Editor’s Note: This is the first of an occasional feature focusing on covers of — and sometimes by– a band or artist. Check out The Covers Project for more interesting information about covers.
The cover above is a 1968 performance of the Bob Dylan/Rick Danko song “This Wheel’s on Fire” by Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & Trinity. Auger is best known for Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express, which still is a touring band.
This cover did well enough to rate a Wikipedia entry:
“This Wheel’s on Fire” reached number five in the United Kingdom in June 1968. With distortion, the imagery of the title and the group’s dress and performance, this version came to represent the psychedelic era in British music. Driscoll recorded the song again in the early ’90s with Adrian Edmondson as the theme to the BBCcomedy series Absolutely Fabulous, whose main characters are throwbacks to that era.
It always seemed like an odd choice for the “Absolutely Fabulous” theme. The show, by the way, indeed was absolutely fabulous.
Below is Gomez’ version of Up on Cripple Creek. The band has 10 albums — and a website that’s not so great. So here is the Gomez’s AllMusic landing page. The site SongFacts offers a great bit of trivia: The song was recorded at Sammy Davis’ house, which the band had rented to record its eponymous named second album. A commenter at the site disagrees with the claim, however.
Lots of great writing has been done about Freeport, New York’s Lou Reed in the day since his death. The Chicago Tribune equates Reed’s importance to The Beatles or Bob Dylan. That’s a bit of a stretch, but to even make the claim illustrate’s Reed’s importance. Here are the first three paragraphs of the piece:
Lou Reed never had quite the notoriety or sales of ’60s peers such as the Beatles or Bob Dylan — his only major commercial hit was “Walk on the Wild Side.” But his influence was just as vast, if not more so. Punk, post-punk and most strains of underground music of the last 40 years would not exist without the one-of-a-kind merger of music and words pioneered by Reed and his groundbreaking band, the Velvet Underground.
Reed died Sunday at 71 in Southampton, N.Y., of an ailment related to a liver transplant he underwent in May, his literary agent said.
He leaves behind one of the most profound musical legacies of any 20th Century artist. His lyrics suggested a new kind of street poetry, at once raw and literary. His music — conceived with John Cale, Sterling Morrison and Maureen Tucker in the Velvet Underground — merged primitivism with sophisticated avant-garde ideas. The Velvets made four landmark studio albums before crumbling in 1970, each a template for the underground music to follow. The artists in their debt include R.E.M., David Bowie, the Sex Pistols, the Talking Heads, Roxy Music, U2 and Patti Smith, and stretch from Iceland (Bjork) to South America (Os Mutantes). In an interview with the Tribune in 1990, Roxy Music founder Brian Eno reiterated his famous remark about the Velvets — “Only a few thousand people bought the first Velvet Underground album, but every one of them formed a band” — and embellished it: “I should know. I was one of those people.” (Continue Reading…)
Here is a nice short bio of Reed at Ultimate Classic Rock:
Lou Reed got his start in the ‘60s fronting the Velvet Underground, the influential noise-rock band that was a commercial bomb but has since become one of rock’s most important groups. After making four terrific albums with the band, Reed launched a solo career in the ‘70s that yielded two classics: 1972’s ‘Transformer’ (produced by pal David Bowie) and the following year’s ‘Berlin,’ a difficult but rewarding song cycle – a pattern Reed would follow over the years. He hasn’t always made the most listener-friendly music (despite scoring a Top 20 hit with ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ in 1972), angering and frustrating fans along the way: 1975’s ‘Metal Machine Music’ is often named one of the worst records ever made by a major artist, and Reed’s 2011 collaboration with Metallica, ‘Lulu,’ didn’t fare much better. But few artists have explored the sonic and lyrical territories Reed has braved for almost 50 years. (Continue Reading…)
Above is “Sweet Jane” recorded in 1974 in Paris and below is “Dirty Boulevard” from David Sanborn’s program “Night Music” in 1989.
The numbers in this single sentence in Wikipedia’s entry about Francesco Stephen Castelluccio – Frankie Valli — are a good illustration of how really important he is:
Here is the beginning of Valli’s profile at his website:
Oh, what a story. Frankie Valli, who came to fame in 1962 as the lead singer of the Four Seasons, is hotter than ever in the 21st century. Thanks to the volcanic success of the Tony-winning musical Jersey Boys, which chronicles the life and times of Frankie and his legendary group, such classic songs as “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Rag Doll,” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” are all the rage all over again. As the play enters its third sold-out year on Broadway, and two touring companies of Jersey Boys travel around the U.S., the real Frankie Valli is packing concert halls coast to coast, from the Rose Theater, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, to L.A.’s Kodak Theater, home of the Academy Awards. (Continue Reading…)
Last month, Billboard’s Wayne Robins posted an interesting interview with Valli. This interesting response sums up Valli’s musical philosophy:
I always believed a singer should be able to sing any kind of song. If I wanted to sing a Cole Porter song, I should be able to do that. Or “Sherry,” I should be able to do that. Or a Dylan song. I didn’t go to any professional school to learn how to sing. I bought people’s records, listened to them, tried to do what the singer did by imitating them, as close as I could possibly get. We cover every kind of music. That’s important for anybody. We can do anything from working with a four- or five-piece band to working with a symphony orchestra. (Continue Reading…)
Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons got a second life via the Broadway show “Jersey Boys.” Two of the group’s biggest hits were “Rag Doll” (above) and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” (below).
The site has a news item today that reports the American Pop Music Hall of Fame is seeking input from the public on which group or performer should be in the inaugural class. The story the item is based on has a link to the entire list of candidates.
Paul Anka, The Beach Boys, the Beatles, the Bee Gees, Tony Bennett, Chuck Berry, Pat Boone, the Carpenters, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Chubby Checker, the Dave Clark Five, Nat King Cole, Perry Como, Bobby Darin, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, the Everly Brothers, the Four Seasons, Connie Francis, Elton John, Dean Martin, Johnny Mathis, the Monkees, Ricky Nelson, Roy Orbison, Patti Page, Les Paul & Mary Ford, the Platters, Elvis Presley, Simon & Garfunkel, Frank Sinatra, Smokey & Miracles, The Supremes, Three Dog Night, Bobby Vinton, Dionne Warwick, Andy Williams, Hank Williams and Stevie Wonder.
I wanted to feature one of the acts on the site in addition to the news item. So I took a pen, closed my eyes and pointed to the screen. The Everly Brothers was the closest.
From This Day in Music for Sept. 13, 2012:
2009, Vera Lynn went to No.1 on the UK album chart with ‘We’ll Meet Again: The Very Best of Vera Lynn’. At the age of 92 it made her the oldest living artist to achieve this feat with an album. The previous oldest living artist to top the charts was Bob Dylan, who at 67 saw his album ‘Together Through Life’ become number one in the UK earlier this year.
It’s Dame Vera Lynn, by the way. Here is the song, which deserves every accolade it gets.
Country singer, songwriter and guitarist Joe South passed away yesterday in Buford, GA, a community near Atlanta. South, whose original named was Joe Souter, had hits with Games People Play and Walk a Mile in My Shoes.
He played on Aretha Franklin’s Chain of Fools and Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde album. South was induced into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1979.
This is from This Day in Music.com entry for July 10, 1987:
Producer and record company executive John Hammond died. He brought Stevie Ray Vaughan, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Leonard Cohen and Bruce Springsteen to Columbia Records. Hammond also worked as a producer with Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman and Count Basie.
From Bessie Smith to Bruce Springsteen.
There is more, courtesy of Wikipedia. The site says that Hammond also was involved with Charlie Christian, Teddy Wilson, Big Joe Turner, Pete Seeger, Babtunde Olatunji, George Benson, Freddy Green, Arthur Russell and Asha Puthli.
Of course, as a record producer he would have worked with many performers. The breathe of Hammond’s influence and his longevity are amazing, however.
Teddy Wilson plays Avalon in Austria in 1976.
Dire Straits wasn’t quite The Beatles, The Who or The Rolling Stones, but it no doubt was one of the super bands of the 1980s and 1990s.
Lead guitarist Mark Knopfler now is well into a successful solo career that includes composing and recording film scores. His most notable were Local Hero in 1983 and The Princess Bride four years later.
Lots of Dire Straits music is less catchy than Skateaway, Money for Nothing (here with Eric Clapton) and Sultans of Swing. The latter two are the band’s two biggest hits. Good information about Knopfler and Dire Straits is available in the usual places: Wikipedia and AllMusic.
It’s ironic that Knopfler toured with Bob Dylan last year — here’s a review — since they sort of sound the same, which really isn’t a compliment to either. Luckily for them, both have noteworthy other talents.
Here are Going Home (the Theme from Local Hero), Walk of Life and Sailing to Philadelphia. Of special note is Poor Boy Blues, which Knopfler and Chet Atkins perform in a nice video. The pedal steel player apparently is Paul Franklin. Here Atkins and Knopfler play I’ll See You in My Dreams and Imagine.