hungry” which is perhaps the toughest song they ever recorded (another Mann and Weil cover).  With two other hits (“Good Thing” and “The Great Airplane Strike”) I decided to buy it rather than the singles and was rewarded with a pretty decent record.  This, however, was the last album I bought for many years as musical tastes were changing drastically.  They wrote all but “Hungry” with Melcher getting involved with that end of things for the first time.  The album track Louise” was good enough that it deserved to be a single and had a driving bass riff (Volk or session player?) and fine Melcher harmonies.  Fang wrote and sang “In My Community” and “Why Why Why (Is It So Hard)” while Smitty did the duty on “Our Candidate” – all worthy though not sounding like the hit Raiders.  This album also went as high as #9 in the charts and was given a gold disc.

7.Greatest Hits (May 1967)

By this point The Raiders were a band in turmoil though the cover showed the same band as was on the previous LP (though mostly with hands carefully placed to cover bulges in overly tight tights).  Valley left angry that he didn’t have a song on Spirit Of ’67.  Levin came back briefly but was rebuffed by Revere from appearing on their only Ed Sullivan Show appearance April 30, 1967 (he had hired Freddy Weller instead).  Volk and Smith had quit and knew that Sullivan’s TV show was their swansong with the band (they formed Brotherhood with Levin who released a couple of okay albums on RCA).  This hits album went back to “Louie Louie” and included a non-LP single in “Ups & Downs” plus a biographical song titled “Legend Of Paul Revere”.  This album was their third in a row to hit #9 and go gold.  Columbia charged a higher price for this record, but did include a booklet.

8.Revolution! (Aug. 1967)

A new trio of Raiders was resplendent in white uniforms with black trim and tight tights (this time mostly the bulges are hidden).  Keeping in mind that Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band had changed the game two months early, this album had little to do with what was going on musically then but I liked it alot.  This was the best album Paul Revere & The Raiders (now featuring Mark Lindsay in print on the cover) ever released.  The songs were all composed by Melcher and Lindsay and are all memorable plus the production is great as ever.  Session players abound with Ry Cooder supplying some swampy slide guitar.  The singles “Him Or Me – What’s It Gonna Be?” and “I Had A Dream” were great if totally different animals.  The former is a classic guitar pop rocker with pounding drums on the chorus while the latter is a lazy organ driven production with a nice guitar riff over it.  “Mo’reen” and “Gone – Movin’ On” are fine pop songs while “Tighter” had a psychedelic production touch and was the hit that never was (Lindsay tried to make it a hit under the band-name The Unknowns on Parrot with no chart success).  Revere got a rare vocal on the humorous “Ain’t Nobody Who Can Do It Like Leslie Can”, but new guys Freddy Weller (guitar), Charlie Coe (bass) and Joe Correro, Jr (drums) were content to let Lindsay sing the rest.  The album closer “I Hear A Voice” was a very pretty piano driven ballad with celeste.  The chart action was slipping as they only hit #25.  I admit that I didn’t buy this till college when I found it as a cut-out.

9.A Christmas Past…And Present (Nov. 1967)

Pretty much Terry Melcher’s swansong with the band, this Christmas album wasn’t one of my faves frankly.  It tried to be a message album, but didn’t deliver musically.  The song about the post office (“Rain, Sleet, Snow”) was really the only song I liked.  The driving drum and cellos accompany a distorted Lindsay vocal.  I guess “Wear A Smile At Christmas” is decent, but if you can make it through the whole album you are doing better than me.  It charted at #10 on the Christmas charts that year.

10.Goin’ To Memphis (Feb. 1968)

In all but name, this is a Mark Lindsay solo album.  As a white man with a black man’s voice, it was decided to have Lindsay record with the funky studio band in Chips Moman’s American Sound Studio (plus he produced) and do mostly soul covers.  Songs like “Boogaloo Down Broadway” and “Soul Man” are not bad but do you need these versions?  The best of the lot were “I Don’t Want Nobody (To Lead Me On)” and the Lindsay original “I’m A Loser Too”.  The final Melcher holdover is the heavy single “Peace Of Mind” which is the best thing here though the use of wailing soul sisters on the chorus was pretty un-Raiders-like.  The cover drawing was from a never finished Hanna-Barbera Studios cartoon show idea.  The chart action saw a #61 placement.

11.Something Happening (Sept. 1968)

Lindsay was now the producer and songwriter.  He wasn’t up to a full album at this time I seemed, but there were a few nice pop songs including “Happens Every Day”.  That being said, the old Raiders sound is gone – this is pure pop.  The singles are “Don’t Take It So Hard” (bright guitar pop with an acoustic interlude) and “Too Much Talk” (very heavy fuzz guitar) and could only get the album a #122 chart placement. The version of the latter on the LP, however, inserts a wimpy middle section best forgotten.  There are attempts at psychedelia (“Free” and “Burn Like A Candle”).  Gone are the old costumes to be replaced by a casual look.

12.Hard ‘N’ Heavy (With Marshmellow) (March 1969)

This is the best post-Melcher Raiders album thanks to some good songs like “Ride On My Shoulder” which recalls the bubblegum pop of “Dizzy”.  The title of the album says it all really – sweet hard-edged pop (i.e. “Time After Time”).  They could have left off the attempts at humor between many of the tracks, but I guess it fits with their history.  There is a new member with old Where The Action Is pal Keith Allison taking over the bass from Coe making this a very southern band.  The #18 single “Mr Sun, Mr. Moon” is one of your bloggers’ guilty pleasures being very bright, poppy and very different than the heavy bands of the day.  The take of “Cinderella Sunshine” on the LP is a lighter version than the better and heavier single.  “Trishalana” is a gorgeous ballad with organ and an odd staccato plucked sound on the chorus.  The chart action was a least better than last time with a #51 placement in the U.S.

13.Alias Pink Puzz (Aug. 1969)

On the singles chart the song “Let Me” had managed to hit #20 and had first been released as by Pink Puzz since the band thought their name now carried a stigma of being uncool.  Frankly they were correct as they were still a singles band that were best at pop and needed to embrace it.  The song “Thank You” was a nice pop confection whose hook was a pounding drum on the catchy chorus. Six of the eleven songs were by producer Lindsay while the rest shared a co-credit with Keith Allison.  “Frankfort Side Street” is also catchy pop while the album closer “Freeborn Man” has become a country standard recorded by players like Glen Campbell and Jimmy Martin.  The album got to #48 on the charts.

14.Collage (April 1970)

Well, this is the most drastic attempt Lindsay made to toughen up the sound of Paul Revere’s band now known as simply The Raiders (maybe logical since his keyboards are nowhere to be heard).  The mix on this album is incredibly bass heavy with the bass drum being so deep and strong in the mix as to sound distorted.  Laura Nyro’s “Save The Country” and the Lindsay/Allison original “Think Twice” are my fave album tracks.   The single version of “We Gotta All Get Together” is a better mix frankly (and is shorter) while “Just Seventeen” with all the horns sounds very unlike the Raiders (and only got to #82 on the Hot 100).  Oddly Lindsay opted to remake two of his old Melcher co-writes in “Tighter” and “Gone Movin’ On” making them either faux southern rock (the former) or unfocused heaviness (the latter).  At this point Lindsay was having some success as a solo singer in a more adult vein.  A #154 chart placement showed how far they had fallen from favor in 1970 when The Beatles wanted us to “Let It Be”.

15.Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 (1971)

Paul Revere & The Raiders were a spent outfit at this point with lead singer Mark Lindsay now a solo artist with hits like “Silver Bird” and “Arizona” so Columbia decided to try to milk some more cash out of the last batch of singles.  That didn’t work out so well as this LP only hit a dismal #209 on the charts.  I found this album in the cut-out bins back in the day and did enjoy the alternate mix of “Do Unto Others” which was the flip of “Peace Of Mind” and had charted here in Colorado.  This mix ended with a percussion solo track as the rest of the song had already faded out.  This stereo version isn’t on CD to the best of my knowledge.  They were still billed as simply The Raiders.

16.Indian Reservation (June 1971)

This song had been a smaller hit for Don Fardon in 1968 and was to be a solo Mark Lindsay track.  Instead the folks at Columbia suggested that this might be a great time to revive The Raiders name especially since there was a prominent organ part in the mix (played by Artie Butler – the same guy who played the same part on Janis Ian’s “Society’s Child”).  The single version of the old John D. Loudermilk song got to #1 so an album was needed.  By now Joe, Jr. had left so Mike Smith returned on drums (though Hal Blaine played on the single).  The other hit from the album was the Joe South tune “Birds Of A Feather” which helped make the album a #19 success.  There were okay cover songs such as the Wild In The Streets tune “The Shape Of Things To Come” and the old Easybeats track “Come In, You’ll Get Pneumonia”.  “Prince Of Peace” was a fair pop song while “The Turkey” (the only Lindsay composition) was a weird attempt at humor, I guess.  Melcher had a solo composition in “Take Me Home”.

17.Country Wine (March 1972)

This was the last Mark Lindsay produced and sung Raiders album and featured a couple of decent singles.  Back in the day I bought the excellent title track on 45 which got to only #51 on the charts.  The other charter was the Lindsay composition “Powder Blue Mercedes Queen” which was a heavy track sharing a guitar sound with bands like Mountain.  That #54 single couldn’t make the album get any higher than #209 for only two weeks.  “Ballad Of The Unloved” was an okay album track along with the Allison/Lindsay track “Golden Girls Sometimes”.  Lindsay helmed two more minor non-LP chart singles in “Song Seller” and “Love Music” then gave up.  He did appear as singer on the 1983 Era album The Great Raider Reunion which was re-recordings of their old hits.  Mark has gone on record saying that he was the only Raider on that album (the band pictured on the cover besides Lindsay were the group that Revere lead back then – Ron Foos, Doug Heath, etc.).

18.Special Edition (1982)

Well this version of the band wasn’t the version we want to remember, I fear.  Revere had a whole new cast that sounded nothing like the old band.  The only reason to see these guys was if you were desperate to hear the old songs played along with second-rate covers like “We’re An American Band”.  They self-released this new-wavy album with one side devoted to awful re-recordings of their old music (“Louie Louie” is especially horrible) and the other to band originals.  This track “Do You Really Mind” was the best of the lot and sounded like the current pop music of the day at least.

19.Ride To The Wall (2001)

I am going to include this for completeness sake since I really don’t consider this Rhino album to be any more than Paul Revere & The Raiders in name only.  Till Revere passed away, he lead a version of this band that had little to do with the old days other than the costumes and the cover songs they played.  He interspersed music at his shows with comedy along the lines of Rip Taylor (look him up if you care).  This album featured this title track tribute to the folks who went to Vietnam and never returned – a very noble cause to be sure.  You would be forgiven, however,if you didn’t recognize any resemblance to the sound of the Raiders on this record even though it does include a cover of “Hungry”.  Mike Smith left us at only age 58 in 2001.  Drake Levin passed at age 62 on the 4th of July in 2009.  Revere was 76 when he went to rock and roll heaven in 2014.  Phil Volk was for years leading a band known as Fangs Gang and has remained married to Action album Tina Mason.  Mark has off and on performed including a fine show several years back in Golden, CO at which I was pleased to have the opportunity to meet him after a truly rockin’ performance.  Thanks for the rock and roll, guys!

 

The Dave Clark Five – Over And Over Again

 

Great blog topics just don’t fall out of the sky and so it was with great relief that your writer received an e-missive from his ole rock and roll drumming buddy Mr. D from DC suggesting a tribute to that great British Invasion ’60s group the Dave Clark 5 (named after their drummer).  Excellent idea, sez I, as it brought up some nice old memories.  It was sixth grade and seemingly everybody at Kohl School was under the spell of a new musical group – the Beatles.  People were bringing their records and their memorabilia the class – even teachers would put on Beatle wigs and act goofy.  Frankly rock and roll hadn’t invaded our Broomfield house and you only heard classical, ragtime and easy listening on our radio.

As 1964 became 1965, however, something strange happened to your future rockin’ Dentist when mom and dad joined the Columbia Record Club and allowed the addition of a few rock and roll records to the haul of ten for a penny or whatever the come-on offer was.   I had recently heard a band on KIMN that seemed to leap out of my new transistor radio with a much tougher sound than any other current group – the Dave Clark 5.  It happened that one of the options on the club list was the LP Having A Wild Weekend and so, along with new waxings by Freddie & the Dreamers and Paul Revere & the Raiders, they soon hit our mailbox.  Whenever mom and dad’s showtunes and organ music weren’t on the old KLH, my three long players were in maximum rotation and to this day are some of my faves.  Over time and via additional vinyl, the DC 5 and the Raiders became my bands of choice (the Beatles came much later).  Do kids still do that – argue with their friends over which band is better and bring to question their friends’ apparently horrible taste in music?  Music talk was THE primo topic.   Heck, to this day if I had a chance to talk to Tom Hanks, it wouldn’t be about acting but rather about music since he had the rare priviledge  of inducting the DC 5 in to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame back in 2008 (gimme a call Tom if you wanna talk about them or That Thing You Do).  As you grow up, however, things change and seemingly overnight bands like the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream displaced those older groups for turntable play.  It wasn’t till years later that an itch to get back to the old fave rockers caused your Dentist to buy all the DC 5 and Raiders records that had been previously unfairly passed over.

For the purpose of this posting, it was a great excuse to re-listen to every Dave Clark LP and review them which is what this blog will do.  Except for the Stones and the Beatles who get the occasional album track, oldies radio will only play the hits and generally then only a few by each group.  When we review an LP, then, it seems like a fun idea to include a video for one of the best album tracks you likely never heard on the radio then or now.  Billboard Magazine in the U.S. showed 24 top 100 chart hits from early 1964 till late 1967 by Mr. Clark’s band; all but one on the Epic label  – 14 hits were top 20 of which 8 made the top 10 and one (“Over & Over”) made it to #1.  It is reported that Clark started his combo in 1957 with no previous drumming experience and by 1962 the membership of the band had settled on the classic recording line-up.  When you compare the music of the Dave Clark 5 to that of the other British Invasion bands to hit the U.S. in 1964, you see how unique they were as none of the others had sax appeal – find another that had a nasty soprano sax (as played by Denis Payton).  Clark beat the skins, Lenny Davidson played guitar, Rick Huxley was on bass, Payton played sax/guitar/harmonica and Mike Smith towered over the Vox Continental organ while singing lead.  Smith was one of the best singers in rock and roll history and gets unfairly overlooked (in fact many assumed that Clark was the lead singer).

What made the DC 5 so great was that they flat out rocked.  While it is oversimplifying, if when they rocked the Stones wanted to be Chuck Berry, the Beatles Buddy Holly, then the Dave Clark 5 were Little Richard with piano, honkin’ sax and crazed vocals.  Even better was that the engineer didn’t mind pushing the VU meters in to the red and distorting the sound which made the records red hot.  Producers and engineers weren’t listed alot of the time on records in the ’60s, but the back of the 5’s albums listed Adrian Clark as producer.  That was a mix of Dave Clark and Adrian Kerridge who Clark credits with brilliantly putting the live Tottenham Sound of the DC 5 into the mostly monaural grooves.  They didn’t screw around too long on album and today three of them would fit on an 80 minute CD with room to spare. Thick echo, bass that rattled the speakers and in-your-face percussion, but played by whom?  That became a controversy just as it did with the Monkees, but frankly who really cares as long as the records sounded good.  Today bands are proud of who guests on their albums, but for some reason back then it was supposed to be a secret that the same studio guys played for the Beach Boys or Gary Lewis, Herb Alpert or Paul Revere.  We know that the great U.K. studio drummer Bobby Graham played on songs like the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” and Them’s “Gloria” and frankly if you compare his drum sound there with tracks like “Glad All Over” it proves his assertion that he drummed on a large portion of the DC 5’s hits.  If you listen to many of the album tracks, the drumming is not as heavy on the non-hits which makes you wonder if Clark played on all the songs then beefed up the sound with Graham’s overdubs for the hits.  Some of their best album cuts were instrumentals and it would stand to reason that the band would have played on those.  They appeared on Ed Sullivan 18 times, but mostly lip-synched (later appearances did have live vocals).   Another controversy is that Clark’s name is listed as a co-writer on all their group originals yet some have alleged that he didn’t actually write them all.  Again who knows, but what we do know is that he has doled out reissues of their music sparingly which is too bad as their time has mostly passed and it would have been nice to buy all their albums on legit CD or buy a boxset with rarities.  Sadly, the only members alive at this time are guitarist Davidson and Clark.  I was lucky enough to meet the fine gentleman Mike Smith here in Denver after a concert at Fiddlers Green with his Rock Engine band then sadly he went back to the U.K. and fell trying to climb over his fence in 2003.  He was paralyzed from then till his passing in 2008 just 11 days before being inducted in the rock hall.  Denis Payton died of cancer in late 2006 while Rick Huxley succumbed to emphysema in Feb. 2013.  Let’s look at the LPs.

1.Glad All Over (March 1964)

With “Do You Love Me” plus the Smith/Clark originals “Bits & Pieces” plus the title track, you had a pretty solid debut U.S. album that hit #3 on the charts.  There were some rockin’ LP tracks as well including the “Tequila” sounding instrumental “Chaquita” and the nasty rocker by Clark and Davidson “I Know You”.

2.Return! (June 1964)

Out of ten songs, four are covers including this cool Link Wray instrumental showing the tough side of the guys, but without the trademark popping drums so you wonder if this was the band without outside help.  With the Clark/Smith hit “Can’t You See That She’s Mine” it did chart at #5, but wasn’t as strong as their debut platter.

3.American Tour (Aug. 1964)

The #3 ballad “Because” was the lead single written by Clark and pushed the LP to #11.  At the time, my fave track here was “Come On Over” written by Clark and Davidson which had the classic galloping drum sound.  The rest of the band was writing more and so for the first time there were no covers with an equal mix of Clark/Smith, Clark/Payton and Clark/Davidson songs.  The sound was drier and there were too many ballads for this young rocker back in the day (but I liked the cover).

4.Coast To Coast (Dec. 1964)

Holy cow, this was their fourth album in 1964.  This classic sounding drum stomper was the only song written by Clark/Smith on the LP.  The hits were Clark’s “Any Way You Want It” and the Clark/Davidson song “Everybody Knows (I Still Love You)” which helped the LP to #6 in Billboard. Four of the songs were ballads which always meant ‘track-to-skip’ to the young Dentist.

5.Weekend In London (March 1965)

This is one of the LPs that the young me skipped back in the day as the only minor hit on it was the Clark/Smith ballad “Come Home”.  After buying it, there were some redeeming rockers including “We’ll Be Running” with someone other than Smith singing the solo bits (since Payton wrote it, you have to wonder if he sang).  The other great track was also a Clark/Payton original – “I’m Thinking”.  All in all, however it wasn’t one of their best and only hit #24 on the charts.

6.Having A Wild Weekend (July 1965)

Oh man, this is where it all started for your young Dentist and is still my second favorite album from the 5.  The title track (the U.S. title of the movie this was from) by Clark/Smith is my all-time favorite song by the guys and flat out rocks in a very ’50s vein.  There are some outstanding instrumentals as well -the Clark/Davidson penned “No Stopping” plus Clark and Payton’s “On The Move” and the Duane Eddy styled “Dum Dee Dee Dum”.  The hit off the record was one of their best – “Catch Us If You Can” whose finger snapping hook propelled the LP to #15.  That was also the title of the British title of the movie this was the soundtrack for (though at least on the U.S. LP only 4 of the 12 tracks were in the movie).  The movie was not a lighthearted romp, but one in which the band played roles with Clark being a stuntman which was a job he had worked at previously.  This was the first film directed by John Boorman (Deliverance, Excalibur, Zardoz, etc.).

7.I Like It Like That (Nov. 1965)

The band looked great on the cover of this LP in shirts with starched white collars and black coats plus you can see what instruments they each played including Smith’s distinctive Vox Continental organ.  The lead track was a hot cover of the old Chris Kenner song and at 1 minute 38 seconds left you wanting more.  That pushed the LP to #32 in the charts which is probably better than it deserved musically save for a few good rockers like “Pumping”, an instrumental credited to Clark/Payton. “I Need Love” by Clark and Smith was a good rocker as well, but most of the rest were not so great ballads – very disappointing to your’s truly back in the day.

8.The Dave Clark Five’s Greatest Hits (Feb. 1966)

Ten tracks of nothing but hits and thus it was manna from above for the cash starved young me.  This and their first album are the only long players they released to be awarded a gold record for sales.  It charted at #9 which was by far the highest they would ever get again.  It had their only #1 “Over & Over” that was previously only available on 45.

9.Try Too Hard (June 1966)

Even with two so-so ballads, this is still your Dentist’s all-time fave DC 5 album.  Songs like “Looking In” (Clark/Davidson), “Ever Since You’ve Been Away” (Clark/Payton) and “Somebody Find A New Love” (Clark/Smith) were drenched in echo with nice harmonies.  The melodies were simple, but catchy.  Despite the rockin’ title track charting at #12, the LP could only get to #77 which is a pity as the songs were good showing a heavier guitar sound on “I Really Love You” (Clark/Davidson) and “It Don’t Feel Good” (Clark/Payton).  Nice car on the cover.

10.Satisfied With You (Sept. 1966)

Once again a pretty darn good LP that didn’t get the notice it deserved only making #127 in the album charts.  “It’ll Only Hurt For A Little While”  had a VERY hot bass and drum groove on a ’50s sort of rocker but heavier.  The countryish title track by Clark and Payton didn’t make much headway on the charts only getting to #50.  The other single from the record was a great two-sided pairing with the ooh-pa-pa A-side “Please Tell Me Why” (Clark/Smith) getting to #28 and the superior flip “Look Before You Leap” only getting to “101.  After no covers, they turn in a decent version of “Good Lovin'” but not up to the Young Rascals.

11.More Greatest Hits (Nov. 1966)

It certainly showed desperation on the part of Epic to put out a second hits package in one year – especially in that three songs were not chart hits.  That being said, the B-sides “All Night Long” and the great ’50s style rocker “Don’t Let Me Down” were worth owning on vinyl.  Not surprisingly the chart action was not great with a peak of #103.

12.5 X 5 (March 1967)

With only the low charting (#48) heavy fuzz guitar single “Nineteen Days” (Clark/Payton) to sell the record, a placement on the charts of #119 wasn’t a surprise.  A bit of heavier guitar on “Pick Up Your Phone” (Clark/Smith) couldn’t disguise that the harmonica and Vox organ sounded great in 1964, but in the face of groups like Cream was out of step.  Not really one of their best records.

13.You Got What It Takes (July 1967)

Even with the huge comeback title track hit, this fine album only hit #149 which would have been a shock two years earlier.  1967 was the summer of love with Sgt. Pepper, the Jefferson Airplane, etc.  Old style rockers like “Lovin’ So Good” (Clark/Davidson) and the excellent B-side “Doctor Rhythm” (Clark/Smith) simply weren’t the sound of groups like Moby Grape.  There were two nods to the new psychedelia in “Tabatha Twitchit” (sorta like the Tremeloes) and “Play With Me” a bubblegummy double entendre song.

14.Everybody Knows (Dec. 1967)

Even with four minor chart singles, this LP couldn’t break into the Billboard album charts against records by Jimi Hendrix Experience (Axis: Bold As Love) and the Beatles (Magical Mystery Tour).  The cover of “You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby” plus “A Little Bit Now” were less successful attempts to recreate the horn-laden success of “You Got What It Takes”.  The ballad “Red & Blue” had a strong Walker Brothers vibe and while their last chart single “Everybody Knows” (#43) shared a title with an old hit, it was actually a string-laden ballad sung by Lenny Davidson as a change-up.

15. 5 X 5 = Go! (1969)

Interestingly after the U.S. Clark chart run ended, they still had 8 more in the U.K. This 14 track LP featured the singles “No One Can Break A Heart Like You” (a weak ballad sung by Lenny that might have fit Engelbert Humperdinck – ugh) and the Dave Clark sung martial sounding “The Red Balloon”.  Oddly Epic in the U.S. continued to release singles till 1972 to zero interest showing misguided tenacity.  This U.K. album wasn’t bad, but didn’t trouble the charts their in spite of the hits.

16.If Somebody Loves You (1970)

This U.K. album was heavily laden with singles including covers of U.S. hits “Put A Little Love In Your Heart” (Jackie DeShannon) and “Everybody Get Together” (Youngbloods).  They did a group vocal version of the oldie “Here Comes Summer (1959 – Jerry Keller) as well.

17.Play Good Old Rock & Roll (1971)

This record contains the last non-reissue Dave Clark 5 singles to reach the U.K. charts with a #7 – 1969 cover of the Cat Mother & The All-Night Newsboys oldies medley “Good Old Rock ‘N’ Roll” and another medley “More Gold Old Rock ‘N’ Roll” (#34 – 1970).  It was fleshed out with other covers including “Lucille”, “One Night” and a really nice Buddy Holly track “Raining In My Heart”.  I recall being excited back in the day to find an import of this for sale at Independent Records in the JCRS Shopping Center near Casa Bonita.

18.Dave Clark & Friends (1972)

By this time the only classic members left were Dave Clark and Mike Smith so they dropped the Dave Clark 5 name and issued one last album as Dave Clark & Friends with help from Alan Parker and Eric Ford on guitar and bass.  This album was again made up of mostly singles that were covers including Neil Young’s “Southern Man” and “Signs” by the 5 Man Electrical Band.  They did a pretty good version of the Tommy James single “Draggin’ The Line” as well.  After one more single (“Rub It In”) Clark put together a sci-fi musical Time that was successful in the U.K. starring Cliff Richard.  He was very close to Freddie Mercury when he passed after which not much was heard from him.  Smith released a U.K. album in 1976 with Mike D’Abo of Manfred Mann then concentrated on commercial jingles till re-emerging with a fine solo album in 1990 (It’s Only Rock N Roll) and concert success before his untimely accident in 2003.

On The Blue Cruise 2019

Here in the mile high environs, many of the older music acts simply can’t afford to stop on a tour as we are so far away from all the other large cities bands tend to frequent.  Looking online to see if any likely musical suspects were coming to the Denver area, two patterns emerged:  1.nobody was coming to Colorado other than the high ticket acts like Elton John, and 2.many of the bands I love were all going to be in one place from February 10 – 15 – the On The Blue Cruise originating in Miami.  Mrs. Dentist loves to travel while your intrepid reporter would rather stay in the comforts of home, but the line-up of acts was simply too amazing to pass up the opportunity.  Steve Hackett, Procol Harum, Poco, The Orchestra (ELO covers), Alan Parsons, The Zombies/Colin Blunstone, Strawbs, Rick Derringer, Todd Rundgren, Dave Mason, Vanilla Fudge, David Pack/Wally Palmer/John Elefante (Ambrosia/The Romantics/Styx), etc. with the host being Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues – a mind-boggling group of acts in one place.  On a last minute whim, a few thousand greenbacks were sent by the miracle of online transfer and we were set to spend a few days in Miami Beach then sail away on a classic/prog-rock floating Woodstock aboard the Royal Caribbean ship the Mariner Of The Seas.

Getting to DIA proved to be a challenge as it was -10 with the roads being a sheet of ice, but we made it and sat on an American Airlines plane for 4 hours or so then took the shuttle to the Ocean Reef Suites at 1130 Collins in Miami Beach.  Walking the Art Deco restaurants and clubs next to the beach was a sensory bombardment (especially at night).  We had to try a Cuban sandwich and grab a stroll on the sand.

Being Uber virgins, we paid extra due to a mistake we made but finally figured out how to venture forth riding with strangers (speaking Spanish mainly) to shop for 45s (didn’t buy anything) and see the wall art of Wynwood Walls.

We took day trips to the Everglades (about an hour south) and Key West (about four hours south).  The Miami Tour Company bus came by and picked us up at our hotel just as they said they would (thankfully).  Mrs. Dentist loved the huge shrimp and conch.

Cruise day dawned and we did the Uber thing to the dock dressed in our finest rock frocks.  The opening picture of this blog was posted on their Facebook page (my sister Cheryl shared this with me as I am not a member of that group) and I must say that our clothing was the hit of the cruise – Mrs. Dentist worked for hours on the great one-of-a-kind rock and roll coat and more than one artist on-board asked about purchasing it (not for sale, sorry).

We found our way to the lunch buffet (the food was decent till the last day when it was outstanding) and then retired to our tight but adequate stateroom 7435.  The huge bed took up most of the room along with a small couch and a chair plus a tv that never worked (but we were way to busy to watch the tube anyway).  The bathroom was utilitarian, but fine however the tightness of the shower meant that you had to watch dropping the soap or else do some shimmying to retrieve it.  The schedule of concerts was pretty daunting as each day was crammed to the hilt starting as early as 10 AM and ending as late as midnight or so, but they did supply a list every day of all the shows and where they were located.  Some acts performed as many as three times in open seating venues such as Studio B, the Star Lounge and by the pool while others only did one show in the huge Royal Theater with assigned seating.  Those who paid extra for VIP status were seated first then us riffraff were allowed access. To help figure out when and were we wanted to be, your’s truly made up a flow-chart which was invaluable as we raced from place to place.  Everything started late as they were waiting for stragglers, but finally Justin Hayward appeared on the pool stage with his family to wave and welcome all only then to disappear completely for the whole cruise except for the final night concert we were assigned to (there were red and blue groups you were assigned to).  That was a major disappointment frankly as many of the artists were wandering the decks throughout the cruise and often were available for a chat or at least a quick “you were great at your show” – not Mr. Hayward even though he was our host!  Randy Hansen did a credible if incredibly loud Hendrix tribute by the pool and then we attended one of the best shows of the whole five days – Steve Hackett, the amazing ex-Genesis guitarist who stayed true to progressive music and left that band when they went pop.  Mrs. Dentist isn’t a typical prog fan, but thought his show to be outstanding with amazing laser lights and musicianship on songs like “The Musical Box”, “Dance On A Volcano” and “Supper’s Ready”.  The other shows of the day for us were Dave Mason in Studio B and a late night Pink Floyd tribute from The Machine which was by the pool and also so loud as to be painful (but had some nifty lasers).

Day two was a pretty hectic affair with the morning taken up with on-shore activities in Nassau, The Bahamas.  You could go to the island that housed the Atlantis resort but we chose to look for historic structures in the town then took a cruise to see fish, etc.

The music part of the day was crammed full with an Al Stewart show, Procol Harum and Strawbs Q & A’s, the first of three shows we would attend by the Orchestra who do a wonderful ELO tribute (the other favorite act of Mrs. Dentist), Alan Parsons’ first of two shows, Todd Rundgren overly loud again by the pool, The Young Dubliners and David Pack’s Legends Live in their first of several shows.  The Alan Parsons show was wild with all the lasers and great musicianship, but to call him a singer is a stretch yet he tries to sing some of the leads originated by the late co-Project founder Eric Woolfson.  The Orchestra can lay claim to the ELO franchise even without Jeff Lynne as they feature some former members plus some other fine players like Glen Burtnik of Styx and Eric Troyer who worked with John Lennon among others.  David Pack was the lead singer of Ambrosia (“Biggest Part Of Me”) and his band included Wally Palmer of The Romantics (“What I Like About You”) and John Elefante a later singer in Styx (plus powerful drummer Kenny Aronoff who wanted no part of giving your Dentist an autograph – the only uncomfortable moment of the cruise).  The Strawbs are one of the best prog bands ever and frankly a fine bunch of guys to boot – young keyboard player Dave Bainbridge plus stalwarts Chas Cronk, Tony Fernandez (very nice guys to talk with) and the Dave’s – Lambert and Cousins.  Talking to them was like talking to the Beatles for this writer.  Alan Parsons was awarded a Grammy that day so was honored on board plus guested with David Pack as he had produced records for Ambrosia.

Tuesday we were at sea and decided to skip the Zombies Q & A to attend birthday boy Steve Hackett’s autographing of his new album At The Edge Of Light (and anything else you had, frankly).  That was a brilliant stroke that oddly no other act took advantage of.  Having an autograph session with copies of albums for sale meant more money for Hackett and other acts should have done the same as you have to figure they would have sold multiple CDs (the cruise merchandise table had t-shirts and music for sale but they were not autographed).  We then hustled up from the Star Lounge to the upper deck Viking Crown Lounge (overlooking the pool stage) to experience a rare and unexpected treat – a live painting session with album cover artist Roger Dean (Yes, Asia, Gun, Osibisa, Gentle Giant, etc.).  For $99 we purchased a limited edition signed exclusive cruise print – a very cool work of art.  Former Colorado good guy Rusty Young of Poco did a Q & A as did Alan Parsons then we went to our first photo experience where a very long line awaited D. Pack Legends, Procol Harum, The Orchestra & Wishbone Ash.  After the VIP’s entered, we were brought in to the room in waves of twenty then a photo was taken of each of us with the different acts.  Frankly we still don’t have a clue how we will get to see those pictures but we are hopeful it will happen.  We then crammed in Rick Derringer of the McCoys (on the painfully loud pool stage), Stephen Bishop (the folk singer in Animal House), Strawbs and the Zombies.  Luckily they had late night eats from 11 PM to 3 in the morning as eating dinner didn’t fit that crazy day.  Before you entered the Windjammer Buffet, there were many handwash outlets plus hand sanitizer stations (also spread throughout the ship to prevent illness).  The Zombies were wonderful and for the last song “She’s Not There” they included all four living original members.  We were given glow sticks to wave during the Argent hit “Hold Your Head Up”.  Special mention needs to be made of The Strawbs as they were at the pool stage which actually sounded incredible for them with loud mellotron/guitar on songs like “Down By The Sea” and “Autumn”.   They were troupers in the face of gale force winds which made for very dramatic pictures as their hair was whipping behind them but probably felt awful.

Day four had us at the private island of Labadee (Haiti) for a cruise along the shore (seeing the village and fishermen with lobsters) and a beach stroll, but prior to that we attended a Todd Rundren Q & A that was awful in that the interviewer didn’t ask any real music questions and didn’t allow the audience to participate (something that all the other Q & A sessions had done).  At lunch we had a surprise moment with David Pack who has to have been the nicest celeb on the cruise – thanks, David!  After returning to the boat, we enjoyed another photo experience with Alan Parsons, The Strawbs, The Zombies and Al Stewart.  We attended yet another excellent Orchestra concert though they did the same songs (the other acts who did multiple concerts made changes to their sets).  We saw Procol Harum by the pool which was again too loud and then Poco which was the most painfully loud of all the pool shows (even with earplugs, the bass was still uncomfortable).  An extra add-on show was tacked on at 11:15 with an all-star band made up of players who had been on the Cruise To The Edge which ended prior to ours (featuring Yes, John Lodge and a host of young prog acts).  The leader of that show was keyboard player Dave Kerzner whose New World (deluxe edition) was my top album a few years back (others were guitarist Fernando Perdomo and the McBroom sisters).

The final full day of the cruise was jammed with music but started as usual with us eating breakfast (no vacation is truly a vacation without a waffle after all) and doing at least two miles walking around the pool.  The rest of the day saw us running around the ship starting with a 10 AM photo op with Dave Mason, Danny Seraphine’s CTA (a Chicago tribute we never had time to see), Poco and Randy Hansen.  Next was a fun poolside Q and A with David Pack, Wally Palmer and John Elefante.  We had a later photo op with The Young Dubliners, Steve Hackett (who comically said about our clothing that he felt under-dressed), Todd Rundgren with Utopia members and Rick Derringer (who talked to me about the 1965 Denver Freddie & The Dreamers, The Beau Brummels and The McCoys concert which was my first ever show).  We caught Procol Harum in Studio B and frankly they benefited from much better sound than the pool gig and played a fabulous set with highlights “Grand Hotel”, “Whisky Train” (with hot guitar riffage from Geoff Whitehorn) and “Conquistador”. We managed to see half of the Colin Blunstone set where he combined Zombies hits with his own catalog including a rocked up version of “Say You Don’t Mind” and “Wonderful”.  Oddly, the Strawbs in Studio B while good were not as hot as by the pool since the sound wasn’t as loud plus they lost a lot of their audience to competing shows (this cruise forced you have to make tough decisions on which shows to see and when to eat).  We raced out to the main theater to see most of Alan Parsons’ set (“Don’t Answer Me”, “Time”, Breakdown”, “Sirius”, “Eye In The Sky”, etc.) which had a guest spot with Gary Brooker of Procol Harum singing “Limelight”.  We again went to the pool stage which sounded better this time for the Orchestra and their third stab at playing the same set (but it was still a lot of fun getting to sing along to “Strange Magic”, “Mr. Blue Sky”, “Do Ya”, etc.).  After an amazing dinner where all our good work at not overeating totally went out the window, we attended a very pretty but subdued Justin Hayward show which had at least one of us nodding off during the quiet songs like “The Actor” and “Are You Sitting Comfortably”.  He seemed to labor over some of the vocals which has to be a concern going forward.  Finally we managed to see a bit of Vanilla Fudge by the pool (again way too loud).  They were extremely nice signing autographs and talking to fans.

All in all it was a blast to hear so much great music and to get to know some of the acts personally.  I wish I had a handle on who could be approached for autographs as after the Aronoff debacle I tended to shy away from bothering these guys (there were obvious jerks on the boat too who pestered the artists to sign multiple items – those folk gave the rest of us a bad name).  That being said, we got so many requests to have photos taken with us because of our clothing that you did tend to see how tiring it must be for these folk to constantly be bombarded with requests for personal time – we all have bad days, but these guys aren’t allowed that luxury which is too bad.  I would recommend this sort of cruise wholeheartedly and would do it again as long as the the line-up was different enough to make it of interest.  I don’t think a cruise with only a few entertainment opportunities would be something I would want to do however as it is obvious that you can get bored with too much downtime.  It would be nice to also see one of these for British Invasion bands or something like that to appeal to us baby boomers who spend the money for these sorts of things.  Thanks to all the artists and the hardworking staff for making this a memorable experience (we had a lot of fun talking to the great On The Blue security folk while waiting for events to happen as well).  The last day we awoke at 5 to greet the Miami sunrise after breakfast then take our two mile hike before leaving the ship.  For those who wonder, they assigned numbers to let you know when you would leave the ship (ours was an 8:10 exit) and then you go through customs (quick and painless) and grab your luggage to find a host of shuttles waiting to whisk you to the airport, etc.  United Airlines did a fine job of getting us home to pick up an elated dog from his week at “camp”.

25 More Musical Hidden Treasures That Deserved A Better Fate

Back in September of last year your musical Dentist posted the first batch of cruelly neglected songs that deserved to be drilled into America’s musical brain, but were left neglected in a pile of dusty vinyl due to poor promotion, bad timing or plain old dumb luck.  There is no attempt here to put any of these pop treats in any sort of order and if a video exists we will start with a link.

1.The Bell Notes – Shortnin’ Bread

This five piece bar-band from Long Island, New York managed a #6 chart placing with their raw, but easy rock song “I’ve Had It” (written by members Carl Bonura and Ray Ceroni).  A few months later they hit #76 with the primitive ballad “Old Spanish Town”.  The following year in 1960 they could only graze the charts for two weeks at #96 with the far superior rocked up version of the classic old folk tune “Shortnin’ Bread”.  Over the years this song was done (pre-rock) as a novelty by the likes of Al Jolson, Nelson Eddy and the Andrews Sisters to name a few.  One can only ascribe the poor chart placing to bad timing as kids were generally passing on the raw rockers of a few years prior in favor of the smoother sounds from Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon, etc by 1960.  This song was played by countless frat rock bands at keg parties, however, so it wasn’t a total loss.

2.Ellen Foley – Stupid Girl

If Ms. Foley is remembered at all it is as the lady who went toe to toe vocally with Meat Loaf on the single “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” from the 1977 LP Bat Out of Hell.  Even then if you saw the video you stupidly saw Karla DeVito lip-syncing to Foley’s vocal track.  Two years later Mick Ronson and Ian Hunter produced this stompin’ rocker from the Night Out album that never saw the charts.  This was a cover version of the old Rolling Stones B-side to the single “Paint It Black” that was even more anti-female than “Under My Thumb”.  The Stones’ version wasn’t terribly noteworthy other than the misogynistic lyrics, while when sung as a straight out rocker by a real woman it became far more powerful.

3.Sailor – The Secretary

Sailor was a very interesting band that never hit in the U.S. but did manage to grab the attention of the U.K. with fine songs like “A Glass Of Champagne” and “Girls, Girls, Girls”.  They utilized an interesting back to back nickelodeon keyboard setup with synth, glockenspiel, piano, etc.  Lead singer/guitarist/composer Georg Kajanus was in the band Eclection then teamed with Phil Pickett to eventually form Sailor (Pickett was later in Culture Club and co-wrote “Karma Chameleon”).  After Kajanus left in 1978 the band fizzled out only to reform in 1989 with this pop confection that again went nowhere in the U.S. (it was likely not even released here).  Kajanus left again in 1995, but the band has continued with an assortment of lead singers and players.

4.Mel Taylor & The Magics – The Creeper

Mel Taylor was one of least well-known and best drummers of the ’60s.  He recorded this song originally with his band the Ventures for their Walk Don’t Run ’64 LP then the following year again for his solo album In Action.  This song was in the vein of “Wipe Out” by the Surfaris as a instrumental with great drum breaks and had a great descending fuzz-guitar riff.  My buddy Dan “Mr. D” Campbell used to pound the sticks on our band’s version while I plucked the old Gibson SG through my Vox amp (waiting for the next door neighbor to call and ask us to turn the volume down).  Taylor sadly died of cancer at age 62.

5.Eddie Floyd – Big Bird

This song was written in London while Floyd was waiting to fly back to the U.S. for Otis Redding’s funeral and was and odd flop only hitting #132 in late 1967. Eddie was backed by the Booker T & The MG’s who gave the song a tough rockin’ soul sound.  He is probably best known for “Knock On Wood”.

6.Marshall Crenshaw – Cynical Girl

There was a period of time after “My Sharona” stormed the charts that tunefully pop acts got signed by record companies.  The fact that Crenshaw scored a #36 hit in 1982 with his “Someday, Someway” might be a minor miracle considering how unfriendly the airwaves became to music that harkened back to the early days of rock so it is really not a shock this song didn’t tear up the radio.  Crenshaw portrayed Buddy Holly in the movie La Bamba, but this song was more Phil Spector wall of sound pop and came from his self-titled debut album.  Ever since, he has plugged away at his craft writing smart catchy songs for a cult following.  Of late he has been filling in as lead singer for the Smithereens following the death of Pat DiNizio.

7.The Ambertones – Charlena

The Sevilles barely dented the charts at #84 back in 1961 with their version of this L.A. evergreen seemingly covered by every teen band back in the day.  The Latino bands like the Blendells and the Premiers that played this kind of frat rock maybe scored one hit and were gone from the charts.  In 1963 the Ambertones (more Hispanics) tried with their rocked up version of “Charlena” but couldn’t score on the national scene.  Too greasy maybe, but a true classic.

8.Don & The Goodtimes – Hey There Mary Mae

Don Gallucci was the 15 year old organist in the Kingsmen when they recorded “Louie Louie” then went on to form his own band that managed a couple of easy pop records in 1967.  They seemed to be a farm team for Paul Revere & The Raiders with guitarist Jim ‘Harpo’ Valley and Charlie Coe defecting to the bigger act giving up the top-hats for Revolutionary War garb.  Valley sang and played guitar at this point with the Goodtimes on this 1966 garage rocker reminiscent of “Louie Louie” with a Raiders feel.  The song was written by P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri who wrote a ton of great hits for the Grassroots, the Turtles, etc.

9.Fingerprintz – Bulletproof Heart

This one is a real headscratcher as it sounds like a surefire hit at least in England and yet it didn’t make it on either side of the Atlantic.  The song comes from their second longplayer Distinguishing Marks which was released in 1980.  It had a great catchy synth riff, excellent echoy production and a singalong chorus.  An inferior re-recording of this song did manage to become a hit a few years later in Europe for the Silencers which was Jimmie O’Neill and Cha Burns’ next band after Fingerprintz.  Jim Kerr of Simple Minds also covered this fine song for his 2010 solo album LostBoy! A.K.A. Jim Kerr.

10.Johnny Rivers – The Customary Things

When Johnny stormed the charts starting with his #2 remake of “Memphis” in 1964 he was no overnight sensation.  John Ramistella put out his first record in 1956 with his band the Spades at age 16.  As a solo artist the renamed Rivers (supposedly at the suggestion of Alan Freed) put out eleven flop singles before making it big.  Number six in that run was this rocker that apparently wasn’t ready for the radio in 1959.

11.Jerry Smith – Drivin’ Home

Piano man Jerry Smith is an artist that really deserves a career retrospective ‘best of’.  Smith nearly had a hit in 1961 with “Lil’ Ole Me” as Cornbread & Jerry (with Bill Justis).  He then was the catchy piano sound on the vocal songs by the Dixiebelles’ hits “(Down At) Papa Joes’s” and “Southtown, U.S.A.” ’63/’64.  Under his own hame he hit with the instrumental “Truck Stop” in ’69 then he did a series of records as The Magic Organ for Ranwood.  This catchy 1970/71 single did very little in the U.S. but oddly made it big in Australia.

12.The Kinks – I Need You

Your Dentist would have flipped the single “Set Me Free” or at least made this pairing a double-sided chart hit in 1965.  One assumes that it was deemed too similar to “You Really Got Me” and “All Day And All Of The Night”, but similarity hasn’t stopped record labels before.  The driving tambourine and rockin’ riff push along Ray Davies’ snotty vocal that would read on paper like a love song, but as sung would have made any civilized lady lock her doors in fear.

13.Steve Alaimo – Denver

We here in the Mile High environs were the only ones who understood the merits, but this 1968 Atco single deserved to be a hit (it could only get to #118).  We have continue to be paranoid that there is a coastal bias that always skips over this part of the U.S. for everything from hit records to football hall of famers (where the heck is Randy Gradishar, Louie Wright and all the other great Broncos that should be in Canton?).  Florida transplant Alaimo must have felt the same about his chart success as he had nine singles in the Billboard Hot 100 without ever reaching the Top 40 – the most by any artist.  The song was written by Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham who wrote hits for the Box Tops.  For some reason your’s truly has always pictured a remake of this song with a full-blown Phil Spector wall-of-sound but it likely won’t ever happen.

14.Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – Yellow Brick Road

On Denver underground radio back in 1967, this childlike confection from the increasingly weird Don Van Vliet sounded mighty catchy.  After the amazingly nasty garage/blues single “Diddy Wah Diddy” from 1966, the Safe As Milk album was all over the place musically.  It had some blues (“Sure ‘Nuff ‘n’ Yes, I Do”), but also some weirdness (“Electricity”) that only hinted at the strangeness that would overtake the music by the time of Trout Mask Replica.  

15.D.L. Byron – Listen To The Heartbeat

Sorta like Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers on steroids, this was too in-your-face to go anywhere on the charts back in 1980 (plus it was really short at under 2 minutes).  This track led off his This Day And Age album.  As a performer he didn’t do much, but Pat Benatar scored big in 1982 with his song “Shadows Of The Night”.

16.Denver, Boise & Johnson – Take Me To Tomorrow

When this single came out in 1968, John Denver was three years away from his breakout success with “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and Denver native Michael Johnson a decade before his hit “Bluer Than Blue”.  This trio was what had become of the Chad Mitchell Trio (David Boise had joined in 1966) as they were legally blocked from using that name after no original members were left.  This catchy up-tempo song written by John Denver was considerably better than the version he recorded as the title song for his second solo album.  The original sounded much like what Peter, Paul & Mary were recording in the late ’60s (such as “Too Much Of Nothing”) while the newer version seemed to be an attempt at soul gospel with a cheesy organ.  Someone needs to post a better version online than this tinny recording from a record.

17.Gene Pitney – Playing Games Of Love

Would somebody PLEASE post this song online?!  This fine production can be found on the 1968 Musicor double LP The Gene Pitney Story which mixed new tracks with older hits.  While Gene had 24 chart singles on the hot 100, this was not one of them.  It was written by the prolific U.K. writing team of Carter and Stephens (“There’s A Kind Of Hush”).  Pitney passed at age 66 in 2006 and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 2002.

18.The Distant Cousins – She Ain’t Lovin’ You

During the garage band year of 1966 you would have thought that this trashy rocker by the team of Larry Brown and Raymond Bloodworth would have at least tickled the charts.  With help from Bob Crewe (the Four Seasons), the song was an original composition with Crewe producing and a kitchen sink percussive attack arranged by Herb Bernstein who was involved with a ton of hit records such as “Go Away Little Girl” and “Knock Three Times”.

19.Hawks – Lonely Nights

Another record from the short but prolific but not very record chart successful power pop era, Hawks were from Iowa.  The production in 1981 was handled by Tom Werman who also produced Cheap Trick among others.  This catchy song was written by lead singer Frank Wiewel and was on their outstanding debut Columbia album Hawks.

20.Susan Lynch – Office Love

Paul Collins’ band The Beat never got the acclaim that their first two Columbia albums deserved so it isn’t any surprise that this album they helped with musically didn’t do any better chart-wise.  This song has a controlled but insistent Bo Diddley percussive sound till the middle instrumental break when the electric guitars really break loose.  It is about a topic not terribly politically correct at this point, but it rocks and that is all that matters.  It came from her Big Reward album released at the beginning of 1982.

21.The Zombies – Indication

The young version of your Dentist was a rocker only so songs like “She’s Not There” and “Tell Her No” seemed too tame.   In 1966 when Denver’s Tiger radio 950 KIMN played this stompin’ Zombies single, however, your’s truly whipped out to the record emporium and plunked down his 50 cents plus tax for the Parrot records vinyl.  It is good to see them getting inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame if nothing else than on the strength of their fab Odessey and Oracle LP.  Lead singer Colin Blunstone and organist Rod Argent put out some fine music on their own as well.

22.Clout – Whatever You Want

Clout were an all-female (most of the time) South African late ’70s rock band in the same vein as Fanny.  This nifty cover of the 1979 Status Quo U.K. #4 hit was only found on the U.S. Epic records release of their Six Of The Best album.

23.Gene Summers & His Rebels – School Of Rock ‘N Roll

From 1958, this flat out rocks and maybe was too raw for the kids back in the day (or maybe was simply not easily found on the small Jan records label).  Great vocals and piano interplay.  Texas native Summers put out a series of hot rockabilly singles including “Straight Skirt” and “Twixteen”.  Have to give a thanks to Dave Stidman of Denver’s Wax Trax for hepping the Dentist to these great rockers many years ago as when this came out only kiddie records were being played by my five year old self.  This James McClung composition has become a rockabilly standard.

24.The Clockwork Oranges – Ready Steady

Italian band I Pooh were renamed after the 1962 Anthony Burgess novel for their 1966 U.S. single release on Liberty (and Ember in the U.K.) as the Italian name didn’t exactly shout rock and roll.  Admittedly it is an odd amalgam of chugging British Invasion rock with Beach Boys “I Get Around” vocals and with their off English intonations didn’t stand a chance on the charts.  It is still a personal guilty pleasure.

25.The Alan Parsons Project – To One In Paradise

The first album by this collective was the 1976 concept album Tales of Mystery and Imagination Edgar Allan Poe.  They were never a band as such being made up of players and singers that were assembled for each album (though over time the late Eric Woolfson took on a larger role as singer).  The Hollies’ backup singer Terry Sylvester handles the gorgeous vocals on this gentle ballad from that LP.  It would have made a fine single.  Sylvester is still out on the road and was a truly nice guy to talk with after a 50th anniversary of the 1964 British Invasion concert attended by the R ‘N R Dentist and Mr. D in Washington, DC at the Birchmere.  (Still don’t know why he wasn’t the obvious lead singer choice during Alan Clarke’s absence from the band in ’72-’73 instead of the odd person the Hollies went with – Mikael Rickfors).

Doc Krieger’s 2018 Top 20 Albums & Orphan Songs

Doc Krieger’s  2018 Top 20 Albums

Yearly disclaimer:  As a 60+ year old white male, I tend to like 60s type pop/rock music, 70s progressive and guitar blues/rock which is pretty passe in this hiphop/techno/emo/whatever is trendy era – but there is still some good stuff for a conventional old guy if you look for it.  Most of these albums & songs can be found on youtube so I will try to supply a link if possible – so here goes (my top track is underlined):

1.Phideaux – Infidel – like so many classic albums, this one took several spins to reveal its brilliance (frankly the 2 CD set needs to be heard in one sitting to appreciate it).  Phideaux Xavier is a daytime soap opera director who moonlights as a progressive rock auteur (he is the male singer here plus plays keys and guitar).  This album is apparently the third installment of a trilogy with the theme Big Brother.  Gabe Moffatt supplies nice Steve Hackett-esque guitar work while the outstanding drumming is by Rich Hutchins.  This is a hard album to sample due to the many tempo and dynamics changes plus many of the songs are long (i.e. the nearly 14 minute “From Hydrogen To Love”).  Mellotron is my favorite instrument and there are good bits on songs like “Cast Out And Cold” and “Inquisitor”).  While it is in no way representative of the rest of the album, the most accessible song is “We Only Have Eyes For You”.

2.Rick Parfitt – Over & Out – the Status Quo were never the chart force in the U.S. that they were in the U.K. where they were superstars.  Founding guitarist Parfitt died on Xmas Eve in 2016 after having lived through a series of heart attacks.  In that year after his forth episode, he recorded his vocals and guitar parts but never finished the rest. That left it to his son and folks like Brian May of Queen and Chris Wolstenholme of Muse to complete it.  Never the primary Quo vocalist, he sings sort of like Steve Miller here.  “Lonesome Road” is a standard chugging Quo boogie while “Fight For Every Heartbeat” is a good rocker.  The title song is a poignant ballad while the ‘50s style rocker “Lock Myself Away” gets my nod.

3.The Dead Daisies – Burn It Down – the 16 year old hard rock fan within the old guy rears its head pushing this Australian-American collective to #3.  Aussie pilot and investment guru David Lowy started them in 2013 with different metal musicians coming on board for each release.  John Corabi  has been vocalist in many fringe bands over the years, but seems to have found a home here (a plus is he is not prone to shrieking like so many of these singers).  They do a nasty version of the Rolling Stones’ “Bitch”, but most of the tracks are originals like “Resurrected” and “Judgement Day”.

4.Billy F Gibbons – The Big Bad Blues – there is a second guitarist and harmonica, but otherwise this sounds like classic Z Z Top.  This won’t change the world, but it is straight up natchl shufflin’ blooze.  If a razor-blade could sing it would be Gibbons.  There are some hot originals like the rockin’ “Hollywood 151” and some classic covers like “Rollin’ & Tumblin’”.  “Missin’ Yo’ Kissin’ is a “La Grange” soundalike.

5.Skerryvore – Evo – this celtic rock band is named after a reef off the coast of Scotland.  There are 8 musicians playing fiddle, pipes, whistles, accordion, etc.  Some of the songs sound too conventionally country, but the instrumentals are great such as “Trip To Modera” and the raving closer “The Rise”.  The heavier guitar/vocal track “Live Forever” gets my nod.

6.The Coral – Move Through The Dawn – a successful chart act since 2001 in the U.K., this pop band is unknown in America.  These guys play guitars and write catchy songs – a novelty in 2018.  “Eyes Like Pearls” and the happy “Reaching Out For A Friend” are memorable pop.  The closer “After The Fair” could be an early Paul Simon acoustic ballad.

7.The Proclaimers – Angry Cyclist – we in the U.S. mostly know the Reid brothers from their #3 1993 belated hit “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” and their oddly precise vocal inflection.  This their 11th album charted at #17 in the U.K. and is mostly up pop music.  “A Way With Words” and “You Make Me Happy” are good catchy songs.  The best tracks are the string-laden title song and the stirring ballad “Streets Of Edinburgh”.  They are known for their support of Scottish independence.

8.Jake Shears – Jake Shears – he was the Elton John sounding lead singer of the successful (in the U.K.) band the Scissor Sisters.  Jason F. Sellards grew up gay in Washington state getting bullied, but found his voice in the U.K. in the 2000’s.  His best songs can have a music hall feel (“Sad Song Backwards”) or a retro ‘70s sound such as the ballad “All For What”.  The disco tracks like “Clothes Off” don’t do it for the Dentist, but the important sounding ballad “Palace In The Sky” and the catchy pop of “Mississippi Delta (I’m Your Man” are good tracks.

9.The Nick Moss Band featuring Dennis Gruenling – The High Cost Of Low Living – mo’ nasty blooze from guitarist Moss and harmonica wiz Gruenling in a sorta Fabulous Thunderbirds vein.  There isn’t much variety, but “Count On Me” rocks while the title track burns as does “Tight Grip On Your Leash”.  Could only find a link to a live version, but this will show the style.

10.The Mavericks – Hey! Merry Christmas – these guys are such a fun band, you really need to see them in concert (and Raul Malo is one of the best singers going).  This album of mostly original Yule songs is a classic made up of old-time rock, Tex-Mex and countryish balladry.  “Christmas Time Is (Coming ‘Round Again)” is one cool original rocker while they do a great job on the Barry, Greenwich, Spector chestnut “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”.  Check out the rockin’ title track “Hey! Merry Christmas”.

11.Stone Temple Pilots – Stone Temple Pilots – with the death of leader Scott Weiland you had to figure these guys were dead as well, but this album proves otherwise.  New singer Jeff Gutt sings in a Billy Squier style on the single “Meadow” and “Never Enough” is a good chugging rocker.  Gutt does his best work on the ballads such as “Thought She’s Be Mine” and “The Art Of Letting Go”.

12.J.D. McPherson – Socks-A Christmas Album By… – rather than feeling like a Christmas album, this seems more like a great raw rockin’ R&B album with a holiday theme.  A song like “Twinkle (Little Christmas Lights)” feels more like a pre-rock black shouter such as Amos Milburn while “Santa’s Got A Mean Machine” is pre-Beatles rock and roll.  The precision drumming of Jason Smay and the driving bass of Jimmy Sutton makes a song like “Holly, Carol, Candy & Joy” come alive.  You gotta love “Hey Skinny Santa!” and the rockin’ “Bad Kid”.

13.Kim Wilde – Here Come The Aliens – this is the 14th studio album from the British pop star who was successful from ’81 – ’96.  Her hits were mostly written by her dad Marty and her brother Ricky so it was a real family affair.  Ricky is here on Kim’s comeback record producing and supplying songs and music.  The title track was inspired by Kim allegedly seeing a UFO in 2009.  The album drags a bit in the middle till coming back with closers “Rock The Paradiso” and “Rosetta”.  The titles show the album’s pop leanings – “Kandy Krush” and “Pop Won’t Stop”.

14.Danielle Nicole – Cry No More – the voice screams big black woman, the package shows a small white lady who plays a bass bigger than she is.  The album starts with the nasty blues of “Crawl” then moves to the slide work-out “I’m Going Home” which features Sonny Landreth.  This isn’t the raw nasty blues of some of the men we have in this list, but the ‘don’t-mess-with-me’ kind of female blues.  “Burnin’ For You” has some nice organ work from Mike Finnigan while Kenny Wayne Shepherd works the 6-string on “Save Me”.  The nastiest blues here is “Pusher Man”.

15.Dan Baird & Homemade Sin – Screamer – this is Dan’s 3rd album in 2 years, but they have all been great slabs of old chunka-chunka monkey beat guitar driven rock and roll.  These guys are half of the Georgia Satellites and the music is in that style.  “You Broke It” and “Everlovin’ Mind” stand out.

16.Ghost – Prequelle – hitting #3 in the U.S. this was a successful release for the Swedish metallic rockers.  Leader Tobias Forge used to call himself Papa Emeritus, but now he goes by Cardinal Copia.  He pretty much decided he was Ghost and dumped the old nameless ghouls which is too bad as the album thus isn’t as good as 2015’s Meliora.  They are still a cartoonish satanic sounding band but are as dangerous as Alice Cooper (not very).  There are 2 pretty good prog-metal instrumentals and the nice vocal in “Dance Macabre”.  The closing track “Life Eternal” shows that they aren’t just a stupid metal band.

17.Rod Stewart – Blood Red Roses – this is the pop rocker Rod not the crooner or the “Hot Legs” rocker.  He and collaborator Kevin Savigar have come up with some good songs in “Look In Her Eye” and “Hole In My Heart”.  The return to disco on “Give Me Love” is pretty awful, but the rocker “Vegas Shuffle” makes up for it.  The title track “Blood Red Roses” is extremely catchy with driving fiddle work.

18.The Damned – Evil Spirits – the reunion of singer Dave Vanian and guitarist Captain Sensible a few years back was a welcome event.  2008’s So Who’s Paranoid was a bit better, but there are still some good moments here.  The title track has a sort of Byrds “8 Miles High” feel thanks to producer Tony Visconti (David Bowie) while the somber closer “I Don’t Care” has nice trumpet work.  “Devil In Disguise” is closer to their punk roots but the opener “Standing On The Edge Of Tomorrow” is progish pop.

19.The Gripweeds – Trip Around The Sun – the Dentist is a big fan of power pop and has been on board with this New Jersey band since 1988 (named after a John Lennon film role).  Bright pop songs (“Mr. Nervous”) stand next to psychedelia (“All Things Bright”).  Check out “I Like Her”.

20.Enuff Z’nuff – Diamond Boy – many power pop fans are up in arms that Chip Z’nuff is the singer on this new album instead of the departed Donnie Vie.  Okay, he isn’t as good, but the album is still passable pop.  Songs like “Fire & Ice” and “Faith, Hope & Luv” are good.  The closer “Imaginary Man” borrows rather liberally from the Beatles (“For No One”).

Doc Krieger’s Best EP 2018 – It is not long enough to be a whole album, but more songs than the orphan songs list.

The Decemberists – Traveling On – frankly their newest album I’ll Be Your Girl was underwhelming save the track “Rusalka Rusalka…”.  Listening to these 5 songs that didn’t fit on the album, it is hard to imagine why they were left off.  Singer Colin Meloy has always had a bit of an odd voice so the harmony lead on the driving “Down On The Knuckle” is most welcome (as are the handclaps and cheesy organ).  The full band version of “Tripping Along” is miles better than the album version and the jaunty “Midlist Author” is fun.  The closer “Traveling On” would fit nicely on an REM album.

Doc Krieger’s Best Orphan Songs 2018 – These are downloads, singles, isolated top tracks on LPs.

1.Steven Wilson – How Big The Space – Wilson is the most talented progressive musician going today.  He can also be oddly perverse.  Last year the best song by far on the To The Bone album was “A Door Marked Summer” which was only available on the pricy limited edition box.  This year he releases this, one of his best songs yet, only as a limited Record Store Day 12”.  Sorta Pink Floydian and ethereal.

2.Lenny Kravitz – 5 More Days ‘Til Summer – his new album Raise Vibration is okay, but there is too much dance/disco type music for my taste.  This bright pop song is totally different than anything else on the CD and is immensely catchy.

3.Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Lonesome Dave – the first trawling of the TP archive since his sad passing resulted in An American Treasure – 4 CDs of album tracks with a generous helping of unreleased goodies.  There are live tracks, alternate versions and the odd new songs which includes this nasty 50s type rocker that makes you wonder why it didn’t get a release in 1983.

4.Lori McKenna – People Get OldThe Tree is this country/folk singer/songwriter’s 10th studio album with this song being about her dad.  Having lost my parents within a year and a half it hit home.

5.Sister Sparrow – GhostGold is the 4th album by this rock/soul band and is not bad, but this intelligent sounding pop confection really jumps out.  It is driven by an insistent bass riff.

6.Paul Collins – Go – Paul with the Beat put out 2 of the greatest new wave albums but never got the recognition he deserved.  This is another slab of the same only too short!  From Out Of My Head.

7.Neko Case – Bad Luck – Ms. Case has always done excellent work as a solo and as a member of the New Pornographers.  The cover is so off-putting (her wearing a crown of cigarettes while her hair and shoulder are in flames) that I couldn’t warm up to the record.  This song is by far the best thing on it.

8.Spiders – Shock & Awe – it is surprising how much pop music comes out of Sweden which makes me wonder if there is still a market there for music other than hiphop.  This is a Joan Jett sorta guitar rocker from their album Killer Machine.

9.Buckets Rebel Heart – 20 Great Summers – Dave “Bucket” Colwell has been a second tier singer in bands like Bad Company and Humble Pie filling in for absent lead vocalists.  This is the title track from a so-so album.  This recalls groups like 38 Special and has nice cowbell.

10.Presto Ballet – Tip Of The Hat – the album Days Between sounds okay, but is dangerously too close to the group Kansas for my tastes.  This song is the stand-out track in a Supertramp or Stories vein.  Leslied guitar chords lead to loud organ on the chorus with a Keith Emerson style synth break in the middle.

11.The Fizz – Don’t Start Without Me – Bucks Fizz were a successful ABBA clone in the U.K. that for legal reasons has had to drop Bucks from their name.  They came out with a holiday album Christmas With The Fizz that has this very catchy lead track.  Sounds like a hit from a different era.

12.Clutch – Book Of Bad Decisions –  there are a few decent hard guitar crunch songs on their new album, but the title track riff rocker really jumped out for your Dentist .  It has a nasty dense sound over a bass riff.

13.Jukebox The Ghost – DianeOff To The Races seems to try too hard at times to be important like Queen.  This song is frothy acoustic guitar pop that reminds me of the British band The Feeling.

14.Palace Winter – Take ShelterNowadays only had this one standout song that was the single from the album (single?  There is no chance of getting radio play today with stuff like this).  Dreamy psych/prog music.

15.The Motels – Lucky Stars – Martha Davis and company had some great new wave hits in the ‘80s (“Take The L”, “Only The Lonely”) and this song sounds like it would have fit right in back in the day.  She and Marty Jourard are the only members from the original band on The Last Few Beautiful Days.

16.Palace – Promised Land – Swedish musician Michael Palace plays all but the drums on Binary Music.  This sounds like an ‘80s commercial band like Survivor or Toto.

17.Sloan – Right To Roam – these Canadians have continued to plug away since 1991 with this song coming from 12.  Even a so-so album like this has 1 or 2 great guitar driven pop songs.  Reminds me of the new wave band Squeeze.

18.Nick Lowe + Los Straitjackets – Tokyo Bay – Lowe put out some of the greatest pop records back in the day (“Cruel To Be Kind”, “Half A Boy & Half A Man”) before he decided to stop rocking and become a serious artiste (sadly).  Since teaming up with my fave instrumental band, he has started to rock again though his voice is noticeably weaker.  This was the lead track from a double 45 release.

19.Eric Clapton – Lonesome Christmas – one certainly would have never expected Mr. Clapton to jump on the holiday album trend, but now we have Happy Xmas which mostly wasn’t my cup o’tea.  This stompin’ blues guitar work-out was the exception.

20.Blackberry Smoke – Best Seat In The House – their new album Find A Light didn’t move me like their other country/rockers.  This slab of Pettyish Americana driven by bright guitar chords is the best song.

Doc’s Best Reissue Album

 

The Beatles – Super Deluxe 50th Anniversary Edition – this is just an all-around winner of a reissue.  The White Album has never sounded better than with this Giles Martin remix plus the demos and session tracks such as “Glass Onion” are welcome additions to the Beatles canon.  The amazing book with extras of the original photos is something a Beatle fan would buy even without the music.  One can only hope they do the same work with Abbey Road and Let It Be.

Rockin’ Christmas Albums

The Ventures' Christmas Album album cover   Fuzz For The Holidays (CD, Album) album cover Image result for los straitjackets complete christmas songbook Image result for socks jd mcpherson Image result for brian setzer dig that crazy santa claus

Well here we are once again near the end of a year getting ready to make what for many is that annual pilgrimage to church.  We will once again all be harkening to some angels named Harold plus musing on what heavenly peas are and why we need to sleep in them.  Those tunes remind us of childhood or other hopefully fond memories (though we can usually only remember the first verse).  Perhaps for that reason it seems like every rock and roller be they Christian, agnostic or even Jewish (Bob Dylan!?) have attempted at least one Christmas song.  The more adventuresome will sled through a whole album (usually recorded in the heat of summer).  Christmas records may not sell a lot of copies in any given year, but often have long lives as they get trotted out every December.  2018 sees another fruitcake load of long players in the stores including new ones from Eric Clapton and Captain Kirk himself – William Shatner!?  Some artists stay with mostly the classics on their Christmas albums while others get crazy and try to write their own.  The fact that pretty much none of the newly written songs ever are catchy enough to remember beyond the first year gives credence to how difficult it is to write a classic such as “Jingle Bells” – let alone a neo classic like John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”.  You are encouraged to click on the November 2016 link of my site to check out my 20 fave rockin’ Christmas songs thus gaining some understanding of the mind of a pasty white aging rock and roller.  I freely admit that while I love the classics by folks like Andy Williams, I do enjoy amped up rockers even more or at least non-traditional releases so that is the conceit behind this new list (the order is fluid).  I talked to my friend DC in D.C. and he chimed in that he is still a traditionalist: Nat King Cole – The Christmas Song, Perry Como – I Wish it Could Be Christmas Forever, Christmas with Bing, Johnny Mathis – Merry Christmas and A Charlie Brown Christmas.  No doubt all good choices, but we are gonna switch things up a bit on my list (anybody wishing to chime in with their vote, I encourage feedback).  I encourage you to visit your local CD shop and purchase a few of these goodies.

Image result for rudolph the red-nosed reindeer cd

Let us start out by saying that my fave Christmas album of all-time isn’t rock and roll at all so didn’t make the list but needs to be acknowledged.  This album involves an elf that wants to be a Dentist (natch), a Bumble, Yukon Cornelius, a lovable snowman and of course a reindeer with a red nose.  The album is the soundtrack to the 1964 TV classic hosted by Burl Ives – Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.  “Silver & Gold”, “Holly Jolly Christmas”, “We’re A Couple Of Misfits” – every (Medicare) card carrying boomer can sing them all.

1.The Ventures – Christmas Album

The Ventures have been hands down the greatest and most prolific instrumental combo of the rock era (over 60 studio albums) so it was natural that they would tackle a Christmas LP.  Back in 1965 they issued this 12 track goodie on the Dolton label.  Somewhere along the way they got the bright idea to interpolate a rock and roll classic riff with a Christmas song so for instance we get the Beatles’ “I Feel Feel” intro grafted onto “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer”.  The Searchers’ “When You Walk In The Room”  starts “Blue Christmas” while “Wooly Bully” begins “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town”.  Bob Bogle, Nokie Edwards, Mel Taylor and Don Wilson finally made it in to the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 2008.  Don’t confuse this with their decent 2002 album Christmas Joy.

2.Ringo Starr – I Wanna Be Santa Claus

The ex-Beatle drummer has been a prolific solo artist with this 1999 Christmas album being his 12th of 19 studio releases (as of 2018).  Since his early hits when he collaborated with his former fab mates, by far his best albums were the ones he did with Mark Hudson who brought a bright Beatles feel to the sound.  My biggest gripe with many of the other solo Fabs releases is they seem to want to ignore the Mersey style sound that made them successful.  Ringo’s drumming is particularly prominent on this album coming to the fore on a fun version of “Little Drummer Boy” and a stompin’ glitter-beat track – “Come On Christmas, Christmas Come On”.  Ringo owes a great debt to Hudson for putting the fun back into his music.

Image result for billboard rock n roll christmas

3.Billboard Rock ‘N’ Roll Christmas

This is a 1994 Rhino records ten track compilation that includes three of my top ten fave rockin’ Christmas songs by Foghat, The Kinks and Dave Edmunds.  As of this writing, I note that a national online sales site has a copy for 1.79 plus shipping which has to be a great deal –  or find it locally at some CD emporium.  Canned Heat, Cheech & Chong, Queen – you can’t go wrong.

4.The Mavericks – Hey! Merry Christmas!

So I picked up two new Christmas CDs in the past week and both are already in my top holiday music list including this fine groover from one of my fave bands – The Mavericks.  I love a band that really doesn’t fit into a neat category and that describes these brujos.  Are they country, tex-mex, rock – who knows?  They are simply good which unfortunately usually means struggling now-a-days – so buy their music, folks!  Most of the songs are originals and go from rock (“Christmas Time Is [Coming ‘Round Again]”) to ballads (“I Have Wanted You For Christmas”).  They do a great version of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” which was sung by Darlene Love on the Phil Spector Christmas album (and no that one didn’t make my list).

5.Davie Allan & The Arrows – Fuzz For The Holidays

Fuzz-tone guitar, cheesy organ, “Wipeout” drums – what’s not to like?!  Back in the ’60s Mr. Allan used his fuzz-box for evil making nasty instros with his band The Arrows to accompany biker movies from American International Pictures – “Blue’s Theme”, “Devil’s Angels”, “Theme From The Wild Angels” – all great.  When music got all soft and singer/songwriter then disco flash, nobody wanted trashy guitars.  Thankfully America came to its senses and Allan found a new cult following ultimately leading to his turning his fuzz-box back on and using it for good to cut this excellent album of Christmas chestnuts (he didn’t just roast them – he incinerated them).  Check out “Winter Wonderland” and the grafting of the James Bond theme to “Hark” The Herald Angels Sing”.  After this 2004 original he recorded volume 2 a few years later which is also good.

6.The Smithereens – Christmas With…

Back in 2007, the brand of hard-edged guitar rock taken into the charts by these guys in the late ’80s/early ’90s  wasn’t selling well. The Smithereens turned to the holiday album solution and came up with a 12 track winner that included some nice left-field covers like “Merry Christmas, Baby” (the Beach Boys) and “Christmas” (the Who).  Their version of the old Brenda Lee classic “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” made my top songs list back in 2016.  Their usual lead singer Pat DiNizio passed away in mid-December 2017, but the rest of the band has been soldiering on with Marshall Crenshaw singing.

7.J.D. McPherson – Socks-A Christmas Album By…

This is the other new CD of Christmas tunes to hit my collection and after a few more spins could end up moving up on my top list.  McPherson and his band are the real deal if you like authentic R&B/Rockabilly in the vein of Chuck Berry/Bill Haley.  His band is amazing and put on a great show so be sure to see them in some sweaty club when they hit your town.  The album doesn’t feel like a Christmas record so much as a rock and roll record that happens to have a holiday theme.  “Hey Skinny Santa”, “Holly, Carol, Candy & Joy”, “Santa’s Got A Mean Machine” – all rock like you would hope, but the slow ones like “Socks” are great too.

It's Christmas: 18 Original Christmas Hits

8.It’s Christmas

Being a U.K. import on the EMI label, this 1989 compilation is skewed heavily towards the kind of songs I love that inexplicably never made it here in the U.S.  I’m talking about classics like Roy Wood’s “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” and Shakin’ Stevens’ “Merry Christmas Everyone”.  Five of these songs made my 2016 list including Greg Lake (“I Believe In Father Christmas”), Elton John (“Step Into Christmas”) and John & Yoko (“Happy Xmas [War Is Over]”).   Once again, I note that the major online sale site has copies for sale starting at 1.71 plus shipping.

9.Shakin’ Stevens – Merry Christmas Everyone

Oh man, talk about a crime against rock and roll – Shakin’ Stevens has charted over 30 classic ’50s style rockers in the U.K. yet is totally unknown in the U.S.  Sometimes I think I should have been born a Brit – Slade, Dave Edmunds and of course Shakey.  Back in 1991 He released this 12 song holiday album with his take on mostly originals such as the Elvis-like “Sure Won’t Seem Like Christmas” and rockers like “The Best Christmas Of Them All”.  Production on the title track was by Dave Edmunds while the rest were helmed by John David and included the late great Micky Gee on guitar (both from Edmunds’ band).

10.Jethro Tull – Christmas Album

Ian Anderson and Jethro Tull had over the years performed songs with a holiday theme (“A Christmas Song”, “Ring Out Solstice Bells”) so it wasn’t totally unexpected when this album came out in 2003.  Tull remakes those two songs here (plus “Jack Frost & The Hooded Crow” and “Bouree”) while tackling a few new songs.  For me, it is the flute-led instrumentals of classics like “Greensleeves” and the mix of two songs in “Holly Herald” that are the stand-outs.  With Anderson’s falling out with guitarist Martin Barre this may be the last time they put out new music.

11.The Rubber Band – Xmas! The Beatmas

There is a whole world-wide cottage industry that exists of Beatle cover bands.  The Rubber Band is a Danish Fab Four cover act that released this beat themed Christmas record in 1996.  Each classic old Christmas song is given an arrangement that mimics a Beatles song such as “I Saw Her Standing There” wrapping around “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree”.  “Love Me Do” mixes with “Jingle Bells” while “Ticket To Ride” meshes with “White Christmas” also.

12.Blackmore’s Night – Winter Carols

While I am a sucker for this kind of music (Celtic instruments in a bit of a rock context), I am not a fan of the female singer’s overly earnest vocal style.  Guitarist Richie Blackmore late of Deep Purple and Rainbow came up with a winning concept with this band, however I wish he would record an album of just instrumentals.  The other song I like a lot on this 2006 album is “Lord Of The Dance/Simple Gifts”.

13.Trans-Siberian Orchestra – The Christmas Trilogy

I was struggling with how to place each of the three Trans-Siberian Orchestra albums in this list and then I discovered that they have all been released in one three CD/one DVD set so problem solved.  Back in 1996 three members of hard rock band Savatage Jon Oliva, Robert Kinkel and Al Pitrelli along with their producer the late Paul O’Neill founded T.S.O. which has been a holiday juggernaut over the years.  Their first album Christmas Eve And Other Stories (1996) built off of the Savatage instrumental “Christmas/Sarajevo 12/24” pointing the way to heavy guitar based classical sounding instrumental songs and bombastic rock opera vocal tracks (they remind me of Meatloaf). Their next two holiday records The Christmas Attic (1998) and The Lost Christmas Eve (2004) have continued in the rock opera tradition (though I admit I don’t understand the stories – I just listen to the music).

14.The Brian Setzer Orchestra – Dig That Crazy Christmas

When Setzer’s band The Stray Cats was winding down, he managed to recharge his career with a horn driven swing band.  The Brian Setzer Orchestra released two studio albums of Christmas music mixing jivin’ swing and classics.  I far prefer his second holiday album that was released originally in 2005.  You can buy a best-of collection but then you would miss out on one of my fave tracks by Setzer, the original rockabilly with horns workout on “Hey Santa!”  My other fave track here is his great instro version of “Angels We Have Heard On High”.

15.Christmas With The Kranks music from the motion picture

Little Steven from the E Street Band has some great taste when it comes to alternative type music that is in my wheelhouse (’60s garage rock, Merseybeat).  It is no surprise that the soundtrack to this 2004 movie is loaded with cool songs since Mr. Van Zant produced it.  There are nifty Beatlish takes on “White Christmas” by Tina Sugandh and “Joy To The World” by the Butties.  You can also rock to The Chesterfield Kings (“Hey Santa Claus”) and the Ramones (“Merry Christmas [I Don’t Wanna Fight Tonight]”).  I have to admit, however, that I have never seen the movie and likely never will unless someone can tell me why I should.

16.Los Straitjackets – Complete Christmas Songbook

For the 2018 season, Yep Roc records combined all the Christmas music done over the years by my favorite modern instrumental rock band into one handy 27 track CD package.  Their 2002 release ‘Tis The Season For…. had the lion’s share of the best tunes here, but the new package concludes with one of my faves they have done – a live version of “Linus And Lucy” from the Charlie Brown soundtrack so you do need the whole CD frankly.  I am also fond of “Marshmellow World” and “Here Comes Santa Claus”.  When you think of Christmas, you will forever associate it with Mexican wrestling masks after you buy this CD.

17.The Beach Boys – Ultimate Christmas

This 1998 CD expanded the original 1964 12 track LP The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album to 26 tracks (including messages and interviews).  The five band originals on the old LP were pretty good (“Santa’s Beard”, “The Man With All The Toys”, etc.) but I never much liked their overly earnest takes on the old classics like “White Christmas”.  Frankly without the bonus tracks this album wouldn’t have made the list, but I really like many of them including the single version of “Little Saint Nick” which has seasonal overdubs that improve on the album version.  Many of the bonus tracks are from a 1977 proposed Christmas album that their label rejected though many of those tracks are pretty darn good including “Santa’s Got An Airplane” and “Winter Symphony”.

18.38 Special – A Wild-Eyed Christmas Night

38 Special were/are a hard rock band mostly successful in the ’80s.  They were formed in Florida by Donnie Van Zant (younger brother of the late lead singer of Lynyrd Skynyrd Ronnie) and Don Barnes.  This holiday CD was released in 2001 and was your usual mix of standards and new songs.  They do a few too many ballads here for my taste as it is the rockers like “Jingle Bell Rock” and “A Wild-Eyed Christmas Night” that move me.

19.The Moody Blues – December

As it currently stands this 2003 album is the most recent studio release by one of my favorite progressive pop bands.  At this time the band was Justin Hayward, John Lodge and Graeme Edge.  There are some truly lovely orchestrations on songs like “A Winter’s Tale”.  The originals are quite good here including the Hayward composition “Don’t Need A Reindeer” which is really catchy.  They do a nice version of John & Yoko’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” though interestingly they chose to omit the “war is over” lyric.  The album is mostly fairly sedate including a nice Bach rewrite “In The Quiet Of Christmas Morning (Bach 147)”.  I could have done without the trite “White Christmas”, however.

20.The Albion Band – Live-Another Christmas Present From…

Ashley Hutchings has been involved with some of the best and most important British folk outfits – Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span and the Albion Band.  The latter was his longest tenured outfit with a fluid membership.  For many years they put on Christmas shows in the U.K. and this is a record of the 1986 tour which included Cathy Lesurf on vocals.  They alternated fiddle driven music with spoken word pieces such as “The History Of Christmas”.  My other faves here are “The Official Branle” and “Lumps Of Plum Pudding” – two instrumentals.

 

BEST PACKAGING AWARD:

Related image  Image result for elvis presley if every day was like christmas

Elvis Presley – Christmas Album (and) If Every Day Was Like Christmas

The original RCA Victor LP was his third overall and was released in 1957 as perhaps the first rock and roll holiday album.  Listening today, it doesn’t really hold up for me with one side devoted entirely to religious themed music while the other side has only three great songs.  It might have made a better EP with “Blue Christmas”, “Santa Bring My Baby Back To Me”, “Santa Claus Is Back In Town” and I guess “Here Comes Santa Claus”.   That hasn’t stopped it from selling over 20 million copies worldwide so I guess I am in the minority.  The content didn’t make my list, but I would nominate the original with a booklet insert of great Elvis promo pictures from his Jailhouse Rock movie as my favorite packaging.  I might also include the 1994 limited edition If Every Day Was Like Christmas that was expanded to 24 tracks and came with a pop-up Graceland (his home) in the middle – very cool packaging as well.

BONUS DOPEY CD YOU REALLY NEED TO OWN:

Jingle Cats – Meowy Christmas

The Singing Dogs’ “Jingle Bells” since 1955 owned eye-rolling Christmas silliness till 1993 when a feline 20 track CD hit the market.  It is pretty difficult to listen to the entire album, but whenever you feel a need to annoy your kids or your dog (or perhaps clear out a late party crowd so you can go to bed) this really comes in handy.