About Me

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I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org).  As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.  I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times.  I also wrote the liner notes for the three THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me?  My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored.  Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE: "Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'"

An infinite number of rockin' pop records can be the greatest record ever made, as long as they take turns.  Today, this is THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE!




CRAZY ELEPHANT: "Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'"

A band doesn't have to actually exist to be great. The enduring appeal of pop music is based not on authenticity, but on results. If you love a record, you're not concerned if it was born of the divine inspiration of a brilliant singer-songwriter, bashed out in a basement by teenaged tyros, or created in a lab by Dr, Frankenstein; you just wanna turn it up, and you just wanna dance to it.

Crazy Elephant did not exist. Its members didn't meet at art school; they didn't poach a drummer from a rival band, the bass player didn't quit to found a new religion, and their manager wasn't fired and replaced by the lead singer's hot new girlfriend. They didn't listen to the WMCA Good Guys, nor Radio Caroline, nor Chickenman. They didn't do drugs. They didn't eat. They didn't breathe. Record label hype claimed that Crazy Elephant was a group of former Welsh coal miners who'd ditched the shaft in favor of the limelight; that, of course, was pure bologna, without even the benefit of a first name or a second name.

Granted, there were indeed real people involved in crafting the Crazy Elephant sound in the studio. (And it was kinda cool to discover that Wikipedia uses me as one of the references on its Crazy Elephant page.) "Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'" was written by bubblevets Joey Levine and Ritchie Cordell; the record was produced by Levine with Artie Resnick. The lead singer was Robert Spencer, who had previously hit big as a member of The Cadillacs with the # 17 smash "Speedo" in 1955. A subsequent Crazy Elephant record, "There Ain't No Umbopo," would feature lead vocals by Kevin Godley, who later found fame with 10cc and Godley and Creme. All fiction, no matter how outlandish, has roots in the real world.

And do you really care about any of that?

Well, maybe you do care. As a de facto pop historian, I'm always eager to learn more about the stories behind the music, about the people who made the magic we believe in. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that way. But when we listen to a record, is its back story foremost in our minds? When we hear "Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'" on the radio, is our first thought Hey, that's the guy who wrote and sang "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy" whoopin' it up with the "Haw-Haws!", or do we prefer to just listen to the record, and whoop along ourselves?

We prefer the latter. "Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'" is an AM radio explosion of soulful lead vocals, bubblegum rhythm, proto-punk swagger, and sheer, self-assured, rock 'n' roll oomph. It can be performed by a folk singer with an acoustic guitar, a garage band playing its first (or zillionth) gig, a rap group, a metal group, or a reggae group, and it can work in each these contexts. But no one--no one--will ever surpass or equal the original recording, performed by a band that never existed. From nothing, something: The Greatest Record Ever Made.