Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Boss Tracks, It's All Over Now, Bobby Womack and the Valentinos

The last leg of the Magic tour suddenly saw Springsteen going back to his bar band roots. Classic covers were flying all over the place, including some new ones. "It's All Over Now" was one of those debuts with Soozie taking lead vocal. Springsteen arguably first heard this one in the version by the Stones. The Valentinos version, however, is the original take and the more interesting to look at. In many ways "It's All Over Now," written by the great Bobby Womack, reflects an important shift in popular music and culture. The song is right on the edge of a movement toward black independence, the shift from Gospel to Soul and the turning point of what would become known as the British Invasion.

The shift starts with the career of Womack's mentor, Sam Cooke. As a Pop and Soul singer Sam is often recognized as one of those key figures in the development of Soul music. Sam had started his career as a recording Gospel artist, but soon took the leap to secular music. As a Gospel artist singing with the Soul Stirrers, Sam had been extremely popular. The label Sam had been signed to, Art Rupe's Specialty, didn't think a transition to secular music could ever work. Rupe felt it would destroy Sam's career if he started singing, what his core audience perceived as, the devil's music. Specialty let Sam go of his contract. A decision he soon learned to regret as Sam started scoring monster hits for first Keen records and later RCA. Sam's Gospel like approach to his big hits is part of what later became Soul music. Together with Ray Charles, Cooke would lay the foundation.

Like Charles, Sam was fiercely independent. Even though Sam had big ambitions in the Pop circuit, dreaming of playing the Copa like Sinatra, he never abandoned his roots. Sam openly associated with 'radical' black figures like Mohamed Ali and Malcolm X. Both figures reflected strong independent black thought and business. Ali's refusal to serve in Vietnam made him a highly controversial figure at the time, Malcom's "by any means necessary," even more so. Sam's firm believe in black independence prompted him to firm his own record company, SAR records, which would eventually release the 45 we're looking at today. Though SAR never became as big and successful as Motown, initiatives like these did reflect a shift in the civil rights struggle. Increasingly prominent black figures and entrepreneurs were striving independence and equality. For Sam however SAR reflected something more, he wanted to put his roots back on the map. SAR started out in 1959 recording Gospel records, even putting new Soul Stirrers sides on wax. When Specialty had dropped them and their new lead, Johnny Taylor, Sam saw an opportunity.

One of the acts SAR would soon sign were the Womack Brothers, featuring the young Bobby. Sam had first met Bobby in 1951, when the Womack Brothers were opening for the Soul Stirrers. Bobby was eight years old at the time. Taken by them, Sam gave them money to buy uniforms so they wouldn't have to go out and steal them. Bobby and his brothers had started doing Gospel imitating their father's group the Voices of Love, hoping their mother would bake them a cake as she did for his father's group. Bobby later recollected his mother would say "you can have what ever's left. But these guys left nothing but the crumbs. Now we were from a very poor neighborhood (I mean cake was something special), and I said, Those guys don't sing that good and they eat everything! So that's how we started mocking them." So it was cake that led to the first Womack Brother's SAR session in 1961 for the Gospel and Pop classic "Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray," on which Bobby first took lead.

Sam was impressed by the young Bobby's voice, he felt he sang with authority. Cooke decided to re-cut the Gospel with the Womack Brothers as the Valentinos, re-writing the lyrics the #8 R&B smash "Looking for a Love" was born. Bobby would later recount his ambivalence toward the whole endeavor, feeling like he just made a mockery of God, telling Peter Gulranick, "He knew we were tripping because it was God's song, but he was laughing, cause he had been through it all before." Bobby remembers Sam fondly as a mentor, as the man who taught him everything he needed to know about singing, especially stressing diction, and writing, telling him "people will buy the news if it is sung with a melody." Sam's coaching eventually would lead Womack to write "It's All Over Now." Released in the spring of 1964, the record caught on fast, but the times were changing fast.

"I's All Over Now" was picked up by the Rolling Stones, who cut it in Chicago's Chess studios. By July 1964 they had their version out on the market, taking the winds out of Bobby's sails. Bobby was furious, feeling nobody could sing his song the way he did. He didn't feel the Stones' version was all that good. But Sam saw it differently. "This will be history" he'd tell Bobby, "This group will take the industry, They ain't like the Beatles, they are ghetto kids, they will make it loose for everybody." Sam strongly felt that singers like the Stones and Dylan were changing the way people were listening to music, "these writers start singing their own material. They might not sound as good, but people believe them more," he'd tell Bobby.

Sam wanted to be part of that future. When Dylan came out with his "Blowin' in the Wind" he felt the Jewish bard had written a song that should have been written by a black man. Dylan inspired Sam to write his immortal civil rights anthem "Change is Gonna Come." Unfortunately, we can only speculate on how Sam's career would have developed further as he was shot in 1964, even before the song saw release as a single. To large controversy in the Black community, Bobby would soon marry Sam's wife, even turning up in Sam's clothes on Cooke's funeral. This momentarily stalled his career. It wouldn't be until 1968 before Womack would hit big again with the Soul stomper "What is This." From there on Womack's career would take many twists and turns, but he's always prove to be a Soul survivor. By the mid eighties, Womack's Poets Trilogy was a testimony of his Gospel Soul roots in a time when many artists had shifted to a bland middle of the road formula. Bobby also featured on the Rolling Stones' "Dirty Work" around that time, one of those Stones albums best forgotten.

"It's All Over Now" by Bobby Womack & the Valentinos

Available onThe SAR Records Story

It's All Over Now, Springsteen, Milwaukee 2008

MP3 File

Sources and further reading:
Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke
by Peter Gulranick
Sam Cooke's Sar Records Story, liner notes by Peter Gulranick
Midnight Mover
by Bobby Womack

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Boot Tracker: 12/31/75 – Last Tango In Philly

With his first entry we're welcoming Kevin on board. I appreciate Kevin's kind words at the start of his review, but a little hunger is all it takes to start the madness that sucked me into the details of R&R history. I hope Kevin and his writing will be a regular around this place in cyberspace.

I asked Alex if I could contribute to this blog and he kindly obliged to let me help out. I lack the depth of understanding Alex has where music history and all of its wonders are concerned but I'm young, and I'm hungry, and I've got a lot to say. I could compare it to that time when Bruce was busting at the seams of his skin to tell it all to us, let us know everything rumbling around in that head of his, and give us a show worth the price and then some. The Last Tango In Philly, it should be said, is probably the best sounding boot of its time, surpassing even the legendary Main Point and Bottom Line FM broadcasts in terms of audio quality. The recently unsurfaced Uber Release from a 24-track source yields incredible fidelity and, as Ev2's liner notes state, you will feel as if the E Street Band is in your living room. Unfortunately, the catch is that the boot is only 9 songs long, cut in half from an 18 song show, but what remains represents a beautiful Technicolor portrait of Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band at the end of innocence.

December 31st, 1975, finds Bruce not only on New Year's Eve but also on the Eve of his own entrance into adulthood. The Born to Run tour was a sounding bell to announce the arrival of Bruce and the band, but comparatively, it has a laid-back feel in some ways. It finds Bruce with a loose sense of focus, loose in the right ways. Even concerts as early as '76 have a sense of drive and mission, less soul rave-up with the shaggy haired Jersey kid and his band and more of a rock and roll statement of purpose, no doubt attributable for the most part to the lawsuit drama with former manager Mike Appel.

It also stands as a stark contrast to the one officially released concert from '75, the first Hammersmith show, showcasing a Bruce far more comfortable in his own skin and supernova stardom. He gently pokes around at it, intoning before Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street? that "Seasons come, seasons go, you get your picture on the cover of TIME and Newsweek but the bus never stops.""Night" blazes out of the gate and firmly roots titself as a Grade A opener, being used frequently as song number #1 for the setlists of the next two years. "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" gets slowed down to a wonderfully lackadaisical pace, evoking nostalgia and the Bruce's ever developing sense of storytelling. The phrasing here wouldn't be repeated on the song until the infamous Christic shows, side stepping actually singing the words "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" until the last moment possible. On songs like "Bus Stop" and "Saint", The E Street Band rips through the tempo, straddling the genre spectrum in something that might be aptly called soul-punk-rock-and-roll. Bruce covers "It's My Life" by The Animals to blistering effect, starting off with a typical "daddy issues" yarn, a thread that would continue an arc within his music through songs like "Adam Raised A Cain" "Independence Day" and "Long Time Comin'". Despite the creepy-hilarious stalker story Bruce tells about him and Stevie chasing a girl, "Pretty Flamingo" is impossibly sweet, in no small part due to Phantom Dan's singular touch with the organ. It's interesting to note that the arrangement here is essentially a mirror image of the '75 arrangement of "The E Street Shuffle", complete with the pause in the middle for a rambling story about nothing/everything.

Any serious collector should do themselves the good favor of getting this immediately. Not even the legendary Main Point show from '75 can compete in terms of sound quality. For those looking for essential versions of cover standards like "Pretty Flamingo", "It's My Life", and "Mountain of Love", it's a must. And if you listen close enough, you can hear Bruce leaving the boy behind and gearing up to meet the man.

"Tenth Avenue Freeze Out"

MP3 File

Download the full show in mp3 here
A small request, use mp3s for personal use only. Keep them in your iPod or on your computer but never use a mp3 based CD in a trade. The quality of mp3s deteriorate rapidly every time a CD is ripped. Using high quality music files such as FLACs is essential in keeping the trading pool healthy.

Sound: 5 out of 5
Show: 4.5 out of 5
Artwork: 4.5 out of 5

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Down the Tracks, Tell Tale Signs, Bob Dylan

John Leland once called Dylan a trickster in his book Hip: The History. He saw Dylan as one of those enigmatic people who we are unable to capture, unable to get a real grasp of. A sense of understanding of Dylan, according to Leland, bestows us with a sense of hipness, even though in silence we must shamefully admit to ourselves that the man totally eludes us. Ironically Dylan's trickster image that made him an icon of hip, wasn't something that Zimnmerman seemed to be striving for at the time. Zimmerman has always appeared to be uncomfortable with the iconic status of Dylan, or at least for a large part of his career. I think Robert Zimmerman might have felt he wasn't all that hot, or at least no better than the Woody Guthries or the Blind Willie McTells who inspired him. So Zimmerman spend his career trying to escape Bob Dylan. Not so much a chameleon, who adapts to his surroundings to gain invisibility, Dylan developed to be a lizard, trying to slither out of his status by alienating his fans. He went electric, he went Country, got religion, but to no avail. Ironically every time Dylan tried to slither his way out, it added to his enigmatic status. Dylan radiated an arrogance that only added to his hipness. By the eighties Zimmerman was sick of being Dylan and threatened to become sick of music all together.

Tell Tale Signs: the Bootleg Series Vol. 8, chronicles Zimmerman regaining a sense of himself and shows how Zimmerman grew truly comfortable with being Dylan for maybe the first time in his career. These days Dylan could rest comfortable on his past achievements, but that doesn't seem to be in his character. With the audience that once was hip, now settled and mundane, Dylan could spend the fall of his year blowing in the wind. To an extent he's doing just that. The post eighties Dylan sounds relaxed, at ease with who he his. His voice has grown both harsher and calmer. The wheezing has gone, replaced by a soulfulness that the early Dylan lacked. The current Dylan appears to allow you to get closer, or at least radiates a stronger sense of intimacy. This is a Dylan that allowed Scorsese to make a documentary on him, wrote volume one of his Chronicles and appears on the radio. But who thinks that we are slowly starting to get to know Dylan might be missing the point of what Dylan has been doing in this second phase of his career.

What Theme Time Radio Hour and Tell Tale Signs make clear is that this Dylan isn't as much opening up himself, but is opening his passion. Dylan is spending his career opening up a door to music that is threatened to be forgotten. Dylan is taking us along the houses of the great Blues and Folk legends that gave him his career. As Larry 'Ratso' Sloman writes in the liner notes, Dylan is creating his own archaic music. This Dylan realizes that he has finally lost his hip status, that the status of hip belongs to the rappers and the DJs. Yet it is also a Dylan that uses his iconic status to bear open the soul he thinks music is threatening to lose. As such Tell Tale Signs is a fascinating study of a man, not trying to escape, but pursuing something himself, trying to capture the magic that inspired him, trying to unravel what makes music tick. Though many of the tracks eventually found their way to earlier albums, in one form or another, Tell Tale Signs is still a great compilation to own in itself. Not just because most of the arrangements here are strikingly different from what they wound up to be, but because Tell Tale Signs tells a story in itself.

Listen to Tell Tale Signs on NPR

Tell Tale Signs will also be available in an deluxe three disc edition.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Boss Tracks, My Girl Sloopy, The Vibrations

At 33 years of age, most of the songs I review here were already ripe with age before I was even an idea in my parents mind. Hell my parents probably hadn't even met when this gem hit the market. The up-side of missing out on all this great music when it was first released, is that I can be taken completely by surprise by a song that is common knowledge for the sixties generation. A few weeks back, me and my buddy were spinning records at a club. Seemingly out of the blue, my buddy threw on this infectious record with a sturdy dragging beat and a chorus that immediately stuck in my head for days. The McCoys version of "My Girl Sloopy," retitled "Hang on Sloopy" after the chorus, proved to be a killer and instant floor filler. All around me people were waving their hands in the air, singing "Hang on Sloopy, Sloopy hang on." Most people in their twenties and thirties who, like me, had no business with this record what so ever.

Digging into the elusive past almost made me feel like I had been living under a rock. It turns out that Garage Gods, the Kingsmen already had their version, it just wasn't on any of the LPs I own. The Five Yardbirds appeared to have a version as well, but I'm not much of a Yardbirds fan, so Sloopy managed to elude me. I scored the McCoys' version on E-bay immediately after that evening spinning records. Turns out that the McCoys were just a mask the Stangeloves briefly wore to get the record out while their smash hit "I Want Candy" was still in the charts. The Strangeloves were touring with the Dave Clark Five at the time, who had expressed the desire to put Sloopy to wax for themselves. The Strangeloves, who wanted to do the song for themselves, realized that the Dave Clark Five would probably outsell them, so they rush released their version as the McCoys, with Rick Zehringers from Rick and the Raiders on lead vocal. After "Hang on Sloopy" hit, the Raiders changed their name into the McCoys officially. The rousing little Rock and Roller the McCoys made it into would eventually become an institute as the official Rock song for the state of Ohio and Ohio University.

The story doesn't stop there. Because the song was renamed after the chorus by most artists who covered the song, I totally missed the original version by the Vibrations, released in 1964. "My Girl Sloopy" was written by the great Bert Russel, who got the quirky name Sloopy from jazz musician Dorothy Sloop Heflick, born and raised in Ohio, she recorded the forgotten classic Dixie and Sloopy in New Orleans, where she made name for herself as a piano player. I don't think Russel had ever expected the song to become an anthem, but the deceiving simplicity of the song along with the theme it addresses makes "My Girl Sloopy" more than just a little infectious ditty. In just two lines Russel made "My Girl Sloopy" a song about social stratification. "My girl Sloopy lives in a very bad part of town, and everybody tries to put my Sloopy down," the song opens, with of course love eventually triumphing over adversity as Sloopy's lover begs her to hold on. Something the authors of House Concurrent Resolution no. 16 recognized which made "Hang on Sloopy" Ohio's official rock song, making Ohio the only state in the US to have one. Not bad for a little R&R boozer.

The working class lament that is buried under that infectious beat makes "My Girl Sloopy" the perfect cover for Springsteen to do. Oddly enough he only did the song twice. Once in 1984 together with singer John Eddie, who is ironically best 'known' for his album "Who the Hell is John Eddie," in the mid eighties when they shared the stage for one of Eddie's shows. The second time Springsteen included a snippet in Light of Day when the Reunion tour touched down in the great state of Ohio. If you ask me though, "Hang on Sloopy" should be his next single and close his set at this year's Super Bowl.

"My Girl Sloopy"

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Boot Tracker, Oktober 9th 1980, Cobo Hall, Detroit

Today we've got a special anniversary conversion show submitted by John Urban, who aptly goes under the guise of Converted at Cobo on the forums. I think John captures the exitement of cherry poppin' time quite nicely!

October 9th, 1980 was the night I caught, or rather was caught by my first Bruce Springsteen concert, and though twenty eight years have passed, I still remember that night and its affect on what I would expect from Rock and Roll ever since. That year, I was the sixteen year old neighbor of a very dedicated Bruce fan, and he had loaned me his collection of Bruce's studio albums hoping to hear something other than KISS blaring out of my bedroom window. We used to sit in his basement with those albums; song after song would play and he'd give me the 'oh, and during this song, Bruce would….' so I was familiar with the music, I'd heard legendary tales of his performances and I'd had a taste of the live experience when I taped the Agora 78 rebroadcast on local station, WABX a year prior. I wanted to complete the circle though; I wanted to see him live.

As my junior year in high school began, tickets went on sale for the River Tour. I was in a real bind though; my circle of friends didn't like Bruce's music, I didn't have a driver's license yet to get me there if I had a ticket, and while my neighbor promised me a ticket if one was left, they were eaten up right away, and now with less than a week until the show, I'd given up hope on going. I went to the first dance of the school year, and found my usual place in the corner by the bleachers. Another friend that I'd only just met the summer before found me there and bragged that he had tickets to the concert. Before I could congratulate him in as deep a sarcastic tone as I could muster, he followed with, 'and Mark has an extra ticket if you're interested in going.' I could have passed out.

The day of the show was a beautiful Indian Summer day, and my friend picked me up in his Chevy convertible. With Born To Run blaring from his tape deck, we drove off to meet up with the rest of his friends and then headed down to Cobo Arena. (Many sources credit the name of the venue as Cobo Hall, but that is actually the adjoining convention center.) We passed the time buying our tour shirts and some Pepsi's, chanted 'BROOOOCE' along with the anxious sell-out crowd of 12,000 as each pre-show song faded out, and checked out the instruments on stage; Clarence's saxophone gleamed under the houselights, Roy's grand piano sat there like the long black Cadillac Bruce would be singing about later that night during Cadillac Ranch, and at the center of the stage, like a holy relic on an alter, Bruce's Telecaster.

True to form, the published start time came and went, and the crowd grew even more impatient until at last the pre-show music shut off mid song and simultaneously the houselights went dark. A thunderous roar rose from the audience as flashlights guided band members to their places, and then after a moment, Max's drum roll marked the beginning of Born To Run. They followed with Prove It All Night and then the account of the band's history in Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out before finally slowing down for Darkness on the Edge of Town and Independence Day. A song that had appeared during the Darkness tour, Independence Day was now an upcoming release on The River which was still another five days from the record stores. Bruce played brave that night; twelve of the twenty eight songs came from that album, yet it seemed the audience was still very much into the new music despite the unfamiliarity, not using those songs for bathroom or beer runs.

This show confirmed what until that night had seemed like tales of legend I'd heard from my neighbor: Bruce went into the crowd to dance during Sherry Darlin', he climbed onto the speakers to lean out over the audience during Crush On You, he bantered with Clarence during Fire and dueled with him prior to their 'Bring It Up' shout during Rosalita, and ignoring Roy's finger shaking wave off, Bruce jumped up onto that grand piano for big air on one of his song ending leaps.

The length of the show matched expectations as well. It seemed that Bruce would never leave, extending the Detroit Medley to include what turned out to be the first ever I Hear A Train. As 1980's only Quarter to Three followed, Bruce finally began begging the audience to let him go; late night Kojak re-runs were on, and Bruce never missed an episode. Assured it was an episode he'd already seen, Bruce broke back into the conclusion of that song and sadly, the end of the concert. As Bruce left, my friends and I sat back down in our seats exhausted and soaked with sweat, hoping for but not getting one of those mid tear-down surprise encores we'd heard about. But how it was that we seemed just as physically drained as Bruce looked reveals the connection Bruce has a talent for creating with his audience; he gives and the audience gives right back. Music isn't just played for the ears, it's owned, molded into something visual, then repeated over the course of three and a half hours with sheer determination.

I arrived home about 12:30 am on that school night; aware of the length of his shows from that Agora broadcast, I'd luckily renegotiated my curfew with my parents ahead of time. I went to bed that night cemented as a fan, that Agora tape playing into my ringing ears, feeling lucky that I'd gotten that ticket, and replaying all that I had seen and heard. I fell asleep knowing that I would be preaching to my friends the next day, as much like the prophet that my neighbor had been to me. Bruce claims that he picks out one particular audience member and uses him or her as his inspiration for his shows. I doubt that he could see me in my upper deck, second from the back row seat, but I can let him claim another successful Brucifixion.

"Born to Run"

MP3 File
The original recording of this show was not in the best shape when I received it. Drop outs due to tape flips have been patched, and the playback speed (which ran fast) has been corrected in the files submitted.

Full Show:

Disc 1
, Disc 2, Disc 3.
A small request, use mp3s for personal use only. Keep them in your iPod or on your computer but never use a mp3 based CD in a trade. The quality of mp3s deteriorate rapidly every time a CD is ripped. Using high quality music files such as FLACs is essential in keeping the trading pool healthy.

Boot Tracker, Oktober 5th 2008, Columbus Ohio

"I've spent most of my creative life measuring the distance between that American promise and American reality." -Bruce Springsteen

The above quote sums up Springsteen music pretty well. For years I've been trying to explain my fascination for that man to my friends, who more than once looked at me and my borderline obsession quite bemused. I can assure you, I've never been able to capture him in one simple sentence. Unfortunately I'm much to verbose for that. Springsteen's association with Barack Obama makes perfect sense when you set it off against his work and that one sentence. If I were to over simplify Barack Obama, he'd become an image of hope. It has been argued that Obama has been more image than content. In a sense that is true. Senator Barack Obama's strong charisma radiates a hope that America hasn't seen as strong since the mythic Kennedy was president. In a sense his image is as grand (and maybe overblown) as Springsteen's "Promised Land." Obama's image touches something that's bigger than himself, in the same way Springsteen's songs touch that big vision. Barack Obama radiates the vitality and youth that is the American dream. A dream that quite a few of us Europeans are smitten with as well. With its sense that every man is created equal and should have an equal chance to achieve his or her goals, how can you not be?

Yet, as the quote betrays, between dream and reality there's a gap. A gap that these days seems to be widening rapidly. With the stock market crashing, Iraq an continued bloody mess and New Orleans still struggling to get back on its feet, many of us are scared. Truth tell, I'm scared, afraid that I'll learn more about the era the Joads came from than I bargained for. America's brand of capitalism seems to have stretched itself beyond its capacity and once more there seems to be an awful lot of truth in these words, "if America sneezes, the world catches a cold." America has been sneezing big time as of late. So while a lot of Europeans look at the American dream with a sense wonder, we look at the American reality with a sense of fear or apprehension. Often this is mistaken as a form of anti-Americanism in more conservative circles, but it simply isn't. The world has almost as much invested in the American dream as America itself.

The question is if Barack Obama can help restore that American dream. Strip away the image, a man remains, as vulnerable and prone to mistake as we all are. More importantly, as limited in capacity as we all are. Not one man can change society, it takes a nation to do so. Springsteen may claim that "One thousand George Bushes and one thousand Dick Cheneys will never be able to tear that house down," but the current administration did it an awful lot of damage. Not just damage to the economy and its standing in the world, but to the spirit of America. Right now America needs a president that can built bridges, or rather that can inspire people to built bridges. I believe Barack Obama is that man. He has proved as much in Chicago with his community work, he has proved as much by building a grass roots movement that proved bigger and more powerful than the top brass in the Democratic Party. In the "Audacity of Hope" Barack Obama shows himself as a man of character, a man who is able to approach people with respect and leave room for other points of view. More importantly Obama demonstrates in his book sufficient concrete ideas on how to improve people's lives, he understands what the common American needs to achieve a base sense of quality in their lives and how to get it to them.

In the light of the current economic crisis, both his image and his practicality are important. Economy, for a large part, is based on trust. When consumers and investors start to get cold feet, start to loose faith, the economy shutters to a halt. Practical measures are needed and in recent days Obama proved he was able to recognize the severity of the economic crisis, recognize the measures that needed to be taken and inspire people to make difficult choices. If that isn't the measure of leadership, I don't know what is. So in short, I fully support Springsteen's endorsement of Obama. While all three rally shows were sober and not really all that special, none of these versions will ever become a definitive version, these performances do radiate that electrifying sense of promise and resilience that makes the man so inspiring in the first place. The context is what gives these rally shows their edge. In a few years from now they'll probably won't sound like anything special, but right now I find it enormously exiting to hear Springsteen chant "Yes We Can" along with a crowd that is bigger than the crowd of the average Magic show.

"Mr Spaceman"

MP3 File
A short, but very cool samply. Bruce got introduced by John Glenn in Ohio. Glenn is one of those few people who really seen it all. So if he takes pleasure out of introducing our man, that means something right?

Download the full show in mp3 here
A small request, use mp3s for personal use only. Keep them in your iPod or on your computer but never use a mp3 based CD in a trade. The quality of mp3s deteriorate rapidly every time a CD is ripped. Using high quality music files such as FLACs is essential in keeping the trading pool healthy.

Read the review from the Columbus Dispatch here

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Boss Tracks; Gino Washington, Gino is a Coward.

"Gino is a Coward" is the song Springsteen based his 1988 Tunnel of Love Express tour show piece on, "I'm a Coward." It's one of those songs that prove that R&R lyrics do not have to be all that elaborate or sophisticated to really make a connection. "Gino is a Coward" is of the most simple poetry, yet it perfectly captures an emotion a lot of us are only all to familiar with. Within those rambling guitars and gusto vocals Gino Washington bares his Soul, he confesses a fear most of us like to leave unspoken, that we're simply affraid of love. We might just feel more fear for love than that grizzly bear Gino likes to wrestle. Love does have that power to paralyze us, to make you feel like your heart is bleeding on the floor. Love is a roller coaster ride of emotions, where it is not all that certain that the cart will stay on the tracks. Now, be honest, who isn't just a little scared of that! It is not without irony that the B-side is the haunting "Puppet on a String."

Gino Washington is one of those more rough and raggedy talents that got eclipsed by Motown's sun. With Detroit buddy's Nathaniel Mayer and Nolan Strong, he never gained the fame of a Marvin Gaye, but did become one of those cult figures that gained a quaint following amongst Garage bands and R&B fans who were drawn to the more unpolished side of the equation. Gino's dad had been a failed Blues singer, so Gino was aware of the disappointments the trade could bring. Yet when he saw Jackie Wilson perform, Gino knew what he wanted, he wanted to be on stage. After winning the talent contest on local television's Milky's Party Time four times in a row, Gino got his break with the fledging Correc-Tone label. "I'm a Coward" was the first single he ever cut, what a way to introduce yourself. Very few copies on this label were ever printed and very rare indeed today. The Ric-Tic version presented here is a re-recording of that very song, without the horn arrangement that is so prominently there in Springsteen's version. In the liner notes for the excellent compilation Gino explains what happened. "With the first time I cut the song, with the horns, it bombed! The arrangement was all wrong, so I went in with Jeff and the Atlantics and tried my arrangement". Correc-Tone than put the single out on their subsidiary Sonbert, when the song broke in Detroit Ric-Tic picked it up nationally.

By the time "Gino is a Coward" started to hit, there was only one thing keeping Gino from the top, those pesky Beatles. As influential as the Beatles may have been, they did change the market. Just when white teen-agers started to discover R&B and allowing people like Gino Washington and Gary 'US' Bonds some cross-over success, the Beatles gave those very white teens a clean cut, easier to identify with, alternative. Though in Gino's case it might also have had something to do with his way of doing business. As Jeff remembers in those same liner notes, the shows were getting bigger and bigger after "Gino is a Coward" hit. Gino got the chance to open up for quite a few big names, the Four Seasons, the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones. The problem was Gino was always late. He'd walk in the very last minute, dressed to kill looking ready to do business. The promoter got fed up with them and when Gino showed up late for the Beach Boys gig, he yelled; "That's it you're not doing the Beatles." If the reaction he evoked during the live shows is any indication, Gino could have been bound for much greater things. Not everybody gets an audience hollering his name, "Gino! Gino! Gino!," during a Rolling Stones concert! If you want to know what Gino is all about, keep an eye on him. He's still out there on the road somewhere, like at last edition of the Ponderosa Stomp! What ever you do though, don't ever mistake him for that fraud Geno Washinton!

"Gino is a Coward"

Available on Out of This World