Tuesday Tunes 52: Revisiting The Sixties

It may come as a surprise to you, but I do actually keep notes on what I’ve included in these posts. Whilst I was going through these the other day I came across the list I made last autumn when I was sharing music from the Sixties and Seventies in this series, and was surprised to see how many more I had considered, but not yet shared. You seemed to enjoy these when I did them before, so I thought I might do a couple more, rather than rack my brains for a theme for the week: it’s called ‘taking the easy way out!’ There was so much good music around in the days when my musical tastes were forming, and I’ve enjoyed revisiting some of these – I hope you will, too.

First tune for this week is from a band I featured a couple of weeks ago:

That was released as a single in 1969 – I think the fashion styles rather give the date away – and was very successful here. It didn’t chart in the US but, given its title, it was perhaps ironic that it peaked here at…yes, you guessed it…#2. They are viewed as very much a pop band, but a number of their B-sides displayed an underlying rock influence and this track – which was composed by the band – saw them dipping their toes into more ambitious territory. It has always been my favourite of theirs and yes, I did buy it at the time.

Whilst The Tremeloes have had a long career this next band were only around for a couple of years, but they had some big hit records in that time – four top ten singles in that brief spell. This is the most successful of them:

The song was actually offered to The Tremeloes, but they turned it down – that might be deemed a mistake! Amen Corner, a Welsh band, had just changed record companies and this was their first release on the new label. It spent two weeks at #1 here in February 1969, but after one more hit (Hello Susie, which reached #4 here) the band disbanded at the end of that year. Andy Fairweather-Low, their vocalist, has had a long solo career, and has appeared on records by a number of big names, including Eric Clapton, George Harrison and Roger Waters (of Pink Floyd). Blue Weaver, their keyboards player, has since been in The Strawbs and the backing band for The Bee Gees.

Next up is the quintessential one-hit wonder:

Thunderclap Newman were brought together by Pete Townshend of The Who. They made one album, Hollywood Dream, and released four singles from it. One of those, the rather morbid Accidents, did actually reach our chart, but it only got to #46. This is the one they are remembered for here, though they didn’t have any chart success elsewhere. It is unique, I think: do you know of any other hit record which has had a honky tonk piano solo in the middle? I sure don’t! This spent three weeks at #1 here in June 1969 – clearly a good year for music. It knocked The Beatles off the top and held Elvis Presley off it, thus making its mark. The band didn’t last long, though there have been a couple of reformed versions featuring the pianist Andy ‘Thunderclap’ Newman. Sadly, he died in 2016. The most well known of the original members was probably Jimmy McCullough, who went on to be a member of Paul McCartney’s Wings – he died in 1979 at the age of 26, from a heroin-induced cardiac arrest. A sad waste of a young talent, when you consider that he was only 16 when he played guitar on this track (he’s the one in the vest). Pete Townshend didn’t appear on stage with them, but he played bass on their recordings, under the pseudonym of Bijou Drains (no, I’ve no idea, either).

Moving back a little earlier in the Sixties brings me to the first record I ever bought:

I actually included this in my now largely defunct series of #SaturdaySongs. This is that post. The song means a lot to me, as it brings back memories of when I was first getting interested in music, and that earlier post gives you much more background both on that and on Barry McGuire. In brief, the song was a protest song about the Vietnam War, written by P.F.Sloan, recorded in summer 1965, and released instantly. It was a huge hit, reaching #1 in the US and #3 here. Sadly, there is still much of relevance in its lyrics today – you only have to look at what is happening in Myanmar at present to see what I mean.

Staying in the same vein, this is another long-time favourite of mine:

This was on the second pressing of the eponymous debut album by Buffalo Springfield, although it hadn’t been included on the first pressing. I guess that was due to its success as a single: released in 1967, it reached #7 in the US. The song was written by Stephen Stills, who sings the lead vocal, and the band also included Neil Young, later to join Stills in CSN&Y as well as their both enjoying stellar solo careers. Two other band members, Richie Furay and Jim Messina, went on to start the band Poco, who are another favourite of mine and have featured in this series – in episode 36 if you’d like to revisit it. This is also a song with lyrics that are still just as relevant today as ever – possibly even more so, given the epidemic of shootings that continues in the States. It seems that we don’t learn…

I’m rounding off today where I began, in a way. This is yet another song from 1969 – but only just, as it was released in November of that year. It is another from a ‘pop’ band who showed themselves capable of much more:

I’m sharing this live recording as it is such a great performance of a really lovely, meaningful song. There are many songs which were written at a young age which belie their author’s youthfulness with wisdom beyond their years: Janis Ian’s At Seventeen and Richard Thompson’s Meet On The Ledge are two such, but there are loads more. The striking thing for me in this one is that Marmalade had, until then, been regarded (by me, at least) as a happy go lucky pop band releasing records like their cover of the Beatles’ Ob-La-Di. This one kind of stopped me in my tracks, and I still find it hard to listen to it without getting something in my eye. The song was a worldwide hit single, peaking at #3 here in the UK and at #10 in the US, where it sold over a million copies. It’s just a pity that one of the band members didn’t get the memo about wearing yellow, though…

That’s all for this week, but I hope I’ve shown you that there was a lot of good music around in the Sixties, without needing to delve into the catalogues of the big name artists of the time. I still have a list of more Sixties songs to share with you, so I’ll do this again next week. Given all the pictures in the news this morning of loads of morons out getting drunk last night, and throwing social distancing to the winds, we could be back in lockdown by then. Hey ho. Take care, stay safe and look out for each other.

Under The Covers Old And New

Whilst this is only the third post in my occasional Under The Covers series I thought that, as well as sharing some first timers, I’d include again a couple of the cover versions that have been in previous posts elsewhere on my site. Trust me, they’re worth hearing again! This is a mixed bunch, the majority of which (just) have been published in the past year, and there is a strong element of ‘singer-songwriter’ about them: a genre I’ve always listened to.

I’m starting things off with a favourite artist of mine. This is one of the repeats: it first appeared in a Tuesday Tunes post last spring:

That was the first video released to support Kate Rusby’s album of cover versions of her favourite songs, Hand Me Down, which hit the #1 spot on the iTunes singer-songwriter chart. I covered it in more detail when I first shared it: if you’d like to see what I said you can find it in Tuesday Tunes 19.  That is such a charming video, and the whole family are an absolute delight.

I also featured John Fogerty in that post. In the early months of lockdown he posted a number of videos with his sons and daughter, under the name Fogerty’s Factory. Most of these were versions of his own songs, either from his Creedence days or as a solo act, but he also included a couple of covers, of which this was one:

The song was originally written and recorded by Bill Withers, who took it to #1 in the US and #18 in the UK. Bill passed away at the end of March 2020 and although John doesn’t mention it in the video he did say elsewhere that this is his tribute to Bill. The difference in their voices gives the song a new feel, and, as John says, it conveys an important message – that message is just as valid as it was in 1972, when the song was written. The video is also notable for some inspired percussion by Kelsy on the upturned bucket, and the amazing view from the Fogerty family home.

I included the wonderful Cowboy Junkies in Tuesday Tunes 49 with their Anniversary Song. There was a good response to this, so I thought I’d share one of their cover versions. They have done many, but I thought I’d give you this one, of a lovely song by one of their Canadian compatriots:

As you may well know, the song was written by Neil Young and first appeared on the CSN&Y album Dejà Vu in 1970. There have been many cover versions, and Neil himself has re-recorded it, but this version rates highly for me: Margo Timmins voice is a thing of beauty, and the elongated treatment they give the song, with the inspired addition of the accordion, is nothing short of magical. I love it! The Cowboy Junkies have recorded a version of the song – it is on the deluxe version of their 2004 album One Soul Now, if you’re interested.

This next one is another of those to which I’m giving a second airing, simply because I think it’s wonderful:

That is one of my favourite Rolling Stones tracks, and Molly Tuttle has given it a beautifully sympathetic treatment, whilst making some important points in the video. I first shared it in Tuesday Tunes 25 and gave some detailed background on Molly in that piece. Feel free to take a look, if you’d like to know more about her. As I said then, this is one of those covers that adds something to the original, and I think it’s gorgeous.

I don’t think I’ve shared this next one here, though I did once give it #SongOfTheDay status on my Facebook page for this blog – I really need to get back to that! This is a cover of a rock song by a band who get pigeon-holed as ‘bluegrass’ – sometimes those labels can be so unhelpful! See what you think:

This was originally posted by the band, Thunder And Rain, as an official video but that version seems to have disappeared, until this guy reposted it! It is the best video version, though there are several very good live ones too, but in case copyright gets in the way this is the new official record company static video version:

You may recall that in my previous Under The Covers post I gave you a version of this song by the German oompah band The Heimatdamisch – you can find it here. Same song, different treatments. I think it is the mark of a good song that this can be done with it, and the Guns ‘n’ Roses original is pretty good too! I think this one is particularly fine, though: the musicianship is exceptional and Erinn Peet Lukes does a great job with the vocals.

This next one is a bit out of the mainstream. The Petersens are a family band from Branson, MO, who write some of their own songs but also do a lot of covers. This is their latest, which is a bit of a departure in style for them. They seem to be having a lot of fun with it, though:

The band comprises the three Petersen sisters, Ellen, Katie and Julianne, brother Matt, mum Karen and an interloper on the dobro, Emmet Franz. Their musicianship is always good, and the sibling harmony vocals work well with everything they do. They may be a local band, but they are – like Foxes And Fossils – one of those who have benefited from the publicity YouTube can bring – 497k followers tells the story, and this video has 171k viewings in under three days!

I’m bringing this piece to a close with the band I regard as the epitome of YouTube cover acts. They are very prolific with these, as well as making great music of their own. Regular readers won’t be in the least bit surprised to see who I mean:

I’ve posted this one a couple of times before – it was once the focus of a post – but I’m making no excuses for a repeat appearance. It is how a cover should be: keep true to the original, but do it your way. With over 4.2m YouTube subscribers they seem to have got this right! You have to wait for him, but this is one of their videos with a trademark appearance by the much missed Beard Guy, Mike Taylor.

That’s all for now, folks. The covers keep rolling off the presses, so I’ll be back soon with some more (Looney Tunes and Arnie in the same paragraph, what more could you want?).

Enjoy your weekend.