Sunday, June 4, 2017

Forgotten Songs Playlist | Lefsetz Letter

Forgotten Songs Playlist

“Don and Dewey”
It’s A Beautiful Day

Most famous for “White Bird” off their initial LP, the second album, “Marrying Maiden,” has been lost to the sands of time. It’s A Beautiful Day played my college and my friend ran into guitarist Hal Wagenet, who he took up to his dorm room and we all hung with. Hal was sipping from a bottle of apricot brandy, which my friend saved, but alas, has that Rhinoceros song, which accompanied so many racetrack ads on FM radio, been forgotten? I don’t think so.

Ry Cooder

A reworking of the Washington Phillips song “You Can’t Stop A Tattler,” this is from Ry’s 1974 LP “Paradise and Lunch,” a complete return to form after the moribund “Boomer’s Story.” I prefer “Into The Purple Valley,” but it and “Paradise And Lunch” are Ry’s two best LPs. The irony is Ry is a twenty first century artist. Of course we knew his name back then, I bought the LPs, but he never broke through, today nobody breaks through and if he started now he’d be embraced by a coterie who would not stop testifying about him. Strange world we live in, where if you stop clamoring for worldwide success, if you do what you do best and play small ball, you can succeed.

P.S. Of course Linda Ronstadt covered this on her 1976 LP “Hasten Down The Wind,” but you only seem to hear her upbeat remakes of classic tracks on the radio anymore.

“Memo From Turner”
Mick Jagger

From the “Performance” soundtrack, I include this because it features Ry’s exquisite slide playing. But not being on a Stones LP, this track has been lost to the sands of time. This is when Jagger used to manipulate each and every word, before he started shouting verses to the back row of the stadium, this is about as understated as he gets, except for ballads, which is why it’s so magical.

True fans still wonder if you were at the Coke convention back in ’65.

“Family Affair”
Sly & The Family Stone

Of course this was a monster hit, and people trumpet the importance of “There’s A Riot Goin’ On” all the time, but not being a hit in the sixties and being so dark it’s somehow slipped through the cracks.

“One Toke Over The Line”
Brewer & Shipley

And speaking of tracks that were hits that seem to have been forgotten… This was an anthem when marijuana was illegal, stunning that it hasn’t been resuscitated since dope has come above ground.

“If You Wanna Get To Heaven”
Ozark Mountain Daredevils

And since we’re talking about forgotten midwest rockers, I might as well include this, which is a great driving song, a great track when you’re stoned and want to lock into a groove. The rest of the LP was nowhere near as good as this, I know, I bought it, but this is in the pocket, great.

“Rubber Bullets”

The best Brian Wilson track of the seventies, AND HE DIDN’T WRITE IT!

This is the cut that built 10cc’s reputation, but it was not a hit here, only across the pond, but word was spread throughout the rock press and if you purchased the initial LP you were mesmerized by the hooks and the humor.

“It’s A Long Way There”
The Little River Band

I still remember where I heard this track for the very first time. I’d just gotten on the 405 at Wilshire, was gridlocked in traffic waiting to switch to the 10 to drive for a 9 am class at law school and it emanated through the speakers of my 2002 via KLOS. This is a masterpiece, completely different from the hits the band ultimately had, when they were seen as being closer to Air Supply than rock. If you’re a fan of seventies rock, and that era is now pooh-poohed, you’ll be stunned by this nearly nine minute cut that lags not a bit, that sets your mind free and makes you feel good all at the same time.

“Day Of Change”
Lee Michaels

Did you see that Frosty passed?

Yes, it was a two man act, Lee Michaels on keyboards and Frosty on drums, until Frosty was canned and Michaels went on to have a hit and decide he wanted to play the guitar and ultimately ended up a restaurateur.

Now this track was never famous. I was gonna include “What Now America,” the most known track from the album “Barrel,” his best, my favorite, but whenever I go back to that LP, which I do on a regular basis, “Day Of Change” is the song that resonates.

Yesterday I saw her
Now she won’t see me
Yesterday I helped her
Now she won’t help me

So I think I’ll call it a day of change
Think I’ll call it a day of change
Think I’ll call it a day…
Of change

Women move on, guys are lost. They mope in their beer about what they lost, how great she is, even though they bitched about her when they were together, they burn their friends out on the story and then they end up alone, at home, staring at all four walls until they realize, it’s time to accept their fate, it’s time to move on, it’s time to change.

Michaels’s vocal is impassioned, more optimistic than resigned, but somehow both, but it’s the changes and the organ overflows that seal the deal, I LOVE THIS!

“Angel Come Home”
The Beach Boys

From their best seventies LP, “L.A. (Light Album),” which is most famous for its dreadful disco remake of “Here Comes The Night” and the opening winner “Good Timin’,” this is the best track on the LP, the one that still resonates, it’s not written by Dennis Wilson, but it features everything his legend is built upon, the rough-edged vocal of someone who’s lived… This will get under your skin and will never leave your body.

“Move Over”
Janis Joplin

From her posthumous album, “Pearl,” which sounds dated because of the dry production, but Joplin’s impassioned vocal sustains. Funny how Janis was ripped for oversinging but by today’s standards she’s positively restrained.

“Life Goes On”
The Kinks

From before they became an arena act, from the first Arista album, when they still played the Santa Monica Civic every year but put aside the musical plays. Now and again you still hear “Jukebox Music” from “Sleepwalker,” but it’s this closer that resonates lyrically. Only Ray Davies could make a song about suicide optimistic. From a different era, when we were troubled by our problems, before everybody exuded success. Can you imagine going on Instagram and saying this is a photo of me depressed and I’m looking for a sponsorship from Lexapro? And I love that Ray didn’t anglicize the lyrics, he hadn’t SETTLED his bill!

“Chili Dog”
One Man Dog

From the last album produced by Peter Asher, it had a hit track in “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight,” but the LP was so much more than that, especially the second side, where the songs all ran together in a suite like the second side of “Abbey Road,” and you can’t overlook the duet with Linda Ronstadt on “One Morning In May” and “Mescalito” into “Dance,” but the song I want to hear most is the one I wrote off as more of a novelty back then.

You get old, and if you survive, only your hits remain. And JT can still sell a lot of tickets, but it would be so great if he did complete albums on tour, I don’t think it would work, unless it was “Sweet Baby James,” people pays their money to hear the hits and are impatient, but I’d love to hear all of “One Man Dog,” but there are a number of live takes of “Chili Dog” out there, albeit not on Spotify, and there’s even more humor in those iterations, this’ll put a smile upon your face.

“Carolina Day”
Livingston Taylor

People clamored for everything Taylor, they eventually got both Kate and Alex, but Livingston had the most success, especially with this, the opening cut on side two of his debut.

“King Harvest (Has Surely Come)”
The Band

The buzz was about the initial LP, with “The Weight,” but the follow-up had the big radio track “Up On Cripple Creek,” and it’s even better, the best the band ever did. But it was the album cuts that sealed the deal, none no more than this, the closer, which I was turned on to in Brad Weston’s playroom, I had to buy the album after that, from an era where getting it right was more important than getting it to the top of the chart.

“Spring Is Here”
Wendy Waldman

Yes, it finally is. We’ve been experiencing June gloom for weeks in L.A., where summer is delayed, where it’s hot in the fall when the leaves are turning and the temperature is dropping elsewhere, and it still is spring, it won’t really be summer until the end of the month. Through the magic of Spotify you can hear this instantly today, but for years Wendy Waldman’s third album was out of print and unavailable, you could only sing the songs in your head, the disc I listened to was lost in a divorce, and then through the magic of Napster, everything from the past was unearthed, it all reappeared, I downloaded this and put it on my Rio and literally danced in my front yard.


And I think this was the first track I downloaded from Napster, you occasionally hear the Three Dog Night cover, but you never hear this, never ever, it’s dark and penetrating, with Russ Ballard’s vocal and Rod Argent’s stylings and if you don’t think this is an understated classic you were never a rock fan, you’re a popster, and if so, that’s all right, but sometimes the two merge, find common ground, you get a brief ditty that’s so good it’s undeniable.

Like this.

Like all of the above tracks.


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