Start Me Up – Covering The Rolling Stones

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On December 18, 1932 my late mom was born.  Looking online, other folks born Dec. 18th were Steven Spielberg, DMX, Joseph Stalin, Brad Pitt, Christina Aguilera and the riff-king – Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones.  December 2020 Keith turned 77 (and Mick Taylor turns 71 Jan. 17th) so this seems like a good month to salute cover versions of songs written by Keith and Mick Jagger.  For a group that has been going since 1962, The Stones have generated far fewer covers than the songs of The Beatles, but there are still some goodies.

1.Humble Pie – Honky Tonk Women

Reportedly the late Steve Marriott could be difficult due to his issues with drugs and alcohol, but man could that dude sing rock and roll.  My pal DC and I caught Marriott’s band Humble Pie a few times in concert in Denver and they rocked like mad. In 1973 they released the double LP Eat It with one side being live.  One of the live songs that captured the raw ear-numbing Pie was their cover of the 1969 Stones single “Honky Tonk Women”.  The original #1 single apparently started life as a country song, but thankfully Keith rocked up the guitar riff and turned it in to a classic.  It was their first single with new guitarist Mick Taylor and was released in the U.K. the day after original guitarist Brian Jones had died, a member of the ‘dead-at-27 club’.  Sadly Marriott died in a housefire after falling asleep with a lit cigarette in 1991 (age 44).

2.Johnny Winter And – Jumpin’ Jack Flash

The late Johnny Winter (1944 – 2014) was known mostly for his blues guitar work, but he could rock as well.  With Rick Derringer (The McCoys), he put together a short-lived rock and roll band called Johnny Winter And which released the popular Live album in March of 1971.  The #1 1968 Stones single was the last of the Brian Jones era.

3.Ellen Foley – Stupid Girl

As the B-side to “Paint It Black” (#1 1966), this was a serviceable track bogged down by a cheesy organ played by 6th Stone Ian Stewart.  The misogynistic lyrics take on a totally different feel when sung by a female (Ellen Foley on the Night Out LP-’79).  Ian Hunter’s band (especially guitarist Mick Ronson) really amp up the rawness making this way better then the original.  Foley was mainly known as a backing singer throughout her career – Blue Oyster Cult, Ian Hunter, Joe Jackson and The Clash to name a few.  Her best-known work was with Meatloaf on Bat Out Of Hell and despite Karla DeVito miming to her vocals in the video, it was Foley on “Paradise By The Dashboard Light”.

4.The Searchers – Take It Or Leave It

Before their April 1966 Aftermath LP The Stones were known more for their cover versions, but with this album Keith and Mick became a song-writing force.  The U.K release included “Take It Or Leave It” but apparently their U.S. company (London) decided to omit it before finally including it on the 1967 odds and ends compilation Flowers.  The Searchers released their cover of this song around the same time as the U.K. Stones LP and was a 45-only release till appearing on compilations.  The song didn’t chart in the U.S., but did hit #31 in England and emphasized the baroque feel of the original.

5.The Moonrakers – I’m All Right

The only act to contest The Astronauts for Colorado-band supremacy during the mid-60s was The Moonrakers.  Denny Flannigan turns in a suitably snotty vocal over the fuzzed-out guitars for this late ’65 Tower records single.  While it didn’t chart nationally, here in Denver on 950 KIMN-AM it climbed as high as #2.  The first record album your Dentist ever bought was The Rolling Stones LP Out Of Our Heads which here in the U.S. included “I’m All Right” taken from a live U.K. EP.  As can be seen from the label, the writing credit is given to the name Nanker Phelge which is a pseudonym used by The Rolling Stones, but that is really not correct.  I’m cheating and including this as a Stones cover, but really its a Bo Diddley song that first appeared on his 1963 live album Bo Diddley’s Beach Party.

6.David Bowie – Let’s Spend The Night Together

Guitarist Mick Ronson gets his 2nd inclusion on this list playing this time in David Bowie’s Spiders From Mars backing band.  Following Bowie’s break-through with the Ziggy Stardust… LP, Aladdin Sane (or A Lad Insane) was a big April 1973 hit (#17 U.S., #1 U.K.).  Bowie makes the song harder and faster.  Near the end David lets you know what the song is about adding a very sexual section before the hard rock comes back in.  The Rolling Stones released this as a single in Jan. 1967 as the flip to “Ruby Tuesday”.  While both sides were successful charters in the U.K., American radio was scared of the lyrical content and mostly played the other side of the record which meant “Let’s Spend The Night Together” could only hit #55.  Ed Sullivan wouldn’t let them perform this on his TV show till they changed the lyric to “Let’s spend some time together” which they did while looking disdainful.

7.Marianne Faithfull – As Tears Go By

This was always a fave song to sing and play on acoustic guitar back when your Dentist did such things.  While her eventual boyfriend Jagger didn’t get around to recording this with The Stones till 1965, Faithfull’s first single (U.S. #22) came out a year before theirs when she was 17.  This was one of the very first songs composed by Jagger and Richards and did chart for The Rolling Stones in the U.S. for them at #9 as 1965 gave way to ’66.  Faithfull’s version is more fleshed out with a prominent part played by the deeper oboe relative, the cor anglais while The Stones did it mostly on acoustic guitar with string quartet.

8.Merry Clayton – Gimme Shelter

The December 1969 Let It Bleed album still stands as one of the best by The Stones.  The opening track “Gimme Shelter” (“Gimmie Shelter” on the LP) is a classic.  The moody original builds adding a female vocal (Mary Clayton on the record) that screams the lyrics “rape, murder – it’s just a shot away – it’s just a shot away” which really gives the performance an edge.  Called late at night to sing, Clayton was pregnant and after the session had a miscarriage that has been ascribed by some to her intense performance.  NOLA born Clayton started recording as a 14 year old.  In 1970, Clayton recorded this song making it the title track of her album and charting the single at #73.  In 1973 she did vocal backing on Ringo’s “Oh My My”.  In 2014 my friends Ted and Nancy took me to see the excellent film about backing vocalists titled 20 Feel From Stardom in which Clayton is featured.  She reportedly lost both her legs the following year in a car crash.

9.Flamin’ Groovies – Paint It Black

If quality meant anything, America’s Flamin’ Groovies would be 12-string superstars but instead they are only worshiped by power-pop fans.  Their 1976 Sire LP Shake Some Action was a classic of that genre with the follow-up 2 years later Now nearly as good.  It contained a couple of fine Stones covers in “Blue Turns To Grey” and “Paint It Black”.  It didn’t hurt that both were produced in the U.K. by Dave Edmunds who knows a little something about making a great retro-sounding record.  The Stones’ May 1966 single was the first #1 to feature sitar (played by Brian Jones).  The pumping bass part was done by Bill Wyman on the pedals of an organ.

10.Del Shannon – Under My Thumb

Casual fans only know Shannon from the classic “Runaway”, but Del had a much longer career sadly ended by suicide at age 55 in 1990.  The former Charles Westover’s last big hit was the #9 “Keep Searchin’ (We’ll Follow The Sun)” in late ’64 on Amy.  After moving to Liberty records he tried several covers including “Under My Thumb” which had been on the 1966 Rolling Stones Aftermath album.  Del’s version barely moved in to the charts at #128 in the fall of ’66 with his a mostly straight cover of the Stones’ even down to the marimba riff.  This is one of the few ’60s Rolling Stones album tracks played by oldies radio and is notable for the riff as played by Brian Jones.  As someone who believes in woman’s rights, the lyrical content does annoy your blogger.

11.Airlift – Tell Me

“Tell Me (You’re Coming Back)” was the 2nd U.S. chart 45 for The Rolling Stones making #24 in the summer of ’64.  Oddly it wasn’t released as a single in England.  The sound is very different from the blues and rock you associate with them as it’s a pleading pop ballad.  Wish I could tell you more about the 1976 wall-of-sound version by Airlift, but other than what is on the label of my 45 I have nothing to give.

12.Gene Pitney – That Girl Belongs To Yesterday

Jagger and Richards took a page from the Lennon and McCartney book by writing songs for other performers they didn’t intend to record themselves (though not nearly as successfully).  When Mick and Keith started trying to write, their first results were surprisingly poppy compared to the music of The Rolling Stones.  This only got to #49 here in the U.S. for Pitney in January of 1964 and is notable for being the first cover of a Jagger-Richards song to chart here.  At the same time, he attended the recording sessions for their first LP and is credited in the notes for playing piano.  As heard on bootleg, The Stones recorded an early version but rejected the song in Nov. 1963.  The late Pitney (1940 – 2006) was a successful singer and songwriter inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 2002.

13.Cheek – So Much In Love

Had to look at the charts to prove that indeed when everything British was taking over the U.S. airwaves, Ian & The Zodiacs could only take this song to #131 in mid-1965.  That album is in your Dentist’s collection and frankly that version of this song isn’t as good as the more produced U.K. single from ’64 by The Mighty Avengers that charted at #46 and apparently had some Australian success.  They were managed by Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham.  In 1977 the group Cheek released a new recording with more guitar and handclaps which made it an Aussie hit and put it on our list.  Disparate versions were also done by The Herd with Peter Frampton and a Brit going by Charles Dickens whose version isn’t bad either.  There doesn’t seem to be a Stones recording of it.

14.The Dead Daisies – Bitch

This is the newest cover on our list appearing on the 2018 Burn It Down album, their 4th.  Aussie David Lowy in a pretty interesting guy being an acclaimed aviator, a businessman and a guitarist.  He formed The Dead Daisies in 2013 and they have been more of a collective of moving parts revolving around Lowy.  The currently listed band is Doug Aldrich (guitar), Deen Castronovo (drums), Glenn Hughes (bass, vocals) and Lowy.  The original song was on the flip of the #1 Stones single “Brown Sugar” and both were taken from their 1971 classic Sticky Fingers.

15.The Who – The Last Time

When Mick and Keith were put in prison in 1967 on drug charges, The Who recorded “The Last Time” and “Under My Thumb” to release as a single in support of their friends.  The record was only on a U.K. single and charted there at #44 in June ’67.  Reportedly bass is handled by Pete Townshend as John Entwistle was not available.  The 1965 U.S. #9 Stones 45 is far superior and is one of my fave Stones songs.  Brian Jones played the main riff with Keith taking the solo.

16.Julian Lennon – Ruby Tuesday

There are several excellent covers of this Stones record that hinges so much on the recorder played by Brian Jones.  Rod Stewart did it as did The Rotary Connection.  Nazareth released a fine version on The Catch (1984) and Scorpions had a harder guitar take on Comeblack (2011).  For sentimental reasons gonna go with John Lennon’s son Julian and his cover from the 1989 soundtrack to the TV show The Wonder Years.  A #1 in 1966, this is mostly written by Keith and supposedly Brian Jones who wasn’t given credit.

17.Rod Stewart – Street Fighting Man

This controversial Stones single was the U.S. release between “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “Honky Tonk Women” when they were really on their game putting out potent 45s.  That it would only get to #48 in ’68 had less to do with the quality of the song and more to do with the lyrics causing radio to shy away from playing it.  This was the lead track from the excellent Beggars Banquet album and strangely wasn’t released as a British single till 1971 at which time as old news it still made it to #21.  Rod included this on his first solo album (titled in the U.S. as The Rod Stewart Album), perhaps his best ever.  His take includes Ron Wood on bass and slide guitar several years before joining The Stones.

18.Gov’t Mule – Brown Sugar

Well here is a Stones cover likely not heard by any but the biggest fans of Warren Haynes’ band away from The Allman Brothers – Gov’t Mule.  This was taken from the April 2015 set Stoned Side Of The Mule Vol. 1&2 which is a vinyl set that comes from a live Halloween show in 2009.  The original record is the next single in line after “Honky Tonk Women” and was from Sticky Fingers (1971), their first for their own label.    For a #1 single, the lyrics were pretty controversial about slavery, whipping and sex.

19.Quireboys – Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)

Quireboys are a throwback to the days of guitar-based hard rock and are still going with only leader Spike left from their mid-80s original line-up (long serving guitarist Guy Griffin is still a member too).  Produced by Jim Cregan who played with Rod Stewart, this live track was also overseen by Ron Nevison who also worked with Led Zeppelin and Bad Company.  This song appeared first on the Goats Head Soup record and was lifted as a single which got to #15 early in 1971.  Billy Preston who had recorded with The Beatles played clavinet for The Stones.

20.Linda Ronstadt – Tumbling Dice

Your Dentist admits to running hot and cold on Linda Ronstadt simply because she build her career covering songs I preferred by the original artists plus I like harder rock and roll.  At this point in her career (Simple Dreams 1977) she was starting to finally rock a bit and covered this 1972 Exile On Main Street #7 hit.  Ronstadt charted at #32.  It is said that the Stones version took forever to record with as many as 150 takes.  On that track Mick Taylor played bass while Mick and Keith played guitar.

Doc Krieger’s 2020 Top 20 Albums & Orphan Songs

2020 started for Doc and the Mrs. as a nifty year for live music. In March we took a fun music-themed trip from Miami to Labadee called the ’70s Rock & Romance Cruise. To read about our Cheap Trick, Randy Bachman, Don Felder, etc. shows please click on the link to the March 2020 blog post when you finish reading this one. Of course after we got back to Colorado, the whole world went crazy with everything shutting down due to a wide-spreading virus. That was it for live music in 2020 and for the longest time it appeared there would be slim-pickings to fill out this annual ‘best-of’ list as artists tended not to release new music. Thankfully things picked up dramatically in the fall making this a pretty decent year for music to make up for some bleak times (virus, rioting, fires, political b.s.). Interestingly many artists took the occasion of sitting at home to create some fun music or career commentary – people like Billie Joe Armstrong, John Fogerty, Raul Malo and Steve Hackett. If you haven’t checked those out, you should – indeed Armstrong put out an album’s worth of surprising covers (who knew he liked “Kids In America” and “I Think We’re Alone Now”?). Some folks have asked how your Dentist finds some of these oddities. Friday has become the industry new-release day so every TGIF your Dentist will look online for new goodies and listen to clips or full songs if they sound up to snuff. Another fun thing I have done for decades now is exchange tapes with my drummer pal DC on which we do commentary and play musical clips for each other. It has been fun to include Mr. D’s son Brett in these on-going exchanges over the last decade or so. There is too much good music and often things get overlooked and indeed one of Dan’s recent tapes lead me to purchase a CD by Rick Wakeman I otherwise would have skipped.

Yearly disclaimer: As a white male heading towards 70 I tend to like ’60s type pop/rock music, ’70s progressive and conventional guitar blues or rock which isn’t what is currently the vogue so won’t be found on the charts (sorry, but I’ll never get hiphop). As a pop fan, I fear I would rather listen to Abba than The Clash so this list doesn’t pretend to be the best albums of the year, but rather what I like to listen to.  An awful lot of this is conventional old white-guy music, but there are some surprises I hope since I tend to dig deep.  Talking to a friend today, he indicated he doesn’t want to hear a rehash of old music that was done better back then. Makes sense, but your Dentist still likes to hear bands trying to sound like the old days. Most of these records & songs can be found on youtube if you want to sample more of the following.

Doc Krieger’s Top 20 Albums 2020

1.David Minasian – The Sound Of Dreams

Your Dentist has a soft spot for classic ’70s style progressive rock with mellotron and screaming lyrical lead guitar lines and this album fits that bill.  Even better is it appears that the On The Blue Cruise we went on in 2019 might have helped gestate this as Minasian (who is a filmmaker) was there filming Justin Hayward.  On that cruise were Steve Hackett, Julie Ragins and PJ Olsson who also appear with Hayward as guests on this new CD.  Even more interesting to this Colorado resident is that Olsson constructed the album at his Eagle Wind Studios in Winter Park, Colorado which I had never heard of.  Olsson is a singer with Alan Parsons’ band who really lit up the On The Blue Cruise (literally with lasers).  Minasian plays keyboards and sings a few of the tracks.  Smartly he leaves the bulk of the singing to Hayward (“The Wind Of Heaven”), Annie Haslam (“The Sound Of Dreams-First Movement”), etc. as his voice while pleasant isn’t up to their level.  You should also check out the reissue of his excellent last CD Random Acts Of Beauty.  While his son Justin plays fine guitar leads (“Faith, Hope, Love”), on “The Sound Of Dreams-Third Movement” Hackett shows him how it is done by a master.  Do check out his website for a wonderful music video filmed in our Colorado mountains with Mr. Olsson -   Classic cover art too.

2.Creeper – Sex, Death & The Infinite Void

Had this been released 40 or 50 years ago, it would have been lauded as an important album.  As it is, it is a U.K. import that sounds nothing like modern music and likely very few in the U.S. have ever heard it.  That is truly a pity as this, their 2nd album, is a huge leap forward sounding sort of like the musical progression from David Bowie to Suede to this record.  The concept is about a fallen angel.  The great thing about this is that each track sounds distinct and not boringly the same beginning to end – one of the gripes I have with most current music (dull sameness).  Short bits of narrative come between songs like “Cyanide”, “Paradise” and “Poisoned Heart” with a spoken coda at the end of “All My Friends”.

3.The Midnight Callers – Red Letter Glow

Hard on the heels of their work on the nice tribute CD Jem Records Celebrates John Lennon (“Jealous Guy”), comes their debut release.  The genesis of the band’s name is a song on the first Badfinger album which shows uncommon taste.  This is ’70s style power pop that doesn’t break any new ground, but sounds great if you love groups like Cheap Trick and Paul Collins’ Beat.  Highlights are “Down On Luck”, “41 Miles To Roscoe” and “I Need You” sounding like The Knack.

4.The Hanging Stars – A New Kind Of Sky

This is the 3rd record from the U.K. Americana band The Hanging Stars and really ups their game mixing Pink Floyd psych (“I Woke Up In July”) with The Byrds (“[I’ve Seen] The Summer In Her Eyes”).  Some tracks could be The Burrito Brothers (“Heavy Blue”) while “Three Rolling Hills” would easily have fit on an Arthur Lee/Love ’60s album.

5.Pendragon – Love Over Fear

Everything about this screams classic prog-rock – the nice cover, the sorta Genesis style vocals, the lyrical lead guitar, tempo changes on lengthy songs and the keyboard textures.  Right out of the gate, the song “Everything” is an exceptional track that mixes hammond organ with mellotron.  Pendragon formed in 1978 and 2 of the current members are originals – Nick Barrett vocals/guitar and Peter Gee bass (keys-man Clive Nolan has been on board for 34 years).  Another fave track is “360 Degrees” that starts with strummed mandolin then moves in to a jaunty tune with fiddle-work.  The album seems to be about nature and the sea.

6.Bruce Springsteen – Letter To You

71 year old Bruce Springsteen has released this wonderful album about aging and facing the loss of friends as his 20th studio record.  Your Dentist has always preferred his full E Street Band LPs and this for me is much better than his last more country one (Western Stars) likely because I am aging along with him.  It is testament to the rapport these guys have that they could record these tracks in only 4 days live in studio.  A track like “Ghosts” really misses Clarence Clemons on screaming sax yet that is one of this record’s themes – loss.  Other standouts are “Burnin’ Train” and the title track.  He also dusted off some old tracks like “Janey Needs A Shooter” and “If I Was A Priest”.

7.Green Day – Father Of All…

This is one of the most garage-rock influenced Green Day albums which is a good thing.  What we have here is the fun version of the band which didn’t sit well with several critics – tough toenails, you M..Fers (okay – that word is what they censored in the title of the album on the cover if you didn’t know)!  “Oh Yeah!” is glitter rock drawing from Joan Jett’s cover of “Do You Wanna Touch Me” while “Graffitia” is sorta glam meets The Bobby Fuller Four.  “Stab You In The Heart” flat out rocks.

8.Ayreon – Transitus (deluxe photobook version)

Arjen Lucassen has moved away from the sci-fi themes on his other Ayreon albums and constructed a gothic-horror story that while good is not up to their other 9 studio records.  It becomes more of a play than a satisfying album though it is still fine music.  “Inferno” and the long “Fatum Horrificum” suite are examples of what works well in spite of the theatricality.  The 5 disc deluxe version comes with a CD of guide vocals that strips out the story elements and has Arjen singing all the male parts which is frankly a better album than the regular 2 CD set.  “Two Worlds Now One” feels like Pink Floyd guitar merged with Jethro Tull flute and Trans-Siberian Orchestra staging.

9.The Explorers Club – The Explorers Club/Sing & Be Born Again

Okay, don’t scream too loudly but this is actually 2 albums.  They were released at the same time and easily could have fit on 1 CD (or been a 2 disc set at least rather than force you to buy both separately). The self-titled album is all originals and has some fine songs on it like “Ruby” and “Love So Fine”.  The sound is sorta later ’60s Beach Boys or sunshine-pop (“Dawn”).  The 2nd disc is surprisingly faithful covers of ’60s pop like Boyce & Hart’s “I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight” and Danny Hutton’s “Roses & Rainbows”.  Jason Brewer is the guiding force of the band.  Download them both or mix and match to make the perfect pop disc.

10.The Struts – Strange Days

This is a classic loud guitar-driven ’70s sounding rock and roll album.  The Struts cover Kiss (from their 1978 Destroyer LP) and end up channeling Slade on the song “Do You Love Me”.  “All Dressed Up (With Nowhere To Go)” has a Stonesy sort of riff while the title track sees them duet with Robbie Williams on a more sedate tune.  The video is of the anthemic rocker “I Hate How Much I Want You” which teams them with Joe Elliott and Phil Collen of Def Leppard.

11.Billie Joe Armstrong – No Fun Mondays

One of the coolest things to come out of the shut-down due to the virus was Green Day’s leader releasing recordings of an interesting range of cover tunes (and then collecting them on an album).  Who knew that Armstrong was a fan of The Bangles (“Manic Monday”), Kim Wilde (“Kids In America”) or Shaun Cassidy (“That’s Rock ‘N’ Roll”).  He throws in some arcane covers such as The Equals (“Police On My Back”) and Stiv Bators (“Not That Way Anymore”).  The old John Lennon protest song “Gimme Some Truth” is really amped up and makes a surprising punk song.  At times this is like the Green Day alter ego band Foxboro Hot Tubs who released the excellent ’60s garage album Stop Drop and Roll!!!.

12.Brother Firetribe – Feel The Burn

What I said in 2017 about their last album Sunbound (#17 on my list that year) was: a Finnish act with a vocalist that sounds like Ian Gillan (Deep Purple) fronting a band that could be Survivor from the 80s.  This is their 5th record and features “Rock In The City” and “Arianne”.

13.Massive Wagons – House Of Noise

Your Dentist has always had a thing for stoopid rock and roll with loud guitars and this album fits the bill.  An import from the U.K., this hit #8 on their LP charts proving there must still be a few rockers in England.  Any group that lists Slade and Status Quo as influences works with me.  The title track and “Bangin’ In Your Stereo” are the best tracks here (great videos, guys!).  

14.Joey Molland – Be True To Yourself

The last survivor of legendary pop-rock band Badfinger, Molland gets a major boost here from producer Mark Hudson who is a genius at crafting power pop (Ringo, Nilsson, Hanson).  Having heard Joey in concert, frankly his voice can be rough yet Hudson does a masterful job of hiding that in layers of sweet vocals from himself, Micky Dolenz (Monkees), Jason Scheff (Chicago) and Julian Lennon.  Steve Holley from Wings plays drums.  The best tracks still have that Brit-pop sound (“Heaven”, “Rainy Day Man”).  

15.Dyble Longdon – Between A Breath & A Breath

Judy Dyble died of lung cancer this summer at age 71.  Luckily before that, she recorded this album with David Longdon providing music to her lyrics.  This sounds exactly like what it is, a mix of folk from Dyble (who was in Fairport Convention) and Longdon’s current prog band Big Big Train (many of whom appear here).  Mellotron, 12 strings, flute and very personal lyrics such as the title track and the spoken “Heartwashing”.  “Astrologers” is enchanting as is the wonderful cover art.

16.Rick Wakeman & The English Rock Ensemble – The Red Planet

Big thanks to my drummer pal Dan for playing this for me or else it would have been yet another Wakeman album I would have ignored.  His last solo album I bought was his 1st – The Six Wives Of Henry VIII from 1973 when he was keys-man in Yes.  This harkens back to that LP sound-wise with cathedral organ, synths, madrigal choir and rock band trappings on 10 songs (what with the extra length of a CD).  While I don’t think of Mars when listening to these instrumentals, its as good a theme as any for songs like “Ascraeus Mons” and “Arsea Mons” which sort of sounds like Emerson Lake & Palmer.  The titles refer to regions of Mars.

17.Pride Of Lions – Lion Heart

Well these guys sure channel the ’80s which makes sense since Jim Peterik of Survivor is the driving force here with Toby Hitchcock.  On this their 6th album, they share the vocal work.  Highlights are the title track which salutes first responders, “Carry Me Back” and “We Play For Free”.  (Lose the purple hair, Jim.)

18.The Weeklings – 3

Maybe not the best name for a power pop band that started doing Beatles tributes, but this is their 3rd CD and it delivers goodies like the title track and a cover of “Friday On My Mind” (The Easybeats).  The Fabs check in with “Baby You’re A Rich Man” while my fave track is “1,000 Miles Away” which has a drivin’ drumbeat.  Bassist Glen Burtnick was in Styx at one time and played with The Orchestra (great ELO band) when we saw them on the On The Blue Cruise in 2019.  

19.Professor Tip Top – Tomorrow Is Delayed

PTT is a 4-piece Norwegian band that mixes elements of prog-rock with the psychedelic side of pop.  The spaciest track is the instrumental “Objet Petit A”. Their 1st 2 albums featured the male vocalist Svein Magnar Hansen who has been replaced with Sonja Otto, a woman. “In The Mirror” starts with mellotron then ends up sounding a lot like Rosalie Cunningham or her old band Purson.  The title track and much of the album sounds like Purson including the catchy menace of “Erebus”.   

20.Celtica-Pipes Rock! – Celtic Spirits

Gajus Stappen of Vienna, Austria has assembled a driving metallic Celtic pipe band with tin whistles and electric guitars sitting side by side.  Vocals are limited with only ethereal choir on a few songs like “Ferrum Noricum” and “All Clans United”.  The concept feels like a Celtic version of Trans-Siberian Orchestra that would work great on stage.  The rollicking highland pipe songs “The Rockin’ Irish Deult” and “Jigging On The Rocks” stand out.  

Doc Krieger’s Top 20 Orphan Songs 2020 – Downloads, singles, isolated top tracks on LPs that didn’t make the cut for my top albums.

1.Jefferson Starship – It’s About Time

This is a total surprise as when we saw these folk on the 2020 ’70s Rock & Romance Cruise, they seemed a good cover band of the old Airplane/Starship rather than an act doing new music.  David Freiberg and Cathy Richardson are good singing the Marty Balin and Grace Slick parts, but on this song the vocals are really energetic and allow Richardson to stamp her sound on the band.   Apparently in 2017 she and Slick were watching the Women’s March together and Grace was inspired to write a set of lyrics which became this song (co-written by guitarist Jude Gold and Richardson).  This is the lead track from the album Mother Of The Sun which didn’t really move your Dentist other than this track.

2.Hooverphonic – Release Me

The Eurovision Song Contest that has been held since 1956 annually, didn’t happen due to the pandemic.  This was to have been the entry from Belgium.  In their 25 year history, they have gone through a surprisingly large turnover at lead vocals.  The singer on this track was Luka Cruysberghs (their 6th lead vocalist) but she has left the band.  This song sounds sorta like a James Bond theme to me.

3.Raul Malo – The Sound Of Silence

Well, this is a first – a song makes this list that at least till now hasn’t been commercially released.  During the national lock-down due to the virus, many musicians took the time to create music.  Raul Malo (the lead singer of The Mavericks) put out a series of songs he called ‘Quarantunes’ on youtube.  Most of the songs were pretty stripped down showcasing his wonderful voice and usually acoustic guitar.  #21 was different in that Malo recorded an instrumental version of the first Simon & Garfunkel hit “The Sound Of Silence” with twangy guitar and mellotron strings.  Here is one vote for Malo releasing the best of these as an album like Billie Joe Armstrong did.

4.Brendan Benson – Richest Man

Guitar pop from the his 7th solo album Dear Life.  50 year old Benson is a member of The Raconteurs along with Jack White.  

5.Cam – The Otherside

Apparently this song was originally recorded with the late Avicii and indeed you can find a several years old youtube video that purports to include that take.  This version has more consistent drive but is still faithful to his style.  The rest of album is too country for your Dentist.

6.Justin Hayward – My Juliette

Just as the world was slipping in to quarantine, Hayward released 2 new songs with this by far being the best of the 2.  It really is sad to realize how great this would have been with full Moody Blues backing – come on Justin, give us one last classic album while most of the members are still alive!

7.AC/DC – Shot In The Dark

40 years down the road since Brian Johnson’s tortured rasp replaced the late Bon Scott, you pretty much know what to expect in a new AC/DC record – that’s good and bad.  There are no power ballads, keyboards or manic rockers, just mid-tempo riff-driven rock and roll.  Of course it is great to hear them sounding as young as 1980, but the album Power Up has to compete with their history and while it is okay in general, the single is where they excel.

8.The Go-Go’s – Club Zero

Another good thing to happen this year was the Go-Go’s reuniting to release a new song to tie in with the Showtime documentary about their band.  The last new music from them was in 2001 so this was a pleasant surprise and hopefully just the first of more new music to come.  

9.Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – Overseas

Americana which has a Neil Young feel with a great lead guitar line.  The LP Reunions is good, but this really stands out due to the powerful guitar work.

10.Dennis DeYoung & Julian Lennon – To The Good Old Days

Seemingly an odd pairing (former Styx vocalist and John’s son), yet it sounds achingly nostalgic and makes you hope Julian puts out some more music.  This appears on DeYoung’s CD 26 East: Volume 1.

11.The Airborne Toxic Event – True

While the rest of the music on the CD Hollywood Park didn’t move your Dentist, this echo-laden haunting song sure did.  The album ties in to band leader Mikel Jollett’s memoirs with the same title about having been born in a cult then escaping with his family in to poverty.  

12.Galahad Electric Company – Through The Looking Glass

The U.K. prog band Galahad has been around for 35 years without impacting my music collection.  They recorded this song in 1987 with it only appearing on their collection of odds & ends – Crimes & Misdemeanours.  Two members of the band (Stu Nicholson-vocals & Dean Baker-keys) released a new album as Galahad Electric Company – When The Battle Is Over.  It was pretty good, but suffers from the use of synth-drums which knocked it off my LP list.  They also released an EP that includes this excellent reworking of the earlier song.

13.Soul Asylum – Got It Pretty Good

Dave Pirner is all that is left from the original Soul Asylum.  They still play good guitar-based rock and roll, but will always be remembered for the 1993 song “Runaway Train”.  The rest of the album Hurry Up & Wait is decent if undistinguished compared to this anthemic rocker.

14.Alanis Morissette – Smiling

Never having been a fan of Canadian singer Morissette, it came as a total shock that her new album Such Pretty Forks In The Road was pretty good.  It would have made the LP list if it wasn’t for her weird vocal inflection.  The orchestrations and gauzy guitar manage to disguise her odd accent here.

15.The Vapors – Crazy

Hands up if you remember the quirky 1980 pop hit “Turning Japanese”?  Well, here’s 2020 and a new album from David Fenton’s band.  While it didn’t set the world on fire, the title song (“Together”) and “Crazy” are worth a listen.

16.Cory Marks – Devil’s Grin

Southern style country-rock from a Canadian steeped in Merle Haggard and Ozzy.  His bio says he is skilled at ice hockey and is a pilot.  This is from his debut Who I Am.  

17.Other Lives – Sound Of Violence

The album For Their Love is decent, but this (the lead track) is by far the best song.  Its moodiness is enhanced by an apt orchestration.  Other Lives is an Oklahoma indie band.  

18.Great Peacock – All I Ever Do

Vocally reminiscent of Teddy Thompson – Andrew Nelson, Blount Floyd and Frank Keith IV are the Americana  Nashville-based trio Great Peacock.  The album Forever Worse Better is not up the quality of this song.

19.Bob Dylan – Goodbye Jimmy Reed

Dylan’s Rough & Rowdy Days CD shows that the 79 year old still has something to say.  This track sounds like a musical rewrite of the shuffle blues “Leopard Skin Pill-Box Hat” from the 54 year old Blonde On Blonde LP.  His raspy voice fits the blues rather well.  Lyrically there is a lot more going on that just a straight tribute to the old blues man who died in 1976.

20.The Rehats – On My Mind

The Rehats recall the folk-pop of Mumford & Sons though they hail from Germany.  The rest of the May 2020 album Nothing But The Truth is decent, but this track stands out.

The Beat…The Beat…The Beat – Favorite Drummers

As the Rev. Jimmy Snow so eloquently pointed out in this clip, it was the beat that stirred us clean suburban kids to go over to the dark side and embrace that demon Rock & Roll.  Your Dentist was born on November 24th.  In looking up others that share that date of birth you find folks as different as mass-murderer Ted Bundy and ragtime man Scott Joplin.  Born on that date are also the musicians Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn (bass with Booker T & The M.G.s) and Pete Best who was disposed of by The Beatles as their drummer just before stardom.  The rest of The Beatles plus new producer George Martin didn’t think Best had enough of “the beat, the beat, the beat” so he was dumped and Ringo Starr was hired (Aug. 16, 1962).  For several years now, a group of legendary Colorado drummers has allowed your Dentist to join a luncheon engagement at The Sink on The Hill in Boulder to make sure that the co-eds haven’t abandoned the University nearby.  Jim Gallagher (The Astronauts), Myron Pollack (Sugarloaf) and Harold Fielden (Flash Cadillac & The Continental Kids) allow this Broomfield High School marching band bass drummer to sit with them and savor a Sink Burger (G Brown and Randy Jay are charter members too).  With that in mind, it seemed like a goodly topic – fave drummers of yer Doc’s.  Before you start carping that some of these guys aren’t the most technically skilled or best known skin-pounders, please feel free to submit your own list, but this is mine!  It was so hard to leave out great players like Dave ‘Thumper’ Henry (Flash Cadillac), Jimmy Lester (Los Straitjackets/Webb Wilder), Jason Smay (Los Straitjackets/JD McPherson), Liberty DeVitto (Billy Joel), etc., but here goes.  Gotta apologize for not including my fave drummer who learned how to play his barstools (before getting a real drumset) while I worked out guitar chords on the old Harmony – Dan Campbell.  We had a kid band for a few years back in the day and it was a load of fun.

1.Hal Blaine

While he received some recognition belatedly from the excellent 2008 Denny Tedesco movie The Wrecking Crew, there are still too many that don’t realize just how important he was to the music of our youth.  Harold Belsky passed in 2019 (aged 90), but before then was said to be on at least 150 top 10 hits and 40 #1’s.  As a kid, I pictured Smitty playing on The Raiders’ hits, Micky drumming for The Monkees, Gary Lewis with his band The Playboys and Dennis Wilson on “Good Vibrations.  Not so; it was Blaine.  He played with Count Basie and Sinatra, but he also drummed on “Mr. Tambourine Man” for The Byrds.  His most famous moments were the breaks on “Be My Baby” (The Ronettes) and the thump thump thump of the bass drum that brought in The Tijuana Brass after tempo changes on “A Taste Of Honey”.  With live drummers being used rarely on today’s hits, it is likely we won’t see someone like him ever again.  I feel honored to own a signed copy of his autobiography.

2.Bobby Graham

What Hal Blaine was to American ’60s music, Bobby Graham was to English music.  You always pictured Mick Avory playing “You Really Got Me” for The Kinks and Dave Clark pounding out all those excellent DC5 singles.  Armed with more info, today you can hear the similarity between the drum sound on songs like “Tired Of Waiting” (The Kinks), “Glad All Over” (The Dave Clark 5), “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” (The Animals) and “Gloria” by Them and know it was Graham.  His fellow session men like Vic Flick, Jimmy Page, Big Jim Sullivan and Arthur Greenslade could also be heard with him on records by Tom Jones and “Downtown” by Petula Clark.  There is another interesting video clip on youtube you might look for where he talks about Jimmy Page.   Graham had this to say about recording “Glad All Over” for Dave Clark:  “I did this four-to-the-bar feel, a flam beat, and he said, ‘That’s lovely.’ I was on a lot of the hits but Dave did play on album tracks.”  Graham passed away in 2009 at age 69.

3.Mel Taylor

It is with great regret your Dentist admits to never having seen the The Ventures in concert.  Gotta thank my old pals DC and Mick Watkins for hipping yours truly to the records of the greatest instrumental band of all time.  Taylor joined The Ventures in 1962 after a car wreck sidelined original drummer Howie Johnson.  He started as a country player drumming with Tennessee Ernie Ford for a bit.  He is said to be on “Monster Mash” (Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett) and “Alley Oop” (The Hollywood Argyles).  His precision and power are evident on songs like “Out Of Limits” and “Walk Don’t Run ’64”.  Mr. D and I always tried to play “The Creeper” which was one of his great drumming songs with The Ventures and as Mel Taylor & The Magics.  He passed away of cancer in ’96 a month before his 63rd birthday.

4.Al Jackson, Jr.

If Jackson had never recorded another track besides the chugging drums on the 45 “Time Is Tight” he would still be on this list.  Gotta love that record’s precision and tight fills – you want it to go forever.   With Booker T & The M.G.s he drummed on their own hits like “Green Onions” while backing other Stax artists such as Eddie Floyd and Sam & Dave.  Sadly, his life was cut short by a gunman a couple months before he would have been 40 in 1975.

5.Earl Palmer

Palmer was on many of the early hits of rock and roll like “I’m Walkin'” for Fats Domino, “Summertime Blues” for Eddie Cochran, “Shake” by Sam Cooke and all the Little Richard hits.  He passed away in 2008 at age 83 but not before playing songs like “River Deep, Mountain High” (Ike & Tina Turner), “Bumble Boogie” (B Bumble & The Stingers), “Dead Man’s Curve” (Jan & Dean) and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” (The Righteous Brothers).

6.Benny Benjamin

Yet another of the unknown players on so many ’60s hits, William Benjamin died of a stroke in 1969 at age 43 before getting the acclaim he deserved.  Papa Zita anchored The Funk Brothers on Motown hits like “My Girl” (The Temptations), “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” (Stevie Wonder) and “Do You Love Me” (The Contours).  For a history of The Funk Brothers (so named by Benjamin) check out the excellent 2002 film Standing In The Shadows Of Motown.

7.Dave Mattacks

When original Fairport Convention drummer Martin Lamble was killed in an accident in 1969, Middlesex, England-born Mattacks stepped in and brought a martial-like precision to the beat while adding technical skill (he was also a keyboard player).  In addition to playing with Fairport, he was involved at one time or another with offshoots like Morris On, Steeleye Span, Richard Thompson and The Albion Country Band.  As a session drummer he player for Nick Drake, Elton John, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Cat Stevens plus the most known Proclaimers record “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”.  He moved to Massachusetts in 1998 and continued his session work there for folks like Mary Chapin Carpenter and Juliana Hatfield.

8.Phil Collins

Before he was Phil Collins the ubiquitous megastar, he was simply one of the greatest prog-rock drummers ever with Genesis. Collins brought power and bombastic fills helping to create a style copied by other proggers.  One of the high-points of a Genesis show was when he would return to the drum-stool and duet with Chester Thompson (a pretty good drummer as well) on “Los Endos”.  Spinal problems finally took their toll on him resulting in numbness and pretty much brought the end to his playing in the last 15 years.

9.Stan Lynch

When Tom Petty fired Stan Lynch in 1994 after 18 years with The Heartbreakers, it removed one of the signature sounds of the band – that loping style where it felt like the drums were always trying to catch up to the guitars.  His look, drum style and background vocals were so important to Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers that removing him changed the whole band dynamic and frankly they never seemed as good again.  He played  sessions with Del Shannon, Eurythmics, Roger McGuinn, Don Henley, etc.  After leaving Petty, he has not played the drums so much as he has moved in to songwriting and producing.

10.Ringo Starr

Don’t even think that Ringo wasn’t a great drummer.  Just listen to his technical fills on “Please Please Me”, “Rain”, “A Day In The Life”, etc. and then compare them to the staid style of his contemporaries in the ’60s (Charlie Watts of the Stones, for example, who played mostly 1 beat).  Not only that, but he had power in his time-keeping which was essential to be heard over the screaming audience The Beatles commanded.  He didn’t copy, others copied him plus wanted to own his distinctive Ludwig set.  Ringo created the style that other power-pop players have aped ever since.

11.Johny Barbata

Stan Soocher and I were lucky enough to talk to Johny at Drum City in Wheatridge when he was promoting his autobiography a few years back.  His style in The Turtles was way more distinctive than you would expect from a pop band.  He had a trick of holding a stick in the air and twirling it then coming down to play flashy fills.  From “Happy Together” till nearly the end of their hits, Barbata’s machine-gun speed made The Turtles records sound great.  After leaving The Turtles he played with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (“Ohio”) and The Jefferson Airplane/Starship (“Miracles”) till suffering a major injury in a car wreck (1978).  He also appeared on records by Ry Cooder, Linda Ronstadt and Lee Michaels.

12.B.J. Wilson

The late Barrie Wilson was a flashy drummer for one of the first progressive rock bands, Procol Harum (why are they not in the RNR Hall Of Fame?).  He didn’t just keep the beat – he pounded around it while occasionally landing only to take off again in an interesting direction (a prog-rock Keith Moon).  While not on “A White Shade Of Pale”, he was on every other classic Procol Harum record.  Wilson played on sessions for Cat Stevens and Lulu so when Procol broke up in 1977, he went right back to that playing for Joe Cocker (“With A Little Help From My Friends”), The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Lou Reed among others.  He was 43 when he passed in 1990.

13.Bobby Elliott

Just like John Barbata, Bobby Elliott was a much more technically skilled drummer than you would expect in a ’60s pop band.  If you zero in on his playing in this live video of the first U.S. hit for The Hollies, you can see his sticks flying all over the place.  Elliott started with the U.K. band Shane Fenton & The Fentones (Fenton became Alvin Stardust years later) before moving to Ricky Shaw & The Dolphins with future Hollies guitarist Tony Hicks.  Hicks and Elliott have continued to lead a version of The Hollies.

14.Mike Leander

The late Mike Leander is not known as an instrumentalist, but as an arranger and producer.  He supervised many records for Andrew Loog Oldham (The Rolling Stones) including the early hits of Marianne Faithfull (“As Tears Go By”, “Yesterday”).  He did the string arrangement for “She’s Leaving Home” (The Beatles) when George Martin wasn’t available.  This quote from Glitter Band member John Rossall explains why Leander is on this list:  “Mike used to get in the studio on his own with the engineer and play the drums for 20 minutes trying out different drum things and then say: ‘Right, roll the tape’ to the engineer and then record a section that he would then make a loop out of and copy it onto the 24 track.  He would go to overdub the bass, floor and small toms on one track, then the bass and the guitar.”  The entire Glitter Band aside from the brass on the early Gary Glitter records was Mike Leander.  That beat spawned a whole genre in the U.K. and set sporting arenas in motion with the Colorado Rockies (hockey), Denver Nuggets (basketball) and Denver Broncos (football) some of the first teams to use that song to get the crowd going after a score.  The glitter beat still turns up on records today.

15.Paul Deakin

Some bands need to be seen live to truly appreciate how good they are.  Such an act is The Mavericks who have one of the best vocalists going in Raul Malo and are also wonderful players with a flair for showmanship.  Each member has a different persona with drummer Paul Deakin reminding me of a no nonsense drill instructor.  He always looks incredibly serious while beating the dip out of the skins – seemingly in another world than the rest of the band.

16.Mike Gibbins

Just 15 in 1964 when he joined the band that would become Badfinger (The Iveys), the late Gibbins always had an interesting style that seemed to rely as much on pauses as fills.  Once again his style in Badfinger has been the blueprint for countless power-pop drummers over the years.  He also played for fellow Welsh native Bonnie Tyler on “It’s A Heartache”.  He passed at age 56 in 2005.

17.John Bonham

Bonzo combined skill with raw power.  Unfortunately at age 32 his alcoholic excesses caught up with him which brought a premature end to Led Zeppelin in 1980.  His powerful drumming was essential to drive a band made up of other powerful personalities.

18.Keith Moon

Well it is impossible to have an article about fave drummers and not include the late Keith Moon who was known as much for his excesses as for his wild drumming style.  Just as with guitarists when Jimi Hendrix seemed to change how people looked at his instrument overnight, Moon did the same for drumming.  The Who would not have sounded right without his flamboyant flailing drumming (as we found out when Moon died and was replaced by Kenny Jones who just couldn’t fill the void).  Like Bonham, Moon died at 32 due to overdosing on a drug to control his alcoholism (1978).

19.Kenny Aronoff

Having seen Aronoff with John Mellencamp and John Fogerty, gotta say he really is a powerful time-keeper and a flashy player as well.  As he pounds the skins you can almost hear them cry ‘uncle’.  Very few drummers have become celebs in their own right, but Aronoff is one of the better known sidemen in rock.

20.Mitch Mitchell

The late John ‘Mitch’ Mitchell is mainly known for his work as drummer in The Jimi Hendrix Experience starting in 1967.  While he wasn’t as wild as Keith Moon, he had that same manic drumming style which worked great in a power trio.  Mitch also appeared in The Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus in Dec. 1968 backing up John Lennon on “Yer Blues”.  Some of my fave work by Mitchell was a year before he joined Hendrix when he played drums for Georgie Fame & The Blue Flames on the Sweet Things LP.  Without knowing it was him, I always loved “Ride Your Pony” and especially “Last Night” where the drumming is excellent.  He joined Hendrix in R & R Heaven in 2008 (age 62).

2 Faces Have I – Censored Songs

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This post is for music nerds like myself who get in to the trivia and minutia of records.  The title may be a bit obtuse, but it is supposed to refer to records that had to have differing versions usually to get played on the radio.  Swear words were strictly verbotten on at least AM ‘teen’ radio back in the ’60s and often in the ’70s.  Even the hint of controversy led record labels to request artists to rerecord parts or often all of a song in an attempt to get airplay.   I have uploaded some of these to youtube so other nerds like me can check out the alternate versions. A few of these were simply changed in order to test the waters to see what dj’s might play or in a few cases a singer had to be dropped due to contractual obligations.  I would be remiss to not mention Pat Downey and his subscription website which is what got me interested in these songs back in the day.  You may want to check his site out as after you sign up for a week’s free trial, you can see which U.S. CDs might have a certain edit of a top 40 song which was taken from an album for a single waxing (of course you will then want to pay for a subscription).   He also has an interesting chat-board where folks ask questions and problem-solve about music releases.  Guess there should be a disclaimer here as well that your Dentist is not big on swear words either as to my way of thinking it makes you sound stupid and ordinary.  We all have heard the words, but we really don’t need to use them – another word works just as well.  Friends know that if a swear word escapes my lips, then I am mighty unhappy about something.  To that end, some of the words will only be implied in this posting.  I also own up that several of these songs weren’t censored as the title implies, but I liked the title, so…

1.Lou Christie – Rhapsody In The Rain

Since the title of this post is taken from a Lou Christie hit (#6 in 1963), it seems only fair to start with another of his songs.   Christie (real name Lugee Sacco) with Twyla Tharp wrote the song and he released it on MGM in March of 1966.  Many radio stations immediately banned it as about 20 seconds in, on the couple’s first date they “were makin’ out in the rain”. Worrying about ‘making out’ sounds pretty silly by today’s standards, but back then good clean kids didn’t do such things (yeah, right).  To head off the controversy the offending line was changed to reflect how the couple “fell in love in the rain”.  Here is the censored version.

2.The Kingston Trio – Greenback Dollar

Okay, Lou Christie was a sex symbol, but the clean-cut Kingston Trio would never have to censor a record, right?  Think again “Scotch & Soda”-breath.  Folk-singer Hoyt Axton first released this song he had written with Ken Ramsey in 1962 on his live LP The Balladeer.   Early the following year, The Kingston Trio waxed it on Capitol and most stations wouldn’t touch it as the chorus contained the offensive word ‘damn’.  Rather than lose what was a sure hit, they simply excised the word.  Now they “don’t give a… about a greenback dollar”.  The U.K. group The Men They Couldn’t Hang did a powerful rock version in 1985 that is worth checking out (and leaves out the ‘damn’).  Not wanting to open the ‘damn’ floodgates again, here is the censored version at about 24 seconds in.  By the way, this Axton song was his biggest success as a songwriter till he wrote a tune about a bullfrog named Jeremiah (3 Dog Night – “Joy To The World”).

3.The Everly Brothers – Poor Jenny

Well certainly you would have to be “Cathy’s Clown” to believe censorship would ever affect those upstanding Kentucky brothers Don and Phil Everly.  Think again as their 1959 song “Poor Jenny” again ran afoul of puritanical radio programmers.  The bigger side of this Cadence 45 was “Take A Message To Mary” (#16), but the flip was good enough that it demanded airplay as well.  The trouble was that in the song the hero took Jenny to a party which ended at one o’clock “in a heck of a fight”.  No way would a fine southern gentleman be at a party at one in the morning with his girl so they were forced to change the time it let out to ten (the fight was apparently okay).  Radio played the song and it hit #22.  At about 11 seconds in you can see the original party in this video.

4.Jimmy Dean – Big Bad John

The late Jimmy Dean is still hawking his food products in ads on TV and he’s been dead since 2010 – amazing.   One would assume that there are whole generations that don’t know he started as a country singer and not selling processed meat.  Well, ‘singer’ is stretching it as his biggest records are generally spoken word.  We know you can’t say ‘damn’ and in 1961 Dean learned you can’t say ‘hell’ either.  “Big Bad John” from the fall of 1961 has an emotional moment near the end.  As the music stops at about 2:33 in, Jimmy says:  “at the bottom of this mine lies a hell of a man – big John”.  Oh no, can’t say that.  Luckily it was easy enough to rerecord the offending line and rerelease it with “at the bottom of this mine lies a big, big man – big John”.  Decorum preserved, it made it to #1 for 5 weeks near the end of ’61.

5.Charlie Drake – My Boomerang Won’t Come Back

Back in 1961 when George Martin was still recording mostly novelty records instead of hits for The Beatles, he produced a song for a British comedian named Charlie Drake (nee Springall).  My old 6th grade pal Rick Steele hepped me to this novelty tune when we were kids.  The history of the record is pretty interesting though you won’t likely hear it much today as it has been accused of racist tones.  The song (as sung by a white man) is done in the guise of an Aussie Aborigine who is the shame of his tribe because he can’t get his boomerang to return.  In the chorus of the original 3:32 record, he “waved the thing all over the place, practiced till I was black in the face.”  The BBC wouldn’t play it so Martin quickly had Drake record a new line about being “blue in the face” which did the trick helping it to #14.  After that success, the following year the U.S. label United Artists edited in length the “blue” version (2:44) to eliminate the end where he brings down an airplane and had a #21 Billboard hit – his only one here.  The ‘blue’ version is less common on youtube than the original so let’s use the U.S. single.

6.Hedgehoppers Anonymous – It’s Good News Week

Your Dentist has always veered towards the odd when buying records even as a kid.  This Dec. 1965 45 on Parrot records only got to #48 nationally, but was one of the few I owned even before our family had a player to play it on (I would take them to a friend’s house).  Before being the first producer to record fellow alumni Genesis of Charterhouse school in Surrey, Jonathan King was best known for his ’65 hit “Everyone’s Gone To The Moon”.  King has had a fascinating career especially in the ’70s when he would make records and release them under phony names.  Many were big hits in the U.K. with group names like Sakkarin, Nemo and The Piglets.  In 1971, under his own name, King had a U.K. hit at #23 with the old BJ Thomas track “Hooked On A Feeling” to which he added ‘ooga-cha-ka oog-ga oog-ga’ repeated in the background (B-side “I Don’t Want To Be Gay”).  This became a U.S. #1 in ’74 when redone in that style by Blue Swede.  Back to Hedgehoppers Anonymous, when this record came out with production and authorship by King, it was assumed this was him under another fake name.  This was, however, an actual group recording an ironic protest about the horrible state of the world – bombs dropping, rotting dead, etc.  With all that, the BBC objected to the line “families shake the need for gold by stimulating birth control, we’re wanting less to eat”.  Can’t have birth control in a song, so instead they redid it as “lots of blood in Asia now, they’ve butchered off the sacred cow, they’ve got alot to eat”.  Way better, apparently and it went to #5 over in the U.K..  By the way, in the 2000’s King was convicted of doing nasty things to little boys (ugh).  Here is the alternate original lyric.

7.Peter & Gordon – You’ve Had Better Times

Back in the day, your blogger never purchased Peter & Gordon’s pop records preferring the DC 5 and Paul Revere & The Raiders who rocked harder.  For some reason, however, their last LP (Hot, Cold & Custard) late in 1967 appealed to teenaged GK and I bought it along with a Jimi Hendix record at Sears.  Beside the LP’s psych songs was this lively ditty about a man who is confused, but falls for a woman of the evening as he says that “I’m gonna spend my money and I’m gonna stay all night with you”.  Certainly that was a far cry from “A World Without Love” (maybe why he needed to spend his money?).  It was a pretty catchy song so not wanting to waste it, they recorded a nearly completely new less salacious set of lyrics.  The single, released in the summer of ’68, only could get to #118 which was pretty much it for the duo.  This time he’s “gotta lot of money and I’m gonna spend it all on you” which is the version I will play.

8.Van Morrison – Brown Eyed Girl

Oldies radio is fairly annoying at times, seemingly playing the same couple of hundred songs over and over again.  This is a classic example – a song you used to like, but are now sick of hearing for that reason.  The first record ever in my collection (which I still have) was by Morrison’s group Them – “Gloria” (won on 950 KIMN radio in ’65).  Van has had a long career as a solo after leaving Them (though frankly that old hard R&B he sang then still sounds better to me).  This 1967 #10 record is probably his most remembered song to casual fans but originally disturbed some radio programmers.  About the 2:20 mark, Van singles about “makin’ love in the green grass behind the stadium with you”.  Once again, in ’67 folks weren’t ‘makin’ love’ (how did our species survive?) so the honchos at Bang records spliced a section from earlier in the song where he says “laughin’ and a-runnin” and crisis averted.  Of course you never hear that version today, but if you listen to 2:20 you will now in this video.

9.The Buoys – Timothy

You know Rupert Holmes likely from his 1979 hit “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)”, the last U.S. #1 in the decade of ’70s.  Only music nerds remember that he wrote and produced a much weirder record that was a #17 hit for The Buoys early in ’71.  He claims that this song was his attempt to get the band noticed by putting out a song sure to be banned.  It was about 3 dudes trapped in a mine with only 2 emerging after perhaps eating the other one.   As the song gained notice at radio stations, it was indeed banned often.  The label first tried to counter this by saying that Timothy was actually a mule and so they were eating an animal.  This still wasn’t good enough so Scepter records created a promo 45 for stations with one side keeping the lyrics the same (but bleeping out the word ‘hell’ in the 2nd verse) and the other changing at the 1:54 mark “my stomach was full as it could be” to “both of us fine as we could be”. shows that the only version on U.S. CD today is the original LP mix.  Here is the original.

10.MC5 – Kick Out The Jams

Right at the beginning its rather obvious why only the bravest FM radio stations in 1969 would play the original live album cut with the first words being “Kick out the jams, mother f’ers”.  This is when your kid sister listened to AM radio which was pop while you were listening to the hard stuff on FM like the long version of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”.  This song was pretty raw sludge coming out of your speakers which is likely why it only got to #82 on the charts (their only hit).  Nearly a decade before punk rock, it was all here and in spite of their lack of record sales back in the day, today they are seen as pioneers.  The band name is short for Motor City 5, coming out of Detroit.  They were on Elektra about the same time as another punk pioneering band The Stooges.   At the time they were allied with John Sinclair and his White Panthers who were a leftist anti-establishment organization.  Elektra had the MC5 replace the first line with “Kick out the jams, brothers and sisters” which at least helped get some radio play.  Here is the clean version.

11.The Swinging Medallions – Double Shot (Of My Baby’s Love)

There was a style of U.S. music just before The Beatles hit known as Frat Rock.  The movie Animal House does a funny job of showing the seamy underside of college fraternities 1962-style – keggers plus rock and roll (TOGA!).  Bands like Boulder’s Astronauts could make a tidy sum playing frat parties with the music fairly universal (“Louie Louie”, “Farmer John”, “Shout”, etc.).  One of those regional bands (from Louisiana) was Dick Holler & The Holidays  who first waxed Double Shot (of My Baby’s Love on the Comet label in 1963.  The  Louisiana duo Dale & Grace (“I’m Leaving It Up To You”) also had a try at it.  Writing credit goes to D. Smith and G. Fitter on the Comet single who apparently were Don Smith and Cyril Vetter.  In 1966 in the face of songs like “Monday, Monday” and “Paint It Black”, an 8-man South Carolina band revived the song and had a #17 hit.  Radio enjoyed the party atmosphere, but not the sex and alcohol fueled lyrics.  “Woke up this morning, my head was so bad, the worst hangover that I ever had.  What happened to me last night, that girl of mine, she loved me so right.  She loved me so long and she loved me so hard, I finally passed out in her front yard.”  Yikes, so Smash records had the guys replace ‘hangover’ with ‘morning after’ and all ‘loved’ references to ‘kissed’.  That was 1966, but today you only hear to original.  Downey’s website lists 59 U.S. CDs with this song on them and all have the original lyric so let’s play the 2nd version.

12.The Kinks – Lola

The Kinks were one of the best British Invasion bands of the ’60s.  The very British-ness of Ray Davies’ songs like “Waterloo Sunset” and “Mr. Pleasant” is likely the reason why they were never as successful here as in the U.K. (though they did chart a good number of U.S. records).  Back when groups were pumping out at least 2 albums a year with a steady supply of 45s, 4 years was seen as an eternity.  Yet that is how long it had been since the last significant Kinks chart record (“Sunny Afternoon” #14) when in 1970 the single “Lola” debuted.   That controversially clever song about a man unknowingly falling for a transvestite only got in to trouble for product placement.  In the 1st verse, our hero meets Lola in a Soho club where champagne tastes like Coca-Cola.  The topic wasn’t the problem, but the product was to the BBC who banned it until Ray substituted ‘cherry cola’.  Ban lifted, it went to #2 in England and #9 here.  Not wanting to promote a product myself, here is the cherry version. For the next single after “Lola”, Reprise records pulled “Apeman” off the excellent Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One.  They promptly got in trouble with radio again when the line “the air pollution is a-fogging up my eyes” didn’t sound as clear as many would have liked.  Ray was once again sent in to the studio and what many heard as ‘f***king’ became distinctly ‘fogging’ and the airwaves were again safe and sanitary.  The U.K. embraced the song at #5 in early ’71, but over here it only got to #45.  The next (and last) big hit for The Kinks in America wasn’t till 1983 and “Come Dancing” at #6.  Interesting that in 1964 on the Stones hit (#26) “It’s All Over Now”, Mick Jagger got away with slurring the line “high fast game” making it sound like “half-assed game” and got away with it.

13.The Tubes – The Monkey Time

After a decidedly uncommercial and outrageous early career on A&M, The Tubes moved to Capitol and with David Foster producing started having hits.  For the first single off their 1983 LP Outside Inside, they took “She’s A Beauty” to #10.  Single two was to be a duet with The Motel’s lead singer Martha Davis on “The Monkey Time” – both bands were on Capitol.  The original funky 1963 hit was Major Lance’s first (#8) and was written by Curtis Mayfield of The Impressions.  At the time The Tubes wanted to release their monkey, The Motels had a single with “Suddenly Last Summer” (#9) and they didn’t want The Tubes’ record to take away from its chart run.  Davis allegedly requested that they erase her vocal from the single (her vocal actually takes the first verse of the song).  To release it as a 45, a new female part was recorded with one of their backups singing – Michele Gray.  The remake was okay ’80s funk with an annoying double entendre back and forth near the end between Davis (or Gray) and Tubes singer Fey Weybill and only got to #68.  In the back and forth with Davis, Weybill says the name Martha, but in the Gray version he calls her baby.  One more poorly charted single a couple years later spelled the end for The Tubes’ chart career.  Gray ended up marrying the producer of the next Tubes album, Todd Rundgren and was the mother of Rebop Rundgren.  Here is the single version.

14.The Doors – Break On Through (To The Other Side)

The first self-titled Doors album is a classic (1967).  Elektra records released it with two major censorship moments that most of us didn’t know about till buying later CD reissues that surprisingly reinstated earlier excised words.  On the side 2 opus “The End” Jim Morrison got all Oedipal which was actually kind of creepy even when censored (“Father?” “Yes, son.” “I want to kill you.””Mother, I want to…”).  When I bought the CD and played it, the insertion of the words “f**k you” after that line pushed it over the edge and I have not played it since, but have gone back to the old LP version.  The other change was to this song which was the opener and first single (#126 in ’67).  At about the 1:17 mark of the old LP and 45 Jim sings “she get…she get…she get…she get”.  On the newer CD issue it becomes “she gets high” repeated 4 times so apparently Elektra didn’t want a drug reference.  Here is the newer version on video.

15.Pink Floyd – Money

In the ’70s it seems like the flood gates opened up on record (if not yet on radio) for acts to insert a swear word here and there.  Pink Floyd was never considered a singles band having never had a U.S. chart record when Dark Side Of The Moon came out in 1973.   When “Money” became a surprise radio success Harvest records had to do something since David Gilmour proudly says the line “do goody good bull-s**t” plus at 6:22 it was long.  The record was shrunk to 3:12 plus a simple erasure eliminated the ‘s**t’ while leaving the ‘bull’ at about the 1:28 mark of the single edit.  It doesn’t seem to be on a U.S. CD.  This video is the only one on youtube that seems to have the proper U.S. single so if you can make it through the being where the guy shows the record, it occurs almost 2 minutes in.

16.The Charlie Daniels Band – The Devil Went Down To Georgia

Another example of a word making radio squirm was on this, the biggest hit for Charlie Daniels.  Johnny, in the song, enters in to a fiddle contest with the devil with a golden violin as the prize.  When Johnny wins, near the end he says:  “I done told you once, you son of a bitch, I’m the best that’s ever been”.  To gain favor with radio the line was changed to “Cause I told you once, you son of a gun…”.  The record went to #3 (while The Knack was at #1 with “My Sharona”) in 1979.  At around the 3 minute mark you will hear the clean lyric.  By the way, other examples of swear word censorship not in this blog post are “Join Together” (The Who) and The Steve Miller Band (“Jet Airliner”).

17.The Knack – Good Girls Don’t

Doug Feiger’s song “My Sharona” was full of implied sex with a breast-heavy picture sleeve to go with the 45 just in case boys needed another reason to buy it.  There was even more sex (and not implied) on the Get The Knack LP version of what was chosen for the follow-up single.  “Good girls don’t, but I do” was the chorus and couldn’t be changed but there were some other lyrics that simply had to go – one part had the hero wanting to get inside the girls ‘pants’ and even worse having her sit on his ‘face’.  For the single, Capitol had Feiger sing about wishing the girl would give him a ‘chance’ and then she puts him in his ‘place’ – a very different meaning.  The clean version charted at #11, their last top 20 record.  Check out the clean version.

18.Wild Cherry – Play The Funky Music

Way too many of us bought this record back in 1976 making it a #1 (and causing us to open our shirts to the navel and wear beads).  The name for this Ohio band came from a box of cough drops.  Nothing clicked for them till leader Rob Parissi wrote this song with the memorable chorus “play that funky music, white boy” because of course the band was white and funk is decidedly urban.  When the 45 was released it was simply an edit of the album version, but for some reason Epic records sent radio stations a weird edit that they could play if they wanted that took out the ‘white boy’ part which of course changes the whole idea of the record.  I’m unsure if any stations did play this version, but here is the edit (about the 1 minute mark is when you first hear it).

19.Flash Cadillac & The Continental Kids – Did You Boogie (With You Baby)

There was a short period when Wolfman Jack was a hot commodity after appearing in the 1973 movie American Graffiti.  After that his hoarse rap was added behind “Clap For The Wolfman” (The Guess Who #6 1974), “Hit The Road Jack” (The Stampeders #40 1976) and this record (#29 1976).  For a complete history of this classic Colorado band, please check out my Jan. 2016 post at: which is truly definitive, I must modestly say.  On the 45, the hook was Wolfman Jack yet weirdly there are some promo 45s that have one side with him and one side without him in case you wanna skip the Wolfman entirely.  Bassist Warren ‘Butch’ Knight confirmed that the 2 versions were to get by “local programming politics” in case a station didn’t want to promote the Wolfman and his rap but liked the song.  Starship did the same sort of thing with their #1 1985 hit “We Built This City”.  All commercial 45s and one side of promos included a background dj part (Les Garland).  The other side of the promo omitted the dj and many stations inserted their own market-specific rap mentioning their city.

20.Mott The Hoople – All The Young Dudes

Ian Hunter with Mott The Hoople and as a solo has been the definition of rock and roll cool with his shades and mane of curly hair.  The story goes that after several years of releasing LPs on Atlantic to indifference, Mott was giving up the ghost as a band.  Bassist Pete “Overend” Watts mentioned this to David Bowie and he, not wanting them to split, offered them “Suffragette City”.  They turned it down (Bowie made it his own record) so he next offered this song and it saved their career hitting #37 in 1972 here, their only top 40 hit (#3 in the U.K.).  Once again, the BBC won’t allow product mentions and one of the early lines is “Wendy’s stealing clothes from Marks and Sparks” which means zip in America, but refers to the U.K. retail chain Marks & Spencer.  For the single edit Ian changed it to ‘unmarked cars’ at about the 25 second mark. Sure glad they didn’t have to tamper with the line “I want TV but I got T Rex”.  Mott made another redo later on their “Roll Away The Stone” track.  For the 1973 #8 U.K. single, guitarist Mick Ralphs played lead and one of the Thunderthighs’ backing singers answered Hunter’s asking if she was going to the rockabilly party.  For the LP The Hoople, new guitarist Ariel Bender redid the lead after Ralphs formed Bad Company and U.K. singer Lynsey De Paul winningly took over the female part.

Imitation Hollys – Covering Buddy Holly & The Crickets

The dramatic Buddy Holly story | WJCT NEWS

Had Buddy Holly’s plane not crashed in an field in Iowa Feb. 3, 1959, Charles Harden “Buddy” Holley (Holly) of Lubbock, TX would have been 84 on Sept. 7th.  ‘What if’ is a stupid game, but you do have to wonder what songs we were deprived of with Buddy’s early passing (or John Lennon’s or Jimi Hendrix’s or…).  Buddy and his band signed with Decca early in 1956 and recorded a couple of unsuccessful singles using studio players chosen by Owen Bradley (released under the name Buddy Holly).   Buddy didn’t like the results and next  took his band to Clovis, NM to Norman Petty’s studios to record.  He was released from Decca in Jan. 1957, but to avoid conflict, “That’ll Be The Day” was released as by The Crickets on Brunswick and it became his first big success in the summer of that year.  He also signed with Coral for records under his own name so till his last year of releases when the releases were all labelled as by Buddy Holly, his records were under two names.  In just a short career, he amassed a large catalog of memorable songs that have stood the test of time.  What follows are some of your RNR Dentist’s fave Buddy Holly covers – feel free to respond with your own list.  An attempt was made to only include songs he wrote till the last three on my list which he performed but didn’t compose.  For most of us younger boomers with no older siblings (I was only 6 when he died) it was via cover versions that we first heard most of these songs.  It is a bit sad to realize how much more successful his music has been since he died.  By the way, in the early days of rock and roll, many producers added their names (or even the names of friends) as co-writers to songs they had no part of writing.  This blogger has no clue if Norman Petty wrote with Buddy or not, but his name is on many of the songs and certainly he did help Buddy shape the sound of his records.

1.The Beatles – Words Of Love

Knowing your blogger’s love of all-things Beatles, you likely are not surprised to see this gorgeous three-part harmony Holly cover that appeared on the U.S. LP VI (or Beatles For Sale for you Brits).  Recorded in Oct. 1964, it came out in Britain in December but not till June 1965 in America.  As a Beatles fanatic, by the way, it is interesting that Holly’s widow says his favorite number was 9 which was also John Lennon’s.  Buddy’s original was recorded in April 1957 and was his first single release under his own name on Coral but didn’t chart (Buddy harmonized with himself on tape).  The Diamonds also charted with it at #13 in 1957 as a doowop.

2.The Rogues – Everyday

This nifty rocker on Columbia could only hit #101 nationally early in 1965 so how my astute drummer buddy DC grabbed a copy as a kid was pure kismet.  Mr. D then hipped me to the record and the young GK went ga-ga for it.  The artist is a pseudonym of Bruce Johnston and Terry Melcher who recorded under their own names as well as The Rogues and The Rip Chords (don’t believe the pictures of the band on the LP covers).  Melcher sings the lead here, but is better known as a producer for Paul Revere & The Raiders, The Byrds, etc. (as well as being Doris Day’s son).  Johnston joined The Beach Boys and wrote the huge Barry Manilow hit “I Write The Songs”.   Buddy originally released his version on the B-side of the #3 Coral hit “Peggy Sue”.  His version was not a stompin’ rocker like The Rogues’ version, but featured a gentle vocal over celeste (played by Vi Petty – Norman’s wife) and knee-slapping.

3.Bobby Fuller Four – Love’s Made A Fool Of You

Bobby Fuller died under mysterious circumstances (supposedly he committed suicide by drinking gasoline) in October 1966 at age 23. Before that he made some excellent pop records including this #26 charter a few months before he passed.  Buddy wrote the song with Bob Montgomery in 1954 but didn’t record it for four years at which time he did a simple version as a demo for The Everly Brothers.  Posthumously it came out with overdubbed instruments (by The Fireballs) in 1964 on the Showcase LP.  The Crickets did record it after Holly died and had a U.K. hit with it in 1959 with lead vocals by Earl Sinks (imitating Buddy).  Several Buddy Holly compilations have mistakenly included that version.

4.Matchbox – Tell Me How

Matchbox is a British rockabilly revival outfit that started in 1971 and had success in Europe but are unknown in the U.S.  This song was from their 1979 self-titled Magnet records album.  They recorded some nifty Holly covers including “You’re The One” from their album Flying Colours that included their excellent U.K. #30 single version of Holly’s “Love’s Made A Fool Of You”.

5.The Hollies – Take Your Time

Graham Nash says his band with lead singer Allan Clarke took their name from Buddy Holly (disputed by others who say it was after the holly plant).  Late in their recording career with Clarke (long after Nash left) they recorded an entire album of covers (1980’s Buddy Holly).  This song comes from the Nash era and was on the 1966 U.S. LP Beat Group! (U.K. Would You Believe).  Holly wrote it (with producer Norman Petty also given credit on the label).  It was released as the B-side to his #37 1958 single “Rave On”.  His version has a prominent (and cheesy, to these ears) organ.

6.The Rolling Stones – Not Fade Away

As the first song the Dentist ever learned how to play on the old Harmony acoustic guitar, this song has special meaning for yours truly.  Mick and the lads pushed the Bo Diddley beat on their version in 1964 with Brian Jones adding tasty harmonica fills.  It was one of their early U.S. chart records at #48 and opened their first American LP (England’s Newest Hitmakers).  The Crickets’ version was more basic and was recorded the same day as “Everyday” in Clovis.  It was the B-side to The Crickets’ 1957 #10 hit “Oh Boy!” and can be found on their LP The “Chirping” Crickets.  Songwriters on the label are Norman Petty and Charles Hardin (Buddy’s real first and middle names).

7.The Astronauts – It’s So Easy

While Linda Ronstadt had the big hit, make mine Boulder’s own frat rockers The Astronauts for this song.  Pretty ballsy to follow your surf hit “Baja” (1963) with a live album of rock to drink 3.2 beer by recorded at their own Club Baja – Everything Is A-OK!.  Lead vocals are handled by bassist Jon “Stormy” Patterson (and my former Dental supply rep with Smart Practice!).  They were never as big nationally as here in Colorado (except in Japan where for a time they were huge).  While The Crickets couldn’t crack the charts with their 1958 single, Ronstadt had the big hit with it in 1977 at #5.  If you get bored, check out my definitive Astronauts history in my March 2015 post.

8.Foghat – That’ll Be The Day

It would be hard to top Buddy’s #1 hit recording from 1957, but Foghat gave it a go with a rocked up version on their 1974 Energized album (their third for Bearsville records).  The late Lonesome Dave Peverett sings lead.  Linda Ronstadt had a cover hit at #11 late in 1976 from Hasten Down The Wind.   Holly and drummer Jerry Allison are the writers and recorded it originally for Decca in July of 1956 with Sonny Curtis (guitar) and Don Guess (bass).  Decca hated the song and didn’t release it at the time, but since they held the rights to it, the name The Crickets was used the next year when Brunswick released a new version (instead of Buddy Holly).

9.Peter & Gordon – True Love Ways

Showing a more mature style, Holly recorded this ballad in New York with the Dick Jacobs Orchestra four months before his passing at his last recording session.  It wasn’t released on single till June of the following year and became a #25 U.K. hit (no chart in the U.S.).  You could also find this on the Coral LP The Buddy Holly Story, Vol. II (1960).  British Invasion duo Peter (Asher) & Gordon (Waller) had a far lusher version (dumping the mellow sax) make the U.S. charts (#14) as their second hit single of 1965 (the first was “I Go To Pieces”).

10.Bobby Vee – Down The Line

Before The Crickets there was the country bop of Buddy & Bob (Montgomery) with his Junior High pal.  The 18 year old Buddy saw Elvis and suddenly the Heavens opened and he immediately plunged in to rockabilly with “Down The Line”.  He and Bob wrote and recorded this in June of ’55 in Wichita Falls, TX with no real eye to release it.  Years later it was dug up in the search for anything worth adding to vinyl after Buddy’s death.  Overdubs of The Fireballs were added and it came out on the 1965 album Holly In The Hills with an added songwriter in producer Norman Petty before he and Buddy ever met – odd.  Not even 16 when Buddy’s plane went down, Robert Velline of Fargo, ND fashioned his sound after Holly with his first single “Suzie Baby”.  His career started when he and some of his friends volunteered to fill in at the show Buddy was supposed to play after Iowa – Moorhead, MN (they called themselves The Shadows).  Vee never forgot his break and recorded an album on Liberty in 1962 called Bobby Vee Meets The Crickets.  The following year he had the LP I Remember Buddy Holly and in 1999 he recorded the hot rockin’ album Down The Line: A Tribute To Buddy Holly.

11.The Beach Boys – Peggy Sue

This was a minor hit for the former Pendeltones (#59 1978) from the disparaged M.I.U. Album.  Brian Wilson had originally recorded it in ’76 for 15 Big Ones and Al Jardine spruced it for release.  This version is driving rock and roll with a straight drum beat as opposed to the continuous para-diddles performed by co-writer Jerry Allison on Buddy’s take.  Norman Petty was listed as the only other writer when it came out as a Buddy Holly single in 1957 (#3 chart), but after Holly’s death his name too was also to the credits.

12.Santana – Well All Right

From the 1978 Inner Secrets, this arrangement owes a debt to the fine version done by the short-lived Eric Clapton/Steve Winwood band Blind Faith (1969) which added a minor key Russian-feel riff to the original.  Carlos amps it up with some burning guitar and Latin percussion that drives it throughout.  This version was a minor hit in The Netherlands while Buddy’s original was the B-side to his #82 Nov. 1958 chart record “Heartbeat”.

13.The Hullaballoos – Learning The Game

After Holly’s death, a tape he recorded of 14 songs (some in multiple versions) in his apartment with an acoustic guitar was found and subsequently overdubbed a couple of different times for release.  This song was found on the 1960 album The Buddy Holly Story, Vol. II.  With everything British being scooped up in 1964 for the U.S., Ricky Knight & The Crusaders dyed their long hair blonde and were renamed The Hullaballoos.  They did appear many times on the Hullabaloo TV show (note 1 less ‘L’ in the name), but only found minor U.S. success with their biggest hit being another Holly cover “I’m Gonna Love You Too” (#56).  “Learning The Game” was on their second Roulette album The Hullaballoos On Hullabaloo (1965).

14.Mike Berry – Think It Over

Buddy and drummer Jerry Allison wrote this song (the single shows Norman Petty as well) in 1958 and it was a hit for The Crickets at #27.  Vi Petty played the piano on his record as well.  English singer Mike Berry (nee Bourne) recorded two different versions of the Geoff Goddard song “Tribute To Buddy Holly”.  The original Joe Meek production (1961) was banned by the BBC as being morbid but hitting #24 in the U.K. with backing by The Outlaws.  Berry redid it in 1975 and included it on a ’76 Sire records LP here in the U.S. (Rocks In My Head) with this driving version of the old Crickets tune also appearing.

15.Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs – Little Baby

Guitarist George Tomsco and his band The Fireballs started in Raton, NM in 1957 and were mainly known for their instrumentals like “Torquay” and “Quite A Party”.  Recording at the same Clovis, NM studio as The Crickets, when producer Norman Petty wanted to overdub more instrumentation to Buddy’s demos and such he turned to The Fireballs in the early ’60s.  When vocalist Jimmy Gilmer joined the band, they changed their name and scored several hits including the #1 1963 “Sugar Shack” and “Bottle Of Wine” (#9 in 1967 again as just The Fireballs).  Buddy recorded “Little Baby” a few days before Christmas in 1957 with co-writer C.W. Kendall on piano.  It was the final song on his 1958 self-titled Coral LP.  While Petty again was added to Kendall’s name as a writer, the LP doesn’t list Holly, but compilations do list him as a writer as well.

16.The Searchers – Listen To Me

With writing credits on the single by Charles Hardin (Holly) and Petty, this was the B-side to Buddy’s single “I’m Gonna Love You Too” in Sept. 1957.  It also appears on his self-titled 1958 LP.  Buddy recorded it at the same July 1, 1957 session that produced “Peggy Sue”.   The Liverpool band The Searchers included this on their second U.K. LP Sugar & Spice in 1963.  In the U.S. they would not become successful till “Needles & Pins” (#8) the following year.  The band took their name from the 1956 John Ford movie The Searchers (1956) in which John Wayne says the line “That’ll Be The Day” which inspired Buddy’s song.

17.Imelda May – I’m Looking For Someone To Love

The three Buddy Holly various artists tribute albums in my collection all seem pretty un-inspired compared to the originals.  That’s not the case with the hot rockabilly of this song by May on the 2011 album Listen To Me: Buddy Holly.  The album was produced by Peter Asher (Peter & Gordon) and also features Ringo Starr and Brian Wilson.  Born Imelda Mary Clabby in Dublin, Ireland, she has been recording since 2003.  With writing credits by Holly and Petty, this was the B-side on the 1957 #1 single for The Crickets “That’ll Be The Day”.  Buddy recorded the two the night of Feb. 24, 1957 (stretching to the next morning) with Jerry Allison on drums and Larry Welborn on bass.

18.The Crickets – Peggy Sue Got Married

The story of Holly sound-alike singer David Box has the same sad ending as Holly’s.  Only 15 when Buddy’s plane crashed, Lubbock resident Box had recorded there with his band The Ravens.  Earl Sinks was the new Crickets lead singer after Buddy, but when guitarist Sonny Curtis was drafted they brought in Box to sing in Buddy’s hiccup style.  He recorded their last Coral single with his (and Ernie Hall’s) song “Don’t Cha Know” as the top side and “Peggy Sue Got Married” as the B-side.   The arrangement sounds just like “Peggy Sue” with Allison’s drum para-diddles.   After leaving The Crickets, Box cut some excellent non-chart Holly-inspired records (i.e. “Little Lonely Summer Girl”).  Box was killed with three others Oct. 23, 1964 when the small plane they were riding in crashed in a Houston field.  Sole writer Buddy included this song on the tape of demos found in his apartment after he died.  Two different attempts were made to overdub it afterwards – on June 30, 1959 (producer Jack Hansen) and a few years later with The Fireballs (producer Norman Petty).  To confuse things, Coral released the Buddy Holly version as single 9-62134 in July of 1959 while The Crickets version was released the next year as 9-62238.

19.Marshall Crenshaw – Crying, Waiting, Hoping

This was the B-side of the posthumous Buddy Holly single “Peggy Sue Got Married” which was taken from the apartment demos and overdubbed to try to cash in by Coral records after his 1959 plane-crash.  Detroit-born pop-singer Marshall Crenshaw (“Someday, Someway”, “Whenever You’re On My Mind”) portrayed Buddy in the 1987 La Bamba movie about Richie Valens who was killed in the same Feb. 3, 1959 crash.   In the movie, Crenshaw as Buddy performs this song at the final concert in the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, IA which was nonsense.  By the way, the last song in Buddy’s set-list that night was “Brown Eyed Handsome Man”.

20.Billy Swan – You’re The One

The story goes that when Buddy went home to Lubbock for Christmas in 1958, he dropped by radio station KLLL where someone bet him he couldn’t write a song in 30 minutes.  This song was the result and he recorded it with just his acoustic guitar while at the studio.  It was posthumously overdubbed and appears on the B-side of his last single of ‘new’ material (A-side was “Love Is Strange”).  It was on the 1969 LP Giant as well.  Missouri-born Swan’s first success was as the songwriter of the #7 1962 hit for Clyde McPhatter “Lover Please”.  He was successful mostly as a country music writer plus he also produced Tony Joe White’s “Polk Salad Annie” (#8 1969).   His first hit as a performer was the #1 (pop and country) “I Can Help” in 1974 that had an retro feel due to the Farfisa organ.  His LPs included many covers of oldies including this Holly tune on his self-titled 1976 Monument records release.

21.Paul McCartney – Maybe Baby

This is a little-known Paul McCartney-Jeff Lynne (ELO) collaboration produced for the 2000 film Maybe Baby.  The Crickets’ version made it to #17 on Brunswick early in 1958 with a Holly and Petty writing credit on the label.  It has a rockabilly feel.  The band was  Buddy Holly on vocals and lead guitar with Jerry Allison on drums, Joe B. Mauldin on bass and Niki Sullivan on rhythm guitar.

22.Lee Rocker – Lonesome Tears

Stray Cats bassist Lee Rocker (nee Drucker) has put out some excellent rockabilly albums on his own and frankly your Dentist prefers his vocals to Brian Setzer’s in The Cats.  Lee recorded this on his 2012 album Night Train To Memphis.  The original was the B-side to The Crickets’ Sept. 1958 single “It’s So Easy” that didn’t chart here and sports a Holly and Petty writing credit.

23.Fleetwood Mac – Buddy’s Song

The talented Jeremy Spencer of the early Fleetwood Mac seemed to love ’50s rock as much as he loved the blues.  Here he adopts a perfectly hiccuped Holly delivery from the fine 1970 Kiln House album (yes, there was some great Mac music before Buckingham and Nicks!).  This song is interesting in that the lyrics weave in many titles of Buddy Holly songs.  The tune is an amalgam of “Peggy Sue Got Married” with the middle from “Maybe Baby” and “Rave On”.  Many online sites ascribe the song as a Spencer original which is ridiculous as it actually appeared much earlier on the 1963 Bobby Vee album I Remember Buddy Holly.  The story goes that Waylon Jennings (bassist on Buddy’s last tour) wrote the song and gave Holly’s mom Ella Holley the writing credit to help her out financially.  Whatever the story, it is a fun song.

24.Nitty Gritty Dirt Band – Rave On

“Rave On” was a rocker recorded by Buddy after the co-writer Sonny West had recorded it earlier in 1958.  Holly had previously recorded and had a hit with another West song “Oh Boy” (West’s original was titled “All My Love”).  On both songs Petty added his name as a writer.  West says that he took the title of this song from a line in Carl Perkins’ “Dixie Fried”.  While only a minor summer hit in the U.S. at #37 in ’58, it did hit #5 in the U.K. where Buddy was much more successful.  The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s 1970 version was on their best album Uncle Charlie & His Dog Teddy (“Mr. Bojangles”, “Some Of Shelly’s Blues”, etc.).  It was sung by Jimmy Ibbotson.

25.Freddie & The Dreamers – It Doesn’t Matter Anymore

There are so many other great covers of songs that Holly recorded but didn’t write like “Raining In My Heart” (Dave Clark 5), “Rock Around With Ollie Vee” (Gary Busey), “Heartbeat” (The Knack), “I’m Gonna Love You Too” (The Hullaballoos) and “Oh Boy” (The Stray Cats).  Let’s end this thing with the single Buddy had out at the time of his passing which he did perform at his last concert.  The single climbed to #13 in the wake of his death while in the U.K. it hit #1.  Paul Anka wrote the song for Holly and is said to have donated the royalties to his widow Maria Elena.  Freddie & The Dreamers were one of the first music acts the young Dentist became a fan of (long before falling under the sway of The Beatles).  It must have been the choreography and indeed they headlined the first concert I attended (thanks to old pal Rick Steele and his dad who drove us).  The late Freddie Garrity’s band hit #36 in early ’65 here in the U.S. with this cover version.  Linda Ronstadt also charted with it at #47 as the B-side to her 1975 single “When Will I Be Loved”.

The Firesign Theatre Meets The Beatles

Phil Austin (a.k.a. Nick Danger) of Firesign Theater Dies at 74 ... Firesign Theater's Peter Bergman: 1939-2012 / Boing Boing 41 Best Firesign Theatre images | Theatre, Friends day, Theatre quotes

NERD ALERT NERD ALERT – Right up front your Dentist wishes to warn that this post is for the nerdiest of Beatles fans who want to know anything that relates to the Fabs (like your RNR Dentist).  It is also for those who like their humor of an intellectual bent.  The genesis of this article was something I had wanted to write for Beatlefan when I was an unpaid contributor, but never got around to. During our forced office closure due to the virus threat, found in the basement were several pages of nearly unreadable notes (in my DDS handwriting) on a yellow legal pad.  What this was to be, was an attempt to uncover as many of the Beatles references that The Firesign Theatre made on their old albums.  Doing an internet search today turns up a few mentions of these references in Wikipedia and a 2014 Beatles Bible post, but there aren’t a whole lot of specifics.  My post will attempt to mention all the Beatles references I could find listening to those albums, but it is a pretty difficult task as the Firesigns could be pretty cryptic.  One of the other problems doing this was how far do you take it?  The Beatles recorded songs with one word titles like “Wait” and “Yesterday” so if The Firesign Theatre uses those words are they referencing the Fabs?  Likely not, but only they know for sure.  You can take it to the absurd and look for obscure things just like people always looked for hidden meanings that were often not there in Beatles records (have we decided that Paul didn’t die?).  The Firesign Theatre (Theater) was: Phil Austin (longer hair in photos – died 2015), Peter Bergman (the balder one – died 2012), David Ossman (glasses & moustache) and Philip Proctor (shorter hair).

The story goes that Yale students Peter Bergman (Ohio born) and Philip Proctor (Indiana born) met in the late ’50s.  Bergman had acted when he was a kid and that was what he was studying while Proctor edited the Yale comedy mag and took classes in playwriting.  Skipping forward to 1965, Bergman spent a year in England (working with comedian Spike Milligan) and became intrigued by the idea of forming a quartet like The Beatles, but doing comedy instead of music.  Back in the U.S. the following year, Bergman had a call-in show (Radio Free Oz) on L.A. station KPFK-FM where he worked with Denver native (Fresno raised) Phil Austin and David Ossman from Santa Monica.  These 4 people gelled into what they called The Firesign Theatre after their zodiac birth signs (plus things like FDR’s fireside chats and the old NBC-TV show Fireside Theatre).  In April of 1967, Bergman organized something he called a ‘love-in’ which attracted around 65000 folks snarling L.A. traffic and attracting a lot of attention.   One of those who noticed was Columbia records staff producer Gary Usher who ultimately offered the comedy troupe a recording contract.  Their style of comedy wasn’t gags, but more along the lines of playlets with fairly arcane comic bits dropped in for people who understand Zeno’s paradox (look it up).  Like much political humor, however, it is certainly of the times it was written in and would likely make very little sense to non-Baby Boomers.  If anyone has the ear of Mr. Ossman or Mr. Proctor, perhaps they can forward them the link to this blog and we can get some confirmation if any Beatles moments were missed or simply made up.

Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him - Wikipedia

The first Usher-produced Columbia LP was Waiting For The Electrician Or Someone Like Him (Jan. 24, 1968) and the group name was The Firesign Theater.  Right away, in looking at the album cover, you can see the first Beatles reference as it has the same cut and paste style that Klaus Voormann had done on the ’66 cover to Revolver.  Track 2 is titled “W.C. Fields Forever” after “Strawberry Fields Forever”.  That track parodies the hippy drug culture and the meditating at the feet of a guru like The Beatles had done in ’67 with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.  At about the 7:09 mark, the leader asks the worship group to chant for their guru Dr. Tim: “Say the Word & you’ll be free, say the Word and be like me.  Say the Word I’m thinking of.  Have you heard the Word is …Love, Love, Love, Love , Love.”  These are pretty much verbatim from the ’65 Rubber Soul song “The Word” without the repetition of  ‘love’ (though the repetition is present on “All You Need Is Love”.  Track 3 “Le Trente-Huit Cunegonde” is about a world where the hippie ethos has taken over and everything is ‘groovy’ (attention younger folks –  this is an ancient word mean cool, amazing, rad, whatever you want as long as it has a mellow vibe).  At any rate, the character introduced at 1:45 is a teenager who is a big disappointment to his family as he is not ‘groovy’ and only wants to do his homework.  This kid who was breast-fed till age 14 is named Malcolm X John Lennon.

The Firesign Theatre - How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When ...The Firesign Theatre How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You're Not Anywhere At All US vinyl LP album (LP record) (707617)

The 2nd Columbia LP (July 1969 produced by Cyrus Faryar) is where the rubber meets the road for Fab Four homages, mostly from the late 1968 double LP The Beatles (aka The White Album).  There are so many that this next section takes more the form of a list with the Fab’s song title referenced after.  Let’s first salute the great cover.  As a teenager seeing this album in the stores, it was tempting to buy it for that alone.  Late ’60s folks will recognize the pose of the troupe’s double image as being not unlike what we would see of the leaders of the feared U.S.S.R. at that time posing during a Kremlin propaganda parade.  Just being a Soviet theme to the front cover could be construed as an homage to “Back In The U.S.S.R.” while the back cover pose looks very similar to the back of the U.K. Beatles For Sale.  If you look at a picture of John Lennon in the Magical Mystery Tour bus, the clothes he wears look suspiciously like the gentleman on the right has on (mainly the hat with the feather).  On the far left the gentleman is leaning on a can of bug spray – to kill beetles?  Students of Communism know of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin so the box with “All Hail Marx Lennon” with pictures of Groucho Marx and John Lennon still makes me grin (the guy under that in the pith-helmet is no doubt Capt. Spaulding).  By the way, Denver area music fans who listened to 950 KIMN-AM will recognize the name Betty Jo Bialosky (from this LP) as one of the characters DJ Jay Mack used on his show.  Another line he used was “What’s all this brew-ha-ha? Brew-ha-ha?” which was followed by many more ‘ha-has’ plus another later line “wa-de-doo-da”.

Side A of the old LP is titled “How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You’re Not Anywhere At All” and can be divided in to 7 sections (the last 2 are subsections).  For some reason the old LP titles are different than the CD titles so let’s revert to the vinyl.  In section 1 “Drink To Me Only With Thine Fox” there is an ad for Ralph Spoilsport Motors.  In that ad at 1:15 the announcer says “we do it in the road” (“Why Don’t We Do It In The Road”) and at 1:20 the phone number lists a ton of 9’s (“Revolution 9”).  In section 3 “Yankee Doodle Came To Terms” at :50 the character says “I’m tired” (“I’m So Tired” possibly) and then there are two “Help” references.  At 1:15 he says “help me please” and at 1:36 “won’t somebody please help me”.  At the end of this section the sound swells like at the end of “A Day In The Life” except the ending piano on Sgt. Pepper is replaced by a hotel desk bell in the segue to the next section “Über Dubbing Over Alice”.  There the desk clerk 10 seconds in says “you’ll find it very clean here” which may mean nothing or could refer to the running joke in the movie A Hard Day’s Night about Paul’s granddad being very clean.  Section 5 “You Ain’t Got No Friends On The Left” at 3:30 says “who wouldn’t say no to yesterday (“Yesterday”).  At 3:44 they go in to a litany of requests about asking various cops for info which is similar to what George Harrison says in “Blue Jay Way” (but could be pushing it).  In the 6th section at 20 seconds “they’re all wearing Bill’s face which could be from “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill”.  Finally the whole of section 7 of side A feels like The Firesign Theatre’s “Revolution 9″ with the radio changing stations and a building cacophony.

Side A+”The Further Adventures of Nick Danger” takes the form of a pre-TV radio serial.  This gets crazy with Beatles references so try to stay alert: 1:26-“monotonous staccato of rain on my desktop” and reading his name in reverse “regnad kcin” (“Rain” – this is likely a reach), 1:58-“I’m Rocky Rococco” (“Rocky Raccoon”) and he is referenced throughout the piece, 2:16-“that’s a brown paper bag” (maybe a reach again but “paper bag was on my knee” from “Back In The U.S.S.R.” or even the brown paper bag that Lennon’s LP 2 Virgins came in), 2:30-in the bag is a ring (really pushing it, but in “Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da” Desmond buys a ring), 3:06-“everyone knew her as Nancy” – her name is mentioned throughout the whole skit (“Rocky Raccoon”), 3:13-“it was pig night” (perhaps “Piggies” though could just refer to an old fraternity gag), 7:33-“pull them up out of the cellophane” (the ‘cellophane flowers’ in “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” perhaps).

At 8:10 is your Dentist’s fave line (non-Beatles):  “There was something fishy about the butler.  I think he was a Pisces, probably working for scale.”  The next potential Fab reference is at 11:03-when”it all began 20 years ago” (“it was 20 years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play”).  11:03-“my husband Johnny” (John Lennon is on the cover), 11:46-“I’m so tired” (“I’m So Tired”), 11:59-the butler says “goo goo ga joob (“I Am The Walrus”) and then he exits singing “I’m so tired, I haven’t slept a wink” (“I’m So Tired”).  At 12:39-another line is played backwards (which is a Beatles trick used during the psych era) plus at 16:14-the sound is very similar to the echoed constricted sound on part of the 1967 Beatles Christmas Record (though these are both engineering tricks and perhaps not Fab Four related at all).  Before that at 14:16-we find out that the man pretending to be the butler who was Nancy’s boyfriend is named Dan (“he called himself Dan” is also in “Rocky Raccoon”), 17:47-“I had a head full of ideas that were driving me insane.” (similar to a line in “I’m So Tired” “It’s been 3 weeks, I’m going insane”), 19:42-“It had more holes in it than the Albert Hall” (“A Day In The Life”), 20:11-“It all began 20 years ago” (“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”).  Hope we got them all.

Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers - Wikipedia

The July 1970 LP Don’t Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers was the only record of their’s I had back in the day and doesn’t seem to have any Beatles references.  If you are a Dylan fan, allegedly the album title comes from a picture on the inside right of Blonde On Blonde where Bob is holding a picture in one hand and pliers in the other.

I Think We're All Bozos on This Bus - Wikipedia

Album four (I Think We’re All Bozos On This Bus) came out in August of 1971.  On side .002 at 14:17 when Clem is talking to the computer attempting to ask Dr. Memory “why does the porridge bird lay his egg in the air?” it answers “Well, well, well we’ll just have to see the Doctor about this.”  That sounds pretty similar to a line from “Dr. Robert”.  That is the only Beatles reference I could find.

Dear Friends (album) - Wikipedia

The next Columbia album was the double LP Dear Friends from Jan. 1972 which was made up of the best of their comedic sketches from their syndicated radio show.  On track 2 from side 1 (“Sodom & Jubilee”) is the only obvious Fab Four reference.  3:09-“Those Moscow girls really knock me out, they leave the west behind” (“Back In The U.S.S.R.” though it should have been Ukraine girls).  

Not Insane or Anything You Want To - Wikipedia

Nothing Beatles seems to appear on the October 1972 live/studio record Not Insane.

The Tale of the Giant Rat of Sumatra - Wikipedia

The Tale Of The Giant Rat Of Sumatra was their 7th LP (Jan. 1974).  In “Chapter 1-Not Quite The Solution He Expected”, Hemlock Stones the Great Detective is talking to Dr. John Flotsom, O.D. and says:  8:24“Look for me in the pub in disguise.”  Flotsom says “The pub in the skys?”  This feels like a “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” take-off.  In “Chapter 6-The Electrician Exposes Himself” (in regards to where the ‘Sacred Tube’ is) 6:45Stones sings “Getting back, getting back, getting back to where it once belonged.”  This is a pretty obvious “Get Back” reference.  These are the last Beatles moments I am aware of on The Firesign Theatre albums including Everything You Know Is Wrong (Oct. 1974) and In the Next World, You’re on Your Own (Oct. 1975) which are their last Columbia LPs.

Everything You Know Is Wrong - Wikipedia In the Next World, You're on Your Own - Wikipedia

Musical Progeny


Always on the look-out for interesting topics, a friend tossed out an idea – offspring of musicians who have followed in their parents’ path to create music.  Kelli, I hope you enjoy it.  Thinking about that, it does seem like a fun idea as often our kids get steered in to our paths, like it or not.  My dad was an excellent organist playing church for a number of decades and his dad played piano having taught himself by ear (so to speak).  On mom’s side, I inherited a nearly 100 year old Hohner accordion which I believe her granddad played.  Certainly sister Cheryl is an accomplished musician having majored in music up at CSU.  In our very musical family, my kids were sent in that direction as opposed to soccer like others did with their children.  Hilary (left) and Brenna (right) might have been fine athletes, but that’s not where we guided them – sorry kids (or thanks if you enjoyed the music).  Gonna start with history of some favorites and then add a video from one musical parent.  If this misses any of your faves, feel free to leave a comment.  Oh and thanks to Mick Watkins for the old picture of the young Dentist trying to be Neil Young.

Many of the kids of performers end up as backup singers and/or players in their parents’ bands.  During the virus forced quarantine you can find many fun video examples of musicians playing music with their kids the last few months (look for John Fogerty, Curt Smith, Nick Lowe, Randy Bachman, etc. on youtube). In some cases the kids end up replacing another band member or even their own father.  Let’s start with a list of just a few of those:  Leon Taylor took over drums from father Mel in The Ventures following his death.  Oliver Wakeman for a time replaced his father Rick in Yes (plus he or brother Adam at one time played keys for The Strawbs).  Jason Bonham has filled in for his deceased dad John in Led Zeppelin reunions.   Wolfgang Van Halen was given Mark Anthony’s bass role in Van Halen by father Eddie.  Daxx Nielsen was similarly gifted Bun E. Carlos’ drum seat in Cheap Trick by dad Rick though not as an official member.  Christian Nesmith can be seen backing dad Mike plus Micky Dolenz in concert.  Matthew Jardine sang with The Beach Boys and his father’s band Al Jardine’s Family & Friends as did Adam Jardine.  Don’t look for Billy Ray and Miley Cyrus (sorry Brenna).

1.Kim Wilde (Marty Wilde)

While virtually unknown in America, Marty Wilde (Reginald Smith) was an early U.K. rock star having 13 hits between 1958 and 1962 (6 top 10).  He charted only 2 singles here – one as Marty Wilde (“Bad Boy” #45 1960) and the other as Shannon (“Abergavenny” #47 1969).  He married another singer in Joyce Baker of the U.K. act The Vernons Girls and they had 4 children, 3 of which went in to music.  The first to try was Ricky who as a pre-teen gave it a shot with “I Am An Astronaut”.  After little success on his own, in 1980 he moved behind the scenes to support his year-older sister Kim which he continues to do. Kim had some U.S. success even hitting #1 in 1987 with a remake of the old Supremes song “You Keep Me Hanging On”.  Her 5 American singles pales with the fact that worldwide she has sold over 10 million LPs and 20 million singles.  Her first hit “Kids In America”, like many of her others, was written by her father and brother.  She has also assisted her brother in writing hits including “You Came”, her last U.S. chart 45 in 1988 (#41 – U.K. #3).  Her latest LP (Here Come The Aliens) featured one of my fave 2018 singles “Pop Don’t Stop”.

2.Julian Lennon (John Lennon)

If you don’t know who John Lennon is then you are way younger than anyone else reading this blog or have lived in a musical vacuum.  Just in case someone like that is reading, Mr. Lennon was half of perhaps the greatest songwriting team of my age – Lennon & McCartney (The Beatles).  McCartney was a dude named Paul who had some success on his own and with Wings (his son James has dabbled in recording).  John had a solo career till an assassin’s bullet cut his life short in ’80.  Earlier, Lennon canoodled with Cynthia Powell and in 1962 they discovered she was with child.  The couple did what folks did back then and got married producing son Julian.  It is common knowledge that John wasn’t an attentive husband or father finally splitting from Cynthia in 1968 for Yoko Ono.  In one of his rare times with Julian, they recorded the oldie “Ya-Ya” with his then 11 year old son on rudimentary drums.  While not great musically, it was released on the 1974 LP Walls & Bridges.  In 1984, Julian flashed on the scene with Valotte which spawned a #9 hit (the title track) and a #5 (“Too Late For Goodbyes”).  He has released 6 albums of good pop music with the most recent 2011’s Everything Changes.  Certainly Julian must have found it a curse and a blessing to have a voice so similar to his dad’s which has lead to difficult expectations – he can’t be his father.

3.Carlene Carter (June Carter & Carl Smith)

The Carter family name is legendary in the history of country music.  A.P., Maybelle & Sara made their first recordings in 1927 as The Carter Family.  They disbanded in 1944, then Maybelle with her kids Anita, Helen and June formed a new act – The Carter Sisters.  They reverted back to the old name when A.P. died in 1960.  June’s 1st husband was country superstar – Carl Smith with whom she had a daughter Rebecca Carlene Smith.  June and her 2nd husband had a daughter (Rosie) who pursued a musical career till dying of CO2 poisoning from her tour bus.  Her 3rd husband was another country star – Johnny Cash with whom she had a son John Carter Cash .   Carlene was married twice before releasing her first record in 1978 (Carlene Carter) on which she worked with Nick Lowe who she married the next year.  The video to his hit “Cruel To Be Kind” has footage of their wedding.  Her 3rd record Musical Shapes was with her husband’s band Rockpile and the minor hit “Baby Ride Easy” was a duet with Dave Edmunds.  1990 was the year she and Lowe divorced and her career took off with “I Fell In Love” (#3 U.S. country).  That and subsequent records were produced by partner Howie Epstein (bassist with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers) who died in 2003 of drug issues.  “I Fell In Love” and another #3 in “Every Little Thing” (1993) were rockin’ country.  After years of substance abuse problems, she has comeback with her most recent LP being Carter Girl in 2014.  In 2017 she worked extensively with John Mellencamp on his album Sad Clowns & Hillbillies.

4.Carnie & Wendy Wilson (Brian Wilson) Chynna Phillips (John & Michelle Phillips)

This is a clumsy way to include all three of these musical daughters who formed the successful act Wilson Phillips.  Brian Wilson with his band The Beach Boys was the sound of American youth in the ’60s and served as the U.S. counterpoint to The Beatles.  In 1962 the 20 year old Wilson met the 15 year old he would marry 3 years later – Diane Rovell (and divorce in ’79).  Diane with her sister Marilyn and friend Ginger Blake formed The Honeys in 1963.  While not a chart success, they did sing backup for Jan & Dean and on “Be True To Your School” for The Beach Boys (#6 ’63).  The Wilsons had 2 daughters in Carnie (1968) and Wendy (1969).   John Phillips was a married folk singer in The Journeymen.  The 27 year old met the 18 year old Michelle Gillliam and after shedding his 1st wife, the couple wed in 1962.  After years of struggling, they hit it big with The Mamas & The Papas in 1965.  Their daughter Chynna was born in 1968.  The 3 girls shared friendship and musical harmony and released their Wilson Phillips LP in 1990 with immediate success.  The first single “Hold On” hit #1 (along with “Release Me” and “You’re In Love”).  The album went on to sell over 5 million here and 10 million worldwide which at that time bested The Supremes for the biggest selling female group album.  They have reunited and recorded sporadically since with their most recent being Dedicated in 2012.  By the way, you could rightly include all 3 Wilson brothers in this list too since their father Murry was a recording artist for at least one album in 1967 The Many Moods Of Murry Wilson.

5.Terry Melcher (Doris Day)

Doris Kapplehoff started as a big band singer in 1939 then as a solo artist on Columbia waxed some classics like “Secret Love” and “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)”.  Both those were from movies she appeared in as she was also a major film star in the ’50s and ’60s.  She was married 4 times and had a son (Terrence) with her first husband Al Jorden in 1942.  Terry Melcher may not be a household name, but ’60s music fans know his work.  With Bruce Johnston (later a Beach Boy), they recorded as Bruce & Terry (“Summer Means Fun”), The Rogues (“Everyday”) and The Rip Chords (“Hey Little Cobra”).  Melcher produced 5 Byrds LPs and most of the early Paul Revere & The Raiders records.  All these were on Columbia, his mother’s label.  If you listen to Raiders songs like “Good Thing” and “Hungry” you can clearly hear Terry singing background parts.  Melcher and Candace Bergen lived at a house on Cielo Dr. in CA when Beach Boy Dennis Wilson introduced Terry to Charles Manson.  They moved out and after he declined to sign Manson to a record deal it is reported that the Sharon Tate killings that took place at that address by his followers were meant to scare Melcher.  In 1968 when her 3rd husband Marty Melcher died, Doris Day found out he had trusted lawyer Jerome Rosenthal and had squandered all her money.  He had also committed her to TV which she didn’t want to do so her son helped out acting as executive producer.  Melcher’s last success was “Kokomo” by The Beach Boys which he produced and co-wrote in 1988.  Terry died in 2004 while Doris passed in 2019.  Her final studio album in 2011 (My Heart) was mostly old material including a duet with her son on “Stewball”.

6.Tal Bachman (Randy Bachman)

Starting with Chad Allen & The Expressions (who became The Guess Who) and then Bachman-Turner Overdrive (among others), Randy Bachman has had a long career.  Canadian guitarist Bachman and singer Burton Cummings wrote the hits for The Guess Who (“These Eyes”, “Laughing”, “American Woman”, etc.) before Randy left. The 1st BTO LP was released in 1973 but it was “Taking Care Of Business” (1974 #12) on the followup that started their success.  On the 70’s Rock & Romance Cruise we went on in Feb. (see my March 2020 blog), Bachman was the highlight.  He was joined by his son Talmage who sang his hit “She’s So High”.  Tal was born in 1968 from Randy’s 1st marriage (Lorayne).  His 1999 self-titled LP on Columbia yielded that single which rose to #14 that year.  His 2nd LP, while good, was less successful (Staring Down The Sun – 2004).  As Ian Starglow he released the single “Na Na Na” in 2019.

7.Simon Collins (Phil Collins)

Phil Collins was everywhere in the ’80s and early ’90s causing a backlash, but frankly if he didn’t make popular music he wouldn’t have been so popular (didn’t Yogi Berra say that?).  As a prog fan, it was painful to watch Genesis go from mellotrons to marshmellow pop, but some of it was catchy (“Abacab”) as were many of his solo hits (I do like “You’ll Be In My Heart”).  His personal life has been rough both romantically and health-wise.  It’s tough to see the man on stage in a chair and walking with a cane at age 69.  He has been married and divorced thrice with his first wife (Andrea Bertorelli) bearing him a son in 1976 – Simon.  Like his dad, Simon started playing drums early then moved from behind the kit to sing.  He has released 3 albums on his own and one excellent progressive album fronting Sound Of Contact (2013 – Dimensionaut.  That band benefited from the amazingly talented keyboardist Dave Kerzner who has released some excellent prog under his own name (you need New World).

8.Andrew Gold (Marni Nixon)

Singer Marni Nixon may not be a household name, but fans of ’50s and ’60s musicals know her work as she was the off-screen voice for several major actresses not blessed with great singing voices.  Her credits are too many to include, but you heard her as Deborah Kerr in The King & I, Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, Natalie Wood in Gypsy plus West Side Story and in 1998 was even Grandmother Fa in Mulan.  Son Andrew was born to her and the 1st of her 3 husbands (Ernest Gold) in 1951.  Gold was a composer who scored the movie Exodus.  Andrew Gold is more known for working with artists like Linda Ronstadt, Celine Dion and 10cc among others.  Through 10cc he met Graham Gouldman and they had an act called Wax in the ’80s (“American English”).  Gold’s biggest recording success was with “Lonely Boy” and “Thank You For Being A Friend” which became the theme to the Golden Girls TV show.   In 1997 he released a psychedelic album Greetings From Planet Love as The Fraternal Order Of The All.  He passed away in 2011.

9.Sean Lennon (John Lennon & Yoko Ono)

While John was a distant father with Julian, he was the opposite with his son by Yoko to the degree that he stopped performing music for 5 years after Sean’s birth in 1975.  John never saw his son flourish musically as he was killed while Sean was only 5.  Sean again bears the burden of being the son of a Beatle which comes with great expectations.  Rather than putting out pop, Sean has been musically schizophrenic showing some of his parents’ tendency for experimentation (especially Yoko).  He worked with his mom on her records before releasing 2 solo albums.  He joined Cibo Matto in the ’90s as bassist while dating member Yuka Honda.  In 2005, 29 year old Sean began dating 17 year old Charlotte Kemp Muhl and together they became Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger (GOASTT).  As GOASTT, Sean released his best album Midnight Sun in 2014.  His music there was more Pink Floyd than Beatles.  In the video for “Animals”, he looks much like a psychedelic-era John Lennon in his round glasses (no doubt hiding his eyes from the female nudity).  Of late Sean has collaborated with Primus’ Les Claypool as The Claypool Lennon Delirium.  Their music has been psychedelic even to doing fine covers of “Astronomy Domine” (Pink Floyd) and “The Court Of The Crimson King” (King Crimson) on the EP Lime & Limpid Green (2017).

10.Ivan Neville (Aaron Neville)

Just like the Carters, the Nevilles have been a musical family of note.  Aaron and his brothers Art, Charles and Cyril are from New Orleans and have performed as The Neville Brothers.  Art and Cyril had The Meters, Charles is a Grammy winning sax player while Aaron has had a successful solo career mostly singing ballads (“Tell It Like It Is”).  Ivan Neville is the son of Aaron and Joel, born in 1959 when his dad was 18.  A year later Aaron had his first national charter if barely at #111 with “Over You”.  In 1988 Ivan released the fine album If My Ancestors Could See Me Now .  During that era he toured as one of Keith Richards’ X-Pensive Winos plus also contributed keys to a couple of Rolling Stones LPs.  He has the band Dumpstaphunk which sounds like a 2000’s version of his Uncle’s band The Meters – jammy funk.

11.Jakob Dylan (Bob Dylan)

If you don’t know who Bob Dylan is, once again you didn’t exist in the ’60s/’70s or were in a musical vacuum as he is perhaps the most acclaimed American songwriter of our era.  Robert Zimmerman from Hibbing, Minnesota started as an acoustic troubadour writing songs like “Blowin’ In The Wind” after which he made the switch to electric causing much consternation from the folkies.  “Like A Rolling Stone” and “Lay Lady Lay” were the ’60s.  “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” and “Tangled Up In Blue” were the early ’70s then he went Christian for a time (1979 Slow Train Coming).  He has since returned to rock and even the blues.  Son Jakob was born in the Nashville Skyline era when his dad’s voice smoothed out singing ballads like “I Threw It All Away” (1969).  His mom was Dylan’s first wife Sara (born Shirley Noznisky) and Jakob is their youngest child.  Jakob claims his dad was a great father attending all his Little League games.  Between 1992 and 2012, he released 6 records with his band The Wallflowers singing with a soulfully tuneful voice.  The biggest success was their 2nd LP Bringing Down The House (1996) with the single “One Headlight”.  As a solo his newest record (and movie) is a tribute to the music of Laurel Canyon with pop like “You Showed Me” and “Never My Love” (Echo In The Canyon – 2019).

12.Teddy Thompson (Richard & Linda Thompson)

Richard and Linda Thompson were the British folk rock couple from 1972 – 1982 after which they split up.  During that time they released 6 studio albums including I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight and Shoot Out The Lights.  Richard Thompson started his career as lead guitarist and singer with Fairport Convention till going solo in 1971.  In addition to his work with Linda, he has released 18 studio albums including his most recent in 2018 13 Rivers.  Linda has not been as prolific on her own only releasing 4 studio albums with her newest being Won’t Be Long Now in 2013.  Their son Teddy was born in 1976 while they were living in a Sufi commune in London.  Teddy has worked with both parents having pulled his mom out of retirement to produce her Fashionably Late album in 2002.  He also played on several of his dad’s albums as well.  Teddy has released 7 albums under his own name including the recent Heartbreaker Please.  In 2014, Teddy pulled together the Family album by Thompson which, among others, included his parents and sister Kami who is a singer too.

13.Sheila E (Pete Escovedo)

Here we have another deep musical family in the Escovedos.  All 6 Escovedo brothers went in to music with Coke (real name Joseph) and Pete at one time members of Santana and then forming Azteca.   Pete played on the Moonflower and Inner Secrets albums with the Santana band plus on the song “Victory” from the solo Santana album Oneness. As percussionist, Pete has played with artists like Mongo Santamaria, Herbie Hancock, Boz Scaggs and George Duke to name a few.  Born in 1957, Sheila is the first child of Juanita Gardere and Pete Escovedo.  Before hooking up as singer and percussionist with Prince, she had already worked with Marvin Gaye, George Duke and Diana Ross among others.  Not being much of a fan of Prince or dance music in general, your Dentist didn’t pay much attention to Sheila E and her #7 1984 hit “The Glamorous Life”.  Figuring her to be simply a pretty-faced dance queen, it was pleasantly shocking to see her in concert with Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band in 2001.  At the show, she plus Howard Jones and Greg Lake performed a fantastic “Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression, Part 2” originally by Emerson, Lake & Palmer.  Her drumming in the rest of the concert including “The Court of the Crimson King” really earned your blogger’s respect.  She has since worked with Hans Zimmer on movies plus even gone country at one point not to mention continuing to collaborate with her dad and other family members in The E Family.

14.Dhani Harrison (George Harrison)

As the number three songwriter in The Beatles, George would get the occasional tune on an album.   Over time he got better to the point that on Abbey Road, many consider his “Something” and “Here Comes The Sun” to be the best songs.  His solo career was up and down, but he did release some wonderful music including All Things Must Pass (1970) and Cloud Nine (1987).  Son Dhani (born 1978) was his only child with 2nd wife Olivia Arias.  After George’s passing in 2001, Dhani helped Jeff Lynne finish his dad’s last album Brainwashed (2002) playing guitar and piano plus singing background vocals.  Dhani has recorded as a solo artist and as the leader of thenewno2.  With that band he has released 2 albums and the soundtrack to the movie Beautiful Creatures (2013).  While sharing a similar voice to his dad, musically he only comes close with some of the psychedelia on tracks like “Make It Home” from thefearoff missingout (2012).

15.Zak Starkey (Ringo Starr)

While never a front-man of a band, Zak Starkey has been with some major acts including Oasis, Spencer Davis Group and The Who.  Having been gifted his first drum kit by the late Who drummer Keith Moon, his style is more kinetic than his dad’s.  Eldest of 3 kids, Zak was born in 1965 to Richard and 1st wife Maureen Starkey.  Certainly all Fab Four fans know Ringo Starr replaced Pete Best just as The Beatles were moving in to the big leagues in August of 1962.  Ringo had a fine solo career abetted by the other 3 Beatles and has since lead several incarnations of a band he calls Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band.  Son Zak drummed for a couple of ’90s versions of his dad’s band as well.

16.Rosanne Cash (Johnny Cash)

Johnny Cash is another artist that really needs no intro having sold over 90 million records throughout the world.  While classed as country, he appealed to fans of rockabilly and pop as well.  His first charting  hit in 1955 “Cry Cry Cry” (#14 country) and his last “Hurt” in 2003 (#56) is a span of nearly 5 decades with a passel of #1’s like “I Walk The Line” and “Ring Of Fire”.  Born in 1955, Rosanne is the 1st of 4 daughters sired by John and his first wife Vivian.  His 3rd daughter Cindy performed for a time as well.  In the genre of pop-country, Rosanne ruled the ’80s country charts with 10 #1 singles starting with her composition “Seven Year Ache” in 1981 and ending in 1989 with her Beatles cover “I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party”.  She has released 15 studio albums up to 2018’s She Remembers Everything.  Her half-brother John Carter Cash (1970 with mom June Carter) has been more a producer than a performer having worked with his father and his mother as well as folks like Loretta Lynn and Vince Gill.

17.Norah Jones (Ravi Shankar)

Geethali Norah Jones Shankar was born in 1979 and was named by Billboard the top jazz artist of the 2000’s decade having won 9 Grammys.  Her 2002 debut LP Come Away With Me sold over 27 million copies.  She has released 7 studio LPs including her recent Pick Me Up Off the Floor.  Jones is the product of a relationship between NY concert promoter Sue Jones and the superstar of the sitar Ravi Shankar.  Ravi was born in 1920 in India and before age 18 was a dancer till he started studying the sitar.  While a star in his country and somewhat successful outside, he may not have become well-known to most Westerners had it not been for the interest shown in his music by George Harrison.  The Beatles association opened up new worlds for Shankar plus he opened for George on his ill-fated tour in 1973.  He passed in 2012.

18.Hank Williams, Jr. (Hank Williams)

If Johnny Cash reigned over country from 1955 on, Hank Williams may well have ruled it up till his death on New Years Day 1953 and even beyond.  His first hit was “Move It On Over” (1947 #4) and his last major charter was the posthumous “Please Don’t Let Me Love You” (1955 #9).  “Cold Cold Heart”, “Hey Good Lookin'”, Your Cheatin’ Heart”, on and on – he wrote and recorded classics that have been covered countless times in different styles.  His last chart record was a duet created thanks to modern technology in 1989, “There’s A Tear In My Beer” (#7 1989).  The other singer on that song was his son Randall Hank Williams or Bocephus as he is sometimes called.  Hank, Jr. was born in 1949 to Hank’s 1st wife Audrey and as a teenager recorded covers of his dad’s songs while trying to sound like him.  Over time he developed his own more outlaw style and has charted over 90 singles on the country chart.  Starting in 1989, his song “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight” was adapted for use as the intro to Monday Night Football.  His son Hank Williams III and daughter Holly are also performers.  His half-sister Jett has also performed.

19.Dweezil Zappa (Frank Zappa)

Frank Zappa was one of the most intriguing musical characters of my lifetime; first with his group The Mothers Of Invention and then as an amazingly prolific solo artist/guitarist.  The fact that he was an early friend of Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart) and recorded him on his Straight label simply adds to his mystique.  As a kid I recall going over to Ron Stewart’s house where his older brother Doug played the first Mothers LP Freak Out! in 1966 for a stunned 14 year old Monkees fan.  The next album Absolutely Free holds the distinction of getting banned from my basement bedroom when my parents confiscated the record after being shocked by the lyrics to songs like “Brown Shoes Don’t Make It” (talking about a sexual fantasy involving a 13 year old).  I bought all Zappa’s music up till 1970’s Chunga’s Revenge after which bands like Deep Purple and The Moody Blues took over my collection.  During his life at least 62 albums were released and at least another 50 have been pushed out since he passed in 1993 at age 52.   Dweezil is a fine guitarist in his own right and was the first son born to Zappa and wife Gail in 1969 while the LP Hot Rats was gestating.  Sister Moon was born in ’67 a little after Lumpy Gravy and has the distinction of having a hit with her dad in “Valley Girl” (#32 1982).  They have a sister Diva and a brother Ahmet who control the Zappa estate since mom Gail passed in 2015.  This has caused some headaches financially and professionally for Dweezil since he has performed the music of his father for many years as Zappa Plays Zappa which he was asked not to do by Ahmet (before the feud the brothers had even worked together for a time).

20.Nelson (Rick Nelson)

For our last entry we are going to omit serious artists like Justin Townes Earle, Rufus Wainwright and Jeff Buckley and go pop as your Dentist has a soft spot for the music of TV actor and rock star – the late Eric (Rick) Nelson.  His parents’ TV show The Adventures Of Ozzie & Harriet was popular till 1966 and gave Ricky Nelson a perfect forum to showcase his new records.  The story goes that the photogenic Ricky was trying to impress a girl when he was 16 and fibbed that he was going to make a record like Elvis.  Thankfully, his dad hooked him up with Verve records and in 1957 he recorded a cover of the Fats Domino hit “I’m Walking” which got to #4 on the charts (the flip “A Teenager’s Romance” did even better at #2).  After moving to Imperial, Ricky continued the hot streak with songs like “Travelin’ Man” and “Poor Little Fool”.  Rick was a rocker who benefited from some outstanding musicians like James Burton (guitar) and Joe Osborn (bass).  At age 21 he became simply Rick and a couple of years later in 1963 he moved to Decca.  There he had his last hits including “For You” and “Garden Party”.  That last was in the country-rock style with his Stone Canyon Band that included 3 former members of the Colorado act The Poor (Allen Kemp, Pat Shanahan and Randy Meisner).  Rick’s first wife Kris Harmon had 4 little Nelson’s in Tracy the eldest and Sam the youngest.  In between were the twins Gunnar and Matthew (1967) who eventually formed Nelson and became teen idols like their dad.  Their 1990 Geffen single “(Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection” went to #1 and pushed their debut LP After The Rain to over 3 million sales.  While they have never captured that level of success again they have continued to record 1st on their own Stone Canyon label and recently on Frontiers (Peace Out).  They have recorded as Nelson, The Nelsons, and Matthew & Gunnar Nelson.  Under that last name they released a live tribute to the music of their dad Like Father, Like Sons: A Live Concert Tribute To Their Legendary Father, Rick Nelson (2000).


This is an update of an article your’s truly wrote for Goldmine back in 2006.  My how things have changed as my first sentence talks about a standard rock band setup.   Kids don’t need musical instruments anymore as in the world of hip-hop its all about beats.  If you’re an old guy like me you can still remember playing music and not sampling it.  I originally thought of this as a bit of a tribute to my old band teacher from Broomfield High School who recently passed away – Richard Hays.  Mr. Hays believed in my musical talents and made high school worthwhile for the young Rock ‘N Roll Dentist (oboe in concert band, piano in dance band, sax in stage band  and bass drum in marching band – and of course guitar/vocals with my drummer pal Mr. D driving his neighbors the Watkins family crazy with the noise).  We already did one blog devoted to Bagpipes (Sept. 2019) so here are 25 more unusual instruments used on a rock record.


When you first start following bands, you’re aware that there is a guy beating on a set of drums behind a few other guys playing guitars hooked up to amps.  As you get old enough to tell the differences, you may figure out that one guy is playing a guitar with only 4 (or 5) strings and that they are alot fatter (the strings – not the players) – bassists.  Delving a bit deeper, you may have seen combos with sax squawkers, piano diddlers and organ tamers.  That’s generally it for the instruments of rock – right? How wrong you are maraca-breath!  Rock instrumentation often got pretty weird back in the day (especially during the psychedelic ’60s) and that is the thrust of this article.


1.OBOE/BASSOON (the double reeds) Image result for oboeImage result for bassoon

As a kid, this oboe player was plenty excited that there were guys also playing the double reed in rock bands like The New York Rock Ensemble – Juilliard trained Michael Kamen and Martin Fulterman (a.k.a. Mark Snow who composes themes for shows like The X-Files).  Heck, what made Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You Babe” a memorable song was the oboe riff.  Look for it at the beginning of my fave Everly Brothers song “Bowling Green”.  The bigger and deeper double reed instrument, the bassoon, also gave a distinctive sound to “The Tears Of A Clown” by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles and “Winchester Cathedral” by The New Vaudeville Band.  There is a nice interplay between the two instruments on Donovan’s “Jennifer Juniper”.


While we are on the subject of “Fool On The Hill” – over top of the bass harmonica, Paul played a recorder.  This instrument is familiar to every elementary school kid and has been around since the Middle Ages.  It is a straight flute-like instrument that you blow in to as opposed to the flute which has a hole you blow across (Hilary is using one while Brenna is using a smaller whistle-like ocarina in the picture).  Brian Jones of the Stones also played a notable part on “Ruby Tuesday” as did Terry Kirkman of The Association on “Along Comes Mary”.  Yes used it in the song “I’ve Seen All Good People” while Led Zeppelin used it in the quiet earlier part of “Stairway To Heaven”.

3.OCARINA Image result for ocarina

This is a small oddly-shaped simple instrument that has between 4 to 12 holes and has been around for centuries.  The Transverse (also called the sweet potato) is the best-known style of ocarina.  Although it hasn’t been used much in rock, its biggest moments were during the solo on The Troggs’ “Wild Thing”, “R.O.C.K. In The USA” (John Mellencamp) and the main riff to “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly” by Hugo Montenegro.  Apparently many video games have used it as well such as several The Legend Of Zelda games and Angry Birds Evolution.  This video shows just how old and out of touch your’s truly is as many people love it while I think it is just plain creepy.

4.COWBELL Image result for cowbell

Thanks to Christopher Walken’s requesting “MORE COWBELL!” on the spoof of The Blue Oyster Cult’s recording “Don’t Fear The Reaper” from Saturday Night Live in 2000, everybody knows this instrument.  Years ago, somebody figured out that if you take the large bell from old bossy’s neck and remove the clapper in the middle, you can pound the heck out of it and get a pretty cool tick tock sound that drives a band.  Check out “I Call You Name” – The Beatles, “Time Has Come Today” – The Chambers Brothers, “Mississippi Queen” – Mountain, “Honky Tonk Woman” – The Rolling Stones, etc.  Thanks bossy!  This topic is good enough that later on we will likely devote and entire post to it.

5.AUTOHARP Image result for autoharp

Anyone who saw The Lovin’ Spoonful on TV in their early days doing “Do You Believe In Magic”remembers seeing a smiling John Sebastian hugging an autoharp by his chin in contrast to Zal Yanovsky on guitar.  Sebastian played it on several songs and even guested on the Randy VanWarmer hit “Just When I Needed You Most” in 1979.  Sebastian used another odd instrument on the hit “Rain On The Roof” – an Irish Harp.  The autoharp was more used in country and folk styles as played by people like Mother Maybelle Carter, Dolly Parton and Bryan Bowers (The Dillards).  More recently Corinne Bailey Rae has played it.

6.JUG Image result for jugband jug

For a time in the ’60s Jug bands were all the rage (“Jug Band Music” by The Lovin’ Spoonful on the Daydream LP paid tribute).  The best known would have been Jim Kweskin & The Jug Band with Fritz Richmond on the jug.  “In The Summertime” and the rest of the music by Mungo Jerry had the sound of Paul King blowing over the hole in a deep (presumably brown) jug.  This instrument didn’t really catch on in rock as musicians would likely rather drink from the jug than play one, but the psychedelic ’60s band The 13th Floor Elevators actually did have an electric jug player in Tommy Hall.

7.WOBBLEBOARD/DIDGERIDOO Image result for wobbleboard musicImage result for songs that use didgeridoo

Hard to believe but there was a short-lived craze that was sparked by Rolf Harris’ hit “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport” in 1963.  Kids wanted a flexible piece of Masonite board to wobble up and down to make a woopa-woopa noise (I kid you not).  While it fit perfectly with some of his ‘abo’ songs, there weren’t too many other uses which is probably why we gave our wobbleboards to dad to make birdcages from.  Amazingly he had a U.K. #7 hit with that instrument again in 1993 doing Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven”.  Harris also played the Australian Aboriginal wind instrument the didgeridoo guesting on Kate Bush’s LP The Dreaming. In 2014, Harris went to jail for 3 years for allegedly playing with under-aged girls.  Didgeridon’t, Rolf!

8.CLAVIOLINE/MUSITRON Image result for clavioline

These are 2 primitive synthesizers that sound similar to an organ with a wheezing head cold.  The most famous use of the clavioline would be on the #1 1962 song “Telstar” by The Tornadoes (played by non-member Geoff Goddard).  John Lennon also played this keyboard on “Baby You’re A Rich Man”.  The musitron was Max Crook’s modification which he played on Del Shannon’s records like “Runaway” in 1961.  The song “More” by Kai Winding (1963 #2) features a similar sounding instrument – the French ondioline.  Artie Butler played this as well on several Tommy James & The Shondells records including “Mirage”.

9.MARIMBA Image result for 1960s marimba

While there are other famous examples of songs using this hammered-block instrument, the best remembered has to be “Under My Thumb” by The Rolling Stones.  Brian Jones brought this and other interesting instruments to the band.  Julius Wechter (a member of The Wrecking Crew backing musicians) is the most famous marimba player from the ’60s.  With his Baja Marimba Band, he recorded songs like “Comin’ In The Back Door” and “Ghost Riders In The Sky”.  Benny Andersson played the marimba on “Mamma Mia” by his group ABBA while Joe Porcaro played it on Toto’s “Africa” and Ray Cooper on “Island Girl” (Elton John).  Artie Tripp III was known as Ed Marimba when he exited The Mothers Of Invention to play with Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band, by the way.

10.STEEL DRUMS Image result for steel drums

Fun factoid for your next platter party, kids:  Standard drums are classed as membranophones while steel drums (a.k.a. pans) are idiophones – resonant solid material.  Producer Ron Richards of The Hollies knew a guy in a Caribbean steel drum band so he brought him into the studio to record the solo for the 1967 hit “Carrie Anne”.  Loggins and Messina also feature steel drums on the song “Vahevala”.  Island music uses this as well and the songs of Jimmy Buffett lend themselves well to steel drums.

11.SITAR Image result for sitar

Of course Beatle fans all know that George Harrison brought back a sitar from India and sweated out a suitably Eastern part for John’s “Norwegian Wood”.  Brian Jones followed suit for the Stones on “Paint It Black” which was the first U.S. #1 (1966) record to feature sitar.  Dave Mason used it on the Traffic songs “Hole In My Shoe” and “Paper Sun”.  For Western music the sitar’s place always seems to be in psychedelia, but never really more than that perhaps due to the difficulty in playing it.  A simpler instrument to play is a modification of a guitar known as the electric sitar.  It was used on several hits including the 1968 records “Hooked On A Feeling” by B.J. Thomas (played by Reggie Young) and “Games People Play” by Joe South.

12.HOOTER/MELODICA Image result for melodica

The hooter (a.k.a. the melodica) is not what you think, owl lovers.  Its a harmonica-like instrument that looks like a recorder with a keyboard attached instead of holes down the front.  It lends its name to the group that used it on many of their songs including “Satellite” (The Hooters).  Jan & Dean used it earlier on fun songs like “Skateboarding, Part 2” from the 1964 LP The Little Old Lady From Pasadena.  At one point in the 1964 movie A Hard Day’s Night, John Lennon plays the melodica in their hotel room and seems to find what would become the intro to “Strawberry Fields Forever” three years later.

13.KAZOO Image result for comb and paper kazooImage result for kazoo

This can either take the form of a comb and paper combo or a cheap colorful plastic piece you often would find as a prize at a local fair.  In both cases you kind of hum into one side and an obnoxious buzzing noise comes out the other side.  Paul McCartney was seemingly oblivious to the obnoxious quotient in 1973 when he played it on Ringo Starr’s hit “You’re Sixteen”.  He wasn’t the first to ruin a song with it, however, as Dion’s “Little Diane” also featured it in 1962.  The notes to the Ace CD Runaround Sue, The Best Of The Rest sums up most people’s feelings – “Hands up those who hated that kazoo on this song!”  There actually are some tolerable uses of kazoo:  The Mothers Of Invention (Frank Zappa) on the LP Freak Out, “Cross Town Traffic” by Jimi Hendrix, “Lovely Rita” by The Beatles, “When I’m Dead & Gone” by McGuiness Flint, etc.

14.MANDOCELLO Image result for mandocello

Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick used this guitar/mandolin cousin on the best song from their 1977 debut album which gave the song its name.  Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers plays one as does Jaco Pastorius of Weather Report and Richie Sambora (on the Bon Jovi song “Lay Your Hands on Me”).


This is pronounced wee-row and is a grooved fishy/bullet-shaped hollow wooden thingy with holes in it to hold on to that is scraped by a stick to produce a scratchy sound.  This Latin American percussion instrument turns up in The Rollins Stones’ song “Gimme Shelter” plus starts off the song “Combination Of The Two” by Big Brother & The Holding Company on their LP Cheap Thrills.  It is used in “Do It Again” by Steely Dan and Lowell George (Little Feat) played it on the Frank Zappa song “Chocolate Halvah” on the album You Can’t Do That On Stage, Vol. 5.  A weird Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band moment was when Artie Trip played the guiro on stage and called it The Mascara Snake after a former band member then someone else would grab it and call it The Mascara Fake.

16.CASTANETS & CLAVES Image result for castanetsImage result for claves

More Latin percussion here, kids.  Basically castanets are two hallow shells held by a strap that when banged together make a clicking noise.  The best use in rock was on the Roxy Music song “Dance Away” and much earlier (along with the claves) on “Little Darlin'” by The Diamonds (1957).  They also can be heard on “Under The Boardwalk” by the Drifters and “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes.  Claves are percussive instruments that are a set of two resonant sticks or dowels that are clicked together.  I stole this part from Wikipedia – “Traditionally, the striking clave is called el macho (‘the male’) and the resting clave is called la hembra (‘the female’).  Fascinating, huh?  At any rate you Who fans know this sound from 1968’s “Magic Bus” while Beatle fans know it from “And I Love Her”.   There is also a nice click throughout “All Right Now” by Free.  If you want a dose of both, check out Dawn’s “Knock Three Times”.

17.MELLOTRON Image result for mellotron

This is your blogger’s fave instrument when played loudly in a progressive rock band and will show up in a blog post all by itself later.  It looks like a small organ but is a very different animal.  Developed in the U.K. in 1963, the mellotron plays whatever is recorded on a magnetic tape strip of about 7-8 seconds in length.  The cabinet holds a series of tapes that play one note and can be a flute, a violin or even a choral tone that is activated when you push a key like on an organ.  A spring pulls the tape back and over time it can develop flutter and variations giving the pure tone an otherworldly feel.  While Graham Bond and Manfred Mann used it early in a rock context, most people heard first on the intro to The Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever” and on the LP Days Of Future Passed by the Moody Blues.  The sound brings chills to the RNR Dentist on records by King Crimson, Marillion, Barclay James Harvest, etc. with a personal fave being the title track from Hero & Heroine by The Strawbs.  As synths became better, it fell out of favor as it is a finicky instrument due to the tapes and it is hard to take on the road.  Talking to Dave Bainbridge who played the great mellotron part on “We Have The Power” on the last LP by The Strawbs (The Ferryman’s Curse), he let on that the sound of the mellotron is now mostly recreated by a synth that samples it which is what he uses.  There are still some believers in old-school mellotrons like Steven Wilson and Opeth.  By the way, there were other samples on original mellotrons including the Spanish guitar flourish heard before “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill” on The Beatles’ White Album.

18.BASS HARMONICA Image result for bass harmonica

We all know a harmonica (or harp) is a multi-holed instrument blown in to make reeds move harmonically.  The deeper, larger and less-known cousin to the classic mouth organ is the bass harmonica which shows up on the Beach Boys LP Pet Sounds as played by Tommy Morgan (“I Know There’s An Answer” a.k.a. “Hang On To Your Ego”).  The Beatles co-opted the sound for “Fool On The Hill” (ostensibly played by Lennon & Harrison).  Charlie McCoy played this on the Simon & Garfunkel song “The Boxer”.


19.ELECTRIC GARGLE/NOSE/CHEEKImage result for garglingImage result for finger next to noseHow to Make a Finger Pop Sound with Your Mouth - YouTube

These body instruments appear on songs by The Lovin’ Spoonful and The Jefferson Airplane respectively (if not respectfully).  Zal Yanovsky wasn’t sure what to do on the solo break for “Bald Headed Lena” (Daydream) so in keeping with the lighthearted sound he gargled it (pretty darn musically, too).  Not to be outdone (and a little farther up on the face), the song “Lather” (Crown Of Creation) features Gary Blackman on nose solo following the line “snorting the best licks in town”.  Daughter Brenna reminded me that you can’t forget the critical cheek pop sound you make in the song “Lollipop” by The Chordettes (#2 1958).  Sometimes the best instruments for a song are staring back in the mirror.

20.ASHTRAY & COKE BOTTLE All For You Crystal Heavy Glass Ashtray for Indoor and Outdoor Decorative (Square) Glass Soda Bottle: Clear, 2.4 x 8.86 inches

In 1965 The Beach Boys used these simple percussion instruments on the Party album but were actually trumped a few months earlier by The Dixie Cups using the same combo on the song “Iko Iko”.  By the way, Jimmy Ibbotson came close to this by playing a cardboard soda box on 2002’s Will The Circle Be Unbroken, Vol. 3.  

21.THEREMIN Image result for theremin

While we are talking about The Beach Boys, let’s not forget this tremulous instrument from their tremendous record “Good Vibrations”.  Russian Physicist Leon Theremin invented this oscillating electronic instrument in the early 1900’s.  It involves the waving of hands around two metal rods to create weird otherworldly sounds.  We mainly remember it creating eerie effects for many ’50s sci-fi movies.  Paul Tanner plays a variation of this instrument (the electro-theremin) on the coda of “Good Vibrations”.  Paul Conly & John Emelin of the ’60s Colorado band Lothar & The Hand People played the theremin on 2 LPs for Capitol.  Tesla use it on “Edison’s Medicine” on the 1991 platinum album Psychotic Supper.  Brian Jones used it in 1967 on the LP Their Satanic Majesties Request while Jimmy Page often used it onstage with Led Zeppelin.

22.FRENCH HORN Ravel Single French Horn

This instrument is common in orchestras but not in rock bands.  Al Kooper played a memorable into for The Rolling Stones song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”.  The Who’s John Entwistle actually studied this in school and put it to good use on Tommy.  Alan Civil lent his horn to “For No One” by The Beatles while The Monkees used it on “Shades Of Gray” (Headquarters).   It is said that rapper and Flat Earther B.o.B. can also play the French Horn (who knew?).

23.CELESTE/GLOCKENSPIEL Image result for celestaImage result for glockenspiel

The first is a tinkly-sounding keyboard instrument (also known as a celesta) and looks very much like a small piano.  The mallets of a piano strike strings while the mallets of a celeste strike metal plates giving a heavenly sound.  It dominates “Everyday” by Buddy Holly and features his producer Norman Petty’s wife Vi.  The Cascades used it on “Rhythm Of The Rain” while possibly the most ethereal use of all was on Nick Drake’s “Northern Sky”, his most beautiful song.  The non-keyboard version of a glockenspiel is a row (or rows) of metal plates or tubes that are struck by a mallet creating a ringing noise.   The Beatles use is on “Being Of The Benefit Of Mr. Kite”  and “Only A Northern Song”.  Rush has used it alot over the years, but the song “Born To Run” and “Hungry Heart” really show the tinkling sound as played by Danny Federici of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.  My favorite Beach Boys song benefits from it as well – “Sloop John B”.  The keyboard version is actually very similar to a celeste but louder (the group Gryphon used it on several records).  A strange 2 person version was played by Sailor that they referred to as the Nickelodeon.  Check out their 1976 record “The Old Nickelodeon Sound”.


Let’s bring in The Strawbs again.  Dave Cousins (who had started them as a folk band) handled this old-timey instrument (played with a stick moving up and down the fretboard).  It has a drone-like sound similar in that respect to a stringed bagpipe.  Cousins used an electrified version for the song “Benedictus” on Grave New World (1972).  The type used here and also played by Brian Jones on “Lady Jane” by The Rolling Stones and Joni Mitchell on her 1971 album Blue is a fretted Appalachian dulcimer.  This is different than the similar named but unrelated hammered dulcimer that featured heavily in one of the best songs from 2019 “The Other Side” by Edenbridge from their Dynamind album.

25.GONG Image result for gong

Let’s end this thing with an appropriate bash on the gong, an instrument that likely goes back to 6th century China.  You see one on the top of the equipment van on the back cover of Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma (and you hear one on that LP too).  The most memorable use is at the beginning and end of The Moody Blues’ 1967 LP Days Of Future Passed but many other bands such as Queen and Van Halen couldn’t resist smashing ones at times either.  Progressive bands like Rush, Jade Warrior, Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer (to name a few) also made use of the gong.  No clue, however, if the spacey-jazz rock band Gong actually played one.

Beatlesque Pop Goodies – Part 2

6 Hottest Picks From Upcoming Beatles Auction in Liverpool ... The Rutles Parody the Beatles - The New York Times

Here is part 2 of a multi-part series I want to do about some interesting Beatlesque music.  Last month was part 1 and if you missed it, please go back and start there as it talks about what that sort of music means.  Years ago when I used to play some of the pop music I purchased from places like Bruce Brodeen’s Not Lame website for my drummer pal Dan Campbell, he made the astute comment that nobody combined both of the main facets musically that The Beatles did.  What he meant was that they could play screaming rock and roll on one song then a gentle ballad on the next and do so with equal skill.  There is a fine line too between saccharine and sweet.  At any rate, here are 20 more songs reminiscent of the music of the Fab Four.

1.The Rutles – I Must Be In Love

Where Monty Python’s Eric Idle and other comic greats combine with musicians the like of Mick Jagger and even George Harrison to make a funny TV movie of the story of The Beatles er Rutles (All You Need Is Cash).  We learned that apparently their success was all due to their trousers and they were under the influence of tea in their later years.  Though it was done as a lovingly funny copy of the true Beatles story, it and the music were still great.  In 1978 with no new Beatles music since Let It Be in 1970 this was almost like getting a brand new album for Fab-starved fans.  That was the problem for the holder of the publishing of the real Beatles’ music at the time (ATV).  They sued writer Neil Innes for copying Beatles music and eventually received 50% of the royalties from Innes in an out of court settlement though he remained sole songwriter.

2.Spinal Tap – Rainy Day Sun

Another fictitious movie band from the 1984 metal parody This Is Spinal Tap.  The soundtrack album released for the movie showed the actors to have real musical talent.  Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer and lead singer Michael McKean do a credible psychedelic take-off on this song written by all three under the names Nigel Tufnel, Derek Smalls and David St. Hubbins.

3.The Heardsmen – She Knows It

Let’s make it a fake movie band troika with this fine song from the soundtrack to the spot-on film about a one-hit wonder ’60s U.S. band.  If Tom Hanks had never done another movie other than 1996’s That Thing You Do!, I would still love his work as this feels real and could only come from someone who loved the music.  Boy would I kill to talk to him about rock and roll one day (as if!).  The album included some nifty pop music that wasn’t actually in the movie such as this song by the fictitious Heardsmen which is the band that leader Jimmy supposedly formed after The Wonders act broke up in the movie.  The song is written by Scott Rogness and the late Rick Elias.


4.The Knickerbockers – Stick With Me

Though they had two other minor hits, this New Jersey band could very easily have been the true inspiration for the movie one hit Wonders.  In 1965 when “Lies” went to #20, folks wondered if they were really The Beatles.  The hit was written by band members Beau Charles and Buddy Randell (who had been in The Royal Teens of “Short Shorts” fame).  As an act they were chameleons sounding at times like The Four Seasons, but here doing a credible Beatles take-off.  Drummer Jimmy Walker replaced Bill Medley in The Righteous Brothers for a time.

5.Smash Palace – Another Man

After 14 years of inactivity, the New Jersey brothers Brian and Stephen Butler (the core of Smash Palace) recorded the album Fast, Long, Loud in 1999 which was available on the indie label Imagine.  In 1985 they had recorded for Epic with zero success and quit disillusioned with the biz.  The band is still going today under Steven’s leadership.  This song feels like the pre-Pepper Beatles.

6.Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Lullaby

A bit modern sounding, but a lovely dreamy ballad with a late-period Beatles feel.  This comes from the San Francisco band’s seventh album Specter At The Feast (2013).  The record was a bit of a mourning period for the loss of the father of their bassist who was also their producer and live soundman – Michael Been of the excellent band The Call.

7.Vox Pop – You Don’t Know Her

The early Beatles played their guitars through Vox amps.  As the owner of a vintage Vox Buckingham amp from my youth, the name Vox holds special meaning for your blogger as well.  This band was an offshoot of the fine power-poppers The Rubinoos (“I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend”).  Of this band, only bassist/vocalist John Seabury is not a current member of The Rubinoos.  The other Vox Poppers were Tommy Dunbar (guitar, vocals), Al Chan (vocals, guitar) and Donn Spindt (drums, vocals).  This was recorded in 1990 and was on their self-titled indie album on Sandbox Records.

8.Utopia – Take It Home

On their 1980 Bearsville album Deface The Music, Utopia set out to pay homage to the music of The Beatles.  Utopia was Todd Rundgren (guitar, vocals), Kasim Sulton (bass, vocals), Roger Powell (keyboards, vocals) and Willie Wilcox (drums, vocals).  Every song comes from a different Beatles era with “Take It Home” being a riff rocker like “Day Tripper”.

9.Emitt Rhodes – She’s Such A Beauty

With his band The Merry-Go-Round and as a solo act, Rhodes had a strong McCartney vibe and has been worshiped through the years by fans of pop music as a visionary (like Big Star) that never received the rewards he deserved.  He recorded his 1970 self-titled album much like Paul had playing all the music himself in his home studio.  This album yielded the minor Dunhill records hit “Fresh As A Daisy”.

10.Melanie C – Suddenly Monday

What is a Spice Girl doing here you may well be asking.  Well, the lady has talent.  This jaunty piano-driven tune feels like something Paul would have written for the Pepper album.  It was a Rick Rubin production from her first solo album Northern Star (1999) which was a big success just about everywhere except the U.S.  The song was also used in the 2000 movie Maybe Baby.

11.Martin Newell – Goodbye Dreaming Fields

His 1993 album from which this comes (The Greatest Living Englishman) is his best album, but he has been releasing fine music under his own name, with The Cleaners From Venus and with The Brotherhood Of Lizards since at least 1980.  Like XTC his music is a bit quirky with elements also taken from Pet Sounds era Beach Boys.  He has been prolific musically in England plus as an author and poet.

12.Smokie – Sunshine Avenue

Well they mention “Pepper’s band” in the lyrics so you know where they are coming from stylistically here.  This 1977 song sounds nothing like any of the other songs of this English band and comes from their album Bright Lights & Back Alleys.  They recorded a decent cover of The Searchers hit “Needles & Pins” as well.  Their biggest hits were “Lay Back Into The Arms Of Someone” and “Living Next Door To Alice”.  Lead vocalist Chris Norman is no longer with the band.

13.Jellyfish – The King If Half-Undressed

Power pop fans need no introduction to the San Francisco band Jellyfish who were sort of a U.S. XTC.  This song is from their 1990 debut Bellybutton.  Releasing only two albums as a band, the core members Andy Sturmer, Roger Manning and Jason Falkner (who was not on their second album Spilt Milk) have been active in pop ever since.  Their music was hopelessly out of sync with the prevailing trends of hair metal balladry and grunge so they didn’t stand a chance.  Still this song charted at #39 in the U.K. which has always been more open to good guitar-based music it seems.

14.Kaiser George & The Hi-Risers – I’d Rather Be With You

Well this is probably cheating, but so what – I like this song.  Yes, in the last post we already included The Kaisers from Scotland, but this is only one of them (George Miller – far right in video) with the U.S. band The Hi-Risers.  Guitarist Greg Townson – far left – is now in my fave instro band Los Straitjackets (whose one-time drummer Jason Smay – 2nd from left – was also in The Hi-Risers and now JD McPherson’s band).  The album Transatlantic Dynamite! (Spinout Records 2006) was termed by one as “like mixing John Lennon with Buddy Holly’s Crickets”.

15.The Posies – Richie Dagger’s Crime

Take a thrasher by punk band The Germs and have it played on a tribute album by one of the great U.S. power-pop bands (The Posies) who give it a Rubber Soul sort of arrangement = brilliant pop music.  A Small Circle Of Friends (a Tribute album to The Germs) came out on Grass Records in 1996 and likely isn’t as well-known as some of the other Posies songs like “Golden Blunders” and “Flavor Of The Month”.  Aged only 22, the lead singer (Darby Crash) of The Germs killed himself in 1980 (one day before John Lennon was shot) with an intentional heroin overdose.

16.The Red Button – Caught In The Middle

Sounding just like the early John Lennon-style harmonica-driven Beatles sound, The Red Button released this song on their second album As Far As Yesterday Goes (2011).  They are a two man band U.S. power-pop act (Seth Swirsky and Mike Ruekberg).  Reading about them online, since I am too cheap to pay for Sirius radio, I did not realize that this song was popular on Little Steven’s Underground Garage show proving that some folks still like good pop.

17.Julian Lennon – I Don’t Wanna Know

Was gonna include the psych song “Invisible”,but this video is such a great pastiche of The Beatles a la The Rutles that it demanded inclusion.  Perhaps a bit of a cheat again to include the son of John here, but he didn’t have to do a pop song that sounded like his dad’s band – yet he did so thanks to him.  Sadly his dad never saw his successful career but at least his mother Cynthia did.  Well it helped that his voice sounds much like his dad’s, but during the mid ’80s into the ’90s he managed to have a good number of international hit records.  This was from his 1998 album Photograph Smile, his fifth.

18.Arctic Monkeys – No. 1 Party Anthem

Another John Lennon sound-alike though more like solo John.  English indie Arctic Monkeys finally broke into the U.S. with their fifth studio album AM (2013) which included this song.  Frontman Alex Turner is also in another band we may soon see on this list.

19.The Last Shadow Puppets – The Dream Synopsis

Told you we would see Alex Turner from Arctic Monkeys again – this time with his side-project which also includes Miles Kane whose music is worth seeking out as well.  Once again this sounds more like “Mind Games” Lennon, but still needs to be here.  This was on the 2016 album Everything You’ve Come To Expect.

20.Kula Shaker – Shower Your Love

Perhaps if George Harrison’s Eastern musical styles would have continued to Abbey Road we would have gotten a song like this along with orchestration.  Those old-folk in the reading audience will remember actress Hayley Mills from movies like Pollyanna.  The fact that she couldn’t sing didn’t stop her from having a hit with “Let’s Get Together” (#8 in 1961 from the first Parent Trap movie).  Luckily her son Crispian can sing and his band Kula Shaker have released sporadically some excellent music since 1995.  This was on the 1999 Peasants, Pigs & Astronauts album, their second.  As a U.K. single this got to #14.

Beatleque Pop Goodies – Part 1

The bulk of this was written just before the shocking death of Adam Schlesinger from the horrible virus that has paralyzed the world.  Schlesinger’s name is likely not known by any but the biggest hard-core power-pop fans, but he was a fantastic talent.  As co-founder (and multi-instrumentalist/backing vocalist) with lead singer Chris Collingwood of the band Fountains Of Wayne, those 2 co-wrote some great songs.  You mostly know them from “Stacy’s Mom”, but they put out many more excellent songs on their 5 albums from 1996 – 2011.  Schlesinger wrote the song “That Thing You Do” for the Tom Hanks movie of the same name and also was the main producer on the surprising Monkees 2016 album Good Times! (he also wrote one of the best songs “Our Own World”).  He had a side pop music project (Tinted Windows) with Taylor Hanson, Bun E Carlos (Cheap Trick) and James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins).  Another of his bands was Ivy.  Adam also produced half the soundtrack album to the 2001 Josie & The Pussycats movie and did many other films as well (Shallow Hal, 2 Weeks Notice, etc.).  He co-wrote music for the John Waters play Cry-Baby.  Check out all these, but in tribute I am going to add a 21st song now to start the blog – the sadly lush Lennonesque “Prom Theme” from the 1999 album Utopia Parkway by Fountains Of Wayne.

Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne is ailing but 'improving ...

Beatles' 'Abbey Road' Breakup Secrets Revealed 50 Years On The History of Pete Ham and Badfinger

Your humble Dentist loves Beatley pop music.  You may well ask, just what constitutes Beatlesque pop?  Well, let’s go to Merriam-Webster.  “Definition of Beatlesque: of, relating to, or suggestive of the musical style or technique of the Beatles.”  Okay, well that’s clear.  Of course that means, great pop songs with excellent vocal harmonies a la The Everly Brothers using sitars.  Ringing 12-string guitars, country flourishes with psychedelic lyrics and orchestrated balladry.  Gentle love songs and old-timey music-hall tunes with bombastic thrashing power guitar chording not to mention great piano rock and roll ballads.  Huh?  Hmmmm…  Well to co-opt the immortal 1964 words of Justice Potter Stewart about obscene material (but could have been about the definition of ‘Beatlesque’):  “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it…”- or in this case, hear it.  So what follows is part one of an on-going series of quality songs that just feel like The Beatles would have approved of them. The idea is to mostly include bands you likely are not familiar with or perhaps rarer songs by acts you are familiar with.  At any given time while it can change, my fave song ever is Badfinger’s “Day After Day” and being on the Beatles’ label Apple it is fitting that perhaps they are the ultimate in what would be considered Beatlesque.  The Raspberries, Klaatu, Big Star, Electric Light Orchestra/Jeff Lynne, Oasis, on and on – these are gold standards too.  Special mention should go out to Colorado based Not Lame Records and founder Bruce Brodeen who continues to fly the flag for all things pop music with Pop Geek Heaven.  If you want to get his emailed newsletter you should contact him at to see what is new in the world of pop music.  Thanks Bruce for your passion!

There is a lot here and I don’t expect you to listen to more then a few seconds of each song, but try to give these a chance as many grow on you as the song goes on.

1.The Kaisers – Time To Go

Frankly you could insert virtually anything by this outstanding group of Scots who sounded just like a Merseybeat ’64 band only in the decade from 1992 – 2002.  The albums like Beat It Up! and Wishing Street are worth looking for.  Some of their best material was recorded by Liam Watson at his Toe Rag Studios in the U.K. that used old analog gear including a mixing board from Abbey Road Studios.  Band stall-wort George Miller did several other projects over the years that we may explore later.

2.The Spongetones – Here I Go Again

Yet another band with multiple possible songs you could include on this list.  This North Carolina band formed in ’79 and are still going with most of the same players – Jamie Hoover, Steve Stoeckel and Pat Walters.  Highly recommended are the Beat & Torn compilation and the 1991 album Oh Yeah!.

3.The Weeklings – I’m In Love

Well, I have to say that the band name doesn’t do much for me, but all three of their albums are great Beatle-pop.  Former Beatlemania cast member (and current Orchestra bassist) Glen Burtnik is a member.  Others in this New Jersey-based band are Bob Burger, John Merjave and Joe Bellia.  Their newest album 3 includes a cover of the Beatles song “Baby You’re A Rich Man”.

4.Myracle Brah – Love Is

Short in length at 1:38, but long in power-pop punch.  While the rest of the oddly titled album Life On Planet Eartsnop is good, this song gives me chills every time I hear it.  Leader Andy Bopp from Baltimore has put out some really high quality sounding records since this 1998 indie release that deserve a listen.

5.Rosalie Cunningham – Butterflies

Recalling the pastoral acoustic ballads of the White Album, but with phasing and a middle eight from the psych Beatles era.  The one-woman band Cunningham formerly also lead Purson whose LPs were pretty much her as well.  This song comes from her self-titled album from 2019 and shows all things Beatlesque are not strictly male.

6.Liverpool – She’s My Little Girl

Scandinavian band Liverpool put out an album of mostly solo-era or Beatles band covers called In Our Own Way… in 1997.  This song was one of two band originals and certainly sounds of a piece with the early Fab Four.  Their album Love Is All was released in 2003 and was all originals.

7.Fastball – Behind The Sun

This Austin, Texas pop-rock trio is mostly known for their 1998 worldwide hit “The Way”.  They continue to release quality product including the 2017 album Step Into The Light from which this haunting Miles Zuniga guitar-ballad was taken.

8.Swag – She’s Deceiving

The members of this pop collective make for an interesting mix on this 2001 Yep Roc release – Catch-All.  They were Tom Petersson (Cheap Trick), Ken Coomer (Wilco), Doug Powell and two members of The Mavericks – Jerry Dale McFadden and Robert Reynolds.  Reynolds sang this later-era Lennon sounding plodder before getting ousted from The Mavericks for substance abuse issues.  Production was handled by well-known pop producer Brad Jones.

9.The Redwalls –  Hung Up On The Way I’m Feeling

Well if this song had been a hit, a case could have been made for adding a John Lennon songwriting credit as it sure sounds a lot like “Sun King” from Abbey Road.  On the cover of their 2005 album de nova, The Redwalls certainly looked the part of a ’70s power-pop band and were on the right label (Capitol).  At their core were the brothers Logan and Justin Baren from Deerfield, Illinois.

10.The Fraternal Order Of The All – Tomorrow Drop Dead

Could this be any more of an obvious tongue-in-cheek homage to “Tomorrow Never Knows” from Rubber Soul?  This was a loving tribute to ’60s psychedelia by the late Andrew Gold (“Thank You For Being A Friend”).  The album Greetings From Planet Love was essentially a Gold solo record under the name The Fraternal Order Of The All and came out in 1997.

11.Richard Barone – Nobody Knows Me

This is a very bright jangly tune with a George Harrison sort of vocal.  It was from the third solo album by the former lead singer of The Bongos (“Numbers With Wings”) – Clouds Over Eden (1993).   He continues to be active in music living in Greenwich Village.

12.Los Shakers – Won’t You Please

These guys proved just how far the music of The Beatles penetrated the rest of the world back in the ’60s.  Hugo, Osvaldo, Pelin & Caio doesn’t roll off the tongue like John, Paul, George & Ringo but in their own way they were ground-breakers in Montevideo, Uruguay.  With Beatles haircuts and singing in a language they didn’t speak (English), their debut single in 1965 (“Break It All”) was a hit in South America.  In 1966, the U.S. label Audio Fidelity took a chance and released an album titled after that single that included the song “Won’t You Please” (also a hit single) which has a nice swinging Help! era feel to it.  After breaking up in 1968 members moved into more Latin styles.

13.Vinyl Kings – I Took A Chance

The early 2000’s Vinyl Kings albums A Little Trip and Time Machine are both excellent tributes to the music of the Fabs and feature some interesting players.  Larry Byrom (Steppenwolf), Larry Lee (Ozark Mountain Daredevils), Jim Photoglo (writer for Alabama, HIghway 101, etc.), Josh Leo (writer for Alabama, Crystal Gayle, etc.) plus country bassist Michael Rhodes and drummer Harry Stinson.

14.Redd Kross – Saragon

These guys have put out some interesting if quirky pop dating back to the early ’80s with Hawthorne, CA brothers Jeff & Steve McDonald at their core.  Admittedly more power-pop than Beatlesque, however they deserve to be mentioned.  The brothers still lead a version of the band.  This is found on their Phaseshifter album from 1993.


15.Gregg Tripp – Time

What a shock it was to hear this song over the Muzak system playing at our local King Soopers Grocery a few years back (sounded pretty good, actually).  Tripp is mainly known as a songwriter for hair bands like Cinderella and Vixen, but did put out one solo album in 1991 – Tempus Edax Rerum on the defunct Impact label.  He likely made a few bucks by placing his song “I Don’t Want To Live Without You” in the Christian Slater movie Kuffs (though it wasn’t on the released soundtrack).

16.The Korgis – If I Had You

Well this is more George Harrison All Things Must Pass -like admittedly, but he was a member of the Fabs, right?  The only U.S. success these guys had was “Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime” (#18 1980), but this earlier single hit #13 in the U.K. was on their American album Dumb Waiters.  Former Stackridge members Andy Davis (the tallest) and especially lead singer James Warren were essentially the Korgis.  They acknowledged their debt to JPG&R with their 2006 single “Something About The Beatles” which is also on youtube.

17.Pete Ham – Makes Me Feel Good

Of all the musical losses due to an early death, next to John Lennon at #1 the saddest would have to rank Pete Ham at #2 for your blogger.  This was taken from the second album of Ham demos released with added instrumentation to make them sound more like Badfinger songs (Golders Green – 1999).  At least they did have the sense to use a couple of Iveys/Badfinger musicians in Ron Griffiths and Bob Jackson.

18.Cheap Trick – Blackberry Way

Why Roy Wood and his band The Move did virtually nothing here in the U.S. while being mega-stars in the U.K. has always been puzzling.  Their offshoot band ELO at least became superstars but only after Wood left (sigh).  Cheap Trick are rightly THE most successful power-pop band and continue to release excellent material including their most recent non-holiday album We’re All Alright (2017).  For me, by far the best track was only on the deluxe version and was a fantastic cover of the #1 U.K. single by The Move from 1968.  The original psych-pop song was inspired by “Penny Lane” most certainly.  Cheap Trick have shown wonderful taste over the years in covering Wood’s “California Man” and The Beatles (“Day Tripper”, “Magical Mystery Tour”, etc.).  Thanks again, Rick, for the guitar pick (look at last month’s blog post for a picture of him giving it to me) – now why not cover “Turkish Tram Conductor Blues”?

19.The newno2 – Make It Home

Well if anybody is allowed to release a psychedelic Beatley song it would be George Harrison’s son Dhani, right?  Okay, so the background plodding beat sounds modern – well the rest of it is pure Magical Mystery Tour.  This came out in 2012 on his band The newno2’s second album thefearofmissingout.

20.Merrymouth – That Man

As our last entry for part 1 of Beatlesque music, here is one few folks in the U.S. will know as it is from a U.K.-only album by a side-project of Simon Fowler of another U.K.-only successful band – Ocean Colour Scene.  This psychedelic song is from their second album Wenlock Hill (2014) which also contains a sad remake of the old song “He Was A Friend Of Mine” with new lyrics about John Lennon.