This wasn’t James Taylor’s first album, but it certainly was the one that put him on the map, even though his “Carolina In My Mind” from his first and self-titled album is my favorite of his songs. I almost saw him in concert with my NYC/Miami concert friend, of course when we were 14. I did my first waiting in line from the crack of dawn sitting on a City street until the box office opened to buy tickets, only to find they sold out long before we could even spot the box office. But my friend’s mother got her a ticket and she went by herself. I was a bit disappointed, but she was the real fan. In fact, I’m not sure why I have this album. It’s good, nice clean folk-rock mellow music, and the song “Fire and Rain” made most girls wish their names were Suzanne. But I don’t see myself making this purchase and think that it’s possible my brother may have. There was this James Taylor/Carole King connection after he left Apple records and kind of became her protégé, and my brother loved her Tapestry album. In fact, he played it over and over again ad nauseam when he was home from college, so much that my mother said it drove her to drink. And she wasn’t making a joke.
Although this is not the best aerobic workout album, it did put me in a good frame of mind, and with a little help from Bette Midler, it was not a bad session, even though I pooped out in the end.
Uh-oh. Hold the phone. This could possibly topple Ram from its perch if not for my new found fondness and admiration for Paul McCartney. I didn’t expect we’d even get another Ram alternative contender this late in the game, but this came as a total surprise.
Syl Sylvain was the guitarist, and is currently, for The New York Dolls, a local band with some popularity in the early 1970s. The only two surviving original members reformed The Dolls early this century. They are the lead singer David Johansen, who bore a resemblance to Mick Jagger and had a more successful career as his alter ego Buster Poindexter than as a Doll, and the talented Syl Sylvain. I knew to start with side two which began with the song (Tu est) “Formidable,” a peppy little tune with a French twist in which a guy is trying to convince his girl not to get an abortion, ended with “No Dancin’,” which is self-explanatory, and was just a great deal of fun in between. The whole album is kind of tongue-in-cheek in the most respectful way to a multiple of genres, kind of like bubble gum/punk/glam with a salute to the 50s. I had a great workout and because side two was only 17 minutes long, I played it again. So by the time I got myself onto the floor for the flip side of the record, I was one big sweaty, but happy, mess.
Syl Sylvain and the Teardrops, who are the overly-bleached blond drummer with raccoon eyes named Rosie, and the tubby bass player named Tubby, can’t replace Ram, but they knocked everybody else down one place, including Bruce Springsteen, Delaney and Bonnie, and Derek and the Dominoes. I think I may just delve a bit more into Syl and the Dolls after the project is done, which by the way is soon.
All I remember is that this was a merger of two groups and I don’t know a thing about them. Please to make me look them up. I only bought the album for one song, and I don’t even know what it is. Released in 1973, it was produced by Muff Winwood, older brother of Steve, and Rod Stewart covered the Sutherlands’ “Sailing.” Both are good versions. There is a possibility that the song which made this album mine is “(I don’t want to love you but) You got me anyway” just for that title line that is repeated over and over. It’s something I would have gone for then – oh who am I kidding. I still would. That’s got to be it.
It wasn’t a bad workout tonight, and I was motivated to return to the project. The record was okay, but a wonderful thing happened to me today. I got re-cousined. It was really quite a big deal in a very simple and comfortable way.
One more S.
My cousin & me
I confess I have not exercised, or had an album on, since Monday. Then tonight, after getting little boosts here and there from different people, without them even knowing the positive effects they were having, I had to move. But then the conundrum. I was, and may still not be ready to return to the project, so I needed to go through the wonderful Ram alternative list I’ve already assembled and decide which one was going onto the turntable. It was taking me way too long so I simply put Ram on, and have also come to the conclusion that the song “Ram On” is quickly becoming my favorite song in the universe. So happy, so peppy, so simple. And I’m not really a happy, peppy simple kind of gal. But I am happy for the decision. It is good that I get back to the music and the workout for many reasons, and I needed the lift. Sometimes, when too much hits at once, you get overwhelmed. Usually, I’m just whelmed, but lately it’s been slightly, and then some, overly so. Nothing I can’t handle. I just don’t want to.
I think I had mentioned that a friend gave me a couple of frames to hang album covers in for my birthday, and that I had put Paul McCartney’s Ram in one of them, then had to take it out to play it again, put it back in the frame and so on, so now that album sits on one of the speakers waiting to be played again. Recently, I discovered that Linda Rondstat’s Silk Purse made a lovely decoration. I just haven’t decided on the other album to frame.
I know, I just took a break a month ago, but please bear with me. I may get my mojo back tomorrow, for all I know, but I’m not feeling it right now. Could I be mentally spent due to the spending too much time with one artist twice in a row? It’s possible. I promise, if I don’t participate in the project tomorrow or the next day, I will start hitting the Ram alternative list. It’s also an odd time for a break because I’m not quite done with the S’s. I still have two albums left under S, and this will give everyone a chance to try to guess what they are. It’s two different artists, and remember we just finished Stewart. Oh, and all previous guesses, while good ones, have not been correct.
Last night I watched the PBS Masterpiece Theater two-hour special on The Dave Clark Five. It consisted of interviews with a lot of musicians like Bruce Springsteen, old fans, and Sharon Osbourne for some reason, and clips of the group’s performances, which was fun to see. It was said that they were on The Ed Sullivan Show more than any rock ‘n roll group. The musicians talked about what a big influence DC5 had been on them. Max Weinberg said he became a drummer because of Dave Clark, and apparently Dave Clark was more creative and admired than I ever knew. There were interviews with Clark, who looks a little taut, and with the late Mike Smith. I don’t know how long before his death the interview with Smith was filmed, but he still looked darn good for an old guy. Still had that devilish smile and bedroom eyes. He was also lauded by those interviewed for his musical talents as well. Best part though was Stevie Wonder talking about the song “You Got What it Takes,” and saying “I can almost see them perform it live.”
This was Rod’s final transition to his solo career. While all my other Rod Stewart and Faces albums crackle with wear, I don’t think that I’ve even listened to this one. Actually, although I didn’t recognize a single song, at least not Rod’s renditions, side one turned out to be not bad to work out to, and included songs that his voice melded nicely with like “Bring It On Home To Me.” However, turning over the record to the second side which started with Carole King’s “Natural Woman,” made famous by Aretha Franklin and sung by Rod as Natural Ma-an. Kind of ruined it for me.
The ever-present mandolin still played a big part of his music on Smiler, but seemed to get lost after his next incarnation. I didn’t mind so much when Rod took advantage of the disco craze, as I had said, he seems to need to reinvent himself, and his disco efforts were not too shabby. Some of his later songs, like “Some Guys Have All the Luck,” which allowed him to take advantage of MTV, I like a lot. But this is the end of my Rod Stewart collection.
The first song on this more than merely self-titled album is Rod’s version of The Rolling Stones’ “Street Fighting Man.” It suddenly hit me why I’m not as enthralled with Rod Stewart as I once was, except for a few songs and one album. He’s just singing the song. If it were not for his raspy voice, there would be no reason for him to do this song at all. There’s no emotion, no soul. I’m not saying he shouldn’t do others’ songs, particularly the well-known ones, after all, did I not rave about his live version of Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” earlier on when we covered The Faces? But sometimes, a lot of times, he’s just a raspy singer, and that might be why he’s always reinventing himself, and that’s why what he’s doing now pretty much sucks. However, on this album is one of the songs that I would suggest for his Gasoline Alley tour, and that’s “Handbags & Gladrags,” an old song (it wasn’t then, it was written by one of the members of Manfred Mann) that suits the rich brat attitude going around today. Rod does add soul to the song and his voice makes the words that could be less meaningful coming from another person’s throat, seem more powerful.
I’m kind of disappointed in this album, and the workout was so-so, and a shower would feel real good right now.
I know, I owe everyone a fitness report. Soon, I promise.