when neal was nine (days)
happy 50th birthday to my brother david

friday random ten, 1969 edition

1. Buffy Sainte-Marie, "God Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot." What she brings to mind probably depends on when you were born. In the early-60s, she was the earnest Native American folkie with the vibrato in her vocals ... in the 70s she was a semi-regular on Sesame Street (the video link, not a song, comes from that show). She was once married to a surfer dude, she has a Ph.D., and in 1969, she recorded this oddball album which was almost entirely constructed out of synthesized versions of her singing and playing.

2. Jefferson Airplane, "Other Side of This Life." As a bass player in a garage band about this time, I modeled myself after Jack Casady of the Airplane. He and guitarist Jorma Kaukonen had an otherworldly connection, and Casady was not just adept but also idiosyncratic ... he wasn't really part of the rhythm section, his melodic bass acted as another lead instrument, which I assume pissed off drummer Spencer Dryden, who was left to hold the bottom. I don't think idolizing Casady made me a better player ... I, too, became very adept, but I didn't have the funk. In 1969, the Airplane released their first live album, and if you like their pickin', this is the one to get. Or if you want to know why bass players of the time got down on their knees and thanked the lord for Jack Casady ... listen to this. The video is from Altamont ... you get a taste of Casady, then about halfway through, the beatdowns begin, Marty jumps into the crowd and gets his head bashed in, Grace asks people to calm down ... and Jorma, Jack and Spencer keep playing like that's gonna help. They aren't exactly James Brown in Boston, 1968.

3. Led Zeppelin, "Dazed and Confused." As good a place as any to welcome Led Zep into the Random Tens. They were performing this one when they were still the New Yardbirds. It was perhaps the ultimate "Jimmy plays guitar with a bow" song (he apparently got the idea for this from Illya Kuryakin's dad). Live versions were reported to last as long as 45 minutes. And, oh yeah, it's one of many Led Zep classics that was, um, "borrowed" from another, uncredited, source, in this case, Jake Holmes, a folksinger who wrote the song, recorded it, and then played it when opening for the Yardbirds. A couple of years later, the version we know and love showed up on the first Led Zep album, credited to Jimmy Page. Like so much Led Zeppelin, the story behind the song is unsettling at best, the song itself killer, as is the video link, high-quality sound and picture, from 1970.

4. Billy Preston, "That's the Way God Planned It." He probably has the best claim of anyone to being the "Fifth Beatle." Video is from the Bangladesh concert. To this non-believer, at least, Preston's god seems to have more life in him than George's.

5. Janis Joplin, "Kozmic Blues." I'm from the "Big Brother was her best band" crowd, but there were a couple of good cuts on the Kozmic Blues album, including this one. The video is with the Full Tilt band.

6. Jimi Hendrix, "Red House." Released in early 1972 but recorded (obviously) before that, Hendrix in the West didn't stay in the catalog very long ... I forget why at this point ... too bad, because while there was some filler, there were also great performances of "Little Wing," "Voodoo Child," and a 13-minute version of this one. Video's good, too ... well, every version of "Red House" is good.

7. Boz Scaggs, "Loan Me a Dime." My brother and I lived in Capitola, next to Santa Cruz, for a year in 1970-1. There was an AM station that played good tunes ... what I now think of as "FM Underground." They went off the air every evening at 6:00. At a bit past quarter to six each night, they would play "Loan Me a Dime" to close out the broadcast day. It never got old. (I suppose if I'm gonna pick on Jimmy Page for stealing songs, I should note that it took awhile for Boz to admit that Fenton Robinson wrote this one.) I don't suppose there's a video of this ... Duane Allman sat in on the sessions, but I don't know that he ever played live with Scaggs. You can find lots of young gee-tar players on YouTube trying out Duane's Loan Me a Solo. Meanwhile, this video is a Duane tribute to the tune of "Little Martha."

8. Pharoah Sanders, "The Creator Has a Master Plan." Jazz doesn't show up on here very often, but here's one I played over and over back in the day. It was split between two sides on vinyl, but now, we get to hear the entire 32:44 without a break. Think of it, you could play "Loan Me a Dime" AND "Red House" and when they were done, Pharoah would still have several minutes to go. (Don't worry, the video's only 1:13.)

9. Tyrone Davis, "Can I Change My Mind." "I keep lookin' back, but my baby's not in sight."

10. Velvet Underground, "After Hours." Lou had Moe sing it because it was innocent and pure. Kinda like the homemade video at the top of this post. One reason among many that the Velvet Underground are my favorite band is that they were capable of both "I Heard Her Call My Name" and "After Hours."

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