Send Me No More Letters picture sleeve
Trapeze was formed in March 1969 by vocalist John Jones and guitarist/keyboardist Terry Rowley (both had previously been in a band called Montanas). They rounded out the lineup with Mel Galley (lead and bass guitar), Glenn Hughes (bass guitar), and Dave Holland (drums). In the new band, Jones would function solely as a lead vocalist, and Rowley would primarily function as the organist. The band was soon signed to the Moody Blues’ newly founded Threshold label (in fact, they were the first act added to the roster). Initially, the sound of the band was like a harder-edged version of the Moodies themselves, complete with lush melodies, psychedelic interludes, and hook-laden romantic ballads. Moody Blues bassist John Lodge had much to do with this musical direction, as he recruited Galley, Hughes and Holland, and produced their debut album, “Trapeze” (1970). In advance of the album, however, Trapeze released a single in late 1969: “Send Me No More Letters” b/w “Another Day”. This is today’s featured single.
“Send Me No More Letters” is a good example of the early sound of Trapeze. It starts off with a minor-key melody played on a piano, soon accompanied by Jones’ melancholy vocals: “It’s your smile, all the while/Keeps me dreaming of today/In your eyes, summer flies/Winter comes and slips away”. Although the guitars chime in about 25 seconds into the track, the overall feel of the track is restrained, as the band crafts a forlorn-sounding love ballad. The chorus of “Send me no more letters/And perhaps I might feel better/If you make me no more promises today” is quite catchy, and you might soon find yourself singing along with the music if you give it a listen. Although there is the sense that Hughes, Galley and Holland are somewhat restrained by the material that they are playing, Holland pounds the drums as hard as could be allowed on a melodic pop ballad. This song is good, but it’s also clear that there is the potential for a much harder rocking band with the trio of Hughes, Galley and Holland than the original configuration of the band allowed.
If “Send Me No More Letters” shows a hard rock band trapped playing melodic, psychedelic-tinged pop, “Another Day” is even more restrained. Whereas the lyrics of “Send Me No More Letters” seem personal – dealing with the subject of a relationship gone bad – the lyrics of “Another Day” are much more abstract and universal: “Do you feel like putting everything off ’til tomorrow/Perhaps the time will quickly pass way/Your views will change and rearranged/You conscience living, find another day”. The song starts with and acoustic guitar, soon joined by a bass guitar and organ, then by Holland’s drums about 30 seconds into the track. The song is notable for the harmony singing on the line “[t]roubles rising through another day” with Jones and Hughes singing together. On this track, Rowley’s organ seems to play a more prominent role; while it provides a solid backbone on “Send Me No More Letters”, on this track is seems much more noticeable. Both these tracks appeared on the bands debut album, released the following year.
This single (catalog #: TH-21001) was issued by Threshold Records in 1969, a U.K. subsidiary of Decca Records established that same year. I’m not sure what the label looked like, but I suspect it was the white label with the magenta Threshold logo on the top. As far as I know, no picture sleeve was issued with this release in the U.K., but the French release did, and is pictured here. In 1970, Jones and Rowley would return to Montanas, and the trio of Hughes, Galley and Holland would carry on, with Galley taking over lead vocal duties. This lineup released two albums: “Medusa” (1970) and “You Are The Music…We’re Just The Band” (1972). The band would tour the U.K. and in the southern United States; its commercial success was minimal up to this point. In 1973, Hughes would leave Trapeze to join Deep Purple, which resulted in renewed interest in the three albums Trapeze recorded with Hughes and an augmenting of the band’s fan base. Soon the band was playing small arenas, and by 1974 Pete Wright was recruited to replace Hughes and Rob Kendrick was recruited, giving the band a second guitarist. This lineup recorded two albums: “Hot Wire” (1974) and “Trapeze” (1976). The lineup of Hughes, Galley and Holland would reunite briefly in 1976, but Hughes left before anything came of this reunion. Galley and Holland would reform Trapeze in 1978, once again with Pete Wright on bass, joined this time with new lead vocalist/guitarist Pete Goalby. In late 1979, Dave Holland joined Judas Priest, and was replaced by Steve Bray. When Pete Goalby left to join Uriah Heep in 1981, Galley formed a new lineup, with Bray returning as drummer and adding Mervyn “Spam” Spence (bass guitar, vocals) and Richard Bailey (keyboards). This lineup toured once in 1982 before Trapeze disbanded that same year. The trio of Hughes, Galley and Holland reunited briefly in 1991 (augmented by keyboardist Geoff Downes) and 1994 (augmented by guitarist Craig Erickson). Mel Galley died of esophagus cancer on July 1, 2008, ending any possibility of another reunion of the classic Trapeze lineup.
Glenn Hughes performing You Are The Music, We’re Just The Band in Sweden in 1996
Better by You Better Than Me b/w Waitin' for the Wind picture sleeve
Spooky Tooth was formed in October 1967 in northwest England. Mike Harrison (lead vocals) and Greg Ridley (bass guitar) had been in a band called the V.I.P.s since 1963; Luther Grosvenor (lead guitar) joined the band in 1967. Frank Kenyon (rhythm guitar), Keith Emerson (electric organ) and Walter Johnstone (drums) rounded out V.I.P.’s lineup. After four years, the V.I.P.s released several singles but enjoyed no tangible success. Three-sixths of V.I.P. – Harrison, Ridley and Grosvenor – forged ahead, recruiting drummer Mike Kellie, and the band was renamed Art. The quartet released one album on Island Records – “Supernatural Fairy Tales” (1967) – before adding American Gary Wright to the lineup on organ. The addition of Wright coincided with the band being rechristened as Spooky Tooth. The group built a following by playing numerous gigs, and released its debut album, “It’s All About”, in 1968, and is an album of psychedelic music similar to Traffic. Several non-album singles were also issued, such as “The Weight” and “That Was Only Yesterday”. In 1969, they issued “Spooky Two”, their second studio album and what is considered by many critics to be their crowning achievement. This album also spawned the single “Better by You, Better Than Me” b/w “Waitin’ for the Wind”, which is today’s featured single.
“Better by You, Better Than Me” features a simple, hypnotic riff (which is echoed by the organ) containing some rather dark lyrical content in which the protagonist harps on his inability to articulate his thoughts: “You can find a way to be my passion/You listen to the blood flowin’ in my vein/You hear the teaching of the wind/Tell her what I’m like within/I can’t find the words my mind is dim /It’s better by you better than me”. Gary Wright’s organ serves the same function as a rhythm guitar during the first minute or so, and about 1 minute and 19 seconds into the track, we get an interesting bridge in which a chord is strummed on an acoustic guitar, accompanied by Wright’s ever-present organ: “You can tell what I want it to be/You can say what I only can see/Its better by you better than me”. This is followed, about 25 seconds later, by a third lyric, which contains the apocalyptic conclusion: “Guess Ill learn to fight and kill/Tell her not to wait until/They’ll find my blood upon her windowsill.” This is followed by a reprise of the bridge, which this time lasts almost a minute and takes us to the song’s fade-out. This song, of course, was covered by Judas Priest on their “Stained Class” (1977) album; the song was the subject of the famous 1990 “subliminal message trial” in which Judas Priest was involved in a civil action that alleged they were responsible for the suicide attempts of two young men in Reno, Nevada.
The B-side of the single, “Waitin’ for the Wind”, starts off with an unaccompanied 33 second-long drum rhythm, followed by a three-chord melody from Gary Wright’s organ, accompanied by Ridley’s bass, and then Harrison’s vocals: “Lonely is the night/Now that darkness has fallin’/Nothing seems right/And the world is callin'”. The song has an interesting rhyme structure. The first four lines go ABAB, as you can see, but in the second set of lines, only the second and fourth line rhyme. The second verse follows the same pattern. The organ melody changes slightly in the second part of each verse as well, before the chorus of “Hang on/Don’t ever go/Life’s here/I know”, where the lead guitar finally chimes in. It’s a mournful, minor key melody, and the interplay between the verses, in which the music sounds restrained, and the chorus, in which the damn seems to burst and the music thunders forth, is quite good. As is the case with “Better by You, Better Than Me”, there is no instrumental break; instead, the chorus is repeated for the final minute, including the fade-out. It’s hard to say what constitutes a suitable single for a progressive rock band like Spooky Tooth – their songs are hardly laden with catchy hooks or pop-laden melodies, but it’s fair to say that the A and B sides here could easily be reversed. In fact, “Waitin’ for the Wind” was the A-side of Spooky Tooth’s previous single (with “Feelin’ Bad” on the flip). Bands like Bad Company and Foreigner would distill the blues rock of Spooky Tooth into a more commercially viable product, but for fans of the genre, this is definitely worth checking out.
This single (catalog #: 6014-007) was issued by Island Records in the U.K. and A&M Records in the U.S. A picture sleeve was issued with the single in the U.K. and it just features the band name and track listing against a background that resembles record grooves. I’m not sure what the label looked like, but I assume it would have been the pink Island Records label for the U.K. release and the tan A&M label for the U.S. release. The second Spooky Tooth album would also be Mike Ridley’s last with the band: he joined Humble Pie in 1969 and was replaced by Andy Leigh, who recorded “Ceremony” (1970) with the band. The album received mixed reviews, and Gary Wright left the band after its release. Andy Leigh was replaced by Alan Spenner, and Wright was replaced by Chris Stainton. The band also added a third guitarist, Henry McCullough. All three of the new members were part of Joe Cocker’s Grease Band, and this lineup recorded “The Last Puff” (1970). This was not enough to keep the band afloat, and Spooky Tooth disbanded after this album was released. However, Harrison and Wright re-formed Spooky Tooth in September 1972. The new lineup included Mick Jones (guitar, vocals), later of Foreigner, Chris Stewart (bass, vocals) and Bryson Graham. This time, Harrison and Mick Jones would be co-lead vocalists. After the release of “Witness” (1973), Val Burke replaced Chris Stewart on bass. This lineup recorded “You Broke My Heart, So I Busted Your Jaw” (1973), a moderately successful album. After this release, Mike Harrison left the band, and was replaced by Mike Patto. Spooky Tooth recorded one more album, “The Mirror”, before breaking up again. In 1998, the classic lineup of Harrison, Ridley, Grosvenor and Kellie (minus Gary Wright) reunited briefly for an album, “Cross Purpose” (1999). The death of Mike Ridley in 2003 quashed the possibility of any further reunions of the original lineup, but Mike Harrison, Gary Wright and Mike Kellie (augmented by newcomers Joey Albrecht on guitar and Michael Becker on bass) reunited in 2004 for two concerts in Germany. These performances were captured in the DVD release “Nomad Poets” (2007).
The 2004 incarnation of Spooky Tooth performing Better by You, Better Than Me
Waitin’ for the Wind
Whole Wide World picture sleeve (BUY 16)
Few labels put together as interesting a roster of artists as Stiff Records did in the late 1970’s; this applied not only to the more enduring legends associated with the company such as Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello, but also to those whose success was more ephemeral. Wreckless Eric was an example of the latter: he never had a real hit single, and his peak period was relatively brief, but the records he released during his tenure with Stiff made him a cult figure. Wreckless Eric was the stage name of Eric Goulden, a former art student who moved to London in 1976 to become a musician. He made a tape of some songs, sent it to Stiff Records’ Jake Rivera, and soon, Wreckless Eric was signed to Stiff. His first Stiff single, “Whole Wide World” b/w “Semaphore Signals” is the featured single of the day.
The lineup for this song included Eric (guitar, vocals, drums), Davey Payne (saxophone), and Barry Payne (bass guitar). One probably wouldn’t expect much from the first single released by an art student cum musician, and yet Wreckless Eric succeeds massively here. “Whole Wide World” wasn’t really a hit single, but it did reach #1 on the U.K. alternative chart and has enjoyed something of a revival as a result of its inclusion in the Will Ferrell movie “Stranger Than Fiction”. The ultimate in simplicity, it uses only guitar chords E and A. The lyrics are also relatively Spartan, contributing to the song’s “urchin charm”: “When I was a young boy/My mama said to me/There’s only one girl in the world for you/And she probably lives in Tahiti/I’d go the whole wide world/I’d go the whole wide world/Just to find her”. The song is played in 4/4 time, with the only difference being a somewhat more spirited strum during the chorus. Unlike many of the other songs covered in this blog, I can’t really rave about the skilled musicianship of the band. Eric does a good job on guitar, and the rhythm section fills out the sound pretty well, but the simple fact is that the song doesn’t require a virtuoso to perform it, and Wreckless Eric himself can’t sing on key. But that is part of the appeal of the song; here, to say that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts isn’t just a cliche. In a way, “Whole Wide World” is an exemplar of the zeitgeist of the punk era, in which the spirit of the music often transcended the limited skill set of many of the musicians. And it didn’t hurt that Nick Lowe produced the song, either.
For the B-side, “Semaphore Signals”, Wreckless Eric employed a slightly different lineup. Denise Roudette (Ian Dury’s girlfriend) played bass guitar, and Dury himself produced the single. Once again, the song is about a girl, but unlike “Whole Wide World”, the girl isn’t an imagined ideal woman, but is a real girl whose parents disapprove of the protagonist’s intentions: “I live up here on this hill/She lives down there in the green belt/Her parents don’t like me cos I’m come from this hill/There little girls future is in doubt”. As a result, all he can do is send “semaphore signals to the girl I love.” The melody is almost as simple as the one in “Whole Wide World”, but the rhythm section – especially the bass guitar – plays a much more prominent role. On this track, it seems as if Eric abandons even the pretense of trying to sing in tune, and his singing gets more and more over the top and tuneless (especially on the chorus) – and amazingly enough, it works. His guitar playing seems sloppy (Roudette’s bass is competent, but not especially impressive), and the song is all the better for it. The song ends abruptly after 2 minutes and 58 seconds. A live version of this song can be heard on the album “Live Stiffs”, recorded during the 1978 Live Stiffs tour.
At least in the U.K., the single was issued with a laminated picture sleeve featuring a black-and-white picture of Wreckless Eric and the Wreckless Eric logo across the top. The catalog number was BUY 16, and although I’m not sure, I assume it was issued with the black-and-white Stiff Records label.
Wreckless Eric performing Whole Wide World on TV
Wreckless Eric performing Semaphore Signals (2005)
Back Door Man, the B-side of Wang Dang Doodle
Chester Arthur Burnett was born on June 10, 1910 in White Station, Mississippi. His parents broke up when he was very young, and his mother threw him out of the house for refusing to work around the farm. He then moved in with his uncle, Will Young, who treated him badly. When he was 13, he ran away and claimed to have walked 85 miles to join his father, and he finally found a happy home with his father’s large family. A chance meeting with Delta blues legend Charley Patton at age 18 changed young Burnett’s life. Apparently it was Patton who first gave him the idea that he could pursue music as a career. In addition, two of the components of Burnett’s style (Patton’s distinctive growl and his talent for entertaining) were learned first-hand from Patton, although he did not master the subtleties of Patton’s guitar playing. Burnett farmed during the 1930’s (indeed, he might have been content with a life of farming if he had not met Patton), and also began his musical career in the early 1930’s as a Patton imitator. By the end of the decade, many remember seeing him rock juke joints with a neck-rack harmonica [Sonny Boy Williamson II had married his half sister and had begun to teach him the rudiments of the instrument] and one of the first electric guitars anyone had ever seen. Burnett served as a radioman in Seattle for four years during World War II, and after the war, started a band that by 1948 included guitarists Willie Johnson and M.T. Murphy, harmonica player Junior Parker, a pianist remembered only as “Destruction” and drummer Willie Steele.
Under the pseudonym Howlin’ Wolf, Burnett began broadcasting on KVEM in West Memphis, Arkansas and alternated between playing and pitching farm equipment. He auditioned for Sam Phillips in Memphis, who signed him to a contract. Phillips subsequently leased his rights in 1951 for the Bihari brothers at Modern/RPM Records and Leonard Chess’ Chess Records. His first release, “How Many More Years” b/w “Moanin’ at Midnight”, was released on Chess Records in October 1951. The single was also released on the Bihari’s Los Angeles-based RPM Records. “How Many More Years” was his first and biggest hit, reaching #4 on the Billboard national R&B charts. The B-side, “Moanin’ At Midnight” peaked at #10, making this first single a true double A-side. The success of this single set the stage for a bidding war between the Bihari brothers and Chess, with each seeking to have Howlin’ Wolf exclusively under contract. Chess Records finally won out, and for the rest of his recording career, Wolf was signed to Chess. In 1956, “Smoke Stack Lightning” b/w “You Can’t Be Beat” charted for three weeks, peaking at #8; that same year, “I Asked for Water (She Gave Me Gasoline)” b/w “So Fine” reached #8. In 1959, Chess Records issued “Moanin’ in the Moonlight”, Howlin’ Wolf’s first album, which was actually a compilation of previously released singles. The single remained his primary medium, however, and in 1960, he released two more singles: “Who’s Been Talking” b/w “Tell Me” and “Howlin’ For My Baby” b/w “Spoonful”. The most memorable of these tracks is “Spoonful”, which would eventually find its way into the set lists of British Invasion (and American) bands enamored with Chicago blues. But Howlin’ Wolf unleashed an even more memorable single in 1961, when he released “Wang Dang Doodle” b/w “Back Door Man”. This is today’s featured single.
“Wang Dang Doodle” was written by Willie Dixon, and he stated in his autobiography that of all the songs he wrote for Howlin’ Wolf, this is the one that he hated the most. Howlin’ Wolf did not think much of it either, apparently. This song was written relatively late in Dixon’s career, at a time when Dixon’s songwriting had evolved from rural blues to a more sophisticated form, and “Wang Dang Doodle” is indicative of this more urban style; it is essentially a party song with a rolling, exciting beat, based around a relatively simple (three chord) riff. The lyrics tell of a party, and from what we can tell, it’s going to be quite a rave-up: “A we gonna pitch a ball/Down to that union hall/We gonna romp and tromp till midnight/We gonna fuss and fight till daylight”. As Burnett’s trademark growl dominates the sound, the guitar and piano plod along, punctuated by a tambourine, which provides percussion in place of drums. Although Dixon and Burnett may not have thought much of the song, it obviously made an impression on other musicians, as it was covered by many artists, including Booker T and the MGs, Savoy Brown, Love Sculpture, the Grateful Dead, Koko Taylor, ZZ Top, Ted Nugent, the Hindu Love Gods and PJ Harvey amongst others.
The B-side of the single, “Back Door Man”, is probably even better known, thanks in no small part to the Doors’ cover version on their self-titled debut album. This song was also written by Willie Dixon, and it tells of infidelity, not from the perspective of the cuckold, but from the perspective of the interloper. The “back door man” of this song is a variant of a figure that has loomed large in folk and blues: a shadow-cloaked figure who does things he’s not supposed to do, a “midnight rambler” as it were. And our protagonist is not just there to explain himself, which he does, but to boast as well: “You men eat your dinner/Eat your pork and beans/I eat more chicken any man ever seen.” Dixon plays upon the appeal of a character that operates covertly, when everyone is asleep: And all your people/They’re trying to sleep/I’m out there makin’ with my midnight creep.” This version of the song features Otis Spann on piano, Abu Talib and Hubert Sumlin on guitar, Willie Dixon on bass, and Fred Below on drums – the lineup which recorded many of Wolf’s classic tracks. This recording of the song “Back Door Man” features a three-chord riff, a blues tune in A7, and the chord progression is similar to that of Bo Diddley’s “I’m A Man” and dates back to work songs sung during the construction of train tracks. It is also similar to Wolf’s one-chord songs, such as “Spoonful”. Like the A-side, “Wang Dang Doodle”, “Back Door Man” appeared on the 1962 album “Howlin’ Wolf (The Rocking Chair Album)”, as well as on other compilation albums.
The single (catalog #: 1777) was issued by Chess Records in 1961. It had no picture sleeve, and features a dark blue background, with “CHESS” written in big letters down the left side of the label, the track information across the top, and the artist and catalog number across the bottom. Publishing information is on the right side. Now in his fifties, Howlin’ Wolf would remain prolific throughout the 1960’s, releasing 16 singles during that decade. In 1969, he released “The Howlin’ Wolf Album”, which featured psychedelic electric guitar re-recordings of some of his classic songs. He was active in the 1970’s as well, traveling to London in 1970 to record the “Howlin’ Wolf London Sessions” (1971) album with Eric Clapton, Stevie Winwood and others. “Message To The Young”, another album of acid rock, was also released that year. He recorded his last album for Chess, “The Back Door Wolf”, in 1973. He died at Hines VA Hospital in Hines, Illinois on January 10, 1976.
Howlin’ Wolf performing “How Many More Years” in 1966
Behind Blue Eyes 45
The Who began life as a traditional jazz band called The Confederates formed by Pete Townshend (banjo) and John Entwistle (French horn). Roger Daltry had a band called The Detours and suggested that Entwistle join as bass guitarist. Entwistle agreed and suggested Townshend as an additional guitarist. Doug Sandom (drums) and Colin Dawson (vocals) rounded out the lineup. Daltrey played lead guitar in the band and Townshend played rhythm guitar. When Dawson left, Daltrey became the lead vocalist and Townshend became the sole guitarist. When Sandom left in 1964, Keith Moon became the drummer. The Detours became The Who in 1964 with the arrival of Moon, and then briefly changed their name to the High Numbers for the release of their debut single, “Zoot Suit” b/w “I’m The Face”. They reverted back to The Who in time for their January 1965 single “I Can’t Explain”. The song became a Top Ten hit in the U.K. A series of successful singles followed, along with their first album, “My Generation”, in December 1965. Townshend wanted the albums to be thematically linked, and not just serve as collections of songs, and thus the second album, “A Quick One” (1966) contained a nine-minute long mini rock opera. The third album, “The Who Sell Out” (1967) was a concept album based around the idea of an offshore radio station, a la Radio Caroline, complete with jingles and fake commercials. This presaged the ambitious double album “Tommy” (1969), which was almost completely written by Townshend, and was a rock opera about a deaf, dumb and blind boy who becomes the leader of a messianic movement.
In the aftermath of “Tommy”, Townshend started writing a new rock opera. It was based on a futuristic dystopia in which the world is collapsing and the only experiences people have are through test tubes. Savages in the woods have kept rock and roll alive. An old guru-like figure recalls rock and roll and how people responded to it and reckons it can be used to snap people out of their programmed environment, achieving liberation through the music. The Lifehouse was the place where the music would be played, and the new rock opera became known as the Lifehouse project. But Townshend intended to take it one step further. The rock opera would be performed live, and a personal profile of each concert-goer would be worked out, from the individual’s astrological chart to his hobbies, even physical appearance. All of the characteristics would then be fed into a computer at the same moment, leading to one musical note that would culminate in mass nirvana. Townshend’s inability to translate the ideas in his head to those around him eventually led to a nervous breakdown. Lifehouse was never completed in its intended form; instead, the band went into the studio with Glyn Johns to record a traditional album. But scraps of the project found their way onto the resulting album, “Who’s Next”, including the A-side of lead single from the album, “Behind Blue Eyes” (b/w “My Wife”). This is today’s featured single.
Few bands have mastered the light/heavy dichotomy as well as The Who. In their day they could churn out searing, hearing loss-inducing hard rock. Yet on occasion they were able to suppress the heavy guitar crunch – witness, for example, the acoustic guitar opening in “Pinball Wizard” and a number of other tracks on “Tommy”. Yet it was not until “Behind Blues Eyes” that The Who displayed real mastery of their ability to generate tension by holding back the proto-metal overdrive that embodied their earlier classics. This was probably not what you would have expected from the latest Who single in 1971: an acoustic guitar plays a minor-key melody, and Roger Daltry chimes in with the lyrics: “No one knows what it’s like/To be the bad man/To be the sad man/Behind blue eyes”. This song was originally written for the Lifehouse project, and tells the tale of one of the main characters. The character is a villain, and he tells us his story: he has been corrupted by the bosses he serves; he is a man with noble instincts who suppresses that nobility in the service of a corrupt regime – presumably the one that the upstart rock and roll enthusiasts who run Lifehouse seek to challenge. About two minutes into the song, Townshend crashes in with his electric guitar wail, and the music perfectly complements the lyrical content, in which the villain seems to be on the verge of bursting forth with his anger and rage. Yet in the end all he demands is that his rage be held in check: “When my fist clenches, crack it open/Before I use it and lose my cool/When I smile, tell me some bad news/Before I laugh and act like a fool.” The song ends with a reprise of the quieter first theme. The guitar riff at the end of the rock anthem section is also used as the bridge during the song “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, perhaps serving as a link between the two songs when the album was intended to be a rock opera. The version of “Behind Blue Eyes” on “Who’s Next” was actually the second version; a version with Al Kooper playing a Hammond organ was also recorded. “Behind Blue Eyes” is one of several classics to emerge from the failed Lifehouse project and is one of The Who’s most memorable songs.
U.K. music fans got “Going Mobile” on the B-side of this single. It’s not a bad song, but we can do better than that, and we did, with the American B-side of “Behind Blue Eyes”. “My Wife”, another track from “Who’s Next”, was not quite as good as “Behind Blue Eyes”, but the John Entwistle-penned tune was a great comic-relief piece. The concept is simple: a man had a few too many drinks, gets in trouble with the law, and now is afraid to face the wrath of his better half (a theme also explored in “Who Are You”). If she thought he just went out on a bender, it might have been alright, but she’s convinced that he’s seeing another woman: “Gonna buy a tank and an airplane/When she catches up with me won’t be no time to explain/She thinks I’ve been with another one/And that’s enough to drive her half insane”. The song rolls along with a great bluesy piano, but the best part of the song, in my opinion, is the chorus chant of “She’s coming!” punctuated by horn overdubs (provided by Entwistle himself). The song supposedly was based on a real-life experience of Entwistle’s, and in the song Entwistle’s hyperbole is extreme to say the least (he needs a bodyguard, a machine gun, a tank, and an airplane), and the song is all the more entertaining because of it. On the album, it is preceded by “Love Ain’t for Keeping”, which provides a great segue from the acoustic coda of that track into the thundering electric guitars of “My Wife”.
The single (catalog #: 32888) was issued by Decca Records in the United States. It had a picture sleeve in the U.K., but not in the U.S. The label is the typical Decca label from this period, with a black background across the top and bottom, and a multicolored rectangle (the Decca logo) in the middle. Track/production information is across the top and artist information is across the bottom. Some countries got creative with this release; for example, in Thailand, “Behind Blue Eyes” was issued as an EP with “Behind Blue Eyes” and “See Me, Feel Me” (from “Tommy”) on side one, and the album version of “Won’t Get Fooled Again” on side two. The Who would continue to record and release albums throughout the 1970’s, although the death of drummer Keith Moon seemed to be a watershed event. Although The Who replaced Moon with Kenny Jones and released two successful studio albums in the 1980’s – “Face Dances” (1981) and “It’s Hard” (1982), fans were not receptive to the new sound and, after a 1982 farewell tour, the band called it quits. They reunited briefly in 1985 for Live Aid and for a longer period of time in 1989 for a 25th anniversary tour. Entwistle died in 2002, but Townsend and Daltry reunited for Live 8 in 2005 and for The Who’s first album of new material in almost 25 years, “Endless Wire” (2006).
Looking for a Love picture sleeve (France)
The J. Geils Band started life in Worcester, Massachusetts in the mid-1960’s as an acoustic blues trio with guitarist John Geils, bassist Danny Klein (a.k.a. Dr. Funk), and harmonica player Richard Salwitz (a.k.a. Magic Dick). They originally went by the name Snoopy and the Sopwith Camels. In 1967, the band changed focus, starting to play electric guitar and bass and adding drummer Stephen Jo Bladd and fast-talking ex-disc jockey Peter Blankenfeld (a.k.a. Peter Wolf). They rechristened themselves the J. Geils Blues Band (later dropping “blues” from their name). About a year later, Seth Justman was added to the lineup as keyboardist. In 1970, they signed a contract with Atlantic Records. Their first album, “The J. Geils Band” (1970), barely dented the charts, but they garnered significant FM airplay with “First I Look at the Purse”, a track off this album. While the band’s first three singles, “Pack Fair and Square”, “Homework” and “Wait”, all failed to chart. Their second album, “The Morning After”, was more successful, peaking at #64 on the Billboard album chart and spawning the J. Geils Band’s first chart hit: “Looking for a Love” b/w “Whammer Jammer”, which not only charted, but cracked the U.S. Top 40, peaking at #39. This is today’s featured single.
Looking For A Love” may not rank as the typical J. Geils fan’s ultimate favorite (although I wouldn’t be surprised if it ranks pretty high), yet in the early days, this cover of a J.W. Alexander/Zelda Samuels song was their signature tune. It barely cracked the Top 40 (peaking at #39), but for a time it was their most popular song both in record sales and in live shows, where their live renditions were even more driving and catchier. [With the release of “Give it to Me” in 1973, the band escaped the distinction of being a one-hit wonder, and several more hits were to follow.] As one reviewer noted, the song starts off with a drum beat which is essentially the drum beat from Janis Joplin’s “Move Over”, only in triple time. Peter Wolf alternates with the band; he makes his case with one line, and the band responds with a line that incorporates the song title: “Stay in my corner/All the way, yeah/I`m looking for a love/To call my own/Stick by me, baby/No matter what they say/I`m looking for a love/To call my own”. The studio version of the song zips along, making it seem shorter than 3 minutes and 45 seconds. A version of the song was included on the live double album of the Mar Y Sol concerts in Puerto Rico (recorded in April 1972), and we also get a great live version on the “Live: Full House” LP. A slowed-down (but much shorter) version of the song is included on “Live: Blow Your Face Out”.
On the other side of the record is the original (studio) version of “Whammer Jammer”. And while this is not the live version of the Juke Joint Jimmy that was the more memorable version of the song, it’s still a great song, and a fitting showcase for Magic Dick’s harmonica-playing talent. Peter Wolf and J. Geils stay back so that Magic Dick can strut his stuff (he is accompanied by Seth Justman’s honky-tonk piano), and the end result is a series of harmonica riffs as memorable as any classic guitar riffs. This is not only a great song, but was the one that ultimately put Magic Dick on the map as the prototypical rock and roll harmonica player, and also served to turn Juke Joint Jimmy (who also wrote “Cruisin’ for a Love”) to something of a legend amongst fans of the band.
This single (catalog #: 2844) was issued by Atlantic Records in 1971. As far as I know, it had the red and black Atlantic label typical of Atlantic singles issued during this era, with the Atlantic logo in red lettering against a black background on the upper half of the label and artist and track information on the bottom half of the label. No picture sleeve was issued with this single in the United States, but some countries got a picture sleeve, as demonstrated by the accompanying picture of the French picture sleeve. The success of this single laid the foundation for a string of successful albums and singles in the 1970’s, with their next studio album, “Bloodshot” (1973), reaching the Top Ten in the U.S., an album which also spawned their second Top 40 hit, “Give it to Me”. While they followed this up with several successful albums, “Monkey Island” (1977), their last album on Atlantic Records, was not as successful as its predecessors, suggesting perhaps that their popularity was on the wane. They responded by adopting a more commercial sound for their debut album with EMI America (without abandoning their blues/rock roots) and recruiting Joe Wissert (producer of Earth, Wind and Fire) as producer. The result was “Sanctuary” (1978), an album that spawned “One Last Kiss”, their first Top 40 hit in four years. They continued moving in this direction with “Love Stinks” (1980), which was even more commercial than its predecessor (and features a more synthesizer-laden sound), and which spawned another pair of Top 40 hits (“Love Stinks” and “Come Back”). This trend culminated in the release of “Freeze Frame” (1981), which saw the band topping the album charts and single charts for the first time (with the single “Centerfold”). Now that they had reached the apex of their commercial success, the band began to fissure from within. The live album “Showtime” (1982) served as a stopgap measure until the band recorded a new studio album, and spawned another Top 40 hit (a live version of “I Do”). Peter Wolf left the band in 1983, citing creative differences. The band did not attempt to replace him; instead Seth Justman took over lead vocal duties. The resulting album, “You’re Gettin’ Even While I’m Gettin’ Odd” (1984) was a commercial disappointment, and by 1985, the J. Geils Band disbanded. Since then, the original six members have reunited three times: once for a 13-date tour of the east coast and upper mid west in 1999, again for bassist Danny Klein’s 60th birthday party in 2006, and for the opening of the House of Blues in Boston in February 2009.