The type of music performed by the likes of these so-called Krautrock bands is the type of thing that is designed for LP's; long improvisations and explortory jams simply aren't possible on a single!
HOWEVER, both bands made concessions to commerciality and released one (in the case of Neu!) and several (in the case of CAN).
The music of CAN was born out of group improvisation, but unlike many other musciains who attempt this sort of thing, CAN was rarely boring (especially up to around 1974). The group incorporated exotic rhythms that incorporated jazz, James Brown style funk, complex polyrhythms, and African tribal styles in equal measures.
CAN reached a remarkable peak during 1971-72 with the insanely stellar LP's Tago Mago and Ege Bamyasi; working with the mysterious vocalist Damo Suzuki, the group created music that was ethereal, psychedelic, nightmarish, and downright ass shaking, often during the same track.
"Vitamin C" and "I'm So Green" are both taken from 1972's Ege Bamyasi LP; "Vitamin C" sounds almost as if it's a band from Mars covering James Brown's "Give It Up Or Turn It Loose", and "I'm So Green" finds the group laying out 3 minutes of melodic grooviness that is almost Beatle-esque folk rock mated with those masterfully funky polyrthythms from drummer Jaki Leibezeit. Unlike so many other "progressive" bands, Can's rhythm section (Jaki and Holger Czukay on bass) could SWING like a mofo.
Dusseldorf based Neu! was formed in 1971 by recent Kraftwerk refugees Michael Rother (guitar) and Klaus Dinger (drums). The group recorded a debut LP that same year, which is a masterpiece of hypnotic sounds, and the birth of the steady beat known as Motorik. The tracks are long, and the transfixing music was the blueprint for the likes of Stereolab. Shortly after the LP was released, the group took their chances with releasing a single; "Super" takes the Motorik beat and adds some fabulous dynamic changes along the way, making for a single that may not have had hit potential, but could certainly work well in an open minded dance club today. "Neuschnee" is a lovely shorter version of the type of inner journeys found on the debut LP, and travels along in true Motorik style. When it came time to release their second album, though, the group found themselves short on material- both sides of this single were put onto the LP, and in a bizarre twist were also additional tracks, running slow at 33RPM, and blindlingly fast at 78RPM. The group found their stride again for their brilliant swan song LP, NEU! '75.
I feel very fortunate that I first learned of CAN through reviews in the late, great Musician Magazine back in 1990. All of the groups albums had been reissued on CD for the first time, and I was completely intrigued with hos the reviewer presented the music; specifically, saying that the music of Can could just as easily fit onto a hip hop record or a Sonic Youth album. Loving both, I took my next allowance (hey, I was 15!) and bought Ege Bamyasi and couldn't believe my ears! Shortly afterwords, I lucked into an OG copy of Future Days at my favorite flea market, and just as quickly as my limited budget allowed, picked up the groups entire catalog.
"Spoon" ended up being a fluke top ten hit in Germany, and it's pretty easy to understand why. The catchy intro once again combines exotic rhtyhms, a Velvet Underground style drone, then launches into a very poppy, melodic groove that's full of hooks and lyrics that make no sense literally but perfect sense musically. The non-LP flip side, Shikako Maru Ten" condenses some of CAN's longer wig-out tracks very nicely onto the single format. Amazing stuff indeed.
Hey all, I'm back! I spent the month of October wrapping up my Daily 45 site with a massive 'best of", and was just too wrapped up in that to write here. what used to be the Daily 45 is now the Occasional 45, but the URL has stayed the same.
One of the fun things about collecting 45's is hunting down rarities from bands that are far better known as album acts. Needless to say, these records were usually pressed in VERY limited quantities, and can be very difficult to find! When it comes to a seminal band such as The Stooges, lots of folks are looking for them; it took me a while to track down these discs!
I'll assume that most Bedazzled! readers know most of The Stooges story, so I'll keep the biographical info at a minimum here.
The Stooges debut LP was released in August 1969, and for the most part critics panned it, and it was a slow seller. Of course the primitive grooves found within snowballed over the years and through word of mouth and discovery from every other possible angle over the years, the band became far more famous after the fact. However, Elektra released "I Wanna Be Your Dog" as a 45, and it *did* bubble under the Hot 100 , clocking in at 106 in Billboard Magazine (so it did sell a bit and get some radio play in some markets). The 45 chops off the dramtic intro and launches right into Ron Ashton's classic riff, and the mono mix is VERy powerful stuff. If there's an "anthem" from the group, then it's undoubtedly "I Wanna Be Your Dog"; as I worked for the group for several years, I witnessed firsthand that no matter where in the world this song was performed, pure pandemonium ensued. It took a few years, but this song is a bona fide WORLDWIDE smash!
The French have been enamored of all things Iggy seemingly since the beginning of his career, and this amazingly cool French issue picture sleeve is lovely stuff indeed. The graphic design is spectacular, and it kinda shows that the French branch of Elektra Records "got" the group early on. It's all their; the Stooges (badass) logo, a nice little bio on the back, an alternate group photo from the shoot that yielded the first album cover, and a super cool font for the a-side, "1969". I have many French picture sleeves from the '60's in my collection, and many songs are labelled as "jerk". No, it's not an insult, but shows how popular it was to dance the jerk in France, and the mental picture of a French teenybopper dancing the jerk to her "1969" 45 is quite the mental picture, right? "1969" seems to be a fold down mono mix (stereo turned into "fake" mono), but "Real Cool Time sounds like a dedicated mono mix to my ears. Over course "1969" also became a smash hit when it was used in a widely seen commercial a few years back.
In a fateful move, Elektra records chief Jac Holzman enlisted Don Galluci to produce the Stooges second LP, the immortal Funhouse. Galluci was no stranger to primitive rock n roll, as he played keyboards for The Kingsmen, whose recording of richard Berry's "Louie Louie" was not only a stepping stone sound-wise that led to The Stooges blueprint, but also a track that was infamously covered by the group. Galluci stripped away the baffles and isolation of the studio and created an atmosphere that was more like a live gig. It's normal procedure to seperate instruments and vocals in the studio to get a "clean" sound, which in some cases neuters the (raw) power; Funhouse thumbs its nose to this technique and as a result is one of the greatest sounding, energetic, and downright most ass kicking LP's ever cut to wax. Too bad more rock n roll isn't cut this way. Whoever mastered the (dedicated mono mixes) of "Down On The Street" and "1970" (here re-titled "I Feel Alright (1970)") REALLY got it; this 45 is one of the most incredible sounding records I've ever heard. The volume and clarity are penetrating, and the low end is unbelievable. "Down On The Street" fades out at a snappy 3:10; perhaps I'm biased, but this song has always seemed to me to have hit potential that could have been achieved in 1970; it's catchy, has a driving Motown-like beat, and has lyrics that the kids could relate to. Unfortunately, the album and single tanked commercially, but of course today Funhouse is regarded as an undisputed masterpiece and highly influential. "1970" has no commercial potential whatsoever, but this pummeling, primitive, and downright sexually deviant groove is another one that whips modern day crowds into a frenzy.
The Stooges disintigrated not long after the release of Funhouse, in a haze of drug abuse and lack of commercial success. Before the band imploded, though, Iggy recruited a guitarist into the fold named James Williamson that had developed his own style of guitar playing that was akin to either a machine gun (for his rhythm work) or a razor blade against the strings for his blazing lead guitar work. for a brief period, both Ron Asheton and James Williamson played dual lead guitar for a short tour in 1971. This band was ill fated, but in 1972 (at the insistence of David Bowie), Iggy was on his way to england to be made into a star by Bowie's management team, and Iggy, who is on record as saying that no one understands his music as well as James williamson, insisted that the guitarist was part of the package. Pop-Williamson collaborated on the songs that made up the highly influential and ahead-of-its-time Raw Power LP, and left behind dozens of other songs in various stages of completion in their wake. After numerous auditions, it was decided that the Asheton brothers needed to be their as well, and Scott was back behind the drum kit, and Ron was now on bass. The Asheton brothers were a virtual bulldozer of a rhythm section, but unfortunately, the recording of Raw Power buries the rhythm section, but the fold-down mono mix on the 'Search & Destroy' 45 somehow brings bass and drums a little closer to the surface. Of course, "Search" has also gone on to hit status, and literally became the bluepring for bands such as The Damned, inspiring a whole musical revolution.
'I Got A Right" was one of the songs left behind in the wake of the Raw Power sessions, and the band had even played it at those '71 gigs before the (first) split. Just as punk rock was in its earliest stages of world domination, James Williamson dusted off the tapes and partnered with French fan Phillipe Mogane released this punk masterpiece as a white hot 45, creating a legendary epitaph for The Stooges. Of course the phoenix rose again....
There's been a real debate amongst Rock'n'Roll erudites and scholars on who actually wrote the classic "Love is Strange" (which later made hits most notably for the Everly Brothers, later Sonny and Cher, and inspired Buddy Holly's "Words Of Love"... ), and that debate lately heated up when Mickey Baker, the writer of Rock'n'Roll's first guitar method and original hitmaker with Duet partner Sylvia Robinson (herself future founder of Rap's first hit label : Sugarhill Records... ! ), died last year... until I read a quote from an original interview printed on an article about Mickey Baker on the latest French Oldies magazine : "Jukebox magazine" that recounted what had actually happened...
The story goes like this : apparently, Sylvia who was a great fan of Bo Diddley's and used to attend a lot of his gigs, loved an original number which he would perform on stage that she thought would be wonderful for the duet act she was having with Mickey Baker at the time; it was called "Paradise", but remained unreleased since Chess rejected the track and Ellas "Bo Diddley" McDaniels had to register the song under his wife's maiden name "Ethel Smith" for contractual reasons. Now, Mickey disliked the tune, finding the original lyrics even ridiculous... he finally gave out to Sylvia's urging and rewrote the lyrics, readapting the tune as "Love is Strange", keeping the intantaneously recognizable gimmicky guitar riff by Jody Williams (which Williams had played on Billy Stewart's debut single "Billy's Blues" before!.. ) that was later used by Dave "Baby" Cortez in his 1962 instrumental song "Rinky Dink" too (...the mind boggles! )... and the rest is Rock'n'Roll HIstory!
Nevertheless, the co-writers of the song are of some dispute since, Sylvia Robinson claims that she and Mickey Baker wrote the lyrics, while Bo Diddley claims that he wrote them. However (according to Wikipedia source... ), it appears the first recorded version of "Love Is Strange" was performed by Bo
Diddley himself (! ), who recorded his version on May 24, 1956 with Jody Williams on
lead guitar (this version was not released until its appearance on I'm a Man: The Chess Masters, 1955-1958 in 2007... ); while Mickey & Sylvia's version was recorded several months later on October 17, 1956... hm!
Now, if you type the words "LOVE IS STRANGE" on the BMI website, they currently list the writers as all three : Bo, Mickey and Sylvia... !!!?
BAKER MICKEY SACEM 1863218 (French copyright )
ROBINSON SYLVIA BMI 26288282
MC DANIEL ELLAS BMI 63640292
Hm... What to think now? Love is Strange indeed! ;-)
(PS : The funny part is, despite the dispute, Bo Diddley went on to pen a song specialy for the Duo called : "Dearest"... ! ) :
Every once in a few decades, one guy stands out from the IN-crowd and really starts things moving and shaking, influencing a whole scene in the process, and those highly individual persons are still remembered in years to come as Urban Legend; this new series of articles is dedicated to such larger than life characters ...
There once was a Pop Boy about Barcelona town called Riccardo Julian, or Ringo for everyone, who was one of the very earliest "Mod" from the first revival not long after Franco's dictatorship... Things were moving up, what with all that Movida happening in those days and, instead of forming a band like his mates, since he couldn't play, he decided to be (super-) active helping to promote shows and organise mod weekenders and most of all, create the all-important Fanzine or "modzine" that would federate all the right people of the scene, putting bands from all over the country in touch with one another... soon enough, he was sort-of managing some of these bands himself (some of the most important ever of the country, like Brighton '64, Spain's own Jam, and the legendary Los Negativos of the mod-Psych revival that followed after the wake of Quadrophenia mods... ), helping to have them signed on major labels and put them on the National touring map; a tremendous feat in itself.