After a six-year break up, Bobby Hatfield and Bill Medley reunited in the ’70s, signed to Haven Records, and released a succession of hit singles; “Rock and Roll Heaven” (US #3), “Give It To The People” (US #20), and “Dream On” (US #32). Spin “Dream On” below.
‘QUADROPHENIA’ (1973 THE WHO ALBUM, 1979 FILM SOUNDTRACK)
An ambitious, storytelling rock epic inspires an influential film. But is a new soundtrack album really necessary?
From the start Quadrophenia was conceived as a film, albeit for your ears only. By 1972, the Who’s story-driven Tommy and Lifehouse had failed to materialize as movie projects (though the latter yielded the superb Who’s Next). So Pete Townshend aimed to create the band’s most cinematic work yet. He set Quadrophenia in the real world (East London and Brighton, UK, circa 1965) and created a fallible, unstable young hero that rock fans could identify with. To share this mental movie with his audience, Townshend wrote a liner-notes short story and commissioned a lavish photo insert, both chronicling the adventures of Jimmy the Mod, a fictional Who fan from back in the day.
The Who: ‘5:15’ (1973)
Here’s the story: Jimmy Cooper’s back in London after a splendid trip to Brighton with his mod mates, where he beat up rockers and shagged a fabulous bird. But now his life sucks: he’s at odds with his parents and his crap job, and the only things that bring him joy are his mod friends, his Lambretta scooter, and handfuls of “purple heart” speed pills. Frankly, the lad has become unglued, and when he sees a mate stealing his girlfriend, Jimmy smashes his own scooter and hops a train back to Brighton, his happy place. Crushed at seeing a top mod now working as a beach hotel flunky, Jimmy steals a boat and heads out to sea. But his drunken suicide bid instead becomes a rebirth, and he starts to put his split personality back together.
To add to the album’s cinematic depth, Townshend taught himself violin and cello, layering them atop his own synth parts and bassist John Entwistle’s brass work for a full orchestral sound. He also wrote four musical themes representing each of the band members (and parts of Jimmy’s broken psyche); these recurring themes unify the album greatly, giving it a progressive-rock feel. Because most songs are written from Jimmy’s angry, anguished point of view, they stand alone nicely outside the narrative. They’re tunes you can enjoy by themselves or put in a mix, unlike those of most rock concept albums (I’m looking at you, Tommy, The Wall, and The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway). In particular, “Drowned” has endured as a live favorite.
The Who: ‘Drowned’ (Live, 1974)
Though the 1973 Quadrophenia album was well received, no film project was launched at the time, though 1969’s Tommy was made into a successful 1975 movie. Finally, in 1978 a film version of Quadrophenia was launched along with band documentary The Kids Are Alright, just as the album Who Are You and drummer Keith Moon’s death brought public attention back to The Who.
Townshend gave director Franc Roddam full rein to make the film he wanted. Consciously avoiding the Tommy film’s camp decadence, Roddam created an authentic, gritty portrait of mod life in the mid-’60s. He stuck close to the Quadrophenia storyline, embellishing it with new events and characters and rearranging plot points as needed. For visual reference Roddam relied heavily on the LP’s photo book, even recreating some images within the film. Crucially, he cast talented newcomer Phil Daniels in the demanding role of wide-eyed Jimmy, as unstable as ever.
The Who: ‘The Real Me’ (‘Quadrophenia’ soundtrack, 1979)
Surprisingly, the director discarded most of the music from the Quadrophenia album — this would be no rock opera nor extended music video. He used only half the songs, mostly as fragments; save for its song-packed finale, the movie goes for long stretches with no Who music at all. At the time I was shocked by this choice, but in the decades since I’ve recognized its brilliance: the film and album both inform one another. If you’re a Who fan, the movie serves as an extended photo book; if you like the movie, the 1973 album provides greater insight into Jimmy’s fractured mind as a kind of commentary track.
The Who: ‘I’ve Had Enough’ (‘Quadrophenia’ soundtrack, 1979)
Though the Quadrophenia movie used the original Who recordings, there was still demand for a new soundtrack album, which happily turned out to be more than just reheated Who tracks. It includes seven maximum-R&B and pop oldies heard in the film (throw your own mod party!). The nine Who songs featured in the movie are presented in story sequence; diehard fans were thrilled to hear three unheard songs from the original album project, including the splendid 1973 outtake “Four Faces.” (Two more discards were rerecorded with Kenney Jones on drums, subbing for the fallen Keith Moon.)
Not only is the Quadrophenia soundtrack a fun listen, it provides a handy Cliff’s Notes version of Townshend’s original work for impatient mod newbies. (And there were plenty of noobs; the powerful film and popular soundtrack spawned a massive late ’70s mod revival in the US and UK. Invasion of the scooter boys!)
The Who: ‘Four Faces’ (‘Quadrophenia’ soundtrack, 1979)
The 8-tracks of these double albums are also superb. Amongst track-o-philes, Quadrophenia is famous as an 8-track that needed no resequencing or editing to fit on a cartridge: incredibly, all four original LP sides are nearly identical in length, so you can just pop in the tape and enjoy the whole mind-movie in one sitting. The soundtrack cartridge also preserves the LP sequence, though adding a bit of silence between songs to fill out the shorter sides. Sadly, no Lambretta GS scooters were produced with built-in 8-track decks, so you’re on your own, cousin.
John Entwistle, ‘Whistle Rymes’ (‘Billboard’ magazine, November 04, 1972). Click to enlarge.
“A bit of black humor, an insight into his personal philosophies of life, a hint of rebellion against musical structure.”
John Entwistle’s second solo album Whistle Rymes hit record shops in November of 1972. The LP seems to have received only minor promotion at the time of release. In addition to the above ad, a promo single of “I Wonder” exists, at the very least.
Special guests on the LP include Entwistle’s Who bandmate, Keith Moon, as well as Peter Frampton, and Jimmy McCulloch (Wings). I quite like the bitter-but-funny love song “I Feel Better” – which you can listen to below.
THE CHI-LITES, ‘(FOR GOD’S SAKE) GIVE MORE POWER TO THE PEOPLE’ (1971)
Whether you’re strictly red or solid blue, you’ll want your voice heard in 2018’s midterm elections. Let the Chi-Lites cheer you on.
By early 1971 the phrase “power to the people” had become a familiar cry in protests against the so-called “establishment” and the Vietnam War. Just as John Lennon borrowed it for his rollicking anthem, Chicago soul group The Chi-Lites put their own spin on the slogan. Opening with an arresting Moog surge, “(For God’s Sake) Give More Power To The People” scorns the “people up there hoggin’ everything / Tellin’ lies, givin’ alibis” and vows to “get on up and get some more of it,” meaning not only cash but control. Musically, the record is an homage to classic (pre-Riot) Sly and The Family Stone, from its tradeoff lead vocals to the badass guitar riff borrowed from “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin).”
The Chi-Lites: ‘(For God’s Sake) Give More Power To The People’ (1971)
This hard, funky sound was a slight departure for the Chi-Lites (pronounced “shy-lights”), whose falsetto leads and smooth harmonies were closer to fellow Chicago group The Impressions. (The Chi-Lites also borrowed Curtis Mayfield’s knack for concealing heavy political content within a soft-sounding soul record — a velvet monkey-wrench, if you will.)
Another big influence was the recent Temptations record “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me).” In response, the Chi-Lites came up with an equally lush ballad that would become their signature song; “Have You Seen Her” poignantly describes a heartsick man searching in vain for his missing love. It alternates spoken passages (“I keep sayin’ she’ll be back / But today again I’ve lied”) with surging, yearning harmonies. Running an epic five minutes long (even on 45), the song dropped its spoken passages for a shorter radio edit.
The Chi-Lites: ‘Have You Seen Her’ (1971)
Both songs were included on a mid-1971 album named for the leadoff single. The fact that every song here is gorgeous is no surprise if you’re familiar with Eugene Record, the Chi-Lites’ lead singer and songwriter. The endlessly creative Record not only wrote most of his own group’s hits but penned and produced nonstop gems for his Brunswick labelmates in the late ’60s and early ’70s (a personal favorite is Young-Holt Unlimited’s infectious “Soulful Strut”). Program 3 of the 8-track features a trilogy of Record’s sumptuous soul sizzlers, including the gently funky “What Do I Wish For.” (Overall the tape sounds great and doesn’t break any songs, though like so many Ampex cartridges this one makes audible grinding sounds in playback.)
The Chi-Lites: ‘What Do I Wish For’ (1971)
All that said, the political content here isn’t limited to “(For God’s Sake) Give More Power To The People”; five of the nine songs here embrace black-empowering social change. The wistful “Yes I’m Ready (If I Don’t Get To Go)” portrays desegregation busing through the eyes of a student longing for the “schoolhouse across town.” “Love Uprising” and “Troubles A’Comin’” depict the promise and challenges of the emergence of black power. Most amusing is “We Are Neighbors,” a cheeky tribute to newly integrated neighborhoods. “If everybody looked the same,” notes the song, “we’d get tired of looking at each other.” And years before the strained black/white metaphor of “Ebony and Ivory,” Record offers a simpler comparison: “If variety ain’t the spice of life / Then why do salt and pepper go nice, so nice?”
The Chi-Lites: ‘We Are Neighbors’ (1971)
In 1971, for political and romantic ends, the Chi-Lites raised their voices (and what splendid voices they were). 47 years later, it’s time to make your voice heard at the ballot box: for God’s sake, use the power of the people.
Hotlegs (10cc), ‘Neanderthal Man’ (‘Billboard’ magazine, August 08, 1970). Click to enlarge.
Greetings, Stereophiles! Apologies for the lack of updates this week. I was out of town visiting family. Let’s jump right back into the music!
Here’s a slightly bizarre, but timely ad you can clip out and use as a Halloween mask. It’s Hotlegs with their one-hit wonder “Neanderthal Man.” Hotlegs comprised three members of what would later become 10cc; Eric Stewart, Kevin Godley, and Lol Creme. Graham Gouldman was away working in New York at the time.
“Neanderthal Man” stomped to #1 in Germany and Italy, #2 on the UK charts, and #22 in the US. You can find it on the Thinks: School Stinks LP. Grab a listen below. No need to adjust your sound – the drums really are that upfront and the vocals are distant in the mix.
For Halloween, thirteen fun facts about the iconic, eclectic, decadent musical’s underappreciated soundtrack
It’s the same old story: boy meets girl, boy gets stranded with girl, boy and girl are seduced by sex-crazed alien. Even so, Richard O’Brien’s groundbreaking 1973 rock musical and its 1975 film version have packed houses and set records since the start. (Though initially a flop, the film is thought to be the longest-running release in film history, since it’s been screened continuously since its premiere.)
Over the decades, weekly midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (RHPS) have fostered a back-talking, prop-toting, costumed cult audience, and its saucy subject matter has provided a sexual awakening for many viewers (Princess Diana claimed the film had “quite completed my education”). Amidst all this hoopla and the film’s visual splendor, it’s easy to overlook the great soundtrack (conveniently on 8-track cartridge). Here are some things you may not know about Rocky’s rockin’ rockers.
1. The music’s not the “time warp” it seems. The songs feature an “oldies” sound harking back to the ’50s and early ’60s, one already being glamorized in the 1971 musical Grease. In fact O’Brien was heavily influenced by Britain’s glam rock artists, many of whom embraced the ’50s sound. As an homage to rock’s roots, Gary Glitter’s 1972 “Rock And Roll, Part 1” may well have inspired RHPS’ nostalgic “Hot Patootie, Bless My Soul.”
2. The movie nearly starred rock’s most famous pair of lips. Mick Jagger expressed interest in playing mad scientist Frank N. Furter on film, and 20th Century Fox offered director Jim Sharman a much bigger budget if he’d populate the cast with famous rock stars like Jagger and Elvis Presley (who was also interested). Sharman declined, though he did ask O’Brien to write a part for an intrigued Marianne Faithfull (this time, O’Brien refused).
3. Eddie’s boots were hard to fill. Though O’Brien originally wanted the part of doomed rocker Eddie for himself, Sharman asked him to appear as handyman Riff Raff instead. Eddie’s “Hot Patootie” required a vocalist like O’Brien who could sing very high and very fast, and the part was difficult to cast until unknown Texas rocker Meat Loaf proved more than capable.
4. Frank’s not the only one bending genders. The main-title number places a man’s voice in a woman’s mouth: “Science Fiction/Double Feature” features O’Brien’s vocal as synced by the glossy lips of Patricia Quinn (who plays Magenta). In the stage play, Quinn sang this opening number as an usherette wandering the audience, but the title-sequence concept robbed her of her only vocal feature.
5. The “Double Feature” is more of a marathon. The song references ten classic horror/sci-fi films and one thirteen-part serial that, combined, would take 18 hours and 33 minutes to view. (One early titles concept was a montage of clips from all these films.)
6. Brad got screwed. (And not just by Frank.) Brad originally sang a solo verse in “Over At The Frankenstein Place” (“I can see the flag fly”) that was cut for the film, and his sentimental ballad “Once In A While” was filmed but also snipped out. At least actor Barry Bostwick won the part over an unknown Steve Martin, who had also auditioned.
7. A Queen voice inspired Frank’s vocals — and it wasn’t Freddie Mercury’s. Tim Curry’s highly affected dialect (he sings “brought down” as “broyt dine”) was modeled on the posh, proper accent of Queen Elizabeth II of the UK.
8. The “Time Warp” has a not-so-warped history. Riff Raff and Magenta claim this song is a folk dance from the moon-drenched shores of their native planet Transsexual. But according to Little Nell (Columbia), this Halloween party staple came about because she requested a song to feature her impressive tap-dancing skills. Sharman claims that “Time Warp” has political overtones, perhaps relevant to our upcoming midterm elections: will America take a jump to the left… or a step to the right?
9. You’ve heard the band before. The RHPS soundtrack is driven by the fine work of its unheralded rock combo. Leader John “Rabbit” Bundrick added some fantastic keyboard overdubs to Bob Marley and the Wailer’s Catch a Fire album, while drummer B.J. Wilson, at the time a full-time member of Procol Harum, had played on the hit live version of “Conquistador.”
10. The film music and the album are very different creatures. I’ve probably seen the film in theatres more times than I’ve played the album, so listening to the 8-track for this post was a real revelation. The mono film mix and stereo LP mix differ widely, with new instruments popping up on the album: cowbell on “Sweet Transvestite,” farfisa organ on “Touch-a Touch-A Touch Me.” Different vocal takes appear on “Eddie,” “Rose Tint My World,” and elsewhere. (Differences will be less notable to those who’ve seen the movie mostly on video, as the stereo versions have replaced the mono mixes on DVD/Blu-Ray releases.)
11. The one “Rocky Horror” song is missing. Manmade bodybuilder Rocky’s only vocal, the Elvis-like “Sword of Damocles,” isn’t included on the album, and in fact no stereo mix was ever made. This may be because the vocal is performed by a different singer (Trevor White subs for nonsinging male model Peter Hinwood) and perhaps elements were lost in the last-minute substitution.
12. The bonus song is one of the best things here. One great number was cut from the picture: the Criminologist’s closing narration (“and crawling on the planet’s face”) is just the tail end of a superb, creepy Brad and Janet duet called “Super Heroes,” sung as they crawl amidst the wreckage with Dr. Scott. The song evokes true horror: “Super heroes come to feast, to taste the flesh not yet deceased. And all I know is, still the beast is feeding.” This film sequence appears in the UK edit of the film, which is how it got onto the US soundtrack, a direct copy of the UK album.
13. The 8-track is cool — but not perfect. Two versions of the Rocky Horror 8-track tape exist: the 1978 Ode/GRT tape shown here and an Ode/JEM release from the following year. Thankfully, both present the songs in film order, but both also split “The Time Warp” over a program break — a big buzz-kill in the middle of your Halloween party. It’s not shown on the listing, but the GRT tape breaks the Floor Show’s “Wild and Untamed Thing.” And as you can see by the timings, the final program ends with almost THREE MINUTES of silence. (The JEM tape shifts things around to eliminate this gap.) Still, these are very cool tapes to slide into the car player as you head to that midnight showing with your newspaper, squirtgun, toast, and confetti…
Donna Summer, ‘Love To Love You Baby’ (‘Record World’ magazine, October 25, 1975). Click to enlarge.
Donna Summer’s “Love To Love You Baby” hit US airwaves in the fall of 1975. The 16 minute song (released as a five minute single) appeared on Summer’s LP of the same name and thumped and moaned its way to #2 in the US and #4 in the UK.