Thursday, 9 April 2015

CHET BAKER "BLOOD, CHET AND TEARS" (1970)

«To me, and I am certain to all of his many fans, Chet Baker has always seemed able to come up with just the right blend to make music sound and feel as the writer and arranger had intended it to.

Whether in a crowded nightclub, or in a bustling studio, Chet can create an atmosphere of total emotional involvement for the listener. Chet has always approached music with love rather than commercially. He has to believe in what he is playing, or the sound is colorless, cold and insensitive.

Go back a few short years and review the accomplishments of this gifted musician. He has won almost every conceivable award, not only once, but two and three times. His version of "My Funny Valentine" is considered a standard by trumpeters of all schools. He has never tried to upstage any of his fellow musicians.

Instead, he addresses himself to the subtle, more meaningful comments within the framework of a tune, whether it's jazz, blues, a ballad or rock.

Chet's voice has the same bitter sweet quality as his playing. he tends to sing the true musical values rather than the merely dramatic, and from this comes an extension of his innermost feelings. The listener, while hearing him sing, has a tendency to become involved emotionally. When Chet reaches for a particularly high note, you find yourself pulling for him to make it.

The plan for this album was to use the individual style of Chet Baker together with today's many facets of music, each maintaining their own individuality. Chet and his sound and the sound of the current musicians. Hence the album title, "Blood, Chet and Tears".

This album has to be considered sheer treasure, like searching for gold and finding uranium.


[Artt Frank, from the original back sleeve notes of "Blood, Chet and Tears"]



Despite what the liner notes say and according to "Chet Baker: The Missing Years - A Memoir by Artt Frank", Chet Baker hated recording this album, he only did it because in those dark years he was in desperate need of money for him and his family...

This record is often considered one of the lowest point in his career, or even his worst album if we exclude those recorded in 1965-66 - probably for the same reason explained in the above paragraph - with infamous The Mariachi Brass, a copycat version of Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass.

"Then why are you treatin' us with such crap?" I hear somebody ask... Well, basically because crap it ain't, my friends, and the vocal version of The Sandpipers' "Come Saturday Morning" included on the LP is a small masterpiece which is worth the admission ticket alone!

In my humble opinion "Blood, Chet and Tears" is a very enjoyable album if you take it for just what it really is: an Easy Listening record that tries to make the most out of the success Blood, Sweat & Tears were enjoying back in those days.



While compiliing this post I desperately tried to find some pictures of Chet Baker taken sometimes around 1970 - when "Blood, Chet and Tears" was recorded - but I couldn't find any... That is for sure a tangible clue of how he sort of disappeared from the scene in those years.

As the story goes, in the summer of 1966, Baker suffered a severe beating in San Francisco that was related to his drug addiction. The incident is usually misdated and frequently exaggerated in accounts of his life, often due to his own unreliable testimony. It is said, for example, that all his teeth were knocked out, which is not the case, though one tooth was broken and the general deterioration of his teeth led to his being fitted with dentures in the late '60s, forcing him to retrain his embouchure.

The beating was not the cause of the decline in his career during this period, but it is emblematic of that decline. By the end of the '60s, he was recording and performing only infrequently and he stopped playing completely in the early '70s...


Artt Frank and Chet Baker, circa mid / late '70s

Drummer Artt Frank is best known for his friendship and professional association with Baker, with whom he worked on and off for many years. In late 1969 he was trying his best to awaken Chet from his bad dream, and it was him who made "Blood, Chet and Tears" happen thanks to his friendship with some of the major executives at MGM Records.

MGM offered Baker a contract for a record to be released on Verve and centered around Blood, Sweat & Tears' recent output: Chet would be playing their music in his own Jazz style, and in that way, both the record company and the trumpeter, would be able to reach a far wider group of listeners.

The album was finally recorded sometimes during spring 1970 at Sunwest Recording Studios, under the musical direction of veteran producer Jerry Styner. A young graphic artist, Laura Thompson, took a portrait of Baker in the studio, which ended up on the album cover.

Published on July the 6th 1970, "Blood, Chet and Tears" didn't sell well and Baker sadly slipped away again into obscurity for a few more years...


Chet Baker in 1974


The tracklist and credits of "Blood, Chet and Tears" are as follows:

01. Easy Come, Easy Go (2:51)
02. Sugar, Sugar (2:52)
03. Something (3:19)
04. Spinning Wheel (3:15)
05. Vehicle (2:45)
06. The Letter (3:35)
07. And When I Die (2:59)
08. Come Saturday Morning (2:48)
09. Evil Ways (3:34)
10. You've Made Me So Very Happy (3:41)

Album produced and arranged by Jerry Styner.

Recorded at Sunwest Recording Studio, Hollywood, CA

Engineer: Donn Landee

Album design by Laura Thompson.

Musicians of note: Hal Blaine, Larry Knetchel, Joe Osborne, Ray Pohlman, Mike Deasy, Tommy Tedesco, Al Casey, Joe Pass, Tony Terran, Ray Triscari, Ollie Mitchell, Dick Hyde, Gary Coleman, Miles Anderson, George Roberts, Plas Johnson, Buddy Collette, Sid Sharp Strings

All tracks were remastered from vinyl in March 2015 and are available in FLAC lossless format or high-quality 320 Kbps MP3 files. Both formats offer complete printable PDF artwork.

Please have a look at the comments for the download links.



This is how Artt Frank remembers the day the recording of "Blood, Chet and Tears" took place:

On the day of the recording session, Chet was at my house before 7:30 am. He was excited, but pissed, and ready to get it over with. He was not the least bit happy about having to record that music, but excited about his being able to make the money he and his family needed. [...] During the drive, Chet was edgy and didn’t say a word until I pulled up in front of the recording studio.

«I really don't like having to do this album, man. I really don't. I know how hard you worked to make it all happen, and I appreciate everything you've done Artt, but I just don't feel good about having to play that fucking kind of shit, you know?»

He went on a verbal tirade about rock music, how it had nothing to say, that it was a sojourn into nothingness that had taken over the country, the record industry, and most of the good paying club gigs. He talked about how the rock musicians were making the heavy bread while great jazz musicians had to work for scale or less. The thing that pissed him off the most and found the most unfair, was that just about every one of the rock musicians smoked pot, popped pills and mainlined heroin, but society just seemed to turn their backs on it all. He couldn't understand it.

I agreed with him completely, but also reminded him that Mike Curb [MGM Records president] had gone out on a limb to make this recording date possible for him. I suggested he just go into the studio, record the thing, and be done with it. He didn't say a word for almost two minutes, then turned and smiled.

«You're right, man», he agreed.

We went inside to the front office and were immediately greeted by sound engineer, Donn Landee, and producer/musical director for the album, Jerry Styner. A huge ceiling to floor sound proof, plate glass window separated the office from the recording studio, and on the other side, a group of musicians were looking out toward us. As soon as they spotted Chet, they left and came running out. After the introductions, Chet wanted to get right to the business at hand and let Jerry know it, but in a nice way. Jerry got the musicians back into the studio and directed Chet to a high back leather chair off to the side of the musicians. [...]



Jerry got things under way and the first tune they did was "Easy Come, Easy Go". I couldn't stand it. I could only imagine what Chet was going through. They finished that one and did another called "Sugar, Sugar", and when that was finished, Chet did a Beatles' tune called "Something", which he sang. To my surprise, it sounded pretty damned good. After that, they did four more tunes, with Chet singing again on the song "Come Saturday Morning". Again, he sounded great. They played two more tunes, and the recording session was over.

Chet and I went into the engineer's room and listened to the playbacks together. A young graphic artist, Laura Thompson, had been drawing Chet while he played and handed him the finished piece, which Mike wound up using for the front and back covers of the album. Jerry Styner and Donn Landee were both completely satisfied with the outcome of the takes, so we split.

Chet was relieved that it was over with. He thought he had played well and was satisfied with his singing of "Something", a song written by George Harrison of the Beatles, and "Come Saturday Morning", made popular by The Sandpipers and written by Fred Karlin and Dory Previn. But Chet didn't ever want to have to play that kind of music again.

That night we went to a restaurant to celebrate. [...] On the way back home, I was driving south on La Cienega, and just as I crossed Beverly Boulevard, Chet suddenly became sick and wanted me to stop and pull over as fast as I could. I pulled out of traffic and over to the curb and as soon as I did, he opened the rear door, stuck his head outside and heaved up the delicious meal he'd just eaten. He'd tell me later on that he felt he had prostituted himself and he couldn't take it.


The following clips offer a preview of the remastered album, enjoy "Something", "Vehicle", "The Letter", "Come Saturday Morning" and "You've Made Me So Very Happy"!












More information about Chet Baker and "Blood, Chet and Tears" is available here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chet_Baker

http://www.jazzdisco.org/chet-baker/discography/

http://www.discogs.com/artist/31617-Chet-Baker

http://thislandpress.com/09/18/2013/what-happened-man/?read=complete

http://www.allaboutjazz.com/artt-frank-talking-chet-baker-artt-frank-by-nicholas-f-mondello.php

http://www.allaboutjazz.com/chet-baker-the-missing-years-by-artt-frank-chet-baker-by-c-michael-bailey.php

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/chet-baker-mn0000094210

http://www.funnyvalentine.org/

http://www.chetbaker.net/

http://www.chetbaker.net/vol1no1.htm

http://www.chetbakerjazz.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood,_Chet_and_Tears

http://www.allmusic.com/album/blood-chet-tears-mw0000889066

http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/chet_baker/blood__chet_and_tears/

http://www.voicesofeastanglia.com/2013/05/chet-bakerblood-chet-and-tears.html

http://www.funnyvalentine.org/funnyvalentine.org/Blood,_Chet....html

http://leschroniquesdecharlu.blogspot.com/2012/11/chet-baker-70.html


If you have any other useful information about this post, or if you spot any dead links, just get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you!

Saturday, 28 March 2015

DICK JENSEN "PEACE OF MIND / NEW YORK CITY'S A LONELY TOWN" (1973)

I know where to go to get sunshine
South of the border, go swimming in the water
I know where to get the best of wine
Oh Paris, that's the place for me

Where do you go when your heart is breaking?
How do I get rid of all this aggravation?
Where can I find peace of mind?
How can I find peace of mind?
Where can I find, find, find peace of mind?
It's in your arms, girl

I know where I can have a real good time
Up in New York City, all the girls so pretty
I know I can go anywhere
Do anything I want to, but it's not like having you

But where do I go when I'm feeling sad and lonely?
Yes you love, I won't hand this, your love only
I've gotta find peace of mind
How can I find peace of mind?
Where can I find, find, find peace of mind?
It's in your arms, girl

Yeah, that's where I belong
Yeah, that's where I belong

Peace of mind is in your arms, girl
Ooh, right there in your arms
Right there in your arms

Peace of mind is in your arms, girl
Yeah, it's right there in your arms
Ooh, it's right there in your arms

Peace of mind is in your arms, girl
Yeah, that's where I belong
Yeah, that's where I belong


[from the lyrics of "Peace of Mind"]


"Peace of Mind / New York City's a Lonely Town", the Swedish edition comes in a picture sleeve...

Dick Jensen was one of the first artists to sign with the now-legendary Philadelphia International Records label in 1971. Nowadays it seems that he had little in common with the other artists which made the label famous later on, but at the time - once you heard the power and soul in his vocal delivery - it all made perfect sense. And with the label main men Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff behind the scenes, it seemed as if Dick Jensen had finally found the perfect home for his energetic style of Soul.


...but the back cover is plain white!

Like many of the label's acts, Jensen received musical assistance from PIR's house band, the illustrious MFSB. The band on the recording sessions for his self-titled album featured Ronnie Baker (bass), Larry Washington (congas, bongos), Earl Young (drums), Lenny Pakula (organ), Leon Huff (piano), Vincent Montana (vibraphone) and guitarists Bobby Eli, Norman Harris, Roland Chambers and TJ Tindall. Backing vocals were provided by Barbara Ingram, Carla Benson and Evette Benton.


"Peace of Mind / New York City's a Lonely Town", front cover reconstruction

Along with arrangements by Bobby Martin, Vince Montana and Norman Harris, and production by Bunny Sigler, Thom Bell and Gamble & Huff themselves (who also handled a majority of the songwriting) "Dick Jensen", released in February 1973, was as smooth and slick as anything else the label had released but was far more Pop-oriented.


"Peace of Mind (Mono) / Peace of Mind (Stereo)", front cover reconstruction (promo version)

Unfortunately, upon release, critics and Soul fans didn't know what to make of it. Jensen's talent was undeniable, but the album was not what they expected from the house that Gamble & Huff had built and the project itself was lost in the confusion... More information about the album are available here and here.


Dick Jensen at the Oceania Empire Room, circa 1972-73


Here's the track list for this 7" single:

01. Peace of Mind (2:47)
02. New York City's a Lonely Town (3:09)

bonus track:

03. Peace of Mind (Mono) (2:46)

All tracks are available in FLAC lossless format or high-quality 320 Kbps MP3 files; both formats include scans of the complete original artwork.

Please have a look at the comments for the download links.

   
"Peace of Mind / New York City's a Lonely Town" Side A and Side B

Following the release of the "Dick Jensen" album, "Peace of Mind / New York City's Lonely Town" was Jensen's third single for Philadelphia International Records; it was published in a company sleeve with catalogue number ZS7 3542, probably sometimes in late 1973.

The single was also released for the Swedish market, and that particular edition featured the picture cover you can see at the top of this post.

By the way, according to the liner notes that accompaign the CD reissue of "Dick Jensen", the single was not released in late 1973 - as indicated on the labels - but in March 1974... I'm doubtful about this, but I may be wrong of course.

The single didn't chart, but it stands as one of the great lost singles of its era, especially with "New York City's a Lonely Town" as its B-side.

   
"Peace of Mind / New York City's a Lonely Town" Side A and Side B (Swedish edition)

Written by Gamble & Huff and arranged by Bobby Martin, "Peace of Mind" is a fine slice of joyful Pop containing all the elements that make a PIR recording so vibrant. Jensen adds soul to his performance; it's a lively recording that really demonstrate the singer and his golden pipes.

"New York City's a Lonely Town" was also written by Gamble & Huff, with a smooth arrangement by Norman Harris. This number is a real gem, a wonderfully soulful ballad that Jensen really sinks his teeth into. One of the many strengths of his voice is the passionate conviction in his delivery. He starts the song  as if it were a lost mid '70s Elvis recording and ends it with a Levi Stubbs-like bellow. With a musical bed that would have made The Stylistics cry with glee, Jensen wraps his booming voice around the heart-breaking melody, turning the sweat of his performance into tears of loneliness... Here's the lyrics of the song:

New York City is a lonely town
when the one you love is not around

I left my girl in Atlanta, Georgia
she cried when she begged me to stay
I came up here to this great big city
hoping to find my way
Try to get over, try to get in
please let me in

New York City is a lonely town
when the one you love is not around
New York City is a lonely town
when the one you love is not around

I walk the streets, I see a million people
they won't tell me which way to go
The sign says welcome, but ain't it a pity
there's no one to open the door
I'm trying to get over, trying to get in
please let me in

New York City is a lonely town
when the one you love is not around
New York City is a lonely town
when the one you love is not around

New York City is a lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely town
when she's not around
New York City is a lonely town
when the one you love is not around...


   
"Peace of Mind (Mono) / Peace of Mind (Stereo)" Side A and Side B (promo only)

"Peace of Mind (Mono)", included here as a bonus, was released on Side A of the promo version of the single, which omitted "New York City's a Lonely Town" in favour of the regular stereo version of "Peace of Mind".


Most of the text on this page was sourced from the "Dick Jensen" reissue liner notes written by Stephen SPAZ Schnee. The CD was released by Big Break Records in 2013 and is currently the only available Jensen album, I strongly encourage you to buy a copy of this great long forgotten masterpiece!

More information about Dick Jensen is available here:

http://archives.starbulletin.com/2006/06/22/news/story02.html

http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2006/Jun/22/il/FP606220304.html

http://www.oahuislandnews.com/May05/Home.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_Jensen

I'm currently compiling a Dick Jensen biography, the first part of this work-in-progress covers the period 1942-1972 and is available here.

I'm also trying to compile a Dick Jensen exhaustive discography, my work-in-progress is available here.

Last but not least, I'm also trying to build a collection of Dick Jensen pictures and memorabilia, my work-in-progress is available here.

All my posts dedicated to Dick Jensen on this blog are available here.


I will post more Dick Jensen stuff in the next months, if you have any other useful information about him and his releases or if you spot any dead links, just get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you!

Friday, 20 March 2015

LOLITAS "LE KIT SINGLE" (1990)



Lolitas were a French-German rock band influenced by Punk, Rockabilly, U.S. Garage, French 60s Ye-Ye Music and Pop. For more information about them please have a look at one of the posts I previously dedicated to them here on Stereo Candies.

"Le Kit Single" was released sometimes in early 1990 as part of issue #20 of the French fanzine Rock Hardi, which also featured many pages dedicated to the band. The cover for the single was included as a cardboard centre spread that you had to cut and assemble by yourself... Hence the title of this release, I presume.

OK, this time I will keep my usual ranting very short and let the scans do the talking, so to speak. Happy reading! (...that's if you get by in French, I mean...)





The cover of issue #20 of French fanzine Rock Hardi, the original source of all the goodness presented in this post, 1990

In this letter from Berlin, Françoise Cactus talks about the fall of the Berlin Wall and various bands she had - more or less - recently enjoyed... Towards the end she announces the departure of guitarist Tutti Frutti - who quitted the band to devote himself to a more traditional form of Rockabilly music - and introduces new guitarist Tex Morton...



In the following three-pages interview conducted by Rick Bertrand and Alain Conil, Françoise Cactus discusses various topics: the early days of Lolitas, the recording of their third album "Fusée d'amour" in Memphis with Alex Chilton, her musical influences and childhood, life in Berlin, la France and... Jim Jarmusch and Fellini! Just click on the images to see them at full resolution.

       


"Le Kit Single" contains the following tracks:

01. I'm Allright (Live) (2:23)
02. Sexy Sex (Live) (3:57)

Both songs were remastered from the original vinyl in March 2015 and are available in FLAC lossless format or high-quality 320 Kbps MP3 files; both formats include scans of the complete original artwork and more.

Please have a look at the comments for the download links.





On Side A we find a lively live cover of The Rolling Stones' "I'm Allright", which was collectively written by the band under their "Nanker, Phelge" pseudonym; the song originally appeared of the U.S. release of the album "Out of Our Heads" in 1966.

Side B offers a live rendition of "Sexy Sex", a slower number originally included on "Séries Américaines", Lolitas' second album released in 1987 by What's So Funny About.. in Germany and in 1988 by New Rose in France; a post dedicated to this album is available here.


These are the credits as translated from the back sleeve of "Le Kit Single":

------------------------------

"I'm Allright" (Nanker, Phelge)

Françoise Cactus: vocals, drums
Coco: guitar, vocals
Tutti Frutti: guitar, vocals
Olga: bass, vocals
Ted Gaier: maracas

Produced by Andy Loog Jung
Recorded live at the Royal Albert Hall, London, May 1989

------------------------------

"Sexy Sex" (Lolitas)

Françoise Cactus: vocals, drums
Coco: guitar
Tex Morton: guitar
Olga: bass

Produced by Andy Loog Jung and Lolitas
Recorded live at the Odéon, Münster, December 1989

------------------------------

Front cover drawing by Coco

------------------------------


Lolitas, circa 1989


Lolitas, circa 1989


Lolitas, circa 1989


Olga, Coco and Françoise, circa 1989


Tex Morton and Françoise Cactus, circa 1990

   
Lolitas live, Françoise Cactus and Coco, circa 1989-90

   
Lolitas live, Olga and Tex Morton, circa 1989-90


The following clips offer a preview of the remastered single, enjoy these live versions of"I'm Allright", and "Sexy Sex"!





...and, as a bonus, here's The Rolling Stones performing their own version of "I'm Allright" at the first T.A.M.I. Show in 1964... Watch till the very end and you'll be rewarded!




A few more information about Lolitas is available here:

http://www.lastcallrecords.com/frenchbiogs/lolitaf.html

http://pirate.family.free.fr/pages/Lolitas.html

http://www.myspace.com/leslolitas/

http://www.45toursderockfrancais.net/rockfrancais/lolitas45t.htm

http://www.rockmadeinfrance.com/encyclo/lolitas/

http://euthanasie.records.free.fr/discographie/Zgroupe-L/Lolitas.htm

http://namaste-baba.blogspot.com/2011/04/des-lolitas-stereo-total-mettez-une.html

http://www.discogs.com/artist/Lolitas


If you have any other useful information about Lolitas - especially corrections and improvements to this post - or if you spot any dead links, please get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you!

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