These Boots Weren’t Made for Walkin’…..They Were Made for Stompin’

For a part time job I work at a department store. It’s a lot of fun and I always enjoy talking to people to make sure their experience is exceptional, but there is one item that always brings one song to mind.

Boots.

The image of Nancy Sinatra dancing in her mini skirt and go-go boots is always a classic.

digilander.libero

digilander.libero

I’ve loved this song for many years, in fact it was one of the first songs I downloaded on my iPod video in high school. What an antique!

As I have begun to collect records and delve into artists, I have found that Sinatra, to me, is the epitome of what 1960’s pop looked like. Not to mention, she’s just a pretty lady in general. She may be one of my celebrity crushes and I never count age as a factor

Wink, Wink, Ms. Sinatra.

Recently I have been spinning Sinatra’s classic first album, “Boots.” She has one of the most aggressive, kick-butt voices in the history of recorded music.

When Nancy sings she sounds nonchalant, while also portraying a “Ahhh heck naw” attitude. She always keeps a consistent tone in her voice while still portraying emotion. Her voice has two wave lengths. She can love you tenderly, dream of you, or she she’ll just walk away, or better yet, all over you.

This album was the beginning of the work she did with Lee Hazlewood. Sinatra, to this point, was signed to Reprise records and was about to be dropped due to unsuccessful singles. Her work with Hazlewood quickly changed that.

staticflickr.com

staticflickr.com

The album opens with “As Tears Go By.” This is a sweet heart break songs that is completely deceiving. Although Sinatra’s vocals are on point it seems that she is just being a bit shy for the opener, but that does not last long. She then quickly jumps into a cover of The Beatles “Day Tripper.” To be honest, I like her version better. Her extra attitude added that missing element.

Side B really shows where Sinatra’s vocals are not for just “pop” play. This side opens with “In My Room.” A huge ballad showing where Sinatra can easily work her way to the pinnacle of a song while bringing it back down. Then there is “Flowers on the Wall.” She apparently has other things to do then worry about a man. Don’t flatter yourself. She has cigarettes to smoke and Captain Kangaroo to watch.

Then there is the defining number, “These Boots Are Made for Walkin” It’s not often that a song can help describe a generation, but that is what Sinatra did. To this day you will find girls wearing just a sweater and boots. She added elements into the 1960’s culture. People of all ages can tell you where the boots were made for walkin.

Sinatra was a trailblazer in the 1960’s taking sexy by the horns and going with it. Her “video” for boots shows how this would be controversial for the decade.  She is also pop’s original tough girl, showing the strength of woman in pop music beyond fluff. She also made a devine fashion statement.

And you know those little Uggs or fluffy boots aren’t going to work. Nancy will take the 5 inch heels to give it a little punch.

When it comes to music and talent, Nancy Sinatra doesn’t walk.

She stomps.

Sonny Bono, Inner Views: The Little Man That Couldn’t

In 1967 Sonny Bono did the unthinkable. He departed from Cher, the assumed star of the duo, and made his own album.

You really have to dig deep into the crate to find this one and even then it’s usually in the unorganized dollar bin. Sonny Bono’s Inner Views is not well known, and definitely not renowned, but it does deserve some serious respect.

www.ifriedegg.com

www.ifriedegg.com

Do you ever wonder what happened to Sonny after the Sonny and Cher show was canceled? Sure he had his own show The Sonny Comedy Review, but that barely lasted especially against it’s rival, The Cher Show. What did Sonny do for all those years before he became Mayer of Palm Springs?

One must remember that Sonny was the foundation of Sonny and Cher, although it was by accident. Their first hit, “Baby Don’t Go,” was initially intended to be a solo Cher song, but she would not go on stage without Sonny. If you listen to this original recording you will see that Sonny just sings backup. Sonny and Cher is the love child of Cher’s solo career.

Originally, Sonny was a song writer, producer/gofer, and instrumentalist for Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound. It’s obvious that Sonny had an eye for talent and the penning of an occasional hit song. He met Cher in 1962, when she was 16 and he was 27. She lied and said she was 18 and thus their romantic relationship began.

By the time Inner Views came out, Sonny and Cher had already had huge commercial success with songs like “I Got You Babe” and “The Beat Goes On.” The career took a downward spiral in the later 1960’s when pop was overturned by the British invasion.

Sonny had some time on his hands between performances at state fairs and nightclubs.

By the time Inner Views was released Sonny was 32. He was past his party hey day and was actually quite conservative in nature. He did not smoke pot or partake in any other kinds of drugs of the time. I believe that his age and maturity are a major factor in the content of this album while showing some serious songwriting skills. The album is early psychedelic in genre and only contains 5 songs due to the length of the pieces.

www.wikipedia.com

www.wikipedia.com

The album begins with “I Just Sit There.” This is Bono’s version of “The Times They are A Changing.” He talks about how “everything is turning around” and that there are “trippers, strippers, hips, or squares.” This wasn’t his scene, but it still expressed his aggravation with the current political tides and the way society was handling itself.

Bono then goes into my favorite song of the album, “I Told My Girl to Go Away.” A ballad explaining how he has to tell the girl he loves to go away. He states “How could I tell her as much as I loved her we’d never be?” and then “I don’t love you I had to say and then I died that day I lied.” Was he foretelling the future of Sonny and Cher’s matrimony?

On side B, Bono sings about “My Best Friend’s Girl is Out of Sight.” A fun tune to listen to with some witty lyrics.

The real masterpiece of side B and the entire album is “Pammie’s on a Bummer.” The song begins with at least a 5 minute intro of what sounds more like a band warming up then a composition of music. It’s the story of the lyrics that really hit me. This song tells the story of Pammie, a girl who was on a “bummer…and nobody knows where she’s at,” “had her body for sale,” and how “she started smoking pot.”

This song shows the downside of what would of largely been the “hippy” mind set. The idea of free love and social freedom are solid in this piece. Bono was mature enough to see through this trend, but he attempted to come to this audience in their language explaining these downfalls. He eventually ends the song with “maybe someday she will come back.”

I have found this short collection of songs to be some of the most interesting pieces I have listened to. They are written from a completely different angle then any of the other music of that time, yet it can easily fit in with this music. This was Bono’s warning piece to those living destructive lifestyles.

Although in the end, this album did not make an impact in the music field or society. It doesn’t even have it’s own Wikipedia article. Unfortunately, with this album, he was just the little man who couldn’t….

Photo of CHER and SONNY & CHER and Sonny BONO

ABBA, The Visitors: To Be Continued…

One of the most fascinating bands in modern time (considering the 70’s and 80’s is still modern) is ABBA. Their vocal charisma isn’t comparable and their writing is genius. Their musical transformation is riviting, while watching them transform from a folksy band into dance pop, disco, and Europop.

Wikipedia

www.wikipedia.com

Lately, I have been listening to The Visitors. This was their last studio album of original material, although it was not meant to be or at least that is what they say. I personally could not see how they could go on making albums together with their major differences.

For some background information, ABBA was originally made up of two couples: Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid (Frida) Lyngstod, and Bjorn Ulvaeus and Agetha Faltskog. Both couples eventually divorced. During the making of this album, Anderson and Lyngstod were in the process of divorcing and Ulvaeus and Faltskog had already divorced, with Ulvaeus actually being remarried as of this recording.

This would not go well in a country studio.

Although this album was not meant to be their last, I think it is a nice ending to this renowned group, yet it also leaves you with a desire for more. This musical effort shows a sense of change and maturity in ABBA’s sound. There is still great potential. I’m one of those people still hoping for a new ABBA album someday, even though that is (probably) never going to happen.

The album opens with “The Visitors.” This is one of my favorite tracks off of the album. Through it’s intergalactic instrumentation and Frida’s stunning lead vocals, this song addresses the Cold War and the media separation that was occurring in Europe and Russia. For me, it shows the “crazy” feeling the citizens of these countries were going through (“crackin’ up”) along with their fear (“I hear the door-bell ring and suddenly the panic takes me).

wikipedia

www.wikipedia.com

This song goes hand in hand with the later “Soldiers.” This song shows how the “Soldiers write the songs. The soldiers sing the songs that you and I don’t sing.” Another song worth digging into beyond Andersson’s irresistible melodies.

Two songs talk of divorce and separation. The first is “When All Is Said and Done.” This is an ABBA ballad. The song is an ode to the divorce between Lyngstad and Andersson. This song possess the perfect words for a divorcing couple. It expresses how finger pointing is now over and that they have to now be content with what they have reaped.

The second song is “One of Us.” This is another ABBA type ballad, yet I find it’s idea one of many other songs, but the words definitely needed to be said at this time in ABBA’s career.

Then you have “Slipping Through My Fingers.” I first heard this song when my mom and I went to see Mama Mia in theaters. All I remember is her beginning to cry (this was also the summer I was going to move out and start college). This song was written about Ulvaeus and Faltskog’s daughter growing up. It is something every parent will tear up to, and every “kid” needs to listen to for understanding.

The great epitaph of this album is “I Let The Music Speak” and “Like an Angel Passing Through My Room.” The first song can be interpreted many different ways. I found it to be a description of the group’s previous years. While they were going through their troubles as couples, and parents they just let the music speak while hiding behind its facade.

“Like An Angel Passing Through My Room” is also a song of various interpretations, but I find it to describe what ABBA’s music is today, especially the last verse. It talks about how images go by way to soon “like an angel passing through the room.” Essentially that is what ABBA’s music is today. They don’t have a complete career and their recordings are limited. They’re gone as soon as they show up.

What is most fascinating to me about this whole album is how the members were mostly on the outs. I have read where personnel said the recording sessions were tense, yet they still work perfectly in tandem. Both men were able to write precise lyrics to the situation and the woman executed them with unambiguous passion.

There is a unity within ABBA that can’t be broken. This is seen through their continued successes in popular culture with films such as Mama Mia!. Their legacy can be found in many songs, such as Madonna’s “Hung Up,” which uses the same instrumental hook as “Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight).”

ABBA’s career is far from over, even if they haven’t made a new album of music in 33 years. Their influence is undoubted and their impact deep. Their that canceled TV series. They are forever to be continued….

billboard

www.billboard.com

Have I Got a Deal For You

If you have read at least two of my blog posts, you will gather that I am from Oklahoma and I love Oklahoma artists. Some of the best musicians have red dirt in their veins. So It’s no wonder that I consider Reba one of the Queens of Country Music. I am extremely proud to call the same state she does home.

Extremereba.com

www.extremereba.com

This is my second writing over a Reba record. I first wrote a review over her 1986 smash Whoever’s in New England. A classic album that is a must listen for any true country fan. Recently, I found her last album ever issued on vinyl, For My Broken Heart. 

This vinyl was only released through Columbia House. It came out in 1991 when vinyls were beginning to be phased out for cassette tapes and CDs. It is a very rare find, even on the internet. Discogs doesn’t have a single copy for sale, and the last copy on eBay went for $75. I assume you can see my excitement when I found it for $6 at a local record shop.

This is also the first album Reba released after the death of over half her band in a plane accident. It’s very obvious in the song selection and in the tone of Reba’s voice. Although there is not a song that addresses the situation directly, the melancholy feel of the album expresses a broken heart.

In fact, Reba writes in the liner notes, “It seems your current emotional status determines what music you’d like to hear…If for any reason you can relate to the emotion packed inside these songs, I hope it’s a form of healing for all our broken hearts.”

For My Broken Heart does not contain any songs to the likes of “Fancy,” “Can’t Even Get The Blues,” or “Why Haven’t I Heard From You.” Instead, Reba opts for more ballad, storyline, emotional pieces.

Gactv.com

www.gactv.com

The album opens with the title track “For My Broken Heart.” This has always been one of my favorite Reba ballads. It’s very symbolic for this album, especially the lyrics, “I guess the world didn’t stop for my broken heart.” Although she was feeling emotional pain, along with many of her staff, and the family and of those who had fallen, the world didn’t stop. The worst thing that could have happened is if the music had stopped.

The next songs tell narrative stories, something I believe Reba is a genius at performing and interperting. These songs include “Bobby,” “He’s in Dallas,” “All Dressed Up (With Nowhere to Go),” “Buying her Roses,” and “The Greatest Man I Never Knew.”

One of the major staples of this album, which was also an eventual number one, is the powerful story of “Is There Life out There.” Not only is this a story of a woman wondering what the world has to offer, but it is a message to those affected by the plane accident, prompting them to keep going, and that there is going to be more “out there.”

Then there is “The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia.” This has also been one of my long time Reba favorites, although surprisingly it only charted at number 12. I feel this is the one song that was clearly recorded to be a commercial success, yet her songs of hope of broken hearts won the biggest spots on the charts. This was Reba’s moving on moment, proving there was still life out there, and that everyone affected must go on.

This has now become one of my favorite Reba albums and, to be honest, initially I was only interested in the collector’s aspect. Don’t get me wrong. I listen to each album I purchase, and I can’t think of a Reba album I don’t like. After listening to this album, I found a deeper connection woven within its lyrics and Reba’s timeless vocals. It’s an album of sorrow, but most of all, it is an album hope.

In1985, Reba released an album, Have I Got a Deal For You. Although this album was made 5 or so years later this album has become quite a deal for me, not only in what I paid, but also in what I hear.

Anytime Reba’s dealing, I’m playing.

billboard.com

www.billboard.com

Stopping in The Tropics…Now Moving on

Art must never stop.

Music must always keep going. There will never be a perfect song. There will never be perfect lyrics. There will never be the perfect composition, but we must move on.

It is not often you find a song that plays to this subject, but I found The Tropics new The Tropics_Sleepless Videorelease, “Sons and Daughters,” addressing this very situation. The song addresses it in every way possible.

The Tropics are a band based out of San Francisco, CA. As stated on their website,  “Sons and Daughters plunges into the deep end of the final years in a classic coming of age story – years in which the nights are long and, for the first time, the potential for regret is fearfully discovered.”

Regret. A concept that goes hand in hand with progress.

Claire George’s vocals have a hint of anger, frustration, but most importantly, through regret, she has found a new identity. This is also highlighted through the “distance” you feel when listening to her vocals. She is singing right in your ear, yet the message is coming out of a well. The listener must discover it and make it their own, thus furthering this songs impact beyond a single message.

trop-sd-smThe composition of the music has the same effect. The song contains great guitar rifts, yet there is a rhythmic element that is knocking on dance’s door. It also shows through the songs complete change in deposition between the verses and chorus.

Through the expressed regret in this song, there is a glimmer of hope. Although it may not be explicitly laid out in the lyrics, the message is one of moving forward and to create something new. The essence of music and art.

The combination is excellent. The new found artistry is apparent. But you can’t catch the message.

It keeps moving on.

Watch the brilliant video, that was shot in 48 hours here by Bangers + Mash (http://ilovebangersandmash.com/):

 

And don’t forget, if you’re in San Francisco or the surrounding area, The Tropics are having a release show this Thursday at El Rio. BE THERE.

 

 

Exploring The 5th Dimension

I remember picking this record up at a thrift store awhile back. It is The Fifth Dimension’s Greatest Hits On Earth. I didn’t think much of it, just that it had a cool cover and I had heard the name. I wasn’t expecting to be schooled in soul, pop, rock, funk, and psychedelic music.

The album opens with “(Last Night) I Didn’t Get to Sleep at All.” This song first 5th Dimension 1introduced me to the crooning of the impeccable Marilyn McCoo and The Fifth Dimension’s pristine melodies. This was a good pop/ soft rock mix to get me started.

Up next was their chart toping “Stoned Soul Picnic.” This song is funky and soulful with a sprinkle of psychedelic. It’s a perfect companion piece to “Second Hand News” by Fleetwood Mac. I just want to lay in the tall grass and do my stuff, which may include sassafras, moonshine, and soul.

I loved their classic pop rendition of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “One Less Bell To Answer.” Marilyn McCoo’s vocal interpretation is flawless. She knows the exact moment to hold back and let go.

Next up was their legendary, Grammy Award winning “Aquarius/ Let The Sunshine In.” It was soul and pop, yet that doesn’t perfectly describe it either. It was revolutionary. It is its own genre. I found it interesting that just three months later Diana Ross and the Supremes released an album of the same name and recorded the same two song melody. To have the Supremes cover you is equivalent to conquering the world.

Side B starts with “Save the Country.” This was folk and pop with the added side of soul. It seemed to be a song of hope after the hard fought Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s. This song is also a perfect companion piece to Martha and the Vandella’s “Dancing in The Street.”

5th Dimension 2Skipping over, we come to “Puppet Man.” This song contained extreme elements of funk. The melody sung by Marilyn McCoo and Florence LaRue has quite a sexual overtone. I would imagine this could have inspired Marvin Gaye a few years later in his 1973 album Let’s Get it On.

Then came their break-out hit, “Up, Up and Away.” This song was written by the legendary Oklahoman, Jimmy Webb. This song is pop with The 5th’s usual twist. The men and women sang separate melodies and parts resulting in a group duet. Not to mention it showed their vocal range through the songs many drastic changes.

Lastly to close the album, there are live versions of “Never My Love” and “Together Let’s Find Love.” “Never My Love” is a ballad that let’s McCoo’s soulful voice just sail. “Together Let’s Find Love” is a duet between McCoo and her bandmate Billy Davis, Jr. This song brings it all together and is a perfect ending to this compilation.

This album consisted of The 5th Dimensions most successful line up, Billy Davis Jr., Marilyn McCoo, Florence LaRue, Lamonte McLemore, and Ron Townson. This particular greatest hits album came out in 1972. This line up was broken up in 1975 when Davis and McCoo (who were married) left the group to become a singing duo.

Today Davis and McCoo still perform together and are celebrating over 40 years of 5th Dimension 3marriage. Being born again Christians, they give the glory of this accomplishment to God. Florence Larue is the only original member who still tours with a more or less tribute band to the original. As of 2006, McLemore was living in Las Vegas and performing with the group Flashback. Sadly, Townson died of kidney disease in 2001.

It amazes me how versatile this group was and how ahead of their time they were. Although they have been recognized with Grammy Awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, you don’t hear their name enough when talking about legends. Their contributions to music were undoubtedly large and serve a long and still standing tenure.

If you don’t agree, you must be living in the 11th dimension and I am not even sure scientists know what that is yet….

Hello I’m Loretta…The Other Woman

“I’d like to introduce myself…I’m the other woman,” says Loretta Lynn on the third track from her 1963 debut album Loretta Lynn Sings. This was her first major album on Decca and she penned a total of 3 songs on the album.

This album is pure country and is the beginning of a massive stream of hits for Lynn. Omaeba- Loretta LynnThis record contains her first top 10 hit, “Success,” along with her top 20 hit “The Other Woman.” Not bad for a male dominated country music scene.

The road Lynn rode to stardom was not full of trailblazing female singers, especially not female songwriters. It’s easy to argue that Kitty Wells was the first in 1952 with her self penned, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honkey Tonk Angels.”

Wells was the original. Then came the prodigy.

Five years after Wells entered the music scene, a jar of molasses was broken on every country music fan’s head. Patsy Cline, the undisputed queen of Country music, came out in 1957 with her song “Walkin After Midnight,” which charted at number 2. This was followed by a stream of country music classics that can never be replicated.

Then, around 1960, came a little honky tonk gal, Loretta Lynn. Cline and Lynn became good friends once Lynn started frequenting Nashville and became a hit on the Grand Ole Opry. Unfortunately, both Cline’s career and her friendship were cut short in 1963, around 2 months after Lynn’s debut album.

March 5, 1963, was a dark day for music.

Cline was gaining momentum daily as the top female country artist. This momentum, and all the work and strife that went into it, could not be ignored. Nobody could replace Cline, but someone could pick up where she left off. Although Lynn’s career really took off in the mid 1960’s, it was then that Cline’s legacy was continued.

photoThat’s where Lynn steps in and this album, Loretta Lynn Sings, becomes a pivotal point in music history. This album laid the foundation of what was to come from Lynn through her vocals and songwriting.

Lynn does not just sing, she feels. Sometimes I don’t think she is singing at all. She is making the sounds of pure emotion. That is what comes out on tracks such as “Success,” “The Other Woman,” Act Naturally,” and “Lonesome 7-7203.” All these tracks express heartache and sorrow from what used to be love. Lynn’s phrasing and vocal “give and take” was something not seen in an artist of that time and, quite frankly, is still rivaled today.

But what I love best about this album is “The Girl That I Am Now,” “World of Forgotten People,” and “A Hundred Proof Heartache.” Lynn wrote all three of these songs. The songs serve as a prelude to what was eventually to come. There was something extra in these songs that weren’t in the others. It’s like a twinkle in your eye. Once you hear it, it’s gone, but you know it was there.

Now at 82, Lynn has blessed the world with her God-given gift of writing and feeling through the channel of singing. She has seen controversy, death, sold out stadiums, and extreme success, all while getting supper ready on time for Doo and the kids.

So really, when you think about it, Loretta Lynn is the other woman. Not the one from Nashville.com-Loretta Lynnthe song (although it’s one of those tunes that proves I wouldn’t take her in a dark alley), but in country music. She was not Kitty Wells or Patsy Cline, but she was a female brave enough to take music by it’s ponytail and whip it in her direction.

I don’t find Lynn’s vocals in competition with Wells or Cline. They were equally talented, but Lynn kept the momentum going. Many that we consider great today can point their thanks straight back to these three ladies, especially Lynn. She showed that a woman could have a full-fledged successful career in music and stardom.

Now I don’t condone cheatin’, but I’m thankful God Blessed us with the other woman.