Gary in Medleyville

Whilst continuing to faithfully remain
Lost In The Groove
all summer long,

your resident Pig has consented
to scribble monthly,
right over there at
Medleyville Dot US
as well.

so then,
If you’re ever wondering

why Bob was Judas,

when Simply Saucer turned Half Human,

who That Lucky Old Sun is still shining upon,

where you should buy Your First Punk Rock Record,

and even How much those Rolling Stones just got out of
the Universal Music Group,

(plus Pat Boone to boot),

feel more than free to get Lost
in that Medleyville Groove,
as autumn falls all around us

(…making sure to tell ‘em
Gary Pig Gold sentcha,
of course !! )



Gene Clark is for the Byrds!

Gene Clark w/ Carla Olsen – In Concert
Collector’s Choice

Roots rock fans should bow down and give thanks to Collector’s Choice for this recent release. Not only will fans of the genre be absolutely thrilled with some previous unreleased live work from former Byrd Gene Clark but having ex-Textone Carla Olsen along for the ride is a double treat. Not only is Olsen a great singer/songwriter in her own right, but her work with Clark in the ’80’s was Clark’s most fruitful partnership since he left the Byrds. Clark seemed to shine whenever Olsen was nearby and both artists always brought their A-games whenever they decided to work together. Thanks to these newly discovered live recordings, we can once again marvel at Clark’s gifts and the fabulous interplay he had with Olsen, and though Clark always faired better as a team player than he did on his own as his history tends to bear out, he was a marvelous artist and one of rock’s best songwriters.

If nothing else, his brief sojourns with The Byrds will bear this out.

While he was only with the band for two brief stretches, Gene Clark will always be best known for being a part of the earliest incarnation of the Byrds (1964-1966) for which he wrote and sang lead on some of the band’s best known songs (“Eight Miles High”, “Feel A Whole Better,” and “Here Without You”. But before his stint with the Byrds, he was a part of folk-pop group The New Christy Minstrels, who scored a few hits on the pop charts in the early ’60’s. Thankfully for fans of country-rock, he eventually became tired of the Minstrels constant touring and quit the band. He met Jim McGuinn (who later changed his name to Roger) and together they formed the Byrds, becoming forerunners of the influential country-rock sound which would eventually influence artists like Linda Ronstadt and The Eagles, among many others. As previously mentioned, Clark’s time in the Byrds was brief with contributing factors such as a fear of flying and growing resentment from the others for his dominant songwriting skills leading to his exit. Clark was immediately signed by Columbia as a solo act but his debut solo album did very little business, due to his teaming with the Gosdin Brothers for an interesting record. Seems the world wasn’t ready for a total rock/country hybrid at that point in time, though the album was brilliant in execution.

Clark’s next project was met with the same indifference as his album with The Gosdins. After the album with Gosdin failed to sell, Columbia had dropped him and he signed with A&M Records. This time, Clark teamed up with Doug Dillard in another attempt to blend country and rock but after two albums, indifference from the public caused the collaboration to disintegrate. It wasn’t until 1971 that Clark’s first solo project was issued. Entitled White Light, it didn’t sell well in America but sold decently overseas, which gave Clark the opportunity to record his next album for the overseas market only. At this point, he left A&M to join back up with the Byrds in time for a reunion album, which unfortunately didn’t stick. New but mostly unappreciated solo albums released on Asylum Records followed in 1974 and 1977. Thanks to an overseas tour on which he found himself playing on a bill with former Byrds Chris Hillman and Roger McGuinn, Clark found himself once again in a band with his ex-Byrd-mates. Despite initial anticipation for the project, the album was produced in a way that made them sound unlike anything releated to The Byrds. This, although purposely done to differentiate the new group from its’ members’ pasts, effectively killed the group as fans wanted to hear something close to the Byrds. Thanks to R.E.M. and all the bands in the Paisley Underground scene paying tribute to the Byrds in interviews and in their music, Clark released another solo album in ’84. He then started his collaboration with Olson, which actually became his best success as a solo artist. Unfortunately, at around this same time, Clark became very ill, dealing with ulcers from years of heavy drinking and having a large portion of his stomach and intestines removed. By 1991, and in the mnidst of a second project with Olson, Clark would die from bleeding ulcers.

For someone so talented, that he ended up towards the end of his life more of a footnote than a star is very disheartening. The heart and soul of the early Byrds, Clark had all the talent in the world but let bad business decisions keep him from reaching his full potential, though his beautiful songs have given him a lasting legacy.

As for Olson, her first foray into the public eye was her band The Textones, which she formed with future Go-Go’s member Kathy Valentine in the late ’70’s. The band was more of a regional success than a national one, but their live rep got them a deal with A&M, which released their first album. Despite being a relative unknown, Olson hung around the right people and was able to corral such names as Ry Cooder, Don Henley, and Gene Clark. Though the band did not record again until ’87, Olson kept busy with tons of live shows, turning her band into a well-oiled machine which could survive without regular album releases by being simply incredible live. Her next album was her first duet album with Clark, So Rebellious A Lover, which garnered near unanimous praise and resurrected Clark’s career while advancing Olson’s. Subsequent albums featured Olson both solo and with other duet partners, most notably former Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor, but her career has slown down somewhat and she has released only a few new albums the past fifteen years.

This album captures Clark and Olson’s live concerts following the biggest success of their careers, the duet album So Rebellious a Lover. Clark’s health problems (thanks to years of abusing alcohol) and longtime fear of flying prevented a full-scale tour in support of the album, but Clark played scattered live dates after its release, and this album gathers recordings from shows Clark gave in late 1988 and early 1990. The first disc showcases seven songs Clark performed on the NPR radio series Mountain Stage. Clark delivers strong and passionate solo acoustic interpretations of five numbers (including a wonderful “Tried So Hard”) and later sits in with the band for two songs, with the musicians lending subtle support. The disc closes out with three rehearsal recordings with Olson taped at Clark’s home. While the sound quality of the recordings are only passable, the pair’s harmonies are strong and the music heartfelt. Disc two is devoted to a concert Clark and Olson played at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica. The show is intimate, with Clark and Olson joined only by the spare accompaniment of guitarist Duane Jarvis and bassist David Provost. Clark is in splendid voice for this show, and he delivers a set that spans the length of his career, from the Byrds to all points beyond. Deferring to Clark for most of the set, Olson is there when the music needs her, and her presence is an immeasurable asset to this performance.

Fans of roots rock are going to love this CD. Full of fire and energy, what has always looked on paper to be an odd pairing has always come up aces whenever they’ve gotten together to record or play live. But again, Clark seems to always come alive when part of a team or group. Olson for her part has always been part of a band, and keeps a band mentality even when her name is up front. Plus, her affection for Clark is obvious. Not in a “she’s in love with him” way but it’s clear she has always loved his early work and is slightly in awe when they play together, though not so much that it mars the proceedings. Remember, when she started performing with Clark in the mid-’80’s he had pretty much been forgotten at that point in his career. She didn’t need him at that point as much as he needed her but you can feel the affection they had for one another. This is a wonderful record. Please check it out.

Whole Lotta Shankar Goin’ On

I have gotten into a lot of world music over the past few years. One of my favorite discoveries is the artist Ananda Shankar.

Ananda Shankar – Ananda Shankar And His Music
Ananda Shankar – Missing You/A Musical Discovery Of India
Ananda Shankar – 2001
Fall Out Records

Believe it or not, for a while I began to get really bored with music. Not only did most rock bands sound alike to my ears (as many always do – even more so now that every new band is trying to give their music an ’80’s sound. I mean, the ’80’s weren’t too good for music. Why would anyone want to sound like that? Gratutious sax solos, Yamaha DX-7’s and gated drums. Hooray! Do you feel the sarcasm? DO YOU?) but even the soul and jazz artists I was listening to were beginning to seem tedious and uninspired.

Nephew of the world famous sitar player Ravi Shankar, Ananda Shankar was a musical prodigy and learned sitar (among other instruments) at a very early age although, contrary to popular belief, he did not learn the instrument from his uncle but from Dr. Lalmani Misra in varanasi. After mastering his instrument, Ananda Shankar desired to make his music known throughout the world and realized he needed to travel to the US to achieve his goals. Immediately after arriving in Los Angeles, Shankar began jamming with rock music’s elite. By this time (roughly 1968 or so), everyone was into psychedelic rock and Shankar was no different, spending time honing his rock chops with musicians like Jimi Hendrix, whom he often jammed with. As an aside, I have to note that every musician over the age of fifty has the phrase “jammed with Jimi Hendrix” on their resume. Now, I don’t doubt plenty of musicians did jam with Hendrix and I don’t doubt Shankar did because those sessions have been well-documented. It’s just that when I listen to these claims I get a picture in my head of Hendrix just standing there, like a department store Santa, waiting until everyone of this long line of musicians comes up and plays a few minutes with him and then steps aside so another can come up and do the same thing. I mean, did Hendrix just stand there and wait for people to jam with him? Anyway, by the age of twenty-seven, Ananda Shankar had signed a deal with Reprise Records and the label released his eponymously -titled debut album in 1970. Though it has become a cult classic among those who admire fusion for the way Shankar combines elements of of hindu music with psychedelic rock (the album contains searing verisons of The Rolling Stones’ “Jumping Jack Flash” and The Doors’ “Light My Fire”) the album did not sell well and Shankar retreated back to India for some retrenching.

He re-emerged in 1975 with Ananda Shankar and His Music and blew away his fans with his mix of Indian music and stone-cold funky rave-ups. And I am not shitting you about the deep, deep funky grooves on this album! This is music that would sound right at home on the Shaft soundtrack or in the background of any Dolemite movie. Shankar had decided to eschew the harder elements of psych-rock and use Sly Stone and Geroge Clinton as inspirations for his next foray into popular music. Just a note: these reissues from Fallout come with some brief biographical liner notes, but (like most Fallout releases) their reissues mostly concentrate on the music and not the gee-gaws involved with packaging the album. Your mileage may vary as I love informative liner notes when it comes to archival reissues such as these but Fallout just never includes that stuff. I’ve wished many times Fallout would beef up their liners and such but what can you do? The music is definitely the most important part so just having this stuff released again is great on it’s own. Caveat emptor.

The next reissue from Fallout combines two albums, the first having been released in 1977 and the latter in 1978. The first of the pairing, A Musical Discovery Of India, was a project paid for the government of India while the second, Missing You, was another of Shankar’s funk-themed albums but thematically based around a personal tribute to his parents. A Musical Discovery Of India pretty much sounds like the title and is a more “serious” approach to Indian music. The album contains mostly Indian classical compositions. While definitely not funky, the album will blow your mind simply because of the pure skill displayed in Shankar’s playing. And, despite the album being based totally around Indian music with no fusion of American elements, it is very accessible. You can hear Shankar’s very soul in this music. The second album, while a concept piece about his childhood, brings Shankar’s music back towards the fusion sound of his first albums while retaining some Indian classical elements. It seems that on this album Shankar wanted to bridge the two worlds of trthe traditonal music he was hired to play on the previous record and the more modern choices he was making on his own releases. The result is pure excellence.

Fallout’s third reissue, 2001, was released in 1980 and was what the title suggests: a futuristic space-themed funk fest. While more modern in sound and approach, the album leaves the more serious Indian music of his past few albums behind and returns to the straight acid-funk Shankar had been mining earlier in his career. In other words, sitar funk to which you should be shaking your booty.Though always popular with music fans seeking something a little avant-garde with touches of jazz, funk and world music, Shankar’s career hit a fallow period and he released very little music over the next twenty years or so. During that time, many hip DJ’s began mining his albums for beats and samples and subsequently Blue Note felt the need to release a greatest hits CD on Shankar. The Blue Note album upped Shankar’s profile and he subsequently returned to recording. Sadly, he died in 1999 just before his first album of new compositions in many, many years was to be released.

This music will appeal to a very diverse music-listening and appreciating public. Not only will these albums be interesting to the Indian music fan, but listeners interested inb world music will love these discs and those interested in funk will also find a lot to like here. As I’ve mentioned, even though these albums feature Indian instrumentaion and musical ideas, Shankar was gearing his sound to be appreciated by people who love funk and R&B. These albums are very funky and the way Shankar expands what funk music can sound like and what funk music represents regarding sound and texture will astound those who have never listened to his music. These discs are not for everyone’s tastes, but I suspect those who like the aforementioned genres and have open minds regarding music will find these discs fascinating and very well worth the money spent.

C’mere ya Pretty Thing

While I am fairly sure most of the music experts frequenting this blog have heard of the fabulous British band The Pretty Things, I would like to devote this blog to a fairly rare album of theirs that blew my mind the minute I listened to it.

Now, before you start guessing – it is NOT one of the band’s classic ’60’s albums like S.F. Sorrow or even one of their ’70’s albums recorded when the band started leaning away from their punky/garage/dirty-bluesy beginnings and attempted some classic arena rock sounds. No, this album was recorded by the band wayyyyyy back in the good old days of 1999. The album I am talking about is the expertly titled latter-day masterpiece Rage Before Beauty (on Snapper Records), their first true album since 1980’s supposed swan-song Crosstalk

Note to sticklers: the Pretties did get together to record one new album about a year before Rage Before Beauty came out and the story behind it is really quite cool. The band had decided to regroup for a one-off webcast of their music and, putting their heads together for a concept, decided to record a live concert performing their old concept album SF Sorrow in it’s entirety for the first time since the album was released in 1968. Wanting to make the event extra special, the band enlisted two ringers: Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour to augment the band as only he and his guitar work can, and veteran English rocker Arthur Brown to add extra narration and cohesion to the storyline. Needless to say, the resulting album Resurrection is an absolute joy and should be searched out and acquired as soon as possible. Often found in a version that packages it with the original version of SF Sorrow, while not eclipsing the original, shows the band is more than capable of continuing their legend without showing the usual signs of age or obsolecense often all-too-present in the middle-age-rock set.

But, back to the reason I am writing this blog: Rage Before Beauty. Often when listening to a new album from a band or artist of this vintage it is hard to put their past out of your mind and accept a new work as a credible continuation of a band’s legacy. Most likely, the band’s new work suffers from comparison like, say, the Rolling Stones’ releases of the past twenty years or so. Though they may be fine albums and the band members may be better musicians technically, the new works never quite sound as good as our old favorites, do they? Well, believe me when I say this album by The Pretty Things will not suffer at all by comparison to the gritty, sleazy blues rock they belted out in their formative years. In fact, it sounds as if the band has lost nary a step. Gone are the arena rock posings of their middle years and reborn is the anger and hunger this band of hooligans were always known to flaunt like badges of honor. Phil May, Dick Taylor and the rest of the Pretties fly the flag of down-and-dirty rock once again!

From the first note of the urgent rocker Passion Of Love to their ode to their lost ex-bandmate Vivian Prince to my personal favorite of the album Everlasting Flame, the band plays as if their lives depend on it. Guitars twine and twist, the bassist and drummer bludgeon their respective axes as if in a race to oblivion and May does his vocal exorcises on all of his demons on this little shiny disc just for our enjoyment. They even do a version of the Stones’ song Play With Fire that obliterates the Stones’ version. Only an ill-advised cover of Mony Mony slows the proceedings down for a bit, but the band recovers nicely by the next song.

I was very surprised by how good this album sounds, not thin and brittle like the last few albums by the Stones and Paul McCartney but full-bodied and very tough. I recommend this album wholeheartedly and suggest you get re-acquainted with the band as the US label Zoho Records has a NEW album slated by The Pretty Things to come out in the now-great year of ’07. Needless to say, I will be the first in line to pick the album up and if anyone tries to stop me, well, their in for a fight.

So, quit being ugly and pick up a few PRETTY THINGS!

The Music Nerd knows……..

Some Mac With No Cheese

The Nerd is back, the Nerd is back! Sorry about my extended absence but writer’s block is one hell of a problem! After a little boat trip down in Virginia, I feel refreshed and ready to write about more cool, obscure sounds so let’s get to it.

When I got back from my little boat ride, I was excited to find in my mailbox a package from the fine folks at Gott Records (look them up at featuring a great reissue CD of Faces keyboardist and all around great guy Ian McLagan’s two solo albums from the late ’70’s and early ’80’s.

Originally a member of the Small Faces when they were a psychedelic rock act fronted by Steve Marriot and turning out masterpieces like Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake, McLagan remained with the band when they metamorphised (did I just make up a word?) into simply Faces after Marriot quit and Rod Stewart and Ron Wood joined.
As the band turned their psychedelic leanings into more of a good-time boogie-rock band, McLagan’s fine organ and piano work came even further into the fore as a perfect complement to Wood’s slide guitar skronk and bassist Ronnie Lane’s genius bass playing.

All good things must come to an end, though, and when Stewart and Wood each found their side careers going in different directions (Stewart’s as a solo star and Wood as a member of The Rolling Stones) the Faces broke up, leaving several great albums in their wake, the best of which is undoubtedly A Nod Is As Good As A Wink, though Ohh La La is great as well.

It didn’t take McLagan long after the Faces split in 1975 to get his own solo career going. With help from Ron Wood, Keith Richards, Ringo Starr and a host of other British rock vets, the ex-Face recorded the aptly named Troublemaker album in 1977. Though no hit singles were forthcoming, the album should not be penalized for that and is actually one of the best pseudo-pub rock/party rock records ever produced. If only more rockers would drop the airs and just let loose in the studio the world would be a better place. It’s like no one would start rocking if there was any gin left in the building. Fabulous.

McLagan followed up Troublemaker with Bump In The Night in 1981. Again, Wood was on board for some hellacious slide guitar playing but this time McLagan ditched some of his guest stars in favor of his touring band. While not as bombastic as his first solo album, Bump In The Night is far more cohesive with more emphasis placed on the songs instead of the atmosphere. Again, no hit singles resulted and McLagan eventually turned his career into that of a well-known and much-respected session player and touring sideman.

He has played with the best because he is one of the best, leaving a ton of fine recordings both solo and with the Faces incarnations in his wake. Fortunately, the new millenium brought a return to solo recording for McLagan, who has put out the fine album Best Of British on the Gadfly label as well as a few other discs including a new live one available at his website

Sadly, a few weeks ago his wife (the former Kim Moon) passed away in a car wreck. I only have best wishes for him as he and his music have brought a ton of joy into my life, I hope he is able to overcome this adversity and continue to make great music.

Please pick up any of McLagan’s solo work or his work with Small Faces and regular Faces. Even his session work will make you smile. Anyone who wants to take the piss out of rock and rool and just have one hell of a rocking time is sure to love anything he has done.
Would you like some Mac?

The Music Nerd knows………..

The Dave Pell Singers – “Mah-Na-Mah-Na” CD (El)

On this dizzy 1969 release, West Coast jazzbo and his session cats work a breezy adult contemporary vibe, with giddy female vocal choirs manifesting the audio equivalent of a gaggle of happy stewardesses bearing fluffy pillows. The mellow, playful arrangements are applied to an appealing collection of bubblegum and pop-rock standards, including “Crystal Blue Persuasion,” the Sesame Street-popularized title track and “Sugar Sugar.” While the boy/girl singers are utterly out of their depth on the latter, it’s still a hoot to hear a dark narrative like “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town” handled so frothily. Silly, sweet mainstream fluff, presumably originally aimed at foxy grandpas, and still likely to please the comfy chair and fruity drink set. (Kim Cooper)

A-Covay Part 1

Old school soul has always been one of The Nerd’s favorite kinds of music. The love began as I started to analyze music as a player. As a burgeoning drummer, I immediately fell in love with drummers who could make a groove swing and make people dance. The pyrotechnics of many rock drummers like Keith Moon and John Bonham, although impressive, didn’t really move me much – I was more into Al Jackson, Bernard Purdie and whoever played on the soul records I heard as a child. Their grooves were enormous and sucked me into the soul world.

I remember one of my favorite songs being Chain of Fools by Aretha Franklin. When I finally got the album it was on many years down the line, I saw in the writer’s credits it was written by Don Covay. Although I searched pretty hard for info and albums (this was prte-Internet after all) I could never find anything by him in the “C” section and just assumed he was a studio songwriter and had never put out any albums on his own.

Boy, was I wrong! He has actually put out quite a few discs, all of them decent and some of them great.

Now, when people think of Don Covay….I started that sentence just to see what it would sound like because you and I both know people don’t ever think of Don Covay. You know why? Because radio never plays his songs and labels really haven’t re-issued his output properly despite his being the writer of over 15 gold records.

To be honest, Covay had always had more success as a songwriter than as an artist. His classic ’60’s song “See Saw” has always been his biggest hit and that came relatively early on in his singing and songwriting career. He never stopped trying to hit it big, though, releasing albums and singles with regularity right up until the ’80’s.

His songwriting, on the other hand, made big waves and continues to do so. Everyone from Aretha to Wilson Pickett to The Rolling Stones have covered his songs, making him a go-to guy when soul stars and rock bands were looking for something soulful to cover. You can still find plenty of albums with Covay songs on them, his songs being evergreens that could drive a star up the charts at any time. Though it’s been a while since a Covay song went high up the charts, his songs are so solid the potential is always there to see one of his songs in the top 10.

Still, he always wrote new songs and continued to perform and show up on albums every once in a while. Not many people know it, but Don Covay filled in for Mick Jagger on the Stones’ Dirty Work CD. You see, Mick and Keith Richards had been feuding over Mick’s then upcoming solo album She’s The Boss and neither one of them wanted to see the other in the studio. Covay (and also Bobby Womack) would sing the guide vocals on the Stones songs so Mick could go in to the studio at a later date and lay down his vocals. On certain parts of the CD, especially Harlem Shuffle, you can still hear Covay and Womack in the background, singing their brains out.

I have given you a little background info on Covay because everything I write about this week is going to involve him. I hope to tell you about two little known blues rock albums he put mout in the early ’70’s that show his versatility in the rock arena and also tell you a little about a series of tribute albums done by Jon Tiven on Shanachie Records – one of which is dedicated to Don Covay.

If you can, find some of Covay’s music. It is soulful as hell and immensely heart-felt – each song containing nothing but the truth and a big fat beat to go along with it.

Do you know about Don Covay?

The Music Nerd Knows….and you will too, starting with the next blog.

You Wood If You Could

I was digging around one of my closets where I keep my Stones and Stones-affiliated CDs yesterday (now there’s an idea for a blog – CD/music organization!) and ran across a few Ron Wood solo CDs I hadn’t played in a while. Being a huge Wood fan (insert appropriate joke here)I figured I would use this space to extoll the virtues of the Stones’ longest-running second guitarist (31 years membership!).

When thinking about Ron Wood, one must start at the British beat group Birds, move through The Creation and Jeff Beck Group (where Beck relegated Wood to bass so the mercurial Beck wouldn’t have to compete axe-wise) and start honing in on one of the best and most-underappreciated boogie bands of all time, The Faces. Wood joined the Faces (originally the Small Faces – check out Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake for a pre-Wood psychedelic masterpiece) after forming an alliance with Rod Stewart who was in the Jeff Beck Group with Wood at the time.

Wood and Stewart both joined Faces to shore up the band when guitarist/singer Steve Marriot left to start Humble Pie. Wood then began a long and proud association with the best of sleazy rock and roll that, for all intents and purposes, out-Stoned the Stones.

In the last phase of the Faces’ lifespan, Wood started putting out solo albums, great ones like I’ve Got My Own Album To Do and Now Look. Both these albums were all-star love-fests that also featured fellow Brit rockers like Stewart, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger among others. Wood was already drifting into the Stones orbit and joined after The Great Guitarist Hunt the Stones had in 1975 during the making of Black and Blue.

Throughout Wood’s tenure in the Stones he has continued to put out solo albums, the strongest being 19078’s Gimme Some Neck. The CD is filled with Stones-like raunch and Woody’s Dylan-like gin-soaked vocals. It is very hard to find but still in print.

Wood fans would also beinterested in tracking down 1982’s 1234, which is out of print in the US but contains Wood jamming with several members of Devo and a few other obscure bands. Woody has always done it for rock and roll, and not just to get on the radio, and that always speaks volumes to me about a musician’s motivation and heart.

I could tell you about Wood’s artwork, which is genius, but that’s for another blog. Track down some of his solo work and tell me if some of it isn’t better than most of the schlock the Stones have passed off for music in the past twenty years or so.

Wood you if you could?

The Music Nerd knows………