So Old It’s New set list for Monday, April 15, 2024

My track-by-track tales follow the bare-bones list.

1. FM, Black Noise
2. Nash The Slash, In A Glass Eye
3. BB Gabor, Simulated Groove
4. The Rolling Stones, Hot Stuff
5. Sly & The Family Stone, In Time
6. Isaac Hayes, Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic
7. Curtis Mayfield, Get Down
8. Peter Tosh, Downpressor Man
9. Black Uhuru, Mondays
10. Junior Murvin, Police And Thieves
11. The Clash, Police And Thieves (Junior Murvin cover)
12. Bob Marley/The Wailers, I Shot The Sheriff
13. The Specials, Gangsters
14. Devo, Shrivel-Up
15. Queen + Paul Rodgers, Cosmos Rockin’
16. Paul Rodgers, Deep Blue
17. Love, Bummer In The Summer
18. John Mayall/Bluesbreakers, Out Of Reach
19. Elton John, Indian Sunset

My track-by-track tales:

1. FM, Black Noise . . . Back when FM (radio, not the band) played long tracks, even full albums or album vinyl sides, you were likely to hear this, and/or songs like it, often late at night on things like ‘album replay’ shows. It’s the multi-faceted, including great drumming, title cut from Canadian prog/space rock band FM, featuring Nash The Slash. Many got into the record via its hit single Phasors On Stun, and a great one that is, doubly so because it served as a gateway into a terrific full album listen.

2. Nash The Slash, In A Glass Eye . . . You can hear Nash sing “in a glass eye’ on this spooky track from his post-FM solo album Children Of The Night and I only mention that because the song is written as “In A Glass Eye’ everywhere I look . . . except for my 2016 expanded CD re-release of the 1981 album. My CD copy titles the song In The Glass Eye. Typo? No matter. Cool track, regardless.

3. BB Gabor, Simulated Groove . . . The late Gabor, an emigre from Hungary who fled that country with his parents at the time of the Soviet invasion in 1956 is well known, certainly in Canada, for songs like Metropolitan Life, Nyet Nyet Soviet (Soviet Jewellery), his cover of Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi (which I almost played instead, have before, I imagine will again) and Moscow Drug Club, from his self-titled 1980 debut album. But I love the, er, groove, and fun, partly spoken-word lyrics to this one from his less successful second album, Girls Of The Future. “Would you like to have a daaaance? . . . are you sure you’re from this planet?” Gabor, alas, left us, at his own hand, in his early 40s, in 1990.

4. The Rolling Stones, Hot Stuff . . . Speaking of grooves . . . Funky, catchy, disco-y opening cut to the Stones’ 1976 release Black and Blue, an amalgam of funk, disco, reggae, salsa, hard rock, ballads and whatever else the boys were delving into at the time as they experimented with different guitarists (Harvey Mandel of Canned Heat and various sessions fame on this one) in replacing Mick Taylor, finally settling on Ron Wood. The record was largely savaged by critics at the time but as is often the case, decades later those same critics in ‘retrospective’ reviews praise it. Whatever. I love the album (so did Mick Taylor, apparently) but as a big Stones fan, I’m probably the wrong guy to ask because I embrace everything they’ve done. When it was finally released as a single, after Fool To Cry from the album, Hot Stuff managed just No. 49 on the US charts although it was apparently big in dance clubs. Two years later, people embraced the Stones doing funk/disco as Miss You, from Some Girls, was a No. 1 hit.

5. Sly & The Family Stone, In Time . . . Intoxicating funk/soul from the 1973 album Fresh. Jazz great Miles Davis was apparently so impressed by the song that he made his band listen to it repeatedly for a half hour, to let its potential influences sink in – although Miles had already gone down the psychedelic funk path with his 1972 album On The Corner.

6. Isaac Hayes, Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic . . . Four songs, including two extended cover tunes – Walk On By and By The Time I Get To Phoenix – a compelling, arguably iconic album cover of Hayes’ bald head, and this near 10-minute psychedelic soul exercise and there you have the essence of the 1969 release Hot Buttered Soul. Superb stuff.

7. Curtis Mayfield, Get Down . . . More funky soul, from Mayfield’s second album, Roots, 1971. It’s the type of intoxicating music that envelops the listener in a pleasurable embrace.

8. Peter Tosh, Downpressor Man . . . From Tosh’s 1977 album Equal Rights, one of several recordings of a song he did (some spelled Downpresser Man) of a traditional spiritual with, apparently, unknown authorship also recorded, as Sinnerman, in 1965 by Nina Simone. The song has an interesting history, and thankfully given the internet, it’s easier for me to just link to it:

Peter Tosh and Downpressor Man

9. Black Uhuru, Mondays . . . One of the reggae bands I briefly got into once reggae started breaking big, certainly among mainstream white audiences, thanks in large measure to Eric Clapton’s No. 1 hit cover of Marley’s I Shot The Sheriff (more on that in a bit) and Peter Tosh’s association with The Rolling Stones as he was signed to Rolling Stones Records. I stayed with Marley and Tosh but a reggae ‘Gold’ double CD compilation of various artists – and of course now the internet – has since sufficed, for me, for most of the rest of it. Hypnotic track from a band that’s been around since 1972. Mondays is from the 1982 album Chill Out.

10. Junior Murvin, Police And Thieves . . . Original version of a song, released in 1976, that The Clash covered for their debut album in 1977. The song’s co-writers, Murvin and Lee “Scratch” Perry, the legendary producer/singer/composer, didn’t like the speeded up, more rocking Clash version, with Murvin quoted as saying “they have destroyed Jah work!” and Perry saying The Clash “ruined’ it although he then worked with the band, producing the song Complete Control which was a top 30 single in the UK and appeared on the US version of the first Clash album. Bob Marley liked The Clash version of Police and Thieves and was inspired by it to write his song Punky Reggae Party, whose lyrics mention The Clash, The Damned and The Jam along with reggae bands The Wailers and Toots and The Maytals.

11. The Clash, Police And Thieves . . . I’ve talked so much about the song, I ought to play the Clash version so I leave it for listeners to judge. I like both versions, with a slight preference for the original by Junior Murvin – arguably a better groove and more emotionally charged, even though it’s understated but that’s what makes it effective.

12. Bob Marley/The Wailers, I Shot The Sheriff . . . Marley’s version – from his 1973 album Burnin’ – is arguably not often heard, at least in comparison to Eric Clapton’s cover which came out a year later and did break Marley and reggae into the mainstream. Marley, according to some reports, wasn’t pleased that Clapton’s version received more airplay, even on the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation, than his own version did. To me, another case where both versions are excellent. More on the story of the two versions: Marley and Clapton – I Shot The Sheriff

13. The Specials, Gangsters . . . The song that got me into ska music – bands like The Specials, The Selecter, Madness and The Beat (known as The English Beat in Canada and the US) – during my college days. It’s from the band’s debut album in 1979, at least in Canada, the US and other places. In line with UK music industry practice, at least at the time, it didn’t appear on the UK version of the album but was a top 10 hit single. It didn’t chart in the colonies but like much of the ‘different’ stuff coming out at the time, was pretty well known by followers of such shows as Toronto station City-TV’s The New Music, which is where I first heard it.

14. Devo, Shrivel-Up . . . A college friend – or I suppose I should say acquaintance – of mine I had otherwise nothing in common with but music – not a bad thing at all – introduced me to Devo and the band’s 1978 debut album via playing me their cover of Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones. He knew I was a big Stones fan, said “(Mick) Jagger loves it!” but he didn’t need to sell me on it. I appreciate different and I, too, like Devo’s version of the Stones’ hit because if you’re going to cover a tune, make it different and thus at least attempt to make it your own, otherwise it’s just a note-for-note copy and likely will pale in comparison to the original and risk eliciting a ‘why bother?’ assessment. So I bought the Devo album, and found this infectious track, among many others. My buddies, still channelling the All The Young Dudes lyrics “my brother’s back at home with his Beatles and his Stones (and Zep, and Deep Purple, and Black Sabbath, and The Who and so on . . . and I still was, too) thought I’d lost my mind. I told them to open theirs and kept on my path of discovery with Devo, Talking Heads, Ian Dury (also introduced to me by the aformentioned college friend), etc.

15. Queen + Paul Rodgers, Cosmos Rockin’ . . . From the one and only studio album released by Rodgers with Queen, released in 2008, a few years after they had finished a world tour as Queen + Paul Rodgers, complete with some Free and Bad Company songs and a live album and DVD, Return Of The Champions. They then decided to do a studio album, eventually titled The Cosmos Rocks, with this straight ahead boogie rocker leading things off. It’s not Freddie Mercury, it may not exactly be Queen, but Rodgers is one of the acknowledged greatest voices in rock music and it’s a more than creditable effort.

16. Paul Rodgers, Deep Blue . . . Straight ahead rocker from Rodgers, from his 1999 album Electric, another reliably consistent effort in his catalog. Rodgers released a new studio album, Midnight Rose, in September 2023. It’s good but to be honest I’m not familiar enough with it yet to decide what to play from it, but I will get to it soon. What’s remarkable is that Rodgers is still with us. He suffered major strokes in 2016 and 2019, affecting his speech and musical abilities, then 11 (eleven!) minor strokes but after treatments and surgery has thankfully made a full recovery.

17. Five Man Electrical Band, Moonshine (Friend Of Mine) . . . A minor hit single, made No. 56 in home country Canada in 1970 and is likely familiar to most once heard. It was overshadowed on its parent album, Good-byes and Butterflies, by Signs, the hit single for which the band is best known. I had to drop this track due to time constraints. It’s available on my Bald Boy Facebook page.

18. Love, Bummer In The Summer . . . It’s not quite summer but I couldn’t wait. Nice country guitar break in the middle of the arguably too short (just under two and a half minutes) but very sweet song. Leave ’em wanting more. From the 1967 album Forever Changes, one of those influential albums, particularly on psychedelic and folk rock, that didn’t sell much but is definitely worthy of the acclaim.

19. John Mayall/Bluesbreakers, Out Of Reach . . . A Peter Green-penned and sung haunting slow blues that first saw wide release on the 1971 compilation Thru The Years, a collection of previously unissued songs or singles that weren’t on albums. It later appeared on expanded re-releases, in 2003 and 2006, of The Bluesbreakers’ 1967 album A Hard Road, from whose sessions it came.

20. Doug and The Slugs, Drifting Away . . . Good breakup song. Good lyrics. Good tune. From 1980’s Cognac and Bologna album, which I got into via a short-term college girlfriend who introduced me to the band’s music after she had spent some time in Vancouver, where the Slugs got their start in 1977. Dropped this track due to time constraints. It’s available on my Bald Boy Facebook page.

21. Elton John, Indian Sunset . . . Extended, symphonic in spots, piece from 1971’s Madman Across The Water album. The depth of EJ’s catalog during the 1970s is, well, deep.

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