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ballad of a remodel

friday random ten, third annual summer of love edition

1. King Curtis & the Kingpins, "Memphis Soul Stew." From Wikipedia's account of Curtis' funeral: "As the mourners filed in, Curtis' Kingpins played an hour long version of 'Soul Serenade' and a number of musicians got up to play. Jesse Jackson preached the service, and Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Cissy Houston, Brook Benton and Duane Allman were among those attending. Aretha sang the closing spiritual, 'Never Grow Old'. The Atlantic Records office closed for the day."

2. The Chambers Brothers, "Time Has Come Today." In the late 60s, there were many hits on the Top 40 charts that were shortened versions of the album original. This was one of them, although its history was a bit more complicated than we realized at the time. The Brothers first recorded an odd, truly psychedelized version that ran about 2 1/2 minutes. Then came the epic album version, more than 11 minutes, and the stripped down single, which ran somewhere between 3 and 4 minutes. The famously short-songed Ramones did a version that came close to 4 1/2 minutes. Well, the video link, to a performance on Ed Sullivan, reduces it all down to two minutes and one second ... and pretty much gets the point across.

3. Bobbie Gentry, "Ode to Billie Joe." People at the time really hashed out the "true" meaning of this one. They even made a feature film of the song. Gentry has never said much to enlighten, letting the song speak for itself. Folks still care.

4. Aretha Franklin, "Dr. Feelgood (Love Is a Serious Business)." Live versions (such as the one in the video link, or the one on the Fillmore West album) give Aretha room to really stretch, and no one stretches like Aretha. Plays a mean piano, too.

5. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, "Red House." It's a Hendrix song that people think they can play, because they think the blues are easy. They're wrong.

6. Arthur Conley, "Sweet Soul Music." Well, Bruce is coming in less than a month, so I might as well include a Bruce video link.

7. Big Brother & the Holding Company, "Ball and Chain." Before Cheap Thrills, before Monterey, Big Brother appeared on the local public TV station and blew the few people who saw it away. The version of "Ball and Chain" may be the best Janis and the band ever pulled off ... it lacks the sexual energy of the Monterey version, but it is much rawer than the official release on Cheap Thrills. By the time the latter was released, the local underground radio station had been playing the TV version a lot, and I, at least, always preferred that one. The video link will take you there.

8. Gladys Knight & the Pips, "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." Give it up for Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, who wrote a classic that somehow worked perfectly in entirely different versions by Knight, Marvin Gaye, and Creedence Clearwater Revival.

9. Eric Burdon & the Animals, "Paint It Black." I saw them at the Fillmore a couple of weeks after Monterey, and remember this song in particular. It was my first rock concert ... Chuck Berry headlined.

10. Bob Dylan, "All Along the Watchtower." Don't watch the following video unless you are caught up with Battlestar Galactica. OK, if you don't care about Battlestar Galactica, go ahead and watch, but it won't have the same resonance it does for us fans. I have a particular obsession with the way BSG has used "Watchtower" ... watching this video for the tenth time gets me just as hard as the first. But like I say, it won't mean anything if you don't watch the show.

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