I was looking back over some old blogs and about 4 years ago I did noe of these, a blog about summer. So (although as I write this it's 75, cloudy and muggy) I guess it's time to do another one. Summer songs.
This time we're going to take a slightly different bent. Last time, the blog was populated with sunshine pop like this:
Now I have nothing against this stuff, as a matter of fact I really enjoy it, to the extent that I tend to dwell on it a bit to much. So, slather on the suntan oil.....
.....and let's see what we can come up with.
Well, the first thing is teenage angst. LOUD teenage angst. And do I mean LOUD. One of the first power trios, Blue Cheer came on with a rush in 1968. Hendrix was just warming up as were Cream, when the trio of Paul Whaley (drums), Leigh Stephens (guitar) and Dickie Peterson (bass and vocals) turned their amps up to 11 and took a reletively gentle Eddie Cochrane hit from 1958 and gave it a completely new haircut.
One of the early proponents of the sledgehammer school of rock, the boys from LA suffered the same fate of most other early loud bands.....they fell as quickly as the rose. But they didn't go quietly.
Then there's Alice. I remember when I did the original summer blog, my brother took me to task for not using "School's Out". My only defense was that it was too "common". But he's right. The we don't have to look at another textbook till fall wing of the songwriters art is as common as fast cars, girls, and beach babys. So.....
And speaking of beach babies, I guess this would be an appropriate time to inject some sunshine pop. Singer/songwriter John Carter definately went First Class when he got Tony Burrows (White Plans, The Pipkins, Edison Lighthouse and The Brotherhood Of Man were other groups Borrows fronted) to sing the First Class vocal. This is a lip-sync, and although the vocal is correct, it's not Burrows on stage. So just listen to the music, OK?
At this point I'd like to take you higher, but I can't so we'll have to settle for some hot fun. This funky little ditty actually wasn't a "summer" song, not being released until mid August, 1969, and not peaking until October of that year. Maybe it was a case of wishing for what had just passed on the part of the record buyers, but in any case it deserves inclusion into anyone's summer play list.
Sly And The Family Stone had just hit with "I want To Take You Higher" before they released this mellow tune, but the smoothness didn't last long. Their next hit? The funk laden "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elfe Agin)". Can't keep a good groove down, can you.
We mentioned sunshine pop earlier, and The Lovin' Spoonful were fine proponents of the art. But this wasn't. I'm a big city kid, this song resonated when it was released in July of '66. Originating as a poem my Mark Sebastian for a literary magazine. Older brother John modified it, keeping the entire verse that starts "But at night it's a different world.....", and created a great summer tune in the "Up On The Roof" tradition.
Then there's Mongo Jerry, a British group that hit it big in late summer 1970. Written by group leader Ray Dorset, it was the top selling single in the U.K in '70, and hit #3 on the Billboard charts. My disk jockey friend Mike told me once that song was a big help to his morning radio show. Mornings tended to have a lot of commercials in them, and "In The Summertime" has a little pause at the 2:06 point. When it was first released, Mike would dump out of the song at that point so he could cram another commercial in. When it got popular, he got phone calls wondering where the rest of the song was. Well, at least people were listening.
And we can't leave without the ultimate summer song. Penned by Mickey Stevenson and Marvin Gaye, this is a Motown signature song, Martha, Rosalind and Betty bringing this song to life, no matter what the Mamas And The Papas did to it. It's Martha And The Vandellas