Doc’s Fave Stand-up Comedians

Bob | The Prudent GrooveLet's Get Small

Let’s break with the music themes this month and get in to another of your Dentist’s areas of interest – clean stand-up comics. We’ll differentiate this theme from the one next month which will be about comic actors who generally aren’t associated with stand-up. To confuse matters, most everyone on this month’s list will have done TV and/or movies, but they started out doing their act in front of a live audience and so that is what counts. Your blogger prefers comedians who don’t swear up a blue streak (though a couple on this list got blue more than I prefer, but they are so funny they can’t be left off) plus I can’t stand the ones who think that screaming makes them funny (though you will see a couple of contradictions in my list, admittedly). For that reason don’t expect people like Chris Rock or Sam Kinison plus I have a special hatred for Andrew Dice Clay who might be the worst comic(?) of all-time with his sexist b.s.. In my car, it’s either classical music or the local Denver comedy channel 103.1 till a couple weeks ago when the idiotic powers that be decided to switch to county, an overcrowded genre. That station exposed me to a lot of great comedy, but also put sanitized bits on the air which fooled me in to thinking that these comics work clean – only to be shocked when trying to watch a special on Netflix filled with swearing (i.e. Craig Ferguson – you’re a funny guy, so why the blue language dude?).

You could trace stand-up comedy back to the mid-1800’s with Vaudeville and later Burlesque. Most of the comedy back then wouldn’t pass the politically correct test today as it relied on racial or sexual stereotypes. Apparently repetition of a popular routine was commonplace whereas today it would be strictly verboten for a comic to copy jokes from someone else (unless they pay for them). Folks like Milton Berle, Bob Hope and George Burns got their starts in Vaudeville. As nightclubs became the center for comics, you had people like (Dean) Martin & (Jerry) Lewis plus Lenny Bruce. Gotta say, I’m also not a fan of social commentary that passes for comedy and definitely hate insulters like Don Rickles who made a living out of – he made me feel sorry for the folks he insulted and I couldn’t watch. Comedy albums were a big thing and I guess I need to thank Rick Steele back in grade school for exposing the young me to records by Bill Cosby and Bob Newhart. Do not look for Mr. Cosby who disgraced himself, allegedly, ruining his image as American’s favorite dad. Younger folk like my kids enjoy people like Mike Birbiglia and Amy Schumer. I am an old guy so will naturally gravitate to older performers, but that doesn’t mean that today’s comics aren’t funny – indeed there are some great ones now working the comedy clubs. Feel free to comment with your own faves.

1.Bob Newhart

While most know Newhart from his movie and TV work, he started as a stand-up with his routines reaching the masses via several very popular comedy records.  In 1960 he had the distinction of holding down the #1 and #2 positions on the U.S. album charts with The Button-Down Mind Of Bob Newhart and The Button-Down Mind Strikes Back!.  Born Sept. 5, 1929 in Oak Park, Illinois, Newhart was employed as an accountant, a clerk and an ad copywriter in Chicago.  He worked up a style of comedy based on funny one-sided phone calls and was signed to Warner Brothers Records.  His act included bits about Sir Walter Raleigh, the USS Codfish and Abe Lincoln vs. Madison Ave. which Newhart claimed was his favorite.  While he did several other shows, it was as psychologist Bob Hartley on The Bob Newhart Show (1972-78) and as inn-keeper Dick Loudon on Newhart (1982-90) that gave me the Newhart bug.  His act as a dry uptight man who hates change or calling attention to himself spoke to the young me.  Dad always bemoaned not having gotten to see his hero Jack Benny in concert so when Newhart announced a tour in 2004, we were lucky enough to catch his act in Greeley April 27 at The Union Colony Civic Center.  Younger folk mostly know him from the movie Elf where he played Papa Elf, Will Farrell’s adoptive dad or from Big Bang Theory‘s Professor Proton.  

2.Jim Gaffigan

Born July 7, 1966 in Illinois, he was raised in Chesterton, Indiana.  Jim Gaffigan has made a career about being an overweight pale dad who goes through a lot of the same things we all do – eating Hot Pockets, finding the bonus fry in the bottom of the McDonalds bag, hating exercise, etc..  He actually played varsity football while attending Purdue and Georgetown and earned a degree in finance.  After moving to New York in 1990, he worked at comedy till finally getting on The Late Show With David Letterman.  His act has improved over the years with an observational style that includes high-voiced asides often taking pot-shots at his own routines.  Thanks to the Country-RocknRoll Dentist (ret’d) Ed Hansford for turning me on to Gaffigan many years ago up at his place in Buena Vista.  

3.Jerry Seinfeld

From 1989 to 1998, the show about nothing (Seinfeld) ruled its TV timeslot.  Frankly what made that show great was, like Jack Benny and Bob Newhart before him, Seinfeld was willing to let the other crazy characters around him get the laughs while he stood there befuddled (and cashed the big pay-check).  Before that success, Jerome Seinfeld earned a degree in communications and theater at Queens College in New York.  Born April 29, 1954 in Brooklyn, he worked on his observational stand-up at open-mic nights.  After that TV show he has continued in stand-up especially on Netflix.  His series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee ran from 2012 to 2019 and showed him driving around in a vintage car picking up a comedian and going out for coffee while doing improvised bits that often could be funny (but often could require coffee to watch since the shows could be dull).  Unlike many comedians, his movie work hasn’t been terribly extensive with his 2007 animated film Bee Movie his main foray in that realm.  

4.Robin Williams

Trying to find a clean enough stand-up clip to lead this section proved to be a frustrating half hour as while he was hilarious, he threw in way too many f-bombs for your Dentist.  Too bad because he was perhaps the most brilliantly gifted comic ever and would have been my easy number one on this list if he would have kept it clean.  Robin Williams was born in Chicago on July 21, 1951.  His formative years were spent there plus Michigan and California.  He studied acting at the College Of Marin then moved on to Juilliard in NYC in 1973.  Fellow classmate and future Superman star Christopher Reeve said of Williams: “He was like an untied balloon that had been inflated and immediately released. I watched in awe as he virtually caromed off the walls of the classrooms and hallways.”  He started doing stand-up in San Francisco in 1976 then in L.A. the following year.  That brought him to the attention of TV and eventually a starring role in Mork & Mindy from 1978 to 1982.  He moved to the cinema where he could be funny (Good Morning, Vietnam), heartwarming (Mrs. Doubtfire) or serious enough to win an Oscar (Good Will Hunting).  One of his greatest roles was as the genie in the 1982 animated film Aladdin.  He never gave up doing stand-up and had a manic energy fueled early on by drugs and later alcohol (allegedly).  He battled depression and it was the signs of dementia that caused him to take his own life on August 11, 2014.  

5.Tim Allen

You know him as Tim “Toolman” Taylor on Home Improvement (1991-1999) and Mike Baxter on Last Man Standing (2011-2021).  Perhaps you know him better voicing Buzz Lightyear in the Toy Story movies or being jolly ole Saint Nick in the Santa Clause trilogy.  Tim Allen was born in Denver June 13, 1953 and grew up mainly in Michigan.  He started there in comedy in 1975 then moved to L.A. in 1981 after doing time in jail for drugs.  His routine is an innocent parody of the male proclivity for tools and more power.  

6.Rodney Dangerfield

He didn’t get any respect and he was ugly – those were what we will always remember as the classic Rodney Dangerfield joke set-ups.   Jacob Cohen was born Nov. 22, 1921 in Suffolk County, New York and was the son of a Vaudeville performer known as Phil Roy.  He began writing comedy at age 15 and eventually changed his name to Jack Roy.  He did a series of odd jobs including selling aluminum siding while trying comedy but didn’t have much success (he joked later that “I played one club—it was so far out, my act was reviewed in Field & Stream.”).  After an appearance on Ed Sullivan’s variety show in 1967 his career started looking up having developed a character who was always the low man on the totem pole.  He named himself Rodney Dangerfield, a name from an old Jack Benny radio program in 1941.  He eventually appeared on The Tonight Show over 70 times.  His wise-cracking in the 1980 golf movie Caddyshack moved his career up another notch and led to other movies like Easy Money and Back To School.  In the ’80s he helped start Jim Carrey’s career touring with him for two years.  On October 5, 2004 he passed away and his tombstone says “There goes the neighborhood”.  

7.Ray Romano

Raymond Romano came to be Dec. 21, 1957 in Queens, New York in an Italian household which shaped his act.  He briefly studied to be an accountant before going in to comedy competing in the Johnnie Walker Comedy Search in 1989.  After appearing on The Late Show With David Letterman in 1995, he was given his own TV program which ran from 1996 to 2005.  The show was about the family dynamic of the Barone family played by Romano, Patricia Heaton (wife), Brad Garrett (brother), Peter Boyle (dad) and Doris Roberts (mom).  That show reflected his stand-up which was much about his own family.  Kids will know his voice behind the character of Manny in the Ice Age films.  

8.Jeff Foxworthy

“You might be a redneck if” – these are the words that made Jeff Foxworthy famous.  Atlanta born Sept. 6, 1958, he worked for IBM till trying comedy on a dare in 1984.  In addition to stand-up, he has recorded several successful comedy albums and put out a series of books collecting some of his best bits.  For three years in the early 2000’s he was part of a successful comedy tour called Blue Collar Comedy with Larry the Cable Guy, Ron White, and Bill Engvall.  

9.Brian Regan

Though he is over 60, I haven’t known the comedy of Brian Regan that long.  He is one of the finds that I can thank the Denver comedy radio station 103.1 for.  He steers clear of controversial topics instead talking about things like weighing packages and going to the Optometrist.  He was born in Miami June 2, 1958.  He studied to be an accountant (Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio) while playing wide receiver and apparently his coach suggested he try comedy as he was funny.  His comedy really needs to be seen to be best appreciated due to his movements and facial expressions.  His first comedy special was in 2007 and it seems he has been getting funnier and more successful up to his 2021 Netflix show recorded in Utah during the pandemic (On The Rocks – check it out).  

10.John Pinette

It is sad to watch John Pinette talk about his love of food and losing over 100 pounds knowing he died way too young.  Born in Boston, he lived from March 23, 1964 to April 5, 2014.  He could get dangerously close to being a screamer, but I can tolerate it because he kept it in check while being funny and talking about food – something your Dentist has grown to love in old age (or maybe always loved).  Like several others, he started in accounting then turned to comedy.  He was named stand-up comedian of the year by the American Comedy Awards in 1999.  For two years he played Edna Turnblad in the play Hairspray (2004-6).  His show titles say it all about his comedy: Show Me the Buffet, I Say Nay Nay, I’m Starvin’, Still Hungry, etc..  

11.Steve Martin

For those folks younger than say 40, there was a time when Steve Martin was funny and not some serious artiste  apparently he wanted to act, however.  For some reason many comedians decide the art of making people laugh isn’t good enough so they dump the audience that made them successful and turn to drama (read: Robin Williams and Steve Martin).   The old Martin would have put a fake arrow on his head and shouted “Well, EXCUSE ME!”.  Okay, perhaps I am being harsh – the good news is a few years back Martin hooked up with Martin Short for a tour and actually got funny again (check them out in Only Murders In The Building on Hulu).  While born in Waco, TX (August 14, 1945), he grew up in California which allowed him to work at Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm and learn how to entertain.  In 1967 he became a writer for the TV shows of Glen Campbell, Sonny & Cher and The Smothers Brothers.  When Saturday Night Live premiered in 1975, he seemed like one of the cast members rather than a guest creating the Two Wild & Crazy Guys/Festrunk Brothers routine with Dan Ackroyd (they would swing in their tight trousers – please insert Slavic accent for the preceding).  His Let’s Get Small (1977) and A Wild & Crazy Guy (1978) LPs where hugely successful even spawning a hit single in “King Tut”.  His 1979 film The Jerk had some funny bits but over time his movies got more serious such as Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Roxanne.  The 1987 movie Planes, Trains & Automobiles with John Candy was actually very funny though Candy was basically the comic to Martin’s more straight-man act.  He is a brilliant banjo player and has put out some excellent records including Rare Bird Alert (2011) with the Steep Canyon Rangers – my fave of his albums.  

12.Ellen DeGeneres

Evem though he life-style offends certain folks, I honestly could care less about her sexual preference as she is just funny plus she works clean which I respect.  Frankly given her vocal style I would have assumed she was from the Midwest, but in reality she was born January 26, 1958 in Metairie, Louisiana.  She was a communications major at the University Of New Orleans for a very short time then started working odd jobs while working at stand-up.  Lucille Ball, Bob Newhart and Steve Martin are just a few of her comedic influences.  With her 1994 – 1998 TV show Ellen, she has been called the female Seinfeld.  Her daytime talk show The Ellen DeGeneres Show was a big success starting in 2003 though your Dentist admits to never having seen it.  While she has had the reputation for being a kind person, that got a bit tarnished in 2020 when some of the employees of her show said that it was a toxic place to work.  She is especially loved for her voicing of the forgetful fish Dory in the films Finding Nemo and Finding Dory.

13.Dennis Miller

He has been around for some time, but it has taken a long time for your blogger to appreciate his intellectual approach to comedy.  Actually I have grown to respect him since so many comics dumb down the way they speak using poor grammar.  Heck, how many comedians can use the word ‘algorhythmically’?  Just as some of my readers will get sidetracked by Ellen’s sexuality, so too will some take umbrage to Miller’s more conservative politics.  Hey, deal with it – the dude is funny (though I sure wish he would not throw in the occasional f-word).   Born Nov. 3, 1953 in Pittsburgh, at age 15 Miller was inspired to try comedy by meeting the obscure comic Kelly Monteith.  He stayed in Pittsburgh to attend Point Park University as a journalism major then worked a series of odd jobs while honing his comedic chops.  He has cited Jonathan Winters and Tim Conway as inspirations, but it was a 1979 Robin Williams special that truly got him going to open-mic nights.  His style, he says, is to have a “hipper-than-thou” attitude, making arcane references with his rants his main trademark.  Oakland was a stepping-stone to moving to New York, back to Pittsburgh then L.A. where Jay Leno helped him jump-start his career.  While appearing at The Comedy Store, Lorne Michaels saw him and ultimately added him to his Saturday Night Live cast in 1985 (he left in 1991).  He initially did the Weekend Update segment of the show which pushed him in to a new area for him – political humor.  Other than that show, he is known for several radio and TV gigs including nine seasons on HBO of Dennis Miller Live and for ABC’s failed attempt in 2000 to inject humor in to the booth of Monday Night Football.  

14.Anjelah Johnson

As a Denver Broncos fan since their inception in 1960, it is painful to admit to liking the comedy of a former Raiders cheerleader (and our local football squad has been a joke the last few years too).  As she says in this clip, she is Mexican and Native American born May 14, 1982 in San Jose.  Her first break was joining the cast of MADtv in 2007 (her main character was Bon Qui Qui).  By far her best bit is about getting her nails done though she is always funny in her comedy specials. 

15.George Wallace

Do not get this hilarious black man confused with the segregationist Alabama governor of the 1960s.  This Wallace is an old guy like your Dentist being born in Atlanta July 21, 1952.  After graduating from the University of Akron, he moved to New York to try his hand at comedy while working as an advertising salesman.  One of his clients opened a comedy club and Wallace started performing stand-up there in 1977.  He moved to L.A. and started appearing at The Comedy Store.  In 1995 he was named the Funniest Male Standup Comedian at the American Comedy Awards.  In addition to guesting on various TV shows, he had a Las Vegas residency for a decade.  He has had minor roles in several movies including The Ladykillers and A Rage In Harlem.  He comes across as genial and happy-go-lucky.  

16.Gabriel Iglesias

Gabriel aka Fluffy is a real rags to riches story.  He was born in San Diego and grew up in So. Cal. low-income housing.   His nickname comes from his levels of fatness:  “Big, Healthy, Husky, Fluffy and DAMN!!!”  In his act (which began in earnest in 1997) Fluffy is a storyteller rather than a traditional teller of jokes.  Frankly he is funnier when you can see his reactions.  He has struggled with weight and has lost over 100 pounds.  Here is hoping he doesn’t go the route of so many other overweight comedians to an early grave.  

17.The Sklar Brothers

Randy and Jason Sklar form one of the most unique acts in comedy as identical twins who trade off with perfect timing.  They both were born January 12, 1972 in St. Louis and attended the University Of Michigan.  At age 22 they moved to New York to give comedy a try.  They have done a number of non-comedic roles on shows like Law & Order, CSI and Grey’s Anatomy.  The Sklars did their first comedy special in 2014 for Netflix and have filled in for Jim Rome often on his radio show.  They do swear a bit which causes your Dentist to cringe, but they are funny.  

18.Steven Wright

This guy has the most deadpan delivery ever and so his jokes often take a few seconds to click in your brain.  He tells constant unrelated one-liners – they don’t all work but enough do.    He was born December 6, 1955 in Cambridge, Mass. finishing his degree at Emerson College.  He looked to Woody Allen and George Carlin as inspirations though his style is very much his own.  In his Oscar winning live action short The Appointments of Dennis Jennings he says a line that encapsulates his odd style:  “I wanna find out who my real step-father is; my natural parents won’t tell me where to find him…”.  His 1985 comedy album I Have a Pony and HBO show A Steven Wright Special helped establish him with college students.  

19.Norm MacDonald

Norm could be very low-key (though not as somnambulant as Steven Wright) or bemused – sort of sounding like your demented uncle.  Every now and then he throws in a swear word which moved him down the list a bit.  The above bit from TV, for instance, is clean, but has some f-words when he does it live.  October 17, 1959, he was born in Quebec and was hired to write for Roseanne just before he joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 1993 (he did the Weekend Update segment).  He left the show in 1998 after clashing with NBC brass.  He has cited folks like Bob Newhart and Dennis Miller as inspirations.  He passed Sept. 14, 2021.

20.Larry The Cable Guy

“Git-R-Done!”  That has become so synonymous with Daniel Lawrence Whitney that if he didn’t say it at a show he would likely be booed off the stage.  The dumb redneck character of Larry The Cable Guy has become his persona on stage while in reality he’s a farmer from Lincoln, Nebraska and doesn’t have a high-pitched Southern accent in real life.  He doesn’t swear though his jokes can be of questionable taste (after he tells something shady he says “I don’t care who ya are, that’s funny right there”).  Apparently he is good friends with fellow comedian Lewis Black which is ironic as this last slot on our list was down to either Larry or Lewis.  Lewis lost out as contrary to his bits on sanitized radio, his stand-up is pretty much filled with swear words.  Larry is part of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour with Jeff Foxworthy and others.  He has voiced Mater in Pixar’s Cars films.  He was born in Pawnee City, Nebr. February 17, 1963.


Dentistry Meets Rock & Roll

Found on Bing from | Stephen stills, Shirley jones, Steve  harveyReproduction"Shane MacGowan - Teeth" Poster A2 Size: 59.4 x 42cm : Home & Kitchen26 December 1965: Paul McCartney has a moped accident in Liverpool | The  Beatles BibleHeaven Tonight | Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick

Well it is time to combine the Dentist in me with the music fan and do a post about both for National Children’s Dental Health Month.  As can be seen from the first two pictures, these rock stars can be big babies with their bad dental health.  Thankfully, in the fourth picture (the back cover of Cheap Trick’s great LP Heaven Tonight), guitarist Rick Nielsen shows what a good rock star must do before hitting the stage in order to prevent cavities – brush those pearly whites!  There are more dental/music mash-ups than I expected frankly.  In fact there are more that seem a bit tenuous, but at least deserve a mention in our intro.  There was a southern rock band named after perhaps the  most famous Dentist of them all – Doc Holliday (as they were both from Georgia).  Speaking of band names, there are several with variations of the words ‘grape juice’ (Moby Grape, Grape Juice Plus, etc.).  That drink came about due to the Methodist minister Thomas Welch who pasteurized grape juice in 1869 so it wouldn’t ferment.  Welch was also a successful Dentist in Vineland, NJ as was his son Charles.  Starting in the ’30s there were at least 3 western swing combos named Riders Of The Purple Sage plus Jerry Garcia was in a sideband of The Grateful Dead called The New Riders Of The Purple Sage.  They were all named after the 1912 Zane Grey novel Riders Of The Purple Sage.  Most folk don’t know that Grey was a N.Y. Dentist who got into writing since he wasn’t in love with working on teeth.  As my Uncle Bill pointed out, we need to also remember Spike Jones’ ‘classic’ (?) from 1947 “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth”.   From 1963 till 1970 there was a successful sitcom called Petticoat Junction.  One of the characters at the Shady Rest who gets a mention in the intro theme song was “Uncle Joe, he’s-a movin’ kinda slow at the junction.”  He was played by Edgar Buchanan who was a successful Dentist till 1939 when he gave his practice to his wife and became a character actor. What originally inspired this blog post was your Dentist, Aimee (the Rock & Roll Hygienist) and 2nd child Hilary with her now hubby Jason going to see Peter Noone in a great concert-in-the-park in Oregon of Hermans Hermits music.  At 73 he sounded and looked great with large straight white teeth.  This really shows what good dental hygiene can do.  Dave Stidman at Wax Trax pointed out some work apparently might have been done for Joan Baez when you look at old vs. newer album covers.  There are many more stories online such as Sharon Osbourne losing an implant during a TV show or her husband Ozzy having 2 crowns come loose just before a show.  My friend Dr. Fischer can tell a story about helping George Thorogood (ask him).

1.The Beatles – Rain

You can very clearly see that Paul has fractured the edge off his upper left central incisor (#9 for us Dentists) in one of the promo films for “Rain”, the B-side to “Paperback Writer”.  On Sunday Dec. 26, 1965 Paul had an accident while riding his Moped at night chipping his tooth and cutting his lip (as can be seen in the picture in the middle in the intro to this article).  Paul’s quote: “I started to grow a moustache – a sort of Sancho Panza – mainly to cover where my lip had been sewn.”  Manager Brian Epstein’s quote: “Paul assured me that he would have the tooth capped, but – unfortunately – he has not done so.”  He went some time with the chip considering this promo clip was filmed May 19, 1966 then one assumes he had the tooth crowned.  This was one of the clues back in Nov. 1969 that Paul was dead, if you were in to such nonsense.   He had 2 other things to say about teeth.  One was about his dad: “he told me he used to play trumpet till his teeth gave out”.  The other was from the lyrics to his song “Smile Away” on Ram (1971) : “I met a friend of mine and he did say, man I can smell your breath a mile away. Smile away.”  Come on Paul, brush ’em!

2.Suzy & The Dentists – Do You Do You Brush Your Teeth?

Okay so it wasn’t a hit upon its 1981 release, but your Dentist would be thrown out of the ADA if this wasn’t included.  Other than writing credit by Jay Alanski and adaptation by Russ Shipton and Sypora Azeyled, I know zip about this record on the Attic label.

3.The Rolling Stones – It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll (But I Like It)

In some ways the Stones were punks before there was a punk-music scene in the late ’70s and a punk thing seems to be a lack of Dental hygiene.  Keith Richard’s teeth over the ’70s must have been deteriorating to the point that in the promo clip for this 1974 hit he had noticeable rot on his upper right lateral incisor (#7).  If you freeze-frame at 28 and 54 seconds you can see a black decay where a nice white incisor should be.  In the next promos he wisely doesn’t smile much.  It is hard to tell when he finally got things fixed up and how, but one has to wonder when fellow guitarist Ronnie Wood was once quoted about what Richards had to do for a repair when a tooth came out (of a denture?):  “Keith did it with superglue once. It’s a good standby.”  This further quote about Richards’ teeth:  “The bright, white teeth are a far cry from the rotten, brown smile that Richards sported during his youth, thanks to a hedonistic lifestyle that noticeably affected his dental health…”

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By the way apparently Keith’s bandmate Mick Jagger has a diamond in perhaps #7 (upper right lateral incisor).

4.Frank Zappa – Montana

Who knew that Mr. Zappa wanted to own a farm in Montana devoted to raising dental floss.  You can’t really do that, can you kids?  This was on his 1973 LP Over-Nite Sensation and in addition to Tina Turner and the Ikettes on backing vocals, has Frank playing some hot guitar – at least on the LP version.  Here we use the single edit which is a different mix and cuts out his guitar workout.  This is found on the Strictly Commercial album from 1995.   Zappa was the leader of The Mothers Of Invention and lived from December 21, 1940 till December 4, 1993.  By the way, floss is actually made from synthetic fibers such as nylon or polytetrafluorethylene (essentially Gore-tex) and not grown on farms.

5.The Beatles – Savoy Truffle

George Harrison wrote this song about his friend Eric Clapton’s love for candy.  The lyrics specifically reference the names of the Mackintosh’s Good News chocolates.  “You’ll have to have them all pulled out after the Savoy Truffle.”  Hopefully Eric took the song to heart and started brushing regularly and perhaps switched to celery as a snack.   It was on the double album from 1968 The Beatles.

6.Stephen Stills

George Harrison should have written for Mr. Stills as he may well have had to have them all pulled out.  I have heard from at least two people that he does (or did – allegedly) wear an upper denture.  There is a Stills quote about what inspired him to write the song “Look Each Other In The Eye”:  “I think it was when I broke one of my false teeth.”  You can see his missing tooth in the left picture used in this post’s intro.  Over the years his speech has gotten more slurred sounding which some have speculated has to do with the wearing of dentures.  In this 1972 Manassas video you can clearly see his reported aversion to Dentists has been catching up to him as he is missing at least the upper left lateral incisor (#10) and perhaps the bicuspids on that side as well (#12 & 13).  Freeze it at the 2:40 mark to at least see the front gap.  By the way, the story has been told that he auditioned for the part Peter Tork later got in The Monkees.  In a 2020 interview, Monkee Micky Dolenz confirmed that: “He auditioned, and the joke is he didn’t get it because he had bad teeth.”  Sadly it was reported that Eddie Van Halen, as his addictions got worse, also lost teeth.

7.Richie Havens – Freedom

Here is a man who definitely had all his upper teeth pulled out some time prior to Woodstock in 1969.  His opening set was filmed from below the stage and you can clearly see the pink of the roof of his mouth with no teeth (freeze about 2:17).   When Stan and I saw him several years ago at The Soiled Dove Underground, he did have teeth so one assumes he either got a denture or had implants.  Richie was one of the nicest musicians I have ever met.  He passed April 22, 2013 at age 72

8.Shane MacGowan (The Pogues)

He started in the 1976 U.K. punk band The Nipple Erectors then became known in the Celtic/punk band The Pogues as their barely-able-to carry-a-tune lead singer.  He was in the band from 1982 till 1991 then again from 2001 till 2014.  Shane is the poster boy for poor Dental health as seen in the right picture in this post’s intro.  It was reported in the press that he got dentures in 2009 which didn’t work out then had implants done in 2015 for all 28 teeth he needed.  This quote appeared in the U.K.: “He appeared on a Sky Arts documentary as he underwent constructive surgery on his gnashers, claiming that childhood fears of the dentist contributed to him not sorting out his pearly whites earlier.”

9.Every Mother’s Son – Come On Down To My Boat

#6 in 1967 during the Summer of Love was this U.S. pop song by Every Mother’s Son from New York.  As opposed to all the acts losing their teeth, this band had a keyboard player who went on to have a long career fixing them – Bruce Milner.  His practice (Transcend Dental) in Woodstock was still going in 2021.

About Dr.Milner - Transcend Dental

10.Atlantic Records

Amazingly there are two Dental connections in the founding of the record label Atlantic.  Herbert Abramson was studying to be a Dentist which is no doubt what his Jewish parents wanted him to do but not what he wanted to do.  He ended up taking a job with National Records in 1944 as a producer.  In 1946 he and Jerry Blaine formed Jubilee Records who were more successful with Jewish comedy records than the R&B he wanted to do.  He left and started a new label the next year with his friend Ahmet Ertegun.  This is the quote about how the new venture came about: “Ahmet and Herb formed Atlantic Records with financial backing from a Turkish Dentist, Dr. Vahdi Sabit.”  The following quote shows what fine folk, we Dentists are: “Their financier/dentist did not put pressure on them for immediate return on his investment, so Herb and Ahmet were free to make decisions based on their own good musical judgment.”  Their first big hit came 2 years later in Stick McGhee’s “Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee” and were a respected company for years with acts like Led Zeppelin and The Rascals.

11.Lee Dorsey – Ya Ya

R&B man Dorsey lived from December 24, 1924 to December 1, 1986.  While later pictures show him with a full set of big white teeth, he is obviously missing what looks like the upper right cuspid (#6).  Since he started out as a boxer, one has to wonder if it was knocked out.  Working in his New Orleans auto repair shop, he sang at night before hitting with “Ya Ya” in 1961 (#7).  Another one missing a tooth in old videos was Tony Williams with the Platters who in the clip for “Only You” is missing #5 (the upper right 2nd Bicuspid).  By the way, the b&w Fontella Bass video of “Rescue Me” where she wears a hat seems to show her with a similarly placed dark spot however it doesn’t appear to be a missing tooth.  Meagan (the R&R Dental Assistant) and I couldn’t figure out if perhaps she had a gold or at least dark upper right lateral incisor (#7).

Fontella Bass - Rescue Me [High Quality] - YouTube

12.Dr. Teeth & The Electric Mayhem – Money

In the old Muppet Show, the house band was lead by a character who was ostensibly modelled after Dr. John (“Gris Gris”).  Dr. Teeth had a very prominent gold tooth for the upper right lateral incisor (#7) which he claimed was made from melting down his gold records.  The Doctor of piano was performed by the late great Jim Henson till his passing in 1990 and has had 2 others doing the honors since (John Kennedy from1991 to 2003 and Bill Barretta from 2005 on).  The rest of the band was mainly Zoot (sax), Janice (guitar), Floyd Pepper (bass) and the incomparable Animal on drums.

Jim Henson - The Muppet Master — Jim Henson and Dr Teeth on the Tonight  Show with...Bobby Hebb – Sunny Lyrics | Genius Lyrics

13.Liam Gallagher (Oasis) – Songbird

Well, here is an interesting one with the Oasis lead singer having his 2 front teeth (#8 & 9) knocked out in December of 2002 while on tour in Munich, Germany.  Seems he got in the middle of a brawl when in a hotel bar a roadie eyed a local lady which didn’t please her guy and a brawl ensued resulting in police being called.  The report is that he fell and knocked out his front teeth, but Liam believes the police pulled out his front teeth while he was passed out as retaliation for him kicking a cop.  Whichever happened, it cancelled their tour at that time.

Liam Gallagher Thinks The German Police Pulled His Teeth Out With Pliers –  2oceansvibe News | South African and international news

14.George Harrison & John Lennon (The Beatles) – Tomorrow Never Knows

Apparently it was George and John’s Dentist friend John Riley who initially dosed them and their wives with the drug LSD in 1965 at a party.  Lennon was furious. “How dare you fucking do this to us?”.  A later quote about the experience: “God, it was just terrifying, but it was fantastic. George’s house seemed to be just like a big submarine… It seemed to float above his wall, which was 18 foot, and I was driving it. I did some drawings at the time, of four faces saying, ‘We all agree with you.’ I was pretty stoned for a month or two.” George seems to have had something done to his teeth as when you look at early pix they show prominent central incisors but retruded laterals on the upper.  That seems to be gone later and he may have gotten crowns to further improve the look (but that is all speculation).  As to John, there is an oddly true story on the internet that he gave a tooth of his to housekeeper Dorothy Jarlett sometime in the ’60s.  The tooth went up for auction in 2011 and the quote goes: “The tooth began a bidding war and eventually sold for $31,200 to a Canadian dentist, who hopes to clone the musician.”  Fat chance.

Canadian dentist hopes to clone John Lennon with rotten molar - New York  Daily News

15.Phil “Fang” Volk (Paul Revere & The Raiders) – Baby, Please Don’t Go

Back in the day it was The Dave Clark 5 and Paul Revere & The Raiders for the young Dentist.  Forget The Beatles and give me those crazy guys in the Revolutionary War costumes, said teenage me.  My concert #2 (after Freddie & The Dreamers in 1965) was at the Denver Coliseum to see the later 1966 version of the band perform (or at least try to over the horrible room’s echo).  This cover of the song made popular by Them was from one of the first albums I ever got thanks to the Columbia Record Club (thanks mom and dad).  It was sung by Phil Volk the bass player who had joined the band out of the University Of Colorado (where he studied music for 2 years) in 1965 and sported the nickname Fang.  He had prominent upper canines hence the nickname with he spelled out on the back of his bass with black tape. Let’s not forget that Paul Revere (Dick)’s namesake was a hero of the Revolutionary era and a silversmith (among other professions).  You may not know, however, that when he was struggling financially in the late 1760s he took up Dentistry.

Phil Volk - Alchetron, The Free Social EncyclopediaNational Museum of Health and Medicine: The Micrograph - A Closer Look at  NMHM

16.Buddy Holly – Maybe Baby

The movie The Buddy Holly Story (1978) was an entertaining work with a whole lot of fiction in it.  One of the goofs was actually almost right.  In the movie Gary Busey playing Buddy gets a front tooth knocked out before going on Ed Sullivan’s TV program so he sticks a white Chicklet in the hole.  Buddy actually did get his front tooth (teeth?) knocked out ostensibly by his drummer but it actually occurred in England.  An early picture of Buddy shows him without his trademark black glasses and with uglier teeth (fluoride stained maybe) and a gap between his smallish upper central incisors.  All his later photos show no gap and much nicer teeth as he apparently had them crowned.

On This Day In Photos: February 3 1959 - Buddy Holly Dies On The Winter  Dance Party Tour - Flashbak | Buddy holly, Buddy, Popular music artistsWhat really happened to Buddy Holly 60 years after the music died - Mirror  Online

Another one with major Dental changes in appearance was David Bowie.

David Bowie's teeth | The London Lingual Orthodontic ClinicDavid Bowie - Hollywood Star Walk - Los Angeles Times

17.Roger Taylor (Queen) – I’m In Love With My Car

Well apparently Mr. Taylor didn’t last terribly long in his pursuit of a career in Dentistry, but since he actually did at one time have such aspirations he has made our list.   In 1967 he did study Dentistry at the London Hospital Medical College, but eventually changed to Biology earning a Bachelor’s Degree.  The quote goes that:  “Friends from dental school said some of the professors seemed to have it in for him as he was a bit sarcastic and stubborn.”  It would be nice to say that their pre-Queen band name Smile came from his Dental experiences, but that likely isn’t the case.  The song “I’m In Love With My Car” was written and sung by drummer Taylor on the 1975 Queen LP A Night at the Opera.

18.Al Jardine (The Beach Boys) – Then I Kissed Her

If we are going to mention an aspiring U.K. Dentist who gave it all up for music then we need to mention the famous American who did the same. Seeing this smallish guy, it is a hard to imagine that he was the fullback to Brian Wilson’s quarterback at Hawthorne High, but that is how they met.  While at college he talked to Brian about forming a band to play folk music.  He ended up playing upright bass on their first record “Surfin'” (1961) which was recorded as The Pendletones and released on Candix as by The Beach Boys.  He quit the group in 1962 to be replaced by David Marks on guitar.  The common story is that Jardine quit to work towards a degree in Dentistry but that story may or may not be true.  True or not, we are going with it (otherwise he wouldn’t make the list, now would he!).  Born Sept. 2, 1942, Jardine was from Lima, Ohio originally.  His best known lead vocal is on the single version of “Help Me Rhonda”.  In the U.K. his lead vocal on “Then I Kissed Her” from the 1965 LP Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!) was a #4 hit. It was a cover of the 1963 Crystals song “Then He Kissed Me” (#6 U.S.).  One Beach Boys Dental moment did occur later.  While it would be nice to say the song “Add Some Music To Your Day” was from the LP Smile or Smiley Smile, we will have to leave what would have been a happy duo of Dentistry to only a single reference from the 1970 LP Sunflower.  The single charted at #64 that year and is mentioned here for the small but critical line.  “You’re sittin’ in a dentist’s chair and they’ve got music for you there to add some music to your day.”

19.Keith Moon (The Who)

Keith Moon was a truly amazing drummer, but he also was maniacal in doing crazy things.  There are so many stories about his antics and Who singer Roger Daltrey indicated in an interview how maddening it was to live with him.  There were all the hotel rooms he trashed (his destruction of hotel toilets and plumbing cost as much as $500,000) and the time he took an elephant tranquilizer and passed out behind his drums shortly into a 1973 Who concert at the Cow Palace.  His 21st birthday was legendary.  It took place in Flint, Michigan while on tour with Herman’s Hermits.  Supposedly he accidently drove a car in to a swimming pool and was drinking so much that he fell and broke his front tooth which had to be removed (and replaced with a bridge one assumes).   His short life lasted from August 23, 1946 till September 7, 1978.  Keith Moon and The Who's epic birthday party... - Album on Imgur

20.Johnny Rotten (The Sex Pistols) – Love Your Teeth

Who would have thought that John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten of The Sex Pistols would have the courage to record a statement admitting that you need to take care of your teeth.  Good for him!  That was actually how he got his nickname and apparently it led to serious health issues.  Wish all my former patients who don’t believe in Dental care would have watched this.

John Lydon, of Sex Pistols and Public Image Ltd. fame, enjoys life far from  the anarchy – Orange County Register

21.Freddie Mercury (Queen) – Killer Queen

You can watch any video with Freddie Mercury in it and the first thing that becomes apparent is that the man had very prominent upper front teeth.  Farrokh Bulsara claimed to have as many as 4 extra teeth which caused his chompers to jut out of his mouth.  The word is that the reason he never had this anomaly rectified is because he was afraid it would change the way he sang.  There is this quote online about it: “he always covered his teeth with his top lip or raised his hand to cover them” (according to a friend of his).  “He was self-conscious about them”.  Supposedly that is why he grew a moustache as was told in this quote: “for Freddie, it was a great cover-up for his teeth, which he hated.”  Mercury died on my birthday in 1991 (Nov. 24) at age 45.

queenturkeyfan24 on Twitter: "The reason Freddie Mercury's teeth were  crooked was because his wisdom teeth came out when he was a child, and  that's why he had 4 extra teeth in his

22.Jimi Hendrix

Your Dentist does not recommend abusing your front teeth this way – stick to dental floss if you want to clean between them (don’t use guitar strings).  Oh, and use a pick to play your guitar. For the full toothful guitar solo go to 1:30 in to the song.  My late pal Chuck Davis tried to convince me Jimi was just about the greatest guitarist ever but I thought he was gimmicky.  This was what I meant, but frankly when he just stuck to playing he really was one of the greatest so I agree with you, Chuck.  He passed way too young on Sept. 18, 1970 at age 27.

23.Fabolous – Into You

Proving that your Dentist is an equal opportunity blogger, here is my one and only rap entry.  For those who don’t wish to listen to more of this than the line “You love my smile, no matter how chipped my tooth is”, it occurs at the 2:33 mark.  Mr. Fab (John David Jackson) apparently did indeed need dental work finally dropping a bundle to get things fixed up including 10 veneers to cover over that chipped upper incisor.  At 39 he had this to say back in 2017:  “I’m getting too old to have a chipped tooth in my mouth.”

Fabolous' Teeth (@FabsTeeth) / Twitter

24.Bon Scott/Angus Young (ACDC)

Your Dentist loves basic 3 chord rock and roll with loud guitars.  ACDC have been one of the most consistent bands in that vein.  Their 2nd lead singer (after a short stint with Dave Evans singing) was Bon Scott who sadly passed in 1980 from his excesses at age 33.  Of course they went on to even bigger heights with singer Brian Johnson, but your blogger still prefers Bon’s vocals by a hair.  Scott apparently broke a good many teeth over the years due to stupidity (note the broken off lateral incisor #7 in this video from 1976 – plus something doesn’t look right with #8 either).  Various sources state: “With his broken teeth and tattoos, Bon Scott looked the part of the hard rock rebel” “While drunk and riding his motorbike, Scott crashed and wound up in intensive care with broken bones and missing teeth.” “His teeth were rotten.  He was always eating Mars Bars.” He apparently lost more teeth in a bar fight and also when attacked by the father of a 16 year old he was having his way with.  Not to be outdone, it also appears that lead guitarist Angus Young was also in sad dental shape pre-fame.  Gene Simmons of Kiss recalled meeting him at that time: “I’ll never forget it he (Angus Young) didn’t have front teeth. I guess at that point they couldn’t afford it…Angus picked up the hot dog without the bun and started biting into it on the sides of his mouth because the two front teeth were missing.”  This picture paints an even worse picture with missing lowers and uppers.

r/ACDC - Angus Young In 1976 During The Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap Tour "Dirty Deeds Down Under" Look At Those Few Teeth He's Missing...

25.Holy Molar – Cavity Search

There are also several band names that pertain to teeth including Teeth (Philadelphia), The Incisors (U.K.), The Molars from Ohio, Molars from Nottingham, the U.S. band English Teeth and finally this awful(ly) good(???) band Holy Molar.  If you make it past the first few seconds of this clip you are brave!  They are classified as a noise rock band and are from San Diego.  In addition to the EP Cavity Search you may also wish to pick up their 2003 album The Whole Tooth And Nothing But The Tooth and the DVD Dentist The Menace.

Super Band – A Forgotten Colorado 60s Rock Band

Super Band left to right – Bob Yeazel, Jimmy Greenspoon, Myron Pollock, Roger Bryant, Ron Morgan

“SUPERBAND! Is a many-faceted Whirlwind of Music.  SUPERBAND! Is something resembling an electric Marvel Comic-Book with Serious Soul, Intent and Sound.  SUPERBAND! Contains: Jim Greenspoon – pianist, Robb Yeazel – guitarist, Roger Bryant – bassist, Myron Pollock – drummer and Ron Morgan – guitarist.”  So said Carol Sterkel in a 1966 press release about the Denver group Super Band.  They recorded a vinyl 45 that year on local label Capricorn (no relation to the later Southern Rock label)  “Acid Indigestion” b/w “I Ain’t Got Nobody” which qualifies as a forgotten sly ode to LSD and the hippy culture. The 2007 Gear Fab CD Psychedelic States: Colorado In The 60s collected some obscure singles by long forgotten late ‘60s Colorado acts including that song.

They often played at the  Exodus, a popular Denver club at 1999 N. Lincoln (now the location of a light rail line and parking lot). Ron Morgan (Alameda High School alum) drifted in and out of the band and at the time these photos where taken there, he was not present.

Perhaps their most important show was opening for The Charlatans and Quicksilver Messenger Service at the hippy club The Family Dog at 1601 W. Evans (Sept. 15, 1967). 

Pollock: “We did mostly original material as Yeazel was a very talented writer.”  While the band may be long forgotten, the interwoven and convoluted story of how the members became involved in the groups Beast, The Electric Prunes, Sugarloaf, Three Dog Night and The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band is where it gets interesting.

The late Bob Markley was a wealthy playboy who back in the ‘60s saw allying himself with a rock and roll band as a way to ‘meet’ young women (a habit that eventually got him in to huge trouble).  He hooked up with the band Laughing Wind (that included Shaun and Danny Harris who moved to California in 1962 from Colorado Springs) changing their name to The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. Their first album Volume One came out in 1966 on the small Fifo label to little notice. Markley next secured the group a recording contract with Reprise where they released their second album, the confusingly titled Part One in February of 1967.

Ron Morgan prior to being in Super Band had been in Denver band The Wild Ones (he is second from the right in this photo)

After (or during) Super Band he took his prodigious guitar talents to California and joined in recording with The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band for Part One.  What is confusing about this is that record came out early in 1967 yet Super Band was still playing dates at least in to September of 1967. Morgan contributed the song “Smell Of Incense” (with dubious co-writing credit by Markley) for their third record, the 1967 LP Vol. 2 (Breaking Through).

Released as a single it didn’t chart, but it was heard by a Texas band Southwest F.O.B. (containing future stars England Dan and John Ford Coley) who did manage to hit in ’68 with a shortened version of the song (#56 on Billboard).

The WCPAEB’s next LP Volume 3: A Child’s Guide to Good and Evil didn’t chart in 1968 but is today considered a classic by fans of obscure psychedelia. 

Moving from band to band seemed to be a habit for Morgan who was lured to play guitar in 1968 with a new group backing a trio of singers calling themselves Three Dog Night.  The keyboard player was Jimmy Greenspoon who had previously been in an early ‘60s band with Michael Lloyd from The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band before moving to Denver in 1966 and joining Super Band.  In this photo, Morgan is at top left and Greenspoon top right.

Morgan only lasted a few months (replaced on guitar by Michael Allsup) before leaving to join The Electric Prunes as the music of Three Dog Night was too structured according to his brother in a later tribute and didn’t have room for much lead guitar playing. (**Note that in Chuck Negron’s autobiography Three Dog Nightmare, however, the reason he gives for Morgan leaving was that he was fired for either stage fright or taking drugs. “It was very weird. We started singing and when it came time for Ron’s guitar solo he forgot to play. But that wasn’t all. At one point I remember turning around and Ron wasn’t even there.”)  Three Dog Night of course became a hugely successful act (“Joy To The World”, “Mama Told Me Not To Come”, etc.).  Greenspoon continued touring with them till 2014 when he was diagnosed with cancer (he passed March 11, 2015 at the age of 67).

The Electric Prunes were a Los Angeles garage rock band that scored in late ‘66/early ‘67 with “I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)” and “Get Me To The World On Time”. 

By their third Reprise label LP (Mass In F Minor), writer/arranger David Axelrod was brought in to revitalize their sound and hopefully pump up sales figures. Axelrod, however, envisioned a complicated record with religious meanings sung in Latin and Greek which likely wasn’t going to sell millions of Electric Prunes LPs to kids.  On this record the Prunes had a hard time doing the music and were augmented by Canadian band The Collectors (who later became Chilliwack). Original singer James Lowe was the only Prune to appear on all the tracks. The song “Kyrie Eleison” was the most notable tune on that LP also appearing on the soundtrack to the movie Easy Rider albeit in a different version then the original on Mass In F Minor.

While it had some small success, this essentially put an end to the original band (till a many decade’s later reunion).  Legendary engineer/producer David Hassinger (The Rolling Stones) owned the name Electric Prunes at this point and to record the follow-up LP he and Axelrod needed a new band.  Manager Lenny Poncher also handled Hardwater, (who Colorado’s The Astronauts had become) and member Rich Fifield suggested that Denver act Climax would fit the bill nicely to become the new Electric Prunes. 

Climax was singer/drummer Richard Whetstone (Thomas Jefferson and Cherry Creek High alum), organist John Herron, guitarist Mark Kincaid and bassist Bob Brandenburg.  Whetstone had previously been in the Denver band Mayfield Spinning Wheel as shown here at The Exodus in Denver.

Regarding Climax, Whetstone said: “We were a club band and with the Hammond B-3 we could play music like Vanilla Fudge.”  Their bassist opted out so Canadian Brett Wade came on board (at the suggestion of The Collectors) for the move to California and the promise of success. 

For the 1968 LP Release Of An Oath (which also had religious overtones), only Whetstone from the band appeared supplying lead vocals over tracks played by the cream of LA session musicians (notably Carol Kaye-bass, Earl Palmer-drums, Don Randi-keys and Howard Roberts-guitar).  Whetstone was not a fan of the concept at the time but sang it.  “Fortunately I could read music from my time in voice choir.”  Listening now, there are elements of what would become progressive rock with the orchestrations and complex arrangements.

While not a success, some of the songs were used by rap artists some 40 years later including Rakim on his 2009 album The Seventh Seal that sampled “Holy Are You” on his song of the same name. As a side note, Whetstone confirmed that he doesn’t get any royalties from the samples as he is only the singer. At least he gets the satisfaction that a new generation of listeners gets to enjoy his work – likely more than did when it first came out. 

The final Reprise studio Electric Prunes LP was Just Good Old Rock and Roll (1969) and saw Whetstone’s vocal and drum work joined by the rest of Climax – Mark Kincaid (guitar) and John Herron (organ) with Brett Wade (bass). 

Two thirds in to recording the album Herron took his Hammond B-3 and walked. He and Rob McLerran (a later 60s member of The Astronauts) recorded a 1971 Uni LP and Boondoggle & Balderdash.

Herron later played sessions for acts like Flo & Eddie plus worked with Rick Vito (Fleetwood Mac) and many others. Tragically he died in a car wreck July 11, 2003 just three days after his 59th birthday. Ron Morgan came in on guitar from his stays with Three Dog Night and The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band to add mind-blowing lead guitar to finish the Prunes’ last Reprise LP.  Following the end of The Electric Prunes, Whetstone and Wade departed for Canada where they formed the group Stallion Thumrock and recorded an album for A&M in 1972. 

Whetstone returned to Colorado entering the world of real estate plus taking up photography. Over the years he has done album design and some musical work for artists like Roy Delaine Moore and Little Joe McLerran. In addition to album reissues, there are two fine box sets of Electric Prunes music, a straight five CD release of all their records titled Original Album Series and a much deeper dive in to them on Then Came The Dawn (Cherry Red Records). Ron Morgan passed away in 1989 at age 44.

Drummer Myron Pollock had bounced around the Denver music scene notably with The Galaxies.

After Super Band he moved for a time to California and played live with The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band and a later version of The Standells (“Dirty Water”) when original drummer/singer Dick Dodd left in 1968.  Pollack felt his drumming had gotten much better.  “I took taekwando to get stronger and it helped my leverage.” When he returned to Colorado later that year, he was asked to join a new outfit to be led by old north Denver friend organist Jerry Corbetta who had played drums in a late version of The Moonrakers, a legendary ’60s Colorado band.

Corbetta had earlier been organist with Denver ’60s band The Brambles.

As kids, Corbetta and Pollock had met at the music section of the pawn shop GI Joes where they bonded over drumming. Pollock, who had been studying to be a graphic designer after graduation from North High, had no clue Corbetta was an accomplished organist till he was asked by Jerry to help him start a new band. They augmented the group with some of the cream of Denver musicians in guitarist Bob Webber (The Moonrakers), and bassist Bob Raymond (The Soul Survivors) who became Chocolate Hair. 

They recorded demos which ended up forming most of their debut LP on Liberty. 

The label was uncomfortable with the name so they became Sugarloaf after the Boulder area mountain.  Pollock, however, left the band in Sept. 1969 before the name change and the original drummer from The Moonrakers Bob MacVittie came on board to record the last track for the album which became the hit single – “Green-Eyed Lady” (#3 in 1970). 

After leaving Sugarloaf, Pollack continued in music with groups like Orange and The Daily Planet. He did a one off singing stint on the psychedelic rarity “(What’s Happening At) The Psychiatrist” for well-known Denver producer Dick (Dik) Darnell. As a lark, for his young daughter, he named the session as by Big Bird & The Steam Shovel. That incredibly rare single was also on the local Capricorn label.

For the second Sugarloaf LP, a new player was added to bring more songwriting to the band in former Super Band guitarist Bob Yeazel.  Spaceship Earth (Jan. 1971) was not as successful as their first LP.  Yeazel supplied the minor chart hit “Tongue In Cheek” (#55).  

A few months later Air Force vet and Colorado musician Bobby Pickett from Maul & The Cutups joined to make them a sextet (and fifth in the band with the name Bob).

He left the following year and played sessions plus ultimately forming the band Detective with ex-Yes keys man Tony Kaye, Steppenwolf guitarist Michael Monarch and singer Michael Des Barres (with Jon Hyde on drums).

Prior to Sugarloaf, Yeazel formed the group Beast with future Barnstorm and Elton John bassist Kenny Passarelli who recorded an LP on Cotillion records (1969).  Kenny then moved on and former Super Band bassist Roger Bryant joined for their second album (1970 on the Evolution label) – also confusingly titled Beast

Yeazel didn’t stick around in Sugarloaf for long and moved around musically. At one point in 1971 he and Bryant recorded music as Diamondhead that was shelved at the time. This music finally did get released on CD (with cuts also by Brother Sun) in 2006 by Gear Fab.

As an aside, the Brother Sun tracks along with Yeazel also included drummer Bob MacVittie and some organ work by Jerry Corbetta on a couple of the tunes. Yeazel passed away in Florida June 9, 2016 at the age of 69. After leaving the Colorado music scene, drummer MacVittie moved to Arkansas and pursued restaurant management. He was replaced by Larry Ferris as Sugarloaf recorded a third album I Got A Song (1973).

Sugarloaf essentially broke up in late 1974 but was resurrected by a hit in “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You” (#9 in 1975) which Corbetta had recorded with mainly session players (though Pollack believes he was the drummer on the hit version).  Raymond and Webber rejoined for a last stab at the big time as Sugarloaf. 

A live album came out many years later as Legends Live In Concert, Volume 15 from a 1975 show at Ebbets Field, a small legendary musical club in Denver’s Brooks Towers at 15th & Curtis. After Raymond and Webber left again, Pollock stuck it out a bit longer helping Corbetta record a self-titled solo album on Warner Brothers. 

Corbetta in the early ’80s was a performer and musical director with Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons.

In the ’90s Jerry led a group called The Classic Rock All-Stars. They were an aggregation of musicians who would perform the hits their former bands had a la Ringo’s All-Stars. Corbetta was joined by Mike Pinera (Blues Image/Iron Butterfly), Pete Rivera (Rare Earth) and Spencer Davis (later replaced by Dennis Noda of Cannibal & The Headhunters).

Pollack went in to sales after his time in music was up. Webber became a respected aerospace engineer till his retirement and has maintained a recording studio as well. It is believed Raymond went cold turkey on music and worked in the telephone industry. Your Rock N Roll Dentist was honored to induct Sugarloaf in to the Colorado Music Hall Of Fame in 2012 at an outstanding Boulder Theater event also including KIMN radio, The Astronauts and Flash Cadillac & The Continental Kids. Corbetta was diagnosed with Pick’s Disease in 2010 and went deeply in to dementia. He passed while in hospice September 16, 2016 a week shy of his 69th birthday. Raymond passed in Colorado February 11, 2016 at the age of 69. Pickett, Pollock and Webber reunited for one summer night in 2022 at the Wild Goose Saloon in Parker, Colorado with help from Denny Flannigan of The Moonrakers on organ (introduced to the raucous crowd by former ’60s KIMN dj Chuck Buell).

This was in celebration of a newly released limited edition Sugarloaf live vinyl record titled 1975

They were joined by Raymond’s guitarist grandson (from the band Shiver) playing his grandfather’s old bass on “Green-Eyed Lady. Freddie Gowdy from Freddie Henchie & The Soulsetters helped out on vocals.

I do not know the ultimate whereabouts of bassist Roger Bryant however it is believed he has passed as well so please feel free to comment. This brings Super Band up to date where we salute these forgotten Colorado music pioneers.

With deep gratitude to Richard Whetstone and Myron Pollock for supplying some of the photos and their friendship.

A Listing Of Some Of The Main Characters (plus a simplified index of their bands):

Roger Bryant – Beast, Super Band, Diamondhead

Jerry Corbetta – The Brambles, The Moonrakers, The Half Doesn’t. Chocolate Hair, Sugarloaf, Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, The Classic Rock All Stars

Bob MacVittie – The Moonrakers, The Vaqueros, Beggar’s Opera Company, The Classics, Sugarloaf, Brother Sun

Ron Morgan – The Wild Ones, Super Band, The Leather Souls, The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, The Electric Prunes, Three Dog Night

Bobby Pickett – Maul & The Cut-ups, Sugarloaf, Detective

Myron Pollock – The Galaxies, Super Band, Big Bird & The Steam Shovel, Chocolate Hair, Orange, The Daily Planet, Sugarloaf

Bob Raymond – The Soul Survivors, The Vaqueros, The Esquires, Beggar’s Opera Company, Chocolate Hair, Sugarloaf

Bob Webber – The Moonrakers, The Vaqueros, Beggar’s Opera Company, The Classics, Chocolate Hair, Sugarloaf

Richard Whetstone – Climax, Mayfield Spinning Wheel, The Electric Prunes, Stallion Thumrock

Bob Yeazel – Super Band, The Leather Souls, Beast, Sugarloaf, Diamondhead, Brother Sun 

Doc Krieger’s 2022 Top 20 Albums & Orphan Songs

As usual there are still some interesting albums/song being released that appeal to old guys like me (though I have to wonder how many people know them or buy them).  Concert-wise there were 3 great shows for us in 2022.  Aerosmith in Las Vegas was darn impressive for a bunch of 70-somethings (they rocked like mad). While I don’t count Trans-Siberian Orchestra as a concert per se (it feels more like a play with choreographed music), that show was outstanding as ever.  The clear winner for me was Skerryvore who to a sadly sparse Colorado crowd put on one of the greatest concerts I have attended since 1965.  Celtic rock with 2 bagpipers/tin whistlers and a fiddle player along with the usual rock instrumentation.  You must go to see them!!

Every year we lose some great musicians and this year included Gary Brooker (Procol Harum), Christine McVie (Fleetwood Mac), Jerry Lee Lewis, Olivia Newton-John and a man who is still stupidly not in the Colorado Music Hall Of Fame – Bill Fries/C.W. McCall (Convoy).  I guess the biggest loss for me was my dear friend Jon Stormy Patterson from The Astronauts.  The whole band is gone but not forgotten so here is their biggest hit before we launch in to 2022:

Yearly disclaimer: As a 70 year old white male I tend to like ’60s type pop/rock music, ’70s progressive and old school guitar blues or rock (sorry, but I’ll never get hiphop or diva pop). I fear I would rather listen to Badfinger than Bad Bunny.  An awful lot of this is conventional old white-guy music, so reader beware, though I do tend to dig deep for my music. Hopefully you will add comments at the end with your 2022 faves. The top 3 albums have all moved in and out of the #1 spot while I was debating this list so really it should read 1a., 1b. and 1c. but since we have to pick a winner for 2022:

Doc Krieger’s Top 20 Albums 2021

1.Jethro Tull – The Zealot Gene

With Martin Barre and his great guitar work ousted from the band, only Ian Anderson knows the difference between a solo album and a Jethro Tull album  Either way, this CD came totally out of the blue for your reviewer as the Anderson solo albums since 2003’s Christmas Album have not moved me and frankly most of the Tull output since the late ’80s.  If Anderson’s voice wasn’t so fragile sounding, this would be the equal of their best albums from the early days.  The songs are interesting, the lyrics which apparently were each inspired by a Biblical passage are intriguing and Anderson’s flute work is outstanding.  While it does taper off a bit near the end, all the songs are at least good and the first 6 some of their best in decades.  “Mrs. Tibbets” takes its name from the mother of the man who flew the plane that dropped the A-bomb on Hiroshima.  “Jacob’s Tales” is the rare song where Anderson trades the flute for a harmonica.  “Shoshana Sleeping” according to Ian is about ‘respectful, worshipful voyerism.’ 

2.The Feeling – Loss-Hope-Love

This is the 6th album by a group totally unknown in the U.S. which is a crime against pop music.  Since 2006 they have charted 9 tunes in the U.K. top 100 including my fave song by them “Love It When You Call” from their debut Twelve Stops & Home.  This new record is their best since that debut and includes great pop tunes like “For The Future, “No One To Blame” and “Love People”.  Since he is gay, singer Dan Gillespie Sells’ falsetto at times gets likened to Freddie Mercury, but Sells doesn’t have his histrionics and has more Beatley influences.

3.Orville Peck – Bronco

Well here is a totally left-field choice for your Dentist.  Apparently Peck is the pseudonym of a heavily-tattooed gay Canadian punk-rock drummer who performs his country music with a fringed mask on to disguise his identity.  Picture “Suspicious Minds” era Elvis singing Marty Robbins story-songs with Duane Eddy on guitar and you get the sound.  Opener “Daytona Sand” is churning country-rock while “The Curse Of The Blackened Eye” makes you want to get on your horse and ride out in to the prairie.  “Outta Time” lyrically does have gay references but they are subtle (‘met a man in Denver’).  There are no bad songs on the record including “C’mon Baby, Cry” (which is Phil Spector gone country) and “Any Turn” which feels like “I’ve Been Everywhere” with its recited verses.  My fave is “Bronco”.

4.Sloan – Steady

Once again we have a band successful in their home country (Canada), but pretty much unknown in the U.S.  Since their 1992 debut through to this their 13th album, they have consistently hit the LP charts up north.  They are one of those rare bands where each member not only writes, but writes well.  They wear their Beatles influences plainly on tracks like “Nice Work If You Can Get It” which sounds like “Daytripper” sideways or the 12-string ballad “I Dream Of Sleep”.  “Dream It All Over Again” ropes me in as all songs are better with handclaps.  

5.Mary Fahl – Can’t Get It Out Of My Head

The album title alludes to the ELO song she does and also the fact that these cover versions are generally all songs you have in your brain from years of listening (if you are old like me).  By far my fave cover here is of the Neil Young After The Gold Rush song “Don’t Let It Bring You Down”.  That highlights not only Mary’s amazing voice, but also the instrumental prowess of Mark Doyle.  Since leaving October Project, this for me is her strongest solo album.  Great covers abound like “Ruby Tuesday”, “Beware Of Darkness” and “Got A Feelin'”, an obscure Mamas & Papas track from their first album that is haunting.

6.Def Leppard – Diamond Star Halos

The title refers to a T Rex lyric and some of the best tracks here are indeed glam rock including “Kick” and “Fire It Up”.  “Take What You Want”, “U Rok Mi” and SOS Emergency” are classic Leppard arena-rock.  Gotta say I’m not in love with the 2 country tracks (“This Guitar”, “Lifeless”) but I do like the closer “From Here To Eternity” which recalls Lennon’s “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”.

7.Judy Collins – Spellbound

Ms. Collins is simply an ageless wonder.  I didn’t expect this 82 year-old to put out one of her best albums in 2022 – and her first with all original compositions.  The songs are autobiographical and mostly wistful such as “When I Was A Girl In Colorado”, “Gilded Rooms” and “Grand Canyon”.  The piano runs on a song like “So Alive” are a highlight.  The most uptempo tune is “Hell On Wheels” about driving back to Boulder (one assumes) from a gig at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park.

8.Dorothy – Gifts From The Holy Ghost

Well here is the third female singer in our top 10, but Dorothy Martin couldn’t be any more different than Mary Fahl and Judy Collins.  She possesses a great blues-rock voice and she, plus her band from L.A., churn out classic ’70s rock riffage.  “Beautiful Life” and “Big Guns” get things cooking right away.  “Hurricane” is my top track.  The video for the track “Rest In Peace” is all leather, studs and black lipstick.

9.Cirkus Prutz – Blues Revolution

Well by now this 70-year old has heard all this, but ‘it’s only rock n roll and I like it’ to steal a phrase.  These guys are from Sweden but sound like Chuck Berry on “It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll”.  They conjure up ZZ Top (“Modern Day Gentlemen”), Led Zep (“Boogie Woogie Man” plus cop the tune to “Black Magic Woman” on “Let’s Join Hands”.

10.Journey – Freedom

Apparently guitarist Neil Schon and keys man Jonathan Cain are now at odds so who knows about the future of Journey, but heck they managed to weather the loss of singer Steve Perry who is replaced here by Arnel Pineda.  This is actually a pretty good if generic album of classic Journey sounds like “Don’t Go” and “The Way We Used To Be”.  I like the fact that several of the songs are pretty hard guitar rockers (“You Got The Best Of Me”, “Let It Rain”).  

11.Julian Lennon – Jude

Unlike his dad, Julian is all moodiness with none of the rockin’ John which isn’t bad – just different.  I admit to being just like every other Beatles fan who hears the familiar Lennon voice and wants another “Strawberry Fields Forever” or whatever – and that is terribly unfair to Julian who is talented but not his dad.  The best tracks feel like late-at-night in the dark music “Save Me”, “Love Won’t Let Me Down” and “Love Never Dies”.  “Every Little Moment” is classic era Julian with my fave being “Lucky Ones”.

12.Men Without Hats – Again, Pt. 2

For some reason, Canadian Ivan Doroschuk’s maddeningly catchy but repetitive songs appeal to your Dentist beginning with “The Safety Dance”.  Since they reformed I have had each of their records on my best of the year lists and this continues that streak.  There are the usual synth-pop confections (“The Love Inside your Heart”, “Heaven” and “All Into Stars”), but there are also ballads this time out (“Where The Wild Go”).  “My Own Advice” feels like “Penny Lane” on synths. 

13.Eddie Vedder – Earthling

For me the weakest part of the music of Pearl Jam has been the vocals of Eddie Vedder so it was a huge surprise how much I liked his new solo album.  “Invincible” sounds like The Call while “Power Of Right” and “Rose Of Jericho” are punky rockers.  Chad and Josh from Red Hot Chili Peppers help out with drums and guitar.  The big names are those of Stevie Wonder (harmonica on “Try”), Ringo Starr (drums on the Pepperesque “Mrs. Mills”) and especially Elton John on the great song “Picture”. 

14.Visions Of Atlantis – Pirates

This symphonic metal band is from Austria and feature both male and female lead singers.  “Master The Hurricane” is 7:18 of operatic metal music.  “Clocks” is about as catchy as their music gets.  “In My World” has some nice flute work.  The album cover is eye-catching.

15.The New Roses – Sweet Poison

Here we have a German band that conjures bands like Cinderella and Motley Crue on their fifth album.  “My Kind Of Crazy”, “Sweet Gloria”, “Warpaint” – either you like the arena guitar riffs or you don’t.  If do like how “The Usual Suspects” has a Bryan Adams rock feel.  

16.Tears For Fears – The Tipping Point

To some degree this reunion LP is all about Roland Orzabal’s pain of losing his wife but that is simplistic as Curt Smith also contributes songs like “Stay” and “Break The Man”.  It appears that “The Tipping Point” is that line between life and death.  That song and “My Demons” feel like classic Tears For Fears while “Master Plan” is psychedelic Beatles.  You can hear the pain in “Please Be Happy”.

17.Ghost – Impera

Swede Tobias Forge’s band’s fifth album finds them as modern metal saviors.  It doesn’t have the prog that made me love Meloria, but it is still good melodic metal.  “Kaisarion” is churning rock and “Griftwood” has a good riff.  “Call Me Little Sunshine” is pure Alice Cooper while “Spillways” is classic Ghost.  “Hunters Moon” is from the Halloween Kills soundtrack.

18.Birth – Born

Somebody should tell these prog-rockers that in this day and age having a band name Birth and an album title Born guarantees that nobody can Google you – just try, you get a bunch of baby links.  The album cover is great and the music is pure ’70s progressive.  Conor Riley (vocals/keys) and Brian Ellis (guitar) from the San Diego group Astra are the leaders here.  “For Yesterday” is the long classic mellotron song.  “Another Time” feels like Caravan.  “Cosmic Tears” is a nice prog instrumental.

19.Liam Gallagher – C’mon You Know

Of the Gallagher brothers, Liam has been the most consistent of the two Oasis leaders.  Well you know there are going to be John Lennon references (‘now they know how many holes it takes to’ from the “Diamond In The Dark” indeed).  “Don’t Go Halfway” is good psychedelic Oasis while I prefer the ballads like “Too Good For Giving Up”.  “Better Days” is blatantly “Tomorrow Never Knows” which is pretty good actually.  “Oh Sweet Children” is a nice latter-day Lennonesque ballad that builds in intensity.

20.Elvis Costello & The Imposters – The Boy Named If 

Elvis’ 32nd album! – yikes.  This one surprised the heck out of me as your blogger hadn’t cared about Elvis for decades.  This harkens back to his early stuff like My Aim Is True which is the Elvis I liked.  The opening track is an in-your-face rocker – “Farewell, OK”.  The farfisa organ on “Magnificent Hurt” conjures the old Elvis as well.  “Penelope Halfpenny”, “The Difference”, “Paint The Red Roses Blue” – all fine songs.  

Top EP 2022

The Heavy Heavy-Life & Life Only

Sunshine 60’s psych/pop with some 70’s Fleetwood Mac also (they apparently love The Mamas & The Papas for instance). The EP has gorgeous harmonies from this male/female duo from the U.K. “Why Don’t You Call?” with the farfisa organ it my fave with #2 being “Miles & Miles”.

Top 20 Orphan Songs 2022-downloads, singles or isolated tracks on so-so albums.

1.Porcupine Tree – Dignity

At this point Steven Wilson is the man when it comes to modern progressive rock music, but I have always preferred his solo or Blackfield material to that of his band Porcupine Tree. I was prepared to ignore his new album Closure/Continuation, but my pal Mr. D played me some excerpts and this track blew me away. I must admit that editing could have made it a better song.  I would have at least eliminated the first 49 seconds and another 1:20 from the middle of quiet sounds. It is good ethereal Pink Floydian music no matter what.

2.Simple Minds – The Walls Came Down

The late Michael Been of The Call (“Let The Day Begin”) wrote this epic for his band’s 1983 album Modern Romans.  It wasn’t a big hit which was a crime, but the important people got it.  Apparently Jim Kerr’s band Simple Minds got it and have used it as the album closer from their new record DIRECTION > of > the > HEART.  Their music has always been bombastic and this is a great cover.  Kerr’s voice doesn’t sound the same as when he sang “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”, but he still sings well.  

3.The Hanging Stars – I Don’t Want To Feel So Bad Anymore

Americana out of Great Britain from the album The Hollow Heart.  They look like Poco and sound like The Byrds on this track.  There are some good songs on the rest of the album but it isn’t up to their last one A New Kind Of Sky which was my #4 album in 2020.

4.Lonely Robot – Starlit Stardust

John Mitchell (It Bites, Arena) has put out 5 Lonely Robot albums and they all have been good (though this one – A Model Life – isn’t up to his first 3 which are essential prog-rock).  Other than Craig Blundell on drums, he plays all the instruments which is quite a feat – check out his searing lead guitar on this song.

5.Richie Furay – Somebody Like You

Richie sounds just like he did back in the old days with Poco on this excellent Keith Urban track from his covers album In the Country.  With production by Val Garay (James Taylor, Kim Carnes, etc.) the sound is real in-your-face.  I am not in love with many of his cover choices (“Walking In Memphis”, “Take Me Home, Country Roads”) and wish he would have written a few new ones himself.  Frankly it is great that he sounds so good still.

6.The Sadies – Stop & Start

Sadly Dallas Good (vocals/guitar) passed away earlier this year, but not before completing work on the album Colder Streams. Psychedelic-Americana from Toronto is The Sadies m.o.  The rest of the album isn’t bad, but this opener is the best track.

7.Fastball – I Only Remember The Good

You have to give Fastball credit for continuing to plug away putting out fine music, but never getting back to “The Way” their hit in 1998.  The Deep End again has some good tunes on it with this old-school country-rock tune the stand-out.  Sorta like mixing The Mavericks with The Beatles of “I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party”.

8.Edenbridge – Savage Land

Boy the album Shangri-La was a tough one to omit from the album list as there were a few songs that were pretty darn good, but much of it is also way too metal for your Dentist so let’s go with this ethereal ballad.  Singer Sabine Edelsbacher and guitarist Arne “Lanvall” Stockhammer front this Austrian symphonic metal band.  This song has almost a “Dog & Butterfly” (Heart) feel for me with some nice flute near the end.

9.Alan Parsons – Don’t Fade Now

The singing of the late Eric Woolfson was part of what made The Alan Parsons Project memorable and since his passing Parsons has tried his hand at vocals (along with using guests).  Honestly Parsons is a producer, not a singer yet his fragile voice fits this ballad well and he wisely uses others to flesh out the chorus.  Most of From The New World didn’t do much for me, but this song stands out.

10.Kula Shaker – Farewell Beautiful Dreamer

Crispian Mills’ U.K. psychedelic band have issued some fine albums but I have to say that 1st Congregational Church of Eternal Love and Free Hugs isn’t one of them.  Too much dopey faux church moments (likely meant as humor) ruin the record plus Mills’ voice doesn’t move me much this time.  That being said, this tune is really charming and you can almost see minstrels leaping about.

11.The Proclaimers – The World That Was

Scottish twins Charlie and Craig Reid will likely always be a one-hit wonder in the U.S with “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” from 1993.  They have continued to issue fine music over the years and while I don’t much like their new album Dentures Out, this Stones-like riff rocker is nifty.

12.5 Seconds Of Summer – Bad Omens

This band is a big success in their native Australia, but have managed a few hits in the U.S. as well.  This pop track is from their fifth LP 5SOS5.

13.Enuff Z’nuff – Hurricane

Since Donnie Vie quit and Chip Z’nuff took over on lead vocals they continue to put out good pop music (though I do miss Vie’s vocals).  From the Chicago area, they continue to put out Beatle tinged power pop.  Their new album Finer That Sin has a couple of good tracks on it with this being the best.

14.John Mellencamp + Bruce Springsteen – Did You Say Such A Thing

Hearing that Mellencamp and Springsteen were collaborating on the album Strictly A One-Eyed Jack whetted your Dentist’s appetite for good rock and roll.  The tracks they do together are the highlights, but there aren’t enough and frankly it is shocking how bad Mellencamp’s voice has gotten.  He sounds like Tom Waits which isn’t a good thing.  The rocker Mellencamp was always my fave (“Hurt So Good”, “R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A.”) and this is really the only song on the album like that with a Stones-like groove.

15.Bryan Adams – I’ve Been Looking For You

Once again here is a case of your blogger buying an album on reputation alone and being terribly disappointed.  Much of his 15th studio album So Happy It Hurts just laid there.  This neo-rockabilly track cooked pretty good however.

16.Stabbing Westward – Cold

From their album Chasing Ghosts, this is the third version of “Cold” they have released and the best.  The song has an evil insistent feel to it.  This Illinois band are considered industrial-metal.

17.Starcrawler – Roadkill

Led by singer Arrow de Wilde, this L.A. band goes punk on this rocker from the album She Said.

18.Stars – To Feel What They Feel

Your blogger was not familiar with Canadian band Stars before From Capelton Hill  which is actually their 9th album (first in 5 years).  “This band has always been us trying to navigate what it means to be inside a life that is going to end,” says vocalist and guitarist Amy Millan.  Wow, they don’t sound very happy do they?

19.The Black Keys – Wild Child

The last Black Keys related album your Dentist liked all the way through was the Dan Auerbach solo album Waiting On A Song (2017).  Dropout Boogie (their 11th) again was uneven, but I did like this lead-off single.

20.Muse – Liberation

U.K. band Muse’s best moments for me evoke Queen at their most bombastic and this song is no exception.  Their new album Will Of The People is way too aggressive generally for me though frankly it came real close to making my album list.  I suspect if I was 17 I would think it was the best record ever recorded, but I’m a 70 year old cynic and have heard it all by now.

Intriguing Instrumentals – Part 2

Floyd Cramer session pianist | The Pop History DigSongs written by Gene Moles | SecondHandSongsVinyl Album - Lady Nelson And The Lords - Picadilly Pickle - Dunhill - USA

Well your Dentist enjoyed doing the 1st set of Intriguing Instrumentals in our October 2022 post so here is a 2nd set.  These are far more obscure than the 1st instro blog post I did.  In today’s world where customer service seems to be a thing of the past, for no additional charge you are getting 20 random fairly unknown (or at least neglected) instrumentals – a style that seems to be sorely lacking from today’s popular music.  Certainly the ’50s and ’60s were rife with instrumentals and we will play some of those, but we might throw in one from later decades while finding songs buried on albums not known to the masses.  By the by, in order to include a video of all songs, your blogger went that extra mile for you the reader/listener and uploaded a bunch of these to youtube (so look for the 10091geo logo for the mark of excellence).  The pictures are of Floyd Cramer, Gene Moles and Lady Nelson.

1.Gene Moles & The Rainbows – Raunchy

In 1957 Bill Justis wrote “Raunchy” which became a #2 hit for him as well as a #4 for Ernie Freeman.  The story goes that being able to play this song is what got George Harrison a place in Lennon & McCartney’s fledgling band The Quarrymen.  This 1963 version is much faster and hits harder than the original.  From Bakersfield, CA, Gene Moles recorded with Nokie Edwards of The Ventures as The Marksmen plus was chief inspector on the line with Mosrite guitars (the brand The Ventures pushed on the back cover of their LPs), so you have to wonder if the drummer was Mel Taylor of that band.  Yay or nay – gotta say that the drumming makes this record.

2.Al Allen – Scarlett O’Hara

Pretty much every version of this song is aces by your Dentist’s estimation.  The U.K. hit in 1963 was by former Shadows members Jet Harris & Tony Meehan who took it to #2 over there.  Lawrence Welk did a nice cover as well of this Jerry Lordan song just squeaking in to the U.S. charts at #89.  The production on this 1964 single is very much like a Phil Spector wall-of-sound.

3.The Ramrocks – Foot Stomping-Part 2

The A-side by The Flares was a vocal version of the same song and became a chart hit in 1961 (#25).  If you flipped the record, you got an organ-driven instro that for my money was better than the hit side.  Production is handled by the great Buck Ram who worked with The Platters, The Coasters and The Drifters to name a few.  Named for him, the Ramrocks were his anonymous backing musicians.  The tune was written by Flares member Aaron Collins.

4.Jan & Dean – Skateboarding (Part 2)

Though they were a vocal duo, Jan & Dean often had some nifty instrumentals on their LPs.  Their 2nd album of 1963 (Ride The Wild Surf ) contained a rocked-up plucked guitar instrumental version of the children’s song we all know as “Frère Jacques”.  For their next album The Little Old Lady From Pasadena, it sounds like they erased the lead guitar off the same backing and instead used an instrument called a hooter to play the main tune.  Click on my June 2020 blog post about The Arcane Instruments Of Rock for more hooter info (it was #12 on the list).  In addition to a harder guitar lead at times, Jan Berry’s skateboard sound affects are also a bit different.  Berry’s records used the same Wrecking Crew musicians as Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys did and frankly his excellent productions get overlooked.

5.Skip & The Hustlers with Tommy Oliver – In The Soup

Skip was Clyde Battin who scored hits with Gary Paxton as Skip & Flip.  In a later version of The Byrds he played bass.  Since the Skip & Flip songs like “It Was I” (1959) were recorded in the same Arizona studio (Ramsey’s Recording) in Phoenix as Duane Eddy’s records, it is interesting how much this resembles the king of twang.  There’s no rebel yells on this ’62 single, but twangy guitar and raunchy sax make this Tommy Oliver composition rock.  If anyone knows who Tommy Oliver was, feel free to leave a comment.

6.Eddie Angel – Take It Off

Eddie Angel of Los Straitjackets fame is one of your Dentist’s musical heroes playing great Ventures-style guitar in that band plus rockabilly in The Planet Rockers and frat rock in The Neanderthals.  In 1993, a year before Los Straitjackets formed, Angel traveled to the legendary Toe Rag Studios in the U.K. and recorded what became Eddie Angel’s Guitar Party.  Several of the songs on this record were redone by the ‘jackets (“Kawanga”, “Itchy Chicken”, etc.).  In 1997, the MuSick Recordings label reissued their U.K.-only LP with bonus tracks including this fine cover of the old Genteels sleezoid ’62 single (Capitol Records).  In addition to all the great Los Straitjackets CDs, you need to check out Angel’s tribute albums to Link Wray and The Beatles too.

7.The Brigadiers – Dixie Brigade

Your blogger is aware that he is no longer allowed to include the word Dixie on anything (what about Cups?), so please excuse the lack of political correctness.  Actually the song could be named anything, but sounds suspiciously like another Duane Eddy “Rebel Rouser” knock-off.  No clue who the band was on this flip to the “Cry Of The Wild Goose” single from 1961.

8.The Guitar Ramblers – Surf Beat

In 1962, Dick Dale released the fat echo-laden surf instrumental “Surf Beat” on his Deltone label (his own composition).  My pal DC and I had many yucks while in college listening to this (while eating Yellow Zingers and drinking Bubble-Up) as I recall from some compilation LP he owned.  Cut to 1963 and a slowed down but still grand version showed up in glorious stereo on the Columbia Special Products label.  The record is some faceless release ‘under the direction of Jack Marshall’ who I have to wonder if he is the same dude who did music for The Munsters.

9.The T-Bones – Wherever You Look, Wherever You Go, Everybody’s Doing It

In Dec. 1965, a group of studio musicians (now known as The Wrecking Crew) recorded their take on the Alka-Seltzer commercial then on TV and called it “No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach’s In)”.  Producer Joe Saraceno (The Ventures, The Marketts, etc.) had the 45 released under an old Liberty Records studio band name The T-Bones and it became a #3 hit in ’66.  As Crew members like Hal Blaine (drums) and Tommy Tedesco (guitar) weren’t going on the road to promote it, a band was assembled to tour.  Those studio cats cut a new single later in ’66 with the above title trying to dupe the hit, but it was a no-go.  The original hit was written by Granville-Sascha-Burland while this song which sounds oddly similar carries an H. B. Barnum credit.  I have seen a promo copy with the handwritten notation ‘Mustang commercial’ on it so presumably Ford Motors might have used this song in ads.

10.The Ventures – Ajoen Ajoen

Well it would be sacrilege to not include a Ventures record somewhere here and this is pretty darn good and likely hardly known by fans.  In 1997, this legendary instrumental combo waxed their 1st album of new material in 15 years (for GNP Crescendo) Wild Again!.  On this cut, Bob Bogle plays lead, Don Wilson rhythm, Gerry McGee bass and Mel Taylor is on the skins.  This cover of the ’63 Willy & His Giants 45 from the Netherlands rocks with almost a crazed ska feel.  The tune is a traditional Dutch West Indies children’s song.

11.The Dials – Monkey Walk

While many instrumentals sound similar to each other, this one seems suspiciously like a clone of “You Can’t Sit Down” by Phil Upchurch and his Combo (1961 – #29 U.S. charts).  On the flip of this 1963 record you could “Monkey Dance” to the sounds of the faceless band The Dials.  Both songs were on the Time Records LP It’s Monkey Time where you could “Monkey Walk”, “Monkey Shout” and “Monkey Mouse” if you liked.

12.Lady Nelson & The Lords – Picadilly Pickle

Actress Portia Nelson was Sister Berthe in the 1965 film The Sound of Music plus she was in the soap All My Children.  Earlier she had been a cabaret singer.  In 1967 she recorded an album of zesty  instrumentals with her fairly basic keyboard work (let’s say she was no Rick Wakeman).  This song was released as a single in December of that year ahead of the LP of the same name which came out in ’68 on the Dunhill label.  Your Dentist seems to recall this tune turning up as background music on some game show back then – or maybe not (comment if you know).  For what it is worth, the HMS Lady Nelson was originally a British sea vessel commissioned in 1799 to survey Australia (which has very little to do with this instrumental).

13.Phil Coulter – Runaway Bunion

Irishman Coulter didn’t come in to his own as a performer till the ’80s when he embraced mellow piano New Age music.  Prior to that he wrote music to Bill Martin’s lyrics and had a long and successful string of U.K. hits starting in 1965.  They wrote “Puppet On A String” (Sandie Shaw), “Congratulations” (Cliff Richard), “My Boy” (Elvis Presley) and several Bay City Rollers hits like “Saturday Night”.  In Jan. 1967 he released this sprightly clone of a Floyd Cramer record using the same slip-note style.   It was on the flip side of “A Good Thing Going” which was performed in the same style as the Sounds Orchestral record “Cast Your Fate To The Wind”.  Don Allen, a DJ on the U.K. pirate broadcast boat Radio Caroline, used “Runaway Bunion” as theme music for his country show.

14.The Nobelmen – Dragon Walk

If you like blastin’ sax with cheesy organ and Fender guitar then this is the rock record for you. Other than the fact that it came out in 1959 on the USA label, was written by Brand Schank and that the band was from Milwaukee, WI, I can’t tell you much more.

15.The University Four – The Anvil Rock

Once again an unknown commodity, this record came out in April of 1963 on the Laurie label.  The flip side was “Off Shore”.

16.The Crossfires – Chunky

Well these guys we know a whole lot more about than the above two records.   Within a a couple years of this slab of frat rock, Howard Kaplan (Kaylan) and Mark Volman would ditch their saxes and start singing pop music and the band would be renamed The Turtles.  According to the liner notes of the Rhino LP Out Of Control, this song led to fans starting a ‘Chunky Club’ and doing obscene dances with spoons and ladles?!  “Happy Together” indeed!

17.Jim Doval & The Gauchos – Pink Elephant

Well this is from 1964 and suddenly there is a group named The Beatles changing the face of rock and roll.  Jim Doval and his band have recorded punchy rock and roll instrumentals, but what to call the A-side?  How about “Beattle Rule” even though the song sounds absolutely nothing like the British Invasion plus they threw in an extra ‘t’!  Gosh, wonder why it didn’t top the charts.  At any rate, the other side was this driving organ take on what is exactly the song “Hot Pastrami” (1963 – The Dartells) without any vocals.   It appears that without any Gauchos, Mr. Doval put out a mellow vocal album of American standards in 2011 – Play It Again.

18.The Scooters – Gaucho

Boy does this ever sound like Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass!  Written by Jerry Wechter and with Almo publishing (the same as A&M records), one has to wonder if Jerry was related to Julius Wechter who wrote “Spanish Flea” and also led The Baja Marimba Band (on A&M like The TJB).  Can’t find any info on Frisky records so once again, any comments are appreciated.  With the TJB sound, one wonders if it came out around 1965 or so.

19.Tom & Jerry – South

From the 1961 Mercury label LP Guitar’s Greatest Hits, this sorta has a Bill Black’s Combo feel with the loping beat and the staccato organ.  Tommy Tomlinson and Jerry Kennedy formed a guitar duo in the early ’60s and released several fine albums of guitar instrumentals.  This tune comes via Benny Moten’s Kansas City Orchestra (a black jazz combo) and was released in 1928 on the Victor label.

20.Floyd Cramer – (You Don’t Have To) Paint Me A Picture

Gary Lewis & The Playboys hit #15 in 1966 with this Roger Tillison, Leon Russell, Snuff Garrett composition.  When pianist Cramer recorded it as an album track for his Here’s What’s Happening record the following year, he was merely covering the hits of the day.  While it isn’t earth-shattering, somehow your Dentist liked the jaunty tune and how it fit with Cramer’s slip-finger style.  His chart heyday was ’60 (“Last Date”) and ’61 (“On The Rebound”).  As a sideman he played for Elvis Presley, Brenda Lee, Roy Orbison and many others.

Intriguing Instrumentals – Part 1

Ron Goodwin And His Orchestra - Murder She Says (Theme From Film ...45cat - Ron Goodwin And His Concert Orchestra - Ron Goodwin ...The Number Ones: Dave “Baby” Cortez's “The Happy Organ - Stereogum45cat - Dave Baby Cortez - The Happy Organ / Piano Shuffle - Clock ...

Your rock n roll Dentist has a love of instrumental music passed on from a father who didn’t care for singers.  Dad loved easy acts like Henry Mancini and Percy Faith with memorable melodies played by strings.  He also loved honky tonk piano (Johnny Maddox) and organ music (E. Power Biggs).  If I had to pick a fave easy instro it would be Ron Goodwin’s theme that was used in all 4 early ’60s Margaret Rutherford Miss Marple movies.  Much to dad’s consternation, however, your Dentist was under the sway of rock and roll and a fave rocker has to be Dave ‘Baby’ Cortez and his “The Happy Organ”.   Just for fun this month we are going to showcase some random instrumental music that has no theme other than you likely have never heard them (or at least these versions).  Certainly the ’50s and ’60s were rife with instrumentals and we will play some of those, but we are also going to move in to later decades to find songs buried on albums and CDs not known to the masses.  Your blogger has a ridiculous collection so hope you find 1 or 2 you enjoy.

1.The Silencers – Peter Gunn Theme

Henry Mancini wrote it, Ray Anthony had the biggest hit version at #8 in ’59, Duane Eddy had the twangiest (#27 in ’60) while The Blues Brothers took it on a “mission from God” in ’80.  Really it would be hard to do a bad version and Pittsburgh’s Silencers didn’t disappoint with their take in 1980.  In the middle eight they snuck in a bit of “The James Bond Theme” for good measure. This gem was tucked in to their otherwise vocal album Rock N Roll Enforcers on the Precision label.

2.The Dave Clark Five – Dum-Dee-Dee-Dum

No other British Invasion band loaded their albums with as many instrumentals as the DC 5 did.  It was hard to pick just one – this song, which feels like Duane Eddy, or “No Stopping” that echoes the “Peter Gunn Theme”.  Another goody was “On The Move” and that was all just from 1 album.  The 1965 Having A Wild Weekend album was one my mom and dad allowed the young me to grab from their Columbia record club order and it was a winner.  The title track rocked like mad and “Catch Us If You Can” was a catchy hit.

3.The Astronauts – El Aguila (The Eagle)

Well I used to grab a burger at the Sink on the Hill in Boulder, with drummer Jim Gallagher who passed in 2021 (along with guitarist Fifield).  He told great stories about his time in the biggest band out of Boulder in the ’60s.  Rich Fifield nails the lead with Bob Demmon and Dennis Lindsey filling in with wet Fenders and Storm Patterson anchoring the bass.  By their 2nd studio album (their 3rd overall) they were moving from surf to cars a la their Hawthorne, CA counterparts The Beach Boys.  Lee Hazelwood had written “Baja”, their first hit, and “El Aguila (The Eagle)” was also from his pen.  It was on their 1963 RCA Victor album Competition Coupe. Tona Byona my late friend.

4.Flash Cadillac & The Continental Kids – Pipeline

I’d be in hot water with bassist Warren ‘Butch’ Knight and manager Scott O’Malley if this wasn’t prominently featured.  This Chantays cover wouldn’t be here, however, if it didn’t deliver the goods.  This showed up on their excellent self-titled 1972 Epic records debut album.  The front cover is a vintage t-shirt (they still sell them sans ‘And The Continental Kids’) while Annette Funicello is credited with the liner notes.  The front-line are all gone – lead guitarist Sam ‘Flash’ McFadin, rhythm guitarist Linn ‘Spike’ Phillips III and keys man Kris ‘Angelo’ Moe.  I’m thinking of starting a petition drive to bring back the last part of their name – FREE THE CONTINENTAL KIDS!

5.The Revillos – Secret Of The Shadow

Short and tasty, this opened their 1980 debut Rev Up LP on the import Dindisc label.  The band had started as The Rezillos but had to change names to get out of their Sire contract.  The LP featured some crazy but interesting vocal rock like “Scuba Boy Bop” and “The Rock-A-Boom”.  Eugene Reynolds, Fay Fife, Hi-Fi Harris and Rocky Rhythm were the band on this.  The dopey 45 “Bongo Brain” (1981) is still a fave for your blogger.

6.Link Wray – Switchblade

When “Rumble” hit radio in 1958, it was a sound nobody had ever heard and was even banned in NY and Boston.  It sounds just as primitive today as when Fred Wray, Jr. poked holes in the speaker of his amp to make it raspier.  It was released on Cadence with his Ray Men making it to #16.  It has been lauded as setting the stage for power-chorded rock.  Wray hung around the fringes for years then staged a comeback as guitarist on Robert Gordon’s first rockabilly albums (Robert Gordon With Link Wray in ’77 and Fresh Fish Special in ’78).  This instrumental was from his 1979 Bullshot record which also had vocals by Link.  A wealth of unreleased material has come out on compilations both before and after his death at age 76 in 2005.

7.Brian Briggs – Spy Vs. Spy

John Holbrook released a couple of rock LPs on Bearsville as Brian Briggs that got little attention.  The first one (Brian Damage 1980) was more New Wave and had this fun instrumental which I assume was named after the Antonio Prohias Mad Magazine comic strip.  Another LP highlight is a rockabilly cover of the old Eddie Cochran song “Nervous Breakdown”.  Holbrook’s name can be found as an engineer and mixer with Bearsville records.  His ’82 LP Combat Zone is good if more conventional rock.

8.Dave Edmunds – Black Bill

The ring-tone on my phone, “I Hear You Knocking”, was a U.K. #1 and U.S. #4 in ’70-71.  On the B-side of the old MAM single is a Dave Edmunds composition that is a clear homage to the records of The Bill Black Combo.  Instead of sax, Dave put in some tasty lead guitar licks but the electric piano and metronomish beat is pure Bill Black.  I believe Dave played all the instruments.

9.Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames – Last Night

This is an exuberant cover of the old Mar-Keys Stax single from 1961 (#3).  Fame plays the organ and Mitch Mitchell (later in The Jimi Hendrix Experience) is the drummer.  It was on the 1966 Sweet Things LP in England and Get Away here.  Fame was more jazzy than your Dentist liked (“Yeh Yeh”), but dang if this song wasn’t a constant turntable spin in my bedroom back in the day.  “The Ballad Of Bonnie & Clyde” was his biggest hit at #7 in 1967.

10.Paul Revere & The Raiders – You Can’t Sit Down

Another popular platter on my old GE stereo was this hot cover by The Raiders of the 1961 Phil Upchurch Combo instro (#29). It was also a #3 hit for The Dovells in 1963 as a vocal.  As the lead-off song on the 1965 record Here They Come!, it showcased what a hot live rock and roll combo they were and how good Mark Lindsay was on sax.

11.The Beachcombers – Mad Goose

You would have had to collect obscure British records to have known this crazed 1963 rocker.  Pat Wayne & The Beachcombers were from Birmingham (in the U.K.) and without Wayne released this as the A-side (“You Can’t Sit Down” was on the flip).  The original was by U.S. group The Sons Of The Piltdown Men.  The original Piltdown Men were Ed Cobb and Lincoln Mayorga, but I can’t tell you why these were Sons Of….  Ed Cobb is given compositional credit (though it sounds like he sort of borrowed the tune to the old folk song “Blue Tail Fly”).  Ed Cobb was a member of The Four Preps and wrote songs like “Tainted Love” and “Dirty Water”.

12.Laika & The Cosmonauts – Skater Dater

These Finnish instrumentalists were around for 21 years starting in 1987.  They took their name from the Soviet mongrel who in 1957 was one of the first animals to orbit the Earth.  Sadly the little doggy didn’t survive as the capsule he was riding in overheated.  Laika & The Cosmonauts put out some spiffy music including this faithful cover of the old Davie Allan & The Arrows fuzz-guitar classic.  This was from the CD The Amazing Colossal Band (1995 – Upstart records).  Their 1992 album Instruments Of Terror is also worth a spin.  This song (then titled “Skaterdater Rock”) was on the soundtrack to the 1965 indie movie Skaterdater about skateboarders (the LP came out on Mira in 1966).

13.The Beach Boys – Let’s Go Trippin’ (live)

The studio version of this Dick Dale cover is on the 1963 Surfin’ U.S.A. album and is frankly pretty wimpy.  When this came out on the album Beach Boys Concert in 1964 it proved that the guys could rock it up pretty good as a live band.  Mike Love even chips in some rudimentary sax here.  It was recorded live at the Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento, California and was the band’s 1st #1 LP on the U.S. charts.  The songs actually come from 2 concerts.

14.Zal Yanovsky – Last Date

Back in the day, after records were no longer current you could find them later as cheap cut-outs.  They would have a cut in the corner of the cover or perhaps a hole punched through it.  That is how your Dentist grabbed this LP by the ex-Lovin’ Spoonful guitarist Zalman Yanovsky.  Alive & Well In Argentina (Buddah 1968) had some good moments but suffered from not having former bandmate John Sebastian writing.   Zally was also a musical schizophrenic doing good straight material and then some head-scratcher comedic tunes.  The original song was a piano hit for Floyd Cramer (#2 1960).  Zal passed 6 days shy of his 58th birthday in his native Ontario, Canada where he owned a restaurant.

15.The Ventures – The Creeper

Own-up time – my pal DC and I stole this tune when we tried to play rock and roll back in the day.  Mr. D really pounded the skins pretty wildly, but so does Mel Taylor on this Ventures original from their Dolton records 1964 LP Walk, Don’t Run, Vol.2.  Mel also redid this on his 1966 In Action Warner Brothers LP as Mel Taylor & The Magics.

16.Shig & Buzz – Fog City

Shigema Komiyama was the drummer with the Jefferson Airplane offshoot Hot Tuna for a time.  Peter Miller was an early Brit rocker in acts like Peter Jay & The Jaywalkers then apparently moved to San Francisco and opened a studio.  The duo recorded as Shig & Buzz and put out the indie CD Double Diamonds in ’95.  Miller has also recorded as Bonney & Buzz with Bill Bonney from another old U.K. band The Fentones.

17.Ronnie Montrose – Town Without Pity

Town Without Pity was a 1961 Kirk Douglas film.  Dimitri Tiompkin wrote the movie’s score and, with lyrical help from Ned Washington, the title track.  The dramatic singer Gene Pitney was a perfect fit for the song and took it to #13 in the charts.  The 1st instrumental release by guitarist Ronnie Montrose of The Edgar Winter Band was Open Fire from 1978.  Here Winter plays piano under Montrose’s screaming guitar.

18.Stereophonic Space Sound Unlimited – The Bossa Nova Squad

From Switzerland, Ernest Maeschi and Karen Diblitz recorded this on their 1997 Plays Lost TV Themes disc.  They have released at least 7 albums of cheesy-great instros.  This track feels like a backwards “Peter Gunn Theme”.

19.Ron Drand Orchestra – The Orbitus

Boy does this sucker ever sound like “Telstar” by The Tornadoes.  Obviously that was the point and I believe the only track by the Ron Drand Orchestra – actually Bruce Brand who has played drums and guitar for many Billy Childish projects.  This was on the really cool 2003 various artists import album Sympathetic Sounds Of Toe-Rag Studios.  It exposed me to many bands who wanted to get a retro sound so recorded at Liam Watson’s Toe-Rag Studios that became famous when The White Stripes worked there.  Watson’s studio is known for analogue recordings using tape and old Vox, Fender, Farisa and Ludwig gear.  The title likely refers to a 1965 comic from The Dalek World and a robot pet in the year 2612 that Capt. Rod Marlow gifted to his son Roger.

20.The Mustangs – Mandschurian Beat

There are so many other great instrumentals that choosing the last one has been tough (look for part 2 next month), but let’s go to Finland for a change of pace. This seems to be from 1986 and the album Must Twang!.  They formed in 1981 as The Scavengers in Orimattila, Finland northeast of Helsinki.  They appear to have given up the ghost in the ’90s.

Let’s Talk – 25 Songs With Spoken Word Parts, Part 2

Well we did 25 songs with spoken word sections in last month’s blog while purposely trying to omit novelty records.  This time around let’s throw a few in for good measure.  As I stated, these are by no means meant to be exhaustive lists (there are tons of these) so feel free to respond with some of your faves.  Frankly there are so many more I wanted to include that we may have to do a 3rd post devoted to this topic.

1.Old Rivers – Walter Brennan

Actor Brennan (July 25, 1894 to September 21, 1974) had a long career in the movies (Red River) and on TV (The Real McCoys).  On this sentimental 1962 Liberty Records hit (#5) he talks about a sodbusting codger named ‘Old Rivers’.  It is told from the perspective of an aging farmer remembering Old Rivers and his mule plus what he taught him about life when he was a boy.  The song was written by Cliff Crofford and produced by Snuff Garrett (Gary Lewis & The Playboys).  

2.Stranded In The Jungle – The Cadets

There were three chart versions of this novelty/rock track – one by The Cadets (#15), another by The Jayhawks (#18) and a #39 for The Gadabouts.  The Cadets track is my pick as it has more power and is more broadly comic with sound effects, etc. (“great googa mooga, let me outta here!”).  The Jayhawks record came out in mid-June of 1956 with the initial waxing and was followed 2 weeks later by The Cadets plus another week after that came the Caucasian version by The Gadabouts.  None of these acts had other chart records.  There have been numerous covers over the years including a pretty faithful version by punk/glam pioneers The New York Dolls in 1974.

3.The Old Payola Roll Blues – Stan Freberg featuring Jesse White

In 1960 this comedic dig at rock and roll by satirist Stan Freberg (with character actor Jesse White as the shady producer) charted at #99 (#40 in the U.K.).  He started recording spoken work comedies for Capitol records in 1951 (“John & Marsha”) and had other hits like the 1953 #1 “St. George and the Dragonet” and “The Yellow Rose Of Texas” (#16 in 1955).  He was no fan of rock and roll and it showed on this song where an apparently non-talented high school kid is made a star with a sloppy record that is being hyped to a disc jockey with the promise of pay if he plays it.  The talented Freberg was on radio and TV plus supplied voices for cartoons and did one of my favorite ads of all-time for Geno’s Pizza Rolls involving The Lone Ranger and Tonto.  He lived from August 7, 1926 to April 7, 2015.

4.They’re Here – Boots Walker

This wasn’t a big hit (#77) in the summer of 1967, but at the time it appealed to your young Dentist more than the big LP of the time – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (whatever happened to that obscure LP, anyway?).  Probably this reflected the influence of my old friend Rick Steele who hipped the young me to really horrible novelty records which I am still indebted to him for (I do love bad records).  On the Rust label, and written by Lou Zerato (his real name), this was Walker’s only Hot 100 hit.  Zerato had co-written a couple of hits in “Beg Borrow & Steal” (The Rare Breed/Ohio Express) and “Hey Jean, Hey Dean” (Dean & Jean). The other Boots Walker singles are pretty good including “Magic Carpet” (surprisingly nice sunshine pop) and “Geraldine” (uptempo pop rock).  In 1973 he released the single “Louie” as by Lou Zerato on Atlantic Records.  

5.Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me) – Reunion

The voice of so many bubblegum hits was Joey Levine.  You heard him on “Run, Run, Run” (The Third Rail), “Yummy Yummy Yummy” (The Ohio Express), “Quick Joey Small” (Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestral Circus) and this 1974 #8 hit.  One wonders how long it took him to record the flawlessly spoken fast list of music stars, etc. (or maybe it was edited – who knows).  The writing credit on the RCA label goes to Norman Dolph, Paul DiFranco and Joey Levine.  There was no Reunion when this was recorded.  Ted Scott and I always thought that a great concert lineup would have been him with Tony Burrows (the voice of Edison Lighthouse, White Plains, The First Class, The Pipkins, etc.) and Ron Dante (The Archies, The Cuff Links).  

6.Did You Boogie (With Your Baby) – Flash Cadillac & The Continental Kids with Wolfman Jack

Well, I guess I have to include the biggest hit from Colorado’s favorite party band (and my friends – thanks guys).  I urge you to read my history of this band birthed in Boulder in the late ’60s – found on my Jan. 2016 post which you should be able to click on when you are done reading this opus.  This was their biggest chart hit at #29 in 1976 on the Private Stock label.  There are versions of this record with and without the spoken bit by Wolfman Jack who they had been in the 1973 movie American Graffiti  with (sorta – as they didn’t appear in the same scenes).  Jack did spoken bits on three hits so check out the other two – “Clap For The Wolfman” (The Guess Who – 1974 #6) and “Hit The Road Jack” (The Stampeders 1976 #40).  Sam ‘Flash’ McFadin, Kris ‘Angelo’ Moe and Linn ‘Spike’ Phillips III passed way too young. Bassist Warren Knight still keeps a version of the band going – good for him.

7.Dead Man’s Curve – Jan & Dean

The quintessential record about teenage death and mayhem has to be this one which every Boomer knows foretold Jan Berry’s own devastating crash there.   At the 1:35 mark, Berry pauses and for 15 seconds or so recounts the horrific events before returning to the song.  Writers were Jan Berry, Roger Christian, Brian Wilson and Artie Kornfeld.  This charted at #8 in the face of the mayhem that was the British Invasion (March of 1964).  The B-side “The New Girl In School” was a charter too at #37.  Berry’s devastating car crash was on April 12, 1966.  Dean Torrence did an admirable job of continuing their legacy and for a time Jan managed to get back in to the act, but he wasn’t the same person and succumbed March 26, 2004, just eight days before his 63rd birthday.  

8.Don’t Blame The Children – Sammy Davis, Jr.

There were a series of records back during the hippy era about who was at fault for the unrest that was gripping the U.S. – the kids or their parents.  You had Victor Lundberg doing “An Open Letter To My Teenage Son” where the dad ends suggesting that if the son burns his draft card then he should burn his birth certificate as he would then be out of the family (yikes!).  That record got to #10 late in 1967, but singer Sammy Davis, Jr. had an unlikely #37 hit 6 months earlier putting the blame on the parents.  Who knows if that is how he felt since he isn’t shown as a writer (he just read it) but this non-LP track hasn’t shown up on many greatest hits compilations.  Writers listed were H.B. Barnum and Ivan Reeve. 

9.Talking Vietnam Pot Luck Blues – Tom Paxton

Folksinger Paxton was born October 31, 1937 in Chicago and eventually found his way to the haven of ’60s folk – Greenwich Village in New York.  I heard this track a few times on more adventuresome FM stations here in Denver when it was released on the 1968 LP Morning Again.  This is the superior studio version so beware that the take on the CD The Best Of Tom Paxton-I Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound is live (an annoying fact I found out after buying it).  A talking blues is rhythmic speech over musical background.  This song is the tale of a G.I. shipped to Vietnam who discovers that everybody is smoking marijuana – even the enemy.  

10.Ringo – Lorne Greene

Canadian Greene is best known as an actor in the TV shows Bonanza (Ben Cartwright) and Battlestar Galactica (Cmdr. Adama).  It likely didn’t hurt this late 1964 #1 with the name “Ringo” that this was the year of The Beatles and Ringo Starr (though it had nothing to do with him).  This mostly spoken track about a Western lawman and his unlikely but ultimately deadly friendship with a gunman was written by Don Robertson and Hal Blair.  One of the early 45s in our collection was the parody “The Ballad of Irving” by Frank Gallop that hit #34 in 1966.  Greene lived from February 12, 1915 to September 11, 1987 and never had another hit of this magnitude.

11.Only You (And You Alone) – Ringo Starr

For a time the most successful solo Beatle was the least likely one in drummer Ringo Starr.  This cover version was the first single pulled from his 1974 Goodnight Vienna record.  It charted at #6 here, 19 years after The Platters’ original hit #5.  It was written by Buck Ram.  John Lennon guided Ringo into doing it and played acoustic guitar while Harry Nilsson did the background vocal.  

12.Along Came Jones – The Coasters

Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote some perfect songs for the serio-comic Coasters including this catchy tune about a villain Salty Sam, sweet Sue and Jones who rescues her.  Hitting #9 in 1959, this was likely inspired by the 1945 Gary Cooper Western film of that same name.  Many of their hits had spoken parts including “Yakety Yak” and “Charlie Brown”.  The bass voice was Will ‘Dub’ Jones who was earlier on “Stranded In The Jungle” by The Cadets.  They are going still with no original members.

13.Convoy – C.W. McCall

Once again I must salute a record with Colorado roots.  William Fries was at one time mayor of the mountain community Ouray.  Fries’ alter ego is McCall with this #1 from 1975 taking the country by storm and even leading to a movie.  This was about the CB radio craze that predated cellphones as a way to communicate.  Fries first came up with the McCall character when he was working for an ad agency.  He had other spoken word hits like “Wolf Creek Pass” and “Old Home Filler-Up an’ Keep On-a-Truckin’ Cafe”.  Though he came out of Omaha, many of his best songs were about Colorado themes like “The Silverton” (a steam train) and “Glenwood Canyon” (a section of road on I-70).  He passed on April Fools day 2022 age 93.

14.Alice’s Restaurant – Arlo Guthrie

At over 18 and a half minutes long, this might be the ultimate spoken word record.  In the fall of 1967 after the summer of love, Woody Guthrie’s son Arlo released his debut LP on Reprise with this track as the centerpiece.  This live comedic recording about dumping garbage and getting arrested ends up being a clever track protesting the draft in to the U.S. Army.  This song inspired a 1969 movie of the same title.  The title refers to Alice Brock’s restaurant The Back Room in Stockbridge, Massachusetts which was out of business by the time the record came out. 

15.Are You Lonesome Tonight – Elvis Presley

Over a minute in the middle of this 1960 #1 hit is simply Elvis speaking.  It was a cover of a 1926 song from the pens of Roy Turk and Lou Handman.  It had been a hit for Charles Hart then later covered by Al Jolson plus became a big hit for The Blue Barron Orchestra again in 1950.  This was the tamer post-Army Elvis who did this at the suggestion of manager Colonel Tom Parker whose wife Marie Mott loved the song.  Elvis lived from January 8, 1935 to August 16, 1977.  

16.Ballad Of Walter Wart (Brrriggitt) – The Thorndyke Pickledish Choir

I must have heard this song on KLZ-FM back in the day or maybe on KMYR.  Either way, the spoken record about a beatnik frog who becomes a prince in the end with a “brrriggitt” problem appealed to me in 1966/67.  It was the creation of radio personality R. O. Smith.  

17.The Look Of Love – ABC

The music of ABC could have just been disposable synth-pop, but the quality of the songs with Trevor Horn’s production on their 1982 debut LP The Lexicon Of Love make it an enduring work.  This song was one of 4 hit singles in the U.K. from that album peaking at #4 there (#18 here).  Singer Martin Fry breaks in to a wistful spoken section at about 2 and a half minutes in. “If you judge a book by the cover, then you judge the look by the lover” still kills me as a line.  A remix was a big disco hit as well.  Listeners should also look for the 2016 The Lexicon Of Love II.

18.Miss You – The Rolling Stones

When you think of the music of The Rolling Stones, spoken word sections don’t jump out, but this huge #1 1978 hit does feature Mick Jagger’s speaking voice at about 1:20 then again at 2:20.  The usual Stones were joined by Ian McLagan (Ron Woods old mate from The Faces) on electronic piano, Mel Collins on sax and a harmonica bit by Sugar Blue.  While Keith Richards is also given writing credit, it is mostly a Jagger composition.  The song was also on the Some Girls album, a huge improvement over the previous record Black & Blue.  

19.The Madison Time – The Ray Bryant Combo

In 1960 you were encouraged to make a big strong line by caller Eddie Morrison on this #30 jazzy hit.  Philadelphia pianist Bryant’s combo recorded this for Columbia.  He was born on Christmas Eve in 1931 and he passed in 2011 on June 2nd.  This record got a 2nd life when used in the movie Hairspray in 1988.  Writing credit was shared by Bryant and Morrison.  The song went along with a short-lived dance craze.

20.Paradise By The Dashboard Light – Meatloaf

Marvin Aday (Meatloaf) pretty much made his career with one album, Bat Out Of Hell in 1977 (not that he didn’t put out some other fine music).  Hitting #39 in 1978, this was the 2nd single from that record (after “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad” – #11).  The female voice is Ellen Foley who was replaced by Karla DeVito in the video since she looked hotter than the pregnant Foley.  The middle section equates a fumbling sexual encounter in a car with a baseball game using a spoken section by Yankees announcer Phil Rizzuto (The Scooter).   It was written by Jim Steinman with production by Todd Rundgren.  He passed away Jan. 20, 2022 aged 74.

22.I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) – Genesis 

Return to 1973 when Genesis was a progressive rock band led by Peter Gabriel on vocals.  They put out interesting albums to be bought mostly by nerdy music-obsessive guys wearing glasses – like me.  Their album that year was Selling England by the Pound which was one of their best.  When released as a single the following year it became a surprise minor U.K. success climbing to #21, their first hit single.  After a growling intro not unlike a lawnmower (which the fellow in the song uses in his job), Gabriel supplies a spoken lead-in.  He reprises that part again just before the 3 minute mark.  They wouldn’t chart singles in the U.S. for 4 more years when Gabriel was gone and the Phil Collins era was in bloom.  

22.Money – The Flying Lizards

Okay, while we are playing weird records we should get out this 45 I bought for some reason back in 1979.  It speaks for itself – trashy instrumentation with barely coherent spoken vocals.  It ain’t The Beatles or Barrett Strong but it has an odd charm.  It hit #5 in the U.K. and even managed #50 here.  The Flying Lizards were a New Wave collective out of the U.K. with vocals on this cut by Deborah Evans-Stickland.  

23.San Franciscan Nights – Eric Burdon & The Animals

By this 1967 hit, The Animals were a very different band than the group that hit with “It’s My Life”, etc..  Other than singer Eric Burdon, the members were all new and so was their music moving from hard edged bluesy-rock to gentler psychedelia.  This song starts with a parody of the intro to the Jack Webb cop show Dragnet over which Burdon does a spoken introduction.  The song hit #9 in the U.S. charts even though we all know that San Francisco nights are anything but warm as opposed to the lyrics.  Writing credit went to the band members Burdon, Briggs, Weider, Jenkins and McCulloch.  Burdon did an even longer spoken bit, by the way, with War on the song “Spill The Wine” (1970).

24.Chestnut Mare – The Byrds

By the 1970 Untitled double album, Roger McGuinn was the only original member left (and even he wasn’t original having changed his name from Jim) but they still had some life as can be seen by this fine story/song.  Writing credit went to McGuinn and Jacques Levy with the idea being they would create a country/rock musical called Gene Tryp, an adaptation of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt.  It was never completed but did yield a few fine tunes including this one.  While only reaching #121 in the U.S., it went to #19 in England.  

25.Hot Rod Lincoln – Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen

Which version of this song to choose was tough.  Choose one of the old ones by Charlie Ryan or Johnny Bond or opt for the cover by Commander Cody (the late George Frayne)?  After choosing Cody, I almost switched to another nifty spoken word track of his in “Two Triple Cheese Side Order Of Fries” (“feel the grease running down your thighs”).  Written by Ryan, this was an answer record to the 1950 country hit “Hot Rod Race” by Arkie Shibley.  In 1960 Ryan took it to #33 while Bond did a bit better at #26.  In 1972 Cody had the bigger hit at #9 as taken from his band’s 1971 debut LP Lost in the Ozone.  The band name came from an old sci-fi movie character Commando Cody and a 1951 film Lost Planet Airmen.

Let’s Talk – 25 Songs With Spoken Word Parts, Part 1

Your Dentist is an ‘old white guy’ which loosely translates to ‘not a fan of rap’.  Gotta believe that the reason I don’t get hip-hop is that the music I enjoy is based on melody while rap is based on beats (when was the last time an instrumental charted?).  Rap relies on rhythmic speech as opposed to singing.  Thinking that most of the music of my past only involved singing, your Dentist started making a list of songs with spoken word sections and was frankly shocked at how many there are (and not just novelty records).  What follows is part 1 with a part 2 next month (don’t worry too much about the order of the songs).  If you have any you would like to add, feel free to comment as there are a ton of these sorts of records – either with short spoken parts or mostly prose.  In that vein, Traffic’s “Hole In My Shoe” would have been an immediate choice for me except it has already been used in two of my other posts.  I was debating either “Daydream Believer” by The Monkees due to a short spoken intro that is usually omitted today but I decided to leave it out as well.  

1.Pressed Rat & Warthog – Cream

You usually don’t think of a song narrated by drummer Ginger Baker when you conjure the music of Cream, but this was actually a pretty great track from an LP I feel was bloated as a double album.  In fairness, the long live jams certainly represented what the group was about in concert but as an example I can’t listen to a several minute drum solo – sorry.  Wheels Of Fire came out in 1968 as the follow-up to the brilliant Disraeli Gears and was a huge let-down for me.  I borrowed it from my pal Mr. D and taped the good bits like “Crossroads”, “White Room” and this bit of psychedelic imagery composed by Baker with music by Mike Taylor.  Looking up Taylor he appears to have drowned the following year in the Thames – a forgotten homeless drug casualty.  What makes this track is the excellent work by producer Felix Pappalardi on trumpet and tonette giving it a wistful baroque feeling.

2.Roll Away The Stone – Mott The Hoople

This was the first song that came to mind for this list with the great spoken bit in the middle about “a rockabilly party on Saturday night”.  The young me had no idea that Ian Hunter took that section nearly verbatim from a 1957 record called “Rockabilly Party” by Hugo & Luigi.  The original H&L 45 starts with that bit, but then the rest of the record can’t live up to the intro sounding more like your parents trying to copy rock and roll.  Mott The Hoople recorded that song twice – once for a single with Mick Ralphs on guitar (just before he left for Bad Company) and then on the LP The Hoople with Ariel Bender (Luther Grosvenor).  The 1974 LP version with female voice by Lynsey de Paul is the one I prefer.

3.Feelin’ Good – The Inmates

The Inmates were one of the coolest bands to emerge as rock and roll overthrew disco in 1979/80.  They combined the ethos of the blues with garage-rock swagger (and kicked tail at the concert I saw them at here in Denver at the old Rainbow on Evans and Monaco).  Bill Hurley’s growling and Peter Gunn’s guitar work sounded spiffy with Vic Maile’s production.  They managed a hit cover with “Dirty Water” (The Standells) then put out some hot albums that mostly flew under the radar.  This song comes from their 2nd LP Shot In The Dark (1980 – Polydor).  I was gonna include the Lovin’ Spoonful track “Let The Boy Rock & Roll” which starts with a pretty similar bit as the 2nd verse here about hearing momma and poppa talkin’.  In that song John Sebastian says, “let that boy rock and roll”.  This same sentiment was in the 1948 John Lee Hooker song “Boogie Chillen” where he says “let that boy boogie woogie”.  The song’s riff has been the whole basis for bands like ZZ Top, frankly.  This song is an amped up version of the old Sun record by Little Junior’s Blue Flames (1953).

4.Fakin’ It – Simon & Garfunkel

This, my fave Simon & Garfunkel song, charted at #23 U.S. in 1967 and eventually was on their 1968 LP Bookends.  At about the 2 minute mark the song breaks down with Paul musing that he could have been a tailor in a previous life.  After that folk singer Beverley Martyn does a short spoken greeting to Mr. Leitch (a tip of the hat to Donovan Leitch).

5.Everybody Needs Somebody To Love – Wilson Pickett

The young me had very white music tastes and then something about the Wicked Pickett broke through the Caucasian sending me to the record store to buy his greatest hits on LP.  This burnin’ track led off side 2 and was in heavy rotation on the old GE hi-fi.  Written by Jerry Wexler, Bert Berns and Solomon Burke it could only make #58 back in 1964 for Burke.  In ’67 Pickett managed to push it up to #29 with an souped-up version.  Pickett cuts the original’s nearly minute long spoken intro in half but does give a shout out to Solomon.

6.Somethin’ Else – Eddie Cochran

One could of course also include his biggest hit “Summertime Blues” but this one is pretty darn hard to ignore with that pounding drum over a chugging bass.  It might have been just a bit too primitive for the kids back in 1959 as it only made it to #58 as his last U.S. hit (# 22 U.K.).  Born  in Minnesota Oct. 3, 1938, he died in a car crash while on tour in England with Gene Vincent who was injured at the same time (April 17, 1960).  Another goodie by him was “C’mon Everybody”.  Dude looked darn sharp and seemed like a rebel while playing fine guitar on his orange Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins hollow-body.

7.Chantilly Lace – The Big Bopper

Jiles Perry Richardson, Jr. was a Texas disc  jockey who is sadly known more for his untimely death in a plane crash on Feb. 3, 1959 along with Ritchie Valens and Buddy Holly.  Its hard to say whether he would have had much of a career in performing, but he did write several hits including “White Lightnin'” (a George Jones hit) and “Running Bear” (Johnny Preston).  His biggest hit as a performer portrayed the male side of a phone call to his girl scheduling a date while spoken over sax-driven rock and roll (he sings the chorus).  It got to #6 in the U.S. charts in 1958.  

8.Mickey – Toni Basil

Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn wrote a string of glitter/glam ’70s singles mostly for the U.K. market such as Suzi Quatro’s “Can the Can”, “Tiger Feet” for Mud and most of the hits for Sweet (including “Little Willy”).  Chinn & Chapman’s song “Kitty” was a 1979 track for the group Racey which was transformed to “Mickey” by Toni Basil in ’81.  It was a worldwide smash including #1 U.S. and Australia (#2 U.K.) .  Basil’s version had a cheerleader type recitation “oh Mickey you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind, hey Mickey” that the original didn’t and it continues to be maddingly catchy.  As a dancer and choreography she worked on Viva Las Vegas and American Graffiti among other films.  At the time aged 39, Basil wore her own Las Vegas High cheerleader outfit in the video.  An inferior fairly faithful cover by somebody named Lolly hit all over again in the U.K. in 1999 at #4.

9.In Held Twas In I – Procol Harum

Why are Procol Harum not in the rock and roll hall of shame er fame?  Oh well – that they (along with The Moody Blues and King Crimson) basically birthed progressive rock is meaningless to the dipstick who founded Rolling Stone and who allegedly controlled who got in to the hall for years.  If I sound bitter, I am and all you need in order to hear their brilliance is to listen to all 17:31 of this opus from the 1968 LP Shine On Brightly.  It contains several spoken work interludes intoned by Gary Brooker, Keith Reid and Matthew Fisher.  The title comes from the first word of each movement.  

10.Daddy Cool/The Girl Can’t Help It – Darts

Your Dentist has always felt drawn to the British scene when it comes to rock and roll.  In the ’70s while the U.S. was stuck with sensitive stuff like James Taylor and Carole King, the Brits were rocking to Slade, Suzy Quatro and Gary Glitter.  In 1977, the 9-piece revival band Darts took this jumpin’ medley to #6 in England while we were wallowing in KC/Andy Gibb disco dreck.  

11.The Ballroom Blitz – The Sweet

As we discussed earlier, Mike Chapman and Nicki Chinn were hit-making songwriters in the ’70s and their output included many of the hits for The Sweet (at least till they decided to write their own).  Chinn and Chapman wrote this song about an actual rowdy 1973 Sweet concert in Scotland.  The song hit #5 in the U.S. (#2 U.K.).  It was sorely tempting to include their stompin’ version of “The Peppermint Twist” which also has a spoken bit so feel free to sample it online.  The Sweet wanted to be more serious rockers which they managed eventually with songs like “Action”.  Only Andy Scott is still alive from their main lineup which included him on guitar with Brian Connolly on lead vocals, Mick Tucker on drums and Steve Priest on bass and spoken sections.

12.Yellow Submarine – The Beatles

As a kid at Broomfield Junior High, your Dentist sparingly bought 45s due to lack of cash.  I deemed this single a good bargain as you got a decent ballad in “Eleanor Rigby” and a fun sing-along song in “Yellow Submarine”.  Paul McCartney has always been good at writing those sort of ditties (and John Lennon admitted he only helped out a bit with the writing along with an uncredited Donovan).  The Beatles obviously had a fun time recording this – especially the sound effects on the middle bit which is when the spoken part enters.  This would give Ringo his only A-side on a single.  In 1966 it reached #1 on most charts except Billboard where it stalled at #2 perhaps due to bans in some markets because of Lennon’s “bigger than Jesus” remarks.  The track appeared on the Revolver LP.  

13.Little Girl – The Syndicate Of Sound

Early rap perhaps in that there is zero singing and a lot of swagger in the grooves of this classic garage rocker.  In early 1966 it charted #8 on the Bell label here in the U.S..  Calling San Jose home, they placed a couple of other pretty good singles in the lower reaches of the chart before disbanding in 1970.  This was written by their late lead singer Don Baskin and bassist Bob Gonzalez.

14.Atlantis – Donovan

In early 1969, paired with “To Susan On The West Coast, Waiting”, this lengthy single hit #7 in the U.S. charts.  Mr. Leitch recorded a modern version with the German act No Angels for the 2001 animated film Atlantis: The Lost Empire and managed to chart in Germany at #5.  The song begins with a spoken section about the mythological lost continent of Atlantis then ends with a sing-along part a la The Beatles’ “Hey Jude”.  Donovan’s next single was with The Jeff Beck Group – “Goo Goo Barabajagal (Love Is Hot)” and also had a spoken section.

15.The “Fish” Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag – Country Joe & The Fish

Thanks to Paul Epstein former owner of Twist & Shout on Colfax in Denver (an independent music store) for reminding me to insert this one.  We will use the intro with the non-threatening F-word from their 1967 2nd LP (I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die) as opposed to the ‘other’ one from Woodstock with the F-word we don’t want to say.  This song protested the Vietnam war in a humorous way with kazoos and calliope.  It was written by Country Joe McDonald.  Their 3rd LP also included a good spoken bit on the song “Rock & Soul Music”.  

16.Departure/Ride My See Saw – The Moody Blues

There are so many great spoken word bits on classic late ’60s/early ’70s Moody Blues records.  It was hard to choose between songs like “Nights In White Satin/Late Lament” and “The Dream/Have You Heard”.  This was the opener to the 1968 In Search of the Lost Chord LP.  Drummer Graeme Edge wrote and performed the spoken bit.  He also wrote the intro to the album closer “The Word/Om”, though Mike Pinder does the narration on that one.  After the spoken intro it gives way to a John Lodge song that charted in the UK. at #42 in 1968.  Their run of LPs from Days of Future Passed (1967) to Seventh Sojourn (1972) are all classics.

17.Let’s Twist Again – Chubby Checker

Ernest Evans aka Chubby Checker was the king of the dance record starting in 1959 and pretty much ending with the coming of The Beatles in 1964.  That plus his 34 chart records apparently doesn’t impress the haul of shame in Cleveland and by now Chubby has been passed over for such deserving (?) rock & roll(?) artists like Laura Nyro, Bill Withers and N.W.A. (don’t get me started).  #8 in 1961, this Kal Mann and Dave Appell penned song kept alive the twist craze he helped start with “The Twist” (a #1 in 1960 then amazingly #1 all over again in 1962 originally by Hank Ballard & the Midnighters).  

18.Working In A Coal Mine – Lee Dorsey

Lee Dorsey certainly didn’t believe this sort of music had to be created by kids as he was 41 when this became a #8 hit in 1966.  Dorsey sang at night after working all day in his auto repair shop.  He hit in 1961 with “Ya Ya” and had sporadic lesser charters till he waxed this Allen Toussaint song in his native New Orleans.  I believe there was a dance to go with this that mimicked shoveling coal (confirmation appreciated!).  Lee passed from emphysema on December 1, 1986 23 days before his 62nd birthday.

19.The Name Game – Shirley Ellis

Shirley sort of talk sings the whole song which ends up being mostly how to play this silly rhyming game.  It became a big craze for us kids back at the tail end of ’64.  It charted at #3 by early 1965 becoming her biggest hit.  She had another talking hit (#8) a few months later in “The Clapping Song (Clap Pat Clap Slap)”.  She wrote this with Lincoln Chase which explains why she used the rare first name Lincoln in “The Name Game” lyrics.  New Yorker Shirley O’Garra passed in 2005 aged 76.  

20.Drive-In – The Beach Boys

While the single version of “Be True To Your School” has some fine cheers by The Honeys, let’s go with this lesser-known but dopey/cool album track.  Coming out of Hawthorne, California, in 1961, their music is the sound of America in the ’60s.  When “Drive-In” was released on their 1964 All Summer Long LP it was credited to Brian Wilson, but after a lawsuit in the ’90s Mike Love had his name added as co-writer (he did do the lead vocals and spoken work parts).  The recording was 9 months old by the time it was released.

21.Moulty – The Barbarians

Hey, if you’ve heard one song spoken/sung by a drummer about how he came to have a hook for a hand you’re heard them all.  Drummer Victor “Moulty” Moulton’s band The Barbarians had the garage hit “Are You A Boy Or Are You A Girl” in 1965 (at least a hit here in Denver where it seems to have gotten played far more than its #55 national chart placement would warrant).  The following year “Moulty” just barely charted at #90 than that was it.  Except that song gained a new audience when Lenny Kaye included it on the double album Nuggets in 1972 which collected a group of cool sadly neglected songs he called ‘punk rock’.  This began a welcome period of likeminded reissues (such as the series known as Pebbles).  It is reported that Moulton was backed by Levon & The Hawks who became The Band up in Woodstock.  Why it took four people to write this (Doug Morris, Barbara Baer, Eliot Greenberg & Robert Schwartz) is a bit of a puzzler, but apparently Moulty and the band weren’t happy when Laurie Records released it.  One has to wonder why he recorded it if he didn’t want it out.  By the way, the only other musician I know of with a hook was J.C. Hooke (Jim Pilster) of The Cryan’ Shames (any others?).  

22.Lookin’ Out – Brian Briggs

John Holbrook was a mixer/engineer on albums for Bearsville (Todd Rundgren) and IBC studios (The Who, Jimi Hendrix).  Under the name Brian Briggs he released two pretty good albums of disparate music.  The first could be called New Wave while the second (Combat Zone – 1982) was harder guitar-based rock (including a cover of “Crosstown Traffic” by Hendrix).  This track comes from the 1980 Brian Damage LP and was written by Holbrook and Bearsville soft-rocker Randy Van Warmer (“Just When I Needed You Most”).  

23.Give Him A Great Big Kiss – The Shangri-Las

Originally two groups of sisters from New York, they benefitted from Shadow Morton’s teenage playlets such as “Leader Of The Pack” and “Remember (Walking In The Sand)”.  Mary Weiss sang the lead part with the Ganser twins (Marge and Mary Ann) plus often her sister Betty doing backing.  “Give Him A Great Big Kiss” which hit #18 in 1964 was typical of their music breaking down in the middle with a spoken word conversation between the girls instead of an instrumental part.  By 1968 they had disbanded but their tough-girl image was seen as inspiration for later rockers like Blondie and The Go-Gos.  

24.Walking – Noir

Georg Kajanus was born in Norway to a charmed background.  He turned to music first with the U.K. folk/rock group Eclection then as lead singer/guitarist with Sailor who scored in the U.K. with “A Glass Of Champagne” (1975) along with other hits.  He and U. K. actor Tim Dry formed Noir with their spoken word/techno mash-up “Walking” used on a ’97 English TV food show (Feast).  

25.You Didn’t Try To Call Me – The Mothers Of Invention

Summer 1966 – my pal Ron Stewart had an older (and decidedly scarier, to this 12 year-old) brother named Doug.  My ears were tuned to what KIMN played in Denver (“Paint It Black”, “Paperback Writer”).  Doug played several tracks for us from this new strange looking debut LP by Frank Zappa’s band.  It sounded like nothing I had ever heard (or anyone else had heard for that matter).  It was a mix of satire and avant-garde weirdness (i.e. “Help, I’m A Rock”).  What we didn’t know was how much members Zappa and Ray Collins (vocals) loved doo-wop music – we just assumed they were making fun of it on tracks like this. The first couple of minutes is a straight ode to his girl not calling.  In the last minute it gets weird with all kinds of clichés about topics like how he thought she was his “teenage queen”. They did a remake on their 4th LP Cruising With Ruben & The Jets.

Gimme Dat Harp Boy – Doc’s 20 Fave Harmonica Men

Hohner Marine Band Harmonica Key Of C - - Walmart.comHohner Blues Harmonica — Mothership Launchpad

Back in Broomfield High when your blogger decided that playing the oboe wasn’t impressing the babes, a new Harmony acoustic guitar became the instrument of choice.  That wasn’t loud enough so a Gibson SG electric guitar with a Vox Buckingham amp was added (sorry mom and dad) and as an afterthought I had to grab a blues harp (which I still have some place in the house).  Why is a harmonica referred to as a harp, anyway?  Well, if you believe the internet here is the history before we get in to my 20 fave harmonica blowers.

Seems a few thousand years ago the Chinese had a bamboo instrument called a Sheng which found its way to Europe in the late 1700s.  The Europeans started making them out of metal and apparently about 1825 a dude named Richter shook things up by coming up with what most know as the harmonica.  It had ten holes with two plates of reeds internally – one for blowing and one for sucking through each hole giving a different tone.  The notes he used are still in use in what is called the diatonic harmonica.  A German clockmaker Matthias Hohner bought out his competitors and by the 1860s was exporting his harmonicas to the U.S. – and his company still is (though the Hohner descendants only own a small portion of the company while the rest is controlled by K.H.S. Musical Instrument Co. Ltd. of Taipei, Taiwan).  The diatonic harmonica is what most blues players use and since it only plays in one key, most folks start with one in the key of C.   There is one called a chromatic harmonica as well which has often 12 to 16 holes and a button on the side to change the air flow allowing the player to access all 12 notes in a chromatic scale.  There are other variations including the bass, the tremolo, the orchestral and the chord (the long one shown in the intro pix).  Okay, apparently it is called a harp because back in Europe there was an outdoor string instrument played by wind called an Aeolian harp.  Some German manufacturers thought that sounded like a cool name to make their instruments sound classier.  In German mundharfe (mouth harp) and alternatively mundharmonika (mouth harmonica) became the name of these things.  If you are looking for an interesting article, you might search for “How A Gang Of Harmonica Geeks Saved The Soul Of The Blues Harp”.

So on to the list of my faves.  Your Dentist prefers nasty blues harp – the dirtier the better.  I am not a big fan of folk style honkers like Neil Young and Dylan so they won’t be on my list – sorry.  Often all it takes is one song to cement their status for me, so this isn’t a list of virtuosos (no John Popper or even Jerry Murad’s Harmonicats – sorry again).

1.Kim Wilson

Born Jan. 6, 1951 in Detroit, he grew up in Goleta (north of Santa Barbara, CA).  He moved to Austin, TX where he teamed up with guitarist Jimmie Vaughan in The Fabulous Thunderbirds who became the house band at the club Antone’s.  Wilson has been the only constant in the band singing the blues and playing nasty harmonica.  They were never huge only charting a few records including “Tuff Enuff” and “Powerful Stuff”, but their early records are all worth checking out.  When Steve Jordan put together the band to record the soundtrack to the story of Chess Records (Cadillac Records – 2008), Wilson was included on blues harp.  He is Numero Uno de la órgano bucal – whether a solo artist or with the Fab T-birds

2.Brian Jones

Lewis Brian Jones was born Feb. 28, 1942 in Cheltenham, England.  It tends to be forgotten that The Rolling Stones was Brian Jones’ band when it first formed having placed an ad in the paper for musicians to create a group – he even named them.  Over time as Jagger-Richards became the writing force of the band and Jones got deeper in to drugs, he lost his influence.  At one time, however, dude could seemingly pick up and play any instrument which made them a far more diverse and interesting band musically than they became after he left.   While Mick eventually grew in to playing the harmonica, it was Brian from their very first record (a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Come On”) who played the mouth organ (and croaked some rare backing vocals).  He was found drowned in his pool July 3, 1969 less than a month after being dismissed from his band.

3.John Lennon

Listening to the early records of The Beatles, John played the harmonica a fair amount.  It was for that reason that Paul McCartney ended up singing “love me do-oo” on the chorus as John had to play the harp and the song was recorded live.  The quote is that allegedly “the instrument being used at this time was one stolen by Lennon from a music shop in Arnhem, the Netherlands, in 1960”.  The story is that he got help in playing from U.S. musician Delbert McClinton (who blew on Bruce Channel’s “Hey Baby”) and also from Harry Pitch (who played on Frank Ifield’s “I Remember You”) when he recorded “Love Me Do”.   “There’s A Place”, “Little Child”, “Thank You Girl”, “From Me To You” and many more had John on mouth organ.  He even played it on “Fool On The Hill” (with George) and as late as 1968 on “Rocky Raccoon”.  John lived from Oct. 9, 1940 till Dec. 8, 1980.

4.Alan Wilson

This track is part of the nearly 20 minute song “Parthenogenesis” from the Canned Heat 1968 double LP Living The Blues.  Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson lived from July 4, 1943 to September 3, 1970 becoming a member of the dreaded club of musicians who died at age 27.  It is not known if he simply od’ed on drugs or committed suicide as he attempted it previously due to depression.  He was a founding member of the California blues/rock band Canned Heat.  While Bob “the Bear” Hite also played, Wilson was the more skillful of the two.  He was lead singer on two of their hits – “On The Road Again” and “Going Up The Country”.

5.Magic Dick

While Richard Salwitz (born in Connecticut May 13, 1945) has contributed to other blues records, it is his harp blowing with The J. Geils Band that made his name (or at least his Magic Dick moniker).  While many only know them as the “Love Stinks”/”Centerfold” band, the first two J. Geils LPs on Atlantic are classic American blues-rock (1970 – The J. Geils Band and 1971 The Morning After).  That second record contains “Whammer Jammer” which is credited to Juke Joint Jimmy which is really the band under a nom de plume.  Dick’s harmonica is the main instrument.  While that take is good, the definitive version is on the 1972 “Live” Full House record which is much tougher sounding.

6.John Mayall

John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers are likely best known for the musicians who passed through than their music (Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Mick Taylor, etc.).  Cheshire born on Nov. 29, 1933, Mayall handled guitar, organ and harmonica plus sang and wrote many of the songs in his 60+ year career.  “Parchment Farm” (1966 – Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton) and “Room To Move” (1969 – The Turning Point) are some of his better known harmonica tracks.

7.Little Walter

Marion Walter Jacobs set the stage for all the blues harmonica players to follow.  Though the actual year of his birth is in debate, he is listed as having been born May 1, 1930 in Louisiana.  It was his use of distorted amplification that set the sound so many white blues men have sought for years.  He played with Muddy Waters and started recording on his own as a harp man (“Juke”) and vocalist (“My Babe”).  He guested on many other records over the years.  He reportedly had a temper that got him in to many scrapes and finally cost him his life Feb. 15, 1968.

8.Lee Brilleaux

It is rare to get a clip of Dr. Feelgood and not have Lee Brilleaux singing lead, but since guitarist Wilko Johnson does the honors here Lee gets to work out on the mouth organ.  This John Lee Hooker cover is from their first record Down By The Jetty (1975).  Brilleaux was born Lee John Collinson and, while originally from South Africa, he was raised in West London.  Dr. Feelgood was formed in the early ’70s as a pub rock band playing a frantic version of R&B.  By the time of his passing in 1994 at the age of 41 (lymphoma), he was the last remaining original member of his group.  They are still going today.  

9.Jimmie Fadden

The 1970 classic LP Uncle Charlie & His Dog Teddy by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is simply loaded with Jimmie Fadden playing some great harp including on this bluesy instrumental he composed (“Uncle Charlie”).  Of the 25 or so members that have come and gone, Fadden is one of the longest serving NGDB’ers having joined in 1966 (only Jeff Hanna has been in slightly longer).  Over the years he has sung plus played drums, harmonica, guitar, washtub bass, autoharp, mandolin and jug.  He was born March 9, 1948 in Long Beach, CA.

10.John Sebastian

As my pal DC stated, the music of The Lovin’ Spoonful must have been confusing to a teenybopper back in the day listening to their albums.  They included the pop hits, but they also did music like “Night Owl Blues” that was as far away from a song like “Summer In The City” as you could get.  Mr. Sebastian was/is a truly fine musician playing guitar, autoharp, Irish harp, keys, etc. – born in New York March 17, 1944.   John actually started out playing blues harp and even guested on “Roadhouse Blues” by The Doors (Morrison Hotel).  He is credited on that song as G. Puglese due to contractual hold-ups.  His dad’s real name was John Sebastian Pugliese and he was a classical harmonicist and composer.

11.Sonny Boy Williamson (II)

Alex or Aleck or Rice Miller or Ford was born Dec. 5 (?), 1912 or 1897, 1899, 1907 or 1909 in Mississippi – confusing isn’t it.  He took the name Sonny Boy Williamson from another blues man so he is often referred to with a II appended to his name.  His first recordings were from 1951 (on Trumpet) then on Checker (1955) so any recordings under the Sonny Boy name before then are by John Lee Williamson.  Recorded at the Crawdaddy Club in Surrey, he waxed a live session in 1963 (released in 1966 as Sonny Boy Williamson & the Yardbirds) with Eric Clapton playing lead guitar.  You can find live records with him backed by The Animals also from 1963.  He supposedly set his room on fire while on tour in the U.K.  trying to cook a rabbit in a coffee pot.  The Who adapted his 1951 song “Eyesight To The Blind” for use in their 1969 rock opera Tommy.  “Bring It On Home” is a Willie Dixon composition that Led Zeppelin adapted for use on their 1969 Led Zeppelin II LP.  He suffered a heart attack at age 52 (maybe) in Arkansas.  

12.Captain Beefheart

Don Van Vliet was a brilliant blues/rock singer and harmonica player who either squandered his talent by moving in to freaky weirdness or released some amazing ahead-of-its-time music depending on your perspective.  As Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band, he came roaring out of the gate in 1966 with a nasty slab of R&B disguised as rock and roll – “Diddy Wah Diddy” (an old Bo Diddley track written with Willie Dixon).  The production by future soft-rock star David Gates (Bread) was perfectly in-your-face.  On his first LP (Safe As Milk 1967) he plays some tasty harp on “Plastic Factory”.  The 1968 Blue Thumb LP Strictly Personal shows the Captain getting a bit weird but he still blows some fine mouth organ on “Ah Feel Like Ahcid” and on the track that gives this post its title – “Gimme Dat Harp Boy” – “gimme that harp boy – ain’t no fat man’s toy”.  When given free rein in the studio by his pal Frank Zappa, he next put out his magnum opus of weirdness – Trout Mask Replica.  He also played harmonica on the Zappa records Zoot Allures and One Size Fits All.  Vliet was  born January 15, 1941 in Glendale, CA and passed December 17, 2010.

13.Keith Relf

You wouldn’t think a severe asthmatic like Relf would become a singer let alone a blower of the harmonica.  In spite of his health he managed to play some tasty harp on songs like “Smokestack Lightning” and “I’m A Man” by his band The Yardbirds.  Of course that band is known for the guitarists Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page.  Born in Surrey on March 22, 1943 he sadly electrocuted himself May 12, 1976 while playing guitar.  While the band is still going with original drummer Jim McCarty, without Relf’s vocals and harmonica they aren’t the same act.  

14.Charlie Musselwhite

Born in Mississippi Jan. 31, 1944, Charlie trekked to Chicago to find work and absorb the blues on the South Side from folks like Muddy Waters and Junior Wells.  He also became a lifelong friend of John Lee Hooker.  While he has released over 20 albums as a solo act, his debut from 1966 is still his best – Stand Back! Here Comes Charley Musselwhite’s Southside Band (yeah, they misspelled his first name).  Over the years he has guested on records by Bonnie Raitt, Tom Waits, Cyndi Lauper, etc.  

15.Slim Harpo

Slim was born James Moore in Louisiana Jan. 11, 1924.  He worked with his brother-in-law Lightnin’ Slim and since there was already a Harmonica Slim, he became Slim Harpo (since he played blues harp – get it?).  He recorded a large number of influential records including “I’m A King Bee”, “Rainin’ In My Heart”, “Tip On In”, “Baby Scratch My Back” and “Shake Your Hips”.  That last song was covered by Dave Edmunds in Love Sculpture and by The Rolling Stones on their Exile On Main Street LP.  The Fabulous Thunderbirds did a nifty version of “Scratch My Back” on their 1979 debut and “Tip On In” on their Butt Rockin’ LP (1981).  He reportedly lead a fairly clean life, but died of a sudden heart attack at age 46.

16.Mick Jagger

After Brian Jones passed, lead singer Mick Jagger became the primary harmonica man for The Rolling Stones.  Check out his work on “Midnight Rambler” (Let It Bleed – 1969) and especially on the great 2016 return to their roots LP Blue & Lonesome (their first album of all covers).  “Just Your Fool” was written by Little Walter.  Mick was born July 26, 1943 in Dartford, England.  

17.Huey Lewis

Born Hugh Anthony Cregg III in New York, July 5, 1950, before The News he learned harmonica at a young age.  The quote about this is: “When Huey Lewis “bummed” around Europe after graduating high school, he took along a harmonica. ‘I played on the side of the roads in North Africa, Spain, Britain. During that year I just played harmonica,’ Lewis said.”  As Hughie Lewis he formed Clover in 1971 in San Fran which was not a commercial success. He guested on harmonica for Thin Lizzy on the song “Baby Drives Me Crazy” from Live And Dangerous (1978).  The following year he played harp on “Born Fighter” for Nick Lowe Labour Of Lust) and Dave Edmunds’s “Bad Is Bad” (Repeat When Necessary).   He also has played harp for Bruce Hornsby, Umphrey’s McGee, Dick Dale and Jimmy Barnes among others.  For The News he plays great harp on tracks like “Workin’ For A Livin'” (Picture This – 1982) and “Whole Lotta Lovin'” (Fore! – 1986).  

18.Jack Bruce

While today Eric Clapton is the most acclaimed of Cream’s members, Ginger Baker (drums) and Jack Bruce (bass, harmonica) could go toe to toe with his guitar prowess back in the ’60s.  On their 1966 debut Fresh Cream, Bruce’s harmonica blends perfectly with Eric’s guitar on the old Muddy Waters track “Rollin’ & Tumblin'”.  He plays another great part on “Traintime” from the live part of Cream’s third LP Wheels Of Fire (1968).  Jack Bruce was born in Scotland May 14, 1943 and passed at age Oct. 25, 2014 from liver disease.  

19.Dennis Gruenling

It is from one album that Dennis makes this list, the fine Nick Moss Band LP The High Cost Of Low Living (2018).  That Alligator Records release was followed by another goodie in Lucky Guy! the next year.  Before that he released seven records leading his own band.  He was born in New Jersey and says he was inspired by the 1990 album Harp Attack which featured players like James Cotton and Junior Wells.  

20.Paul Butterfield

Man it was tough to leave out Tommy Morgan for his great session work with The Wrecking Crew on songs like “Good Vibrations” (The Beach Boys) and “Rainy Days & Mondays” (The Carpenters).  Ditto Stevie Wonder who started out his chart-topping career with the harp song “Fingertips” (1963) and charted with the track “Hey Harmonica Man” (1964).  Let’s end with the guy that brought the blues to so many of us white kids in America – Paul Butterfield.  Fittingly born in Chicago (December 17, 1942), Butter and guitarist Michael Bloomfield got noticed at the Newport Folk Festival in July of 1965.  They took three attempts, but managed to come up with a winner later that year with their debut album The Paul Butterfield Blues Band.  East -West the following year saw the band stretching out from straight blues.  He died of a drug overdose May 4, 1987.

Covering Paul McCartney – Solo & Wings

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Back in Oct. 2018 I posted a tribute to what would have been John Lennon’s 78th birthday via 25 covers of songs from his solo career (check it out if you have time).  It seems only fair to do the same with Sir Paul McCartney in honor of his 80th on June 18, 1942 (that also would have been my dad’s 94th though he was Mancini not McCartney in his tastes).  Paul was from Liverpool with mother Mary and father Jim who led Jim Mac’s Jazz Band in the ’20s.  He met George Harrison on the bus in 1954 then John Lennon July 6, 1957 at St. Peter’s Church Hall in Woolton where John’s band The Quarrymen were playing.  Of course he ended up joining and thus The Beatles were eventually born.  Paul can play anything and might be the best bassist ever (at least in a pop band) bringing a lead guitarist’s sensibility to the instrument.  After The Beatles dissolved, Paul started a solo career in 1970 with his wife Linda and then with his band Wings.  As I said in the John Lennon piece, their post-Beatles music really didn’t live up to what the Fabs did (in my opinion), but there have been some wonderful songs over the past 52 years.  While the music of The Beatles supplied many other artists with hits, Paul’s solo/Wings songs have generated few U.S. hit covers.  Guns N’ Roses’ 1991 cover of “Live and Let Die” is about all that comes to mind, hitting #33 here.  We are only including songs that Macca actually released on his own records, not songs like “Come & Get It” and “Goodbye” that he wrote for others.  The order doesn’t matter a great deal – feel free to comment with you own faves that I missed.

1.The Fizz – Mull Of Kintyre

This song is one of the best that Paul did (with wife Linda and Denny Laine) being the first single to sell over two million copies in the U.K..  Amazingly it was only a 1977 B-side here to the #33 U.S. charter “Girl’s School”.   In the same vein as the earlier pop band ABBA, the U.K. had Bucks Fizz who had two men and two ladies dispensing many hits for the ’80s (though not here in the U.S.).  Two of the original members with new additions have continued as The Fizz and in 2018 released the fun album Christmas With The Fizz with production by Mike Stock.  It managed a #93 chart placement in the U.K. though here in the U.S. probably few have heard of The Fizz (Bucks or otherwise).

2.Def Leppard – Helen Wheels

This Wings single from 1973 hit #10 and was included on the U.S. version of the LP Band On The Run.  The lyrics recount a trip in Paul’s Land Rover (nicknamed Helen Wheels) from his farm in Scotland to London.  Def Leppard were stars of what was termed ‘The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal’ which hit in the ’80s.  Def Leppard’s rockin’ version of “Helen Wheels” is from a tribute album to the songs of Paul McCartney called The Art Of McCartney that was released in 2014 and included stars like Brian Wilson, Heart and Billy Joel.

3.Star Collector – My Brave Face

Vancouver band Star Collector are a power pop act like The Smithereens or Cheap Trick though they haven’t been nearly as successful.  Here they sound like an early ’70s guitar band like Big Star or The Rubinoos as they cover the #25 1989 single written by Paul with Elvis Costello.  It was also on the LP Flowers In The Dirt.  This version is found on the 2001 CD Coming Up: An Indie Tribute to the Music of Paul McCartney on Oglio Records.

4.Brendan Benson & The Well Fed Boys – Let Me Roll It

Both on his own and as a member of The Raconteurs, Brendan Benson has been putting out fine guitar-based pop music since 1996.  This track was found on the EP Metarie in 2003.  He extended the original a bit and toughened it up while adding a harmonica break in the middle.  When the Wings version came out it sounded like Paul was trying to copy the sparse sound of an early Plastic Ono Band Lennon song like “Cold Turkey”.  Interestingly, the title comes from the last line of the opening verse of George Harrison’s song “I’d Have You Any Time” (All Things Must Pass).  This was the B-side to the Wings single “Jet” in 1974 and was also on the Band On The Run LP.

5.Myracle Brah – Too Many People

Andy Bopp’s band really amp the guitars up on this Ram track (1971) making it sound of a piece with “Helter Skelter”.  Myracle Brah included this cover on their 2002 CD Bleeder.  Their music was Badfinger ’70s in the era of hip hop (read: no commercial potential).  The original was also the B-side to the Paul & Linda #1 single “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey”.  There are several digs at John Lennon in the lyrics which inspired John to attack back with “How Do You Sleep” on his next LP Imagine.

6.Joe Cocker – Maybe I’m Amazed

“Maybe I’m Amazed” is found on Paul’s first solo album McCartney and while it wasn’t a single at the time, it became a #10 hit in a live version from the 1976 album Wings Over America.  This is by far the best song that Paul has released since his days as a Beatle.  Joe Cocker always could cover the Fabs (“With A Little Help From My Friends”, “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window”) and did an excellent job on this song from his 2004 record Heart & Soul.  Colorado transplant Cocker lived from May 20, 1944 till December 22, 2014 and is buried in Crawford, CO.

7.John Denver – Junk

Another late lamented resident of the Colorado mountains was Henry John Deutschendorf Jr. who took the last name of his adopted state’s capitol as his own.  John was born in Roswell, New Mexico December 31, 1943  and crashed his plane off the coast of Pacific Grove, California October 12, 1997.  This McCartney cover was from Denver’s fourth solo album (Poems, Prayers & Promises – 1971) which was his breakthrough record.  “Junk” was found on Paul’s debut solo record and was written in India along with all his other material for The Beatles (aka The White Album) – 1968.  The lyrics to this gentle ballad are about things found in a junkyard.

8.Duane Eddy – Rockestra Theme

Mr. Twangy Guitar Duane Eddy adds his touch to this instrumental track from his self-titled album in 1987.  The song’s author Paul McCartney contributes bass and backing vocals as well as production.  Duane’s hit-making era was from 1958 till 1963 during which he packed in a lot of chart success that oldies radio mostly chooses to ignore today.  The original was from the last Wings LP Back To The Egg (1979).  That recording was an all-star affair including David Gilmour, Hank Marvin and Pete Townshend on guitars with others like John Bonham and John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin in the rhythm section.

9.Johnny Rivers – Every Night

This song was yet another from Paul’s debut McCartney album and would have made a nifty single.  The closest anyone came to having a U.S. hit with the song was Billy Joe Royal who took it to #113 in 1970 while Phoebe Snow hit in Australia with it in ’79.  John Ramistella released eleven flop singles as Johnny Rivers from 1957 till 1964 when his twelfth attempt became a #2 U.S. hit – “Memphis”.  From then on he had a string of hits till 1978.  Late in his career he released some fine albums like Reinvention Highway (2004) that included this cover.

10.Hilary Duff – Wonderful Christmastime

Don’t laugh but the Disney teen star of Lizzie McGuire actually had some credible moments on her debut, a Christmas album in 2002 – Santa Claus Lane.  It wasn’t all great, but her version of a fairly weak McCartney attempt at a Christmas standard really improves on the original by making it a guitar rocker.  The original had dated sounding synths and felt repetitive.  It was recorded during his 1979 sessions for McCartney II and just like on that album, he handled all the instruments.   While it didn’t hit Billboard at the time, in 2021 it made it to #28 on the U.S. charts.

11.Michael Carpenter – Getting Closer

Here is another cut from the 2001 CD Coming Up: An Indie Tribute to the Music of Paul McCartney.  The original track was the first single taken from the last Wings album Back To The Egg (1979).  It peaked in the U.S. at #20 and is a nice driving rocker from a fairly weak album.  Michael Carpenter is an Australian indie-pop artist who has released some great under-the-radar albums over the years including Baby (1999) and SOOP #1 (2001).  

12.Paul Rodgers – Let Me Roll It

Paul Rodgers is one of rock and roll’s best singers having sung in Free (“All Right Now”) and Bad Company (“Can’t Get Enough”) among others.  Rodgers was born Dec. 17, 1949 in the U.K. and actually was the bassist rather than the singer in his first band.  This cut can be found on the 2014 CD The Art Of McCartney.  The album was the idea of producer Ralph Sall who apparently stewed on the idea for eleven years after working with McCartney in 2003.  A large portion of the tracks feature backing from Macca’s band – Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray on guitars, Paul “Wix” Wickens on keys and Abe Laboriel, Jr. on drums.  Mr. McCartney denies directly borrowing the sound of this song from John Lennon which seems rather disingenuous. 

13.Foo Fighters – Band On The Run

While this track starts out sounding pretty similar to the old Wings #1 hit, when the guitars really kick in it takes on a lot more power.  Dave Grohl’s band recorded this for the 2007 40th anniversary tribute CD to BBC’s Radio 1 – Radio 1: Established 1967.  The 40 acts were given a year that they had to pick a song from to cover.  Foo Fighters had 1974, a year in which the album this song came from and dominated the U.S. charts.  McCartney said that the line “if we ever get out of here” was from a comment made by George Harrison at one of the boring Apple business meetings attended by the Fabs.  Foo Fighters is the band that drummer Grohl formed in 1994 after Nirvana ended with Kurt Cobain’s death (Dave plays guitar now).  

14.Sloan – Waterfalls

McCartney II (1980) is an album your Dentist doesn’t much like with “Waterfalls” being one of the few good songs on it.   That song has the distinction of being Paul’s first single release to not make the U.S. Hot 100, peaking at #106.  It is a nice ballad, but not really single material.  For the tribute album Listen To What The Man Said, the Canadian band Sloan rocked the song up considerably.  That CD is a 2001 Oglio label tribute album that was the companion to Coming Up.  The artists on this CD are supposedly more popular than indie (though they are all still pretty much cult acts).  Sloan formed in Toronto in 1991 and are still going with the same members.  They have never put out a bad record, but guitar-based pop music is not the big trend in the U.S. of course so don’t look for any hits.

15.The Shazam – Helen Wheels

Let’s grab another track from Coming Up, this time by The Shazam.  They are a consistently good power pop band from Nashville led by Hans Rotenberry .  Check out their 2009 album Meteor.   The version here of “Helen Wheels” is more faithful to the Wings original which rocks pretty good as well.  The Wings track line-up was Paul McCartney on lead vocals, guitar, bass and drums with Denny Laine and Linda McCartney on backing vocals and Denny on guitar.

16.Ashley MacIsaac (with Dallas Smith) – Mull Of Kintyre

MacIsaac gave his version of the song an Americana feel by taking out the bagpipes and substituting his fiddle while adding mandolin.  Everything about it feels rustic like something played in a Tennessee barn.  MacIsaac was born Feb. 24, 1975 in Nova Scotia.  This track comes from his 2003 self-titled album.  The vocals are by Dallas Smith who was the lead singer of the Canadian band Default.

17.Jeff Lynne – Junk

If you wanted to pick another artist who could have been a Fab it would have to be Jeff Lynne who steered ELO so closely to them that John Lennon once called them “sons of The Beatles”.  Here he covers the gentle ballad from 1970’s McCartney for The Art Of McCartney tribute record.  Lynne was born Dec. 30, 1947 in Birmingham, England.  When he joined The Move, he and Roy Wood came up with the idea of a band based on a Beatles song like “I Am The Walrus” which included cellos – The Electric Light Orchestra.

18.Lee Ann Womack – Let ‘Em In

You could fill an entire music collection with nothing but tribute albums to the music of The Beatles it seems.  This track is found on the 2013 album Let Us in Americana: The Music of Paul McCartney which had rustic versions of Beatles, Wings and solo tracks by Paul.  Born Aug. 19, 1966 in Jacksonville, Texas, Womack raised kids before finding country success in 1997.  “Let ‘Em In” is the only good tune from the 1976 album Wings At The Speed Of Sound which contained the awful “Silly Love Songs” (sorry to offend you if you liked that #1 hit).   In an attempt to be democratic, Paul had everyone in the band compose and sing at least one song making it a pretty dismal album.  The lyrics are an invitation to let folks in to his house (and his life one assumes) including many interesting famous folk (listen to the chorus and try to figure it out).  

19.World Party – Man We Was Lonely

World Party has been lead by Karl Wallinger since 1986 after leaving The Waterboys.  His band’s music has always been influenced by The Beatles.  This is another track from the 2001 CD Listen To What The Man Said: Popular Artists Pay Tribute To The Music Of Paul McCartney on Oglio.  Your Dentist admits to being underwhelmed by Paul’s first solo album when it was released in 1970 feeling like it was “Maybe I’m Amazed” and a bunch of filler.  Now, it sounds much better if still underproduced with this ballad (“Man We Was Lonely”) ending side one.  

20.The Shins – Wonderful Christmastime

It seems like this is one of the few Paul songs that cover versions are often better than the original.  With a Beach Boys ’60s organ replacing the synths, this version rocks things up just a bit.  Started in New Mexico but now from Portland, The Shins are still going being lead by James Mercer with a changing cast of members.  This version is found on the 2012 Christmas compilation Holidays Rule on Hear Music (there was a volume two as well).  

21.The Andersons – Temporary Secretary

Kudos to The Andersons for making a fairly irritating song from McCartney II in to a pretty good guitar cruncher with an interesting bass part.  In 1980 Paul’s original was released as a limited 12″ single too.  The lyrics talk about hiring a temp – not some of Paul’s deeper work.  The Andersons power pop band came together in 1995.  They supposedly all share the last name Anderson a la The Ramones though there is actually only one in the band – Derrick Anderson.  Robbie Rist who is well-known to pop fans is also a member.

22.Escala – Live & Let Die

There have been a number of acts where female string players with classical training band together to play pop music while trying to look hot (apparently sex still sells) .  Here is another one.  Their bio says they came to fame from one of those seemingly endless reality shows – Britain’s Got Talent.  This song is found on their 2009 U.K. debut.  Paul’s original was a #2 hit in 1973 and was the theme song to the James Bond movie of that title.

23.The Wynners – Mrs. Vandebilt

From Hong Kong, this band has been going since 1973 with occasional reunions.  Their style was to cover Western music in English giving an Asian face to our pop hits.  “Mrs. Vandebilt” was an album track from Band On The Run that was released as a single in some parts of the world (but not here or in the U.K.).  The opening line apparently is an adaptation of a phrase that Paul heard from a popular U.K. performer Charlie Chester.  Mrs. Vandebilt was a random person of authority (by the way, the rich American family with a similar name had an ‘r’ in their name – Vanderbilt).   

24.The Faces – Maybe I’m Amazed

When this first came out on the second Faces album with Rod Stewart (Long Player 1971), I would have put this higher on the list.  Today it sounds kind of anemic with very little bottom compared to modern recordings.  Still, it is a good live take on an excellent song.  Bassist Ronnie Lane sings the first verse then Rod takes over with his much stronger voice.  When my pal Dan and I saw these guys in concert here in Denver, they were one outstanding band with this being a highlight so not sure why it sounds so top-heavy on record.  There is a studio take by these guys as well that came out as a rare single.

25.Matthew Sweet – Every Night

In contention for this last pick was Richie Sambora – “Let Me Roll It”, The Finn Brothers – “Too Many People” and Rodney Crowell “Every Night”; all fine tracks.  Let’s instead go with one of the most well-known pop artists Matthew Sweet and his faithful cover of “Every Night” again from 1970’s McCartney.  Apparently The Beatles did some work on this song in Jan. 1969 but never got to the point of recording a take.  Sweet’s version appeared again on Listen To What The Man Said.  Matthew was born Oct. 6, 1964 and after graduating from high school in Lincoln, NE moved to Athens, Georgia (the home of REM) to attend college.  He is likely best known for his 1991 hit “Girlfriend” though his 1995 album 100% Fun is even better.  Over the years he has released some goodies including a series of covers albums with Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles.