|L-R: unidentified masked crimefighter, Donna Loren|
BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD: Sit Down I Think I Love You
In an alternate universe, "Sit Down I Think I Love You" was recorded by The Monkees, and perhaps a hit for them. The song's author, Stephen Stills, was one of many musicians and actors who auditioned to be a Monkee; stories differ about whether he was passed over for the role or if he declined it, but either way he recommended his friend Peter Tork for the gig, and I think everything worked out for the best as is.
So instead of joining The Monkees, Stills helped to form Buffalo Springfield. I discovered the group's music about a decade after the fact, part of my teen embrace of the '60s in the mid '70s. "Flying On The Ground Is Wrong," "Bluebird," "For What It's Worth," and Neil Young's "Mr. Soul" were my gateway tracks at the time. I don't think I heard much (if any) of the rest of the Springfield's catalog until years later.
I did hear "Sit Down I Think I Love You," but not by Buffalo Springfield. The song was covered in 1967 by a San Francisco group called The Mojo Men, and their version was included on the seminal '60s garage/psychedelic/whatchamacallit 2-LP compilation Nuggets. I bought the Sire Records reissue of Nuggets as a cutout in 1979, specifically to score a copy of The Knickerbockers' Beatley "Lies," a track which had eluded my grasp until that point. I knew a couple of other great tracks on the album--"Liar, Liar" by The Castaways and "Dirty Water" by The Standells--before buying it, and I would discover much, much more in short order. The 13th Floor Elevators, The Electric Prunes, The Remains, The Cryan' Shames...yeah, Nuggets was huge for me.
Count The Mojo Men's "Sit Down I Think I Love You" among those discoveries. It's such a lovely pop song, seeming to draw inspiration from The Left Banke, The Beau Brummels, and The Mamas and the Papas, folk goes for baroque. Singin' drummer Jan Errico was one of the very few female players represented on Nuggets, and this track offers a lot of reasons to sit down and fall in love.
I don't remember when I finally heard the Springfield's original. I may have even seen a video of them performing it (or lip-syncing it) before I heard the record itself. It suddenly occurs to me that I don't think I ever owned any Buffalo Springfield LPs, just individual tracks on various-artists sets Do It Now, Heavy Metal, and The Super Groups. That's weird, because I was certainly interested in both Buffalo Springfield and Buffalo Springfield Again--I don't remember ever seeing a copy of Last Time Around--and you'd think I would have at least picked up the basic career summary Retrospective. I bought Rhino's 2001 four-CD Buffalo Springfield boxed set as soon as it was released.
Which version of "Sit Down I Think I Love You" is my favorite? I love both, probably about equally. And I would have loved to hear The Monkees have a run at it, too. A great song needn't have a definitive take.
THE CREATION: Making Time
Power pop. I disagree with the widespread notion that power pop as a genre may be rooted in the '60s, but doesn't begin until the '70s. No matter how many knowledgable pundits express that view, I consider it...well, nonsense may be too strong a dismissal, but...wrong. The viewpoint is incorrect. We're talking about a sound, an approach to pop music. You can't limit its discussion to a certain era if there are bona fide examples that predate that era. That would make it a revival. Power pop is not a revival. And we can look to the '60s for many examples that well predate The Raspberries and Big Star.
Examples like the early Who. Examples like the early Kinks. Examples (in my opinion) like The Beatles inventing power pop with "Please Please Me." And examples like "Making Time" by The Creation.
The Creation were a British rock group in the '60s, and "Making Time" was produced by expatriate Yank Shel Talmy, who knew a thing or two about the style from his work with The Who, The Kinks, and The Easybeats. When I was reading about power pop in Bomp! magazine's landmark 1978 issue devoted to that particular clarion call, The Creation's records were among the more elusive sounds cited therein. The Creation had no hits in America, were virtually unknown on these shores, and I had a devil of a time trying to hear any of their music in '78. I finally found and bought an import 45 at Syracuse's Desert Shore Records. Arty Lenin, guitarist for Syracuse's own power pop powerhouse The Flashcubes, was working the counter at Desert Shore that day, trying to interest me in "The Staircase (Mystery)" by Siouxsie & the Banshees. Instead, I purchased a reissue 7" combining two of The Creation's signature tunes, "Making Time" and the British hit "Painter Man."
Both of the songs had been cited in Bomp! as essential power pop; hearing the tracks, I had to agree. Power pop. No matter what decade it was made.
ARETHA FRANKLIN: Eleanor Rigby
Credit the finder's fee for this one to my lovely wife Brenda. "Eleanor Rigby" has been Brenda's favorite Beatles song for decades, going back to when she was a kid not otherwise interested in The Beatles. Um...she got better at that. When we went to see Paul McCartney in 2017, I purposely didn't tell her that he had been performing the song in his concerts. The pleasant surprise of suddenly hearing Ah, look at all the lonely people echoing in the canyon of The Carrier Dome inspired her to promptly flip out. In a good way.
Brenda's generally not much on covers that take too many liberties with a cherished original. On a recent TIRnRR, when Dana played Lesley Gore's version of Lulu's "To Sir, With Love," Brenda was appalled by Gore's unfaithful attempt to adapt what is possibly Brenda's all-time favorite song.
Aretha Franklin takes a lot of liberties in her rendition of "Eleanor Rigby." The tempo is faster, the groove and rhythm entirely different from the familiar Revolver cut. The approach is all Aretha, with merely a trace of John and Paul. Brenda should not have liked this at all.
Brenda heard it on the radio earlier this month. Brenda's a frequent listener of the Soul Town channel on Sirius XM. Aretha Franklin's "Eleanor Rigby" played as Brenda was driving, and at first she was taken aback by its sense of...different. But she liked it. It's Arertha! And she came home to tell me about the song she'd heard.
And so, Brenda had a request for the next This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio. Okeydokey. This is dedicated to the one I love.
JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS: Light Of Day
Noted rock 'n' roll lover Joan Jett made her acting debut in the 1987 film Light Of Day, playing with Michael J. Fox as a sister and brother fronting a workin' class band called The Barbusters. The film's director Paul Schrader had approached Bruce Springsteen to write a title song back when the movie was to be called Born In The USA. And Springsteen wrote that song! He did! He just didn't give it to Schrader, that's all. Schrader switched the film's nom du bijou, Springsteen crafted a new song called "Light Of Day," and Joan Jett belted it out in one of her best-ever recordings. I'm a Jett fan to begin with, and "Light Of Day" is one of my top three Joan Jett tracks (along with "Bad Reputation" and "Love Is Pain"). It's better than "I Love Rock 'n' Roll," and it's probably my favorite Springsteen cover.
When I interviewed Joan Jett for Goldmine in 1994, seven years after the so-so box office of Light Of Day, she still wanted to publicly express her gratitude to Fox for helping her to feel at home in her first on-camera acting experience. In return, she arranged an actual live gig for the film's fictional band--her, Fox, Spinal Tap's Michael McKean, and Paul J. Harkins--at a Cleveland nightclub, so they could get a feel for the experience of playing together as a bar band. In our interview, Jett stressed how nice Fox was to her, and added that he could really play guitar.
And she oughtta know. Joan Jett loves rock 'n' roll.
DONNA LOREN: Just A Little Girl
Reversing the segue heard on this week’s show. A segue of Donna Loren into Joan Jett (or vice versa) doesn’t happen as often as it should. As intrepid TIRnRR listener Rich Firestone said when we did this, "I love segues that look weird on paper, but sound perfect!" See, it's ALL pop music.
Singer and actress Donna Loren didn't achieve superstardom in the '60s, but I'm sure you've seen her even if you can't associate the name with a pretty face. In advertising, she was the Dr. Pepper Girl, the marketing embodiment of attractive and vivacious American youth. She was in beach movies, including the Frankie Avalon-Annette Funicello benchmark flick Beach Blanket Bingo. She was on a two-part episode of Batman, playing The Joker's teen moll Susie. She was on The Monkees, playing Davy Jones' almost-betrothed Princess Colette of Nehudi. She was a featured performer on Shindig!, the best of all the 1960s jukebox TV series. Charming and adorable, Donna Loren was the face of the '60s.
She also made records. She didn't have any hits, but she kept working until she retired from performing in the late '60s. She returned in the '80s, and again in our current shiny new century. She collaborated with writer Domenic Priore on the 2017 book Pop Sixties: Dick Clark, Beach Party, And Photographs From The Donna Loren Archive. She remains charming and adorable. You can order an autographed copy of the book from Donna at her website, donnaloren.com. We're putting her back on the radio where she belongs, with this lovely record from 1964, Donna's rendition of the Gerry Goffin-Carole King composition "Just A Little Girl." Eat your heart out, Joker.
Oh, and Joan Jett 'n' Donna Loren go great together! The segue prompted this response from Donna herself:
"Thank you Dana and Carl, you are transforming a consciousness for your audience that our world is mandating: unity!! Coming togerther collectively, holistically, as you combine a west coast brunette from the Swingin' Sixties w/ another west coast brunette who 'Loves Rock n Roll!' You found a link in these two young women: using their voices to reach a massive Youth Culture hungry for freedom."
Well. I'm smitten.
GRAHAM PARKER & THE RUMOUR: Discovering Japan
"Hotel Chambermaid" was the first Graham Parker & the Rumour I recall hearing, a favorite on Utica's WOUR-FM circa '76-'77, my senior year in high school. For some reason, I thought it was by Greg Kihn, whose take on Bruce Springsteen's "For You" was also getting some significant airplay on OUR, and I don't know why my mind put those two songs together. But both were part of my early FM radio listening, along with Nick Lowe's "So It Goes," The Kinks' "No More Looking Back," Joan Baez's "Time Rag," Michael Nesmith's "Rio," and, eventually, The Sex Pistols' "God Save The Queen." Radio's been good to me.
While I'm sure I also heard Parker's cover of The Trammps' "Hold Back The Night" somewhere early in the timeline, it was really "Discovering Japan" that tickled my tickle zone. I don't remember where I heard it for the first time, but wherever and whenever, it compelled a purchase of a used copy of its host album, 1979's Squeezing Out Sparks, at Brockport's Main Street Records. The album's first side--"Discovering Japan," "Local Girls," "Nobody Hurts You," "You Can't Be Too Strong," and "Passion Is No Ordinary Word"--got significant turntable time when I graduated from college into apartment living in 1980.
(About three years later, a slightly younger co-worker named Patti heard me singing "Discovering Japan" to myself [and anyone else within earshot], and Patti thought the lyrics But there's nothing to hold on to when gravity betrays you were silly beyond description. She needled me about "The Gravity Song" for weeks thereafter, but I don't think it was a laughing matter at all. Gravity's not just a good idea--it's the law!)
|For dramatic purposes, the role of Patti will be played by Donna Loren|
Aw, how could anyone not love Irene Peña? Her track "Must've Been Good" was one of the many highlights of our 2017 compilation CD This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4, and I continue to thank my pal and former Goldmine colleague John Borack for hipping us to the beauty, the splendor, and the wonder of Irene and her music. This new acoustic number "Shimmer Away" is available at Irene's Patreon page, and it's a tease for an electric version to follow. Whether it's unplugged or louder'n all the wattage in the world, ya gotta love it. C'mon. How could anyone not love Irene Peña?
WILSON PICKETT: Sugar Sugar
There are some people who are offended by the very existence of this track. The offended parties tend to be those who rightly view the great Wilson Pickett as one of the great soul voices, but view the idea of the wicked, wicked Pickett lowering himself to sing a lowest-common-denominator weenybop tune by a crass, artless, and, by the way, imaginary cartoon concoction such as--ACK!!--The Archies to be blasphemy. I guess there are maybe some Archies fans who don't dig it either.
Aw, but man--that's so limiting.
Wilson Pickett's "Sugar Sugar" is an audacious mix of swaggering soul with the sweetest of sweet, sweet bubblegum. I'm an unapologetic bubblegum fan; the music of The Archies easily transcends its purely-commercial origin as Saturday morning television soundtrack music spun off as cash-grabs for an undiscerning younger audience. The records are good--well-produced, catchy, with compelling lead vocals from the great Ron Dante. Wilson Pickett was--how shall I put this?--WILSON FREAKIN' PICKETT. A force of Southern R 'n' B nature, the source of 1,000 dances in the midnight hour. If you don't like Pickett, I question your possession of a pulse. I just happen to have a pulse. Wilson Pickett's "In The Midnight Hour" earns a chapter in my book, The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1). Rightly so.
I also love The Archies. My favorite Archies track is "Jingle Jangle," with honorable mentions to "Get On The Line" and "Who's Gonna Love Me, and certainly props to "Sugar Sugar," which was my favorite song on the radio when I was nine. I still like it, and the fact that I like Wilson Pickett's version even better isn't a slam against the original; they're both wonderful. Purists? Please show yourself out. Thanks for stoppin' by. For the faithful: Let the summer sunshine pour its sweetness o'er us. Amen.
SUZI QUATRO: Wake Up Little Susie
After falling in hopeless-but-happy teen crushdom for Suzi Quatro in the mid '70s, I wasn't initially all that taken with her music. I loved "I May Be Too Young" when I saw her lip-sync it on the UK import TV show Supersonic, but that non-LP single eluded my grasp for years and years. My first Suzi Q purchase was her eponymous debut album from 1974, scarfed outta the cutout bin in '76 or '77, and that record didn't immediately connect with me the way the song on Supersonic had. My next Quatro acquisition, an after-the-fact cutout of the '75 album Your Mama Won't Like Me, likewise left me cold.
The import-only album Aggro-Phobia was a different story. I don't remember if I bought it in the summer of '78, when I was working as a janitor at Sears' Penn-Can Mall store in Cicero, NY, or if it was the following summer, but either way, it was a Gerber Music purchase. And if I wasn't quite blown away with the album as a whole, I was absolutely taken with Side One's closing track "Tear Me Apart," an irresistible companion piece to that hard-to-find "I May Be Too Young" thing.
At the time, I didn't pay a lot of attention to the album's last track, a cover of The Everly Brothers' "Wake Up Little Susie." I pulled it out on a whim last week, and listened to it for the first time in...well, I can't count that high. But even if I didn't appreciate it then, I sure do appreciate it now. I guess it just took me a while to wake up.
JEFF SHELTON: All Our Friends
TIRnRR has been playing Jeff Shelton's music for a good long time, commencing early in our 21+ year run with stuff by Shelton's old combo Spinning Jennies. "See For The First Time," a song Shelton wrote and recorded with The Well Wishers, would be a strong candidate for inclusion in my All-Time Hot 200, or better. We've played him with Spinning Jennies, The Well Wishers, Hot Nun, Trip Wire, and maybe in some other incarnation my aging memory prefers to keep hidden from me at the moment. We're fans. We have a radio show dedicated to the specific goal of playing music we like.
Jeff's new Big Stir digital single "All Our Friends" is another fine example of music we like. Its virtual companion, "In Another Life" by Bradley Skaught of The Bye Bye Blackbirds, is also compelling, and it's worth noting that "All Our Friends"was written by Skaught and "In Another Life" was written by Shelton. Yep, it's Jeff Shelton covering The Bye Bye Blackbirds c/w Bradley Skaught covering The Well Wishers. The whole beguiling pop package benefits the nonprofit civil rights advocacy organization Color Of Change. Worthy cause supported by worthy music, as we remind you once again that radio's job is to sell records.
Please do your part. Operators are standing by.
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This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl airs Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at SPARK! WSPJ 103.3 and 93.7 FM, and on the web at http://sparksyracuse.org/ You can read about our history here.
Volume 1: download
Carl's writin' a book! The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1) will contain 134 essays about 134 tracks, each one of 'em THE greatest record ever made. An infinite number of records can each be the greatest record ever made, as long as they take turns. Updated initial information can be seen here: THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE! (Volume 1).