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.

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!

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”)
Lee Andrews and the Hearts (“Long Lonely Nights”)
The Bosstones (“Mopity Mope”)
The Capris (“God Only Knows”)
The Hide-Aways (“Can’t Help Loving That Girl of Mine”)
Anthony and the Sophomores (“Play Those Oldies Mr. DJ)
The Dreamers (“Don’t Cry”)
Little Jimmy Rivers and the Tops (“Puppy Love”)
Danny and the Juniors (“At the Hop”)

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?