ENGELBERT: Tin Pan Alley, Country Pop & The Indestructible ‘Release Me’ – uDiscover

Vocal stylist Engelbert Humperdinck has been talking to uDiscover about the remarkable body of work that’s celebrated by today’s (19 May) release of the compilation Engelbert Humperdinck: 50 and the simultaneous The Complete Decca Studio Albums Collection. He discusses how he used to search for new material, how he crossed country music into the pop charts — and how there might be a new Engelbert studio album in the pipeline. The 50 compilation, which you can order here, is a two-CD, 39-track retrospective featuring all of the Grammy-winning singer’s biggest hits, in a career that has realised 150 million record sales worldwide. It also includes a new DBU Disco Remix of ‘Release Me’ and two brand new songs, ‘I Don’t Want To Call It Goodbye’ and ‘I Followed My Heart’. “It’s an amazing presentation, I think,” says Humperdinck. “I can’t believe how well it’s been done, and we’ve got a couple of new songs on there, plus the remix of ‘Release Me.’ The new songs were just both a propos, so we put them both on the album, and they’re great songs, well-written.”

The 11-album box set (click here to order) is available physically but also makes these albums available digitally for the first time. “I like the idea of the vinyl covers remaining the same in digital form now,” he observes. “Not giving it a different face, giving it the same face, only packaging it in a very contemporary way. It’s wonderful.”

Musing on the remarkable history of ‘Release Me,’ he recalls the long history of the Eddie Miller/Robert Yount composition even before he got near it. Written in 1949, the song was successful for a number of artists before it transformed Engelbert’s career in 1967. It became the UK’s bestselling single of that year, famously preventing The Beatles‘ ‘Penny Lane’ and ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ double A-side from reaching No. 1.

“It was a big hit before I got it, a country hit by Ray Price,” says the vocalist. “On stage he said ‘This was my song until Engelbert Humperdinck came along and made it a hit around the world.’ I heard it as an instrumental by a gentleman called Frank Weir. I just heard the melody and I said to Gordon Mills, who was my manager at that time, ‘That’s a hit song.'”

“When it was given to Charles Blackwell and he did that amazing arrangement that is so recognisable, even that introduction gives it meaning. Everybody knows it’s ‘Release Me’ before it starts.”

“My early years were very exciting for me,” he continues. “Fortunately, I had Gordon beside me, guiding my career. He was a manager that was very musically-minded. He also wrote a lot of my b-sides. He was a great manager.”

The album collection affords the opportunity to recall the wide range of material that Engelbert recorded beyond his well-known hits,. He would often interpret existing material, put his stamp on recent chart successes for others (from ‘Wand’rin’ Star’ to ‘Aquarius’), and put the spotlight on some songs of historical importance.

“We all hung out in Tin Pan Alley, many times, looking for material for new albums,” he recalls. “But then once you have a hit record, it changes the picture and people start to send you a lot of songs. You don’t have to go looking anymore. That was one of the great things about having hit songs,” he laughs. “It makes life a little bit easier.”

His first Decca album of 1967, also called Release Me, featured a version of ‘Misty Blue,’ which had recently been a country hit for Wilma Burgess but became better-known to later audiences from Dorothy Moore’s soulful interpretation of 1976. “I love that song, it’s a real Nashville song,” enthuses Humperdinck.

“We didn’t go totally country, we went country pop, which is the best way to go, if you’re not a country singer yourself. Some of my hits, like ‘Am I That Easy To Forget’ and ‘There Goes My Everything,’ they were country material which was used before, but I took it and made them hits.” Another fascinating country entry is his reading of the Bee Gees‘ song ‘Sweetheart,’ which became the title song of his 1971 Decca album.

Humperdinck has fond memories of the recording techniques of this album era. “I like the method we used, because the arranger would come, you would routine it, then he’d take it away and the next time you see it, it’s in the studio with all these wonderful musicians and singers.”

“Then they went to another method where they just gave you a rhythm track, and you’d put your voice on that, but I never liked that method. I always liked the entire arrangement, the bed of music, to lie on, because it lends your voice to going in so many different directions, and I think that’s one of the reasons that brought success to these albums in the early years.”

Arrangers were, and remain, key to his distinctively luxuriant sound. “Arrangers of the past, they were just brilliant musicians themselves,” he says. “People like Les Reed, he wrote great songs for me like ‘The Last Waltz,’ ‘Les Bicyclettes de Belsize,’ ‘Winter World Of Love,’ some massive hits that came from him.”

“I’ve started to work with an arranger I worked with about 50 years ago, his name is Johnny Harris. He did great stuff for me like ‘Quando Quando Quando,’ that’s his arrangement. And he did the track for ‘I Follow My Heart,’ one of the new songs on the CD. It is harder to come by great songs [now], but I can honestly say that the two new ones are in this fashion.”

At 81, Engelbert’s diary continues to be packed. “A whole new album is in store, of new songs,” he reveals, but before that, there are many more shows to fulfill in his datebook, starting in June in Bucharest, Romania. “I love it. There’s not many places in the world I haven’t been, but I’m going to Iceland, I haven’t been there before, or Romania. But I’ve been everywhere else. ‘I’ve been everywhere, man…’” he sings with a chuckle.

“You do get that little nervousness when you play countries like Russia, but the funny part — although I have to have an interpreter on stage to do my talking for me — but the songs themselves, they tend to sing them in some phonetical fashion, and they sing along with you, it’s amazing.”

Of the double CD and box set packages, he concludes: “For the people that haven’t heard my music before, it’s going to be quite an eye-opener, because it does lend itself to great compositions and great arrangements. The entire package is so well done.”

Click here to order Engelbert Humperdinck: 50.

Click here to order The Complete Decca Studio Albums Collection.  

 

Source: Tin Pan Alley, Country Pop & The Indestructible ‘Release Me’: Engelbert Humperdinck Talks To uDiscover – uDiscover

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WOODSTOCK: How the Soundtrack Highlighted Peace, Love and Hippie Music | Ultimate Classic Rock

By Dave Swanson May 11, 2015 2:24 PM

Source: How the ‘Woodstock’ Soundtrack Highlighted Peace, Love and Hippie Music

The Woodstock festival was experienced by “half a million strong,” as the song goes. But the movie and its soundtrack brought the “Three Days of Peace and Music” counterculture celebration to millions of people across the globe.

Released in May 1970, eight months after the festival took place in New York, the film’s soundtrack cemented the legacy of ’60s music and added a dash of idealism for years to come. The triple-LP set was unleashed to an audience enamored with that moment in time, hoping to catch a contact high of sorts.

The performances released on the record were only a fraction of the music experienced over those three August 1969 days, but as a snapshot of the event, it more than delivers, as many of them would become iconic portraits, lasting far longer than many other touchstones of the era.

Even though they were a rough and tumble blues band at their core, Canned Heat are best know for the light and bouncy “Going Up the Country,” a song that’s become synonymous with Woodstock. And its presence here is crucial. As is Richie Havens’ “Freedom.” The New York City folksinger brought an intensity to his performance that perfectly captured the spirit of the event and will forever be tied to the music fest.

See Crosby, Stills & Nash Perform ‘Suite: Judy Blue Eyes’:

Crosby, Stills Nash and Young were so new when they played Woodstock that Stephen Stills noted onstage, “This is only the second time we’ve performed in front of people. We’re scared s—less.” Three of their songs show up on the soundtrack: “Suite: Judy Blues Eyes,” “Wooden Ships” and “Sea of Madness.”

Country Joe & the Fish were among the pioneers of psychedelic music (their debut album, Electronic Music for Mind and Body, is a genuine genre landmark), they are best remembered for their Woodstock appearance, in which they delivered not only the infamous “Fish Cheer” (“Give me an F! Give me a U! Give me a C! Give me a K! What’s that’s spell?“) but also the rousing “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag,” which originally appeared on the band’s second album, but becomes one of the era’s greatest protest songs thanks to the Joe McDonald-led singalong.

Several of the acts at Woodstock had also appeared at the Monterey Pop Festival two years earlier, including Jimi Hendrix and the Who, both of whom made their U.S. debuts at the 1967 show. By the time they each played Woodstock, they were among the biggest artists in rock music, The Who’s performance here is nothing if not riveting, as they play material from the recently released Tommy.

Watch the Who Perform at Woodstock:

One of the most surprising and baffling groups to appear at the festival, Sha Na Na, went on right before Hendrix on the morning of the final day. They turn in a blazing version of Danny & the Juniors’ ’50s classic “At the Hop,” which seemed seriously out of step with everything else going on in 1969. This was several years before American Graffiti ushered in a wave of nostalgia. Either way, Sha Na Na completely won over the Woodstock audience.

Two San Francisco bands — Santana and Jefferson Airplane — turned in significant performances from different angles. The latter group was on the way down while the former was just making its mark. Santana’s Woodstock performance helped break their career.

But the festival’s most defining performances belong to Hendrix and Joe Cocker, whose take on the Beatles‘ “A Little Help From My Friends” would help cement both his and Woodstock’s legacies. Likewise, Hendrix’s famous take on the “Star-Spangled Banner” has become inseparable from the festival.

The album was a huge success, topping the Billboard chart and helping kick-start the careers of many of the artists who appeared. It also carried remnants of the Woodstock ideology into middle America, planting its seeds along the way. It was a moment in time that still resonates today.

Read More: How the ‘Woodstock’ Soundtrack Highlighted Peace, Love and Hippie Music | http://ultimateclassicrock.com/woodstock-soundtrack/?trackback=tsmclip

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BOWIE: How I discovered a secret in the Blackstar sleeve | The Vinyl Factory

How I discovered a secret in Bowie’s Blackstar sleeve – and how you can too –

The Vinyl Factory – the Home of VinylThe secret of Blackstar’s starfield revealed by the man who found it.

Earlier this week one Reddit user sent Bowie fans scrambling home to try and uncover a secret cosmos, hidden in the sleeve of Blackstar.

Released just days before his death, Bowie’s final album has been shrouded in mystery. This latest bonus detail was discovered on gatefold sleeve, which features a star-shaped cut-out that, if exposed to sunlight, reveals a constellation of stars.

How did it take four months to unveil this secret? Dwaine Butters, the man who made the discovery, isn’t sure either. “I still cant believe I’m the first person to realise this little trick,” he said to us.

“I was sat listening to Blackstar, reading the lyrics in the book. I then picked up the sleeve to look at the prints on the inside and on the front cover. That’s when I noticed a slight gold mark in theBlackstar so I held it up to see if it was a print mistake and that’s when the whole star filled with the gold stars. I knew right away it was because the sunlight was passing through the back of the front cover.

“If people would like to see it, it’s as simple as removing the record from the sleeve so that the cut-out black star is not obstructed then holding it up to a light source with the gatefold open.”

There’s been some debate about whether the design feature was intentional or not. Bowie’s son and film director Duncan Jones was apparently unaware of the trick, saying his father was “so clever” and “so missed” after the starry surprise was uncovered.

According to Butters, a friend of his spoke to sleeve designer Jonathan Barnbrook who confirmed its intent. “He has confirmed that I am the first person he knows of to notice it. Which is kind of surreal. It’s even more surreal how much it has been shared around the world. It just goes to show the impact one man had.”

Source:
How I discovered a secret in Bowie’s Blackstar sleeve – and how you can too

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ELVIS: Sun in Vegas

by Tony G. Marshall

elvispresley-thesuncollection(11)

A rare and fascinating public moment occurred as Elvis Presley began a brief reflective backtrack to his musical roots from the stage of the Las Vegas Hilton when he saw someone in the audience holding a copy of the then recently released British compilation album, “The Sun Collection” (aka “The Sun Sessions” (RCA USA, 1976)). “Can I see that album for a second?” he asked the owner of the record as the eye-catching cover art held his attention, I have never seen it before … The Sun Collection?”  he continued as he browsed some of its contents from the stage: “That’s the first five records I recorded!”

This initial RCA UK vinyl album release was just as much a revelation as its subject’s coincidental discovery of it on that evening of December 13th, 1975. Primarily, it was the first official almost-comprehensive overview of the groundbreaking material crafted by Elvis exactly two decades before at the legendary Sun Studio in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. With the likes of “Harbor Lights”, “Tomorrow Night” (undubbed) and “When It Rains, It Really Pours” (out-take) – a mixture of blues and balladry – still unreleased at the time, this collection prominently underlined the sum of its stylistic achievements. It was the sound which spearheaded the infusion of country and western with rhythm and blues music (referred to as Rockabilly) and became a pioneering style of the Rock ‘n’ Roll movement of the mid-1950’s. Presley, along with lead guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black transformed the sound of the genre with their upbeat interpretations: from Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup’s “That’s All Right (Mama)” to Roy Brown’s “Good Rockin’ Tonight”, from Arthur Gunter’s “Baby, Let’s Play House” to Sydney Robin & The Shelton Brothers’ “Just Because”. It was the Sun Recording Company who had Presley under contract and released his early songs as singles masterminded by Sun owner and producer/engineer, Sam Phillips who was first made aware of Presley’s voice by Marion Keisker – the secretary of his Memphis Recording Service which was a subsidiary of the Sun Records label. It was here that Presley cut his first acetate demo soon after he graduated from Humes High School in 1953. From the date of his first ‘official’ recording session with Sun on July 5, 1954 through to RCA buying up his recording contract for an unprecedented sum of $35,000 in November, 1955, music history had already been made. 

FTD Dinner At EightWhen Elvis Presley played his first ever engagement in Las Vegas in April/May, 1956 it stifled him – just as much as Elvis, aged 21 at the time, stifled it! This 2-week stay at the New Frontier Hotel was performed for mostly a sophisticated adult audience who were far from the biggest fans of Rock ‘n’ Roll music. However, by the time Elvis began his 14th engagement at the Hilton Hotel in December of 1975 he had already broken several attendance records in the main showroom which had begun in July, 1969. The times had changed, and so had the type of song set-list Elvis now presented to his audience. The show now featured a number of contemporary songs which included pop, gospel and big ballad arrangements, but his classic rock hits were always a staple of his concerts and whilst not being the most focused of performances, his audiences always appreciated his acknowledgement of them. By 1975 Elvis had already become the ultimate versatile showman and his sold-out concert tours that year (including Vegas seasons) continued to top the listings of the top best-selling artists to see perform live. When he saw that copy of ‘The Sun Collection’ album at the Dinner Show of December 13th, 1975 it considerably raised his interest enough for him to ask to see it. Perhaps it triggered a time for reflection, or at least just for a moment or two, which was spontaneously shared with his audience. Of all the 16 Sun tracks compiled on the album, it appeared that 3 of them were still on his performance set-list in 1975 – namely, “That’s All Right (Mama)”, “Mystery Train” and “Tryin’ To Get To You”. It’s a great testament to these groundbreaking classics, along with the vast majority of his musical repertoire, that they forever stand the test of time. 

You can experience Elvis’ Las Vegas Dinner Show of 12/13/75, which includes that unique ‘Sun’ moment, on the Follow That Dream Collectors’ label CD entitled “Dinner At Eight”

The written content and style in this not-for-profit article is owned by Cosmic Dwellings/Tony G. Marshall. All Rights Reserved. Copyright © 2016 Tony G. Marshall/Cosmic Dwellings.
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BILL HALEY: Saddlemen and Comets

by Tony G. Marshall

Rock the Joint front cover

My first taste of the rock n’ roll music of Bill Haley and His Comets came via the original opening theme of the nostalgic American comedy series, “Happy Days” (1974 – 1984) namely “Rock Around The Clock” followed by a viewing of the 1956 movie of the same name which was shown on British television sometime in the late 1970’s. Intermingled with all this was the experience of listening to further hits of the band albeit infrequently on various radio stations. Sometime around 1980 I first saw a copy of “Rock The Joint!” – a 10″ album (the first of its format I’d ever seen) released by Rollercoaster Records with fabulous retro cover artwork, and through the back cover sleeve essay I discovered that there were more facets to Bill Haley’s early career than I had previously imagined: primarily, starting out as a ‘Hillbilly’ musician with a group called ‘The Down Homers’ in the 1940’s followed by his tenure fronting the band known as The Four Aces of Western Swing. Subsequently, Haley went on to form his own group known as The Saddlemen and it was Bill and The Saddlemen who, at their first recording session for the Holiday label in 1951, recorded a version of the song which is considered to be the first ever rock and roll record – “Rocket 88” by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats. The following year the Holiday label became known as the Essex label, and it’s most of these early releases featuring Bill Haley & The Saddlemen/Bill Haley and His Comets from 1952 – 53 which are compiled on this “Rock The Joint!” album. The title track of the album was the band’s first single release on Essex and five years later became a hit in the UK charts. However, it was the song “Crazy Man, Crazy”, written by Bill himself and released as ‘Bill Haley With Haley’s Comets’ on the label in 1953, which became the band’s first national hit and also bears the distinction of being the first  rock and roll recording to appear on the national American music charts. 

SIDE 1:
Rock The Joint / Rocking Chair On The Moon / Farewell, So Long, Goodbye / Fractured / Stop Beatin’ Around The Mulberry Bush.

SIDE 2:
Crazy Man, Crazy / Pat-a-Cake / I’ll Be True / Whatcha Gonna Do? / Dance With A Dolly.

Bill+Haley++The+Comets+Rock+Around+The+Clock+288197My actual first ever Haley/Comets album purchase was originally released in 1968 on the Hallmark label (Sonet/Pickwick in the US) with such an iconic cover and simply entitled “Rock Around The Clock”. The album featured 9 of the band’s greatest hits along with 1 of the most recent recordings (“Ling-Ting-Tong”) from this period. I didn’t realise it at the time but the majority of the songs featured on the album were re-recordings of their classic hits and the arrangements in the songs were basically the same as the originals. Therefore, it was an enjoyable listening experience for myself and a welcome addition to my vinyl collection. The album release coincided with the nostalgic Rock n’ Roll revival that was gradually taking shape amidst the psychedelic and acid rock-infused musical landscape of the late sixties. It also served as a period piece for another time in which a white country & western and rhythm & blues enthusiast changed the face of popular music by making his own musical cocktail acceptable in the mainstream for a new generation of rock and roll fans to drink up. At the time of the original Haley and The Comets’ recordings of some of the songs featured on this album, Elvis Presley & the Blue Moon Boys were beginning to shake up the Southern regional sanctums of entertainment with their own brand of rocking interpretations of old country and r n’ b standards which came to be identified with ‘Rockabilly’. Subsequently, Presley further developed the blueprint of Haley’s ‘acceptable’ white Rock n’ Roll style with his black-sounding voice and uptempo heavy beat style which in turn heralded the start of a new musical revolution in worldwide popular culture. 

SIDE 1:
Rock Around The Clock / Skinny Minnie / Ling-Ting-Tong / Rock The Joint / Rock-A-Beatin’ Boogie.

SIDE 2:
See You Later Alligator / Flip, Flop And Fly / Love Letters In The Sand / The Saints Rock And Roll / Shake, Rattle & Roll. 

The written content and style in this not-for-profit article is owned by Cosmic Dwellings/Tony G. Marshall. All Rights Reserved. Copyright © 2016 Tony G. Marshall/Cosmic Dwellings.
Posted in Album, Music, musician, Recording, Rhythm and Blues, Rock, Rock 'n' Roll, Rockabilly | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

FOR THE LOVE OF JUDY…

 Cosmic Dwellings proudly presents a special tribute which has been specially-approved by best-selling author, Raymond Benson in collaboration with writer Tony G. Marshall

For the Love of Judy...

“Judy is a fantastic character, and Benson absolutely nails the way women write in their diaries. I think this sort of strong woman will be enormously appealing to female readers. The action is great, and Benson writes in a voice that’s accessible and engaging.”

       TASHA ALEXANDER  ( ‘Dangerous to Know’ )

“A beautiful character who not only attempted to do something about the violence on the streets, but also addressed the torture within her own strangled heart…We love you, Judy!”

  TONY G. MARSHALL (‘That’ll be the Stardust!’ , ‘GOLD1E’)

2016-05-19

The following article is inspired by a very special version of ‘The Twelfth of Never’ (below) and pays tribute to author, Raymond Benson’s crime-fighting character of ‘The Black Stiletto’ from the critically-acclaimed 5-book serial. Writer, Tony G. Marshall hosts this special tribute straight from the heart – ‘For the Love of Judy’

April 12th, 2008… 

The package arrived just before 9am; I left it on the table for later. Overnight, I completed writing ‘The Highest Steeple’ – another radio drama in which I billed myself in the lead voice role; however, I wasn’t happy with it. Now, I needed a morning walk to refresh the senses. Today was the twelfth – it was circled on the calendar as the birthday anniversary of my late grandmother – Mary Marshall.
           Outside, I wondered if grandma had ever experienced any of her birthdays walking through a thin coating of snow scattered across April countryside; one thing’s for certain – it was more of a shock rather than a ‘melting heart’ moment in early spring – difficult to comprehend the romance of it all as I was glad to see the back of January and February. Some sporadic clusters of bluebells already in semi-bloom will give hope to a new season once the snow is melted. If the overstayed welcome of winter is to continue then more than likely the roses will have their fair share of early morning dew in the form of April showers. The scent of the clover would be a most appreciated freshness through the dale, as opposed to the considerable smell of ice cold atmosphere that ascended from underneath my footsteps. As I continued my walk, a light bulb went on (inside my head, that is!): I realised what was missing in ‘The Highest Steeple’! It was a combination of both nature and human nature elements that somehow I had overlooked…then, another element displayed its physical presence before me, rising above several rooftops of a nearby housing estate and between a huddle of almost bare tree tops which framed the scene of coldness: a church spire ignited my imagination like a powerful flame of an inspirational ‘beacon’ on a writer’s creative landscape. I walked towards the protruding structure as the slight intrusion of a morning sun appeared to ignite its presence on this snowy day of early spring… 

After breakfast, and before preparing to re-evaluate the draft of ‘The Highest Steeple’, I decided to unwrap the Amazon ‘treat’ that had arrived through the post earlier: ‘The Christopher Reeve Superman Collection’ – 9 Disc DVD set. You see, my main reason for this purchase was to hopefully gain some form of inspiration in developing the so-called ‘heroes’ that populated my aforementioned radio drama script. However, my characters were not ‘Superheroes’ – they were normal human beings who didn’t possess any kind of ‘superpowers’ to wield against any adversary whilst pursuing their quest for justice and peace. Furthermore, being inspired by the natural surroundings of my walk earlier had instilled in me the quest to highlight the more human aspects of the story. Nevertheless, “The Man of Steel” was to prove a fine starting point whilst undertaking my research – afterall, he did possess core elements of a human character. 

                 Perusing the contents of the discs gave me a feeling of sheer delight knowing that the original Fleischer/Famous Studios cartoons were all present and correct as extra features. These gems, made during the second World War and based on the character’s comic book exploits which began in Action Comics #1 in June, 1938, reminded me of when I was a child in the seventies and became a fan of these long-running comics along with Superman’s very own self-titled tome, both at which point had surpassed their thirty-something year in publication. For, it was my Grandmother who had introduced me to such colourful costumed performers of fantastical worlds and beyond, directly from the newspaper racks of the local newsagent; she was the one who appeared to be on ‘comic book duty’ in our household. Therefore, she played the major part of introducing an essentially fun aspect of my reading development through the ‘Bronze Age of Comic Books’. It was at this stage that the stories were returning to address the more social and cultural issues which had originally set the tone in the ‘Golden Age’ but with the inclusion of a somewhat darker twist, and also eliminated some of the more ‘campier’ aspects introduced during the ‘Silver Age’

When you strip away all the special armour and fx of a story, and character, it all leads back to a major element of the whole concept: the human condition. For example, no matter how much ‘super’ there was in Superman, back in the beginning, his interaction with the relevant cultural issues brought him back to that realistic human element – thanks in part to ‘Clark Kent’. Furthermore, ‘The Batman’ gave us a better sense of humanity in the form of being a vigilante on the streets, a crime-busting detective, ‘The Caped Crusader’ or even moreso –  ‘The Dark Knight’.  Batman doesn’t have any special superpowers – he should not really be labelled as a total ‘superhero’.  He was a professionally-trained martial artist who possessed considerable technological intelligence. And, it would appear that his story reboot in the ‘The Dark Knight Trilogy’ of recent years has successfully married together those human elements of a tortured soul who happens to be a billionaire industrialist who in turn invests money into becoming his crime-fighting alter-ego whenever required to do so. It is the basis of this human persona which so appeals within the depiction of these classic stories and is forever blessed with youthful nostalgia. 

            Perhaps it was a great sense of nostalgia to my Grandma which became the reason for introducing me to the comic book, coupled with the fact that it was a favourite reading past-time for every Grandson on the planet! Undoubtedly, she had witnessed a vast amount of comic book crime-fighters and superheroes across all the mediums: film, television and radio. Some of these characters had also been ‘Pulp’ heroes via novels and newspaper strips before making their mark in the comic book fraternity, and maybe Grandma was curious to see how these characters had developed since she was first made aware of them. Some of them donned similar styles of disguise, and consequently these disguises evolved into concepts of further outlandish ‘threads’ to suit the style of the modern-day crime-fighting hero; furthermore, in some cases, these ‘threads’ were ‘criminal-proof’. These days, the resurgence of the more flamboyant superheroes in their very own updated/rebooted action films has proven to be a successful ‘crime-fighting’ formula for several filmmakers and studios. Even so, I’m not certain what Grandma would make of them today; I would hazard a guess that she would probably hark back to the ‘Golden Age’ and say: “They don’t make ‘um like they used to!”…I smiled as I envisaged her confirmation. Grandma had been a part of all three major comic book ages but sadly passed away at the beginning of the so-called ‘Modern Age’

Taking hold of my script of ‘The Highest Steeple’, which is a science-fiction-related story, but doesn’t bear any resemblance to a ‘superhero story’, I began to ponder. I flicked through the text some more…double-checking…observing…and still not happy. I then tore it up and threw it in the trash. The human condition still had quite a way to travel to begin to ignite this story…maybe on the twelfth day of another month…another time… (continues below)

Pinup_HalfSize_Clean_300DPI

4 years later: April 12th, 2012…

It’s just after 1am. The candle’s flame was far from dying. It still warmly lit the area of the coffee table on which it was placed within a glass holder. Next to it, the piercing brown eyes with the illuminating green specks looked back at me – longing for me to finish reading the story they were a part of. One could be forgiven for misinterpreting it for an almost sinister glare, but what I saw in those eyes was a shining soul – much more igniting than any burning candle.

                 My vision began to fill with a watery blur; those eyes, still looking at me, longing…but now glazed in my own pools of sight. The flame of the candle expanded within the thin film of my view – glowing. I felt emotionally drained but on the cusp of both sadness and delight. You see, today is the anniversary of my late Grandmother’s birthday and those aforementioned eyes that are piercing into me belong to a woman who is also a Grandmother. I had  just experienced reading one of several wonderfully poignant moments she had with her Granddaughter. Obviously, I can no longer cherish those type of moments with my Grandma, so a natural sadness forced its way into this enlightening moment. But, I took great joy from the fact that all Grandmothers hold the key to such special moments of poignancy laced with the unconditional bond of family unity. Gina Talbot knows all about these moments – she is the Granddaughter of Judy Talbot, whose surname was once Cooper. Gina is very much her ‘Grandmother’s Granddaughter’.  However, at present, she is unaware of the family secret that her father, Martin Talbot (Judy’s son) is keeping, which has thoroughly been documented by Judy in a very old diary from 1958.

               I reached over for a tissue and dabbed my face. Those eyes were now burning through the candlelight even more, and true to form, I know for a fact if I was to walk about this living-room – they would follow me, no matter what. Those eyes belong to the one I refer to as Judy Cooper Talbot; they are her youthful eyes…probably from that first diary year of 1958 when she was 20 years old. Judy’s story was documented in 2010 when she was 72 years old – a couple of years prior to my experience of this moment. One further ‘twist-in-the-tale’ is that Judy suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. You see, the story I’ve been totally engrossed in reading over the past couple of nights could actually be a real story – a true story…It isn’t – but it could be. I dabbed at my face once again; however, I am happy for the fact that author, Raymond Benson has allowed me to share in Martin Talbot’s special secret about his Mom…I am happy I have made her acquaintance through the pages that are pressed lovingly together behind those eyes. Incidentally, those eyes are on the hardcover of the book that relays the story, and first diary, of Judy Cooper Talbot. It’s quite an unusual title that the author has chosen to give her story, and very much holds a double-meaning; but I now understand why he chose to name it, simply – ‘The Black Stiletto’. I looked at the calendar on the wall – April 12, circled…that was now, the wee hours, today, in its infancy. I remember four years previously when I was struggling to craft an idea for a radio drama I had written – ‘The Highest Steeple’. I never really knew why I named it that except having culled it from a song which was the source of its inspiration. Furthermore, I had always felt that certain forces of human nature were not present in the text of the script; there was a longing for a human condition – an element of realism to be conveyed through a character and the world that they occupied. I tore it up, but I still have the original file saved on my laptop; I haven’t looked at it since. However, I have undertaken the writing of several other pieces of ‘art’ over the past few years that have thankfully paid off for me – unlike ‘The Highest Steeple’.  I never really discovered the moral  purpose behind that one. That is…until NOW… 

The very large framed colour print of the first self-titled Superman comic book from 1939 proudly decorated the wall behind me; the world’s first (and finest) superhero ever to be created (circa 1932), but very much a ‘man’ in every sense of the image. During that period and for many years thereafter it would appear that the ‘male of the species’ got all of the best titles, and jobs, and preferences the world over could ever present. It’s a common fact. Why, even ‘The Batman’ – one of the most human of vigilantes – was given all that intelligence and technology to use in order to seek justice. Things had to change, and Judith May Cooper engineered that change. The likes of these so-called ‘superheroes’ were all a considerable myth to Judy – they were all pumped-up stick figures, coloured-in and given a ‘party’ dress to wear…she didn’t quite get it. But, somehow, one day, she had no choice but to take heed of the comic books that she had access to…for there was a personal reflection of the heart that was reoccurring in her troubled life and she aimed to do something about it…

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One could be forgiven for interpreting her image directly from the wardrobe of Gotham City, but Judy had to begin her transformation at a starting point which was both economical and enduring; her resourcefulness has to be applauded. Remember, she is a human being just like you and I, and she had no great wealth in order to advance her plans on a larger scale, so there was no hi-tech equipment or special flying armour for her. However, she was a product of an era which was engulfed in prosperity and conformity; the US of the 1950’s faced a number of challenges – some of them good, but in the regions of some classes, not highly-regarded as such: Rock ‘n’ Roll, Television, and ‘Playboy’ – to name but three. On a more life-threatening scale – the Korean War conflict began, Communism reached its greatest heights, and organized crime was a most profitable business. In summary, these were very exciting, but rather apprehensive times (Hmm…ring any bells?!). Furthermore, the subject of Feminism is very much highlighted by the characteristics of Judy Cooper in the fifties – it is all there in her strength, courage and determination, and this is even before she dons a mask and a deadly knife!

Raymond Benson has done a wonderful job in illustrating the period through Judy’s eyes and in turn we get to relish all of this through her diaries which are seen through the eyes of her son, Martin in a modern-day perspective. Furthermore, the story as a whole, works on many levels so please do not misconstrue this as just another all-out vigilante attack on the criminal side of mankind – for you would be very wrong to make this assumption! ‘The Black Stiletto: The First Diary’ is also an endearing tale of relationships both past and present, and a fine helping of family trials and tribulations generously sprinkled throughout the events over several years.

I reached over for the book once again, knowing that the next time I put it down I will have finished my first complete reading of it. I say “first” because I am very confident I shall be reading it again sometime soon no doubt.  A writer and a reader both invest a tremendous amount of creative energy into the characters they believe in – it’s tantamount to the building of a whole new world  from within the imagination of each participant. It’s a wonderful process of thought that occurs when a writer has hit that ‘sweet spot’ of a reader’s mind, be it in the form of the story as a whole, or the many fictional ‘somebodies’ that populate that whole. Sometimes, it may just be that one ‘somebody’ who engulfs the process of thought, feeling and imagination within a story. Raymond Benson has delivered in that process and Judy Cooper Talbot, has delivered herself as that ‘somebody’. It’s a curious thing to behold when one experiences both sides of Judy – as herself she is the free-thinking spirit of adolescence whom we first come to know in Odessa, Texas, but as ‘The Black Stiletto’ I personally experience a wonderful mix of charming ‘southern belle’ intermingled with a vicious vixen; Wait – ooooo…a cold breeze has just prickled my lower back! But, it is this “southern belle/vicious vixen” that evokes some of  the most humorous moments of the story and there are several of these moments that shine as rich as the delivery of language in any Shakespeare comedy: Beautiful.

I looked into those eyes on the cover of the book once again. I reflect upon the soulful beauty that so encapsulates the moment of contact. They look out from beyond the cover of a mask that blends like a shroud of darkness…they could be calling your name in a friendly manner. Alternatively, you may also feel the prickly sensation of fear that criminals may exclusively feel from beyond that darkness, that calling. Those eyes could be representing a beacon of hope in a nightmare that may or may not be at its end; I anticipate the final proclamation of this “First Diary” that lies behind the cover of those eyes. Ironically, I observed three significant months in the diary which hosted major occurrences in Judy’s life from 1958 – each one occurred on the 12th day of each of those three months. Eerie. Raymond and I would now like to offer you an insight into one of those significant events via the link belowthis event occurs on the 12th July, 1958…and so for your perusal is ‘The Black Stiletto’s Autograph’ as told by a witness of this event (Please click the cover image below to access the free download of the short story)…“For the Love of Judy” continues below after the story link:

The Black Stiletto's Autograph

“The Black Stiletto’s Autograph” – Free Download…

I looked over at my calendar again: the 12th underlined…today…my Grandma’s birthday anniversary once again. Another reason why Judy’s story resonated so profoundly with me was regarding her suffering of Alzheimer’s as a 72 year old (my Grandma had suffered with dementia (a symptom of Alzheimer’s)).  I think this also adds to my sentimental reading of the scenes between Judy and her Granddaughter, Gina – both wonderful characters that share this extraordinary chemistry. And, even just thinking about the quality time they share together immediately fills me with the most overwhelming delight.

It’s fascinating to read how music is used to such profound affect in their relationship too. We discover from Judy’s diary how much the music of the fifties was playing such an important part in her own youthful development; her favorite music was another aspect of the story that resonated with me jubilantly. It makes one consider how important the music was to her – inspiring her throughout all the ordeals she had to endure – soothing the pain, calming the fear like the comforting arms of a loved one’s affection. For Judy’s was a heart full of restlessness triggered by torment, and you can’t resist the rush of human emotions as you begin to run alongside her roulette wheel of life. ‘The Black Stiletto’ accelerates in a race to the finish line and it tempts you taste every morsel of suspense and danger of a world that got shattered in its tender years and was forever searching for that new horizon later on – pushing it farther away from that tortured past; but it was that past which held the key to the future…the key which jangled from around the neck of one of life’s demons.

Judy is a beautiful character; my investment as a reader has paid off tremendously. I am ready to open the cover once more; it’s time to read on. And, read on to the very end. However, this is most certainly not the “very end” of Judy’s story – it is just the beginning – ‘The Black Stiletto: Black and White’ is the second book of this 5-book serial! I celebrated by lighting another candle – it just seemed an appropriate thing to do. Then, a thought just occurred to me about ‘The Highest Steeple’ and how four years ago my creative thinking towards it was covered in a white sheet of blankness – similar to the white sheet of snow that covered some of those roses needing rain, bluebells in bloom, clover of perfume; I was like a poet that had run out of rhyme. However, below this article you will discover just exactly what ‘The Highest Steeple’ has become today and I sincerely hope you appreciate it.  I turned to my page in ‘Judy’s Diary’ and before I commenced reading, I looked at the burning candle then smiled at the calendar on the wall and remembered: Happy Birthday, Grandma!

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With a Special Dedication to my Grandmother – the late MARY MARSHALL – formerly of Royton in Oldham, Greater Manchester. April 12, 1907 – January 15, 1986.

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The title of the poetry here was originally conceived as a radio drama of sorts which never materialised. Therefore, the story of “The Black Stiletto” inspired me to develop the title as a tribute to the wonderful character created by Raymond Benson. Incidentally, the poem was inspired by elements of John Parr‘s “Restless Heart (Running Away with You)” from the soundtrack of the 1987 film The Running Man(based on the Richard Bachman (Stephen King) novel)Throughout the stanzas of the poem I’ve incorporated various aspects of the life and character of Judy Cooper Talbot (‘The Black Stiletto’) which includes music, family, past, future, diaries, violence, heartache and mystery references.  This is – The Highest SteepleThe song of the jukebox way below
With a tune for every son,
The whisper of darkness all around
With skyline above for one.

The rawness of anger tempting you
With dreams from yesteryear,
The barren pathway that lies ahead
With faces: vicious and dear.

The disguise of one that covers you
With the shine of black veneer,
The chase of screams – piercing high
With desolate souls now feared.

The past now present close behind
With crawling hands of dirt,
The stiletto unsheathed – so freely
With focus and sound alert.

The darkness of pupils piercing thru
With specks of flickering green,
The soulful journey: a darting shadow
With courage, alone to be seen.

The future of thoughts ponder anew
With journals of justice sown,
The city below the rooftops: free
With your mask of cover: unknown.

The Twelfth of Never sung in view
With hearts all broken and torn,
The years of your story unfolding
The calendar months now born.

The words are flowers all for you
With love and caring, unfold,
The affection from behind your mask
With a tear that reigns untold…

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS – 

Official Website:
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Facebook Fan Page:2016-05-19 (7)

A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR:
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Permission was granted to publish this not-for-profit blog article. The written content and style in this article are owned by Tony G. Marshall and Cosmic Dwellings. Copyright © 2012/2016 Tony G. Marshall/Cosmic Dwellings. All Rights Reserved. ‘The Highest Steeple’  written by Tony G. Marshall. Copyright © 2008/2012 Tony G Marshall. All Rights Reserved. ‘The Black Stiletto’ and all of its content, associated books, short story and links: Copyright © 2011 – 2016 Raymond Benson. All Rights Reserved.

Posted in Author, Book, Character, Crime, Fiction, Serial, Series, Story, Writer, writer | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

RICHARD, CHARLES & JILES: The Original Albums

The ‘triple’ Rock ‘n’ Roll tragedy that was eventually labelled “The Day The Music Died” encompasses the passing of a trio of pioneering greats who have been the subject of many “how much greater they could have been…” conversations around the world since that fateful day of February 3rd, 1959. The three men were brought together, not only by sharing the same concert stage, but by their shared love of creating, writing and playing the upbeat and sometimes frenzied rhythms which can be found in the mix of both Rockabilly and Rock and Roll music. To lose one of them would have been heartbreaking enough, but to lose the three of them together was totally devastating for the music business as a whole. They had already become musical Legends in their own lifetimes and because of the magnitude of their influences on new and up and coming musicians at the time, the shocking event that transpired somewhere over the dark skies of Clear Lake, Iowa en route toward Moorhead, Minnesota on that cold February morning, would forever inscribe their musical legacies into the history books for all future generations to discover. These history books also take the form of all the audio output available for these three forever young men which considerably lays proof to the fact that the music didn’t actually die on that fateful day afterall!

However, through the annals of promotional and marketing history for the ‘upgraded’ legacies – repackaged and reissued in various forms – it’s very easy for several aspects of their musical contributions to become somewhat ‘muddled’ over the years, especially when one takes into consideration the amount of product available on vinyl, cassette, CD and now digital downloads. Amidst all these compilations that have been released posthumously throughout the decades it’s very easy to lose track of the original long-playing albums and overlook the context in which some of these songs first appeared. Originally released back in the late 1950’s we now salute these classic original albums with this retrospective reflection to remind ourselves in awe about the material that appeared therein and consequently whetted our appetites for further discoveries of the legendary talents…

Jiles PerryJ. P.Richardson, Jr. aka “THE BIG BOPPER”

The guitarist and singer-songwriter responsible for George Jones’ first No.1 hit “White Lightnin'” along with Johnny Preston’s “Running Bear” and Hank Snow’s “Beggar To A King”. ‘The Big Bopper’ initially began his career as a radio disc-jockey and was later a pioneer for the rock music video. His unique and popular “Chantilly Lace” became a big rock n’ roll hit in the US during the summer of 1958 and subsequently in the UK later that year. The follow-up single “The Big Bopper’s Wedding” became his second US hit.  An Extended Play (EP) record consisting of the four songs that made up his first two singles was released in the UK in 1959. The musician’s acclaimed debut album entitled “Chantilly Lace Starring The Big Bopper” was released on the Mercury Records Label in ’58 and became a Top 10 hit Stateside. In the early ’70’s it was issued on the Contour Label in the UK and featured a different cover along with a slightly different track listing.

Chantilly Lace starring The Big Bopper

Side 1:
Chantilly Lace / Pink Petticoats / The Clock / Walking Through My Dreams / Someone Watching Over You.

Side 2:
Big Bopper’s Wedding / Little Red Riding Hood / Preacher and The Bear / It’s The Truth Ruth / White Lightnin’.

Richard Steven Valenzuela aka RITCHIE VALENS

The Mexican-American singer-songwriter and self-taught guitarist was also a pioneer for the Chicano Rock genre. His first single, “Come On, Let’s Go” was released during the summer of 1958 and became a hit in the US. His follow-up single was a Double A-sided hit which coupled the beautiful ballad, “Donna” with his riveting rock n’ roll adaptation of “La Bamba”. This was to become his biggest hit record and the final single issued before his death. A unique aspect of Valens’ live stage show was his spontaneous experimentation when performing such songs. His three original albums were all released posthumously on the Del-Fi Records Label between March 1959 and December 1960. 

“RITCHIE VALENS”

Ritchie_Valens_1959

Side 1:
That’s My Little Suzie / In a Turkish Town / Come On, Let’s Go / Donna/ Boney-Moronie / Ooh, My Head.

Side 2:
La Bamba / Bluebirds Over The Mountain / Hi-Tone / Framed / We Belong Together / Dooby-Dooby-Wah.

“RITCHIE”

Ritche_album

Side 1:
Stay Beside Me / Cry, Cry, Cry / Big Baby Blues / The Paddi-Wack Song / My Darling Is Gone / Hurry Up.

Side 2:
Little Girl / Now You’re Gone / Fast Freight / Ritchie’s Blues / Rockin’ All Night. 

“RITCHIE VALENS IN CONCERT AT PACOIMA JR. HIGH”

In_Concert_at_Pacoima

Side 1:
Introduction by Bob Keane / Come On, Let’s Go / Donna / Summertime Blues / From Beyond / La Bamba.

Side 2:
Introduction by Bob Keane / Rhythm Song / Guitar Instrumental / Malaguena  / Rock Little Darling / Let’s Rock and Roll. 

Charles Hardin Holley aka BUDDY HOLLY

The singer-songwriter and guitarist with his trademark spectacles is regarded as one of the most iconic and influential figures in the history of Rock n’ Roll music. Throughout 1955 he was an opening act for such greats as Elvis Presley and Bill Haley & His Comets during which time his music began to develop beyond its country & western roots crossing over into both Rockabilly and Rock n’ Roll. With the song “That’ll be the Day” he scored his first No.1 hit under his band’s name ‘The Crickets’ (Niki Sullivan, Jerry Allison, Joe B. Mauldin). Upon its release in May, 1957, Buddy was under contract to Decca Records’ two subsidiary labels therefore subsequent record releases under the moniker of ‘The Crickets’ continued on the Brunswick Label and releases credited to his own name were issued by the Coral Label. Furthermore, it was the Decca Label itself that continued to release the recordings Buddy had made specifically with them in 1956 – one of these included as its ‘B’ side an earlier version of “That’ll be the Day”.  A string of hits followed by Buddy Holly & The Crickets especially in the UK which proved to be very successful and reinforced Buddy’s status as a prolific writer and performer of songs which instantly became classics. His three original albums were issued between November 1957 and April 1958 – one from each of the aforementioned labels. 

“THE CHIRPING CRICKETS” (Brunswick)

Chirping_Crickets

Side 1:
Oh, Boy! / Not Fade Away / You’ve Got Love / Maybe Baby / It’s Too Late / Tell Me How.

Side 2:
That’ll be the Day / I’m Looking for Someone to Love / An Empty Cup (And a Broken Date) / Send Me Some Lovin’ / Last Night / Rock Me My Baby. 

“BUDDY HOLLY” (Coral)

Bhe

Side 1:
I’m Gonna Love You Too / Peggy Sue / Look At Me / Listen To Me / Valley of Tears / Ready Teddy.

Side 2:
Everyday / Mailman, Bring Me No More Blues / Words of Love / (You’re So Square) Baby I Don’t Care / Rave On / Little Baby. 

“THAT’LL BE THE DAY” (Decca)

That'll_Be_the_Day_album

Side 1:
You Are My One Desire / Blue Days, Black Nights / Modern Don Juan / Rock Around With Ollie Vee / Ting A Ling / Girl On My Mind.

Side 2:
That’ll Be The Day / Love Me / I’m Changing All Those Changes / Don’t Come Back Knockin’ / Midnight Shift. 

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The written content and style in this not-for-profit article is owned by Cosmic Dwellings/Tony G. Marshall. All Rights Reserved. Copyright © 2016 Tony G. Marshall/Cosmic Dwellings.
Posted in Album, Artist, Blues, CD, Country, Folk, Guitar, Live, mp3, Music, musician, Pop, Recording, Rhythm and Blues, Rock, Rock 'n' Roll, Rockabilly, Studio | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ELTON JOHN: Midsummer Fantastical!

10 Things You Need to Know About Captain Fantastic And
The Brown Dirt Cowboy

By the Editor@EltonJohn.com

Before there was Google there was Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy.

To explain… For many an Elton fan in 1975, listening to the ten songs and poring through the detailed packaging of his ninth studio LP (and 12th album overall) was like being lovingly thrust into information overload regarding the history of Elton and Bernie Taupin’s formative years as a songwriting partnership in the late 1960s – a topic virtually unknown by the general public at the time. Each passing lyric line and every graphic image became another in a surplus of clues as to the pair’s experiences and expectations while they toiled at their craft before Elton’s first album, Empty Sky, was released in 1969.

For certain, if you were an Elton fan, this album took you down a rabbit hole and gave you the answers to questions you didn’t even know you had. And it gave them, more than 15 years before the World Wide Web was established, “from the end of the world to your town.”

In honour of the 40th anniversary of the album’s release, here are our 10 Things You Need to Know About…

1) Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy was released on vinyl LP, cassette and 8-track in the United States on May 19, 1975 (May 23rd in the UK) at a list price of $6.98. This meant most customers could expect to part with $5.99 at the cash register…or less if they were at a large-volume store like Sam Goody or Tower Records in Los Angeles.

2) On the week ending June 7, Captain Fantastic
entered the Billboard Top 200 Albums billboardchart at #1. This is something no other album (by any artist) had done before and was a testament to the incredible popularity Elton enjoyed, especially in the United States. It had in fact shipped gold, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certification for 500,000 units sold, based on retailer pre-orders alone.

The album stayed at #1 on Billboard for six weeks and then remained in the Top 5 before returning to the peak position once more in September. It remained in the Top 200 for over nine months. Eventually it would be certified triple platinum (for over 3 million sold) by the RIAA in 1993. In the UK it peaked at #2, staying on the album charts for 24 weeks, and is certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry.

3) The album’s autobiographical lyrics were written by Bernie between May and July 1974. Elton wrote the music in three different locations: England, the Caribou Ranch recording studio in Colorado and aboard the SS France ocean liner during a six-day voyage that Elton and most of his band took beginning on July 19 in Southampton, England. Later that fall British Vogue published “’My Day’ by Elton John,” which offered a rare glimpse into the journey to New York City:

“July 22, 1974…At 12:00 I go to the music room to write some new songs. I have only booked it for two hours and to my embarrassment have to eject the ship’s classical pianist. She, however, makes her way to another room directly above and commences battle. I decide to write an up-tempo number as most of the songs so far are slowsy. By 1 pm Meal Ticket is complete – very pleased with it. Play it to the band and they nod their approval.”

4) The album was recorded and mixed in running order at Caribou Ranch in August 1974 during a rare break in Elton and the band’s hectic tour schedule. Producer Gus Dudgeon later said that laying down the album in sequence was, “Probably the only time that’s ever been done. Good fun doing it that way – it helped us to judge the next track by the track we’d just worked on and it gave it a sort of natural momentum.” This summer session also was the first time that Elton used a new piece of technology on his piano. Dudgeon: “[The piano sound on] Bitter Fingers was a combination of an [Eventide] Harmonizer (we used that for the first time on that album – it was a new device that had just been brought in) and putting the piano through a Lesley cabinet…what you normally would feed a B-3 organ through.”

5) For the first time since 1971’s Friends, only one single was issued from an Elton album: Someone Saved My Life Tonight. This was because of the immense success of his past two non-album 45s, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds and Philadelphia Freedom. Both were recorded during the Captain Fantastic sessions and each reached #1 in America.

Rolling Stone reviewer Jon Landau pointed out in his review of the album on July 17 that, “As long as Elton John can bring forth one performance per album on the order of “Someone Saved My Life Tonight,” the chance remains that he will become something more than the great entertainer he already is and go on to make a lasting contribution to rock.” At 6 minutes and 45 seconds, Someone Saved… remains Elton’s longest single to date. With the non-album track House Of Cards as its b-side and sporting a custom label based on the album art, it entered the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart at #51 on July 5. It peaked at #4 in early September, just a week before Elton’s next single, Island Girl (from his pending Rock Of The Westies album) was released.

6) Although listed as two different tracks on the album, We All Fall In Love Sometimes and Curtains were recorded together. “The two songs were recorded as one complete piece all the way through,” Dudgeon explained in 1993. “But it was done in two takes. I remember that Neil Sedaka walked into the control room just as we began the second take. The band actually had just started the song as he walked in. And I thought, ‘Now, this is going to be interesting, to see what his reaction is.’ Because it’s nearly 11 minutes long. So it got to about nine minutes, and he came over to me and whispered, ‘My God, are they doing this all in one go or are they dubbing on?’ And I said [whispering], ‘No, it’s all in one go.’ He went, ‘Jesus, they’ve been going on for hours!’

thisRecordx2757) The album cover art by Alan Aldridge features images of Elton, Bernie and the band (animated elements of the artwork were used in a 30-second television commercial celebrating the release of the album). The front panel shows Elton breaking out of a dangerously dreary cityscape astride his piano while the back of the cover shows Bernie writing in a somewhat protected pastoral bubble. Keen-eyed fans can also identify Elton’s first music publisher Dick James and Bernie’s then-wife Maxine in the intricate illustration. Even more subtle is a visual reference to the This Record Company, one of Elton’s early record labels, which constructed their unofficial slogan, “Turning shit into hits…” out of anagrams of the word “this.”

8) The elaborate album packaging also included a pair of booklets, one called “Lyrics” and the other “Scraps,” that contained a plethora of items from Elton and Bernie’s personal collections as well as the lyric to a song not included on the album called Dogs In The Kitchen. Bernie was very involved in the booklets’ concepts and the collection of memorabilia, even going so far as to provide the cardboard suitcase which he had used on his journeys between staying with Elton near London and his home in Lincolnshire, for use in the “Scraps”center spread photo.

9) Captain Fantastic was a landmark Elton album for everyone involved in its creation. As Gus Dudgeon put it, “Unquestionably, musically, the band were absolutely at their peak and they’d never played that well across a whole album. The songs were great anyway, but the performances are so ‘on the money.’” And guitarist Davey Johnstone explains, in an exclusive interview with EltonJohn.com*, “It was really cool. I knew there was something special. This was going to be an autobiographical album, it was going to be the story of what happened, and we weren’t concerned at all about ‘commerciality.’ It was a really fun album to make.”

10) In a 2013 interview with Cameron Crowe for Rolling Stone, Elton said, “Every lyric on Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy was about Bernie and me, about our experiences of being able to make songs and make it big. … In a way, years later, I ended up being Captain Fantastic and he ended up the Brown Dirt Cowboy: Here, I’m living my fabulous lifestyle, collecting paintings, and Bernie is interested in horses and bull riding and shit like that. We became those characters. Who was to know?”

EltonJohnCaptainFantasticJap

Red Vinyl

Source: 10 Things You Need to Know About Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy :EltonJohn.com

One fan’s account of attending Elton’s “Midsummer Music” Extravaganza at Wembley Stadium, London in June, 1975 at the following link:

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Check out the Captain Fantastic Collectables at this link: 

2.MrFantasticBrooch2

 

– BEACH BOYS TRIUMPH AT ELTON’S WEMBLEY EXTRAVAGANZA –

by UDISCOVER

Elton-John-Midsummer-Music“MidSummer Music,” they called it, and as you can see from the poster, it was some event. 40 years ago today, on June 21, 1975, Elton John headlined a huge, all-day concert at Wembley Stadium for a sellout crowd of 72,000 — and one of the most memorable open-air events of the decade turned into a triumph for the Beach Boys.

In a wonderful TV commercial that ran ahead of the day, here’s Elton explaining all about it — and apparently playing football with Joe Walsh and Chaka Khan…

Introduced by BBC Radio 1 DJ Johnnie Walker, the proceedings were opened as early as 11.30am on that Saturday morning by British rock outfit Stackridge. They had recently become the first group signed to Elton’s new Rocket label, for whom their fourth album ‘Extravaganza’ had been released five months earlier, in January.

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Next up, bringing some funky soul to the proceedings, were American R&B favourites Rufus, fronted by the aforementioned Chaka, who were touring their third album ‘Rufusized,’ featuring the US hit ‘Once You Get Started.’ Walsh was still a solo artist at the time, but was soon to join the Eagles, who followed him onto the Wembley stage. The appearance set up their first UK singles chart entry soon afterwards with ‘One Of These Nights,’ and Walsh joined them for a cover of Chuck Berry’s ‘Carol.’

In the first half of his set, Elton played hits like ‘Rocket Man,’ ‘Philadelphia Freedom’ and ‘Bennie and the Jets,’ but then chose to perform the whole of his new album ‘Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy,’ which had been released on May 19 and was spending a third week at No. 2 as he played the show.

But many of his fans were unfamiliar with the songs, and he was widely perceived to have been upstaged, in the nicest possible way, by the second-on-the-bill Beach Boys, who came to London on a wave of nostalgic popularity in the US and seized the chance to bring it with them across the Atlantic.

21 Jun 1975, London, England, UK --- Carl Wilson of The Beach Boys stands on stage at Wembley Stadium during a concert with Elton John and the Eagles. --- Image by © Henry Diltz/CORBIS

21 Jun 1975, London, England, UK — Carl Wilson of The Beach Boys stands on stage at Wembley Stadium during a concert with Elton John and the Eagles. — Image by © Henry Diltz/CORBIS

With their double disc compilation ‘Endless Summer’ having topped the American chart the previous autumn and a second retrospective, ‘Spirit Of America,’ just going gold, the Beach Boys were well and truly back in style, if largely for their 1960s catalogue. It didn’t even matter that they hadn’t appeared on the UK album chart for more than two years.

In a hit-packed set that started with ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’ and ended with ‘Fun Fun Fun’ some 22 songs later, the California vibes rang out from Wembley Stadium, and the Beach Boys enjoyed one of the high points of their international career.

Explore our dedicated Beach Boys, Elton John and Joe Walsh Artist Pages

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JIMI HENDRIX: An Ectoplasm of Sound — R.A.H.

‘An ectoplasm of sound’: Jimi Hendrix’s Royal Albert Hall history

Posted on Wednesday 24 February 2016 by Lydia Smith – From The Archive Music

Guitar hero Jimi Hendrix has a special association with the Royal Albert Hall, with the venue being the site of some of his most notable British gigs, including The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s final UK concert.

Within months of arriving in Britain in September 1966, The Jimi Hendrix Experience (featuring bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell) were already making waves on the UK music scene. Jimi’s virtuosic guitar had propelled their debut Are You Experienced? to No. 2 in the charts, and the country was quickly becoming addicted to the band’s psychedelic, rainbow blues sound.

1967: HALL DEBUT

With all eyes on the band’s theatrical performances The Jimi Hendrix Experience were invited to play the iconic Hall just one year later on 14 November 1967, alongside The Move, Pink Floyd, The Amen Corner and The Nice.

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The audience enthusiastically surrendered to Hendrix’s rock ‘n’ roll attack, and papers heralded the band as the hottest thing on the British music scene:

‘Hail Jimi Hendrix, the personality, the contortionist, the wise-cracker, the exhibitionist. Hail Noel Redding, and Mitch Mitchell, his traumatic Experience. How they were needed to close the package which opened up at London’s Albert Hall… The bill seemed as if it would never get off the ground. Thank goodness for Hendrix the untamed and the unchained swinging down from the trees through Knightbridge and Kensington to set the masses on fire in an ectoplasma of sound…. Most of all it was Hendrix the showman, the king-size personality.’
New Musical Express, 1967

1969: FINAL APPEARANCES

Two years later, a more musically mature The Jimi Hendrix Experience returned. The band’s two gigs, on 18 and 24 February 1969, would be their first and final headline performances at the Hall.

THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE Royal Albert Hall… by superfro

The Jimi Hendrix Experience sold out the Hall easily, supported by Mason, Capaldi, Wood and Frog and The Soft Machine on 18 February, and by Van Der Graaf Generator and Fat Mattress on 24 February.

Tensions had been growing between band members and management for several months, but these were put aside for these two concerts, which would be remembered as some of the band’s best and most successful late performances.

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Throwing out their usual set list, Hendrix and the band instead included several of his blues songs including Hear My Train a Comin’, Red House and Bleeding Heart.

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Hendrix’s music roused the crowd, inciting a near riot when he threatened to leave the stage at the end of his set:

‘The crowd then went absolutely berserk and shouted for more for about 4-5 minutes. Some people started to leave as it didn’t look as though they were coming back, but they did and then they went absolutely… ­ well, there is no word for it! People were dancing in the aisles, Jimi went mad with the atmosphere and they did Purple Haze and Wild Thing. He played with his teeth and then on the floor…. [the stage] was beseiged [sic] by fans, police, bouncers, floor managers and practically the entire audience!’
Jane Simmons, ‘The Official Jimi Hendrix Fan Club Of Great Britain’ newsletter, April/May 1969

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Hendrix didn’t often give encores, but he did for the eager Hall audience, bringing out Traffic’s Dave Mason and Chris Wood and percussionist Rocki Dzidzornu to perform Room Full of Mirrors.

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These shows would be the final European performances by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and immortalise Jimi’s legacy as rock history’s greatest instrumentalist.

SETLIST
18 & 24 February 1969
Lover Man
Stone Free
Hear My Train a Comin’
I Don’t Live Today
Red House
Foxy Lady
Sunshine of Your Love, Cream,
Bleeding Heart, Elmore James,
Fire
Little Wing
Voodoo Child, Slight Return
Room Full of Mirrors (Jimi Hendrix song)
ENCORE:
Purple Haze
Wild Thing, The Wild Ones
The Star-Spangled Banner, John Stafford Smith

HALL LEGACY
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Today, Jimi Hendrix’s performances at the Hall have been memorialised in our Loading Bay street art project LOAD – a graphical journey through the most memorable moments in the Hall’s existence.

Plus, see if you can spot Hendrix in the Hall’s Sir Peter Blake’s mural masterpiece entitled Appearing at the Royal Albert Hall – a fascinating ‘who’s who’ history of the past century-and-a-half of culture, seen through the prism of the Hall’s legendary stage.

 

Source: ‘An ectoplasm of sound’: Jimi Hendrix’s Royal Albert Hall history — Royal Albert Hall

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PRINCE and 3rdEyeGirl | Music | The Guardian

3RDEYEGIRL on Prince, ping pong and women in music who ‘treat their bodies like meat’ The purple one’s all-female band on his legendary work ethic, life at Paisley Park and why you should always look like a star…

3rdEyeGirl-emleft-to-righ-0143rdEyeGirl (left to right): Donna Grantis, Ida Nielsen and Hannah Ford Welton. Photograph: PR

You can tell 3rdEyeGirl are official Prince proteges from a mile away. They line up on a leather sofa in a purple-walled room, dressed in studded leather, knee-high boots and feathers. It’s hard not to be reminded of previous female purple collaborators – Apollonia 6, Sheila E, Wendy & Lisa. Beyond the striking image, however, this all-female rock band are part of Prince’s latest mission to deliver “real music played by real musicians” – drummer Hannah Ford Welton (all-American, talkative), guitarist Donna Grantis (Canadian, thoughtful) and bassist and former New Power Generation member Ida Nielsen (witty, Danish), can thwack, shred and slap bass with the best of them.

Twelve-hour jams at Prince’s Paisley Park complex in Minneapolis have honed them, turning them into a must-see live act. Their recent tour with Prince at the start of this year – for which they announced cheap-entry shows at the last minute up and down the UK – saw this paper hail them, and not just their boss, as “one of the greatest funk-rock bands ever”.

All of which has culminated in a debut album, Plectrumelectrum, to be released alongside a Prince solo album, Art Official Age, on 29 September (2014). So what have they learned from nearly two years working with one of music’s most mysterious masterminds?

Be prepared for anything

Ida Nielsen: “The way it all started [in December 2012], we didn’t know we were going to be a band; we didn’t even have a name. We just went to Paisley Park and were jamming with Prince and he was teaching us all these new songs. And then all of a sudden we’re doing the Jimmy Fallon show and he’s introducing us as 3rdEyeGirl. And we’re like: ‘Oh, OK, that’s our name, then.’”

Hannah Ford Welton: “Every day is spontaneous like that for us – we all had to get used to it. But it’s especially hard to live in the moment today – everything is planned and scheduled, so when you step out of that and you create your own space where everything is up in the air, it keeps things fresh and interesting. Tomorrow we could be on the other side of the world.”

Prince 3rdEyeGirlPrince & 3rdEyeGirl perform in Manchester, 21 February. Photograph: PR

Forget about working nine to five

Donna Grantis: “Prince has an unbelievable work ethic that rubs off on all of us, but time exists in a different way at Paisley Park. Every day there are things to accomplish but it’s not related to the hour. It’s just: before the next resting period, we need to get this done. On one song, Another Love, there’s a giant guitar solo at the end, which we were rehearsing at four in the morning. Prince asked when I’d like to record it and I said: ‘You know what, I’ll do it tomorrow morning. I’ll think about it, work out some concepts …’ And he replied: ‘Let’s record it now.’ I had to go for it. It turned out to be a part where he and I are soloing and playing off each other and it’s really special.”

You need to work quickly

Nielsen: “We did this album old school, live, all in the same room, so if someone made a mistake everything had to be redone. That’s how it used to be in the old days: one, two, three, go! Play good! We thought we were learning new material to play live. But all of a sudden, he said: ‘Let’s make a sequence.’”

Grantis: “I was totally shocked. This was one take, play it perfectly all the way through, figure out the sounds on the spot. We had to play our parts so quickly that our musical instinct took over – the first sound or feel we thought might fit is what you’ll hear on the record. With the song Wow, we didn’t even play it all the way through before we recorded it.”

Trust your instincts

Welton: “Prince has really encouraged us to take the reins and be courageous with our playing. It’s OK to make mistakes as long as you’re trying for something, know how to recover and keep going. Either it can be fixed or it can’t and we have to redo it, but it’s OK to take chances. What’s cool is that Prince teaches us the grooves but he’s very much open to our interpretation of the parts, as long as we stay true to the feel. He’s not a stickler, like: ‘This is what I gave you, this is what you play.’ He’s really laidback – at least, he is with us. That’s what makes our sound and shows so special because you hear all of our different personalities shine through the music.”

You must be prepared to correct each other

Welton: “We all take this very seriously, so we’re all constantly challenging each other and keeping each other accountable. And sometimes that calls for what Prince says is ‘policing each other’ in rehearsals and finding weak spots in the song and drilling them. We all have to go in together and rub all the kinks out of the music so that when you come to a show it comes off flawless.”

Play as if the world is watching

Welton: “One thing Prince has said a few times is that with every performance, go in with the mindset that it’s being recorded, as much as we encourage people to put their phones away and bootlegging is highly discouraged – he calls bootlegs “unfinished recordings” because the sound quality is not nearly the same. He says to dress like you’re being videotaped, perform as if you’re in the studio, and nail it. Because at some point someone will be recording and they’ll probably put it online and you have to look at and hear yourself and you want to be proud of it.”

Remember to put the fans first

Welton: “I’ve never been in a band up until this point where I’ve seen thousands of people lining up outside a venue and down the street for a mile – and I can’t think of an artist out right now, other than us, that I would do that for. The genuine love and loyalty from the fans was really eye-opening, that they are willing to train it for hours to stand outside for hours before even getting in. People don’t do that any more. Some people got frustrated about the process of the Hit and Run tour in that tickets weren’t for presale but at the same time, we did that for the fans – we wanted them to be able to pay £10 rather than £900.”

It’s best to be humble

Welton: “When we’re learning new material, or he’s showing us a band that we haven’t heard of, or introducing us to new ways of playing, it’s a teacher-student vibe. He’s so willing to share his knowledge, about the industry, music and performance. But at the same time he is extremely humble and when we are all together, even in those teacher-student moments, we’re a collective. We sit around and chat and if someone has an idea, we’ll bring it up casually – while we’re playing ping pong – and talk about it. It’s very open. He’s all about all of us as a unit, playing and performing and jamming as a family. There’s never really a moment where he acts or carries himself as ‘greater than’.”

You have to stay classy

Welton: “We’ve been inspired by his style and him telling us how he wants people to see us. There’s a way to be portrayed as beautiful, and even sassy and sophisticated, yet still powerful. None of us will ever compromise our look and feel as if we have to go out there wearing next to nothing to be noticed. That’s what the industry has become these days and the music is suffering; people are over-compensating for their music not being very good.

“We have way too many young kids looking up to artists that are putting out music with terrible, vulgar messages and also walking around with next to nothing on. There are misogynists everywhere in the music industry. But if women are getting sick and tired of men talking about them in their music like they’re a piece of meat, they can’t then walk around treating their body like it’s a piece of meat. Cover up, carry yourself like a woman, and then hopefully the men will take the hint and start treating you with the respect you deserve. But women first have to stand up for themselves and stop degrading themselves, stop compromising. We talk about these things with Prince a lot.”

Learn to survive on no sleep

Nielsen: “The lack of sleep has been the biggest challenge but the thing is when you play, even if it’s late, you forget that you’re tired. The adrenaline kicks in and we feed off the energy of the crowd. When I joined Prince [with New Power Generation], we’d been in Paris rehearsing for a week without him and then he joined us onstage in Norway. We played the first song and when he came out, everything lifted and everyone rose to play better. I’ve never done a single show with him where I didn’t feel like he was in it 100%. He goes on stage and it doesn’t matter how many people are there, whether it’s an arena or three people, he gives everything.”

But make time for relaxing, too

Grantis: “Ping pong is how we kick back, if you can call it kicking back – sometimes the ping pong gets more intense than rehearsal. Our ping pong game, from the time that we first got to Paisley to now, has skyrocketed.”

Nielsen: “Sometimes we beat him, though.”

Welton: “We are the softest rock stars on the planet!”

Be careful what you put on the internet

Welton: “We live in a digital age and, at any point, even if it’s minimal, you’re going to use the internet and social media. I’ve definitely noticed Prince, over time, get a little more social media savvy – but in a fun way, not a dependent way. There’s a fine line between needing social media and using it to have fun.”

Nielsen: “Nowadays, as a promo tool, it’s a necessity. But everything you put on the internet is out there somewhere. So you have to think: ‘Will it be cool in 10 years to see this?’ It’s stuff you don’t really think about when you’re young and you just think: ‘Oh, that’s funny.’”

Artists should be in control of their creativity

Grantis: “Prince has definitely imparted to us the importance of the artist being in control of their creations and a huge part of that is about an artist owning their masters and their publishing. NPG Publishing was created earlier this year and he got his masters back from Warners, which was amazing. It’s absolutely important to be working with people who can help release the music but it’s great how his view is that the artist takes care of the music and the machine takes care of the business side of things. The artist holds their artistic vision so close to their hearts and it can be so easily manipulated.”

Your potential is limitless

Grantis: “He’s operating at the highest level, as one of the greatest musicians of all time, so his level of expectation is way up high, too. He wants to bring out the best in everyone and the best in us and I feel like he wants us to rise up to our potential, or even beyond that.”

Nielsen: “What we felt was the limit to our potential does not exist. It can be pushed and pushed again. I found out about myself that I’m able to learn and remember quite a lot of different songs in a very short amount of time. And I never thought I’d be able to do that because it’s not a situation you would normally be in.”

Source: 3rdEyeGirl on Prince, ping pong and women in music who ‘treat their bodies like meat’ | Music | The Guardian

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