Category: 1960s

Throwback: Happy 78th Birthday Curtis Mayfield!

JOVM pays tribute to Curitis Mayfield on what would have been his 78th birthday.

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New Audio: The Legendary Mavis Staples Teams Up with Jeff Tweedy on a Much-Needed Anthemic Bit of Uplift

Throughout the course of this site’s almost ten year history, I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the legendary Chicago-born singer, actress, and civil rights activist Mavis Staples. Going into a deep dive into her career as a member of the Staple Singers and and a solo artist will be a bit gratuitous — but throughout her career, she has received commercial and critical success, as well as a proverbial boatload of accolades. Stapes has received eight Grammy Awards nominations with the Staple Singers, winning one — a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 2004. She also received a Grammy nod for a collaboration with longtime friend Bob Dylan. And as a solo artist, she’s been nominated for five Grammys, winning two — Best Americana Album for 2010’s You Are Not Alone and a Best American Roots Performance for  2015’s ”See That My Grave Is Kept Clean.”

She also has been nominated for 11 Blues Music Awards, winning nine, including Album of the Year for 2004’s Have A Little Faith, which featured Song of the Year and album title track “Have A Little Faith.” She’s also won three Soul Blues Female Artist Awards — one in 2004 and back to back wins in 2017 and 2018. Staples was also inducted into Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Staple Singers in 1999, was a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2016 and inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2017.

The legendary Chicago-born singer, actress and civil rights activist turned 80 last year and with her achievements, it would be understandable if she had begun to slow down; however, over the past handful of years, Staples has been remarkably busy, releasing three critically applauded albums with Wilco‘s Jeff Tweedy and last year’s Ben Harper written and produced, We Get By.

Fittingly, Staples’ latest single is the hopeful and upbeat Jeff Tweedy-produced, “All In It Together,” which also features Tweedy contributing backing vocals and guitar. Centered around a shuffling, Chicago blues-like arrangement of twinkling keys, strummed guitar, a rousing hook and Staples’ imitable vocals, the track speaks directly to our current sociopolitical moment, while gently reminding the listener that at the end of the day, we’re all in this together. And that if we don’t get together at this most important moment in our collective history, then we’re all doomed. 

“The song speaks to what we’re going through now – everyone is in this together, whether you like it or not,” the legendary vocalist explains in press notes. “It doesn’t matter how much money you have, what race or sex you are, where you live…it can still touch you. It’s hit so many people in our country and around the world in such a horrible way and I just hope this song can bring a little light to the darkness. We will get through this but we’re going to have to do it together. If this song is able to bring any happiness or relief to anyone out there in even the smallest way, I wanted to make sure that I helped to do that.”

The song is available on all streaming services and Bandcamp. All proceeds from the song will be donated to My Block, My Hood, My City, a Chicago-based organization that ensures seniors will have access to the essentials needed to fight COVID-19. 

New Audio: Two Posthumously Released Covers featuring The Psychic Ills’ Tres Warren

Centered around core duo Tres Warren (vocals, guitar) and Elizabeth Hart (bass), the acclaimed New York-based psych rock act Psychic Ills over the past decade or so have developed a reputation for following wherever their muses and instincts have taken them, frequently experimenting and changing up their sound and songwriting approach — seemingly at will.

The band’s fifth album, 2016’s Inner Journey Out was the culmination of three years of touring, writing and recording that found the band expanding upon the sound and aesthetic that won the attention of the blogosphere with the material incorporating subtle bits of honky tonk country, blues, gospel and jazz to their 60s psych rock-inspired sound. Whereas much of their previous material found Warren overdubbing his guitar to create a massive sound, the album’s material focused on Warren’s and Hart’s collaborations with a who’s who list of acclaimed artists including Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions and Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval, their touring keyboardist Brent Cordero, Chris Millstein, Endless Boogie’s Harry Druzd, The Entrance Band’s Derek James, Charles Burst and a host of friends and associates, who also provide pedal steel guitar, horns, strings and backing vocals.

Thematically, Inner Journey Out may arguably be the most introspective of their catalog, as the material explored the interior and exterior lives of its narrators, and the difficult and uneasy pathways that unite them. Much of the material is centered around a lonely and plaintive ache for connection to something or something — but with the underlying recognition that moments of true connection are not just extremely rare, but fleeting and impermanent.

Earlier this month, Psychic Ills’ Tres Warren tragically died at the age of 41. Before his death, Warren had been busy writing new material and along with Hart and a cast of collaborators was gearing up to head to the studio to record what was supposed to be their sixth album, slated for release later this year. Sadly, that material was never recorded; however, the band did record two covers — a cover of The Beach Boys’ “Never Learn to Not Love” and  a cover of Charles Manson’s “Cease to Exist,” which Sacred Bones Records will release both digitally and on vinyl.

Originally appearing on The Beach Boys’ 1969 album 20/20, credited to Dennis Wilson and with changes to the arrangement and lyrics, “Never Learn Not To Love,” was originally written as “Cease to Exist” by a then-unknown singer/songwriter named Charles Manson. The following year, Manson’s version would appear his album Live: The Love and Terror Cult — and by that time, he was already incarcerated for the Tate-LaBlanca murders.

How the members of The Beach Boys came across the song and then have a version of it appear on an album is equal parts apocryphal and legendary — and Manson’s disappointment with the lyrical and structural changes to the song have been well documented. Considering The Beach Boys’ place in American culture, their simultaneous adherence to and departure from the original has long been a point of fascination for many music buffs, but for Warren, it was something less tangible that kept him coming back to both songs through the years. “The soulfulness is what has always spoken to me in those songs,” Warren explained, “I gravitate towards that(soul) in music, and both of these songs have it in spades. I almost shed a tear every time I hear Dennis Wilson sing.”

The Psychic Ills’ version of “Never Learn Not To Love” finds the band echoing the arrangement and feel of the The Beach Boys recording but the female gospel-like backing vocalists nod at Phil Spector and Motown. “We wanted to honor the originals, but we didn’t want to cover them note for note,” Warren said in press notes. “We wanted to bring them to where we are.” Interestingly, the end result is a cover that sounds as though it could have appeared on Inner Journey Out. 

The Psychic Ills version of “Cease to Exist” is centered around an intimate and seemingly improvised performance with very few takes. It begins with Warren asking engineer Iván Díaz Mathè, “Ivi is it rolling?” And Warren starts playing, the band falls behind him, adhering to their own intuitive cues and those of the collective whole. Reportedly, this version which brings the performance directly to the listener, is similar in fashion to the Manson original. Yes, these covers are the last bit of material Warren recorded — and as a result, they’ve taken on an eerie and spectral quality while remaining hauntingly beautiful.

New Audio: Permanent Records and RidingEasy Records Releases a Power Chord Fueled Boogie Woogie off “Brown Acid: The Tenth Trip”

Brown Acid, Permanent Records’ and RidingEasy Records‘ collaboration on their ongoing series of proto-metal and pre-stoner rock compilations from the 60s and 70s have become a regularly occurring biannual feature throughout this site’s almost decade history. Each individual edition of the series is based around RidingEasy Records’ founder Daniel Hall’s and Permanent Records co-owner Lance Barresi’s extensive, painstaking research and curation — with Hall and Barresi spending a great deal of time tracking down songs’ creators, most often bands that haven’t written, played or recorded together in 30+ years or more, and then encouraging them to take part in the compilation process. As Permanent Records’ Barresi has explained in press notes for previous editions of the compilation, “All of (these songs) could’ve been hits given the right circumstances. But for one reason or another most of these songs fell flat and were forgotten. However, time has been kind in my opinion and I think these songs are as good now or better than they ever were.”

Having the original artists participate as much as possible in the compilation can give the artists and their songs, a real second chance at the attention and success that they missed so long ago. Plus, these songs can help fill in the gaps within the larger picture of what was going on in and around regional and national underground music scenes during the 60s and 70s. Continuing the critical and commercial success of its first nine editions of the, RidingEasy Records and Permanent Records will be releasing Brown Acid: The Tenth Trip on April 20, 2020. (4/20 y’all!) And much like its predecessors, the tenth edition finds the duo of Barresi and Hall digging even deeper into the well of material sadly reduced to obscurity for a variety

Continuing upon the critical and commercial success of its first eight editions of the Brown Acid compilation, RidingEasy Records and Permanent will be releasing Brown Acid: The Ninth Trip on Halloween. And much like the preceding eight editions, the ninth edition finds Barressi and Hall digging even deeper into the well of obscure material written, recorded and released during the 60s and 70s. Interestingly, Brown Acid: The Tenth Trip’s latest single “Mr. Sun” is by a band that was previously featured on Brown Acid: The Third Edition — the Central Texas-based band First State Bank. Led by guitarist/vocalist Randy Nunnally, First State Bank only released three singles during 1970-1976, the first one being “Before You Leave.” “Mr. Sun” is the power chord-driven boogie woogie B-side to “Coming Home to You.” Sonically, the track sounds like a synthesis of Jimi Hendrix, Grand Funk Railroad and T. Rex –on acid.

New Audio: RidingEasy Records Releases Indianapolis-based Band’s Previously Unreleased Album 50 Years After Its Recording

Over the course of this site’s almost 10 year history — JOVM turns 10 in June — I’ve spilled quit a bit of virtual ink writing about RidingEasy Records’ and Permanent Records’ ongoing Brown Acid compilation series. The series’ 10th edition is slated for an April 20, 2020 release, and much like its predecessors, the forthcoming new edition will remind listeners that there’s a massive amount of incredible heavy psych, proto-metal and proto-stoner rocker that has seemingly been lost to the sands of time — but has been slowly rediscovered by RidingEasy Record and Permanent’s staff. 

During the late 1960s, Barry Crawford (vocals, keyboard), Jim Lee (lead vocals, bass), Mike Saligoe (drums), John Schaffer (lead guitar) and Richard Strange (rhythm guitar, vocals) started a band on Indianapolis’ West Side — and when they started the band they chose what they thought was the coolest name possible: ICE. The quintet quickly became one of the first emerging bands from their hometown to play a set of originals throughout the Midwest, performing at high schools, college campuses and venues. Building upon a growing profile, they eventually opened for national touring acts like Three Dog Night, SRC, Kenny Rogers & the First Edition, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and others in arenas and theaters. 

In 1970, the members of the Indianapolis-based psych rock band recored 10 songs of original material at Chicago’s 8-Track Studios, only to break up shortly after the sessions. Two of the album’s tracks were eventually released as a 45 in 1972 — but confusingly under a different band name: Zukus! Interestingly, that 45 managed to receive regional airplay. The A-side of that single “Running High” was featured on Brown Acid: The Ninth Trip. While licensing “Running High” for the ninth edition of Brown Acid, the folks at RidingEasy Records discovered that ICE had recorded an entire album that had been languishing in obscurity, with the 2-inch master tapes had been shelved and forgotten until recently. RidingEasy Records then converted the analog tape tracks to digital files, remixed them to preserve the original vocals and instrumentation, packaging the material as The Ice Age. 

50 years after the initial recording sessions that produced the album will finally be released — and see the light of day. Sonically, the material reportedly features 10 songs of hard-edger rock with enormous, radio friendly pop hooks that recalls Grand Funk Railroad, The Guess Who, and The Move. Centered around fuzzy power chords, shimmering organ arpeggios, propulsive drumming, some dexterous guitar soloing and enormous, arena rock friendly hooks, The Ice Age’s first single “Run to Me” finds the band meshing trippy and ambient-like psychedelia with explosive riffage that manages to recall the aforementioned Grand Funk Railroad and The Guess Who, along with a subtly nod of Steppenwolf. Listening to the track, there’s a sense that ICE if history was a bit more fair, the Indianapolis-based act should have been much larger. 

The Ice Age is slated for a May 15, 2020 release. Be on the lookout. 

New Audio: Permanent Records and RidingEasy Records Release a Scorching Single off “Brown Acid: The Ninth Trip”

Brown Acid, Permanent Records’ and RidingEasy Records‘ collaboration on their ongoing series of proto-metal and pre-stoner rock compilations from the 60s and 70s have become a regularly occurring biannual feature throughout this site’s nine-plus year history. Each individual edition of the series is based around RidingEasy Records’ founder Daniel Hall’s and Permanent Records co-owner Lance Barresi’s extensive, painstaking research and curation — with Hall and Barresi spending a great deal of time tracking down songs’ creators, most often bands that haven’t written, played or recored together in 30 or 40 years, and then encouraging them to take part in the compilation process. As Permanent Records’ Barresi has explained in press notes for each of previous editions of the compilation, “All of (these songs) could’ve been hits given the right circumstances. But for one reason or another most of these songs fell flat and were forgotten. However, time has been kind in my opinion and I think these songs are as good now or better than they ever were.”

Having the original artists participate as much as possible in the compilation can give the artists and their songs, a real second chance at the attention and success that they missed so long ago. Plus, these songs can help fill in the gaps within the larger picture of what was going on in and around regional and national underground music scenes during the 60s and 70s. Continuing upon the critical and commercial success of its first eight editions of the Brown Acid compilation, RidingEasy Records and Permanent will be releasing Brown Acid: The Ninth Trip on Halloween. And much like the preceding eight editions, the ninth edition finds Barressi and Hall digging even deeper into the well of obscure material written, recorded and released during the 60s and 70s.

Now, as you may recall I’ve previously written about two of the ninth edition’s previously released singles:  Fiberglass Vegetables’ funky blues-tinged, psych rock strut “Pain,” a track that nodded at Steppenwolf, The Animals, The 13th Floor Elevators and others — and Erik’s “Rebel Woman,” a trippy synthesis of 60s psych rock, 70s blues rock and metal that managed to sound both of its time and remarkably contemporary.  The ninth edition’s third and latest single ICE’s swaggering “Running High” manages to subtly recall Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” with a Cream-era Eric Clapton guitar solo, explosive blasts of organ chords and an enormous, hook. And interestingly enough, it may arguably be the funkiest single off Brown Acid: The Ninth Trip. 

New Audio: Permanent Records and RidingEasy Records Release a Trippy, Second Single from the Ninth Edition of Their “Brown Acid” Compilation

Brown Acid, Permanent Records’ and RidingEasy Records‘ collaboration on their ongoing series of proto-metal and pre-stoner rock compilations from the 60s and 70s have become a biannual feature throughout this site’s nine-plus year history. Now, as you may recall, each individual edition of the compilation series is based around RidingEasy Records’ founder Daniel Hall’s and Permanent Records co-owner Lance Barresi’s extensive, painstaking research and curation — with Hall and Barresi spending a great deal of time tracking down songs’ creators, most often bands that haven’t written, played or recored together in 30 or 40 years, and then encouraging them to take part in the compilation process. As Permanent Records’ Barresi has explained in press notes for each of previous editions of the compilation, “All of (these songs) could’ve been hits given the right circumstances. But for one reason or another most of these songs fell flat and were forgotten. However, time has been kind in my opinion and I think these songs are as good now or better than they ever were.”

Having the original artists participate as much as possible in the compilation can give the artists and their songs, a real second chance at the attention and success that they missed so long ago. Plus, these songs can help fill in the gaps within the larger picture of what was going on in and around regional and national underground music scenes during the 60s and 70s. Continuing upon the critical and commercial success of its first eight editions of the Brown Acid compilation, RidingEasy Records and Permanent will be releasing Brown Acid: The Ninth Trip on Halloween. And much like the preceding eight editions, the ninth edition finds Barressi and Hall digging even deeper into the well of obscure material written, recorded and released during the 60s and 70s. 

Earlier this year, I wrote about the ninth edition’s first single, Fiberglass Vegetables’ funky blues-tinged, psych rock strut “Pain,” a track that nods at Steppenwolf, The Animals, The 13th Floor Elevators and others, complete with an infectious, arena rock friendly hook. The compilation’s second track is the shimmering and shuffling psych blues “Rebel Woman” by Erik. Sonically, the track is a trippy synthesis of 60s psych rock, 70s blues rock and metal that makes it sound remarkably anachronistic and contemporary.