Sunday, December 31, 2006

Roger Mcguinn will never stop telling the story about how he ripped off a figure from a bach fugue for the intro of 'Tambourine Man' ...and lazy writers will never stop recycling his anecdote as some sort of tribute to 'genius'. Now everytime 'Turn, Turn, Turn' is played during a documentary on the 60's cultural upheaval poor Val Stoecklein (lead singer of the Blue Things) will have to roll in his grave again.

The Blue Things self-titled record (often known as 'Listen & See') will forever stand as one of the quintessential 60's music documents that was denied an audience. Forming in '64, The Blue Things were poised perfectly for the mid-sixties bohemian flashpoint that would boost so many others less talented far past them. A quick look at some of the top 10 hits of '66 would prove this injustice..
The Ballad Of The Green Berets by Sgt. Barry Sadler
Red Rubber Ball by The Cyrkle
Lil' Red Riding Hood by Sam The Sham and The Pharaohs

The first 10 seconds of the Blue Things "High Life", with it's subtley insidious humming intro, screams out for an infinite life on the AM radio band. But their ultimate moment was the track "Doll House", a relentlessly hooky song about a young prostitute. This song might be one of the best pieces of musicology I've ever heard but it was shot down by DJs who were frightened to play it by a flare up in song-lyric conservatism spurred by an article in Time Life just before the song was released. A long list of unfortunate events worked to sideline the band and eventually destroy them. Their major dilemma was that they barely played outside of Kansas and, like Love and Nick Drake, not touring ultimately did them in. It's amazing that Pink Floyd made it through their toughest years of conceptual transition after the loss of Syd but it just goes to show how powerful management and booking agents can contribute to a band's momentum. In addition to the Blue Things geographical problems, no jukebox version of their debut was made, their manager quit, and in '67 Val Stoecklein left the band for health reasons and the band played shows for a brief time calling themselves "Cracker Barrel." The remaining members eventually became "Fyre" and experienced their peak when they were invited to play Robert Kennedy's post-primary election celebration, only to find out that he was shot on the way to the Ambassador Hotel.
One irony about pumping this record up is that I can't remember putting on side 2. I'm permanently addicted to the first side so I'd rather not have side 2 sour my memory of side 1's perfectness. The only other record I can think of like this is Moby Grape's first record... in which case I have really only ever listened to side 2 because it's so addicting. But that doesn't dampen my addiction to either record. As a warning to buyers I'll add that this record seems traditional and somewhat vanilla on the surface, but if you are at all a 60's loving freak or way into perfect Beatles melodicism then pick this up fer sure. -EA