Thursday, December 16, 2010

Message Received

Single, "Do They Know It's Christmas?" Band Aid, Columbia, 1984. B-Side "Feed the World" Near mint--pristine--you might get up to $10 bucks for it.

There are times when I really WANT to love a song, but just can’t manage it. Intentions may be good, the message may be worthy and the musicianship may be top notch, still certain songs just fall flat.

The number one single on this day in the UK in 1984 was “Do They Know It’s Christmas?,” a song written by Bob Geldorf and Midge Ure and performed by the many artists who contributed their time and talents to Band Aid, the proceeds going to bring relief to the famine-ravaged people of Ethiopia. Everything good--except the song. It’s not a very good song.

I’m bothered by that lyric “Well, tonight thank God it’s them instead of you.” I’ve never found that kind of schadenfreude or hubris--or whatever it is that makes us think it’s okay to wish this on someone else to spare ourselves—to be an attitude to be encouraged.

This single isn't highly collectible since it sold 3.5 million in the UK alone. It remained the top-selling single there until Elton John’s tribute to Princess Diane “Candle in the Wind” displaced it in 1997.

When I hear the song now, I just try not to cringe and remember the purity of the intention to help those in need. I hope it made a BIG difference.

Maybe soon a new generation of musicians will band together to raise money for a worthy cause and a new Christmas song will be written—I have hope!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

In a Chord


"Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" was a single and added to later albums. The album above, on the Gordy label, 1968, could be worth around $40 for the mono white label promo, in near mint condition. One of the more collectible Temptations albums. Course, it's that near mint caveat that's important here.
If you were like me you wore out your Temptations albums.

One this date, December 2, in 1972, the number one song on the Billboard charts was: “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone,” by The Temptations.

The album mix of this song runs to 11 minutes and 47 seconds, and the composition features only ONE chord throughout–B-flat minor. Throw in a whole bunch of instruments: an assortments of guitars with effects pedals, horns, drums, bass guitars, electric piano, maybe a Wurlitzer in there somewhere. Top it off with vocals and handclaps. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but instead it became a soul classic.

The song, written by Motown songwriters, was originally composed for a group called The Undisputed Truth. They recorded their version in 1971 and it was a moderate success.

But when the Temptations applied their particular vocal magic to the song in 1972 it shot to number one on the Billboard charts and won three Grammys.

Not too shabby for a song that’s a 12-minute downer, but definitely no Parent-of-the-Year award in the offing for Papa.

---------------------------------------------------------------

As a side note, the group The Undisputed Truth is collectible as well. Most of their albums run in the $20-30 range for near mint. They definitely get points for campy psychedelic soul. And in a twist, their single U. S. hit was "Smiling Faces Sometimes," which rose to #3 on the charts and had previously been recorded, with only moderate success by--yes, The Temptations.



Monday, November 29, 2010

ABBA-DABBA DO

ABBA, Super Trouper Atlantic, 1980. Worth about $10-15, near mint.
ABBA is not particularly collectible, but if you happen to have The Abba Special
2-record DJ edition, Atlantic, 1983, that's worth about $50-75, near mint

At the risk of being shuffled off to a home for the terminally dweeby I have to confess there was a time when I really loved putting ABBA on the turntable and dancing around the living room. Who knew the Swedes could rock out like this? But I guess in a cold climate it's advisable to play something you can move to.

On this day in 1980 I was probably dancing around with my firstborn child in my arms when ABBA’s Super Trouper hit #1 on the charts. It was a deliriously happy time.

ABBA was huge in the 1970s, a colossal commercial success. The four musicians were each accomplished in their own right and their blend seemed a perfect storm of talent. And while I’m in a confessing mood, I thought it was cool that two married couples comprised the group and even found the cutesy name clever–then. Course, now it sounds like what a group of middle-schoolers forming a band would come up with “Hey, how about each of our first initials?” Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Benny Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Agnetha Faltskog. ABBA. That'd be way kewl, right?

Alas, just as disco was destined to fade quickly, so did the marriages–and ABBA. But their songs live on and I hope someday to dance around the living room with a grandchild in my arms and ABBA’s “Take a Chance On Me” blaring from the speakers.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

You Can Get Anything You Want...

Arlo, then and now.

All the guy wanted was a good Thanksgiving dinner with friends. And look what goes and happens…

Arlo Guthrie told the whole convoluted story of what transpired when he headed up to Stockbridge, Massachusetts to have Thanksgiving dinner with Alice and Ray Brock and a gaggle of friends in 1965. It took up one entire side of his 1967 LP.

Can this really be the 55th Anniversary of the infamous “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree?” Seems impossible that more than a half-century has passed. I watched a bit of the movie on Netflix last night and it now looks amateurish and dated in a sweet “hey, guys, let’s put on a show” kind of way. It was a treat to see Arlo Guthrie looking so baby-faced and cute. I’m glad he’s kept on keeping on through the years.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone and remember to dispose of your holiday trash in a lawful manner or Officer Obie might come to haul you away.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Little Song that Could

If you're lucky enough to find a near mint copy of this
1961 Herald release it could be worth up to $500.
It's the "near mint" part that's the catch.

It’s tiny, but mighty. The number one song in the U.S. on this day in 1960 clocked in at just one minute and 30-something seconds. But what a minute plus it is!

It is reputed that Maurice Williams wrote the song when he was a teenaged boy trying to convince his date to forget about her curfew and---well, “stay, just a little bit longer.” Don’t know if it worked with the girl, but the song certainly has staying power.

I believe Maurice and the Zodiacs still hold the record for the shortest song ever to make the charts in the U.S. There are differing accounts about how long the actual recording is, but all tally up to a minute and 30-something seconds.

In any case this song proves that good things do, indeed, come in small packages. It’s hard to imagine that scene in Dirty Dancing–all the staffer kids from the wrong side of the tracks having their gyration-fest–without Maurice doing the begging.

Later the song would be recorded by the Hollies, by The Four Seasons and other bands. Jackson Browne had a nice crack at it, too. But, in the end, this is definitely a case of “ya gotta dance with the one what brung ya”. So today maybe you’ll let Maurice convince you to stay for a while and just close your eyes and listen. Or get up and dance around your living room. It’s a great way to spend a minute and 37 seconds. But I warn you, this song will get in your head and....STAY.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Dropping Names

And Now About Mr. Avalon, Frankie Avalon, 1961, Mono in near mint could be worth $30-50 and in stereo $40-75



Any self-help guru will tell you that upon meeting a new contact there’s power in dropping that person’s name into the conversation occasionally. I think you’d have to increase that benefit exponentially to tally up the points the typical teenaged girl would award a guy who wrote a cool song about her.


Sometimes it’s a mating ritual, sometimes it’s a lament over lost love––and on across the emotional spectrum all the way to revenge songs, but whatever the motivation or inspiration, girls’ names make it into tunes in every era's music.


I decided to see if I could name an alphabet full just off the top of my head. Some I came up with aren’t classic rock and some I fudged a bit. Others I blanked on entirely. So after an hour or so of straining my brain I’m cryin’ uncle…help me out here folks. Or, better yet, try your own list and share in the comments box. It’s a good memory work-out.


  1. A-Alison (Elvis Costello)

  1. B- Barbara Ann (The Beach Boys)

  1. C- Cathy’s Clown (The Everly Brothers)

  1. D- Delta Dawn (Bette Midler, Tanya Tucker, Helen Reddy & others)

  1. E- Emma (Hot Chocolate)

  1. F- One Eyed Fiona (Lyle Lovett)

  1. G- Gloria (Van Morrison)

  1. H- ????

  1. I- Iris (Goo Goo Dolls)

  1. J- Sweet Jane (The Velvet Underground)

  1. K- Kate (Ben Folds Five)

  1. L- Lola (The Kinks)

  1. M- Maggie May (Rod Stewart)

  1. N- Nadine (Chuck Berry)

  1. O- Ophelia (The Band)

  1. P- Peggy Sue (Buddy Holly)

  1. Q- Suzy Q (CCR)

  1. R- Roxanne-Sting

  1. S- My Sharona (The Knack)

  1. T-?????

  1. U- ??????

  1. V- Venus (Frankie Avalon)

  1. W- Wendy (The Beach Boys)

  1. X- ????

  1. Y- ????

  1. Z- ????

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Brotherly Rock!


Green River, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Fantasy, white label promo, 1969
Near mint could be worth $75-100

I raised two sons-a set of brothers. They get on well. (We’ll save for another time what happens when we add their sister, the provacateur, into the mix). The boys have been playing music together for most of their lives. They play pretty much for their own amusement, with occasional public performances and paying gigs. And though I don’t claim one iota of impartiality, I think they’re really good. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dnS-OaOXUc

It’s interesting to watch the boys work out a song together. They seem to communicate via some AAA narrow band of telepathy. After a few grunts, a couple of nods and maybe a raised eyebrow or barefully perceptable flicker of a grin, the song just happens. It’s definitely a brother thing. (Their sister picked up the ukulele while she was living in London and now she’s joined in too, but more on the uke invasion later as well).

As a mother it thrills me to see my adult children having fun together like they did when they were little kids. So it pains me to hear about brothers who don’t get along, especially when they’re making music together.

In the “don’t gee and haw” category four sets of brothers come to mind. The Kinks might have gone on for years had ­­­­­­Ray and Dave Davies been able to get along. Creedence Clearwater Revival’s original lineup blew up when John and Tom Fogerty’s creative differences combined with family dysfunction and proved a volatile mix. The Everly Brothers made beautiful harmony together on stage, but off stage everything went flat. It’s been reported that Don and Phil went for long stretches without speaking to one another. The Gallagher brothers of Oasis are the front runners for the Cain and Abel award. They're given to public altercations which frequently escalate into brawls.

Course, there are plenty of examples of brothers who are in harmony on stage and off–for the most part anyway. I’m happy that list is longer: The Beach Boys, The Isley Brothers, The BeeGees, The Osmonds, Nelson, INXS, Lynyrd Skynard, The Proclaimers, The Neville Brothers, The Avett Brothers, Stone Temple Pilots, Pantera, AC/DC, Radiohead, The Allman Brothers Band, The Replacements, Van Halen, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Kings of Leon, The Black Crowes, Dire Straits, Blue Oyster Cult, Styx, Collective Soul, Nelson. Okay, okay---Hanson and The Jonas Brothers.

Who are your favorite brother rockers? In addition to my own boys, I'd have to spot Christian and Andy of Shae Laurel! http://www.shaelaurel.com/ShaeLaurel/ShaeLaurel-Home.html


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Rocks!

The Silhouettes, Goodway (GLP-100) 1968, "The Silhouettes 1958-1968/Get a Job"
In near mint condition could bring in the range of $275-325.

We’ve just returned from a car trip to see our daughter in Montreal. No family trip is ever complete until hubby decides to make a detour that allows us to see areas of a city that no casual tourist would ever get to see (and in many cases would ever WANT to see). This time we meandered into Philadelphia looking for a Target Store that he assured me was “just off the expressway.” This gave me pause as hubby uses the word “just” in a rather elastic way. But as it turned out this was a good detour.

As we passed through an older area of the city filled with old rowhouses–charming in a scruffy sort of way–I gazed out the window and could imagine groups of kids sitting on the stoops harmonizing. It struck me that in this city, the cradle of American democracy, there evolved a healthy strain of the most little-d democratic kind of music. Doo-Wop. No matter if you can’t afford a guitar or a keyboard, the only instrument needed is a voice. And the only prerequisites are a little talent, a love of music and a desire to be a part of something that’s more than the sum of its parts.

Doo-Wop was a type of Rhythm & Blues that arose during the 1940s with heavy influences from gospel, blues and rock and roll. It normally features a rather slow beat and very tight harmonies. Some musicians hate the tag and prefer Vocal Group Harmony, but I think Doo-Wop really SAYS it.

The Philadelphia Doo-Wop scene produced many great groups including:
The Turbans (“When you Dance”)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LoHX2K0bbs
Lee Andrews and the Hearts (“Long Lonely Nights”)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yPzcHu4TVI
The Bosstones (“Mopity Mope”)
The Capris (“God Only Knows”)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2xKwJ85lbA
The Hide-Aways (“Can’t Help Loving That Girl of Mine”)
Anthony and the Sophomores (“Play Those Oldies Mr. DJ)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAm9UROUNUM
The Dreamers (“Don’t Cry”)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5QNo41WoVY&feature=related
Little Jimmy Rivers and the Tops (“Puppy Love”)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzdpBl40mb8
Danny and the Juniors (“At the Hop”)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwCGW58DTE4

And lots, LOTS more, too many to list…The Swans…The Cherokees, The Sensations, The Fabulaires, Patty & the Emblems, The Buccaneers, The Superiors, and, of course, the Silhouettes (featured record), whose big hit was “Get a Job”.

Do you have a favorite Doo-Wop tune? And a memory to go with it?


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Rock and Orwell's 1984

Today brings another guest blog from my brother-in-law, Matt, a writer from New York.

National Lampoon’s “That’s Not Funny, That’s Sick” (1977) has a track in which the comedian Bill Murray spoofs public radio fundraising banter.  After hilariously describing his station’s outside-the-mainstream programming, and endlessly complaining that no one is paying to support this unique material, Murray appeals in frustration to fear:  “Do you want to hear public radio again?  1984 is not that far away.”

Growing up in the 1970s, the year 1984 loomed in the distant future as some mysterious milestone.  What was going to happen that year?  We didn’t know.  But as menacing as the year was in the public imagination, no one claimed it would bring anything on the order of the magnetic poles of the earth reversing, causing apocalyptic destruction.  Nevertheless, 1984 was my generation’s equivalent of 2012, today’s much anticipated moment.

 “It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen…” So begins the memorable opening of George Orwell’s novel that was published in 1949.  The story is as much about how the will to power breeds tyranny, as it is about how the will to obey breeds complicity in evil. Popular culture has adopted many phrases from the novel: Big Brother, Thought Police, Doublespeak, Room 101, Sex Crime.  And classic rock has incorporated these phrases, and Orwell’s themes, into the canon.

The most successful album entitled “1984” is by Van Halen, the band’s last album with lead singer David Lee Roth, and was released the first week of that year.  The title track, an instrumental, is four seconds longer than a minute, which leads into what became the album’s only Number 1 hit: “Jump.”  The album provided much fodder for the infant MTV network, which actually played videos back then, including the videos for “Hot for Teacher,” “Jump,” and “Panama.” As with the brief instrumental title song, the “1984” album cover quickly dispenses with the fear and trembling surrounding the much-anticipated year.  The image depicts Baby New Year, reassuring everyone that the world has indeed gone on.  But this is not your ordinary Baby New Year.  He is sporting a pompadour, wearing wings, and holding a lit cigarette, taken from a pack with no government tax stamp.  The image is a celebration of the mischievous yet angelic child inside every man, the irrepressible spirit that will not conform to the oppressive tyranny that triumphs in Orwell’s dystopian novel.

Other classic rock artists have attempted more directly to adapt Orwell’s masterpiece to music.  In the early 1970s, David Bowie had planned to turn the novel into a rock musical, and had recorded some of the songs:  “1984,” “Rebel Rebel,” and “Big Brother.”  When George Orwell’s widow, Sonia Brownwell, refused to endorse the project, Bowie appended the tracks to his album “Diamond Dogs,” a post-apocalyptic nightmare or dream, depending on your perspective.  Bowie’s album cover depicts two half man-half dog creatures, as well as the androgynous Bowie himself with a glam hairdo only Adam Lambert could appreciate.  Significantly, these creatures are far removed from the City in the background, showing their voluntary separation from mainstream culture, which is the heart of Bowie’s appeal, and something that Orwell’s Winston Smith could never permanently achieve.

In the early 1980s, after much persuasion, Orwell’s widow allowed Chicago lawyer Marvin Rosenblum to purchase the film rights to the novel, provided that his movie not employ futuristic special effects.  Director Michael Radford adapted the novel for screen, which starred the powerhouse British actors John Hurt and Richard Burton.  Radford thought he had total artistic control over the movie, but billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Films had financed the project, and insisted that a pop band write the score.  Virgin overrode Radford’s musical choice, and hired the Eurhythmics.  Radford hated the music, and when accepting the Best Picture Award from the Evening Standard, he used the platform to denounce Virgin’s musical choice.  Radford was on to something, as the music has not endured the test of time.

Indeed, no music based on Orwell’s novel, which has sold more than 40 million copies worldwide, has had the staying power of the novel itself.   Perhaps the nearest thing in influence, staying within the 1984 vein, is the persistent myth that Van Halen introduced a novel element to touring contracts.  After the near-death accident of one of their stage hands, Van Halen grew suspicious that their promoter was not reading their contracts, so the band added a clause requiring that the venue provide them with a big bowl of M&Ms with the brown ones removed.  According to popular legend, this marked the birth of the whimsical “wish list rider.”  (You can see the riders of touring musicians here at The Smoking Gun.)

Regardless of who pioneered the backstage wish-list rider, classic rock musicians are as far from Orwell’s Winston Smith as can be.  Whereas Smith fell prey to Room 101 and his worst fear, classic rock stars have a long and checkered history of raging against the machinery of oppression and conformity – ironically, creating orthodoxies of their own along the way.   But in the marketplace of music and ideas, everyone retains the freedom to choose what he or she wants to listen to, and enjoy a quality of life that Winston Smith did not.

Which songs that employ the language or themes of 1984 do you enjoy?


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Won't You Be My Teddy Boy?

Glass Prism, Poe Through the Glass Prism,  RCA Victor, 1968.  Near Mint $15

Don’t you love it when there’s that bizarre bit of coincidence when you’ve been talking to someone about some obscure subject and within a couple of days the same esoterica comes up again, out of the blue, from another source?  No?  Okay, maybe it’s just me.  I don’t know exactly why, maybe it makes me feel there’s order in the universe, but it gives me a tiny wonder-jolt every time it happens. 

It happened to me this week as I was contemplating posting about the Teddy Boys.  A day later a young friend loaned me a couple of records (thanks, Thurston) and one of them happened to be a perfect illustration of what I’d been thinking about, which is that when a fashion trend starts, there seems to be a constant need to up the ante.

I knew nothing of Teddy Boys (or Teds) until I started to read Jonathan Gould’s Can’t Buy Me Love: The Beatles, Britain, and America (more on this when I finish the book).  Apparently, John Lennon adopted the teddy boy style during his art-school years.

The Teddy Boys were part of a subculture which grew up in post-WWII London.  The TEDS quickly became associated with the emerging music called rock 'n' roll.  Teddy boys were young, often working class teenagers who wore clothing that evoked the Edwardian period (thus the name, Teddy, for Edward).  Drape jackets with velvet trim, “drainpipe” or “stovepipe” slim pants, chunky brogue shoes with huge crepe soles (known as “brothel creepers") or boots with severe pointed toes call Winklepickers.  Hair was typically worn in what was known in the States as a duck-tail, or in a style called a “Boston” where it was combed straight back and cut blunt at the nape.

But as the 50s came to a close, as with any trend there seemed to be a need to ramp it up and by the time the Beatles became THE Beatles, and forever altered the western cultural landscape, the duck tail had been replaced by the “mop top” and the sedate sartorial style of the Teds gave way to a peacock pseudo-Edwardian motif with colorful brocade jackets, ruffled shirts and ascots–for some bands, on some albums, at least--like the Glass Prism and the above album based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe.

It’s a given that any style distinctive enough to be cool will someday, in retrospect, look ridiculous.   Still, I’m holding on to my tie-dye, you never know when it might come around again.

Come on, let's all 'fess up, what's the most ridiculous fashion trend you've ever followed?  

I'll start, anyone remember palazzo pants, otherwise known as bell bottoms on steroids?  Let me just say that palazzos, 3-inch cork wedges and a flight of stairs that have to be navigated is a terrible combination when you're running late.  Fortunately, nothing was broken.



Friday, May 21, 2010

Rock Garden


The Rose Garden
Atco  1968  Mono in near-mint, $60, Stereo NM, $25
The Rose Garden was a short-lived southern California band in the "sunshine pop" folk rock tradition.  Their lone hit was "Next Plane to London" which reached #17 on the charts.
__________________________

My oldest son has a phenomenal green thumb and cultivates a truly lavish garden. http://www.farmerbobcomics.com/

Who knew?  I guess this must be one of those things that skips a generation.   My mother could make anything grow by sticking a brown twig of it into the dirt and my Dad was a farmer who always got good crops.  I, on the other hand, seem to kill everything, either by neglect or by trying to overcompensate for the last dead plant by watering the next one until the animals start to gather two-by-two looking for an ark.

But this year I’m trying it again.  I have a pressing need to see things flourish and I’m doing my best not to kill off the flowers and herbs I’m growing on my deck garden. Apparently, rockers get a hankering for a garden now and then, too. I’m on a quest for “garden” songs, lyrics, bands, etc.  Here’s a few from my itunes.  Can you help me add to the list?

“Amity Gardens”  from Utopia Parkway by Fountains of Wayne

“Evie’s Garden” from This Perfect World by Freedy Johnston

“Back to the Garden”  from Ordinary Seasons by Polecat Creek

“Eden was a Garden” from Oh Tall Tree in the Ear  by Roman Candle

“Everything in 2s” from How Does Your Garden Grow by Better Than Ezra

“The Garden”  from This Beautiful Mess by Sixpence None the Richer

“Gardening at Night” from The Attic by R.E.M.

“Gates of the Garden” from No More Shall We Part by Nice Cave & the Bad Seeds

“Grey Gardens” from Poses by Rufus Wainwright

“The Hanging Garden” from Staring at the Sea-The Singles…”  by The Cure

“Octopus’s Garden” from Abbey Road by The Beatles

“Rose Garden” from Street Angle by Stevie Nicks

“Rose in My Garden” from Karla Bonoff by Karla Bonoff

“The Secret Garden (Sweet Seduction Sweet) from Back on the Block by Quincy Jones

“The Garden Party” Ricky Nelson

“Empty Garden” Elton John

Band—Savage Garden

Garden State Soundtrack

 “Garden” by Pearl Jam: “…I will walk with my shadow flag into your garden, garden of stone…

 “The Garden”  by Gun’s ‘n’ Roses  “…Your friends they aren't at home/Everybody's gone to the garden/As you look into the trees/You can look but you don't see…”

 “Wicked Garden” by Stone Temple Pilots  “…I wanna run through your wicked garden/Heard that's the place to find ya…”

 “The Severed Garden” by The Doors  “…I'm sick of dour faces/Staring at me from the tv/Tower, I want roses in/My garden bower; dig?”

Friday, May 7, 2010

The House on Album 1700

Today another guest blog by Matt, a writer from NY.  Thanks, Matt!

Peter Paul and Mary’s “Album 1700” was released in 1967, the same year Warren Beatty produced and starred in “Bonnie and Clyde,” and the album cover was an obvious reference to the film.  At first glance, it might seem odd for folk-poets of the anti-war movement to strike a pose similar to a film that glorifies violence and anti-social behavior. 

But if you examine the photo more closely, the trio is telling a very different story.

The most obvious difference is that Peter Paul and Mary are not holding guns, but instruments.  Their weapons are words, poetry, music, and memorable harmonies, which they use to persuade people to work together to achieve a more just society.  Unlike the itinerant outlaws Bonnie and Clyde, for whom the car is a potent symbol of escape and rootlessness, Peter Paul and Mary have chosen to give a house equal weight in the picture.  And it’s not just any house, it’s 70 Bedford Street in New York City’s Greenwich Village.   The Federal style townhouse was built in 1807.  Notice the bronze plaque to the left of the front door.  It says the house was built by John Roome, a sailmaker and court crier.  So Peter Paul and Mary chose as their backdrop the home of an adventurer and representative of justice, two things to which they aspired. 

What the trio is looking at is also appropriate for their musical and political ambitions.  Across the street is the Isaacs-Hendricks House, the oldest surviving home in Greenwich Village.  While Peter Paul and Mary might not look kindly on its first owner, Harmon Hendricks, who cornered the copper market with Paul Revere, the trio can appreciate that the house is connected to the birth of our nation and its promise of freedom and justice for all.  Also across the street is the house of Edna St. Vincent Millay, the first female to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.  Millay’s home was later owned, at different times, by actors John Barrymore and Cary Grant, which adds a subtle touch and brings us full circle to the Hollywood-inspired cover.

While the album is titled in accord with its Warner Brothers’ catalog number, it may well have been chosen to add a sense of historical depth to the group’s clarion call for social justice.

“Album 1700” marked the initial release of what later became Peter Paul and Mary’s biggest selling single, “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” which was written by the then-unknown Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr., who rose to fame in the 1970s as “John Denver.”  Denver was later named Poet Laureate of Colorado, which may not be as prestigious as the Pulitzer Prize, but his poetry earned him a fortune great enough to afford his own jet plane, in which he sadly met his tragic end.

What’s your favorite Peter Paul and Mary song?

Monday, May 3, 2010

A Mover and Shaker


There are four different versions of this King label release from 1966,
 ranging in value from $40 to $150 (in near mint condition)

On this day in 1933 a mover and shaker in the rock world was born.  And I mean that literally.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zdz88MBWomo

James Joseph Brown, Jr.  was born May 3, 1933 near Barnwell, South Carolina and grew up in poverty in Augusta, Georgia. He lived a checkered personal life and his professional life was colorful to put it mildly, but he was, indeed, “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business,”  “The Godfather of Soul” and “Soul Brother Number One.”