Johnny Polonsky first hit the music scene with an LP released by American Recordings in 1996 on which he produced, recorded and performed everything himself. More recently he's been a touring musician in other peoples bands (Pete Yorn, Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond, Dixie Chicks).
Now he's doing a RocketHub fund-raiser to get his new record out on vinyl. His description of the music: "3 parts Gary Numan 2 parts David Lynch 1 part Depeche Mode Add a pinch of Nine Inch Nails Sprinkle liberally with Prince" is very accurate. There's a bunch of interesting premiums including the art print seen at left. Link.
I've known guitarist Stephen Ulrich since the late 70's when he played guitar in a New Haven based instrumental ska and reggae band call "Skunkadelique" and have always loved his guitar style. He played a few gigs in my band some years ago and played parts, off the top of his head, that ended up becoming permanent parts of the arrangements.
He's since gone on to much success in composing for movies and TV, including HBO's "Bored To Death" and several PBS American Masters episodes. Link.
Now his band Big Lazy (formerly Lazy Boy) have a Kickstarter going to fund a new CD. Link.
"We are extremely excited to return to the studio and make the new album so many of our fans have asked about. This campaign is how you can make sure that happens. For the past year I’ve enjoyed countless hours writing for this fifth album. I’ve renivented the band with Yuval Lion on drums and Andrew Hall playing bass and we’ve further refined Big Lazy’s sound - stripped down highway twang and raunchy crime jazz - in a Brooklyn basement. We will record the album at Vibromonk Studio in an industrial loft in Brooklyn. This is the same time tested environment where all the Big Lazy albums were made. We have a classic approach to making records where we inhabit a recording studio for two weeks getting our hands dirty and capturing raw performances with a focused and collaborative approach. We’ve been performing the new material in NYC clubs for the past year. Big Lazy is now a finely tuned machine and ready to record! If you’ve been to our shows you know we capture the essence of this live experience in our studio work." Link.
Sorry for the lack of 45's during the last few weeks; I was out on tour and simply didn't have time!
Today's entry is downright ridiculous, but also happens to be one of the most spot-on John Lennon/ Beatles spoofs that it fooled fans for years.
This song appeared on many 1970's Beatles bootleg LP's as a "long lost track" and my oh my does it ever sound like "Magical Mystery Tour" era John Lennon (perhaps if he had completely forgotten how to write a song?). I really do dig it though, and it took me a LONG time to find the original 45 (the Beatle boot LP's that I have it on all have a badly botched edited version, and a pirate 45 that I found about 8 years ago is pressed off center). Hell, even Yoko Ono applied for a copyright for the song when she discovered it among Lennon's possesions! John was a Beatles collector himself in his later years, and I'm sure he got a kick out of this track being thought of as his own. In fact, when John guest DJ'ed on KHJ Los Angeles in 1974, one of the bootleggers himself (John Wizardo) called in and asked John if it was him on 'Have You Heard The Word'. At first JL was thrown for a loop and mentioned (Beatles) track 'The Word', but then realized that he heard it on a bootleg and said it was a great imitation.
The real story is as that in 1969 Bee Gee Barry Gibb signed a duo known as Tin Tin (Steve Kipner and Steve Groves) to his production company. Their first session together was for their original track 'Have You Heard The Word?" In celebration, Gibb brought in a bottle of Johnny Walker and the boys got too blitzed to be serious, resulting in the vocals we hear here that were added to the backing track recorded pre-inebriation. All intended to ape the fab four, down to the hilarious spoken tag (stick with it til the end, it's worth it). The track was not intended for release, but made it out on a single in the UK in 1970. Word traveled fast that this was a secret Beatle release and VOILA a legend is born!
I was sad to hear of the gret Deon Jackson's passing a few days ago; while the man hasbeen out of the music business for 40 years, the records he recorded are some of the sweetest sweet soul ever cut to wax. I'm not sure if he was still working (or retired) as a high school principal in the Chicago suburbs at the time of his death, but that was a gig that he held down for many, many years. One wonders if the kids knew about Mr. Jackson's earlier life as a professional singer.
While Deon is mostly thought of as a one hit wonder (the glorious 'Love Makes The World Go Round', 1966) several of his other releases reach the same level of quality as that hit.
Deon Jackson hailed from Ann Arbor, MI (near Detroit), and the majority of his records were produced by the wonderful Ollie McLaughlin. Ollie was a versatile and innovative producer whose work ranges from artists such as Del Shannon, Chet Baker, and Barbara Lewis (upon whom Ollie employed a similar production style that may have been sweet and light but still as soulful as can be).
Deon's gorgeous voice is showcased beautifully on 'I Need A Love Like Yours' (1968); the song was released two years after his big hit, and even though a who's-who's of Detroit heavy hitters were involved (Ollie McLaughlin, brilliant arranger Mike Terry, and songwriter/ raconteur Richard 'Popcorn' Wylie), the song failed to reach the hit status that it truly deserved. Deon's vocal positively soars on this track, and the coda especially is almost unspeakably beautiful.
Detroit musician Mike Terry was a masterful arranger, and his indelible mark is felt on Deon's excellent uptempo outing 'That's What You Do To Me'. This record was the second followup 45 to 'Love Makes The World Go Round', and yet another record that should have been a hit, in addition to showing that Deon was a versatile vocalist that could just as easily own an uptempo groover. The track *has* been a favorite spin on the northern soul scene though since the 1970's, and for good reason- it's the type of track that, when it's playing, will make you feel good all over.
Deon Jackson ended his musical career in the classiest way possible with yet another amazing vocal performance on 'I'll Always Love You'. Some may say that the production of this record is a tad bit overblown, but at the focal point is that VOICE. Just listen to how this man had such wonderful pitch control and glides in and around pitches and gradually gains power and grit up until the climax of the record. Pure soul! Being as this was produced by Leroy Hutson (a solo artist himself, and also a collaborator with Donny Hathaway and Curtis Mayfield's replacement in The Impressions) I'm assuming that Deon had made the move to Chicago by the time this record was cut.
The group that came to be known and loved as The Turtles spent the early '60's as one of the Los Angeles areas most popular dance bands (The Crossfires) in the pre-Beatles era. The group combined a little bit of surf and a little bit of the R&B influenced sound that was all the rage before music changed dramatically in early 1964. The Crossifres saw the writing on the wall and recast their group in a folk-rock mode where they saw massive success throughout 1966-1969 with a superb run of singles and LP's that were some of the finest offerings in all American made pop of the era, and there was a whole lot of competition!
But The Turtles 'turned on' like so many of their other contemporaries, resulting in some freaky and compelling records along the way.
Buried on the flip side of The Turtles smash hit, folk-rock debut (1965) cover of Bob Dylan's 'It Ain't Me Babe' lies a beat MONSTER in lead singer Mark Volman's 'Almost There'. It's safe to say that the group was highly influenced by the likes of their L.A contemporaries Love and The Leaves when they wrote and recorded this track, which is full of mod energy.
The group scored two more smash hits for their second and third single releases (the mild protest pop of 'Let Me Be' and the good vibrations of 'You Baby') when ultra-weirdness struck in the form of their fourth single, the downright bizarro how-did-this-even-get-released 'Grim Reaper Of Love'. With a dark message equating relationships with death and a waltz-time droning freakout, this record made the lower reaches of the top 100, surprisingly, but disappeared quickly. The chanting intro is strongly reminiscent of The Yardbirds (also moody) 'Still I'm Sad', and the abrasive guitars predict the sound of Sonic Youth fifteen years before they were formed.
More hits followed, and by 1967 the leaders/ vocalists of the group (Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, later rechristened Flo And Eddie during their tenure with Frank Zappa) were quite open that they'd been deeply psychedelicized. I first heard 'She's My Girl' on the Rhino Records Turtles Greatest Hits LP where the fellas describe the weird scene in the studio during the sessions where (bassist) Jim Pons had a mild freak out where he thought HE was in fact, John Lennon as the walrus, and concurrently producer Joe Wissert was reciting non stop poetry while eating bat shaped cookies. Out of such a strange scene emerged one of the great American psychedelic singles of the age, full of the soaring Turtles harmonies, lush orchestration and a lovely tempo/ time shift that turns the song upside down.The US-issued picture sleeve shown here is a beautiful two sided graphic design that fits of the mood of the record perfectly and was begging to have both sides scanned as you see here.
Highly influenced by the Kinks Village Green Preservation Society LP in 1968, the group went on to hit another peak with the Ray Davies produced LP Turtle Soup in 1969, but that's another story (and a record well worth checking out in its own right).